Saturday, February 17, 2007

Tom Oreb Draws Ward, Part 3

This is another of Tom Oreb's gag drawings of Ward Kimball. This one is particularly interesting to analyze. At first glance it's hard to decipher why it works, yet it undeniably does. So I'll dive in and try to figure out what is going on here.

Without a face to draw the viewer's eye or a clear center of interest Tom relied on other things to make sure you look at the right things in the picture.

Again, this one has a very strong control of values. Again, black against white draws the eye and it seems to me that Tom placed black against white in a kind of circular pattern that draws your eye around the picture. When you look at the drawing, your eye starts at the top and travels down to Ward's figure and back up to the top in a nice circular composition.

Now maybe this is a bad scan or scan of a copy, but it appears that he put black against white in these areas: right above the top of the drawing board, to the right, above the stack of paper, the top of the drawer, under Ward's prone figure, On Ward's rear end against the legs of the chair, the back of the chair, and above the left-hand stack of paper.

Now at least when I look at it, that's how my eye experiences it. My eye flows from one area of black against white to the next in a clockwise way.

The drawing is mostly made up of rectangles and square shapes. The lamp, the wastebasket and Ward's inert form stand out because they are all organic shapes which contrast with all the squares. Those contrasts draw your eye and also seem to lead your eye in a circular pattern around the frame. And the space underneath the desk and the chair legs create a frame for Ward's torso and legs. That's a very brave choice, and one that people are usually hesitant to make: breaking up your main figure by putting foreground elements in front of it. We are usually inclined to put our main figure "in the clear": silhouetting it clearly so all of it can be seen. Tom didn't put everything on the clear, but he put the important stuff in the clear: the hand, the suspenders, the shoes, the pant cuffs and the waist line are all well drawn and very clear. When placed in the right proportions to each other they add up to a solid-feeling figure. The pant cuffs, waistline and wrinkles all do a great job of describing how the form lays in space. The suspenders wrap around the form well too. Even the simplest drawing can seem to exist well in space when done right.

This drawing follows a "rule" I read once somewhere: that a good tonal scheme for a drawing is to make it 50% grey, 25% black and 25% white. I can't help but think of this as the "Neopolitan" rule, because I made a chart of it once to help remember it, and it looked like Neopolitan ice cream:

For those of you who don't know, this is Neopolitan ice cream. Man, who likes that stuff? Why mess up perfectly good chocolate ice cream with Strawberry and Vanilla?


Benjamin said...

You put crackers on each side of a slice of neapolitan icecream, kind of making it a hamburger. Every bite is a discovery! One time you only bite of the cracker, then you lick just the icecream, than you take a bite and get one taste, then two, etc... who *doesn't* like that?

Oh, and thanks for the post! I never thought about keeping a balance between tones before, nor did I notice the way you subconsciously always want your character out in the open. Explains lots of things and doubts I come across when drawing, especially in lifedrawing class.

Bret said...

Hi Mark,

I'm loving your analyses -- thanks! But I've noticed some logistic challenges to reading this sort of thing on the web... On my little laptop, the picture is off the screen by your third paragraph, and there's a lot scrolling and bouncing back and forth between text and art. And a lot of searching for each element that you discuss.

I thought I would experiment with an alternate presentation of your first Ward post. I'm afraid it's a little heavy-handed, but I'm just learning.

Please let me know if this is okay with you!

Bill said...

Thanks for the post Mark, always full of insightful comments. Also, Bret that is a really neat way to present the info, thanks!

mark kennedy said...

Thanks for the recipe, benjamin, I was just kidding anyway! Thanks for the comment too, bill!

Bret - that's amazing. Thanks for doing that, it looks like a lot of work. I know it's a little hard to read my analysis the way I do it. I wish I knew a better way I could present the stuff but I never have much time to blog. The way I figure people would look at my posts is by opening the picture big in one window and then open the anlaysis in another window, then shrink down the analysis so you can see both. I use Firefox so you can open both at the same time with tabs in Firefox and switch back and forth quickly. Maybe I will post the picture bigger, next time...that would help too, I think.

mamĂș said...

Hehe, thanks for that^^. Nice analyses...tough i hope i won't have to start out thinking in rules of percentage of tones, but simply that it may apply by itself to a felicitous drawing. best,m

Randeep Katari said...

