Sketchbook: Studying at vilppuacademy composition class: a blog of a once in a life time experie

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    Studying at vilppuacademy composition class: a blog of a once in a life time experie

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    Studying at vilppuacademy in the new composition class: a blog of a once in a life time experience
    Posted on June 9, 2014 by Anton
    Big day: today begins the super “composition” class with Glenn Vilppu at vilppuacademy.com

    Glenn Vilppu is not just any instructor: he has 50 years of experience under his belt, in painting, drawing, teaching, animation, comicbooks, storyboards, layouts and more.
    He is the world most sought after teacher for drawing and regularly teaches at Disney, Pixar, Ghibli, Calart, UCLA, and any art school worth its salt has him come regularly to teach either the students… or the teachers!
    No one can surpass him in experience, quality of his own work and most of all his teaching – the best artists go to him regularly for a “check up” or to study something they feel weak at.
    Just don’t take my word for it, google him!

    I was desperately trying (in vain) to improve my drawing a year ago (re: the banner of antonvon.com on the left side – that’s my best mars13, almost a years later (9 months) I drew the right side of the banner.
    I has now been over a year that I’ve been studying at vilppuacademy.com, I’ve followed the basis class, head class, figure 1 and figure 2, and I’ve just redone figure 1 and head just because I have more to learn!
    At first I was a bit sceptical about an online school: would it be the same as a real school? Answer: frankly it’s better! We can watch the lecture several time (impossible in the real world) we can ask our questions not only via email but also during the weekly video chat during which Glenn can draw for us either on the computer or now with his hand (google glass be thanked!!). He’s very very generous with his time for questions and demos.
    But as I’ve said before the big game changer is the critics: we send Glenn our assignment each week and he comments it, overdraws on it – and that changes everything, he has such experience that he sees at once what you did wrong or rather what you “thought” wrong and tell you how to correct it. Work hard and the next week that problem is gone!
    If you find the right side of my banner better than the left side, wait till you see what I do now.
    The great thing about Glenn is also he doesn’t teach you a style, but lets you evolve and become yourself. The more time pass, the less my drawing looks like his! If he draws let’s say like a great master, then I am more and more drawing like a comic book artist – we’ll see where I’m going, I know he’ll help me find my own voice.

    So the new class: composition class starts today!
    It’s a brand new class, I’m in it because Glenn thought I was at the level for it (still recovering from that!).
    It’s a class that’s never been done before: each week he will give us a “brief” like a normal client would (with only the difference that we choose if we do the brief for a comic book, illustration painting etc, that is our choice) week one we do the thumbnails and propose some ruffs (rough for those not linked to animation), second week we do a comp,third week we do a final at 50% bigger scale, like in the real world (same for digital if you choose digital as your media).
    These assignments add up: week one: ruffs1, week2: ruffs2 plus comp1, week3: final1, comp2 and ruffs3!
    It all last 10 weeks.
    Shall I survive? shall I improve? I intend on sharing my experience here (central point being antonvon.com). so follow me if you want to see what happens (or what that vilppuacademy is all about).
    Let the class begin!
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    unauthorised used is forbidden and will result in bad karma and legal action. This site is made in France, hosted in france therefore french law only will apply

    Last edited by anton von flugelhorn; 4 Weeks Ago at 06:00 PM.
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    first week of compo clas with vilppuacademy.com
    ps:unless otherwise indicated all the images on this site are (c)Anton Von Flugelhorn aka real name
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    Posted on June 10, 2014 by Anton
    Wow: people discussing someone else with an accent on differences between characters and composition, now that is interesting. For some reason I thought at once of a graphic novel cover, and of physically different character: a roundish one, a triangular one and a rectangular one. This brought to mind film noir – the big fat boss, the triangular body guard and the rectangular weird runt (ok – a part for dear dear Peter Lorre, there I’ve said it! LOL) I started by doing some quick sketches while watching old movies (with my jack russell on my lap, she insisted watching the movie with me sigh) Here are some of my sketches for the faces of my characters:
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    Now who are they talking about? They must disagree, or the contrast wont be strong enough – what do people talk about in film noir? Dames of course! and Squealers! So I invented a graphic novel (my copyright) and came up with three ruff, each a bit different, different faces, different reactions. Here are the three ruff, they are ging to be in b&w except for title stuff, I adapted the dark horse official submission format to A4 (I’m in europe) , the font is a free font Betty Noir by blambot.com (see them for info). My frst impresssion; what takes time like crazy is putting ideas together in space, real drawing (not doodling stule) is nothing timewise. Interesting, shall we become faster at idea producing in space? here are my 3 ruffs:

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    we shall see what glenn says in his critic and which one he chooses (hey he’s the client!) for me to develop even further.

