The Herald-Dispatch |
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Roughs in Progress
Here’s a second ruff after checking out the no-diving rules. I’m using a standard “belly flop-styled” jumper and showing the instant before he hits the freezing water. I left the duck with scarf and toboggan to emphasize the coldness. However, in thios composition, I found it too diagrammatic and uninteresting. So I came up with another ruff that should bring more attention to the jumper’s face — to which I will likely give a pleasant expression that will offset the imminent facial contortions that are sure to follow.
Note that I reworked the guys left arm. It looked anatomically awkward and after separately doing a reminder sketch of bending arms in such a dive, I realized that I had the elbow bending the wrong way. Put you arms behind you in a similar fashion and rotate your palms upward (thumbs toward each other). The elbows face up and away from the body. My original arm-bend as if the elbow was located below and away.
I’m also making sure to allow enough space between the jumper and his shadow over the water.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
This week’s Entertainment Tri-State cover is on “cool” things going on outdoors this winter. There’s disc golf tournament, the annual Crawlathon, and various shows from RVing to hunting/fishing. But what piqued my visual interest is the Polar Plunge in Charleston.
Now the idea of crazy folks diving into a cold pool of water for a good cause is certainly worthy of a cover spot. A relatively new endeavor, the “Plunge” seeks to raise funds for Special Olympics of West Virginia.
I immediately did this sketch. I visualized an image from an underwater vantage point, of a diver’s frozen face submerged in mid-dive. However, after checking out the rules on their website, I saw that “diving” is not allowed. Instead, folks either step gingerly down a ladder or jump feet first into a 4.5-foot pool of frigid water. But belly-flops ARE allowed. So I’ll let that rattle around in my mind some. I wanted to include the fish and duck as they would help communicate the concept of freezing temperatures. However, the fact that the Plunge is done in a swimming pool precludes the notion of using fish— but I may keep the duck.
Friday, January 18, 2008
“Ideal” proportion scale
Here’s a quick sketch I did based on the “Divine” scale I mentioned previously.
I’ve included lines for an evenly-spaced grid.
The horizontal green lines indicate the vertical space divided into 7ths — from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin. Note the eyebrows, bottom of nose, bottom of lip, rest neatly on the line.
The vertical blue lines divide the face into 5ths. Note all the spaces are equal: from the edge of the ear to the outer corner of the eye, the eye width and the nose width are all equal.
Finally the horizontal red line at the top of the head and the bottom of the chin, places the eyes roughly at the center.
This person would be considered perfectly proportioned according to the scale.
Now check out this image of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler!
Using the same grid, we can see how Steve’s face deviates from the scale — and therefore is a significantly more interesting face. While some of the features lie within scale, the obvious wide smile dominates the face. Using your hand to cover the mouth, notice also that Steve’s eyes are slightly close together — this further emphasizes the large mouth. The nose becomes more of an afterthought — relegated to merely filling the space between the eyes and mouth.
In this image, I’ve exaggerated those features further beyond their deviation from the scale. Steven’s chin is well structured but not overly huge. His nose is dealt with the same way. Everything else is shrunk down around the mouth.
Here is a finished version of the entire band I did several years ago — a caricaturist’s dream. While everyone had a great face to parody, I was probably most happy with drummer Joey Kramer’s likeness, as he is the most even-featured of the group.
Yeah, I know, that’s not saying much.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
A Word on Caricature
Several folks have asked how to do caricatures. I say rather simply “You just exaggerate those features that make them different from others. And while this is an overly simple explanation, that is basically the premise.
I was watching political coverage on C-SPAN a while back — with the usual boxed heads talking issues back and forth. I don’t remember who the candidates were, but the contrast between their features made me run for my sketchbook.
A friend of mine sent me an email image of Mitt Romney and Sesame Street’s “Guy Smiley” the gameshow host — noting the remarkable resemblances between the two.
Contrasting Laurel and Hardy is simple — been done enough times as well. But you can do a parody of just about anyone and still retain a recognizable character by using a fundamental grid.
There is a proportion scale for facial “beauty” in the world called “The Divine Proportion.” It relies on balance, symmetry and evenness to evaluate facial features for “perfect beauty” — whatever that is. As you may tell, I don’t ascribe to the belief in a grid determining a person’s beauty. Balance and symmetry can be visually boring. Most people have imperfect features — which makes them visually interesting.
The “most attractive people” are said to conform to this grid. Most people, however, do not conform. That nonconformity is what a caricaturist seeks to magnify. The degree of that exaggeration can be very wide. Look at the work of Robert Risko or the great Al Hirschefeld; you’ll see how despite their stylized renderings, the subjects are simplified and fundamentally. Yet they easily recognizable as the people they depict.
I once did caricatures of all the US Presidents (to Reagan) for an art show. It was a lot of work, but fun. When I was about halfway through (James Garfield) I had done so many that I could close my eyes and see facial features — no actual faces — just different shaped eyes, noses, etc. It’s like when your driving across country for hours, and you get off at the exit ramp and stop — you still “see” the landscape coming toward you.
Tune in next time and I’ll explain the proportion scale more.