Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Key Plates, Key Figures, Key Questions

I have been trying to get this post written for days. It's grown to sprawling size, but the content is relevant for several audiences. It covers the Beaux-Arts drawing hangover, the relevance of printing as a way to look at the act of drawing, and questions of visual handling in figurative work.

Recent efforts in the classroom have been focused on staging. My last post mentioned the problem of verbs; anybody who shows up in a narrative illustration had better have one. Energy has been devoted to "directing" the scene in question. Many thumbnails; many workups of those sketches into more informative drawings. It's striking how many students will try to freight such images with extra information or bonus complexity, when composing and executing a well-considered figurative group is hard enough, thank you very much. And deeply satisfying when brought off, too.

Below, one of Harry Beckhoff's legendarily teeny but shockingly informative thumbnails. Scan courtesy of Roger Reed at Illustration House in New York, where I once ogled a stack of these. Believe it or not, this drawing is about the size of large postage stamp.


But enough of the prepping; on to the problem of realizing those figures. Which brings us to a conversation about drawing. Once we've figured out what we want to make, how are we to make it? It might seem like a funny question. The issues in play matter a lot. At least to me. Three-plus years ago, in one of my first posts in this blog, I wrote:

I have taught a lot of beginning drawing in my career. One of the most basic precepts of Beaux-Arts drawing study involves close observation of the thing at hand, often a nude model. It is axiomatic that one draws what one sees in this setting, and for good reason—learning how to look at something for what it really is, not what one imagines or remembers it to be, requires perception-altering doggedness. As a byproduct, the student often retains an unspoken authoritarian dictum to obey a monocular point of view on all things. That is, 1) if I can’t see it from here, it must not exist, 2) if I can see it, I must draw it, and 3) all true drawings are made with charcoal or conte crayon.

These dicta often persist, as educational afterimages. They float before the composer and narrow her choices. So charcoal pops up as a likely media choice, because the student has experience with it, and also because it bears the imprimatur of an approved art material. In practice, charcoal means tonal drawing. Light. Volume. The simulated immanence of painting, delivered in monochrome. Which calls to mind images like this one, a Fredric Gruger illustration from 1930.


But arguably the signature element of drawing–tied to its ancient roots in symbolic communication and proto-writing–is line, not tone. The history of printing certainly captures the yes/no (mark/not mark) of drawing, heightened through technological transferrence. Woodcut and relief printing (see top of post) isolate this phenomenon, which is as old as pictograms and petroglyphs.


Printing provides a handy entry point to thinking about drawing in such contexts. In a color printing job (four-color process [CMYK] or multiplate spot color work) there is a thing known as the key plate. The key plate is printed black or the darkest color of a given palette. Before the key plate is printed, the image does not cohere: it's an indistinct mass. The last color pulls it all together and provides the visual structure.


Here's an example from a commercial printing manual published in 1922. The two color duotype features an orange pass and a black one, with the black exposure burned back a little to let the orange breathe through the finished print.

In drawn imagery the key plate comes from a key drawing. That is, the visual architecture is built from line and shape in black or other dark color. A particularly good place to isolate key drawings is in comics. Below, a daily strip of Milt Caniff's Terry and the Pirates. As a daily, the strip had to succeed in black and white; only the Sunday strips were printed in color. Notice the heavy use of black shape to ground the sequence formally.


Below, a single frame taken from a Sunday strip of the same period. Still plenty of black. But the color adds a great deal, both to our spatial understanding and the narrative: the shadowed Japanese are close to us, in hiding, dark; the ambushed Yankees are walking through the light, fatally exposed. The flying hat is a nice touch. The killers get their comeuppance the following week, through an ingenious American ruse.


In comics, key drawings can be tyrannical. Their control of shape and color can be total. Consider the David Stone Martin album cover below.



Have a good look. Now, consider the image as juxtaposed with the Caniff panel.

The two images use the same palette: black, blue, yellow. Both aspire to capture light and shadow through the temperature of the palette. But the Caniff is dominated by the black (and owes something to film noir visual techniques). By contrast, the DSM feels bathed in light and space. But for the moment, the crucial passage that captures the play of light in the album cover is the direct access afforded yellow to blue in the shadowed head of the waiting trumpeter. That is, no black line has been asked to chaperone yellow and blue; their edges meet in an evocative transition. This only works because everywhere else, black line is used to establish contours. The passage is unique in the drawing (though repeated in the type ROY).

