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  1. #1
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    Do Illustrators Care About Anatomy?

    I have been at Sheridan College for the past 3 years now. During those three years I have been friends with people in Illustration, which have warranted constant visits. Everytime I walk through the Illustration department I always stop to look at the life drawing and I can't help but wonder, "do illustrators care about anatomy?".

    Some of the life drawing work posted on the wall will have a the model in proper proportions and then one are will look like it was cut off at the elbow and the hand was re-attached.

    One of my friends told me that their teachers didn't care for proper proportions, but rather the interpretation and construction of the piece.

    This brings me to my real question. What is more important: Drawing to proportion and working on your perception? Or drawing what you think you see?

    When it comes to the work place, I see many illustrators applying for positions, such as: concept artists for character designs, or layout artists.

    How can a character be created when there is no sense of anatomy? Can an artist learn for years how to draw what they think they see and then create a properly proportioned character for a video game? Imagine trying to create an Ogre, where the top half is really big and the legs are shorter than normal. Would they be able to draw it believably? Having the legs hold the upperbody? Or would it have a leg smaller than the other? The head wider than the shoulders?

    For non-interpretive work, can you afford to study interpretively?


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  3. #2
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    Thumbs up

    I think you know all the answers to these questions.

    And yeah many illustrators as of late don't give a hoot about anatomy. Many go for a simple marketable styles that can be done effortlessly that doesn't have them to deal with any artistic faults they may have...Such as drawing. (This shouldn't have to be said BUT, Of Course this doesn't pertain to all.)

    To answer the initial question... As compared to "Golden Age" Illustration Not many care about learning anatomy. But Illustrators that want to be well versed and well rounded want to know all they can about the figure.

    Master the fundamentals as far as you can. It gives you a great range to work with. Many narrowly skilled illustrators have very limited options.

    -Joshua
    Last edited by JoshuaTheJames; May 25th, 2004 at 07:40 PM.

  4. #3
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    Well, I studied illustration in school and I care about anatomy. Be careful about lumping all illustrators into one group. Different schools often approach subjects in different ways.

  5. #4
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    I don't think that just because some illustrators have a very stylized approach, that it means that they CAN'T draw something anatomically correct or don't care about anatomy. Although I'm sure that is the case for some people, I think that with high level illustrators, when they deviate from traditional looking stuff, is more of a choice than a limitation. Also, obviously a lot of it depends on what the illustration is going to be used for, editorial and concept illustration can be very different.

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    I would HATE to single anyone out, so I won't (one reason why I semi-generalized). A lot of the work I've seen on this site, with regards to illustrators, have been very poor. THe coloring might be good, but one arm would be longer than another (and the drawings were not expressionistic). Which brought the question to my mind.

    How do they spend that much money to learn how to illustrate and then get sent off to draw things that don't look right or nice, because it doesn't look "nice". WHen I say "nice" I mean, visiually nice to look at for non-artistic people (even abstract looks nice to people...but when everything looks right and an arm or leg is half the size, or the head is too small...its just not right...no matter how you're trying to draw).

    This is not an attack against the students...it is to the teachers and schools that they go to.

    That's all hahah

  7. #6
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    sometimes style is more important than fidelity to life. plus they have to be similar to one of the current popular styles or they're going to have a hard time finding work.

  8. #7
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    Hehe. Well "Illustrators" and "Illustration Students" aren't the same thing :p

  9. #8
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    Start critquing people's work who you feel is anatomically incorrect =D Sometimes it cannot be avoided because of time for a project I'm sure, or the difference is so small that only the visually accute could spot it(like yourself). And what they said, the difference between illustrators and an illustration student is HUGE. Of course there will be mistakes if you are viewing work from a school. I wouldn't expect to see almost perfect illustrations until someone has been in the industry for, 10 years after their education.

  10. #9
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    I think the same questions can be asked about animators....

    no offense though.

    Some of them have an extremely low knowledge of realistic anatomy (I guess you wouldn't to move cartoons), but I recall watching a video of a lecture where a visual developement artist was kinda stuck in his trends.

    He would draw the legs a certain 'way' a couple alternating curves and a straight line... which was an EXTREMELY abtract... but he was doing this as he talked about 'correct anatomy' which I found a little strange. Because what he was doing would not look like a leg unless placed on one of his abstract chracters.

    Although some pro commercial artists don't have life-drawing experience nor would they need it I guess

    I'm about to go into illustration and from what I heard from my 2nd year mentor... there are alot of different things they do in the life-drawing studio. Sometimes they're doing anatomical technical studies of the figure, sometimes it's character studies, and a bunch of other things....

    But sometimes they're just experimenting with style as that's the assignment. Make the hands out of proportion... stretch the figure out from the middle, etc.....

    I mean.... the life-drawings are in no way final work really. They're just experimentation that usually takes under an hour.
    Maybe the weird piece that you saw with the 'cut off elbow' just showed good stylistic experimentation or something and the teacher decided to put it up.*shrug*

    Did you ever see when the first year portraiture was put up iin the hall? It was only there for half a week, but the good ones were defenitely VERY GOOD and very anatomically correct and I easily recognized the models.... I was shocked when I heard the drawings were first year.

