Thursday, 29 September 2011

Before September end.

Just a quick post this time round before September ends of a few pieces that have recently been printed. First up some work Le Grimoire's latest excellent entry in the Lone Wolf series. Sadly my French is even worse than abysmal and my attempts to learn highlight my ...dare I say, 'forgetfulness'? But Sebastien [editor and publisher] is ever helpful, and so I muddle bye as they say .... thanks to his English :).

The book 'LOUP SOLITAIRE' : Livre D'adventure  [ and for more information] primarily features the work of Gary Chalk and If you're a fan do check it out as he has excelled himself. But there also a few pieces by yours truly and here are some of those.

So these are a few pieces from the French edition of NOUVEAUTE : LIVRE D'AVENTURE - Ouvrage inédit disponible (Août 2011).

Next time [and probably next week] some recent commissioned pieces. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A Bit of a Crit ...

Well, I said, after a victim [sorry, volunteer] asked for my thoughts on a recent piece of his work that I would do just that.  So, I will get round to the piece he asked me to look at, and for which he wanted my critical appraisal. But before that a few words in general.

One of the characteristic phrases about being a teacher is, 'Having a duty of care'. In educational terms, related to the law, this implies that one should ensure 'your' students should be protected from injury and harm. I have no intention of going into this matter in any detail except to say what, over the years as an art teacher and lecturer, what it also came to mean to me.
Being Grumpy ... Bah Humbug!
To me, and many other teachers, it also came to mean not just protecting from the physical, but also the mental injury and harm that can come about through the careless action, word, or words used that can cause some form of mental distress. I am not going to claim I was perfect, or that I always got it right, or that I wasn't guilty of such, but I always tried [I believe] to avoid saying, or doing, anything that could result in causing unwitting distress through any critical action on my part. So I have approached this 'crit' of the work below with a little trepidation.
Being deathly ... he he
With that pontification out of the way .... and recognising that my thoughts on others artwork is not going to rock the world of fantasy Illustration, here are my comments on the work from my two ''volunteers'', that of Andy and Matt.

First - Andy ATOM Taylor. I'm not going to say to much here [sorry Andy :)] as the work I want to highlight is based on his interpretation of some of my own pieces. For example, the Dragon from 'The Warlock of Firetop Mountain'. First mine [copied by someone from the book I suspect] then his.

Andy ATOM Taylor
There has long been a tradition by artist's to copy from others work, from the 'learner' to the master, [and I'm not calling myself anything other than someone who is in essence 'still learning'], it not only acts as an excellent training ground to examine technique, but also allows the 'copier' the freedom to explore the original work and interpret the piece, in turn, through their own ideas. What is nice about Andy's pieces is he has not just 'copied' but also 'interpreted' by adding his own individuality 'twist' to the work he has been examining. An even better example of what I mean can be seen in how he has 'added' to the original. Again, mine first, then his.

Andy ATOM Taylor : Wandering Monsters
Note, again how he has added, and refined, as he has explored my work to give a freshness and vitality that makes his on a true homage, and not just a copy. Andy, who has decided [thank you] to become the 'curator' of my 'on-line' library, through down loading much of my work as he can find [wait till he starts looking for my work for 'Tracy' and 'Bunty' comic. lol] has told me how much he finds himself inspired by my stuff. Has to be told, in turn, how I find his 're-interpretations' refreshing, and to say how honoured I feel that he's taken the trouble to do all he's doing on my behalf. Thank you Andy. 

When I first started out as an illustrator the computer had not yet revolutionised the whole concept of printing reproduction, most work relied on either film positives, PMT's [ Photo Mechanical Transfer], or engraving. In order to ensure good reproduction line work [in particular] the original had to be drawn [traditionally] one and half times the original size. You can see this on, for example, this piece from 'The Warlock of Firetop Mountain'.
The most important factor was to ensure good line without 'break up'. Now you might be fooled into thinking ...wait a minute there is obvious line 'break up' evident to be seen here, which is even more evident in this next example.
So what is going on? Was the original like this? No, it was not, nor the original printed version. What these examples suffer from is 'newer' printings, on not always good quality paper stock, which were not necessarily based on good quality copies of the original artwork. I've been lucky to see Warlock printed in many different languages, and on many different types of paper, all which show clearly how copying from copies effects the quality of the printed images.

Now, I'm not implying that a sketchier appearing illustrative look would not reproduce, as you can see from this piece by the master English Illustrator Edward Ardizzone, but my contention that care should be taken to ensure the line used by the artist [illustrator] should hold in reproduction.
Edward Ardizonne
Let us look at the work sent me by Matthew H. Damon for my next critical appraisal and compare it with, again say, a piece by Edward Ardizonne. First the piece by Matt, then by Ardizonne. 
Matthew H Damon

Edward Ardizzone
But they are different in style so what's my point? Well, let us look at a close-up from each, but remembering that Ardizzone's is a reprint from the original and Matt's is a high quality jpeg. With Ardizonne you can see, even with poor reproduction, the line weight still 'holds' but with Matt's I'm tempted to think some of the finer lines will not.

Of course computer generated imagery has made some of my points irrelevant, but I'd still like to see even the 'sketchier' line work used by Matt drawn a little more carefully with more thought to eventual reproduction. See the same piece by Matt reduced as it might appear through reproduction.
Now I may be cheating a little here [actually I am Matt], but I hope we get my point, and recommend that Matt, who bubbles with ideas, tries to slow down a little so his work benefits from a little more considered care, which is much more evident in that of Andy's pieces.

But back to Matt and his drawing. Looking compositionally at the original there are other things that can be highlighted for some improvement, and as Matt, who is the first to claim he cannot draw, but is in fact a writer who has to do his own illustration, wanted me to help I have tried to be constructive.

First let me state that you can draw Matt, but like all of us you can still learn, and you can still improve. So here are a few visual pointers about the original piece. Mainly based on normal pictorial criteria such as composition, perspective, shading, visual decoration to create the illusion of a reality, and so on.

First, as a reminder, the original drawing.

Next, my analysis of some key points in the work, that I feel would benefit from fresh compositional consideration, with emphasis on perspective, shadows, shading, and textural mark making. 
The perspective analysis in red line was to highlight a common error of not using one horizon line [or eyeline].
Now examine my 're-draw' where by adding a few key changes: such as only changing one stack of the boxes perspective; changing some of the shadow; the position of the body; some of the scaling involved in the body, including he head; and some bits of shading, the picture now looks the 'same' yet, I think, different, with the hope that my 'changes' will prove helpful. 

So, if we compare the two versions, the original and the adaption [see below] ,we, hopefully, can see what I meant, and that my 'short' critical analysis will prove of help to some.
Catch more of Matt's work, and ideas, at his website:
where you will also find how the original work came into being before I 'fiddled' with it.

So there we are, and as mentioned, I hope some of my pointers may prove of value. Finally, to finish, thanks once again to Andy, an oldie but a goodie from my past.