17 February 2010

[cartoon art] Everywhere I Look, I See Your Face ...

2323.One thing I remember Scott McCloud hinting on in one of his amazing books on comics is demonstrated very well here, with this picture from a blog I stumbled on, Emilia's Illustrated Blog (used with permission):

There's a lot to like about the illustration. The ladies thereon are simply very very pretty. The outfits are stylish and executed well. The drawings are, dare one says, sexy. But there's one surprising thing that might not stick out, and I'll give you all a closeup so you can see (if this missive's title didn't give it away):

You've caught it now if you've noticed that, aside from a different set of eyebrows on one and a redder shade of lips on same that the four faces are, in fact the same face. The girls are quadruplets!

This can be a very effective shortcut for the illustrator wanting to 'people' an illustration. I don't know about anyone else viewing the complete illustration, there's enough going on in the illustration that the similarities in the faces aren't immediately apparent.

This of course doesn't take away from the fact that the illustrator is rather talented. If you look around on her blog, you will see that she has the mad skillz. If you think of it as a tool, then there's simply an appropriate use, and this is the epitome of an appropriate use. I wouldn't base a comic strip on it, for instance, but as an illustrator's tool, it's magnificent.

The whole point is that the prospect of drawing multiple people – and a person is about the hardest thing you can draw realistically – can be intimidating. McCloud pointed out in one of his books (Making Comics, I think it was), essentially, that the range of things a face can do can be represented with a limited set of things. An open mouth can mean talking, yelling, yawning, and it kind of depends on the context. The four ladies above seem entirely different people – but it all has to do with the context: the hairstyles, the dresses, even the attitudes one reads into them.

Moreover, Emilia's use of this tool shows an understanding of the fundamentals of illustration design that only a true pro would aspire to.

Understand your context, and the proper tool will usually present itself.

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