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Art comics Commonplace Book Design Drawings Thinkers

Cartoonists and Copywork

Ivan Brunetti offers up the cartoonist’s version of copywork in his masterclass book – Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice

Homework Assignment 8 reads:

To the absolute best of your ability, create an exact replica of your favorite page. Do not trace. Any deviation from the original should be unintentional on you part; ineptitude and sloppiness are charmless when deliberate.

Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice, pg 60. Brunetti, Ivan

Brunetti then urges his students to pay close attention to each element of their comics page:

Pay close attention to what you are copying. Think about the artist’s decisions regarding page layout, panel compositions, design, characterization, dialogue, gesture, captions, balloons, word placement, sound effects, line, shape, texture, etc. Hopefully you will gain some appreciation of their working and thinking process… and the difficulty of creating a comics page.

Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice, pg 60. Brunetti, Ivan

Brunetti practiced this version of copywork in his own career.

He took on the Nancy strip for a time. The pressure from the syndicate to copy Ernie Bushmiller‘s style precisely, further developed his cartooning technique.

I can tell exactly the time period in my work when I was doing these-the syndicate were such nitpickers about me copying Bushmiller’s style exactly that my approach to cartooning got much more precise as a result. I went from doing strips just to amuse myself, without a grand plan, to focusing on formal aspects of cartooning much more: where to place a word balloon, the composition of every panel, and the flow of panels.

In the Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists, pg 279. Hignite, Tom

Brunetti enjoyed the project while in the learning phase, but admitted it was an unpleasant way to work:

When you’re copying someone else’s style exactly, you can theorize about it, and actually break it down into a set of rules. So they way I was working by imitating him had almost nothing to do with the way he was working…I also realized that working this way was totally unpleasant, because there are very strict parameters you have to follow, rather than discovering the rules that work. The project was fun while I was discovering all of the rules; I would notice that he would never put certain kind of marks next to one another because they’d look wrong. I became very aware of every penstroke, where he used a ruler, where it was freehand. He had an intuitive sense of what looked good, so for me it was trying to codify this into a set of rules, which made me realize the importance of the consistency of your cartooning vocabulary.

In the Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists, pg 279. Hignite, Tom

Could Brunetti’s copywork exercise translate into other disciplines as well?

If you’re an aspiring graphic designer you could recreate your favorite logos, stroke by stroke, in illustrator?

Or if you’re a programmer, instead of cutting and pasting, you typed out lines of code, line by line, character by character?

With thought and imagination, copywork exercises can be applied to every discipline.

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amreading architecture Art Commonplace Book Drawings

Drawing Lessons from Architect Matthew Frederick pt.3 Architectural Hand-Lettering


Handwriting, penmanship, this is all drawing. Hand-lettering can be another artistic tool to add to your kit.

Matthew Frederick shares 6 architectural hand-lettering principals to follow:

1. Honor legibility and consistency above all else.

2. Use guide lines (actual or imagined) to ensure uniformity.

3. Emphasize the beginning and end of all strokes, and overlap them slightly where they meet – just as in drawing lines.

4. Give your horizontal strokes a slight upward tilt. If they slope downward, your letters will look tired.

5. Give curved strokes a balloon-like fullness.

6. Give careful attention to the amount of white space between letters. An E, for example, will need more space when following an I than when coming after an S or T.

Matthew Frederick

This week, for fun, find ways to practice your architectural hand-lettering.

Write a thank-you note.

Write a love letter.

Write a haiku.

Then mail it out it to your lover, mother, or bestie.

Be sure to practice your hand-lettering on the to and from address on the envelope as well.

You’ll get some practice in, and they will receive a special gift.

Source: 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School, Matthew Frederick, pg 22

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amreading architecture Art Commonplace Book Drawings

Drawing lessons from Architect Matthew Frederick pt.2


Every drawing you undertake has a hierarchy. There are the general elements. And there are the fine details.

Matthew Frederick recommends laying out the entire drawing to start.

How?

By making use of:

Light guide lines.

Geometric alignments.

Visual gut-checks.

These techniques will help ensure the proportions and placement of shapes are accurate.

After that hit the details. But don’t over indulge in one place:

When you achieve some success at this schematic level, move to the next level of detail. If you find yourself focusing on details in a specific area of the drawing, indulge briefly, then move to other areas of the drawing.

Matthew Frederick
Let the light guide lines be your guide.

From: 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School

By: Matthew Frederick

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amreading Art Commonplace Book

Notes from The Natural Way to Draw pt.2 : The Way to Learn to Draw

The way to learn to draw is by drawing. People who make art must not merely know about it. For an artist, the important thing is not how much he knows, but how much he can do. A scientist may know all about aeronautics without being able to handle an airplane. It is only by flying that he can develop the senses for flying. If I were asked what one thing more than any other would teach a student how to draw, I should answer, ‘Drawing – incessantly, furiously, painstakingly drawing.’

The Natural Way to Draw, Nicolaïdes, Kimon

An artist must have skin in the game.

The work, the practice of drawing everyday, is the path to improvement.