Saturday, May 15, 2010

Walt Kelly Principles and Skills

It's easy to get distracted by Walt Kelly's beautiful linework and crosshatching and not see all the underlying principles that are part of his style.

He has a lot of attributes underneath the lines that are equally impressive: Like cuteness and appeal.He draws very appealing eyes.
He is good at compositions. I love the contrasts in the buildings below. Very tall against very thin.
Strong lines of action.

Opposing poses. The characters look alive, organic and in the moment.
Nice tongue-hatching.
Natural looking asymmetry (the features-eyes,etc.-are not the exact same shape and size on either side of the characters)

You can find lessons on all these concepts at:

Oh and thanks to the latest contributors:


Anonymous said...

Fantastic artist to focus on! LOVE the appeal. Absolutely love it. Good principals are one thing.

I just read little article about crumb. Who's drawings wouldn't exactly be called appealing and this is a refresher. XD

Thanks John!

Gad said...

thank you for introduce me with another great illustrator
what would have done with out your blog...

Anonymous said...

Stunning artwork. I can definitely see that all those years of training at Disney's really helped Walt Kelly in big ways. Too bad that type of thing doesn't exist anymore. We have to teach ourselves.

And oh yeah, I told my sister to donate 5 dollars to your blog the other day. Not sure if she did what I asked her to. Just saying.

Paul Penna said...

Back in 1953 and 1954, when I was 8-ish, I had both this and "Uncle Pogo's So-So Stories" practically memorized within weeks of getting them, not to mention getting the carpet worn out rolling on the floor in hysterics over the dialog and drawings. "Good morning, cruel stepmother ol' boy." I think I can trace the life-long course my personal sense of humor took to that line.

Trey Brown said...

i love walt kelly! i read that jeff smith puts this man on a pedestal

Peggy said...

The pictures of the cow remind me of one thing that really stood out to me when I was an eight-year-old kid falling in love with Kelly through reprints of the books: he had this tendency to retain the vertical construction line along the center of a form. Moreso on complex forms like the cow's snoot, where he feathered it with lots of little lines, but you'd see this on the simpler characters as well.

It really helped make his stuff pop and feel dimensional.

SandraRivas said...

These comics are great! His cartoons are so cute and very appealing! I should start reading more Pogo.

Speaking of lessons, I've been taking the Preston Blair cartoon lessons!
Lesson 1
Lesson 2
You are more than welcome to critique.

But I will definitely study Walt Kelly's comics. I'll learn a lot for sure.

RooniMan said...

Walt Kelly is fantastic.

Scrawnypumpkinseed said...

It's always nice when you do these focuses on illustrators, cartoonists and animators alike. Lets us see what else is going on in the world of real cartoons.

My philosophy is that if it doesn't follow cartooning principles, its not a cartoon. It may be animation but not a cartoon.

C said...

Pogo comics were the cutest thing in the newspaper ever.

litlgrey said...

Kelly took foundations from principles of animation and from early 20th century newspaper illustration, and made them uniquely his own. America lost him far, far too early.
I think he added a sensibility which flowed harmoniously within the world he created on paper and seasoned it with the smartness of Mark Twain and perhaps of Herblock.
Progressives turned to him every day to get his keen insight on the absurdity of the 1964 and 1968 election cycle more than anyone else, yet today, in the world Garry Trudeau made, Kelly is barely thought about.
Kelly needs to be thought about in the same sense and tradition as George Herriman: two of the most important and exquisite graphic auteurs of their respective generations.

HemlockMan said...

Walt Kelly drew the cutest bugs all all time.

bergsten said...

Was wonderin' when you were going to get around to Walt Kelly.

I don't think I've seen his work in over twenty years, yet I could tell you exactly what personality each character has (and there were hundreds, and they were all very different).

It's like seeing long-lost friends. Kind of brings a tear to the eye (a manly tear, no less).

This stuff is truly classic and immortal. Everybody here, John included can learn a whole lot from "the other Uncle Walt."

Elana Pritchard said...

His drawing has a gentleness to it, like living stuffed animals.

Perica and Toshke said...

There are a lot Kelly's works.
Go to older posts

They are phenomenal

MistahB said...

very good, I've always like Walt Kelly's work! next time you should post one about Carl Barks (or if you already had anyways)

Taber said...

These are wonderfully appealing.

Anonymous said...

As someone else mentioned here, Jeff Smith's Bone is full of influences from Walt Kelly. Check him out if you haven't.

David R said...

Kelly was a great draftsman, but his brushwork is second to none. That plays a large role in the effectiveness of his work as well.