Friday, March 11, 2011

Cartooning 101: The Basics

My drawing table, littered with tracing paper.  Well, littered, anyway! Time to clean...

When I was taking cartooning classes, there was one important lesson that our teacher imparted to us, over and over:  use tracing paper to sketch.  Why?  Because it's relatively cheap, and if you make a mistake, you can toss it.  So many people are afraid to make a mistake, so don't draw at all, choosing to stare at the blank page instead, awaiting inspiration.  This violates another very important lesson they teach you in cartooning school, which is to draw as much as you can!  Later on, while taking graphic design classes, my instructor also was a big fan of tracing paper.  In a large composition, you may sketch a character or something really nice, but not like another part.  So... you trace over the good part, or cut that out, and use it to redraw the scene.  Heck, you can make 5 or 6 sketches of the same scene and cut and past the best bits, for a great rough sketch.

Today's Knight and Day, done first on tracing paper, then inked on the lightbox, then fixed, cleaned,
and shaded on the computer in photoshop.  Some strips are higher maintenance than others. :0)

They say that George Herriman (Krazy Kat) could sit down and start inking, without any sketching or anything.  Looking at the compositions of his Sunday pages, I find that really hard to believe.  I'm sure he sketched thumbnails at the least, but even if he didn't, I recommend highly creating a few sketches before setting out to do any final artwork.  I, for one, can sometimes sit down and work away perfectly, but there are other times when I flounder across the paper, and nothing seems to go right.  In that case, a tight sketch is a life saver, which I can throw on the light box, and ink over.  At least then I'll make less mistakes. :0)

Even if you've moved to the computer for life, you should still sketch. Any decent draw or paint program should give you layers, so always sketch on one layer first, then draw on another layer above it.  Well, not always... there is something to be said for spontaneity.  It all depends upon your style, and how loose you allow yourself to be.

The important thing is, of course, to not leave that paper blank. :0)

Cheers,    JOHN :0)

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