(Part 4/Style/Character development/Fell man)
Exercise – Fell Man
Left. Kate Greenaway characters for children’s books, mainly nursery rhymes.
Nineteenth century, popular, traditional. A very recognisable personal style, much copied since these originals.
Right. Steve Beaumont, Elf Princess, How to draw Fantasy Art. Character sketched in pencil.
Below Left. A Jan Remo, 2012 Character on a bike. Below Centre. Simone Lias characters ‘Chip and Pin’. Below Right Brian Cronins Little Emperor character for Psychology today. 2009
Left. Sharon Tancredi’s page in Taschen’s 100 Illustrators.
This ‘doe-eyed’ character is for a children’s book called The Magic Soup 2012.
This is a digitally drawn character set in a fantasy scene showing great detail.
This contrasts with Lias chip and Pin which are quick sketch drawings of easily recognisable characters.
The other 2 left and right above, are both caricatures of stereotypical characters.
Well known Characters – Superheroes
There are dozens, probably hundreds of ‘recognisable’ superhero characters.
They appear in comics, in books, and on both small and large screens.
Usually they have exaggerated features either visible or implied. Many of those invented for ‘boys’ have big muscles like Superman (top left) or Batman (top right).
The most exaggerated muscular superhero is probably The Hulk (middle right) who also has the unusual characteristic of being green.
Many of these Superheroes have stood the test of time and have been ‘popular’ for many many years Captain America being one of them (bottom left).
Antman (middle left) wad another of the Marvel Comics superheroes and first appeared in the 1960’s. He has been ‘modernised and continues to make ppearances.
It is interesting that all the characters mentioned above have a characteristic stance which suggests aggression. If not aggression, then it is superiority or even patronising.
The one woman included here in Wonderwoman. She is often depicted with raised arms in an x shape which is also combative although perhaps more defensive than the male characters.
These are all examples of different invented characters which have become famous to the point of being household names.
Most of them are generally portrayed as based on the ‘Robin Hood’ model – they will use almost any means to achieved ‘good’ for the less well-endowed.
Well Known Characters – British National Newspapers – Cartoons
Andy Capp is a simply drawn character. His cap is always worn and his chief characteristics are being feckless and lazy.
Although the peanuts strip contains two simply drawn children the humour portrayed is for adults.
Giles cartoons appeared in the Daily Express. The characters are easy to recognise, facial expressions are important here. They are also important in the Fred Bassett cartoon where the hound has an almost human face.
The Gambols were very popular in the Express in the sixties and seventies. The characters are simply drawn and rely heavily on body language in particular but also facial expression.
Beano and Dandy were weekly comics which probably reached their zenith in the fifties but they are still well remembered as are some of the individual characters. The Beano is still published but Dandy expired a few years back.
Some of their most famous characters are here.
Desperate Dan from the Dandy was and is a recognisable character.
His prominent chin with the whiskers so obvious, are his trademark.
He is a ‘big fellow’ with thick arms and a large gut.
He was the mascot of Dandy and was very strong – he shaved with a blowtorch and slept on bricks.
He ate ‘cow pie’ which featured horns.
His drawn character was very active and strong but drawn body actions were not superhuman.
One of the most famous cartoon characters of all time is, Dennis the Menace.
He has a distinctive outline and would be recognisable even in silhouette. This is because of his body posture and even more so because of his idiosyncratic hair shape.
His knobbly knees and lack of a neck are always there with a good facial expression.
However, almost as memorable as the character himself, is his famous black and red hooped jersey.
Along with his falling down socks most people would recognise him from his description without a drawing. A truly memorable character. In addition one could almost make the same case for Dennis’ dog, Gnasher.
Biffo the bear is a good example of a personified animal. Apart from his head which has some resemblance to a bear, his body is pretty much human. He is simply drawn with a black outline and basic colour. His hands feet and face have a large portion coloured like a human. He has no need for clothes as he is a bear but as a bear interacting with humans the creator has given him some red trousers. These have braces perhaps to suggest he is a young bear. His facial expressions are very human as are his body positions and language.
Plug is one of The Bash Street Kids and very much of his era. Nevertheless he is worth looking at more closely as a character. Plug is human, not animal. The artist has taken some features here and exaggerated them to good effect. Plug is a street fighter. He has little or no hair, his eyes are very close together suggesting he is a bit dim. His ears are pulled and and twisted as a boxers might be and give him his nickname. His most characteristic feature, though is his long top lip and lack of teeth – an appearance worthy of one who has battled his way along. He still looks happy, however, a clever drawing.
Research could continue in many directions through many more categories , illustrated novels, television characters, animated film characters, satirical adult magazines, famous political cartoonists etc, etc. Time dies not permit further research.
Based on this brainstorm, the character I would like to create is a modern superhero who doesn’t have bulging muscles but who is superhumanly strong and athletically gifted character. Like most of the others he will be loosely based on the Robin Hood mould – altruistic, setting the world/people to rights and also eco-aware.
