Sunday, August 24, 2008

New Retro Style Cartoons

I picked up a copy of Christopher Hart's Cartoon Cool: How to Draw New Retro-Style Cartoons a couple of weeks ago. The style is based on cartoons from the 1950s and 190s, but has a more modern flair.

If you've seen any of the Erin Esurance commercials, you'll recognize the style. But, the style really reminds me of Betty Boop. The Betty Boop films ran from 1932-1932 and were produced my Max Fleischer and released by Paramount Pictures.

Betty was an overtly sexy character for three years, but restrictions placed on the motion picture industry regarding sexuality caused Betty Boop to be toned down.

However, she was the first and most famous animated sex symbol and still remains popular today.

I really like this style because it's fun to draw. But also because one of the mainstays of this style is that it is centered around a family or group of people that are self-centered, irreverent and dysfunctional. In that way it reminds me a lot of South Park.

All that aside, I'm still learning to draw the style. I've been following along with the examples and practicing. The scan from my sketchbook is some of the practice. I'm beginning to understand how this style is drawn. I'm planning to start developing my own characters soon for a comic strip entitled "Life as a Wallbanger." It's about a dysfunctional family "somewhere in America."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chooser of the Slain

I've always found the Valkyries from Norse Mythology rather interesting. Valkyries, minor female deities that served Odin, chose the souls of warriors killed in battle to take to Valhalla to fight beside Odin in Ragnarok.

I decided to create a rendition of a Valkyrie in Illustrator, and started with a concept of the Valkyrie looking over her right shoulder with a weapon in her right hand. I wanted the right shoulder open and her hair to flow so that it looked like she turned suddenly and looked at the viewer.

I work better with a photo reference for body positioning. But, my Comic Artists Reference didn't have a pose close to anything I wanted. After looking through dozens of anime magazines and manga and not finding a close approximation of the pose, I looked at anime wallpapers on the Internet.

I finally found a wallpaper of a character from Neo Ranga that was almost exactly the pose I had in mind. I worked up a rough sketch and refined it several times before I started adding details. Originally, the Valkyrie had armor, earrings and other jewelry. But, I developed a pretty elaborate body tattoo and decided to make the Valkyrie naked so all of the tattoos could be seen.

Her weapon was originally a recurve bow, but I changed it to an over sized boomerang. I decided on a boomerang because the Valkyrie could throw it and the boomerang would return with the soul of her chosen slain warrior. The boomerang also gave me a larger pallet to draw a pattern similar to her tattoos.

After I completed the drawing, I scanned it and did the inking and cell shading in Adobe Illustrator. I had done some work in Adobe Photoshop for the background. I created a star field for the night sky, but decided it overpowered the drawing. So decided to go with the original background from Illustrator.

My original Illustrator document is 11x14 because that's the largest size print I can have made locally. I resized it to make a wallpaper for my laptop, which is the wallpaper that accompanies this blog entry.

Total working time was about 30 hours to complete the project. It took me about two hours to draw it and about four hours in Illustrator. The rest of the time was spent developing the tattoo pattern and pattern on the boomerang. I did about 14 or 15 variations of the tattoos before I settled on something I really liked.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Shading Practice: Motoko

After a couple of weeks of practicing pencil shading, I decided to try and put everything together. I found a wallpaper of Aoyama Motoko from Love Hina. I need to get a better scanner. It did a really poor job of accurately copying the drawing.

It darkened a lot of the background and other parts of the drawing, the lines around the wristbands most notably. The scanner also blew out the highlights. I fiddled with the exposure on the scanner, but it didn't make much difference in any of the other scans.

I was pretty happy with the actual drawing, though there is a lot of room for improvement. I wasn't very happy with the way it scanned though.