    Anyways, my point is rules in art are meant to be broken. I mean.... I can draw a realistic eye if I wanted to, but just because I draw a cartoonish abstraction of an eye does that mean I'm ignorning anatomy? No.
    I just have a much better understanding of my stylization.

  11. #10
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    I think many illustrators do care about anatomy but many have no intention of making an subject anatomically "correct". Look at Phiilip Burke (Rolling Stone) for example. His style is all about color and dynamics as opposed to perfect proportions. Can he do perfect anatomy? Maybe, maybe not, but I think his work would be much less interesting if it was exact human form. It seems to me that many successful illustrators have become successful for the simple reason that they have developed a personal style.

    i think it is extremely important to understand anatomy simply because it will help improve a person's work, even if it is a stylized look. Personally I enjoy distortion and exaggeration as opposed to a photocopy reproduction, but that also depends on what I feel like doing, or the project at the time. I guess the bottom line would be that it just depends on the project or person.

  12. #11
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    every artist on this website is an illustrator in some way...check out the life drawing forums and you will find plenty of examples of illustrators who care about learning traditional art theories and truths.


    prob is...that majority of current four year art institutions are ignoring a lot of core art fundamentals for the sake of being accredited (i.e. creative geometry or whatever they try to call dumbed down math etc...)and thus getting your cash.

    taking classes which can be transferred in (they say they wont but will if you are persistant and prove it), will allow you to take the classes you want instead of the classes you have to and save yourself from shelling out huge cash for the those which are not worth taking at art school. This way it is you designing your art schooling rather than the other way around.

    prob is...most people just go to school...take the required classes..and do not learn many of the things which can help their traditional foundation.

  13. #12
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    Originally posted by WildSpruceMoose
    Start critquing people's work who you feel is anatomically incorrect =D Sometimes it cannot be avoided because of time for a project I'm sure, or the difference is so small that only the visually accute could spot it(like yourself). And what they said, the difference between illustrators and an illustration student is HUGE. Of course there will be mistakes if you are viewing work from a school. I wouldn't expect to see almost perfect illustrations until someone has been in the industry for, 10 years after their education.
    That's a good point. I guess I"m just upset that out of the 120 students who graduate, only about 10 of them can do the actual work needed straight out of school. Some of the other ones will get work...but most of them don't have the ability to do professional work. That offends me. I become very disappointed with the school's programs. How can you go through 3 years of "learning" and NOT learn what you need to get a job?

    I have friends who have gone through the program and the teachers don't ever teach them WHAT is the most important...just "here's the assignment, do something.

    They can learn more by looking up assignments on the net
    ..and that won't cost them $6000 a year (for college).

  14. #13
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    BigBoi: dont blame the schools enrirely. while teachers may not necessarily hand hold and point to all the important stuff, if a student is attending an art schooll its more up to them than the program. i recall my artschool days, and it seemed a majority of the student body was more concerned with drinking after class or "how much homework they HAD to do" than whether or not they were actually learning anything. if someone is attending an artschool, they have to realize that the information is all over the place, hanging on the walls, or in the replies of their teachers. they have to ask the questions though. 10 out of 120 is a pretty good ratio. you have to realize that the life of an illustrator isnt for everone, and it takes TONS of hard work, which is directly the responsibility of the person trying to become an illustrator. it would be great if you could pay a bunch of money and then have a cable shoved in the back of your head which would download all the info into your brain, but this aint the matrix. if you wanna be a professional illustrator, you gotta WANT that shit, homie. out of 120 art students, 10 WANTED that shit, and that makes the difference between someone who gets paid to make art for a living and a garbage man with 100k in school loans.
    and in reply to the original post, illustration goes far beyond realistic anatomy. while it pays to know it, the demands of an illustration dont necessarily call for it always. you want perfect anatomy, dont look at illustrators, look at fine artists. thats the point of figurative fine art. to render a person realistically. illustration exists solelly for tyhe purpose of promotiing something, and unless that something is "perfect anatomy" you're not likely to find it everytime. i work both realistically and stylized, and varying levels inbetween, and i find both to be rewarding. theres no right or wrong in illustration. it just needs to make a point. if that calls for stylization, then make it incorrect, if you wanna eat, that is.-c36

  15. #14
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    Hahaha this is dejavu man. These posts are the exact thoughts that were going though my head a while back.
    BigBoi I feel you, and itís good that you are concerned about the education of your schoolmates, but itís ultimately their choice to be there and pay the tuition. Yeah I agree general ed at art schools are a total waste of time and money. Iím taking a physics class right now and I really feel that I learned more in the class at my high school.. Like el coro said people who actually belong in the school naturally have a passion to learn more about the stuff they love doing. And there are ways to satisfy that crave in the form of workshops (at least at my school) which take place out side class. I try to attend to those if time allows me.

    -Kazz

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