måndag 4 juli 2011

Joe Kubert: How to Draw from Life

Joe Kubert is a living legend in the comics industry – and all the more precious not only since have we lost so many of its legends in recent years, but also because he's still been producing excellent stuff at a very advanced age. His How to Draw from Life from Vanguard is no exception from the general rule that if it's drawn by Kubert, it's excellent.

However, don't buy this for the gorgeously rendered Kubert art you might justifiably expect; this is about life drawing, not rendering, and usually about capturing the essence of a model's pose in a very short period of time, so often it's just sketches. Sketches doing very well what they intend to do, namely capturing the essence of a pose, an attitude or direction, or how the model's weight is distributed, tensions and relaxations of the muscles, etc.

Some pieces that Kubert has spent a bit more time on are really beautiful to behold, though. And as an added bonus, he's working in a variety of styles, with a variety of tools, so you'll see a slightly different side of his drawing talent than the one you usually see in his comics.

Kubert also shares some drawing tips and a bit of his drawing philosophy. Mainly it's about how you need to practice on your live drawing to be able to do what you're supposed to do as a (comics) artist. If all you learn is actually from comics, you'll never understand what underlies the pictures you draw, and your art will suffer from it. For example, if you learn from comics artists that a mouth is drawn as a thin line with a shadow put in slightly below to indicate the lower lip, you can do what Alex Raymond and Hal Foster did, but you won't be able to actually draw mouths.

Similarly, many comics artists, having learned their anatomy from comics, have an unrealistic view of the human body. Their characters' muscles are all flexed, all the time. You need to practice life drawing to learn what the muscles look like when they're not flexed, and to learn how parts of the body may be tensed, muscles flexed, while others are not. Also, through life drawing, you'll learn how light actually plays on the body. Frequently, in order to do fine rendering of all of a character's body and muscles, people will treat it as if all of it is lighted exactly the same and very clearly all over, which isn't usually the case.

So, this book shows a consummate master of his craft constantly working to expand his mastery – and not only that, he'll give you some drawing tips as well. Of course it's recommended.

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