Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Class 6- July 6 Last Class-- COLLAGE

From yesterday's assignment-- here's an example of what a former student did-- NERVOUS WOMAN IN A FIVE DOLLAR ROOM.

I intentionally left the assignment a bit vague-- so you could figure it on your own.

First-- what is a five dollar room?  Most of us were thinking it would be a pretty run down flat-- and that's one way to approach it.

BUT it could also have been a luxury room in 1887 with a pair of Victorian well to do's checking in-- so it's all how you approach it.

I like this attempt here-- the room is slightly off-kilter perspective wise, and that adds to the tension.  The wallpaper pattern and the stains on the sheet also add to the overall effect.

One critique I offered was that the barrel of the gun should extend past the edge of the bed;

By breaking the edge of the bed (bottom image) we get a better sense of place for the character-- and it makes for a better composition, especially since her arm is already breaking the plane.

For this last class I thought I’d cover a few things and then you could do any Q&A you might have come across over the semester—for those of you reading the transcript of the class on the blog please email me your questions.

I’ll be doing crits of pages up until 7.10 when grading closes, so keep on sending me work and I will respond with suggestions.

PART ONE- COLLAGE Digital and Traditional

COLLAGE-- whether it's done digitally or traditionally has been a medium that comic artists have explored and played with for decades.

This piece by Jack Kirby-- shows' an interesting combination of images to create a narrative.  He took magazine parts and assembled them as a comic page using scissors and glue.

Let's look at some work by Dave McKean...

Very effective way to tell a graphic novel narrative, but even working this way, the first step is to draw your layouts traditional with either a pencil and paper or a tablet before you jump into placing your objects.

You still want the storytelling to be very clear.

If you work in collage it's not a bad idea to think outside the box for your lettering choices too.

Collage can be done traditionally by finding magazine images, cutting them out and pasting them down onto bristol board...

Or you could do it digitally by finding images from the internet and using a photo editing software (like Photoshop) to put it all together.

You still want your images to work towards telling a narrative-- but collage can be liberating and your results can be really interesting.

I used this overhead view of a bunch of bookshelves in my DRACULA graphic novel.
I’d use it  to show HARKER immersed in the library he finds in Castle Dracula—it’s intentionally done as an abstraction because there are no doors and it’s supposed to subliminally suggest he’s trapped.

After this point I could either drop a huge face in there to show him looking, or a figure from above that fits into the space, but that doesn’t matter—here’s how I crafted this:


We might not use all of these, but these are the basics for this project.

Do a GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH for LIBRARY BOOKS-- be specific for what you're looking for-- OLD LIBRARY BOOKS, LIBRARY BOOK STACK-- dig around.  In your image size options choose LARGE so that you'll have an image that's high enough resolution to work with.

I don't use images on DEVIANTART because those tend to be photographs someone else is using for art, I try to use corporate images or rights free images but regardless we'll change enough of it to make it ours.

In PHOTOSHOP create a new file, make it 8in x 10in at 300dpi.

Once you find your image bring it into your photoshop document.

From here you simply want to duplicate your LAYERx3.  Select the four LAYERS of books you now have and go to LAYERS>MERGE LAYERS and you'll have the first wall of books.

From here we're going to create the illusion of looking at this from above by using some of our different image effects.


Choosing this option will select the entire row of books, grab a bottom corner and push it in and you'll create a forced perspective shot that looks like this.  If the bookcase is too long or looks distrorted you might also need to go to EDIT>TRANSFORM>SCALE and shrink the overall size of it down a bit by grabbing the top center button and pulling the image down.  But you'll get this:

Move it to the top of your canvas to position it as a wall.  Now go to LAYER>DUPLICATE LAYER and then EDIT>TRANSFORM>ROTATE CCW90 and you'll have this:

Use your MOVE TOOL to position the wall next to the first wall, get the edges and height as close as possible, then go to EDIT>TRANSFORM>SKEW to move the second wall into position and get it to match.  You might also need to use EDIT>TRANSFORM>SCALE a bit here to make it fit.

Now DUPLICATE the SECOND WALL you made, go to EDIT>TRANSFORM>FLIP HORIZONTAL and then use the MOVE TOOL to place it opposite wall #2.

Go back to Wall #1 and DUPLICATE it,  then EDIT>TRANSFORM>DUPLICATE then EDIT>TRANSFORM>FLIP VERTICAL then use the MOVE TOOL to place it opposite Wall #1, then EDIT>TRANSFORM>SKEW to make it fit between Wall's 2 and 3.  You'll also need to use the EDIT>TRANSFORM>SCALE option to reduce it down.

Now that we have the room completed we can add books to the top edge of the shelves to indicate depth.

