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Random Self-Critique

Dear Gneech:

When you revamp your art style for the new version of SJ, you need to keep the following in mind:

  • Cut back on those huge, horizontal muzzles. They get in the way of characters' eyes!

  • Speaking of eyes, make them a tad bigger generally. Not anime-huge, but bigger than the little beads you tend to do now. (With the exception of Stretch Ferret, of course!)

  • Use more photo reference. It always improves your art by 200%.

  • Thumbnail first. Don't compose on the page.

  • When possible, put at least a week between the draft and the final product.

  • More shadows in the inks. Practice this muchly!

  • Rulers are your friend. You know you can't draw a decent straight line without one. Don't be lazy!

  • Ditto model sheets. Particularly since you're redoing all of the character designs anyway.

  • Speaking of models, work out new marking/mask sheets and stick to 'em. Try to keep the markings on the hands/feet very simple, to avoid clutter around what are already difficult areas to draw.

  • Study Sue, Vince, Herbie, iktis muchly, particularly the character designs. Look for underlying structures.

  • Your perspective sucks, except when it's great. Tighten this up.

  • Don't be afraid to get more expressionist. Make Dover skinnier, Katie chunkier, Tiffany curvier, etc. Not to the point of total distortion, but more than you do now.

  • Try to be looking at good art when you're getting ready to draw. Think about what makes it good and incorporate that!

  • Finally, don't get discouraged. Look how far you've come!

Your pal and second-harshest critic,
The Gneech

PS: Other critiques welcome. :) I'm mostly posting this here so I'll remember it.



( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 23rd, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
Those are all some very good critiques to follow, but must I say there needs to be more Leona??

Hm, have you considered branching into other art styles as well? Aside from drawing the way I've seen you draw, maybe draw your characters *coughLEONAcough* in styles you see in magazines and newspapers! For some reason, I'm thinking of the art style from Rhapsody in Blue in Fantasia. Lots more smooth curves for the characters and not always conforming to your regular proportions (i.e. the arms and legs can be drawn as fluid curves instead of showing the distinct angles the bones form).

I'm not sure where else you can find some inspirations for branching out into new styles, but there IS also the option for branching out in new mediums! I'm suddenly visualizing a Gneech wearing a paint-spattered smock with a brush clutched firmly in paw, a beret atop his head in the place of the trademark fedora!

Ooh, and animation. That's another idea!

Wait, these aren't critiques any more rather than ideas to branch out and uh...
More Leona, please?
Jan. 23rd, 2008 07:51 pm (UTC)
So, if I understand you right, you want more ... Leona? Is that it?

-The Gneech
(no subject) - leona_lioness - Jan. 23rd, 2008 07:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frostdemn - Jan. 23rd, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
I wasn't paid for this, either... - torakiyoshi - Jan. 24th, 2008 02:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hossblacksilver - Jan. 24th, 2008 04:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 23rd, 2008 07:52 pm (UTC)
Pick up Sue's CD-ROM. She has a lot of sketches that show those underlying structures.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC)
I suggest more Bats.
(no subject) - the_gneech - Jan. 23rd, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 23rd, 2008 08:03 pm (UTC)
Finally, don't get discouraged. Look how far you've come!

Best advice on the list! :)
Jan. 23rd, 2008 08:06 pm (UTC)
Well, you know where I stand ... somewhere in Malaga, NJ. :=3

BTW, the H-O scale "The Watering Hole" may be ramping up again. :=3
Jan. 23rd, 2008 09:11 pm (UTC)
Kewl. :) I just hate to see your reaction when the revised version comes to light! ;)

(no subject) - lowen_kind - Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_gneech - Jan. 23rd, 2008 11:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lowen_kind - Jan. 24th, 2008 12:56 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 23rd, 2008 08:18 pm (UTC)
I think those horizontal muzzles have sort of become your signature myself.

And for some reason I think Comfort going off in Russian is sexy. Go fig.

