Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Think Outside the Box

Whenever I hear a self-help cliché, like "Get our ducks in a row," I can't help thinking of the metaphor literally.



When someone says we should "think outside the box," I imagine what Mrs. Basher would do. (Link to video)


If you watch closely, you may glimpse a few frames like this, where the motion blur gives a different spice to the action.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Milton Caniff's Advice on Inking with a Brush

Milton Caniff (1907-1988), the cartoonist behind Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon, was also an instructor for the Famous Artists Cartoon Course

He noted that the brush had become a very popular tool for drawing in the 1940s and '50s in magazine gag panel cartooning.

Here are some of his tips:

1. When dipping your brush in the ink, always press it gently against the inside edge of the bottle neck to remove excess ink.


2. Before touching your brush to the paper try it first on a paper palette (a strip of paper thumbtacked to the top or side of your drawing board).

3. Never let ink dry on the brush.



4. Always wash it by rubbing the brush lightly and gently on a cake of soap, then rinse it in clear water when you are ready to put the brush away.
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You can still get the original instructional binders: Famous Artists Cartoon Course (3 Volume Set)
And there are also reprints of The Complete Terry and the Pirates
Modern brush pen that takes cartridges and is very portable: Pentel brush pen

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Akeley's Fight with a Leopard

When artists and scientists produced the dioramas for the American Museum of Natural History, they went to Africa in search of suitable animals. But sometimes the encounters didn't go as planned.



In Ethiopia, taxidermist Carl Akeley was hunting warthog and ostrich when he took an ill-advised shot toward a noise that he heard in the bush.

Unexpectedly he had injured a leopard, which pursued him and later attacked him. He knew that once engaged in a fight, a wounded leopard would never give up, and it would be a fight to the death.
"A leopard, unlike a lion, is vindictive. A wounded leopard will fight to a finish practically every time, no matter how many chances it has to escape. Once aroused, its determination is fixed on fight, and if a leopard ever gets hold, it claws and bites until its victim is in shreds. All this was in my mind, and I began looking about for the best way out of it, for I had no desire to try conclusions with a possibly wounded leopard when it was so late in the day that I could not see the sights of my rifle.”
Read the rest online at Mental Floss: The Time Carl Akeley Killed a Leopard with his Bare Hands.
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From Akeley's book In Brightest Africa

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Doré's Caricatures of Communards

Gustave Doré (1831-1883) is best known for his illustrations of the Bible and Dante's Inferno, but he was also a caricaturist. 


In this 1871 sketch of a Communard prisoner, He emphasizes the wild hair and beard by downplaying the eyes and making them mere smudges.


He pushes the sweeping curve under the chin and the aquiline nose. 


This guy has dots for pupils and a triangular face.


After their failed uprising, many of the Communards were executed or exiled. Doré portrayed them as the pitiful souls that they must have been. The sketches were done under intense conditions: "In the evening, among his friends, to the repeated sound of the cannon at Mont-Valérian and the heights of Montretout, thundering incessantly against Paris; at the striking memory of those long processions of Communard prisoners brought back from Paris to the avenues of Versailles, at the sight of those wretches, their brutish faces contracted with hatred, rage and the suffering of a long march, under a burning sun he took pleasure … in making these sketches.

Dig Deeper
Book: The Dore Illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy
Flickr set with more of these Gustave Doré caricatures
Images: from Versailles et Paris en 1871, which also includes magistrates and members of the National Assembly
Previously on GurneyJourney: The other side of Gustave Doré
Wikipedia on Communards and Doré
Thanks, John Holbo and Mme. Bruyére

Friday, November 17, 2017

Robot jumps and does backflips


The robot "Atlas" by Boston Dynamics has moved beyond walking to jumping and doing backflips. Atlas is 5'9" and weighs about 330 lbs. (Link to video on YouTube)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Planning a Picture with a Large Group of Figures


Karen Robinson says: "I had just been looking at work by Wilhelm Gause. I was looking at the Vienna Ball one - and puzzling over how you would even begin to render a piece with multiple figures. Do you make a really detailed drawing, pick the focal person and kind of fan out from there? What if there isn’t really a focal person, the point being that there are LOADS of people..."

Wilhelm Gause, Hofball in Wien 
Karen, when you want to show a whole lot of figures in a scene, I think it's important to work out the design in black and white preliminary sketches first.

Wilhelm Gause (German, 1853–1916)
Hofball , 1897, grisaille on paper laid on cardboard
Size:69 x 46 cm. (27.2 x 18.1 in.
In the case of Gause's Vienna Ball scene, there appear to be a related work done on tone paper. I'm not sure whether it's a preliminary sketch, or how he proceeded, but I would guess that he sketched the figures loosely at first and then worked them out individually based on models in costume.


One of my favorite Viennese multi-figure scenes is this early one done by the Gustav Klimt and his brother, before Gustave went into the more abstract work.

"Friday at the French Artists' Salon" by Jules-Alexandre Grün (b.1868)
Thanks, Damian
Some of the best painters of crowd scenes conceive of the figures as part of larger tonal masses. If you do that in the early planning stages of the picture you'll avoid the tendency for a broken up or spotty effect.

Alphonse Mucha, one of the Slav Epics
You can get that right by keeping the sketch a little out of focus, and then you can begin to differentiate the individuals. You can see this done well in the work of Alphonse Mucha, Rembrandt, Joaquin Sorolla, Tom Lovell, F.R, Gruger and others.

If you put those names in the search box of this blog you'll find posts about their compositions and design process, or this link will aggregate all posts about composition.