THE “HOW-TO” MAGAZINE ON COMICS AND CARTOONING
IN THE U.S.A.
POWERS IS TM AND © 2003 BRIAN BENDIS AND MIKE OEMING
AN INTERVIEW WITH MIKE WIERINGO BUILDING POWERS BY BENDIS, OEMING AND THE POWERS CREW DRAWING HANDS BY BRET BLEVINS DESIGN—THE DEPTH ILLUSION BY PAUL RIVOCHE THE MUST HAVE ART BOOKS FOR YOUR STUDIO BY TERRY BEATTY THIS ISSUE CONTAINS NUDITY FOR THE PURPOSE OF FIGURE DRAWING. INTENDED FOR MATURE READERS.
THE PROFESSIONAL “HOW-TO” MAGAZINE ON COMICS & CARTOONING NOW ON-LINE AT: http://www.drawmagazine.com WINTER 2003 • VOL. 1, NO. 5 Editor & Designer • Michael Manley
Publisher • John Morrow
Logo Design • John Costanza
Front Cover Illustration • Mike Oeming Proofreader • Eric Nolen-Weathington
FEATURES PENCILING A FANTASTIC INTERVIEW WITH CURRENT FANTASTIC FOUR PENCILER MIKE WIERINGO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 DESIGN DESIGNING FOR DEPTH BY PAUL RIVOCHE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 BUILDING POWERS A STEP-BY-STEP DEMO BY THE POWERS CREATIVE TEAM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41 HITTING THE BOOKS REVIEWS OF VINTAGE ART BOOKS TO HAVE IN YOUR COLLECTION BY TERRY BEATTY . . . . . . . . . . . .54 FIGURE DRAWING DRAWING HANDS BY BRET BLEVINS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69 LETTERS COMMENTS FROM READERS ON OUR FOURTH ISSUE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82
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DRAW! SPRING 2003, Vol. 1, No. 5 was produced by Action Planet Inc. and published by TwoMorrows Publishing. Michael Manley, Editor, John Morrow, Publisher. Editorial Address is PO Box 2129, Upper Darby, PA 19082. Subscription Address: TwoMorrows Publishing, 1812 Park Dr., Raleigh, NC 27605. DRAW! and its logo are trademarks of Action Planet Inc. All contributions herein are copyright 2003 by their respective contributors. Action Planet Inc. and TwoMorrows Publishing accept no responsibility for unsolicited submissions. All artwork herein is copyright the year of production, its creator (if work-for-hire, the entity which contracted said artwork); the characters featured in said artwork are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners; and said artwork or other trademarked material is printed in these pages with the consent of the copyright holder and/or for journalistic, educational and historical purposes with no infringement intended or implied. Static Shock, Bizarro, are TM and ©2003 DC COMICS • Tom Strong TM and ©2003 America’s Best Comics LLC. • The Human Torch,The Invisible Woman, The Thing, Dr. Octopus, Mr. Fantastic, Sleepwalker, Spider-Man, Modulus TM and ©2003 Marvel Characters, Inc. • Powers TM and ©2003 Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Oeming • MR. X is TM and ©2003 Vortex Comics.• Tarzan is TM and ©2003 The Edgar Rice Burroughs Estate • Tellos TM and ©2003 Todd Dezago and Mike Wieringo • This entire issue is ©2003 Action Planet Inc. and TwoMorrows Publishing and may not be reprinted or retransmitted without written permission of the copyright holders. Printed in Canada. FIRST PRINTING.
