Sunday, July 25, 2010

Drawing from Reference and Copying the Masters

As one goes about learning to draw, one realises at some point the importance of drawing from reference, or even copying.

The urge to draw typically comes from observing great art. Whether it is story illustration, comic art, animation, or the academic, each one of us get inspired by specific art to begin with.

It can be Michelangelo's realistic figures, Herge's simplicity and elegance, Alex Raymond's magical drama with lines, Leonard Starr's cinematic panels, an so on. But these specific individual artists and their art serves as the motive for us to learn to draw.

Learning to draw consists of learning the elements of drawing. One has to know how to use the two dimensional medium to represent the real world, and create a believability with the tools of the medium. Leaning to use the elements such as the gesture, line, tone, principles of perspective, composition, etc are mastered in an attempt to create realism. We learn how to begin a drawing, how to develop it, and how to complete or render it to the detail desired.

But learning to write is more than learning the alphabets and words. A rich vocabulary and strong grammar is necessary, but not sufficient. This is when one starts to read!

Similarly as an artist, after learning the foundations of drawing, and learning a medium or two, such as the pen and ink, or watercolor , one needs to "study" the masters. Choose a select band of masters of interest, and copy the art. This will hone the skills all around. Use of line, composition, drama, action, expression, style, all of these can be improved by trying to replicate the masters to the dot.

A combination of generating original art, and copying and analysing the masters, will accelerate the development as an artist. While copying art, one has to analyse it for the principles and elements of art and learn from it.

Copying masters is not only an aid to improvement, but is such as rewarding activity, since the great amount of learning and the genius can be appreciated at a greater detail than when simply observing it.

Great artists always used models for their work, and used heavy reference material. Copying the Masters is a compulsory part of any serious art curriculum. One can learn about this from the artists of the renaissance, to the masters of the times, such as Herge, whose reference material teaches us the relevance of it. So does Alex Raymond, Milton Caniff and others who used models for their work. A recent book on Norman Rockwell tells us how he created his illustrations, by creating the scene completely in reality using models, posing them and photographing them and using it as a reference!

So, while in the journey of learning to draw, if one hits a plateau, its time to go out and sketch from life, or pick up the favourite artist and simply copy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Drawing Lessons @ Animation Illustration Art

A new companion website containing learning resources is now available.

You can access it by clicking the "Lessons" Button at the top of this blog, or by visiting Learning @ Animation Illustration Art .

The Idea of Learning @ Animation Illustration Art is to offer engaging, structured learning resources that will build proficiency, confidence and flair in the art student.

The objective is to provide a knowledge base consisting of a wide range of short effective courses for students of all levels.

Lessons will be available in various areas of interest such as Drawing and Composition, Rendering in media such as Pencil, Pen, Brush, Monochrome and Color Wash, Digital Painting/Vector Illustration, Story Illustration, Sequential Art, and Animation(Classical and Digital). and is built progressively, one on top of the other at an easy pace. The courses are absolutely functional, which will start equipping you with the knowledge and tools from day one, that will get you set on a creative, artistic and rewarding pursuit.


The First set of Lessons focus on Foundational Drawing. The student will learn from the very basics, about materials, how to hold a pencil, various means of creating strokes, capturing the essense and different aspects such as gesture and form, of any object and eventually learn how to compose a complete picture.

Objective: By the end of this set of lessons on Foundational Drawing one should become confident and proficient in drawing anything from observation.


* Beginning To Draw
* Gesture Drawing – Capturing the Total
* Contour – Capturing the Details
* Shape – The Second Dimension
* Form – The Third Dimension
* Modeling – Creating Form with Line
* Chiaroscuro – Creating Form with Tone
* Procedure – A General Approach
* Perspective – Foreshortening
* Composition – Creating a Complete Picture

The Lessons, Beginning To Draw and Gesture Drawing are now available! More to follow soon.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Jacques Martin - A Ligne Claire Master - The Adventures of Alix

One of the collaborators of Herge and a true master of the Lignare Claire school, Jacques Martin produced some fantastic art during his times outside of the Tintin Albums.

His greatest output is the series The Adventures of Alix. Beginning with the first album, Alix l'intrépide, is a series of stories about the Gallo-Roman Alix, whose adventures are set in a historic Roman setting.

Between 1948 and 1996, Martin produced twnety fantastic albums, . These generally appeared first in the Tintin magazine, then printed as a book by Casterman, a few were printed originally by Lombard.

Later albums were done by younger artists of talent with Martin authoring the stories.

Beginning 1996, a beautiful series outlining the historical places travelled by Alix in his adventures, began to be produced. Known as Les Voyages d'Alix, it showcases some of the best known ligne claire artwork, with stunning details of the places, set in the historic timeframe.

These books though not from the brush(pen) of Martin, are heavily influenced by him, and by Alix. They contain very interesting historic information about the places, along with great art.

Jacques Martin created other characters and stories, which we can visit at some other time.

There are some awesome editions of the Alix series from Casterman, including multiple story hardbound editions such as the Alix, les premières aventures , which combines Alix l'intrépide, Le Sphinx d'Or and L'Egypte 2(from Les Voyages series)

These are all ofcourse in French. and can be found at Amazon UK/France or at several of the online French Bande dessinée stores such as BDNet.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Learning French - Apprendre le français

With such rich comic art culture and the enormity of books originating from the Franco-Belgian part of the world, at some point in time one begins to think... maybe we should learn French.

If one were to look at the quality of art, storyline, albums and literature on the art and artists like Herge, what we see translated in English is a fraction of what actually gets created in French.

A look at Casterman's catalog is sufficient to know what we are missing out. Of course a lot of it does get translated in English, for instance Cine Book does a great job, as does Egmont.

Still some great books are only in French. For instance there is this two-volume book on how to create and draw comics based on Herge's works,

(1) tome 1 - J'Apprends a Dessiner les Personnages (Volume 1 - Learning how to Draw Characters)

(2) tome 2 - J'Apprends a Raconter une Histoire ( Volume 2 - I'm learning to Tell a Story)

Then there are some exotic editions of the Tintin albums, for instance,

Le Temple du Soleil - Nouvelle édition (The Prisoners of the Sun - New Edition)

There are some outstanding works by famed artists such as Edgar Jacobs, Jacques Martin, Roger Leloup.. just a pick from Studios Hergé alone! and there were so many from where they came from!! Many of their works are coming in to the English domain and other languages, but at one or two albums a year!

So..... there does seem enough reasons to learn French.

A few quick links to get started... with the moderate goal of being able to read French.

(Learning to speak French.... well... lets add the to our next birth's To Do list :)

A good dictionary is a must to get going. Of course one can use Google Translate. It is a fantastic tool. But... where fans of Tintin always can use an excuse to buy this dictionary..

Harrap's 'Tintin au Pays des Mots '. Though out of print, used ones can be sourced.

So lets get going then.....

le, la, un, une, les, des, Bonjour, Bonsoir, Merci !!