Okay, I'll admit it: I'm a formalist geek. I can get huge satisfaction out of passages like the one I just pointed out, and the comparisons which can be made between one approach and another. I love how things look, and I get a thrill when a recognition of same is conveyed by simple graphic means. In this case, rough, knowing elegance.




We've established the relevance of a key drawing for work of this kind. If the key drawing provides a graphic container for visual contents, we are free to see the image in radically two-dimensional form. We need not be concerned with questions of volume or light unless they provide opportunities: illusion is less important than clarity of communication. Which takes me back to another bit from that early post at GT:

One must often take a plastic approach to spatial construction and the arrangement of form. (I am sometimes asked what I teach: the best, simplest answer I can give is “Advanced Pictionary.”) But it can take forever to retrain the mind to get past the Beaux-Arts drawing thing, even as the echo of that observational rigor retains its value. Making things up out of thin air typically produces maddening levels of vagueness (not ambiguity, a different thing altogether); dutifully rendering a subject generally yields a snoozeable result. But the integration of observation with a willingness to manipulate as required or desired offers real opportunity...

Which brings us directly to questions of style. Above and below I've posted details from a piece of concept art for the UPA feature The Four Poster, directed by John Hubley in 1952. The concept work was by Lew Keller, an unjustly obscure, excellent production designer. (Other work by Keller viewable here on the blog Cartoon Modern, in support of the wonderful book of the same name.) The drawing works to communicate character, setting and atmosphere. Its casual handling can mask just how informative the image is. Each character is sharply drawn, even when minimal. The drawing betrays knowledge of gesture, weight, mass, and volume, even as it abbreviates. It is exactly this abbreviation (e.g., the male dancer's feet, above) that characterizes the best cartooning. Such work amounts to a distillation of knowledge, which is greatly to be distinguished from vamping to fill its absence. Look at the woman with the shot glass below. Hers a precise characterization–girlish and haggard at once. The secondary tone is applied as a gestural support–not slavish, but not willful either.


Recently I mentioned the work of Lowell Hess, a cartoonist and illustrator who worked in a variety of contexts in the mid-twentieth century. For the two-color dimension of the work at hand (speaking to you, juniors), Hess uses a blend of key drawing and spot color to deliver his fundamental form. Hence the poison gun, hair ribbon and apron are all defined by an orange edge. Here too there is abbreviation and distillation.


Below, the endlessly stylish Harry Beckhoff, converting one of his microscopic thumbnails into a comic tableau for Collier's. Here again, style emerges from the distillation of knowledge, matched to an eye and hand and brain.



Another album cover by David Stone Martin, one of the great calligraphic draftsmen of all time. Look at the control of line weight, density, and flat black shapes! What character and rhythm. An essay on density. The only odd note being that goofy numeral 2 in the lower left corner. Would have preferred another typographic counterpoint, as in the JAM and SESSION at top.



Finally, a few samples from the work of Rea Irvin, the graphic sophisticate who gave us Eustace Tilley, the New Yorker magazine dandy. These are book illustrations from Snoot if You Must, a compilation of comic essays by Lucius Beebe. These drawings are supported by tonal passages of screentone dots, which create an optical gray value from black ink. We're close enough to this one to see the actual dots. The composition would not cohere without them.



And one more, with an atmospheric use of that screen tone.


All of the preceding images operate on the principle of a key drawing. None of them use "shading," a naive term for the application of value to show volume. All use drawing styles that tend toward simplification and abbreviation, in the manner of cartoons. And all of them would be acceptable approaches for realizing the junior illustration problem. Which is to say: the use of reference and the acquisition of knowledge do not determine approach. The needs of the picture and the goals and sensibilities of the maker do.

Images: Mass of St. Gregory, hand-colored woodcut; South German, 1420-1430; Harry Beckhoff, Thumbnail Sketch, magazine illustration circa 1940; Frederic Gruger, Saturday Evening Post, December 13, 1930; Moab Man, Fremont Culture Petroglyph, circa 1000 CE, Moab, Utah, photograph by DB Dowd, 2008; Explanation of Duotype, Commercial Engraving and Printing; A Manual of Practical Instruction, by Charles Hackleman, published by Commercial Engraving Publishing Company, Indianapolis; Milton Caniff, Terry and the Pirates, daily comic strip, November 22, 1937; Caniff, Terry, single panel from Sunday strip published on September 10, 1944; David Stone Martin, Roy Eldridge Collates, album cover illustration, Mercury/Clef Records, 1952; Lew Keller, Concept Art, The Four Poster, United Productions of America, directed by John Hubley, 1952; Lowell Hess, Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Bug! interior magazine spread illustration, Every Woman Magazine, 1961; Harry Beckhoff, Slowly the Clawlike Blades Closed Over the Package of Cigarettes, interior magazine illustration, Collier's, January 29, 1938; Martin, Jam Session #2, album cover illustration, Mercury/Clef Records, 1953 (?); Rea Irvin, book illustrations from Snoot If You Must, by Lucius Beebe; D. Appleton-Century Company, New York. 1943.

