Wednesday, May 07, 2008

COMPOSITION 8 For Layout and BG artists - form over detail, lettering, study other artists










32 comments:

Ryan G. said...

Wow! This post is great! Im getting better at "drawing everything" and not just scribbling details. It takes a very concious eye to recognize shapes and form when observing an overwhelming amount of detatil to draw. You sort of just want to guess at what the detail is, but there are good shorthand ways to suggest it.
Also, is the art of hand lettering loosing out to Photoshop and Desktop publishing programs?

katzenjammer studios said...

hey john, are there any specific steps that you take when roughing out the composition or do you recommend just exploring but keeping good composition principals in mind during all stages of the drawing?

also, do you know of any other media/books that might be good to study composition from.
As of late, just looking at old films and plein air painting have been fueling composition studies. I wanted to know what stuff helps you to extract and understand composition?

nice post on the this stuff.

anhdres said...

thank you john for keeping the flow of this nice and useful papers on layout.

Freckled Derelict said...

God that ripping friends clean up was a travesty.

Shawn said...

Man, I probably needed to read THIS post more than anybody. I always draw way too many details and put them all in the wrong places. I'm saving this post so I can keep coming back to it in the future.

R. Banuelos said...

These are the best pages so far. There is great knowledge here, this is sort of stated in Richard Williams' book but this is clearer and get's straight to the point. BTW I know a lot of people who have "read" Richard's book (Survival) but don't know a damn thing about animation.

Allan L. said...

This is some really cool info. Many thanks!

Jorge Garrido said...

Great post! From now on I won't be scribblling in my details to "suggest them" like I used to.

That lettering is beautiful yet simple. When I watched those "WPH" cartoons on youtube (sorry, they're gone now, folks) the noir- style of straight-ahead lettering looked great! So retro yet so... solid, like it was upright and sturdy and well crafted, this is only the lettering!!

Kali Fontecchio said...

These examples are great. I especially like the space room with Jimmy- the before and after s astonishing. It went from easy to read with a good design, to overly detailed blockiness. Thanks!

Gabriel said...

God that ripping friends clean up was a travesty.

Yeah, godawful. But are they real or made up to make a point?

Paco Sordo said...

Thanks for sharing all this!I´m a complete newbie and learning a lot with all of this.Just wanted to ask something that get me a bit confused.You have pointed many times all over the blog(and as you do every single experienced guy who talks about the subject)that simetry is something that we have to avoid,and I really can see how asimetry make things looks better and natural.But,you know sometimes I see things like some shots on Wes Anderson's movies where everything is perfectly simetrical and I must admit I find them beatiful,so just wanted to know why,I mean are there exceptions to this rule for narrative pourpose or anything,or it´s just some experimentations trying to be original wich for sure would have end being way much better compositions avoiding the simetry.Thanks!

Danne8a said...

Great post as usual, John!
Your blog is such an excellent recourse for the aspiring cartoonist!
I have written and drawn down all of your examples from the compositon lessons in my sketchbook!
I find all the information way more useful than the books by Chris Hart that we were made to read in college.
Thanks again for providing this info without the 30,000 dollar intuition!

Anonymous said...

To me, detail constitutes what's absolutely necessary to the picture. Anything that's not absolutely necessary is visual noise. Whenever I draw, I try to completely eliminate noise.

A lot of comic book artists these days are primarily noise, and the fans seem to think that's "detail." These artists use noise primarily to cover up defects in rendering and lack of drawing basics... the lack of practically everything you've covered here, plus certain things you haven't, i.e., anatomy and figure proportions.

Alex Toth felt you should ruthlessly edit images, eliminating the superfluous. He'd be behind this post 143% by my inexact methodology of determining such things.

To that end, the modern fan, having grown up on drawings that substitute the superfluous for actual rendering think cartoon drawings are "simple," but they're actually much more sophisticated than they can handle.

Form plus staging, composition and clarity of the image... all contributing to something gorgeous and readable. And in the case of a lot of your examples, hilarious and appealing.

To me, every example you've posted bears out what Toth kept hammering away at.

Another master of form over detail is Jaime Hernandez. His panels and style are marvels of this philosophy in action. They make love to your eyes.

Thanks to all these posts, I have a better understanding of just why.

To me, as someone still learning, it's exciting to see the links between people I admire and respect and try to glean info and useful tips from all working basically from the same set of aesthetic concepts despite differences in media.

It seems if you're a cartoonist working in print or animation, or a fine artist the concepts and underpinings are actually universal, and not limited to one discipline or the other.

Kali Fontecchio said...

Some jerkoff in my class is arguing that the clean-up is way better if colored right. Ya, maybe in the matrix, but not for a freakin' cartoon, jeeeese.