    Last edited by anton von flugelhorn; 4 Weeks Ago at 05:56 PM.
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    second week of compo class, the plot thickens a bit avatar
    Posted on June 22, 2014 by Anton

    squealer5
    You’ll remember than last week I submitted three possible covers for a graphic novel. Glenn found they all had the same problem: they represented three guys arguing but it was not clear (as it was in the brief that they were talking about some else.
    Considering I’m here to learn and not to cut corners I redid the cover completely using bits of the three previous versions, and adding new stuff, I hope the compo will now be clear enough for him to accept (he’s supposed to be the client who gave me the brief)
    Here it is, I also developed the colours as this is the second week on this project meaning that I was suppose to do a comp and not a ruff (rough, ok…

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    Meanwhile at the ranch: this is week two, and while I had to work on step two of the ruff made during week one, I have now a NEW brief from my client (aka teacher): lots of space leading to the characters who don’t take much space themselves.
    This one drove me nuts, my fault: I first decided to do a painting or illustration this week, and for some reason I could not go past the doodle phase as if I could not draw anymore (if you’ve ever felt that, you’ll feel sorry for me and my pain).
    In the end, after the composition chat during which we (the students) asked Glenn tons of questions, I finally understood I was thinking too much and wasting time going in circles. OK so I threw way what I had done so far started again pretending once that I was doing a cover for a graphic novel – and that alone unstuck me, something in the fact of having a title, having to do well designed (or not too poorly designed) characters makes me work better.
    Here are my two subs, I can tell you the story inside each of those graphic novels, like for the first week one. I might have a graphic novel streak in me! Please don’t tell my mum, she thinks I’m drawing nude people in well lit but cold live drawing hideouts :-D

    Here we go for week 2’s ruffs:

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    Whichever Glenn chooses for developement I know I will, when I have the time, develop both.

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    Wow, thanks so much for sharing this amazing opportunity! I hope to learn a lot through your sketchbook. It looks like you're certainly learning a lot in this process! Vilppu is my hero-- He taught me how to draw better figures, and is still teaching me with his great books.

    Thanks again! Keep at it, and I know he'll guide you to bringing out the best of your potential

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    thanks Misty, I'm going to add what happened each week, I'm amazed at the changes this course brings, not just in the understanding of drawing and composition, but also in the fact that I'm forced to work fast, I never believed I could produce so many thumbnails in an hour for example, it's like a stopper has gone away from the bottle in which my creativity is!
    more entries soon!!!!

    thank and best wishes, draw draw draw!!

    Anton

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    Third week of compo class, let it out let it ooouuuuuttt…. (sorry, Frozen)
    Posted on June 16, 2014 by Anton
    Third week and it is the first week that we have to actually work on 3 projects at the same time: a ruff (two groups on leading the eye to the other through composition), a comp (from the ruffs of last week), and a final from the comp of last week which was done from the ruff or the first week).
    Are you still with me?
    I am not! all this is a lot of work…. or is it? I’d say it’s a lot of preparation, lots of thinking (for the rough and comp, lots of decision (for the final).

    I’m still going full digital for convenience sake, and it’s nice to be able to move layers about, a bit to the left, let’s try this… without having to redo the drawing completely each time.

    At one point it became clear that if I went on thinking about things and not doing them I’d not meet the dead line – I guess this is what Stephen Pressfield calls “the going pro moment) I just “did” it and “let if go” (yes I’m a Frozen fan, sorry).
    That alone has made the week very very important in terms of learning.

    Now, after the two videos chats with Glenn (and his drawing live to answer our questions) and the crits ( in which he draws over our work and spends whatever time is needed to make his point) here is my situation.

    First, my final (my first comicbook style inking btw):

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    The people in the distance look separated, not part of a same scene, pasted on sort of, yes, I can see that now. Are our 3 sinister bad guys talking about one of them or the singer? could be clearer. But it’s seems I get an OK from Glenn yeah!!! Funny I did not see the two problems mentioned above before he pointed them out!!

    my comp:
    I went on with my idea of sketchers floating in the air on a sort of magic carpet or whirlwind of loose sheets (my copyrights, thank you).
    But, at Glenn’s suggestion I changed the camera angle and also changed everything else – I dont believe in cooking with the rests of yesterday’s meal!

    here it is:

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    Yes, it could be even more extreme, and I’m going to make it that, a representation of us, sketchers as we go through life doing hundreds of sketches. I hope next week will surprise you (and me!)

    As for the ruffs (two groups of people) for some readon I had in mind something with walkiries and UFOS, dont ask me why, ask my shrink (dont have one!). here are my three ruffs:

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    as you can see they are VERY ruff, and it’s one thing I learned this week: ruffs are showing ideas, they have to be readable (“is that a dog or a gun?” no, that’s not readable if they ask you that). I vas nervous sending in such kiddie like drawings, but these are constructed, deeply thought about drawing, not kids ones. So that’s one thing new I learned!

    Glenn found….. my walkirie to e the most interesting (it’s based on a Daumier composition that might explain a lot :-D). But he thinks he could be more extreme!

    I must go more extreme in everything!!!!! ok, let’ go…. I think I’m still too shy with moving the camera about, remember those two pages in “drawing the marvel way” they show the same actions but “normal” way and “marvel” way; Something like this I guess is what I should do (minus the superhero angle of course).

