Jan. 25th, 2010

paul_scribbles: Cartoon of a small white moth in flight, wearing large spectacles (Default)

Confusion reigns.  Somehow the notion of a lady fossil-preparator who finds herself meeting early tetrapods in Devonian Period Greenland has not yet withered on the vine, even though that would probably be for the best.  But, when family commitments have occasionally permitted, I've been tinkering around with both the look and the approach to the written component.

The MA casts a long shadow, and I find myself caught between realism and caricature, not knowing which way to turn.  One thing is clear, I definitely need a break, for the time being, from the egg-shaped and beetle-shaped characters of my college project.  That was always a step too far for me.  But...

For some reason, especially when drawing people, I do feel an urge to caricature, or stylize, or whatever you want to call it.  Now, as everybody knows, the human adult is typically between seven and eight head-lengths tall, with seven and a half being more or less typical.  The variable factor is leg-length, whilst a more hard-and-fast rule is that it's four head-lengths from head to crotch.  I've begun to notice that when drawing for fun rather than absolute accuracy, I'm more comfortable with a head-to-crotch height of three head-lengths.  Hmmm... So, above is a slightly hasty new version of the lady scientist.  Needs some work, but I like the way things are going.   Now, my MA tutor would not have approved, I'm pretty certain.  She would regard this, and probably rightly, as pretty middle-of-the-road kind of drawing, and would have urged for it to be pushed ever further, like So-and-So the Mighty Children's Illustrator (Out of Whose Arris the Sun doth Shine) until you've got characters that don't remotely resemble people or animals anymore but you do have a "style" that can be recognized at a hundred yards' distance.  Commercially the argument is a forceful one, but... well, you've gotta be able to live with yourself, haven't you?  I'm hoping to combine this relatively mild level of proportion-tweaking with realistic shading and textures (a notion that my former tutor most definitely would support) and with enough character and expression to give it plenty of appeal (which will be for others to judge).  I won't go down as the most innovative illustration stylist of the century, but I might just be able to sleep at night. :D

Now that I think about it, I suppose I have pretty much come full circle.  The Rook characters were almost-realistic birds with slightly exaggerated proportions.  Pretty much inhabiting the same universe as the character above.  Ah, well...

Caricaturing animals seems a little easier.  My tutor was always very insistent that I made a better and more original job of that than of stylizing people.  I'm not sure that was the whole story; I think it was just a slightly more exclusive turf, is all.  Everyone takes their turn at re-designing the human figure, but maybe not so many people have put so much time into accurate study of birds, dinosaurs etc, only to take all that info and morph them into characters.  I dunno...  Anyhoo, when it comes to stylizing an early tetrapod like Acanthostega, it's a gift.  They already have such a great look, with those stumpy, multi-digit limbs and the big flat head with two froggy eyes on top.  Hardly even adapted the basic proportions for the character below.  Just gave him a bit of a smile, and there you go.  I must confess to being pretty pleased with both these characters, although it's just as likely that tomorrow I'll get up and see the urgent necessity of re-designing them from scratch.

The written element is also proving problematic.  Want it to be a bit humorous but a bit sensitive, and as I said before, uncharacteristically tasteful.  Proving difficult.  Ironically, this might even be one project that lends itself to the "graphic novel" form after all.  Now, that would be hilarious!  But surely I can come up with something better than that?  Can't I?


paul_scribbles: Cartoon of a small white moth in flight, wearing large spectacles (Default)

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