FROM THE EDITOR Figurative interpretation by Bret Blevins
We’re here, we’re here, we’re here! DRAW! is back from our long hiatus. In the time since we last met I attended the 2002 San Diego Comic Con and had a blast. It was great to meet so many of you DRAW! readers there who stopped by our booth to chat with Bret and myself. The drawing demonstration that Bret and I gave was filled to the rafters, which was a great surprise and lots of fun. I just let Bret do all the talking and most of the drawing. The biggest news this time around is the official launch of DRAWMAGAZINE.COM! That’s right, DRAW! will now have an official online home, where you can surf in to find the latest news and updates, back issues and links, peruse and post on our message board, view our online tutorials on drawing, inking and more. You’ll also be able to get in touch with regular DRAW! contributors Bret Blevins and Paul Rivoche as well as Ande Parks. I also want to thank you all for your patience and support as we work to get the magazine back on track schedule-wise. Look for on-time quarterly shipping from now on! Once again a big thanks goes out to my regular contributors Paul and Bret for another series of great articles and making this job easier. I’d also like to thank the Powers team, (Brian, Mike, Ken, and Pete) for giving us a cool cover and a glimpse behind their working process on one of the most popular comics being published today. A big tip of the hat to Terry Beatty for his great and informative article on art and illustration books that all artists should try and acquire for their bookshelf (watch those eBay auctions fly), Mike Wieringo for opening his files and supplying ample copies of his amazing work and sketches (more than I was able to print unfortunately). So enjoy this issue, then surf onto our new website and drop us an e-mail, and look for DRAW! #6 to show up with the Easter Bunny in April. Best,
Mike Manley, Editor The DRAW! message board is up and running, so please post feedback and ask questions at: http://18.104.22.168/cgi-bin/Ultimate.cgi
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THE FANTASTIC PENCILS OF
MIKE WIERINGO PENCILING
THE FANTASTIC FOUR TM AND ©2003 MARVEL CHARACTERS INC.
For over a decade Mike Wieringo’s animated and appealing artwork has graced some of the biggest icons in comics. From his break-out run on The Flash to his amazing work on Spider-Man to his creator-owned work on Tellos, to his current run on the first family of comics, The Fantastic Four. DRAW! editor Mike Manley conducted this interview over the internet and by phone with the easy-going, busy artist from his Artamus Studio in Hillsborough, North Carolina.
WIERINGO: This is a panel from FF #61 where Ben is on the track of someone who played a practical joke on him. It was fun to show the public’s reaction to this lumbering monster running down the street. I tried to give the guy in the foreground a Sam Jackson-kind-of look.
DRAW!: Let’s begin with a brief bio. Give me the specifics. Where were you born? Did anyone introduce you into comics? WIERINGO: Well, I was born in Vicenza, Italy in 1963. My father was in the Army when I was born and that’s where he and my mother were stationed.We left not long after I was born, and we moved all over the place for years. We lived in New York state for a while, Virginia, over to Germany for three years and then back to Virginia in the U.S. in 1974. I’ve been in the U.S. ever since. My dad was actually the one who introduced me to comic books. He would buy comics from the base PX (Post Exchange) when we were living in Germany and he’d let me read them. They were mostly DC comics like Superman and Batman, but he would occasionally buy the odd Marvel like XMen or Spider-Man. But overwhelmingly, they were the DC books. DRAW!: Why was that? Did you find DC just more appealing for some reason? DC’s were certainly more accessible in other mediums like TV and cartoons.
WIERINGO: Well, these were the books being bought by my father in Germany that I’m talking about. This was when I was between 8 and 10 years old. I didn’t start buying my own comics until I was 11 years old and back in the O.S. I wasn’t allowed to go to the PX myself because there was a lot of drug dealing and violence going on, on base (if you can believe that... but it happened). But I remember my dad telling me about the comics he bought when he was a kid—things like Airboy, The Heap (a predecessor to Swamp Thing), Blackhawk as well as Superman and Batman. I read what he bought, but when I got to buy my own books, I was into the Marvel stuff. DRAW!: So you were you into comics and cartoons as a kid? WIERINGO: Yeah—I really took to comic books immediately. The first time my dad brought some home, I was hooked. It’s always been that way. I can very easily get drawn into the “reality” of whichever comic book I’m reading/looking at. The comic book medium has always affected me in that way. I can open a comic book and get sucked in from the first couple of pages— DRAW! • WINTER 2003 3
even in the bad ones. It’s like my brain is tuned into the language of comics, so it’s very easy to get immersed in whichever book I’m looking at, and it’s been like that for me since childhood. I’ve always enjoyed cartoons and movies as well, but nothing connects with me as much as comic books. DRAW!: When did you get started in the business? WIERINGO: I got started in late 1991 drawing a Doc Savage mini-series for a small publisher called Millennium Publications. I was working on samples at the time and had a pretty friendly relationship with the artists of Gaijin Studios (guys like Cully Hamner, Brian Stelfreeze, Karl Story, Adam Hughes and others) and they hooked me up with the publisher at Millennium. It was quite a learning experience, I’ll tell ya. The difference between working on samples and trying to get them “perfect,” and working on pages on deadline was a real eye-opener, no doubt.