    Shall I be able to “let it ooooouuuuut” even more? I see in which direction to go now, and that is the main thing, with a bit of luck I’m going to be too tired and busy to think and restrain myself!

    more of those fascinating artistic adventures next week!

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    Fourth week – strange things are happening to me!
    this week we have to work on:
    ruff: several moments in time on the same image (no coping out by doing a comic strip thank you – I tried to talk about it and Glenn laughed)
    comp: take last week’s ruff of two groups of people and make it more developped
    final: third and last week on the “people taking very little place in space” and I wish I had had a few ore days but deadlines are deadlines!

    How do I feel? odd: on the one hand I’m still confused about composition and it’s link to story telling, I feel uneasy, not sure of myself there, but on the other hand I’m realising that drawing – ya know, that “thing” called drawing we all have to keep working at for years to come, me most of all – well, drawing is not really the problem in a piece of art, be it a cartoon or a comic or a fine art thingy.
    I’m just realising (and two of my class mates told me they felt the same) that being forced to work like crazy on composition, thinking final work, space in the picture, puts us in a “real” situation, no just because of the deadline, but because of the question or what to do with the blank page – so far I would always say: “on a blank page I make a nice drawing” well, no more! it’s got to tell a story, catch the eye, direct the viewer, manipulate him/her as Hitchcock used to say of his movies (he did his story boards himself and was a very good draughtmans and artist)

    I think a big change is happening, alll this unbeknown to me (but beknown to Glenn :-D) and while I strugle, and complain on facebook that I feel like Homer Simpsons DOH! in front of a page on which to thumbnails something far more important gets set in motion! As for composition, no worries, i’ll get it, after all, I have the best teacher on the planet and only composition teacher on the planet on my side!!!

    Let’s take a look at my work of the week and what Glenn said about it

    my ruff for several moments in one image:

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    OK, I’m a Shakespeare fangirl so to me this reads totally well, but it seems people who have a “normal” relation to the Bard do not get anything of this image, the ghost in the middle is odd, the tomb on the top right doesn’t read, the lower left image is OK…… work to redo!

    My comp, still my rather insane walkirie versus ufo thing

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    Glenn laughed, and I think he liked it, and he suggested something great: make the mountain or whatever in the background lower on he walkirie’s side to better lead the eye.
    I would be proud of this one, only I really inspired myself (sort of copied) the “circus” cartoon composition by Daumier, well sort of :-D

    The final of people taking very little space but space leading to them:

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    I’m very happy with this one, sorry I did not have time to do a cleaner city. Glenn gave two comments that are great: the city is….. very conventional, and I have to agree, and he suggested to add some drawings on the floating sheets to A/ make it clear our sketchers are drawing not typing or something, and B/ to show the distance between the sheets close to us and those distant (small drawing large drawing).

    A great idea i’m going to implement as soon as I have 5 minutes, this is one image I want to finish really well.

    Doh indeed but I’m producing more drawings than ever, and my “oh it’s awful this drawing is going to the bin, what a waste” phase is gone: there is more where that came from, getting drawings rejected is normal (by myself or others) no big deal – yes, I just wrote “no big deal” about drawing! doesn’t mean i’m good at it, just that I see it in a new perspective: drawing is a tool, art is what you build with it and other tools.

    More of these consideration next week, thanks for following, if you have any question contact me on facebook!
    now – go back to drawing!!!!

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    fifth week -Wherein our hero jokes and faces Zen philosophy in composition!
    Posted on July 1, 2014 by Anton
    As you will remember last week I was a bit… confused and feeling lost, composition is such a complex thing, but my comfusion is quite normal and shall pass Glenn told me.
    Oh and btw the topic of the week was: “something about to happen”
    OK, having deep in me this strange compulsion to be a smart ass I drew and posted a joke on the facebook group of the class. As I was not sure Glenn would have seen my smart joke on facebook I added it to my submission for the ruff of the week, topic “about to happen. I submitted the following, the joke is the first image as is obvious.

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    I was not too happy with the other images except the alien surgeons. But Glenn found the alien surgeons confusing, the boy and the crowd (middle right) is more story telling than composition – and there is no compo whatsoever in the animal drawing at the bottom (I confess: I wanted to paint a silverback)
    Now, as I should have guess, he told me that the JOKE was – funny, thanks, Glen! – good compo, except it needed more work. I should have guessed this would be the one he chose for me to work on! :-D
    Who’s a smart ass now? LOL

    The comp to hand in this week was about time passing in a single image, last week my ruff on that topic was a confusing messy rendition of Hamlet, I changed topic (but kept the idea of murder) totally, and for the final of the week I finalised my walkirie and UFO.
    The two images are here below:

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    About the walkirie: I feel a bit silly having done a cartoonish drawing for a compo class, but cartoon takes forever to make as I found out, and Glenn (who laughed again – thanks again LOL) said the compo in it was quite solid.
    Perhaps I should not fall into the snobbism trap of “only fine or incomprehensible art is serious” hey, I’m an Eisner fan AND a Repin fan! (and Rembrandt etc). I must accept that I can draw “funnies”.

