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Old 02-07-2011, 11:01 AM
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Default Loki's Thread of Striving Against Mediocrity

Recently I've been extremely disappointed with my cartooning. It's all flat in an unappealing and ugly way. I was getting down on myself and moping around and kicking baby when I realized there's nothing worse than a self-depreciating artist. So for the past few weeks I've really been studying hard some of my favorite artists: Peyo, Uderzo, Kricfalusi, Jones; trying to break some bad habits and get better a figure drawing. Drawing the action, not the pose. Drawing the emotion, not the form. It's taken some work but I think I'm making progress. Here's the last thing I drew before hitting the books, it's that bear again.



Ugh. I can't even look at it.

And here's what I drew today (I've been playing a lot of Suikoden recently).



Coloring could use some work, but it was an afterthought anyway. (Surprisingly, Manga Studio is great for coloring.) Critiques aren't encouraged, they're demanded. I'm trying to break out of a rut here. A total shakedown is in order. So please tell me what you see. I don't care if you're an art person or not. If something seems off or awkward to you please let me know. I can't become a better artist without your help.
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Old 02-07-2011, 11:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loki View Post
So for the past few weeks I've really been studying hard some of my favorite artists: Peyo, Uderzo, Kricfalusi, Jones;
You're just using this as an excuse to watch cartoons, aren't you?
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Old 02-07-2011, 11:09 AM
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I've been looking at stills mostly (but yes).
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Old 02-07-2011, 11:20 AM
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I always like your stuff, so this is a hard game to play. What are your bad habits? For example, my first art instruction was How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way and, while I adore John Buscema, it really ruined my figure work. I'm always consciously squashing my figures to avoid superhero proportions.
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Old 02-07-2011, 11:31 AM
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I just don't want your art to lose its Loki charm.

Please don't stop drawing hideous Mario
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  #6  
Old 02-07-2011, 11:48 AM
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On OX∆◊* those fingers looked mangled. As I understand it the reason cartoon chars only have four digits is because drawing five makes hands look horrible. Doesn't help that they're doing a complicated action either... The face of OX∆◊* looks a little sparse. His clothes look so much more detailed.


I have an issue with his waist as well. I think that is merely my aesthetics talking and nothing wrong with the image. I just like to see a waste on characters who have them.
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Old 02-07-2011, 12:32 PM
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I actually like the way Tir's hands look. I think the fact that they're a little confusing works for this pose because they're supposed to be in constant motion so making it a little unclear what they're doing lends believability to their movement. Same goes for his twirly baton. I like how the knobs on it are distorted and not symmetrically drawn. It makes them seem like they're whizzing by.

I do have issues with his head. The foreshortening of his body and the not quite parallel to the perceived ground plane at which the baton is twirling all seem to suggest he is looming slightly above the viewer but his head and face is straight in front of the viewer. That's why trying to imagine how his neck connects to his head and body gets awkward and confusing and makes him look like he's a turtle trying to pull his head into his shell, especially in relation to his right shoulder. I think it's because you tried to draw him looking down at the viewer by moving his whole head to be looking down but bending his head breaks the strength of his pose. If the head were upright like the rest of his body (underside of his chin visible, larger nose, less head scarf visible, tail of his headscarf more hidden behind his back) you can still draw his eyes so that he's making eye contact with the viewer so he's still looking down on the viewer while also strengthening his pose.

That was a mess of a post. If you need clarification, just let me know.
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  #8  
Old 02-07-2011, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Excitemike View Post
I always like your stuff, so this is a hard game to play. What are your bad habits?
I've gotten stuck drawing characters the same way each time. I always start with a circle or square and then make it a 3/4 view.



Then I throw on my standard noses, eyes, and ears. Shapes that I've drawn so much I'm comfortable with them. The problem is I'm okay with these shapes, but not a lot of others, therefor I can't effectively draw the character in a three-demensional space. The pose is the same every time.

Then I formulate the body but because I'm not drawing the gesture, they're flat and oddly proportioned. It's ugly design.

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I have an issue with his waist as well. I think that is merely my aesthetics talking and nothing wrong with the image. I just like to see a waste on characters who have them.
Thanks for pointing this out. I didn't see when I was drawing that the TcDohl didn't have a waist and looks flat on his trunk. I was so focused on extending the flow of action from his wrists to his feet that I lost some aspects of the character model.



I do like the pear shape of the character. But still, it's flat in a way it shouldn't be.

And the hands do have five fingers. It's just too busy. I should have worked on them more to make the action clear, but I wanted to convey the busyness of his fingers flaying to spin the stick.