WIERINGO: All of that, yeah. But mainly it was, and remains to this day—drawing what someone else has written, as opposed to drawing my own stories. I guess the thing I had the most trouble dealing with is the fact that I had been drawing my own stories for many years before actually starting to work as a freelancer for anyone. From around age 11 or 12 I had been creating my own little comics of varying length with stories either about my favorite existing characters from Marvel and DC or from my own knock-off characters. Every kid that likes to draw comics had their own versions of their favorite existing super-hero (I would assume; every kid I knew that drew did), and so I had years of my own storytelling and pacing habits in place. Not all of them were good, mind you, but it was very hard to go from creating and drawing my own stories to trying to get inside a writer’s mind to try to convey what they’re looking for in a story. It has also been a challenge from day one to draw things that I’m not used to drawing or really don’t have a lot of interest in drawing. One of the big problems I have with some of the writers I’ve worked with is their penchant for writing long scenes that take place with a couple of characters sitting and talking at a desk or in a small room or what have you, that will go on for 5, 6 or 7 pages at times. It’s difficult to maintain enthusiasm for
something like that when you have to draw it. It’s great for television, but not so hot for comics. I 4 DRAW! • WINTER 2003
THE FANTASTIC FOUR TM AND ©2003 MARVEL CHARACTERS INC.
DRAW!: What was the hardest part of this for you? The working when you don’t want to, or get tired, or drawing things you don’t find interesting?
think some of these guys would love to be writing for episodic television instead of comics, because that’s how their scripts read at times. DRAW!: What or who were you studying at this time artistically? Who were you learning from? WIERINGO: Well, I was a huge Brian Stelfreeze nut, to be honest. Up to the point that I discovered his work when visiting a Heroes Convention in Charlotte, NC. I had been into the old fan favorites like John Byrne and George Pérez, but when I saw Brian’s work, it was so unique and from such a different point of view, it just blew me away. My mistake was in trying to really emulate his work at the time. I’ve discovered over the years that personally, for me, trying to draw “like” someone else is a very frustrating and ultimately fruitless endeavor. When I was younger and just getting started doing samples and getting little nibbles from publishers, I was like a magpie and was trying to incorporate stuff from every new artist I was exposed to that enthused me and it was getting me nowhere but confused and lost. It wasn’t until I let my own nat-
THE FANTASTIC FOUR TM AND ©2003 MARVEL CHARACTERS INC.
his working methods and his own influences, so it was pretty much alien to me. I was just trying to emulate the surface stylistics without really understanding the mechanics of what he was doing—so it was kind of clashing with my own natural tendencies, which are much softer, rounder and bouncier lines, so it looked really weird, stiff and clunky. As far as studying art and artists outside of comics, I was exposed to a lot of work while in college that was eye-opening and really expanded my worldview of drawing and painting. But my personal goal was always to work in comics, so I kind of put those elements aside when I first graduated and spent most of my time taking in more comic book related influences. It’s not been until the last several years that I’ve begun to look outside the comic book world again for inspiration. Speaking of the animation and illustration stuff we were talking about earlier. Over that past several years, I’ve been buying as many of the “Art of...” Disney books that they publish after each animated film comes out. I’ve also been buying things like the Society of Illustrators award books and books like Spectrum. As far as feeling as though I had to conform to a house style, I don’t think I ever felt that early on. I guess as the comic book business has imploded over the years, and especially the “mainstream super-hero” aspect of it, I’ve felt some pressure to conform my work to what’s “expected” in the long-underwear books. A lot of that is probably self-imposed pressure. It comes from reading too many critical posts on internet message boards, and that’s something that I need to stop doing. I really need to learn to just draw for myself and enjoy what I’m doing for myself instead of worrying about what others think of my work or would like me to do with my stuff. I think that if I make myself happy with my own stuff, it’ll show in the work and thus people viewing it will enjoy it as well. DRAW!: You mentioned when we talked earlier that you got started later. You went to college later. Were you taking art classes? Did this add any seriousness to your approach to breaking in, to your work ethic? (ABOVE) WIERINGO: This is the layout and pencils for a page from FF #60. I love the humor Mark Waid writes into his scripts. This was a funny scene. LEFT: This is a sketch for an illustration an acquaintance who owns a plane asked me to do for the side of his plane—kind of like a WWII “Good Girl” illustration. He wanted her topless and I didn’t want to do it, so it didn’t go anywhere. It was fun, though.