    About the murder: Glenn graced me with 20minutes of analysis and remarks on it, never ever trying to influence me stylistically or giving me easy solutions. We spent some more time on it during the live chat (he drew live and that was great as always)
    In any case I came out of the crit and the chat feeling more clearly what I had to do, but also feeling free to be myself. (re: next week for the final, yeah final! cause the ruff was the messy hamlet, the comp this messy murder and the final for this is next week! time is out of joint of cursed spite that ever I was cursed to set it….. sorry sorry, I have a bad case of Hamletism! :-D

    See you next week with some more action, romance, suspense, madness, irritation, amazement, and all the others things that go in storytelling and learning how to make a picture !

    Last edited by anton von flugelhorn; 4 Weeks Ago at 04:08 PM. Reason: type error
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    It's great to see your imagination exploding! My favourites are definitely the Sketchers, and the Silverback with the frog and the tiger. Best ones, in my opinion. I love the little frog reaching out with the paper, haha. Keep up the fantastic work. Remember to put as much time into drawing and painting out-of-class, as you do when you're in it.

    And tell Vilppu he's an inspiration and my hero.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Misty Feather View Post
    And tell Vilppu he's an inspiration and my hero.
    DONE! and thanks for your interest!!

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    Sixth week: our hero is totally lost and the Master says it’s good news!
    Posted on July 11, 2014 by Anton
    Lost at sea, truly lost, as Alice would say, this is a difficult week; but things are starting to move in my head (I know cause I come from the future: I’m writing this from the vantage point of….. august and this week that I’m describing is in july! (insert mad scientist laughter here or, failing that, the Aracuan’s song from Disney’s Très Compañeros!)

    my final of last week’s killer sequence has change a lot, Glenn likes it except for the girl when she gets blasted, it’s hard to read and should be redone – I will when I can. He likes the counterpoint of all the actions that take place above the killing scene. Dont quite know where I got that idea from, it’s not quite composition, more “playing with elements of composition” but I guess it’s already something!
    here it is:

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    my “comp” (the “almost there” stage) of my banana peel has improved too according to Glenn: the creation of the shop instead of the wall behind the action gives some more “arrows” pointing the eye toward the tragedy about to unfold (the shoulder line of the girl in the shop, the wave of the window shop decoration etc.) but it’s not clear says Glenn if it’s a poster or if it’s a shop… more 3D please seems to be the message he has for me!

    this is the “thing in question”:

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    Which brings to mind a game I invented: try using naturally in a normal conversation the following sentence: “I think my banana peel is too close to the sewer man”. I did use that sentence naturally, but can you :-D my circumstances are not yours (insert another insane laughter – this is Vincent Price type laughter week)

    So the girl getting blasted did not read well even though it was easy to guess what was happening to her, and the shop in the banana disaster scene is not an easy read either.
    Funny, cause I read them very well, just as I read well my Hamlet two week ago. Is there a pattern emerging here?
    The “topic” of the week being a couple stands out of a crowd thanks to composition I decided to do this (and I dont tell you what it is so you can see if you can read it of not)

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    Now can you read (understand) the action? Glenn could not and read it as a sort of swimming pool thing, a confusing multi actions scene with nobody standing out clearly of it.
    This was, in my head and in my head only, the sinking of the titanic, 3rd class, 2 corpses float in the water, children are the priority, they must be saved, but panic is high and so is water!
    Fail! major fail! and I was certain it read loud and clear with our romantic couple arm extended towards each other in an horizontal if Bollywoodesque moment.
    Two lessons t be learn for me (three if you count the ego being bruised: I was happy with myself on that one):
    1/you the artist know what you are representing in an image, the viewer doesn’t, even with a tell tale title (which is cheap and old fashioned) they have no idea at all what they are watching – ok there is water and there are people, but outside of that it can be anything: the swimming pool, the titanic, what I did during my vacation, the martians invading the Aloha islands…. what you know is useless, it’s what is in your picture that people will see, they are not telepaths.
    2/ dont be subtle, well, not the super subtle kind of subtle. This guy is important? OK make that unescapable – and as this is a compo class, make that unescapable trough composition!
    If you look at the great masters of the past, they kept representing Jesus (the church being the big big client for art at the time), now their Jesus sometimes has a halo, plus a mystical glow, plus is wearing expensive colours that only the star of the painting will wear (blue aka lapis pazuli, at the time would cost more than gold!) and everybody is looking at him either to beat him or crucify him or to hear his wise words, all are towards him, even the animals. YET the great master would STILL use compo to make him stand out – the fold of the cloth of the guys around him, the hills behind, the clouds, everything manipulates your eyes towards Jesus. And the result? It’s SUBTLE, yes for all the “in your face” and “all the tricks of the trade” and the (bully’s voice “he’s the big guy in this painting O-K-?” it comes out as subtle!
    This is what I have learned this week.
    actually I realised al that a week after “this week”, but it’s “this week” that made me face it. And Glenn was right: I was on the right track, and my being lost was quite a good sign. It’s a must go through moment. There are many such moment when you learn a craft, and there is none so difficult and complex and rich….. and fun, than composition.
    I can now see all I have to learn, which is a lot! :-D but I can also see in which direction Glenn is taking us :-D
    And i shall disagree with him for once: the old masters had it easy with the togas and draperies and halos – try their compo with tight t-shirts and jeans!