Go back to GOOGLE IMAGES and search for STACK OF BOOKS-- again make sure you've selected LARGE for your mage option to increase the useability of the image you find.  Once you get the one you want, go to PHOTOSHOP and create a new file again set at 8in x 10in at 300dpi.  We're going to repeat a bit of what we did to get the books ready.

The stack image I found happened to have a white background, which will make it a heck of a lot easier for us to work with.

Use the MAGIC WAND and click inside the WHITE area -- you'll see the dancing ants appear around the edges of the books.

Hit the DELETE key and the WHITE AREA will disappear.  Now you have a clean stack of books with no background.  Now we need to even out the stack.

Take your MAGIC WAND tool and create a selection area arond the top four books that are uneven in the stack, once you see the DANCING ANTS you can take the MOVE TOOL and shift just those four books over to the right to start creating a more even edge.

Now we'll start on individual books-- the second book in the stack is mis-aligned.  Do APPLE &D to remove the ants then take your MAGIC WAND and select just the second book in the stack.  Once the ANTS appear go to EDIT>TRANSFORM>SCALE and you'll be able to pull the book and make it wider or taller-- tweak it to fit in the stack better.

Now repeat the process with each book in the stack-- we're trying to create a nice even left edge (we'll trim off the right edge so don't worry so much about it).

Once you've got the stack pretty even take your ELIPTICAL MARQUEE tool to create a long box along the right edge of the book stack.  Hit DELETE and you'll now have a clean edge to one side of the book.  DRAG this new image into your BOOK ROOM image using the MOVE tool.  Then LAYER>DUPLICATE LAYER multiple times until you have enough of a book stack to create your edge of Wall #2.

SELECT all the of BOOKSTACKS Layers by holding the APPLE Key down as you go from LAYER TO LAYER-- you'll know they're selected when the layers appear BLUE in your LAYER BOX-- then go to LAYERS>MERGE LAYERS.  Now your bookstack edge will be all connected.

Go to LAYER>DUPLICATE LAYERS to make the other three tops, use the MOVE TOOL and EDIT>TRANSFORM>ROTATE to align them correctly.

If any of the bookstacks are too long for a wall use the POLYGONAL LASSO to select the overage and then DELETE it.  USE the MOVE TOOL to position all of the stacks.  Remember you can also use SKEW to re-align anything that's off a bit.

SAVE it as a PSD file with layers intact in case you decide to do something with it later, and you'll have a workable room.

Think about the possibilties of this--you could do the same thing for hundreds of applications.  For crowd scenes, strange lands, landscapes-- it's really limitless.

Collage has long been used in Graphic Novels/Comics.
Jack Kirby, known for creating much of the Marvel Universe along with Stan Lee often used it in his work from the late 60s into the 70s

Kirby utilized storytelling elements in his work, readily apparent that he was first and foremost a comic book artist so that was his instinct.

Kirby's collage work often utilized some darker themes than his comic work, in an effort to legitimize the art form a bit.

You can see that Kirby combined words and pictures effectively, even if his writing was overly melodramatic.  All this work was recently published in SPIRIT WORLD -- a HC collection by Kirby that is Bonkers but interesting if you're a student of comic art.

His earlier attempts combined his lineart with the shape collage.  Here they look like Mason Jar lids to me, but it's effective.

One of the things about collage is if you're trying to be completely abstract use only parts of objects, when you put a whole object in, like this race car for example, it looks a bit strange.

Collage can be playful too-- I'm sure you could picture making an entire comic this way.
One of the secrets of doing parody type of work like this is to make it clear that the objects don't go together. 

Like keeping the Tootsie Roll Pop way out of scale, etc.

Fine artists like Picasso took their turn at collage.
Incidently, Picasso once said his biggest regret is that he never tried doing more comics.

German artist Kurt Schwitter took found objects (and photos thereof) and assembled them to form interesting images.

You can imagine in seeing this work done traditionally, that you could accomplish quite a bit from digital working I'm sure.  Using models (friends, relatives, yourself) you could assemble a cast of characters and use the photographs in your comics work.

Combining words and pictures has long been a tradition in illustration.

You can also use the collage method to create your composition, in this case Sally pulled some images that were not together but work as if they were-- she's using the rule of thirds to make sure she has a solid composition.

She assembles her parts and then digitally light boxes it.

Still in progress but you can see how it's coming together.

The figures are merely used to be bases to work off of.

(I particularly like the appearance of Rosie here)

You guessed it!  Digital collage.
Either  the more literal route with the assignment too-- taking PARTS that don't go together as Kirby did-- the best option with that method is to use parts that don't make sense and turn them into something that does.

OR go with Sally's method of transforming models into your own work.

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Class #5: July 5- Camera Angles and Staging and advanced thinking.

An example of Sally's work from two years ago...