ural tendencies take over that I started to feel more comfortable and started to make headway. DRAW!: How far along in your career would you say that was? Were you doing any study of artists and art outside of comics at the same time? Did you feel you had to conform to a “house style” at all? WIERINGO: Well, this was fairly early on. It was after I had graduated from college (in 1991)—but before I started getting work from the “majors.” On the Doc Savage mini-series the Gaijin guys lined up for me, I was trying to do a Brian Stelfreeze riff, but it was so difficult for me to even “try” to emulate his work. At the time, I didn’t really much understand
WIERINGO: Well, my parents couldn’t really afford to send me to college right out of high school, so I went to work in the grocery business. For a while, I kind of lost interest in drawing since I couldn’t go to art school like I wanted right out of high school, but after a couple of years of working my ass off, I realized I could get stuck in the cycle of working and buying stuff and I didn’t want to get stuck in the small-town community my folks lived near, so I set my sights on saving my own money toward going to college. Drawing comics had always been my ultimate goal from childhood, so I was pretty driven after a while to get to art school and get some drawing classes to help my meager abilities at around 20. I think that working for six years before college (I started at VCU in Richmond, VA at 24 years old and graduated at 27) helped me to build a real work ethic and drive to reach my goals. I really hated working in the grocery biz, so I was very set on reaching for the “brass ring,” so to speak. DRAW!: So do you feel that since you had “real world” working experiences before getting into the comic biz, it helped you be more “professional” in certain respects. More responsible? DRAW! • WINTER 2003 5
Things like answer your phone? I know that sounds funny, but a lot of artists get bad reps for just not answering their phones. WIERINGO: It’s a combination of the “real world” working experience and the fact that I come from a very economically lower-class background. My folks live in a very rural area and my father’s income was never very high. We had everything we needed, don’t get me wrong, but we weren’t what you could call middle-class by any stretch. So growing up never having much money, it has made me very fearful of returning to that state of existence. They say that most folks are only a few paychecks away from being broke, and I’m no exception to that. I had a few “fat” years at the tail end of the comics boom when there was a lot of merchandising art money to be made from Marvel and DC’s creative services departments, doing stuff like Chef Boyardee can art and Cookie Crisp Spider-Man animated style trading cards made me a lot of money for a couple of years, but that all dried up fast. So it’s tough to keep head-above-water these days. It keeps me working. DRAW!: Could you pull any experience from that time and use it in your work for characters and situations etc.? WIERINGO: I could, I suppose, but it wouldn’t make for very exciting comics (talking about my time working in the grocery business). It would make for the sort of depressing Joe Matt kind of auto-bio comic that was big a few years back, but I kind of doubt that people would enjoy reading about someone who absolutely hated his job in the produce department of Food World and would wish that he’d get hit by a car and killed every morning on the way to work, which is how I felt most of the time. It’s just too depressing. I guess if I could work in some humor it would make for a good sort of sit-com comic, but I’m not sure I’m into that kind of thing right now. 6 DRAW! • WINTER 2003
DRAW!: I think it could be really funny, strong material. Sounds like you have a real passion there even talking about it. Do you follow the indy side of the biz? Do you have any desire to do small press or mini comics?