    This said, based on my past experience he’s very very probably right and the type of cloth makes no difference, I’m not not at the level when it doesn’t matter anymore :-D
    and by the way: for the past two nights I’ve dreamt entirely in pencilled thumbnails…. there are things happening in my brain.
    Thanks Glenn for the guidance and the patience!

    More next week…. with some togas for fun!

    actually I’m late, this is typed on august the 3rd, and week 9 starts tomorrow, so I shall hopefully post “next week” aka “week 7” tomorow.
    the reason for this: Glenn is so happy with the interest and progress of the class students that he’s created a compo 2 class that will start on the 25th of august. I plan on finishing my blog on compo 1 before that to avoid going actually mad!

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    Seventh week: hell is paved with images that do not “read”
    Posted on July 18, 2014 by Anton
    Where-ever you go – there you are, as Bukaroo Banzai often says.
    This is the week in which I have to hand over my “final” version of my banana peel symphony – I polished it all, built the 3D (look Ma: perspective!!!) made the peel smaller and here is the result:

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    Why “Rue Oulala”? Because I’m French and I love laughing at clichés (oulala is not something people say all the time, but perhaps it was in 1930 in the Maurice Chevalier days, my grand ma found it old fashioned)

    Glenn’s verdict: has it got a joke value outside of the class? difficult to say (my opinion: the banana joke has nothing funny, it’s so old, as for the bully and inner child, their presence is incomprehensible outside of the composition class) But, back to Glenn’s opinion the compo works. Great: I have an image that is meaningless outside of my class but its compo is good :-D way to start a career! LOL
    Glenn pointed out that the sewer guy’s head looks funny, now that he has mentioned it I see it but I did not see it before: it should be the same size as the dog walker’s head and fill the helmet! Will work on that when I have 5 minutes!

    Now back to the unreadable titanic (re: last week). I redid the image totally, trying to get a more readable image: faces, bigger “hero couple” taking the horizontal in a more obvious way. Here is the result:

    Name:  7titanicnew.jpg
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    It’s a ruff (a very ruff) drawing, but it took me hours to rearrange the characters, and pages of thumbnails (more than the other images I do).
    Still the result it still confusing Glenn tells me: lots of action in there, who is the star couple? impossible to say! The compo doesn’t “point” to anyone. In fact i’d go so far as to say the compo doesn’t exist at all!. Back to square one, but i’ve learned a few more things here. I’m going to redo this totally!

    But what of the topic of the week? the topic of the week is the very important diagramming of space, making clear where everyone and everything is.
    I got a very clever idea: wanna diagram space? how about this setting:

    Name:  7ruff diagram.jpg
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    Now you cant beat that unless you have a floor made of checker board like plaques! LOL
    But where is the composition? what is the image pointing to in itself?
    Nothing, I now see. Glenn tried very hard to find some elements pointing to the red haired girl who is in the center zone, has free space around her….. but I did not include any in fact – I considered that the nerd in the cubicle on her left, with the Spock and dino puppets holding flowers was the main point, my idea was that the guy is declaring his flame through puppets…. does my compo lead the eye to him? Frankly no, I thought the panels’ lines would suffice, they do not, we are talking serious hard worked composition here, not compo for a quick funny cartoony drawing (and I’m insulting cartoonists here – some of them are masters of compo!)
    No problem: I’m going to redo this, still feeling that people wearing no togas, no draperies and the absence of rocks and trees that I can bend into whatever shape I want is not helping! (last week I said there would be togas this week – I was getting ahead of myself: togas next week (please remember i’m writing this after the fact – I’m LATE in my blogging!)
    The positive from the above work: composition is not clever setting, but a very complex work that takes a lot of work. Also I produce more and more drawings every day, never thought I could do so many, all different, testing ideas, rejecting them – you see one out of 50 of what I draw if not less. My imagination is going wild (it was already too wild before :-D) but now it’s wild on the paper: ideas come more quickly than ever,I feel that the pressure of so much work, so much self doubt and step by step improvements (plus deadlines!) has made the cork of the magic bottle pop out! I can draw or doodle for 4 hours straights with new ideas in each drawing (and then I go sleep 2 hours LOL).
    It’s moving in my head, I’m not there yet but I’m improving, and if Glenn says I’m on the right track then… no worries, more drawing less thinking!
    Next week: togas! (and James Stewart, but not in a toga!)
    cheers

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  17. #13
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    I just added two weeks in one go, so read them in order if you want it all to make sense (if what I do makes any sense LOL)

    cheers!
    Anton

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    Wow, you're really improving at getting out your designs and illustrations. My favourite so far is the Final killing scene. Really awesome-- But, I agree that her death needs reworking, since it's all blurred out. You should really only blur out the area where the blood's spurting, I think, if you want it to look kind of actiony.