34 comments:

Laura Beckman said...

I really related to the problem of reconciling formal drawing education with illustration. I often find that I don't know what to include, so I include too much. I also admit to having a fear of 'simplifying' and 'stylizing', because, while I appreciate this in other artists, I am not used to it. Therefore, I fear that I will unwittingly create something which looks childish or excessively derivative of other artists.

I am starting to understand that reference photos can be used to determine what information needs to be portrayed in the ultimate illustration, but this does not mean that they should be copied religiously. In fact, most photographs include a large amount of unnecessary information which actually get in the way of storytelling.

DHC said...

Part of my struggle is finding a personal approach to distilling my drawings in order to build a clear message. I found that as a younger artist (say, at the tender age of 14) I would draw every single lunch break because I was simply so compelled to create images - and they always had a point to them, a narrative, were simple and descriptive and whimsically effortless that I long to discover again.

The kind of 'effortless' or intuitive image making I speak about was not cluttered by my fine-art training in college nor my newer artistic sensibilities. I understand that all this will come together (someday, hopefully) and all of what I've learned about fine art, 2D and communication design shouldn't be competing or obstructive at all - just finding that balance every time I pick up a pen is really the crux of it.

Brittany said...

I also related to the problem of steering away from formal drawing, the drawing exactly what you see. I do not have much experience in stylizing my work. I really enjoy the images in the post, they still retain a great sense of realism even though, like you said, they do not use shading to create volume. I also do not have much experience in media outside of the typical drawing media that you mentioned earlier in the post. I am excited to experiment with the water color, guache, or ink and see what it can do

erin said...

I agree with Laura, in the sense that I would like to create a simplified yet stylistic image (or three) without looking too familiar. I also enjoyed looking at the illustrations featured in the post and find that those and those at MGHL can help me to create successful illustrations, though it is a bit intimidating...

Jim O'Boyle said...

I'm interested in the roles color can play in simple, elegant illustrations. There are certain tasks colors can perform in delineating shapes and objects within a drawing. A color can be the 'key,' and function as an outline, or a sort of 'skeleton,' that confines and distinguishes the shapes of other colors. I've become more aware of these things from designing for silk screening - the number of colors is an economic concern (literally monetary). So there is usually a key color, and it is almost always the darkest color, and almost always darker than the color of the surface (like a t-shirt). If none of the colors in the design are darker than the surface, it is likely there won't be a governing 'key' in the structure of the drawing. There will instead be, for example, a color to play "light" and a color to play "local/unlit." So color choice and the relationship between shapes must needs change to suit the background color.
That is why I often find it unnatural to 'build' an image in a step-by-step process, and I get more excited about ideas that occur to me already congealed into a final image to work toward. The colors need to function synergistically, and if the relationships aren't established all at once, it is like a puzzle getting them to operate coherently

John Hendrix said...

Great post DB. I want to read it again, actually.

Lisa said...

I am still struggling with determining how exactly to use reference photos. I feel that my drawing mentality is divided between drawing straight from my head and the formal drawing techniques from core classes. I am having a hard time marrying the two to produce results that are stylized, yet well informed.

On another note, I am very excited to experiment with color to create atmosphere instead of just filling in the lines like a coloring book.

Jess Yeung said...

In addition to having trouble with departing from traditional methods of drawing, I am also struggling with developing my own style. For the purposes of this project, I found it rather difficult to simplify down to the 'key' lines and shapes. Because this was already a challenge, I was hesitant to try and stylize the figures in a way that might end up rendering the image unclear. John constantly reminds us that there is a difference between simple and clear and I think finding that balance has been the greatest challenge of this project thus far.

The issue of color has always been a concern of mine. Because we live in a full colored world, I find it difficult to simplify an image by using fewer colors and using them more significantly. Color is no longer used to reinforce what the image is, but rather as a tool to direct us to what is important. Choosing certain colors can change the tone of the entire image. So as artists, it's important to learn how to use color.

Jenna said...

