Friday, July 06, 2007

Ramjet Construction

I always encourage young cartoonists to absorb many styles by copying them and trying to understand what makes them work...

rather than falling in love with a single current trendy thing and crippling your ability to see the difference between truly good and merely trendy. The more styles you copy AND ANALYZE AND UNDERSTAND, the better you will be as an artist and as a judge of what's skilled as opposed to just current.Kali has been copying some of my favorite artists like Fred Crippen, Johnny Hart and Brant Parker.

Those artists superficially have simple, flat styles. But there is much more to them than meets the untrained eye.


Kali has a really good natural eye and like many young talented cartoonists tends to copy things "straight ahead".

That is, starting at one end of a drawing and then continuing to the other until it's finished. If you have a really good eye for copying you can make a decent copy...but you won't learn anything.

You don't absorb an understanding of the WHY something looks the way it does. Then you can't use those principles to aid your own original drawings.

I encourage young artists-usually against their stubborn wills to use planning in their drawings. To use a method.


Starting with "Construction". The most important tool you need.

I started taking Kali's eyeballed copies and drawing over them to build the drawings out of large forms that in turn are carrying smaller forms and details.

Then I thought, maybe I should show her how to construct even a stylized drawing.


This is a beautiful, well planned design.

It has:
Contrasts in shapes, sizes, angles, positions.
Negative shapes to draw your eye to the positive shapes. Her cheek compared to her eyes and mouth, for example.
Room for the features to move.
Line Of Action
Shapes are well balanced
Details fit into the forms; they don't exist in their own planes

On top of all those skilled, planned artistic principles, it's funny.

Here's another character I constructed.

When drawing a form-such as the cranium,

Draw both sides at once-draw the whole shape of the cranium.

Look at both sides to see that it makes a convincing form, not wonky or melty.Draw your biggest forms first-each on both sides of the form.

The cranium.
The lower face
The torso
The legs.

Then take each of those major forms and divide them into the next level of parts that make them up.

Cranium into eyes-make sure the eyes fit well into the cranium-that they look like part of the head.

Lower face-break up into jaw, cheeks and mouth-make all those parts work together each shape fits into the next.

Kali started doing this and her drawings instantly got better, more convincing.
I took one of her improved sketches and made it a little more solid.
Here's more Kali sketches before my second fine tuning. She gets better with every planned drawing she does. She is naturally gifted and learns fast. The more methods she uses the more her gifted eye will understand the why of the beautiful.

You can do this too. Learn faster by learning why and how things work. Don't rely merely on talent.

Wanna try one? Using THE METHOD?
We have also been studying how to construct and draw Bugs Bunny, by copying McKimson and Scribner.

Bugs is really subtle and hard to draw!

Want me to show you how to construct them both ways?

After I see how you do on the Ramjet contruction, I'll post Bugs - who is more difficult because he is more 3 dimensional and has smaller details.