"A work in progress of a panel redesign.  I’m liking it better, still think I need work on perspective and making my figures less stiff.  I’ll be adding more blacks to add depth later."

While it's a fine panel I do think the figure work is a little stiff-- and compositionally I think this would work better if we dropped the image down-- there's just too much space at the bottom.

Unless there are going to be other characters in those stalls laughing or something-- we don't need that much space-- and one way to test it is the Rule of Thirds...

Take your panel - or your illustration and divide it into thirds vertically-- you should try to keep them fairly even-- in this case I'm off a little bit but this isn't science.

Now do the same thing horizontally and where the lines intersect your illustration should have merit at those points-- otherwise it's off balance.

You don't want objects too close to the border in your panel-- or at least not objects of importance--

By moving the composition down we see now that we get strikes on three of the four points-- and that gives us balance.

The first gives us the sink- important so that we understand she's being pushed into the bathrooom.
The second gives us the point of impact-- where she's being pushed.
The third shows us that she's off her footing--

So judging by this test-- the composition improves by dropping down a few inches.

As for the stiffness of the characters-- yup, I think they are a little stiff.

Just playing with it a little bit-- I arched the "victim's" body a bit more so she's really getting pushed-- I gave her books or papers that will go flying out ahead of her (and adding a bit of tragedy too-- who wants to use a history book that's been on a public bathroom floor?

And I brought the "villain" more into the room as well-- having her leaning into the push creates a greater sense of force.

By having the figures performing a bit more-- overacting actually-- we loose the stiffness.

This ties in to today's lesson about pushing your thought on a panel design too.  More in a minute.

Class #5!
Let's talk about staging your compositions.

Staging is the simple act of placing objects between the viewer and the background which creates a foreground, midground and level ground for your illustration.

In this example of staging by Neal Adams we see that Robin is set closest to we the viewer and he's facing back towards The Beatles as they walk in our direction.

Robin becomes the foreground object as he overlaps Batman who becomes our midground object while John, Paul, George and Ringo become the level ground objects leading our eye into the distance where the gravestone becomes the background.

All of the elements come together (no pun intended)  to give us most of the information we need which is reiterated by the dialogue which essentially hold's the readers hand (pun intended that time).

There are some challenges in the composition of the piece, but we can work them out.  For example;  Have The Beatles just risen from that newly dug grave in the background?

Or are they just out for a midnight stroll?

If they did dig themselves out did they use that shovel?  How?

Where are Batman and Robin standing?  Are they in a crypt?  What's Batman leaning on?
It's not clear to me-- but it doesn't matter because in the context of the illustration it answers more questions than it creates.

And leaving a few questions is okay.

Overlap works for simple illustrations to-- as in this piece by Paul Rivoche:

Its fairly straightforward.

This needs to be done in the planning (thumbnail) stages.

Get your first thought and then push it further.

Your initial thought will almost always be the simplest-- and may in fact have the right elements to convey the composition but it may not have ALL of the elements to bring it to the next level.

In a lot of cases, this can be accomplished by thinking about the staging of both your characters and the props needed to ensure your reader understands the current situation.


Staging example-- Character A and B stand next to each other.
The viewer sees them both at equal distance.

Staging is the simple matter of putting one object or character closer to the viewer, causing one object to overlap the other.

NOTE;  The character that is closer to us should have thicker outlines so that the viewer understand that we aren't looking at a giant figure.

Closer still.

Note-- the lines become thicker as well.

By bringing Character A up to a nearly nose to nose shot with the reader we would give a sense of intimacy to the illustration.

The viewer will feel a connection to this closer character

With this one A remains close while we've moved B up to the mid-ground level.

Try to imagine what your characters are thinking-- or what emotion you want them to get through to your reader-- that will help you make the right decision here.

Same shot-- but we're changing the orientation of A.

STORYTELLING ADVANCEMENTS-- thinking further into what the images represent.

Advanced storytelling, is one of the key components I want to get across in this advanced course, ILLUSTRATING THE GRAPHIC NOVEL II.  In the entry level class we concentrate on how to tell a story using words and pictures in a simple narrative, with this one we are going to push ourselves studying both film and the work of other artists to see how best to accomplish this goal.

With the example I have above from THE FIENDS we have what at first looks to be some pretty straight forward illustrating, but getting into it a bit deeper we'll see that there has been some thought into the page that goes beyond first draft.

Panel 1-- the illustration of the school is done without using a ruler to give it organic aged like lines.  If it had been drawn with the sharp lines of a ruler it would look too new.

Looking closer-- by not having defining lines on the edges of the railing it also creates a sense of form and keeps the lighting harsh.

The title encompassing the entire second panel in broken font is meant to mimic the loud opening music of a foreign film-- the credits will be on the second page.