Thinking of this project in terms of a key plate is really interesting because it makes the image much more schematized. This post definitely made me think about paring down the detail shown in the scene, especially because the menswear department has multiples of everything. However, in my head I have a hard time finding a good spot on the "coloring book" to "rendered" spectrum, and tend to shade instinctively. I want to consider line and shape much more instead, but have a hard time making it work.

alissa joelle said...

I found that although we went through staging and building an image with figures, I was still using too many other elements to help fit the figures into the frame. I found it helpful, actually, to take more reference photos in order to help get posture down and facial expression a little more believable. Like others have been saying, photos do contain too much information, and it is something hard to cut things out of them and leave just the figure. For this reason, the second time I had people pose for me, I really emphasized to them that it was their bodies that were important.

As for color and style, these are also two things thatI am concerned about. I think that when approaching this, thinking about simplification will be really helpful not only in uncovering a style, but also in communicating the elements of the image clearly.

David Maupin said...

There is something about simplicity in a key drawing that both intrigues me visually, but frightens the hell out of me. Throughout art school, I have developed a commit-aphobia when it comes to placing lines on a paper, especially when they are "permanent". This condition only amplifies when it comes to the simpler construction of images as mistakes become much more noticeable.

However, what is nice about many of these images is that with the right amount of planing, less is more. The message is contained and presented so that we can easily receive it.

Anna Shafer-Skelton said...

I think it takes some of the stress off to hear these illustrations, which all look really cool, be described in terms of how well they communicate. It makes me more focused on creating something that communicates something rather than something that looks cool. It's less intimidating to me to approach a specific problem than to just draw, so this post was really helpful.

I am slightly confused about when it's appropriate to "distill" what we see, and when it's better to include lots of relevant details. If the hairdresser's holding scissors in his hand, how do I know whether to put all the shampoo bottles behind him?

Molly said...

I especially enjoy the idea that "in comics, key drawings can be tyrannical." I think sometimes people forget how how powerful black can be - the successful manipulation of black mass and line (as in David Stone Martin's record cover) is supremely important, and for me, never gets old. Similarly, the use of a bold contour line is something that I feel I will never cease to enjoy, even when working with color. The difficulty here is to not only have an understanding of how to ground something in a bold, black contour line, but also how to use shape and color in combination with these sorts of lines.

Hanna said...

Love Hess's "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Bug" image. The usage of colour on the apron and bow makes it fell really delicate. The colour on the poison gun looks dangerous.

Plus, the simplicity of the shapes are to the point and clear.

Max T. said...

These images show a great range of solutions regarding making a key drawing that is at once simple and informative. This was helpful to me because I usually resort to the "tyrannical" key drawing myself, and it's nice to see such a variety of solutions regarding the application of black in line and shape in relation to the application of color. I like the way most of these images communicate with color and the key drawing in distinct ways that can still inform each other.

Carmi said...

As an over-analyzer who once took great satisfaction in 'shading' with conte crayon to make a drawing look as realistic as possible, learning to distill my drawings for the sake of clarity has been and continues to be a real challenge.

This post has been helpful in making me realize that images can still retain their realism without shading.
The idea that "we need not be concerned with questions of volume or light unless they provide opportunities" is particularly relevant, because eliminating these concerns from my head has instantly helped me think about how to go about adding color to my images in a way that will enhance rather than hinder clarity.

Paul R said...

This post has been very helpful in helping me to consider the key and the color simultaneously. As I have been working on my drawings, I have often got stuck thinking of the key as something to finalize and then just "paint bucket" with color later. The Hess image and his use of the orange helped me to think of color earlier in the process and how I can use the color to be able to add information to my image and that the key should not be so restricting of the color.

Dan R. said...

I'm really excited to learn more about this process of constructing a key drawing. I was admittedly pleased to read that "shading" and "volume" don't play a role in this process like the way they do painting and "realistic" art -- I'm not particularly fond of shading nor do I consider myself any good at it. I'm eager to start developing this experience with key drawings because I feel that it will help me approach image-making in a new and better way.

Also, I want to highlight the importance of the mentions of color usage in this blog post. I feel that we -- the students -- are starting to learn about applying color in more meaningful ways, and I think this a great opportunity to really dive into the problem of color in illustration.

Sofia said...

I am also looking forward to learning how to simplify and my drawings and find my own "style". It will definitely be a challenge for me to put aside my classical drawing education of shading and tone and learn to think of drawing in a new way, with a focus on line. I also really liked the images in this post. I am always surprised to find how few colors you need to make something look realistic and pop off the page. I definitely will be limiting myself with color palette and trying to focus more on value and saturation.

