Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Shane Gline: Thoughts on drawing

How many people here know of Shane Glines. If not, he is an accomplished cartoonist who has worked at Spumco and on the animated Batman series. Anyways he has been posting his thoughts on drawing on Facebook. I thought I'd post them here for those that might not have caught it. (He gave permission to everyone to repost)

The Space Between

Young artists love lines. I spent most of my career concentrating on lines, style, and other flashy surface details. I spent a lot of time and effort perfecting a pretty line. But your line in itself is ultimately unimportant.

It's the space between the lines that matters.

You can have a scratchy line like Ronald Searle, a bold brush line like Bob Tupper, curvy lines like Fred Moore, or angular lines like Held, Jr., and while these qualities add flavor, they are not the meal.

As you put your lines down, you shouldn't be thinking about the lines themselves, but rather the form that the line is enclosing. As you make your second line on the opposite side, be even more aware of the form as your line encloses and traps the space. As you do this, be constantly aware of the space between your lines having weight and solidity.

We concentrate on lines because they a visible. You can see and feel it while you make it. Form is invisible, at least until one end of your line touches the other. This is why, on the rare occasion I give advice, I tell young artists to practice not lifting the pencil from the paper until they've completed their shape. As you "take your dot for a walk," draw your line all the way down one side of the form (an arm or leg for example) and then back up to the top without stopping. Think of every element of your drawing as a complete, enclosed shape- all fitting within the overall form of your figure. I've had several people tell me that this simple exercise created a drastic improvement in their drawing.

It's "Capturing Space". Using your lines to get a little bit of the universe on your paper. 


Thoughts on drawing No. 2

The problem of too much concentration on making your drawings pretty, flashy or cool, or getting caught up in surface styles early on.

You will get a bunch of attention from people who don't know better, and this can keep you from growing.

Attention and admiration from others should be our reward in life for working harder than the other person. If success comes too easily, and for the wrong reasons, it can really hold you back from developing.

For example- people who grow up wealthy or physically beautiful often have everything handed to them with little effort, and as a result tend to not develop the best personalities. They didn't need to develop character, strength, or knowledge to receive the attention that others have to work hard for.

I believe that everything good in life only comes as a result of struggle, pain, or at the very least getting outside of your comfort zone. If you skip that difficult but necessary step, and get the reward without the work, you are cheating yourself and others and creating much greater difficulties down the line. There really are no shortcuts.

I learned how to make my drawings cute and slick early on. My drawings had a natural appeal, and I was inking with a brush, using zip-a-tone, doing fancy tricks and effects with white-out while I was still a teen. I was swiping from Frazetta, Wood, Stevens, etc. and I would take my samples to comic conventions to show the pros and then stand back and bask in all the praise. I fooled myself into believing that I could really draw.

When I began to work in animation, it became painfully clear how weak my foundations was. I really had no idea how to draw. I had learned to draw by looking at drawings. I had copied tricks, gimmicks, had memorized a handful of symbols for eyes, hands, poses, etc., but there was little real drawing in me.

I would get hired on the basis of my slick portfolio, but when it came down to it I couldn't produce the work. John K. refers to it as "sketchbook virtuosos"- artists who show off these incredible sketchbooks and portfolios but who have no ability to draw on demand, or to customize their work for a specific job.

If there is any one thing that I feel has held me back in both my career and life, it's this: I got the reward before I put in the work.

When you've already learned how to make your work superficially pretty, and people expect that from you, it becomes much more difficult to do all those messy, clumsy, fumbling drawings that will eventually give you that solid foundation. It's taken me the last ten years to get the substance of my drawing up to level of the surface and I still have a long, long way to go.

My advice: Don't cheat and don't lie to yourself. Do you deserve the praise you are getting or do you know better?


Caleb said...

Good tips, thanks for posting.

Jeremy Brooks said...

Thanks for posting this patrick.