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Art Thoughts -- Your Opinions Wanted!

I'm starting to get scans back of sketchbook work at AnthroCon, and while some of it was decent enough, some of it frankly makes me cringe. {8-E

I knew it was going to be this way; I was (and somewhat still am) out of practice, and was largely uninspired until roughly 2/3 of the way through the con. Of course, even when I'm at my best, I generally spend days on a pic rather than hours, which tends to make anything I do at a con seem rushed and haphazard compared with what I'm usually willing to share with the world.

I've talked before about how I'm bumping my elbows on the comic strip format; when the strip era ends I intend to spend some time getting real art instruction from various sources. In the meantime, I am going to be assigning myself various art projects as time and circumstances allow to work on what I know are problem areas (e.g., "forearm/wrist joint at various angles").

As such, I'm throwing open wide the gates for critique from anyone out there who cares to comment on my work, so I can work on figuring out said assignments. I'm not looking for ego-boosts ("Your art is AWESOME! Don't change a thing!" while nice, is not really helpful in this context), I'm not going to argue any comments (although I reserve the right to ask for clarification), and you won't hurt my feelings as long as you give specific and honest opinions. If you'd rather not post your comments publicly, I'd be happy to receive them via e-mail at thegneech@gmail.com as well.

I you need samples of my work to examine or reference, you can find it at my JaxPad gallery: http://thegneech.jaxpad.com/ or sitting in a pile here: http://www.rumblepurrlion.com/artwork/

So c'mon! Tell me what you really think! :) Just keep it polite. ;)

-The Gneech



( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 17th, 2007 08:24 pm (UTC)
I've always liked your work as a great example of the more western style of anthropomorphics. A lot of artists nowadays do the more anime-influenced style, which is fine, and works great for smut, but I like to see everything in moderation.

With that said I'm not a particularly adept artist myself, so I can't give too much advice, although I do notice you seem to avoid using shadow much. That might be one thing to consider adding to your repetoire. I didn't notice it for the longest time, it was only when I was really looking at pictures trying to find something useful to say. On the other hand, I do like the way you do use it, the more diffuse shadows behind characters and generally light use of shadow to define folds in clothing. So...whatever works for you. =) Probably not real helpful there, was I?
Jul. 17th, 2007 08:27 pm (UTC)
Good call! I definitely need shadow/tonal practice. Thanks!

*puts that on the list*

Jul. 17th, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC)
The wrist/forearm and ankle areas seem to give you trouble now and then. Not at all uncommon, really. I find knees to be a particular B, m'self. Watch a tendency towards stiffness in poses. You've been getting better about it, but it happens once in a bit. Most notably with the alien guys in SJ. The figure sketching we've talked about will help loosen ya up a bit there. @:)

Style-wise, are you looking for a change? If so, what direction do you want to go in?

Man, now I feel like going in for some life-drawing sessions at the local community college!
Jul. 18th, 2007 12:33 am (UTC)
The alien guys are supposed to be stiff, actually. ^.^' But yes, I know what you mean. My characters tend to do a lot of standing around with their arms crossed, too.

The main changes I'd like to make in my style are:

  • towards a bit more detail in the character designs, something a little closer to the traditional "toony" look of WB or Disney -- not as extremely Disneyish as neverwench, but definitely closer than I am now. You can sort of see the direction I'm trying to move in Brody Coyote's character design, compared with older character designs such as Tiffany or Leonard. What I'd really like is to end up with a style fairly close to this pic, which I cribbed off of Herbie (i.e., that's a copy I made of a pic Herbie drew).

  • My backgrounds and perspective need a LOT of work. I want to get characters naturally placed in realistic settings. A lot of that will come naturally from moving to the comic book format (I hope), but I can do it when I'm in the groove.