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Originally Posted by tungwene View Post
I do have issues with his head. The foreshortening of his body and the not quite parallel to the perceived ground plane at which the baton is twirling all seem to suggest he is looming slightly above the viewer but his head and face is straight in front of the viewer. That's why trying to imagine how his neck connects to his head and body gets awkward and confusing and makes him look like he's a turtle trying to pull his head into his shell, especially in relation to his right shoulder. I think it's because you tried to draw him looking down at the viewer by moving his whole head to be looking down but bending his head breaks the strength of his pose. If the head were upright like the rest of his body (underside of his chin visible, larger nose, less head scarf visible, tail of his headscarf more hidden behind his back) you can still draw his eyes so that he's making eye contact with the viewer so he's still looking down on the viewer while also strengthening his pose.

That was a mess of a post. If you need clarification, just let me know.
No, this makes perfect sense. I did try to convey that the head was tilted up by putting the nose higher and tilting it upwards. But I see what you mean, it didn't really work.



You're right that pushing it even further makes it more effective.

Thanks for the comments, guys. This is exactly the stuff I was hoping for.
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  #9  
Old 02-07-2011, 07:14 PM
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when you're trying to draw an action, just insert a "the fuck" into it.

ie.

you drew him "looking up"

but you wanted to draw him "looking the fuck up"

It should solve that problem
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Old 02-07-2011, 08:41 PM
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One bad habit of mine that I've been trying to break when sketching is not checking some sort of reference for poses and bits of anatomy I'm unsure of. Which sounds obvious but I still find myself struggling for too long over a pose here and there when it would have been quicker to just google it or check posemaniacs (which is amazingly exhaustive). It really helps to know what you're "breaking" even if you're drawing something cartoony (especially if you're drawing something cartoony). That probably would have helped here with the stance Tir is taking. His left leg is pulled out too far and isn't foreshortened enough, making it look flat. This throws off his right leg, which is positioned correctly but still looks like it isn't pulled out ENOUGH, throwing the balance of the figure off.

All that said though, I really like looseness of this drawing. Nitpicks aside it has great flow and if you hadn't asked for a critique I probably wouldn't have had boo to say about its flaws.
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Old 02-07-2011, 09:19 PM
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Would the staff look better if some of the positions were bent or de-saturated or blurred or something to imply movement?
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:59 PM
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Have you tried animating your stuff? Well, not animating it, but like doing a couple of extra layers to see how the character is moving. Take Link and the Bear: What movements did they make to get into that pose, and what movements will they take immediately after? Does... does that make sense?

(I'm not suggesting anything really big, just like, simple lines to give you some idea of the flow of movement)
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  #13  
Old 02-08-2011, 05:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomm Guycot View Post
when you're trying to draw an action, just insert a "the fuck" into it.

ie.

you drew him "looking up"

but you wanted to draw him "looking the fuck up"

It should solve that problem
It's called "pushing" in "the biz." I know that a lot of artists think that they're pushing a pose really far when drawing it only to realize later it should be pushed that much further.

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All that said though, I really like looseness of this drawing. Nitpicks aside it has great flow and if you hadn't asked for a critique I probably wouldn't have had boo to say about its flaws.
I didn't even notice the leg and now that you've pointed it out it's all I can see. And it's the nitpicks I want. When I look back at old drawings all I ever see are the flaws, so it's hard for me to just dismiss even little stuff.

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Originally Posted by Balrog View Post
Would the staff look better if some of the positions were bent or de-saturated or blurred or something to imply movement?
Maybe, but I was trying to emulate movement with this specific technique. I think it works. Does the staff really stand out as wonky?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turnip View Post
Have you tried animating your stuff? Well, not animating it, but like doing a couple of extra layers to see how the character is moving. Take Link and the Bear: What movements did they make to get into that pose, and what movements will they take immediately after? Does... does that make sense?
I've never tried this. As much as gesture drawing is based in animation, I'm not an animator, so I do tend to focus on poses. Another of those bad habits I'm trying to break.
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  #14  
Old 02-08-2011, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomm Guycot View Post
when you're trying to draw an action, just insert a "the fuck" into it.
...I must experiment with this.
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  #15  
Old 02-10-2011, 05:14 AM
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I do like your artwork, but think there's a little too much Asterix/Smurfs influence in the Suikoden guy. I just can't see him being drawn like that, even after seeing him get drawn like that. Past that, you've got a pretty neat style, and (like many cartoonists) you're entirely too hard on yourself. Do you do this for a living or is this just a hobby?
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Old 02-10-2011, 09:40 AM
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I'm useless when it comes to critiquing cartoons, because my reaction is automatically "it's too cartoony, make it less cartoony" but obviously that's missing the point so I don't blurt out such things.