THE INVISIBLE WOMAN ©2003 MARVEL CHARACTERS, INC.
WIERINGO: Well, I have a strong negative passion about the whole situation. I suppose I could create a comic that would be funny by creating humorous situations and characters within the framework of the grocery business, but in reality, the job was just incredibly monotonous and thankless and that’s why I hated it so much. I buy many, many more small press and independent comics than I do anything else these days. Super-hero comics just don’t interest me much anymore. I’ll buy certain superhero books if it’s being drawn by an artist whose work I really enjoy, but as far as the cape stuff is concerned, I think there’s not much new under the sun storywise, so they don’t do much for me. I’ve really gotta think that the real, long-term life of comic books is in alternative work. So I always keep an eye out for fun and interesting stuff being done in indy and small press areas. I would love to do work in the small press area myself. It would be a real blast to just let go and create any kind of story I wanted to and not have to worry about trying to “market” something to the majority of the audience reading comics these days in an effort to really generate big profits.
DRAW!: You’ve had the chance to work on some of the biggest icons in the comics biz. When you start working on a character like Spidey or like Superman, do you take time before you actually start working to try and “work out” your ideal or your “take” on the character? WIERINGO: I feel very, very fortunate to have had the opportunities I’ve been given. Working on characters like Spidey and
DRAWING AND DESIGN
DREAMING DESIGN THE DEPTH ILLUSION
This article is meant to investigate how to create, and ways of strengthening, the “Depth Illusion”—the illusion of three-dimensional space created on two-dimensional paper. The focus will not primarily be on typical perspective rules and techniques such as vanishing points, horizon lines and so on. Those are very important, and should be studied, but they are not the main concern here. Instead I want to concentrate on other factors affecting whether or not an image has a sense of depth. Sometimes, despite employing perspective convergence, studiously making all your lines obediently converge to a vanishing point on a carefully placed horizon line and dutifully following all the “rules,” there’s still no “illusion of depth”! Let’s see if we can discover the other factors which either add to or take away from the creation of a sense of depth in a drawing... THE TWO-DIMENSIONAL LANGUAGE The first thing to clearly realize when investigating the “Depth Illusion” is that there really is such a thing as a “two-dimensional language,” with its own, and sometimes complicated and peculiar, set of rules, and its own psychology. In the eagerness to create a successful image, and to contemplate mentally all the 26 DRAW! • WINTER 2003
fascinating nuances of figure gestures, vehicles, backgrounds, and so on, it is easy to forget that, in the end, all of these threedimensional dreams end up flat: as flat lines and shapes on a flat, two-dimensional piece of paper. That piece of paper is like a “bottleneck,” a gateway, which the artist must contend with in the process of transmitting his images from himself to the viewer. A picture starts as a visualization of three-dimensional form in an artist’s mind, and ends, if the image communicates successfully, as another three-dimensional image in the viewer’s brain. But in between lies the transmission device: the decidedly two-dimensional flat piece of paper. It takes a while to realize this piece of paper has entirely its own language, with its own grammar and syntax, and that what we see in our three-dimensional vision must be translated into a two-dimensional language of overlapping, spacings, scale, and many other factors. Since doing a drawing is all about making choices, we must realize that some choices more clearly communicate three-dimensional form, while others obscure and camouflage it. The artist who draws has a chance to edit, to stage his lines, shapes, and forms, choosing the ones which will best explain what he is visualizing to the viewer. Because that is exactly what the two-dimensional
DRAWING AND DESIGN
and eliminate accidental effects and placements—anything that does not communicate clearly. True cartooning is an art of intentional arrangement, using the two-dimensional language. LANGUAGE So what is meant by “a two-dimensional language?” What is it exactly? Its components, its vocabulary, are lines and shapes— really all the various marks we draw on flat paper. We can call it a “language” because all the sorts of marks we can make, and all the various ways they can be arranged, will all communicate different things. Some will have more clarity, and some much less. The goal is to discover the order, the reason, behind what we do—then our expression will be more clear, more powerful, more intentional and less accidental. We strive to communicate form—which is three-dimensional—using a solely two-dimensional communication device, the flat surface of the paper. In the end that’s all the artist has: flat lines and shapes shuffled around on the flat two-dimensional surface of the paper—only two dimensions, height and width. Out of the realities and difficulties which arise from accommodating this simple reality arises “the two-dimensional language.” In many styles of drawing found in animation and comics we strive to suggest three-dimensional form and space. Those are the sort of drawings which this article concerns itself with. In other, purposely “flat” styles of work, and purely decorative drawings without any focal point or points, the goal is not to create “depth,” in which case some of these remarks may not apply. Furthermore, most of my comments here have to do with line drawing—plain lines without blacks or tones or color, the raw foundations of the structure of an image. There are many worthwhile things which could be added about the uses of blacks and tones to create depth, but for purposes of space I will have to leave those comments for another time.