Ageis J. Hyena, signing off, over and out.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
Heh. :) Well, I need to get rid of 'em -- they're too dang hard to draw around! Particularly in 3/4 views, one of the character's eyes is always blocked by the top of the muzzle and it mucks up expressions.

I had fun with the Russian argument! It was even semi-decent Russian, as I recall. It was translated for me by Terrence Marks, IIRC.

-The Gneech
(no subject) - torakiyoshi - Jan. 24th, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 23rd, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)
1. Yup, yup, this has been on my mind for some time -- that's why I need to make the eyes larger. I do put the lines in there when I've got a close enough shot to do it without making the eye one giant black blob. (See P3 of today's comic as a ferinstance.)

2. Hikaru loves his bright, day-glo colors! ;D I've been weening him off of those since 2002 or whenever it was he came on board. He's come quite a long way, himself! He's also working from my diktat that the color should "look like anime," which is a stylistic choice made for SJ from the beginning and sorta forces his hand on that score. I'll pass the message on to him, nonetheless!

Thanks much for the input! :)

-The Gneech
Jan. 23rd, 2008 08:28 pm (UTC)
Make Dover skinnier

Sounds like someone is getting put on a diet.

Don't forget to study Vince's layouts. Crazy as they can get, they have an underlying order.

You may want to try doing a few really short stories in a comic-sized format, with a fixed pagecount, to get used to the medium.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 08:51 pm (UTC)
Believe me, I've made long and detailed studies of Vince's layouts since before Suburban Jungle existed -- and I expect I'll continue to do so as long as he continues to draw 'em. I've told Vince before, although I don't know if I've posted publicly before, that I have a motto of "WWVD -- What would Vince do?" when I'm trying to think of ways to add visual interest to an image or story.

The most direct influence, I think, can be seen in these two strips:



In both cases, I had information that had to be gotten across, but all I had visually was a bunch of talking heads. So I tried to imagine what Vince would do if handed the task, and came up with the kind of visual metaphor that he's so good at.

re: doing stories in the comic format, I have plans along those lines, including some Carpe Diem work, I hope.

-The Gneech
Jan. 23rd, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
if you want to take a non-gaming saturday where we're both available (or maybe a sunday or something) to get together and just Art at things, i could probably use the practice, and we could point out areas needing improvement, and suggestions on how to do so.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC)
I've had in the back of my mind to try to set up some kind of "local art night," so yeah, I'm up for that! :D It just needs to be made to happen. :)

(no subject) - laurie_robey - Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:17 pm (UTC)
So just out of curiosity, who's your first-harshest critic? *grin*
Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
It was another Keenspot artist, actually, but I forget who now. Not somebody I've met in person. But they ranted in their blog for a good two or three paragraphs about how rotten my art was. It was a couple of years ago.

Jan. 24th, 2008 01:34 am (UTC)
I think you may fix this with smaller muzzle
but I never could rap my head around how tiffiny (and some of the other big cats) muzzle color are . It sometimes look like they have this black strip thing that they snap on top of their muzzle.

I know not a very good way to describe it and I am sorry I really do not have a suggestion to fix it.

At least you draw, I have stop for some odd reason.

Anyway sorry my two cents here.
Otherwise I like your art and really enjoy the stories.

Jan. 24th, 2008 02:21 am (UTC)
Re: I think you may fix this with smaller muzzle
All two cents are welcome, thanks! :)

Jan. 29th, 2008 02:49 am (UTC)
What's wrong with huge, horizontal muzzles??? XD
Or small eyes? Small eyes are sexy!

I do concur with thumbnailing and rulers, something I need to do more of. Not sure about ink shadows, though, that's dependent on the coloring.

Vince? That hack?
Jan. 29th, 2008 12:00 pm (UTC)
Best hack evar!

What's wrong with huge, horizontal muzzles???

They block the small eyes, duh! ;P

( 33 comments — Leave a comment )

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