  • Finally, I'd like to make my art more dynamic generally -- which gets back to what you were saying about stiffness in poses. I've got to avoid stiffness in poses, stiffness in layouts, and stiffness in image concepts generally. :)

And life-drawin' is on my lesson list! :)

-The Gneech
Jul. 18th, 2007 01:01 am (UTC)
Hmmm... I'm trying to remember your sketches from my class... When in the structure stages of figure drawing, are you using boxes/rectangles or circles/ovals?

And I like your backgrounds!
Jul. 18th, 2007 01:19 am (UTC)
I generally use ovals on women and either ovals or boxes on men depending on the build I'm aiming for.

And thanks! ^.^ They're kinda sparse in the strip, but I am getting better about doing them in other pieces. :)

Jul. 17th, 2007 11:57 pm (UTC)
Layouts are something to practice, along with writing/drawing a story that will fit in a fixed number of pages. Go nuts with the freedom you get from the format, no matter how weird or obscure you think the result might be, and borrow someone's crack.

Speaking of shadow/tonal practice, have you decided whether the SJ comic will be color or black & white?
Jul. 18th, 2007 01:02 am (UTC)
I know it will be color on the web. In print, that depends on costs, but right now it looks like color may be feasible. We'll have to see what the market's like when we get there.

Jul. 18th, 2007 12:52 am (UTC)
You Must Draw More Sad Girls In Snow!

To echo what has already been said, I like the more western style rather than the anime-influenced dredge that keeps popping up everywhere.

Otherwise, I'm not really qualified to critique anyone on their art, as I really can't draw.
Jul. 18th, 2007 01:03 am (UTC)
Hmm ... either it's obscure or I'm dense! :)

Jul. 18th, 2007 01:17 am (UTC)
No worries! There is in fact a Comixpedia entry on the subject.


That should explain the thing.

Also, just read your jaxpad entry about my commish. There is something strangely appealing about a huge wolf dressed in western garb stomping around the city. ;)

Am I crazy? Is that my problem?
Jul. 18th, 2007 10:48 am (UTC)
re: Sad Girls in Snow -- I now know exactly what you mean.

And no. ;P

re: Huge wolf in western garb stomping around the city ... you just described the happy dreams of half the people I know. 0.o

-The Gneech
Jul. 18th, 2007 10:27 pm (UTC)
you just described the happy dreams of half the people I know. 0.o

Ah-ha, then should you ever feel the need to just doodle or "try out new stuff" for a grab bag, then feel free to use my character in just such a scene. I'm sure that nobody would mind. ;)

Maybe you should do a cross over with Mac Hall (now Three Panel Soul). They already have ties in with the anthro community (see Mac Hall and Digimon).

Just kidding, of course.
Jul. 18th, 2007 01:02 am (UTC)
Other than a while back when I pointed out some perspective issues with hbar98's piccie and stuff, I'm not really much able to put my pawfinger on anything else that I could honestly critique you on. Not really a huge issue with the perspective thing, since I'm probably no better considering I hate drawing (and coloring) backgrounds.

Uh, well, I can always suggest working on whatever you feel you need to improve, but... I'm not sure what that would be. So yeah. Uh... dook.

Jul. 18th, 2007 01:03 am (UTC)
*marks a tic next to 'perspective'*

Thanks! :)

Jul. 18th, 2007 01:08 am (UTC)
I had the sheet I'd marked up on my photobucket account where it showed the perspective marks but I guess I tossed it out when I was cleaning up the account. But yeah, that was about all I can remember.
Jul. 18th, 2007 04:09 am (UTC)
Suggestions: Pay more attention to the weight of you line. Vary the thickness more, push things to be a little more angular or fluid as appropriate.

In a similar vein, use more black/do more black and white pictures (and I do mean black and white, no gray or gradients). This will be a huge help when it comes time to design merch, particularly single color silk screen t-shirts. It also ties into the next suggestion:

Make the background part of the piece. Even when you do a full background, often it feels like the character is simply in front of a backdrop. Integrate the characters more using light, shadow, interaction with scenery, etc. Use deeper, darker shadows and colors to give your compositions depth. Use different sight lines and angles.

