Monday, April 28, 2008

Figure Drawing

Many art schools no longer require life-drawing classes because few contemporary artists do figurative work anymore. Animators and comic book artists, however, are required to be masters of Florentine Renaissance style figure-drawing.

According to Dave Master, former Director of Artistic Development for Warner Brothers Animation, anyone interested in working in animation or comics should have examples of Renaissance-style figure-drawing in their portfolios. Companies don't usually want to see drawings of super-heroes or existing characters (especially their own) but prefer to see straight life-drawing examples from the model of people and animals in motion.

Perhaps one of the top figure-drawing experts working today is Jim Lee (right), founder of WildStorm comics, who redefined both Superman and Batman in multipart stories he drew while still running his business. Drawing a monthly, 22-page comic while doing all the administrative and public relations work that comes with being the head of a publishing company is a tremendous accomplishment. Creating drawings so striking that they redefine two of the most famous iconic comic characters in history is beyond imagination.

Here is Jim Lee's ink (before coloring) of the cover of issue 608 of Batman and Robin: The Boy Wonder which is considered to be one of the greatest Batman covers every created. While the musculature of the figure is exaggerated because it represents a super-hero, this is a masterful lesson in foreshortening and dynamic composition.

I heard Jim Lee say to a hopeful young comic artist that if he is drawing 2 hours a day (after school or work) that isn't enough! Anyone serious about being good enough to make it in the competitive world of comics has to begin drawing 6-8 hours a day. When you get into the business, according to Lee, you will be drawing 8-10 hours a day (and more) - start doing it now to get into good enough shape just to get into the business.

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