ABOVE: If I was to do this sketchbook drawing over, I think I’d position the elephant’s trunk a little more to the right, so it would line up a bit less with the edge of the stall behind it. Composing a drawing is a constant juggling act, a series of compromises between different necessities. The subject has its needs, which can’t be forgotten, but neither can these sorts of staging problems be neglected either. Sometimes different demands compete with each other, which is why it’s a juggling act.
language involves: a lot of explaining and translating. We explain three-dimensional forms to the viewer using two-dimensional shapes and one-dimensional lines and points; or you could say we translate three dimensions into two. It’s not enough to just “trace” or “copy” reality literally, or the exact shapes from a photo, to achieve depth; one soon discovers that something is lacking if that approach is employed. What is lacking is the editing process, the process of accommodating perceived forms to the limitations of drawing. In the quest to describe form and space, the cartoonist must distill things down
DEPTH BY DIMINUTION First, consider “depth.” To the human eye, things appear to diminish in size the further away they are, which is one cue of many which help us decide the distance of an object, at least in the case of objects whose scale we know beforehand. Notice that proportions—i.e., ratios such as the ratio of the width to the height of an object—do not change as things diminish, as long as they are seen flat-on to the viewer/picture plane. When things tilt, and the object is no longer parallel to the picture plane, then foreshortening occurs—the apparent narrowing of an object. SENSING FORM AND SPACE In a picture, the scene portrayed can range from being fairly shallow to deep space—infinity. People can’t “see” depth directly, because obviously empty air can’t be seen. That may sound silly, but it’s the first step to realizing that to “see” depth, people must rely on cues from objects—visible forms. To judge the intangible, i.e., invisible space, people are used to seeing and focusing on tangible objects. We use the placement, relative sizes, angles, and so on, of visible things around us, to make spatial judgments. In short, visible objects are used as “markers.” So in a composition, if you want to achieve a sense of depth, you must clearly mark and illuminate the progression of space into the distance for the viewer, using various signposts. It isn’t enough to simply slap down a few converging perspective lines and DRAW! • WINTER 2003 27
DRAWING AND DESIGN
PAUL RIVOCHE background, or when those elements are present but are obscured by each other, or tangled into each other.
MR X ©2003 VORTEX COMICS.
SPACING The sort of spacing used in a drawing greatly affects whether or not it creates a feeling of depth. Evenly sized divisions and spacings of lines, shapes, and forms usually suggest flat planes, not ones receding in space. If there is too much equality across the picture surface, whether it is the too-even spacing of smaller individual lines or breakups, or the too-even spacing of various larger picture elements, the eye associates this regular division with a flat surface. So it is good to get in the habit of using perspective spacings, as suggested by the diagram, even if you are not drawing the receding boards of a fence or similar subject. You can use perspective spacing, for example, in the positioning of figures in a crowd, clouds in the sky, and so on—the applications are endless. ABOVE: In this image of Mister X tracking down a wounded robot, I was careful in my choice of where to place the horizon line, setting it at about the level of Mister X’s gun, and on the same level as the robot’s severed arm. This purposely focussed attention on the gun and the robot’s damage, and also split the difference between looking up at the robot and down at the rubble on the ground plane. Looking up at the robot made him look large and dramatic; and looking down allowed me to add to the depth effect by keeping the receding layers of rubble visible. Too low a vantage point would have meant that only the first row of rubble blocks would have been visible, which would have had more of a “cutout” effect because none of the tops of the blocks would have been visible. I was also careful to overlap the rubble blocks and other picture elements clearly, aiming to stage the shapes for clarity. To add to the depth effect, I included two levels of windows: the nearer ones outside the broken wall, and much more distant ones in the city. This gave the picture more “depth of field.”