Rodrigo said...

Solid. (no pun intended)

In fact, just today, a friend of mine was working on a scene composition in Maya, and this sort of problem arose. He wanted to add grass to his hills, but overdoing it would have been wearisome on the eyes. A few stratigically places clumps of grass worked though.

BTW, I saw Pick of Destiny last night, and my mind was blown, my face melted, and I got a boner. I gotta know, did you use Flash for that intro?

Shitbitch said...

Hey John,

I just saw "Hoodwinked" the other day on TV, and would like to know your opinion of it. I thought it was just OK, nothing special.

Also, my cousin LOVES "Family Guy" (which I don't care for), and thinks Tenacious D sucks. Me, I'm not a big fan of Jack Black or his band myself, and also am not crazy about Bjork or Barq's root beer (I prefer A&W and MUG). I even prefer Opie & Anthony over Howard Stern. But I've always enjoyed Weird Al. Am I wrong for having those opinions ?

Jorge Garrido said...

John, did you or anyone associated with you do that terrific Raketu flash animation on the ad on the right hand side of your blog?

If not, it looks like someone's ripping you and your mistakes off again. The colours are quite garish.

JohnK said...

Yeah, Jorge I did it and I picked the "garish" colors.

Kali Fontecchio said...

Haha! Jorge thinks you have bad taste in color design! What colors do you think it should be Jorge?

akira said...

aww cute! i like the raketu chick! it's great to see a brand new john k character! and i love the garish colors too! (just joking, they're not garish).. the only thing is the "click me" is a little hard to read, but maybe it's a subliminal advertising thing, after all the message seems to be emanating from deep in her ovaries. i just wish there was more john k animation and /or designs on the site that the banner leads to. the video that they have explaining what raketu is, is weird!

Anonymous said...

An aquantence of mine, comic artist, Charles Vess does really beautiful work using color and composition. Some exapmles of his work on his web site www.greenmanpress.com.

Adam B said...

Hi John

Thanks for posting all these notes! Katie Rice a while ago on her blog mentioned that while working at Spumco on "Weekend Pussy Hunt" ,the inkers were given 2 pages of notes on how to ink well-if you still have them would you please be able to post them?


With all the color posts I was wondering if you had any theories in regard to using a color or combinations of colors in cartoons to create a psychological effect/dramatic effect (simple example- 'peach' color to crate a happy feeling,'blue' for a calming effect etc )

Anyway thank you for the all the information you have posted so far, I hope you continue your blog for a little while longer, Ive read every post.

queefy said...

Thank you for this amazing post.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

WooowW!!! The Raketu animation looks great! Congratulations!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey John I've been wanting to suggest too you; You really should start up a forum. Somewhere where we can post our lesson progress. You could skim through and occasionally give pointers or critiques. These are things other people can read and benefit from seeing actual examples and applications of your lessons and common misconceptions or mistakes.

Anonymous said...

"Haha! Jorge thinks you have bad taste in color design! What colors do you think it should be Jorge?"

I think the problem is that some people take things too literally. Now when people see purples or pinks, they'll mechanically think that it's a bad thing, despite whether they think it's appealing or not.

I like the purples and oranges in the ad, it gives it a good retro sci-fi look.

Anonymous said...

The bright agaainst neutral colors in the ad are nicely balanced and attract your eye look at it. IT'S AN AD! A well done ad! It's supposed to attract your attention! Great work, John.

(I clicked through to Rateku's site, but I can't figure out what they're selling - I think these folks need more of your help with the rest of their web strategy, John. Your ad drives people to the site, but once there, I'm confused and quickly lost interest)

Anonymous said...

Hi, John

You were writing about Owen Fitzgerald a few days ago. I scanned some drawings by Owen and put them up at

http://potulentpalaver.blogspot.com/

Wow! He could really draw!

I've got a bunch more I have to dig through some boxes of old stuff.

Jorge Garrido said...

Well, I'm colour blind but it looked like pink and purple to me. Time to get my foot out of my mouth once again. :(

>Haha! Jorge thinks you have bad taste in color design! What colors do you think it should be Jorge?

I think Jorge should learn to keep his mouth shut if his photoreceptors don't work properly.

Anonymous said...

That's an awful lot of Friz on that one page, John. Tee-hee.

Jorge Garrido said...

T-Hee isn't on that page, Thad.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting these! I do take them to heart and better myself, but I'm an old fogey and do have to strain a bit...for instance I quite like all the superfluous detail in the space-room. Sigh- you would probably throw up your hands in exasperation at my stuff, no form! no line of movement! But I am trying, John and I really deeply enjoy your blog and the effort you make in heightening peoples appreciation of good design and art. Never give up!

Cheers & Thanks, Naomi