He will do a quiet unassuming sort of job – shop assistant in an outdoor-wear shop perhaps based on a woman I know.
He will be a fell-runner, based on my husband and a member of the cave Rescue Team, based on several local characters I know.
His comfort zone will be the countryside – rural areas, he is unlikely to venture into towns or cities. His essential piece of equipment with which he will never be separated is his rucksack. This will be something of a magic item as inside it will be anything and everything that he could ever need to carry out his missions. This is based on several mountain marathon runners of my acquaintance. He is eco-friendly or even eco-very-concerned. He hates single-use plastic.
I did some practising of character drawing before I decided on this particular one. Below begins a series of 13 sketches which show the development of my character drawings and how Fell-Man-Superhero, gradually evolved.
First I practiced some shapes for people Based on ovals.
Then I looked at heads and faces and How expressions can change
I looked at different ages from baby faces to old people and the difference that hair makes.
I realised I always draw faces looking left So I changed this and added some Experimental hands.
I know hands and feet are important.
I looked at action poses incorporating movement
I began to formulate a specific person who Could be repeated. This is the start of my Superhero just someone who looks like an ordinary bloke, but not fat.
I wanted him clean shaven with a good square jaw yet a simple face, easy to Reproduce with different expressions. I also Needed a signature hat of some sort. I tried a flat cap.
I also wanted him to have his important rucksack which he will wear all the time. Here is is fell running – his special sport.
This is Fell-Man in action on the fell.
Experimenting with action poses.
Experimenting with facial expressions combined with suitable pose.
Here is Fell-Man off on his first adventure. He wears simple lycra kit in technical fabrics with fell shoes and extending pole. He carries his rucksack at all times. He wears an anachronistic bobble hat – never seen on a modern fell runner (who aims for aerodynamicism at all times.) Fell-Man doesn’t need to be aerodynamic as he is a superhuman with the ability to out jump and out run anyone else on the fell. Neither does he need the streamlined rucksack worn by all the top runners to carry minimal lightweight kit. Fell-Man’s rucksack is magic and has everything in it he will ever need.
Being a modern superhero Fell-man’s kit is on trend with black top and tights with fluorescent green bobble hat and rucksack.
This time, in complete contrast I am going to choose a character familiar to all schoolchildren – the one with the eyelashes.
I have never had a go at drawing a cartoon style character where the head and body are out of proportion so I will have a go. I want the eyelashes to be the main characteristic of this figure. It is loosely built on my granddaughter .
Here (right) I have practised the eyelash effect I am looking for – huge eyes but even bigger eyelashes. Also the eyebrows need to be important.
Right. I reverted to pencil and paper and drew the sort of character I was thinking of – large head, big eyes, huge eyelashes and prominent eyebrows, school uniform and the essential designer bag.
Below. I then coloured her in using a mixture of paint, Sharpie and digital touch up. I am pleased with the result of that experiment. I will send a copy to Anna.
The cartoon was well received by both Anna and her mother. She was recognised as the inspiration for the drawing if not for the actual personal reference.
My comments on part 4
I have enjoyed this section of the course and learned a lot.
Creativity – There has been a good deal of opportunity for use of imagination and analytical thinking which I have enjoyed immensely, this section. I have been able to look at other peoples/artists work in my research then use my own ideas to develop the final images for the various exercises.
Research and idea development- I have been able to research some areas where I have not looked before such as the work of Julia Breckenreid, Guy Billhout, et al.. I have developed ideas by using collage and altering the style of some of my original work. In addition I have tried with most exercises to go the extra distance and formulate ideas as to where the work could progress to another level or in another direction, which is the essence of development.
My work with the ‘magic cushion’ for the assignment was noteworthy, I believe. It led to unusual tools and materials and was a culmination of the skills learned in this section.
I was able to experience field research when looking for a museum to use and in identifying artefacts that would be suitable.
I have a large archive of material gleaned over many years and am glad to be able to use it – booklets, books, thousands of photographs, paintings and other ephemera are adding to my developmen of a personal style.
Visual and technical skills – I have learned and practised some new technical skills, notably using my new Wacom tablet a bit more. There is still a long way to go with that, however. I am pleased with my progress at visual distortion, drawing cartoons is an entirely new field for me. I was particularly proud of the cartoon of my granddaughter and also the collage of my dog.
I have made a very careful account in my learning log to show progression and development in each exercise, including key words and concepts gleaned from Nobel and Bestly’s Visual Research manual and other text books.
Context – I have tried to demonstrate my understanding of the contexts and debates underlying the various concepts of each exercise. Sometimes they have been familiar ground to me but in this part I have encountered new experiences which have been both beneficial, interesting and enjoyable. All have added to my professional knowledge and understanding.
Although I do not like tattoos and would not accept a commission to design one, I did enjoy this exercise, which certainly widened my experience,and was pleased with the outcome.
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