Saturday, February 14, 2009

More Covers With Good Hierarchy and Construction

Christopher sent me one of his studies.He's got the right idea. He's drawing using construction. And some perspective too - which is missing from a lot of people's studies. The sketch has a nice feeling too. My only criticism is the proportions have been evened out. Porky's cranium to muzzle ratio is more exaggerated in the original. His head should be bigger in proportion to his body too.

Here's some good stuff to copy - if you copy it the right way, you can absorb a lot.

Dennis the Menace is very well structured at the top level, with the odd bit of cartoon license and style thrown in to offset it. But you can totally see how the stylish details still wrap around the basic forms. If you copy it, don't start by drawing Turkey lumps, start with the solid forms underneath, and then level by level break the big forms into the next set of sub-forms and look for the patterns and forms within each sub form.

These probably are drawn by Ketcham's "ghosts" a team he trained to draw in his style - his apprentices. They had to be able to draw well in the first place in order to then take on such a unique and thoughtful style.There is an apparent looseness to the finish of these drawings, but don't be fooled by it. The drawings are very well planned at the top level and the final linework has much artistic flair - they aren't sloppy. When you get to the point where you are so confident in your knowledge and skill and style, you then can be looser with your approach and wander off into your own style - but that takes a long time. This knowledgeable looseness can be full of license and lucky accidents if you have a natural flair as some rare cartoonists achieve.

Here are some nice Woody Woodpecker comics - less obviously stylized but still very stylish in a softer way.

These 2 pictures are gorgeous - great skill, and great style and very fun to look at.

This one's getting a bit too stylish, wandering into slight abstraction, but still a good drawing.Just for contrasts' sake here is a later bland version of Woody where everyone is made out of simple flat ovals and circles - a lot stiffer and unnatural and lifeless. I've never been able to figure out why cartooning got so conservative by the 50s.

How could people who actually had all that knowledge just a few short years earlier, willingly abandon it in favor of boring, unfunny, lifeless ultra-conservative blandness? It was downhill even from here.


oppo said...

For some reason, that cover with Woody sawing on that Bass instrument, doesn't appeal to me.

But pay me no mind. I don't know a thing.

Christopher said...

John - I did a Porky Pig study this morning before your post. I'll do these next.

Christopher said...

John, thanks for the critique. Absolutely agree. I was more concerned with getting the masses proportionate to the original (which I missed from head to body) and lost all of the personality of the original.

I did exactly what you complain about happening to your drawings when they go to clean-up, everything gets evened-out. Drat!

oppo said...

On second thought, maybe I don't hate that drawing of Woody.

Expressions like that are accquired tastes, just like that scene in Stimpy's First Fart where Ren wrinkles his nose at Stimpy under the misletoe.

dwestburg said...

A lot of great comic book covers can be found at:

Niki said...

Here are the pictures I asked you about yesterday. Do you think they look any bit professional? If they don't is there anything else I can do to get better? Or should I just do more copies, cause mostly I'm copying the Preston Blair still.

Zat Comics said...

If you find some time...Please share a bit'o wisdom?

Anonymous said...

Gave it a shot.

Elekid 64 said...

I don't know about that "abstract" cover: I think Woody looks really cool on the recliner. I personally like the drawing there. But yeah, that last cover was bland when compared to earlier works.

As for why cartoons got conservative in the 1950s, I have some theories why it happened. WW II had ended and the gentle baby boomer era began, thus toning down the violence and anti-social aspects. Two, the cartoonist union agreed on a pay raise in 1948, and that took a toll on budgets. Then there was UPA trying to give cartoons a post-modern shot in the arm.
To top it all, some studios (including MGM) were starting to layoff artists and shut down for good. Let's not forget that when Warners shut down for a few months in the early '50s, Rob McKimson lost the great Rod Scribner from his team when they came crawling back. :(

deryke said...

i've been followin' this particular HIERARCHY set of lessons.

yer blowin mah mind! never really broke it down like that. thnx !!!

gonna help my work!

JoeyCee said...

great u ever dissect the European stuff like Astrix and Tin Tin (to name a few)

HemlockMan said...

I remain amazed at the quality of great art on the cover of Golden Age and early Silver Age comic books. There were obviously people of great skill at work in every aspect of the creation of the package that was geared to sell these wonderful books.

Trevor Piecham said...

Keep these posts coming John!

I took a stab at Elmer Fudd. I chose this pose because I thought it would help me with an illustration I am working on, which is of a character in profile in a somewhat neutral pose. I had trouble with the head. I thought I had the basic shapes right but the negative space wasn't lining up correctly when I drew in the facial features.

Next I am going to copy the green bugs image from your hierarchy post.