    Keep up the great work!

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  20. #15
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    Thanks! It' a question of my finding the time to do the corrections of pieces that are supposedly "finished" will hopefully do that in the free week before composition 2 that like other classes starts on the 25th of august.
    I've begun, no idead why, doing so 4 panel "strip like" "funnies, will pot some here thought they are not part of the course, they are autobiographical about drawing :-D)

    Cheers
    Anton

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    8th week:channeling Daumier and other basic things


    Posted on August 8, 2014 by Anton

    This week I tried every evening to draw, sketch doodle mindlessly, while chatting with my family (that includes the dog “woof” and “shut up” being the meat of that dialogue.
    It might have to do with my watching the excellent documentary Stripped (about cartoonists, authors of “funnies”, web comics etc) but I ended up making a sort of four images strip (for you manga fans: a “4 koma”) I thought I’d share it here, it’s autobiographical obviously:

    Studying at vilppuacademy  composition class: a blog of a once in a life time experie
    I do think too much and draw better when I reach “the zone” when “it” draws, reread Herigel’s classic little book on zen archery for more on this feeling. I can but fight this by drawing a lot, far more than before. This week I must have draw several hundred thumbnails, most of them of no value, but almost all of them were on different topics or scenes, also it’s now becoming more natural to me to position my “camera” in a non “photo taken in the street” position. These two points are really big steps forwards for me, I’m not sure it make me better at composition but it makes me better at drawing and that is fantastic!
    For fun I included the little strip above on my assignment, Glenn laughed a lot and told me I *am* a cartoonist at heart and talked about my head drawing, constructing heads in the classic manner but doing exaggerated feature like Daumier. Is he trying to tell me something ? Studying at vilppuacademy  composition class: a blog of a once in a life time experie I’m going to go on doing some 4 komas just to see how I feel about it, and caricatures à la Daumier. Any drawing is good for me!
    Last week I promised you some togas, here they are as a ruff for the topic of the week: mass against space:

    Studying at vilppuacademy  composition class: a blog of a once in a life time experie
    Yes yes, I know, it’s totally “Mary, baby Jesus and Joseph” in appearance, an odd subject for an old Buddhist like me, but they could be any family from the days of togas, they could even be the Baptist and his Mom and Dad LOL! See in this what you feel like seeing, that is fine with me! (got nothing against baby Jesus or his family!)
    More seriously I kept thinking how the old master had it easy with compo with all the togas and folds and clouds and rocks etc. I decided to try it myself.
    Is it easier? Hmmmmmm in a way: you have more choice, but deciding that the fold of Mom’s lap is going to have a certain shape so it leads the eye to Dad is…. difficult: can I get of with i? is it cloth wise believable? is it a good choice? will people notice – is it too subtle or not subtle enough?
    Composition is a complex game of choices and also of self confidence, knowing one’s audience, experience.It’s not just pointing a red arrow with a bubble saying in blinking letters “important thing over there!”
    To my surprise Glenn did not comment on the family or the folds of their togas. He found the tree a i hard to read and advised me to add roots to it so it reads better, my diagramming of space is ok with the carpet on the floor and scenery, but the rock on the side is not big enough to make this a “mass against space” image.
    Embarrassed smile…. I did the image thinking of the family plus tree as the mass, the rest being space, the rock being a repeat or reminder of the family mass. Another drawing that does read one way for me, another for others! Glenn advises me (same for the two other drawing below) to draw on paper next week, no cintiqing at all. OK, let’s see what it changes!
    My sinking titanic and the star couple being noticeable thanks to compo only…… I can’t stand that titanic thing any more! so I change completely the topic for the final of that “couple in crowd”. It’s suposed to be a final, it’s only a first try, a thumbnail, I’ll work on that later. here is the beast:
    Studying at vilppuacademy  composition class: a blog of a once in a life time experie
    I was quite happy with the way I put in star position my couple (the guy has to be James Stewart -D) the work with the scarf, the window behind etc.
    Glenn pointed out two things: one small: the tall guy on the right has a head that is far too big, and most important: the old knitting lady looks like she in front of the others, forward really. I did not wan that, to me these people were all lining up at the bus stop but not I can see: the little guy on her right looks like he’s leaning against her and not the bus stop panel.
    Also the tangent between the shop window and the bus stop sign kill the depth of the image – image to be reworked on during the free week right before compo2 class!
    Last thing: the “comp” for my cubicle love scene, last week it was too still and vague, who was the scene about?
    This is my new take on it:
    Studying at vilppuacademy  composition class: a blog of a once in a life time experie

    Glenn’s advice: much better but I can play more with position (they are all at equal distance from the others, yuk) I could have my red hair girl bend more one way, her colleagues be in more exaggerated positions.
    I’m being too subtle once more. Again Glenn asks me to work on paper and with pencil only – ok let’s do that and see!
    Next week is week 9 of the ten week course, let’s go for it: subtlety bye bye! (and cintiq good night)
    See you next week for more about my adventures in time, space and art!