Thanks for this Mark, its great. It really brings to light the genius of Tom Oreb, beautiful stuff.

hope all is well, give me a shout if you have a spare moment.


pbcbstudios said...

these orebs are just too good.

k. borcz said...

I like the analysis, great points. I never thought about the 50% grey/ and 25%each for b&w. I don't recall reading that anywhere else.

(As for the neapolitan ice cream I like to scoop up each seperatley, but eat them all together).

Daniel said...

i prefer to think - why mess up perfectly good vanilla ice cream with chocolate and strawberry?

M Kitchen said...

Interesting. My eye actually flows counter-clockwise, starting with the animation disk, to all the stuff on top of it, to the stack of paper on the left, to the black back of the chair, to the white seat of the chair, to Ward's suspenders, to Ward himself (where my eye tries to lock in on his head, but instead focuses on the trash can, then ricochets back to Ward's body).

Thank you for all the knowledge you've amassed for our perusal here at the Temple of the Seven Golden Camels.

Valuable stuff.

David Scott Smith said...

I totally agree Mark but let’s not forget the story in this drawing. I suppose it may classify as “goes without saying” but I believe it’s what really drives it home… along with your analysis on technique.

Circular movement yes. My eye is immediately drawn to the bright white blank sheet on the disk – smack dab centre focus. Seems Tom framed it with the largest black shape to start us there. He even gave the left top side of the desk around that completely blank sheet of paper as much dark as he could to make it pop and say, blank! Then straight to the bright white empty seat of the chair framed with the solid darks of the back of the chair - down around to sheets of paper on the floor discarded attempts and the full waste basket of a true artist. Finally to the reveal of Ward, the next bright white against dark point with identifying suspenders and hand positioned in a way that could only belong to someone asleep.

1/ The challenge of the blank sheet of paper > 2/ subsequent empty chair > 3/discarded attempts > full wastebasket > drawer/tools at the ready … 4/ Ward! revealed and how he’ll deal with it all …humorously recharging his batteries.

These to me are the hi-lights or ‘brights’ of this composition and the story of a truly dedicated artist suffering (in the best sense) for his art.

Love your blog Mark. You're a helluva‘n artist and story guy. One that always pulled the best stuff out of nothing and could always better an idea by turning it on it’s head. Although it may compromise your present blog style I’d love to see some of your stuff.

BTW… as long as your Neopolitan is 50% chocolate, you’ll be alright.
David Smith… from waybackland

Closet Space said...

no, no, it is the vanilla that is being contaminated by the chocolate and the strawberry!
But that aside, thank you for another wonderful post! Your composition breakdown is extremely helpful, and the illustrations you find are so wonderful!

Keep posting!


AMID said...

Great analysis Mark. I'm not sure if this drawing makes others laugh, but I laugh every time I see it. That's particularly rare for me because I don't usually laugh at drawings unless they're my own. In the past, I've tried to analyze it from the humor perspective.

I think some of it might have to do with information that goes beyond the actual illustration: knowing Ward's personality and imagining him doing something like this in his office. But a lot of the humor is also contained within Oreb's drawing. The way he's drawn Ward's torso as a simplified tube shape, and how he has the legs and arm come out of that tube in a somewhat askew manner, is part of makes it funny. It also may be funny because he's drawn a grown person in a confined space and has him scrunched up in a fetal position. Whatever the case, it's not only a good solid drawing but also, imo, a really comical drawing.

chickennuggets said...

Mark, i miss your purple blog flair.

pbcbstudios said...

i was boycotting the camel when it was purple. While reading I felt less like a man.

St John Street said...

thanks for continued lessons and passing of knowledge your the man in my eye's more should do the same keep it going bro all the best for the new year!!!

annawritedraw said...

A huge thanks to Mark for all the analysis and another to Bret. The photoshoping you did made the analysis very clear to me. So helpful.

I really appreciate the discussions about value and composition. The black and white I get but value with color alludes me time and again in my own work. Which colors are the same value and therefore result in a flat image?

I'd love a post on this if you could Mark. Happy 1 year!

mark kennedy said...

Thanks for all of the good thoughts everybody.

Anna - I will try to work something up on that one...not my area of expertise but I will try.

waveybrain said...

You mean, why stir up untainted vanilla with the likes of chocolate and strawberry?

mark kennedy said...

waveybrain, them's fightin' words.

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