Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Walt Stanchfield "Lazy Lines"

Here is one of my all-time favorite Walt handouts (from Volume One) where Walt talks about "Lazy Lines". I remember reading this and thinking "Nobody has ever written down this type of information about drawing before" and just having this really blow my mind.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hurst and Hips, Age and Youth, Etc.

The point of my Hurst post (below) entitled "Just One More Thing" was that the girl in the image was drawn with wide shoulders and narrow hips, which is counter to what most anatomy books describe as the way to draw an idealized "feminine" figure. Usually anatomy books tell you that the way to show the difference between male and female figures is that adult females have broad hips and narrow shoulders while male figures have narrow hips and broad shoulders.

I was pointing this out as an example of how to bend or break established "rules" and yet still get the desired effect (in this case, a feeling of femininity).

It has been suggested (fairly) below that it is a bit misleading when I say that the Hurst image below features a girl with broad shoulders and slim hips. It's true that her hips are perpendicular to the viewer and her back is parallel to the viewer, so therefore the position of the viewer makes the broadness of her shoulders and the narrowness of her hips exaggerated. Obviously, in the post below that, I pointed out the twists in the figure so I get how that is the case.

So maybe that's not the best example of this type of stylization, but I still contend that Hurst's style was to portray his females with broad shoulders and narrower hips. In looking through the internet archives I can find of Hurst's work and in looking through the excellent book "The Art Of Earl Oliver Hurst" I was unable to find a single example of Hurst breaking this rule. Every female figure I could find of his had narrow hips. If someone is aware of one that breaks this pattern I would be very interested to see it!

The reason I find this such a great concept to study is that if you can draw a figure with slim hips - breaking the established cliche that wide hips are more feminine - and still put across the feeling of femininity, then obviously Hurst is doing other things that put over the female aspect. You then have a great opportunity to ask yourself "what other tools is Hurst using to put over the femininity of this figure"? or "What original ways has he found that say femininity that can't always be found in anatomy books?"

He certainly didn't invent the idea of the feminine woman with the slimmer hips. Erte and Patterson drew plenty of them too.

Also you can contrast his work with artists that tend to draw the more traditional slim-shouldered heavy-hips type of woman and see how the two types create a different feeling. To me the women that Hurst draws have an energetic, athletic, innocent quality - the slimmer hips make them feel younger and more streamlined. They look fast and sleek....for lack of better words.

As a broad generalization women with the more voluptuous, heavier hips feel a little bit older, not quite as innocent, definitely more sexy, and they feel slightly heavier and more sedentary...for lack of better words. Hurst's women feel like they could leap off the page and are always up for a game of tennis....Dedini's women feel like they would rather have a comfortable seat somewhere and enjoy an expensive meal. Hurst's women feel very open and honest while Dedini's feel like they are mysterious and are keeping some dark secrets (obviously this goes well beyond the hip thing. Both of them have many stylistic traits that add up to these impressions. And again, these are just my impressions...they may be totally different from your impressions! No one interpretation is "Correct"...I'm just telling you what my gut is telling me here. That's all an artist really has...the ability to look at something, register how that visual makes him or her feel, and analyze what it is that makes it seem that way).


Of course it's said that us guys are more attracted to women with wider hips because they have a better chance of surviving multiple childbirths and passing along our genes into the world (or something like that).

At some point the hips get wide enough that it starts to indicate middle age instead of voluptuousness. Also, the more rounded the shoulders, the stronger the feeling of middle age becomes. Things like the costume and makeup on a woman, as well as many other things, can be additional clues as to their age, as well as their character and personality.

It's hard to find photos of someone aging from youth into a middle-aged woman, but these portraits of Hillary Clinton show her progression over the years to a more rounded fuller figure. It's easy to see how the more rounded version reads instantly as older.

Funnily enough, the process can continue and you can have pudgy old ladies...

...or just as easily old ladies can be gaunt and thin, completing the transition back into a slim figure with thin hips.

So what's the point of this crazed babbling? Have I finally lost my mind completely? This may all sound like madness but, to me, these kinds of thoughts and observations are what makes a great artist great. How could you ever expect to be a great character designer unless you knew how to draw a voluptuous woman and also a frumpy one? What makes each look like their personalities? Unless you've thought about how a voluptuous woman moves and how a frumpy woman moves, and why they move that way, how can you ever expect to become a great animator?

Unfortunately nobody ever tells you this stuff. There's no list of what makes a sexy woman look and move sexily and frumpy one move and look frumpy. And if there was, it would all be a cliche already. So get into the habit of looking at people and analyzing what you see and how it makes you feel. Get used to making snap judgments about who people are based on their look, and then asking yourself what gives you that impression. It's always advisable - if not imperative - to read all you can and learn everything that books and teachers can teach you, but don't always rely on the "rules" put forth in books and in classes to communicate to an audience. Use your creativity, originality and personal experiences to come up with something that the world hasn't seen before!

I found all these great images from different places around the web, including the great Asifa archive site.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What is Torch Tiger?

It begins!

The awesome cover by Paul Felix.

Visit here for more information, including a full lineup of all the artists who will be contributing - an impressive list of amazing artists!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Just One More Thing...

I can't help but also notice one more thing about this painting...

Almost all anatomy books point out that usually men have wider shoulders and slimmer hips, and that women typically have narrower shoulders and bigger hips.

While this is generally true, and can be a big help in drawing the differences between the two genders, the girl in this Hurst painting has rather wide shoulders and rather narrow hips (seems to me that Hurst's figures are usually pretty tall and thin, with slim hips - it's part of his style) and yet she comes off as very feminine and there's never any doubt as to her gender at first glance.

So it just goes to show that you can break rules and still get the desired effect. Her pose, particularly, is uniquely feminine - try to picture a man standing that way and it wouldn't look quite right.

Also her clothes - particularly the ruffled skirt - is distinctly feminine and helps give her that quality. Also the bathing suit peeking out from under the skirt is pretty distinctively feminine.

Okay, seriously, moving on.....

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hurst: A Simple Painting (Over)Analyzed

One of my continuing themes here has been that often when we look at a drawing (or painting or character design, etc.) we have the reaction of "Wow! What a great drawing!" and then we move off to look at something else without bothering to ask ourselves what makes it great and why it inspired us to react to it so strongly.

So in casting about for a new post to write I thought I would find something on the internet and just analyze it a bit. In this case, a painting by Earl Oliver Hurst.

I started writing and then I just kept going....I could keep going on and on but at some point I just have to stop myself and post all of this stuff....hopefully I wrote it out in a clear way, let me know if it's confusing.

A lot of what makes this simple drawing work like gangbusters is how Hurst exploits CONTRASTS to make it interesting like simple areas vs. complex ones and tilts and twists in the forms, among other stuff - you can see that I started with the contrasts and then got more and more into details and surface forms.

But this is proof that in a very simple-looking piece there can be a lot of good stuff going on. The simpler the drawing (or painting) the more each piece has to add to the effect of the whole. And any line that's in the wrong place or doesn't describe the form can be detrimental to the whole thing working.

One more great shape that wraps around the forms well is the lower lip - as it curves around out of sight it describes the form of the area between the lower teeth and the chin well. Also the curve of the lower lip contrast well with the straight of the upper lip...but I have to stop somewhere so I'll end it there.