Evonne S. said...

This post sparked some reflection for me and brought up a point that I hadn't even considered. Like other students, I am struggling with deciding how to construct my images. It hadn't even crossed my mind to try non-formal types of drawing. I've been using photos as blueprints rather than references; and I have to make a more intentional effort to move away from that. I'm excited to see what happens once I free myself of those self-imposed "rules".
As for the images in this post, I really enjoyed how the artists used color in a meaningful way. Oftentimes I have to ask myself if I'm using color in a project simply for aesthetics or if it actually enhances the image. Seeing how different artists used color and value to bring new meaning to the images inspired me.

Sara Wong said...

Although I'm still in the process of composing my images, I have definitely felt some anxiety about how those images will be made; I have been making a conscious effort to keep my thumbnailing free and gestural, but the idea of producing a final image from a similar vocabulary feels risky.

It is interesting to see here how widely a key drawing can vary, as with the album cover in comparison with the Caniff panel; in both cases, the black does not govern the image and the colors function for spatial and emotional reasons; in other words, while I have often approached color differently, it is almost freeing to see how black can be treated in the same manner. As I type this, duh, black is a color! Sometimes it takes a lot of thinking to return to basic golden rules. It's also always refreshing to see images made in such different ways. I think this has given me the confidence to approach my images from a new perspective.

Andrew Kay said...

As a person who has always been engrossed in cartoons and graphic novels, I've always had difficulty breaking away from a style that relies heavily on line to make up shapes. This was something that was particularly challenging when taking drawing classes that focused on rendering three dimensional forms with an emphasis on tone. Yet now, I'm told that it's line that is more important! I think the major difference between these two situations is the intended purpose of the illustration itself.

The keywords "symbolic communication" come to mind, as the focus of creating a dynamic image is not to simply render it as realistically as possible. This is an invaluable point to remember as us students focus on our process, keeping in mind what our intentions (and intended audience) are when drafting an image instead of always getting caught up in realistic drawings.

As for the idea of key drawing, I greatly admire those who can work from a loose image and consistently refine it into a final version. I think what makes this so difficult for me is my inability to work loosely in the first place. Because I'm unable to produce thumbnails that quickly and effectively communicate gestures and forms, I rely on more detailed thumbnails that then fail to communicate many other important aspects such as movements and actions. As a result, there is nothing to be refined from the thumbnails themselves, and they end up as nothing more than decorative sketches next to the unrelated final product.

All this is to say that an understanding of intention is something that should always be kept in mind during one's process, and doing so will help produce a more cohesive and coherent final product.

Monika Pawar said...

These key drawings help remove me from the realistic figure drawings that I have been encouraged to make in the past. I used to think that observational drawing could be translated directly into illustrating, but I am finding now that illustration demands a very different mindset. I am especially interested in the drawings' lack of shadow, which feels perfectly natural. I also appreciate the drawings that manage to convey a wide range of motion and expressions with simple, minimalistic lines (e.g. Keller's). It seems that these are more successful in expressing the verb each figure is performing, as they have the ability to be highly exaggerated.

I found the yellow and blue compositions helpful as well, as they show that the two color palette is not limiting, but can be a narrative element itself. Because of this I think it may be helpful to think of the color scheme beforehand so I can incorporate that into my design process earlier than I had originally planned.

After looking at these images I plan to further experiment with non-realistic figures and attempt multiple compositions without having a set idea of how I want it to look.

Steph Waldo said...

I found this post extremely relevant to developing my project as well as my process as an artist overall. From the beginning of my education in art, I've been told the more observational drawing I do, the better an illustrator I could become. While, I realize that this mantra has it's merits, it is actually partially untrue. It is the combination of understanding form through the same skills developed in observational drawing and distilling those observations into something much more specific. Also, I have always separated observational drawing an cartooning into two separate processes, but I am starting to see where the two can exist in a hybrid process (like Harry Beckhoff's work).

I found the David Martin Stone covers extremely helpful in considering color for my project specifically. Color is used in these albums adaptively to the base structure which already exists in line in form. Stone's work demonstrates the importance of strong key drawings and color simply as an ornamentation to the strong base which already exists. I intend to further explore the use of form and line in black because it is the architecture which makes the illustrations in the post so successful.

Jeremy S. said...

