Wednesday, 5 June 2013


What you are about to read is not only a recap of the most recent class but also  an account of  how lost I had become as an illustrator.
Note to my students: Please note that  I refer to my drawing as being bad due to the fact that I know I can draw better, DO NOT judge your own drawings  at the same level, especially if you are just starting out.  
Following on from the recent figure drawing exercises  I wanted to continue with a tutorial that would focus on the human form , that would be easy to follow and result in a composed piece of work.
I recently drew a sketch of someone I know  and posted it on facebook. It was just a quick, loose sketch, just for the fun of it. 
 The idea for the sketch was inspired by Alberto Vargas pin-up girl art and the application of such art on the body of  WW2 aircraft. This, I fetl, was an  appropriate theme, due to this person having a  fondness for the style and clothing of the 40's-50's .

 This theme also reminded me of Philip (80's airbrush king) Castle's work

While drawing the sketch, I thought it would also make a good Barbarella themed piece, so I set about producing something that could be used as a tutorial. This is when my troubles began.
As some of you may be aware, Barbarella, is a French/Italian science fiction film based on  Jean-Claude Forest's comic book character. In the film, Barbarella is played by Jane Fonda. 

As I am a fan of the movie, I wanted to draw a Jane Fonda Barbarella. The thing is, I would not class myself as a portrait artist. I can get a likeness sometimes and, when I do, I consider it a pure fluke.

I think that because I was trying to capture a likeness of a real life person, I was allowing theprocess to influence the style of drawing and the results were appalling. Ok, maybe I'm being too harsh, but I was very disappointed with every effort I produced. One after another of continuous bad drawing.

Below are some sketches of Jane Fonda.  These are really bad. I am showing these just to prove that some professional artists have bad drawing days (of which I have many).
The images below, chart the  doomed journey to epic failure.
It starts off reasonably well, though I think the leg arrangement could have been better, and then plummets to disaster.

 I then continued to produce a rough colour scheme in photoshop.

I think the end result is  unflattering, lifeless and lacks  good aesthetic.
I thought that maybe trying to capture Jane Fonda's likeness was getting in the way, so
 I attempt the drawing again, but this time, try to capture Jane Fonda's likeness. The result is a slight improvement but I was still unimpressed by my effort.

And then  I remembered that I had produced a Barbarella drawing for a class back in 2009.

This drawing was produced on a flip chart  using  a black marker. I drew it a stage at a time while the students followed. This was before Swarthmore went all digital and projectors and stuff.
 This is how I generally draw when I draw concept art for toys or cartoon shows, and have done for many years. It's possible that, through some kind of insecurity,  I deviated from my path when I became aware of Bruce Timm's work and how close it was to mine, ...only much better. I guess I was  self conscious about  being seen as a Bruce Timm wannabe and began to draw less and less in the style that felt so natural to me. I think this was a big mistake. I am not a comic book artist. I have illustrated  some graphic novels but I am not a comic book artist in the true sense of the word. I am a fan of Bruce Timm's work and have been ever since he created the style of Batman: The Animated Series.

I did not become totally aware of his comic book work until much later, at which point I felt a bit second rate. 

The real influence behind the way I drew stuff was actually , Hanna Barbera cartoons ,

and Alex Toth comic book art.

So, I  attempted the drawing again, this  time drawing without thinking about it and this is what came out on paper....

Below is a rough colour scheme for the background I threw on in photoshop  as I had run out of time before I left to go teach my class.

By not trying to force something that was not one of my strengths, that being a portrait artist, and by shrugging off  any self conscious baggage about producing something similar to another (much better) artist I produced a sketch that looked more relaxed and natural, and in only 60 minutes (including scanning the stages etc).
I hope I have learned not to get so hung up about my work and whether it looks like another artist's work, and just draw.

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