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  22. #17
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    9th week, where Gandalf entrust the ring to our hero


    Posted on August 15, 2014 by Anton

    9th week, how time flies! one more week and end of compo1, a week of vacation (that I’ll spend finalising the so-called “final” versions of my work) and then composition 2 – YES! a new class, the continuation of compo one, tougher, funnier, interestinger….. and yes, I know “interestinger” is not a word, but who cares! Compo 2 will be fantastic, and due to all the positive feedback from my blog and forums I’ll go on blogging about it!!!
    Just like that, here is a little bonus, a few heads I did with a thick pen (Glenn’s idea, and of course it worked wonders for me – the man is amazing) Studying at vilppuacademy  composition class: a blog of a once in a life time experie
    in case you wonder, the ink is chocolate brown from diamine.

    Now something very unexpected happened, I had already added some 4 image funnies to my assignments just for fun and to comment on the tough life of the art student. This week I added this:
    Studying at vilppuacademy  composition class: a blog of a once in a life time experie
    During the critic of my work, Glenn literally ROTFLed at that last “funny”, which made me happy: “it’s really funny” I thought, then he became dead serious and told me I had a jewel-like (his words) talent for fast simple drawings that read immediately and I should now start working on creating a comic or strip and get it published.
    Now, according to my husband (for those who forgot I’m female even though Anton is my screen name) I spent the rest of the day with on my face the same expression our dog had the day she found herself face to face with the hedgehog in my in-laws’ garden and the hedgehog *sniffed* her! “WTF” or rather “what just happened? Is this the right reality or am I still in bed dreaming?”.
    Took a while to sink in that I was considered marketable by someone like Glenn whose experience, honesty and knowledge of the market is considered by all to be perfect, up to date and totally trustworthy.
    Ok, I’ll be really honest: I am writing this 5 days later and it still hasn’t sunk in even if i’m beginning to get to work on “it”. Funny but people who know me and are themselves artists are not surprised at all, I’m apparently the only one in WTF mode Studying at vilppuacademy  composition class: a blog of a once in a life time experie makes sense!
    More about all this later, I must chew on this before talking further about it.
    This week, Glenn was teaching in Japan, but he made the impossible possible: he found a time slot that was compatible with both US and Europeans students. he combined the compo chat and the “all the rest” chat together and we got a magnificent 2 hours drawing with comments, questions. Like I said to my classmates: it really made waking up at 6AM while on vacation totally worthwhile for me, a great great demo by a master!

    The critics: this week, as per order of the Master I did my assignments on paper with pencil (why do I imagine Yoda saying: “ in paper and pencil the Force will gather Hummmm no cintiq thou shall use, young Padawan!”) LOL
    Assignment one was about mass and space, and number two about diagraming space, here they are – considering they were illustrations for imaginary books, I wrote the sentences they were supposed to illustrate. Apologies for the bad scan quality, next week will be better. Here are the two new version of those beasts:
    Studying at vilppuacademy  composition class: a blog of a once in a life time experie

    Studying at vilppuacademy  composition class: a blog of a once in a life time experie
    (((aside: Why did I call the geek Sheldon….no idea (cynical grin, ask Mr Spock – he knows).)))

    Glenn found both to be big improvements on the previous versions – pencil is good for me (I did about 20 different versions on paper of both of these). The family sitting under the tree read great, the mass of the rock is rrrrreally a contrast to the space behind the family, that’s finally good! I could work the big rock on the right so that the lines, lumps and veins of it add to the compo by repeating (or not) the figures on the left. One annoying little thing: the bit of lake shore on the left of the tree and Mama is not quite well related to the rest of the lake. grrrr.
    The office scene READS too!!! loud and clear at long last! Glenn think I could concentrate all the good things in it by making it a narrower drawing (less characters, less cubicles) and having the “camera” move lower to that effect.

    The new topic of the week was… diagramming space 2 (the revenge of the sequel of diagramming space from last week which was “1” but we did not know then). It’s an important and very difficult topic. Here is what my pencil came up with:

    Studying at vilppuacademy  composition class: a blog of a once in a life time experie
    Glenn likes it: the eye goes around from arm against door to bottle; to fist and face of good guy, to his arm protecting the mom and babe. Also the floor, walls, and landing behind the dad are creating lots of space. Two little things: the door and window have no thickness! (not such a tiny thing: do that at Disney and you get sacked out!), also the protective arm of mr good guy could be better drawn (let’s be honest: it could be “drawn” instead of just “indicated”)
    Next week is week ten, final week of compo one, then compo two starts. And now on top of that I am also working on a comic. If any of you have special prices on vitamin C get in touch with me Studying at vilppuacademy  composition class: a blog of a once in a life time experie

    NEXT EPISODE (JIKAI YOKOKU for anime/manga fans) the big all paper-and-pencil final of this number one compo class – but certainly not the end of my compo studies (compo 2 coming!) or blogging here. Will our hero …… er…. get out of WTF mode and let it all sink in, cause I may be already working on a comic but…. I’m not sure this is the right reality – things don’t go that well for me usually, even when I work real hard. So either I have a nasty low esteem problem, or I’ve finally found my “calling” and “tribe”… or both! see you in a few days!





