Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Silhouettes Speak Volumes

Both Post and Fitzgerald are good at drawing clear silhouettes. The difference?
Post's 2 characters are on one flat plane lined up right behind each other - which is not a criticism, just an observation.
In Fitzgerald's sillo, each character is

1) in a different pose,
2) is positioned at a slightly different distance from our viewpoint and
3) each inhabits all 3 dimensions.
4) Parts of them come towards camera, parts recede,
5) parts radiate all around the bodies. That's extra impressive to pull off in just silhouettes.

Owen Fitzgerald was a multi-dimensional cartoonist. He also had a great style-but the style was merely the final polish on top of a lot of knowledge and skill.

Roberto asked in a comment if it's ok to cheat because most good artists do cheat.

Yes it's ok to cheat - knowingly. On Purpose.

But there is no substitute for knowledge and skill. The more you know, and the more deft your hand-eye-brain control is, the more control you have over what you want to say with your drawings. How many times have you had an exciting idea in your head and then ran to your drawing board to draw it - but gave up after a half hour of struggling because you couldn't draw the thing the way you imagined it? How frustrating is that?

If you can only draw a head from one position, or just one position of a flat hand - that really limits what you can do.

The younger you are, the more important it is to learn as many principles and skills as you can. You can develop style later, after your ability to learn new things slows down.


RooniMan said...


Kali Fontecchio said...

They sure do.

thomas said...

I don't know why silhouettes are such a pleasure to look at in cartoons.....
I don't think it has just to do with
evocative lighting in a frame, per se. But its more about the retinal pleasure of recognizing the character as an abstract symbol.

Elana Pritchard said...

little children shouldn't smoke crack if you ask me

Cali-4nia said...

It's the only way to know if you have a strong pose!

Anonymous said...

I get it now. Modern cartoons cheat a lot, except without all the knowledge that the great animators and comic book artists from the Golden Age had. Cheats are being used as an excuse for amateur cartoons, and it's a very common practice these days, especially in a lot of the kiddie cartoons (Mighty B and SpongeBob are examples of exceptions in some cases, especially because some of the artists that worked for you have worked on those shows) and even worse, a lot of the feature films.

Great post, once again. I honestly don't care if I have a style or not. I just wanna draw well enough so my cartoons one day will be honest and funny, rather than talking down to people and torturing them. That's why I'm trying to learn as much as I can now before I hit my 20s.

JohnK said...

Good plan!

Geneva said...

Love these meaty posts! Fitzgerald was one heck of a cartoonist, and I never even knew his name before these.

JohnK said...

You should yell at your teachers.

Tony said...

I'm too old to progress :(

JohnK said...

Some people can progress at any age. It definitely slows down with age though.

Rothello said...

You know, back when I was in high school taking some drawing classes for fun, a lot of the lessons I learned there applies a lot to what I think you've been getting at with several of these posts. Of course, that class was to teach students how to draw realistically (or more accurately, the point of the course was to train ourselves to draw what our eyes saw, not what our mind pictured- an important distinction, because a good number of courses and 'how-to' books do the opposite). The whole "right-brain vs. left-brain" stuff.

Because apparently, the 'artistic' side of the human psyche lies within the right half of the brain, and this half is pretty much neglected by schools after the 3rd grade (which is why most people draw at a 3rd-grade level).

I only bring this up because a lot of points you've made in this and older posts deal with problems that many artists struggle with: namely, drawing 'true to life' (or "what the eye sees"). Stuff like these subtly intricate poses by Fitzgerald, or the 'life energy' with Post.

It's interesting to read these to see how cartoonists (who are always more fun than fancy-pants artists) solve these problems their own unique ways within the confines of their style (or in Fitz's case, someone else's!); it's fascinating.

From what I can tell from these two posts (and the other Fitzgerald posts), this guy must have had some serious artistic training to be able to do all these poses, angles, and whatnot (however, I really like Post's simplicity).
These samples and your comments on them really have made me stop to take a closer look at them, and comics in general, to really analyze what's going on, and this makes me enjoy them on a whole new level when I see the detail involved.

Scrawnypumpkinseed said...

I think silhouettes are always important even if the character isn't covered in black. The outline of the character should be an easy to read silhouette.

As usual I agree with John. Developing style is irrelevant to me now (I'm only 16). Right now principles are the goal.

Kelvin said...

Been browsing through this blog and the wisdom that comes with it for ages now, but just never really posted anything. Like numerous of other people before me, I gotta say that I absolutely love this blog!

It's amazing how people can really impart wisdom, even from the distant past - it's like everyone's still alive someway, somehow.

And this specific topic is no exception in which I absolutely agree. Which is why I started on my own blog (hopefully, I can keep it up!), especially for the summer. I'm going to keep on practicing hard! If anyone wants to look and comment once in a while, then I don't mind.

Lohen said...

Totally agree.

ther1 said...

(Whoops, sorry about the first post. That was an accident.)

Speaking of different styles, I bought a bunch of little plastic toys at a yard sale, so I can practice drawing them. Most of them are Disney characters, but I do have one of the Looney Tunes roadrunner.

The Disney stuff is very easy to draw but the roadrunner is very difficult, even standing still. I can't imagine what animating such a refined design must be like!

Martin Juneau said...

Silhouettes always makes me amazing. Morris used a lot of times in his old Lucky Luke comics and that's stuck me in my head. I used silhouettes at my comic story for make it dramatic but i didn't know it was a process to draw specific poses. Great post! That's help me so much!

MDG14450 said...

Two artists who can do great dramatic things with silhouettes are Alex Toth and Graham Ingels.