Having read and studied many comics and graphic novels, I am fairly familiar with artwork and illustration that focuses more than anything on clarity and communication. I don't come from much of a fine arts background. I hadn't taken many art classes of any kind before I switched into the art school, although I have always drawn and made comics recreationally. Since I don't have much classical training, learning about observational drawing recently has been a very new experience. These key drawings are more in line with what I am used to: image making that is focused on line and form rather than depth, light, space, and/or realism. However, it seems to me that these key drawings and this illustration project lies at somewhat of a middle ground between classical observational drawing and the kind of line drawing I am used to. In comics, actions are often exaggerated to enhance clarity; however these key drawings, while nowhere near as realistic as the observational drawing I've been taught recently, are often more grounded in reality than many comics I'm familiar with. Thus, photo reference comes into play. It'll be interesting trying to balance the reference photos with the strength of these line-based key drawings.

Christopher Reisenbichler said...

The illustrations in this post are daunting in some ways, they're humbling in the simple elegance of the solution they come to, but as we see so often, this apparent simplicity only comes after much striving. It's a kind of adage that the most elegant solutions are the most difficult to come to.

Although, seeing these, with the discussion of the key drawing, and the seemingly effortless interplay of the key drawing with elements of color, really excites me to explore the possibilities within my own work.

Alex Berger said...

One of the best things I took away from this post was one thing that united all the images. Some used more line, some used more shape, some used a lot of black and some used it reservedly, but they were all successful in clarity of communication. The limited color palettes in all the images helped me, as a viewer, to really see what was important in the image. Before college I hadn't really taken any art classes and in each project I was sorely tempted to use EVERY COLOR, yet every professor warned against using more than a couple. Now I realize why. It gets really complex, and the image isn't really unified. It just looks better when you limit yourself.

So I guess what I'm getting at here is limiting the complexity. The mention of abbreviation was a particularly important point in creating a visual narrative. A few lines here and there suggest a scene: one cafe table, a sign saying "employees only," lines showing an explosion of a grenade. The illuminated-manuscript-style picture at the very top isn't successful in this way. There are a zillion objects an they all look like they're on the same plane and I don't even know what to look at.

For my project, I'll try to keep it simple, but visually engaging and communicative.

Leah Strickman said...

I definitely relate to the problem of reconciling realistic drawing training with illustration, and I hope that using a key drawing in a different way may help me get past that a bit. Having had a lot of training with realistic drawing, and not as much with illustration, I'm finding that the simplification required to make an illustration that is clear and uncomplicated is a lot harder to do than it seems. In a way it's kind of scary to have to leave out pieces of information that could potentially be crucial to communicating some part of your narrative - there's no way to know if you're doing it right. These illustrations are all good examples of people who have successfully done this, which I'm sure will be useful to look at and use as inspiration.

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Grant Phillips said...

I think that a lot of my work in illustration this semester and in Pictures for Communication last semester involved heavy editing to get to the essence of what I was trying to convey. I have found it difficult to describe the human form using only essential visual vocabulary. Exaggerating form while also maintaining a feeling of a physical reality is definitely something that I am working on. Looking at these key drawings has been useful to see a variety of approaches to this. It also has shown me a variety of approaches to color and use of line/shape.

Michelle Quick said...

What I have to keep in mind and what these images are very helpful for seeing is the distillation of a movement. I feel like I'm struggling to render a 3-d space in a line drawing and I keep relying on smaller, 3 dimensionally oriented details to indicate the movement. These images help me see how I can create that gesture without superfluous information. I'm really interested in trying to let shape dictate my figures more so than lines, like in the Lowell Hess illustration.

Katie Calder said...

In regards to our current project, I relate to this post most in regard to choice of color. Initially, I am creating entirely grayscale images and will add my colors later digitally. Rather than being limited to an images initial hue, my challenge will be using these (in a way) key drawings, and applying color to emphasize certain aspects within the page, or rather act as a unifying element within my spreads.

However, since my images are grayscale, I can explore the evocative, textural qualities within my original non-representational images, somewhat serving as their own key drawings.

JP said...

Growing up primarily practicing figure drawing and portraiture, I have been told by several past teachers to abandon my use of line in favor of using "shading" to create realistic and three-dimensional shapes. Thus I don't have a lot of practice using simple and expressive lines to create volume and form. As much as I want to mimic the stylized and whimsical use of line of artists such as Lucius Beebe, Lew Keller, and (especially) Harry Beckhoff, it has been difficult for me to illustrate specific actions (such as throwing a pitch or swinging a bat) and make my line drawings fluid/three-dimensional without applying various levels of value.