It’s been awhile. I went to Norway for a few weeks, where I climbed some peaks and read some books — and nothing much besides. Turns out, I really need a computer to get some drawing done. *self-depracating sigh*
It is here I want to try something new, something I’ve never really done; say — or rather, write — why I drew what I drew. Now, this isn’t going to be a master class in Character Design and Figure Drawing as I’m still learning and struggling myself, but I do hope it might give those of you who are not cartooning experts yet a taste or understanding for what is on a cartoonist’s mind.
- Size and Proportions
A normal realistic human figure has a small head and long legs supporting a medium-sized torso. But that is kinda boring, so what you want to do is mix it up a bit. For example: Give your character a disproportionately large head on a tiny torso, with medium-sized stick legs.
- Figure Posing
Balance is all about weight distribution. If you mess that up, your figure — its pose and movement — will feel “off”. A case in point here would be the harem belly dancer who looks like she’s about to stumble. However, her visage gives her an intoxicated look, so I suppose you can explain that away, but that is a lousy excuse.
As a body moves, its weight distribution shifts. So when setting up a character in motion, you need not only think of the main movement of the body, but also of its countermovement to depict this distribution shift. So an example would be, if your character stretches his or her right leg out in front, his or her left arm stretches up behind the back.
It would be easy to just forego drawing figures in dynamic poses. But, not only is that boring, “uncartoony”, it wouldn’t make sense in some situations. Let us look, for example, at my very first editorial cartoon. These two characters are supposed to be surprised, shocked, appalled at what they see, but they just stand there stiff and posed, with their arms drooping, as if they’re indifferent. This creates a sense of incongruence, which is detrimental in cartooning art. Examples of more congruent poses would be the stiff, annoyed posture of woman on the left or the gay strut of the Sultan in the former cartoon.
Let us look again at the latter cartoon. See how it doesn’t convey sound — or any show of emotion? Now compare it to the former. Note, for example, the slight crosshatching on the left woman’s face, the tapping of her foot, and the hand-drawn musical note coming from the mouth of the old astrologer. All these little subtle visual cues make a cartoon come to funny life.
Let me know if you want to read more of these sorts of blog posts.