I figure that'll do for a start.
Jul. 18th, 2007 06:38 am (UTC)
Not always, re: the backgrounds. Take a look at the Jellyfish Incident in the JaxPad gallery. That scene integrates the background very well, and is worth considering. Why is that one different?

Have the best

-=TK, who, if he had time, would use the art galleries to study how he could become a better artist
Jul. 18th, 2007 03:05 pm (UTC)
Actually, taking another look at that piece, there is very little to the actual background. Yes the lifeguard chair is well done, but beyond that there's just a couple quick lines and flat monochrome fills. Pieces with better backgrounds include the V-J day piece, copied from a photograph, and the Ski bunny picture.

I freely admit I'm not great at this, but a background should have the same level of thought and same effort of composition as the main characters. (It may be rendered more simply/stylized to make the main focus pop, but it shouldn't be an afterthought.
Jul. 18th, 2007 10:48 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'll put 'em on the list!

-The Gneech
Jul. 18th, 2007 06:35 am (UTC)
I've noticed a lot of improvement with the hands from the old days, when you would wrap the entire paw around one side of a very slender glass. For some reason that particular detail would always bug me, especially since it appeared a lot, given the typical setting.

Beyond that, there's not much I can say since your art skills far outweigh mine-- you at least can create believable scenes from scratch without references!

But I did notice there are several pieces missing from the collection, in particular, the two commisions you've done for me (and Welah). Are you missing those files and would you like to put them up?

Have the best

Jul. 18th, 2007 10:52 am (UTC)
I'm sure I've got them somewhere, thanks. :) On the Jaxpad site, I'm trying to keep mostly my newer pieces, and in the RP/artwork folder I have mostly stuff older than your pieces. Yours went up as a Saturday Grab Bag. :)

Thanks, re: paws on glasses, BTW.

Jul. 18th, 2007 07:02 am (UTC)
The onlyl thing Id even DARE to say, is that sometimes your SJ characters have the same poses as each other, in particular one where they are looking upwards with a slight smile in a sort of "oh brother" way.

That's the only thing I've noticed though, as Ive always liked your art, and its amazing to look at your older stuff and watch it evolve into your new stuff.

If you dont mind me being rude, check out an online comic called Questionable Content, as the art in that has made the most amazing improvement Ive ever seen, from very basic drawings to wonderful cell shaded looking stuff, its great! (But even they are guilty of the occasional reoccuring pose between characters).
Jul. 18th, 2007 10:53 am (UTC)
Cool, thanks for the input. :) I'll check it out!

-The Gneech
Jul. 18th, 2007 01:39 pm (UTC)
There have been a lot of good comments already, but I think the main thing that would help you is just trying out different techniques and styles. That's the best way to broaden your horizons artistically and find out what you like to do. Also it helps you to be able to use different styles and techniques to achieve the effect you want.

Working on a bigger canvas will also help. I know it's difficult to get very artistic in a small space when you're trying to move the story along.
Jul. 18th, 2007 05:31 pm (UTC)
I don't know how much I can actually contribute here, as I have no artistic abilities myself. I've noticed you artwork has improved over time. I particularly liked Leona Sings, her muscles were cool. I also liked the sketches. I feel like they have more details. Sometimes it seems that the backgrounds overshadow the images. I hope this gives you things to think about.
Jul. 18th, 2007 05:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :) One question, tho:

Sometimes it seems that the backgrounds overshadow the images.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean here. Could you elaborate? :)

-The Gneech
Jul. 19th, 2007 02:42 am (UTC)
Let me prepostion that this is more an issue of your older pieces since lately has improved on the point I'm about to make. But your earlier work the hands and feet seem too small in proportion to the rest of their body. I notice this since I've been critiqued on this one many, many times in the past. But like I said, that's more your earlier work.
Jul. 19th, 2007 02:44 am (UTC)
Heh ... that's interesting! I have proportionally small hands and feet myself, so that might have been a result of using myself as a model.

-The Gneech
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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