think that is enough. In viewing daily reality in front of us, our two eyes give us stereoscopic vision. We judge depth by comparing the small differences between the views from each of our eyes. The comparison of these two views helps us overcome any confusion which might come from odd overlappings or placements of the things we see—we simply move our heads and get more information about the three-dimensional forms in front of us, by gaining a new view. But in regarding a flat, still drawing, no such advantage is available to us. No amount of moving our head will help us to “read” and decipher a two-dimensional drawing. The artist must make up for this lack by employing the two-dimensional language, by artfully and intentionally arranging his work to compensate. Everything about the three-dimensional forms and spaces of his scene must be explained by the artist with one view, with flat shapes and lines. If you have properly drawn forms, clearly placed in space, “depth” will follow naturally. Problems often come when everything is habitually drawn too flat, in simplistic cutout shapes, and when everything “sticks” to each other and to the picture plane. Many times this happens when there is no evident foreground, middleground, and 28 DRAW! • WINTER 2003
USING ALL THREE PLANES AND AXES For depth and compositional interest it’s helpful to have forms moving in all three axes rather than only one or two. This creates a three-dimensional feel by marking out each axis for the viewer. It’s very important to convey information about all three planes of the form you are depicting—you must explain the subject’s length, width, and height. If you draw in in a style that solely consists of a staggered series of flat cutouts, in may seem to be “three dimensional,” but isn’t really. That’s fine if done BELOW: By sketching real objects around you, from different angles, develop your “perspective sense”—the sense of how much foreshortening is appropriate to a given angle, what sort of spacing is correct for the perspective you have chosen. After a while it becomes second nature—you get more of a sense of what works and what doesn’t. The best way to develop this sense accurately is to observe from life.
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DRAWING HANDS BY BRET BLEVINS
he human hand is a miracle of function and design—an instrument of wonderful dexterity, strength and grace. Our opposable thumb is generally credited with the rise of Homo Sapiens as the dominant species of Earth—the hand’s sensitive flexibility enabled and encouraged the human mind to create technology and reshape our environment, and continues to do so. When drawing hands, you are engaged with a unique marvel of the natural world—approaching them with awe will help you understand their complexity. Although knowledge of anatomy is crucial, the subject is too deep to cover in this article—I suggest using the material I’m presenting in conjunction with a good anatomy book designed for artists. Our focus in these pages is the capacity of the hand to express human emotion. The face and two hands form a triad of visual expression that is capable of remarkably subtle communication—as every child quickly learns, interior thought and emotion is often revealed more clearly by these silent means than through speech. Indeed, the amazing structures that crown our arms can literally place language in the hands of mute or deaf people who learn to talk by signing. It’s useful to keep this image of “speaking hands” in mind when posing the hand gestures in your figure drawings—what are the hands in your image “saying”? Always remember their importance as expressors of interior emotions, thoughts, intentions and attitudes, and compose the hands as condensed visual “dialogue” that punctuates the character’s body language. Of course, in many cases the position of the hands will be determined by the need to
explain a physical action—there is limited emotional nuance to be gleaned from the gripping of a hammer or the motion of unscrewing a jar lid—but even here you can find opportunities to convey character and personality if you are attentive. Watch someone eat leisurely, savoring the food, and compare their actions to someone on the run scarfing down a hurried meal— the difference in body language is startling. For a more whimsical contrast, compare the demeanor of a child eating vegetables to that of a child eating ice cream! Beginning with a sketch done from life, I’ve made a second drawing that clarifies the forms by simplifying detail and accenting the important contours, the third drawing is a pure “rhythm chart,” and the fourth is an arrow diagram of the big sweeping rhythms of each pose. Train your vision to notice and “feel” this
underlying movement—think of it as visual music—learn to hone in on the melody lines first, and worry about flourishes and detail later. As I mentioned above, the rhythms of the hand echo those of the entire body—everything is a flowing connection, as these two whimsical sketches illustrate.
