Saturday, November 7, 2009


I forgot to add this little guy to my last post! He was drawn in the same vein as the exploration of the cartoon characters, but this guy was probably my favorite of that set... just because you can look at him and know exactly what his deal is. He's going to go save the world somewhere by zapping you with little green lasers.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Visual Language Process

Currently I'm in a class called Visual Worlds: Image Development for Illustrators and Cartoonists. Which essentially is a class to help you discover what your visual signature is. At the end of my junior year, I felt really lost as to what my art would look like, so this seemed like the most ideal class to take.

I really had no idea what I was getting into.

The class is broken up into three sections. The first was the professor becoming familiar with our work and assigning different projects, including reportage, cartooning, and a storyboard project, to see how we would tackle these projects so he could get familiar with our work.

The first project, which is actually a series of three images, documenting people at the local mall here in St. Louis...

The cartooning project, where we were given words like "robot" and "lizard" and had to interpret them as simply as possible...

A single frame of a storyboard/animatic about a girl who steals and eats a pie.

After this initial phase, we were given the infamous 100 Figures project, where we were given approximately two and a half days to draw 100 figures, each on an 11 x 14 piece of paper. The assignment details can be found here.

I put a cap on myself, not allowing myself to go past 10 (or at times, even 5) minutes per character, so I could actually finish on time. The following two figures were two images that I created from that project.

After this, the class was split into two groups- illustrators and cartoonists. I was put in the cartoonist group, even though my stuff was kind of dancing through the entire spectrum of illustration and cartoons.

A lot of emphasis was put on what is uniquely ours and trying to find out how we work best. Now, I'm really used to and comfortable with an 'anime' style (that label really bothers me, because there are tons of different styles in under that umbrella term- everything from Studio Gainax to Miyazaki (studio Ghibli) to CLAMP. But, that is a different story.)

Anyway, my critique for the 100 figures assignment (we literally pinned up all 100 images) went... interestingly, to say the least. Basically, I was told I was all over the spectrum, and a stick figure I drew was pulled out and pointed to the best one. Alot of the stuff up there was 'anime', because when you're making 100 figures in that short a time you freak out and do what you're used to. This really discouraged me, because I felt like I was spending an obscene amount of money and time to be at an art school just to draw stick figures.

After another meeting with the instructor, we settled on going on a cartoon route, trying a lot of things I had never done before.

I was used to drawing things like this...

And was trying new things like this with watercolor... (yay costume design class!)
And suddenly am trying super bug-eyed things like this.

I liked them well enough.. some of them, at least the ones I posted here. I did about 70-80 of these and inked 10 with a brush pen. The following figure was one the professor and class really liked that I actually do not like much at all. I was told to create a world based in this visual language with 5 characters. The instructor thought my style might be in the realm of licensed imagery. I was willing to give it a shot.
When I started to... I was just physically unable to. I tried drawing the bug-eyed characters, but it drove me crazy. You can see a few attempts to here... and I wound up defaulting to my archer character there on the left.
The more and more I tried to draw those cartoons, the more and more I drew even more realisticly.. this page came out of me really trying to make the cartoons!

I tried to make a cartoon little red riding hood character and that failed too... I wound up making the French anime-ish character in the lower right... by this time, I had only two days to create the 5 characters and a world for them, so I jumped on it and went for it.

I went with girl stereotypes.. I had a French girl, Catholic schoolgirl, a Japanese girl in a summer yukata, etc...
But this was still not what I was really supposed to be doing! She didn't look anything like the curvy, shapely girl above. My instructor looked at the more realistic faces and told me to make more things like that....

So I tried the 25 expression challenge that was floating around on deviantArt sometime last year.. and actually had a lot of fun with it.
my 'WTF' face. But when I posted the pictures for this, the critique was barely about the work on the wall but how I'm going in circles, see-sawing back and forth and not making a decision as to what my things look like. The metaphor used was that I was at the high dive, but kept looking down instead of jumping. At this point I'm still searching for what my stuff will be, but I'm going to have to pick something and really try to invest in it. I spoke with an additional professor today, one who I hadn't worked with this semester yet, which helped give an outside perspective to this situation. Personally, I feel I'm somewhere in between illustration and cartooning, but more on the cartooning side. Illustration is more about informing and cartooning is about abstraction and entertainment... which is really where I fall, I think.

An additional metaphor my professor for this class used was an old school radio.. where you have to tune to try to get the station, but you go back and forth until you nail it. I think I'm still in that tuning phase, but hopefully I'm narrowing it down a little bit.