I am notorious for doing things over and wringing my hands over details. At the level I take it , it is probably not good.
HOWEVER…all you illustrators, or illustrators in the making, who have heard this while worrying about some detail -“no one is going to notice but you”…you can go ahead and ignore that advice. A person may not notice that a knob on a t.v. is crooked CONSCIOUSLY but they do notice. See, people notice when one illustration is better than another even if they aren’t able to break it down to why. A good illustration is several thousand little details working together. There is also the matter of drawing a line in the sand…you start to say “who cares” about one detail … down the slippery slope you go. For that matter, to put it into other terms, no one will notice if you do 100 push ups or 102 push ups…but you can’t get to 200 push ups if you don’t push yourself to do 102 instead of 100.
HAVING SAID THAT…there is the matter of letting the “perfect” be the enemy of the “good”.
I had been very tense in my inking lately and needed to do something fun that didn’t require precision in hopes it would loosen me up. I had an idea for a Dr.Seuss / The Walking Dead parody a while back, and since Seuss is known for quick relaxed lines…seemed like a good way to break out of my funk.
FIRST, a brief blurb about our online sale, THEN Onto this new parody print and my struggles with it…ahem..
**50%off ALL ORIGINAL ARTWORK AND COUPON CODE -humbug- IS GOOD FOR 20% OFF EVERYTHING ELSE!*No you can’t use the coupon code on the 50%off artwork, wise guy*
There are a few elements to mimicking someone else’s style. It is like a signature, everyone has their own stroke, fluidity of the lines and so forth. How strictly they hold to perspective and of course, simply put…how they draw certain things and the style/era of objects they use also makes up a visual style. As far as that goes, the first attempt was pretty good. Curved perspective, simple but skewed furniture and objects, whimsical lines.
Often it is a matter of understanding what they find important or for that matter fun to draw. For Seuss it seems, and it don’t take no world class illustrator like me to tell you, the important element is RHYTHM! The illustrations have just as much whimsy and rhythm as his writing. Bodies bend like noodles, walls and furniture exist through a fish eye lens, and even the shadows seem to have a life of their own. To the eye, repeated shapes convey a sense of motion. So by design or preference, or sheer luck, Seuss has repeated images all over his illustrations. Now, by that I don’t mean seven lampshades in each picture…I mean repeated shapes, repeated lines. His shadows have a life of their own because they are not one large black shape…they are 78 repeated curved lines.
While I and the good doctor are both skilled cartoonists who draw circles for eyes…that is about where the similarity of our skills sets end. My work is maniacally precise, holding strict to vanishing points. I rarely use shadows or for that matter large sections of black and I never cross hatch. This, in theory, should loosen me up.
So, there is what they draw and how they draw it, but there is more…
Another element is what they used. If someone used a brush you aren’t going to get very far very fast using a pen. If someone used a pen , using a brush is not going to give you the same results.
I use and used brush.
After looking over the illustration I made and Dr.Seuss’ own work more closely…I notice that there is no way he was using a brush.
Lines like 1 COULD be a brush. It is long and the thickness varies. A pen will not have a variation of thickness during a single stroke. BUT line type 2 has a sharp curve that you can’t make with a brush without really concentrating (if at all) , and he is clearly not someone who inks slowly and methodically. Line type three starts small , thickens then ends small…also usually not something you do with a brush. A brush stroke goes from large to small or visa versa, or steady..but to do no.3 with a brush would really require a slow steady hand and it would be inefficient to attempt with a brush…to say the least. You could maybe pull it off but only because you were stubborn and wanted to do that specific type line with that specific type tool.
So, he more than likely used a crowquill ( no.a below) or a dip pen ( below no.b)
The crow quill makes lines like no.3 ( short tight angles) all day long unless you fight it not to do so…BUT it will not make lines like no.2 (long fluid lines with tight angles) because it will often catch / dig into the paper with it’s sharp point. It also will not make lines like no.1 (very long fluid lines) . Well…it will but not that long because a crowquill doesn’t hold much ink. It is a form of dip pen. You dip it into ink and the make a few lines, then dip it in the ink again. It simply will not hold enough ink for a 8-10 inch line.
A calligraphy style dip pen ( B. above) will make long lines, it’ll make the squiggly lines, BUT making it do long curves over and over like the shading/ cross hatching (NO.5 BELOW)…forget it. These pens like to go straight back and forth or up and down. They have a flat point and the edges will fight and dig into the paper if you try the long repeating curves. It also does not vary the thickness of the line very well.
So perhaps he used a combination of these tools. I have no idea, the interwebs were not much help and since he was illustrating in the late 50’s there weren’t any buddies to film him with their smartphone while he was drawing. Hell I couldn’t even really nail down what size he worked, which would have been helpful. If he was drawing very small , a crowquill might have done the job because you wouldn’t need to worry about running out of ink each stroke. More than likely though he was drawing at 11×14 inches.
So …for the sake of getting it closer to his style I gave it a few more tries with a combination of tools. (pay attention to the pants and shadows)
After looking them all over…I liked the first one I did before jacking around the best. They are all decent but the first just seemed more natural, probably because I use a brush for all of my work and haven’t worked with the others tools sine …hell…maybe ten years ago. Admittedly…there is about .09% difference between all of them. Even now I am attempted to take one more go at it and adjust how I am holding the pen…which would only succeed in taking more life out of it.
Anyway, all is well that ends well. And the point is the gag anyway. People looking at this get it is a Dr.Suess homage and that’s what is needed for the joke to work. I will say this…it looks just like Carol. Don’t ask me how I pulled that off….luck is the residue of desire.
If future generations care to mimic my style…I use a windsor newton series 7 no.0 brush and work 11×14 or 11×17. Yes ONLY a brush (act impressed, my ego took a hit trying to illustrate like SEUSS)
50%off ALL ORIGINAL ARTWORK AND COUPON CODE -humbug- IS GOOD FOR 20% OFF EVERYTHING ELSE!
*No you can’t use the coupon code on the 50%off artwork, wise guy*
SALE ENDS MIDNIGHT JAN 2….that’s probably a lie, it’ll be sometime the next afternoon before we remember to end the code / sale …I can be honest with myself.