Wednesday, August 26, 2015

555 Character Drawings: Stuart Ng Exclusive Hardcover Edition

Stuart Ng Books is one of my very favorite booksellers in the world.  He goes through a great deal of effort to bring some incredible European comics into the country, comics that would otherwise be unavailable to those of us who live stateside (and comics that have influenced me a great deal, especially the work of Pierre Alary and Matthieu Bonhomme).  He also carries a lot of art books and sketchbooks by illustrators and animators, things that you could otherwise only get in face-to-face encounters with the artists.
I'm honored to have done a Stuart Ng Exclusive Hardcover Edition of 555 CHARACTER DRAWINGS.  Limited to 55 signed and numbered copies, each book has a hand-drawn picture on the bookplate page.

This is the only hardcover version of this book that will be made available, and you can get it from Stuart's store website (and make sure you order some other great stuff while you browse) or you can pick it up at the brick-and-mortar location in California.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

When does life drawing turn into cartooning?

Got this question on tumblr:
I have a keen interest in cartooning, and am spending quite a bit of time on Gesture drawings, figure drawing, anatomy etc. Is this a good way to go you think? I guess I'm wondering how much knowledge of the realistically drawn figure is necessary to simplify it into a more "cartoon/comic" representation. Is that how you started out? Do you do those kinds of practice? Thanks!!!

Here's my answer:

I actually kind of did the reverse route, going from really stylized and cartoony to try and get more grounded in reality.  My work ALWAYS suffered when I didn’t understand what I was drawing, and it always dramatically improved when I did.  
When artists recommend doing this kind of drawing (gestures, life models, from life sketches, etc), it’s not that it really helps you so far as HOW you draw, except for that practice always helps.  What it does is help with WHAT you draw, which is usually where people with natural draftsmanship ability have the most trouble.  Understanding anatomy, understanding how faces work, understanding gesture, all of that is info that will help immensely when it comes to cartooning.  But translating that understanding to a simplified two-dimensional line based aesthetic is WAY more difficult than we think, because that’s what it is: translation.  You’re actively reinterpreting what you’re seeing into a form that is incredibly far removed from reality, yet still recognizable as the reality it is distorting.  It requires practice and a very specific thought process, on top of all of the physical-act-of-drawing stuff that you also have to contend with.  
We’re extremely lucky, as a society, to grow up in a world full of cartoons.  It makes drawing much more intuitive because we grow up with exposure to that two-dimensional representation (it also limits most kid artists to grow up thinking in line instead of form, which is something I’ve never seen documentation on but feel must be true).  So we do have a leg up here on our ancestors.
My best recommendation when it comes to getting that translation-to-2d down is to study the way that other folks have interpreted it.  A few years ago I found that my faces could not convey as much emotion as I wanted, so I spent a couple of days just doing my best to copy Glen Keane expression guides from Tangled.  In doing so I learned how to use the brow ridge in addition to eyebrows to double or split different emotional depictions, something I couldn’t ever do before (but something that I could understand because I’d studied facial anatomy).  My hands sucked, and so I’ve spent years on them, mostly trying to copy Milt Kahl, but nothing ever stuck.  Finally, I did some screen shots of a background character in the Canadian TV cartoon Little Bear, the first hands I’d ever seen that completely clicked, that were simplified down in a way that I could wrap my head around depicting the anatomy right.  I’ve still got a long way to go, but in studying the breakthroughs of others and really analyzing how they arrive at their final work (and copying the lines they do as practice) you can really help to get past that translation problem.  And once you understand how to depict something, you’re beholden to no one, you can draw from your head and simplify and alter your approach and grow.  But it really, really helps to stand on the shoulders of giants.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Kingdom of Heaven

Here's a poster for the Ridley Scott film Kingdom of Heaven.  If you've only seen the theatrical cut, you probably thought, "Wow, what a disappointing movie," but the director's cut is a different film entirely, a very good one.  It's also does what period films do best, immerse us in a world alien to our own and give us the sense of what it was like to be there.

If you look, you can see that the background is all characters from the film!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Quigley Down Under!

Quigley Down Under might be my favorite western movie.  And that's a hard target to hit!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

THE CREEPS are Coming August 11th!

Hey, everybody! The first book in my new kids' horror series, The Creeps, comes out in less than a week!  This book and its sequels have been occupying much of my time and energy and enthusiasm over the last year and a half.  I've come to feel a real affection for the characters and the town in which they live, and am excited to continue coming up with adventures for them to have and monsters for them to battle.

It's always nice when a book does well on its first week of sales.  If there's a lot of demand at bookstores, etc, then there's a higher likelihood that retailers will push the book of their own volition.  If a book ends up on bestseller lists then it incites interest from folks who might not otherwise know about it.  Basically, it's good for the book, and it's good for its author (in this case, me!).

Though many folks who read my stuff pick things up from me at book shows and conventions (and it's always appreciated!), I'd like to encourage you to buy the book this first week, if you intend to get a copy for yourself or for any kids you may know.  And so I want to offer an incentive!

If you tweet a picture of yourself (or the person for whom you've gotten the book) holding your newly-purchased copy to @schweizercomics using the hashtag #TheCreeps, or post on facebook and tag me in it, you'll be entered in a drawing to win one of 5 original Creeps drawings.

Deadline for posting the photos is Saturday August 15th, 2015, by 3pm Eastern/2pm Central/1pm Mountain/noon Pacific.

What's the best way to get the book?  Honestly, any way you want to go about it is fine.  Chain book retailers like Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million should have copies, and hopefully so will your independent bookseller.  You can also order online from retailers like Amazon in both hardcover and paperback.  And there's a chance that you may be able to get it from your local comic shop, though I don't think that the publisher (Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams) solicits through Diamond, so that'll really depend on the store.

Preorders from any bookseller or retailer count towards that first-week's sales, I think, so if you want to grab it ahead of time, go for it!

Thanks, everyone!