I will say I don't think there's anything inherently sloppy or lazy about what I've seen you do. You say that you can't make the characters exist believably in a 3d space, but where is this 3d space anyway? Cartooning, which is description through edges only, is automatically a flattening method. The strength is in quickly and legibly relating a scene or narrative, which you've always had a good grasp on. Actual visual phenomenon like foreshortening can make cartoons really awkward and hard to visually read, even in the hands of professionals.

I guess what I'm saying is that you can take them time to master gestural figure drawing and then take that experience back into making comics, or you can stick with the diagramatic, descriptive drawing approach and your comics will be just as charming and funny. Just don't go halfway.
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Old 02-10-2011, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loki View Post
I've gotten stuck drawing characters the same way each time.
That's called consistency, it's a good thing : P
But I get what you're saying about the three-quarter view, I do it myself. Maybe try figure drawing? Or one of those posing websites people recommend.

What are you using to ink with? Are you doing it on a tablet?
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Old 02-10-2011, 07:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Traumadore View Post
I guess what I'm saying is that you can take them time to master gestural figure drawing and then take that experience back into making comics, or you can stick with the diagramatic, descriptive drawing approach and your comics will be just as charming and funny. Just don't go halfway.
Yeah, this. THIS. You'd probably find greater improvement if you focused on posting quick and simple gesture drawings for critique instead of finished bits of character art.
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Old 02-10-2011, 09:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Traumadore View Post
You say that you can't make the characters exist believably in a 3d space, but where is this 3d space anyway?
Well, the illusion of 3D space. Just because a cartoon is a flat image doesn't mean it needs to appear flat. There needs to be the illusion of depth and weight and presence that I think things like my bear picture lack.

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What are you using to ink with? Are you doing it on a tablet?
Tablet in Manga Studio.

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Originally Posted by Donny View Post
Yeah, this. THIS. You'd probably find greater improvement if you focused on posting quick and simple gesture drawings for critique instead of finished bits of character art.
I'm trying to do that to. For example!







Here's a study of the official art of the kid from Suiko 2.



And here's the finished sketch. Again, the colors are an afterthought. Main things I was working on here was gesture and weight. And trying to stay lose when drawing the lineart. I have a tendency to tense up and I hate it.

Last edited by Loki; 02-10-2011 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 02-10-2011, 09:46 PM
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Man he is about to tonfa THE FUCK out of some dude.
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Old 02-11-2011, 08:20 AM
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Quote:
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And trying to stay lose when drawing the lineart. I have a tendency to tense up and I hate it.
I have this same problem. A change of tools can help. Try using ink brushes or a program like paint tool SAI if you haven't already. I typically use Photoshop because I'm used to it, but the pressure sensitivity in SAI is more uh, sensitive. I feel it makes a difference.

I'm saying this and yet I never got around to obtaining a "real" copy of SAI after my trial ran out months ago
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Old 02-11-2011, 10:22 AM
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I like those gesture sketches, they are nice and loose. They only issue I can see is with the one on the top right corner, the arms are way too long and thick. Which doesn't seem to be a problem you have in general so I wouldn't sweat it.

Quote:
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And trying to stay lose when drawing the lineart. I have a tendency to tense up and I hate it.
If you're having trouble staying loose while inking then you should try using a thicker brush/pen and moving with your whole arm as you ink.
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  #23  
Old 02-12-2011, 08:43 PM
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Old 02-12-2011, 11:22 PM
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ahaha the eyes

WAHAHA THE SWORD
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  #25  
Old 02-13-2011, 12:19 AM
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I like that his hair spikes are bandaged.
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Old 02-13-2011, 05:12 PM
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Crono could stand to look a touch more slouchy and shambling (it'd be nice if his posture was as bent and twisty as his arms) but otherwise this is aces. I love the faded linework and Frog is a wonder.

Last edited by Donny; 02-16-2011 at 10:38 PM. Reason: Chrono? Jesus christ ME
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Old 02-15-2011, 09:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loki View Post
Tablet in Manga Studio.
Maybe try tweaking the pen settings in Manga Studio. I prefer to ink by hand because the computer will often try to "correct" a line by making it the same width from start to finish. It strips some of the fluidity out of the picture and could account for the flatness you don't like.
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:30 PM
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But... I already did that. There's line variation in all the sketches I've posted.

Alright, I'm trying to get past my hatred of coloring. I'm thinking most of it comes from the technique I've used for years, which I learned at ComicCon from some douche who worked for Marvel. Basically, it involves laying down flats and then shading using the gradient tool. It's so tedious and takes forever. The stupid simple coloring I did in AnimeStudio was actually a lot of fun! And it created a look that's something like markers. So I did some research and found some basic exercises on ConceptArt.org for people new to digital painting. Here's #1.

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Old 03-10-2011, 09:28 PM
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Old 03-10-2011, 10:06 PM
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Link's the best there's ever been.
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