The third panel presents a bit more than it first appears to.
The narration begins top left, identifying the character we're seeing-- below the type a shot of the school she owns with a look at the deep blackness of the dirty swimming pool that will play an important role in the story.

The face of the character goes from white to dark-- to show a sinister shift in attitude.  The form behind her taking the shape of a skull which is the symbol of death-- giving the reader an insight into her murderous plan.

In the eye socket is a dark haired man with a light haired woman.  It's important that the reader get that this isn't Christine.  The next bit of narration, which mentions that she has a weak heart due to childhood illness falls across her chest-- in the text it mentions she's hired her husband Michael so we're going to assume that's him embracing the woman in the eye of the skull, which is emphasized by the next line which reads


And that line of narration falls into a narrative BOX, the only one on the page (the rest of the type floats) which itself falls ACROSS the skulls mouth to emphasize SILENCE.

Advanced Illustration is about thinking, re-thinking and then over-thinking until you have a composition exactly right.

We draw our man at a desk.
Okay-- that's the first thought.

But what is he doing?  He seems to just be sitting there.

Okay-- better-- but still-- where is he sitting?  What is he thinking?

Okay-- he's home.
What kind of home?

Is he well off or barely making his bills?

The ripped and exposed wall shows us the place is run down.
The piles of scratched out drawings and extra pencils gives us a sense that he's been at this awhile.

It also makes the drawing MORE INTERESTING!

THAT is the key here.

But let's try it with some thought on body language too.

All right this is better still.

The desk now has some detail to it rather than just being a plain block of wood.

His position at the table shows us he's been there a long time and he's not happy about it.

But the drawing still needs work.

What is he doing?  What is he working on?

Table props!

Adding props to his workstation makes it work both because it lets us know what he does, likely gives us a clue as to what he's doing-- but it also looks more realistic because how many of us keep an empty desk?

Backgrounds help, thats true.

Even if it's just heavy curtains and black shapes.

While this panel is completely fine-- if we take our staging theory from a few minutes ago and apply it this time to the props rather than the characters we can create another interesting composition.

By shooting "through" the beakers on a table closer to the reader we now re-emphasize that this guy is a scientist engrossed in his studies it also gives us the impression that this room has depth and clutter.

You don't want to add props in all the time-- but mixing it up when it's important to help convey the setting will really help the work.

Backgrounds don't have to be crazy detailed, just well thought out.

They also don't have to be drawn in every panel-- but it's a good idea to draw them at least one in each scene so your reader can follow along.

Let's look at some backgrounds

Paul Rivoche in an excellent article in DRAW magazine shows us how to make a background appear like it's "lived" and expresses the importance of using a sketchbook to capture ideas for use later.

Details like these can only be seen from observation and observational thought that asks WHY things are the way they are.

Which looks better?  A or B?

So we can see that B is the better choice, because the elements of it make sense.

CLUTTER in your work....

Because Jack Kirby works in stark blacks and whites he can fill the backgrounds while still keeping the action clear.

Look at the way this is laid out for a second, each figure's placement in the composition needs to be considered in the pencil stage-- don't leave it to figure out with the ink.


>>ONE of the things I heard OVER and OVER again from editors in Charlotte a few weekends ago was that they are seeing a LOT of talent coming in, talent they hire because they are good, then they regret it because that same talent can't deliver the finished work on deadline.<<

Your assignment this week-- taking this recurring complaint into account.

PRETEND you just showed your portfolio to your dream publisher, and they hired you and gave you the assignment I'm going to give you here.

I don't care what you have to do, but you need to treat it like it's that dream chance and now it's time to deliver.  That means simply;

Send tests if you aren't sure what I'm looking for.  (keep in mind; editors LIKE communication, but they DON'T LIKE to be pestered endlessly-- so that means make sure you get the crit and understand the assignment up front-- the time to ask questions is when you first get hired.

Give me one advanced level panel of the following description-- in ink like the  FIENDS page (but just one panel)-- use staging, inking techniques, lighting, whatever you have at your disposal to show me you can deliver an advanced level panel. 
Single panel-- all the bells and whistles.  Thumbnail it, stage it, light it-- make it work.
This one's due by Monday but if you're REALLY smart (and I know you are) you'll have it to me by Saturday morning so I can offer advice or critique and you can make changes as needed.

You will be graded two fold on this:

1. Your ability to deliver the finished illustration on time.
2. Your communication skills (i.e. ability to understand and work out that assignment without endless questions) and your professionalism.

REMEMBER, Andy the Emerson Professor loves questions, loves to answer questions, encourages you to ask questions.

Andy the Editor wants you to ask your questions up front, maybe you use a follow up question once you've started working but I've got other books to put out and I can't spend my day holding your hand.

Again, Andy the Emerson Professor will happily hold your hand.  He's not here for this one.