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  23. #18
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    Week ten and end of compo 1! Time flies like an arrow (which translated by Bing or Google translate into French gives something like: “time loves flies (insect) an arrow”).
    Comic-wise, I don’t know if I’ve out come of WTF mode: I have realised how much work is ahead of me and I’m working hard on it - the comic, the character, wordpress security, webcomics must-dos and must-not-dos, you name it... And of course right now is the time my brain chooses for another helping of “I can’t draw at all anymore”. Well I don’t have time for this shit: I’ve got work to do! So I’m currently designing the faces of my characters in zbrush - realistic style - I’ll caricature them later.
    I’ll blog about that when I start my webcomic, so enough about this.
    Anyway, week ten. I went on using only pencil and paper.
    Glenn, as usual, gave me a thorough and very useful critic on my three pieces:


    First, the office scene. Last week he asked me to zoom in on the real action and lower the camera (I’m translating in movie language, apologies). Here is what I’ve done:

    Name:  Office.jpg
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    Glenn’s comments could be summed up by “almost there, exaggerate the movement even more”, it’s true the puppets could accompany the movement of the swooning girl, the character on the right of her is useless, and the unhappy guy on the second row and his neighbours could have move movement, expressing better what they feel, and making the action of the main characters more obvious.
    The legs in the background are... to my surprise, an excellent idea: the world does not end at the border of the image!!!


    My other work in progress was the coming home of the drunk father and the protective good guy being....er.... protective of mama and baby, all this with the emphasis on diagramming space.
    I followed last week’s comments to the best of my abilities (and added thickness to doors and windows...... grrrrr ... I’m so stupid sometimes). Here is the scene’s new version:

    Name:  Drunk.jpg
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    OK, let’s tell it like it is: it now looks like mr good guy is threatening mama and child, and drunk dad is coming home either to hit her... or save her from the good guy! LOL, talk about a drawing that reads backwards!!! Imagine Michelangelo drawing a crucifixion scene in which Mary looks like she holding her son in position while they are brutally nailing His hands to the cross.... no, no, no! Must redo this for compo 2 (and the office scene too, cause it’s nearly ok... which is a more flattering reason, I confess :-D)


    As for the topic of the week, it’s a biggie: rhythm and timing!
    As a famous computer would have said: “...hmmm, tricky!”
    After much thinking I went the Mayan way (remember the Mayans? Their huge and blood soaked empire got over-taken by 200 sick and hungry Spaniards on tired horses, but today some people still read and believe their prophecies. Go figure.)
    Here is my pseudo Maya scene (and don’t email me about the historical exactitude of this sacrifice scene, or I make them into Mayans from another planet and then I have them do whatever I want!).

    Name:  Maya2.jpg
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    Glenn spent quite some time on this one, talking to me about the big things: perspective should be different for the sacrifice rock (and the corpse at the bottom), why so many mountains when one would suffice to emphasis the chasm, also the right side of the image (beyond the head of the plummeting guy) is frankly useless.
    We’ll work again on this one and the attached topic during week one of compo two.


    Composition two start this coming week, the chat is at an unusual time due to Glenn being in Japan - in the afternoon for the US..... at 6am for Europe.
    I’ll be there, and I’ll be here too, blogging about it all. If you feel like dropping me a line, get in touch on Facebook with Anton von Flugelhorn, I’ll be happy to make new pals!


    One week-end is all I’ve got to work “only” on my comic. Next week, madness strikes again, LOL!
    I haven’t had the time to really finish any drawing during this compo 1 class, but I do feel like it has completely changed my approach to drawing: drawing is only part of a larger process, don’t make such a fuss over it, shut and draw, if the result is bad, throw it away, do another one, a hundred other ones, after all, it’s only drawing.
    I think it’s significant that the other day, I thought to myself: “hum, that kind of building seen from above.... let’s build a rough of in sketchup to see what it’s like, and where to put the camera” and my next thought was “naaaah.... it’s faster drawing it!”
    I would never ever have thought *that* only a month ago.
    The class has changed me deeply, but then it’s logical: compo is the favourite topic of the greatest drawing teacher of the planet - if you add to it my working hard, and doing what he says (he’s always right even when I don’t understand why... very unnerving at times LOL) a winning combination I guess.


    See you next week my friends, draw! draw! draw! and have fun!!


    Anton aka Marie

    Last edited by anton von flugelhorn; 1 Week Ago at 07:59 AM.
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