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RIGHT: The essential means of achieving this clear communication is, as always, an understanding of rhythm. Grasping the rhythm of the hand (which echoes the rhythms of the entire body) requires close, intuitive observation. Fortunately, the hands are almost always unclothed and exposed, so opportunity for study is everywhere—including the ends of your own arms! A small hinged cosmetic mirror is an invaluable aid for drawing your own hands. Here are a few studies of hand rhythms.
BELOW and RIGHT: Surprisingly, I often see figure drawings that haven’t integrated the hands with the body—take care that a character’s hands agree with the rest of his or her body. A gaunt person doesn’t usually have plump hands, and vice versa. A bricklayer’s hands don’t belong on a hairdresser, etc. ABOVE: Watching (and sketching) as patrons eat and drink in a cafe, musicians play instruments, carpenters work, children play with toys—examples to study are endless. Especially instructive for our purposes, though, is to watch people talking and thinking with their hands. You can often read a person’s thoughts by watching what their hands are doing. In these examples notice how the action of the hands immediately suggest an interior state of mind, and how shifting the hands changes the character’s attitudes and thoughts.
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LEFT: To strengthen the expressive clarity of a drawn hand, an awareness of our old friend silhouetting (see DRAW! #1-4) is crucial—though hands present challenges particular to their structure. From many viewpoints the fingers inevitably overlap, forming an indistinct “clumped” silhouette— care must be taken here to prevent confusion, or simple lack of drama (visual interest). Often this requires a strong accent on the gesture’s defining fingers within the shape of the entire hand.
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A second problem specific to the hands are the loose folds of thin or padded flesh that permit the fingers and palm their extreme range of movement—when the edges of these folds are intensified by the heightened contrast inherent to line drawing, the hands can easily appear withered, gnarled, or too old for the rest of the body they belong to. Here a kind of “interior silhouetting” of the forms is needed—we’ll use the term streamlining. In essence this means accenting the edges or directional lines that most succinctly convey the rhythm of the entire gesture, and minimizing or deleting those that don’t— notice how the angles of the forms have been sharpened by slightly exaggerating the change of direction—making the shapes easier to “read.” Even where the need for clarification is slight or subtle, careful streamlining and “sharpening” can strengthen a drawing.
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DRAW! #5 Interview and sketchbook by MIKE WIERINGO, BRIAN BENDIS and MIKE OEMING show how they create the series “Powers”, ABOVE: Once these notions become a habit of mind, drawing the complexities of the human less intimidating, after BRET BLEVINS shows hand “How isto much draw great hands”, “The and illusion you’ve filled a few sketchbooks with accurate observation, it becomes easieroftodepth “animate” the by expressive power must-have of the hand the realm in design” PAUL RIVOCHE, artin books reviewed TERRY plus reviews the or bestextreme art supof stylized character designs. In these examples the basic visual gestalt of the humanbyhand hasBEATTY, been mutated intoofmild links, a color section more! OEMING variations, but they convey the intended meaning of the character’s emotionplies, or attitude because theand underlying naturalcover! rhythms and gestures “read” as the expressions of a more-or-less human consciousness. (88-page magazine with COLOR) $5.95 (Digital edition) $2.95 http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_59&products_id=429
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DRAW! #5, the professional “How-To” magazine on comics, cartooning, and animation, features an interview, cover, and sketchbook by Mike WIE...
Published on Dec 2, 2010
DRAW! #5, the professional “How-To” magazine on comics, cartooning, and animation, features an interview, cover, and sketchbook by Mike WIE...