Cartoon Kitty Battle
Ok, so what started as drunken drawing last Friday night has turned into this at the moment. This is NOT done yet, and have a ton to do on the background (it's extremely rough and sketched right now), not to mention many of the background characters (aka the other students), which will give me more experimenting in pose, gesture, and faces. I started with Arlo in the front and center, trying to get crazy with the pose and face design, with a touch of foreshortening on the right arm.
I'm doing every trick I've learned this year into this. I'm still adjusting the perspective of the back buildings of the courtyard, and am thinking of bowing the crowd out a little more to give a more 3D effect, rather than a linear side shot. My approach on this is much different than most too, starting from the front and moving back. Each character was designed separately with their pose and placement in mind (which can be a bit backwards I know). I'm also tilting the axis about 3-4 degrees for a more energetic shot, but don't do it until I compile the image.
If anyone knows some good Photoshop brushes for painting backgrounds like Disney backgrounds, that would be great. Again, there will be a LOT more detail in the background than this point. The front row crowd will be almost as detailed as Archer (the instructor), as well as detailed brick buildings with windows and balconies.
As for the picture, this is Arlo Cashmere at the academy during placement exams (right before graduation). He's in a fight being graded and tested by his mentor/superior/friend/instructor Archer Sullivan standing behind him. His classmates are watching him.....and judging him as well. Arlo's trying to not mess up.
If you can't already tell, I'm going for a serious Disney vibe.
Full 1920x1200 WIP: http://bit.ly/1oInJlg
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Ok so several things both drawing related and fighting related. Let's start with drawing:
The leg placement on the main character is way off. The extended leg is fine, but the bent leg feels very awkward. I think this could almost entirely be because of the way the jacket obscures the hips and most of the bent leg as well as the highlight on the jacket that echoes the curve of the knee. Maybe the underlayers will clear this up.
Speaking of, can you upload the gesture stage of this? That will help with the continuity of concepts from crit to crit.
You can get away with some sharp lines in the background. The idea of atmospheric perspective is not so much that things blur in the background, but that contrast pops things forward. So to knock buildings back, you can have sharp lines but reduce color saturation and value range.
So. Fighting stuff. First off what style are you going for? It looks like Mt. Fuji in the background, but he's holding a pirate looking sword.
At any rate, the stance isn't a workable fighting stance (not that it matters too much, but ya know, just cuz). Across all fighting styles, when you're fighting blade on blade, you're doing two things, primarily. 1) You're not giving away your head. 2) You're using your empty hand to guard your heart.
So because of #1, you'd usually be back-weighted until you find an opening, then you'd lunge in (see fencers). But when you lunge in, your head would still be as far back as possible. Because of #2, you'd never touch the ground unless you absolutely had to. You'd have that left hand somewhere near your heart. Not too close, not too extended. Although in Kali knife fighting sometimes you'd have the hand directly on the heart so when it gets stabbed, it goes through the hand instead and you'd trap the blade in your hand then attack. Morbid stuff.
At any rate, it's really good so far.
Thanks again for the detailed response. I see what you're talking about with the left knee. I had thought about it earlier in the process, but wasn't sure. I tried doing the same pose myself to verify it was possible. He's more in a "lunging" pose, pushing forward (after sliding back).
Keep in mind that this isn't Earth. I'm creating a fantasy world where nothing is necessarily based off our reality, but I do understand holding certain elements for the sake of familiarity. As far as the fighting technique, I haven't thought about it deep enough determining what fighting style they use. I also haven't determined exactly who....or WHAT he's fighting in this picture, leaving it to the imagination. It could be another person, a robot, a monster, etc. Arlo's instinct or fighting techniques may be determined by what weapon his foe is holding (or if any at all). However, I know it sounds like I'm finding convenient excuses too.
I agree on the colors for distance and depth. Everything in the background is very soft at the moment due to the sketchiness and crappy brushes I used. I want it crispy, even with a touch of gaussian blur for depth of field, but I want to somehow hold on to the vividness and cartoony colors while still appearing to have that distance and depth.
Here's the rough beginning initial stages. I apologize for the lack of gesture lines. I think I deleted the layer during the night as I was drinking way too much. I also kept thinking about volume, roundness, and depth, but I was taking shortcuts. This picture sort of evolved, and didn't plan on making what you see until later that weekend.
Note that I've changed the sword placement since then.
Last edited by fxscreamer; August 7th, 2014 at 05:31 PM.
Ah ok. I see the stance now. The hips are basically flat, and the knee is outside all the way on the far side of the rib cage(?) In that case, you'd need some indicator that the hips are parallel to the ground. Also I think the femur might be too short...If the leg is simply under the rib cage, then the femur is definitely too short.
And as far as fighting goes, it'd be best to ground it in reality and give a lot of thought to it. Sure it's legit to style things up. But if you give it the depth of thought, it'll give you more to work with in the illustrations.
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I think you're right on both accounts. It was the femur I was worried about before you even said it, and the more thought you put into something, it'll show through your art. I'll see what I can do about the femur....but boy howdy will it be some work to extend that knee by this point (gotta drape the jacket over the knee now too)
Ok I pushed it a lot further tonight, but my head is starting to hurt (literally). I'm playing with cartoon smoke and ash/fire debris stuff in the foreground, and I STILL have detail to add on some of the buildings. I drew the crowd again with a little more detail, but am still sketching out how many extras there will be.
Same issues as before.
Are you even practicing structural drawing, or are you just repeating what you are used to do?
Yup it's going to be a pain in the ass. That why you gotta put the checking/measure stages BEFORE the light/shadow and color.
Originally Posted by fxscreamer
Yay there you are! I definitely use gesture and structure on all my character drawings now. It simply helps and makes it easier (as I'm sure you know without a doubt). I have a bad habit that once I get my contour lines, I dump the rough structure lines (bad me..I know). I'm still trying to get in the habit of focusing on volume and really trying to get that 3D space with the bodies, but I'm definitely a far ways off from mastering it.
Originally Posted by arenhaus
The sketchy cats in the background are just that....sketchy. I haven't even begun to properly map them out, just in case that's what you're referring to.
Well, to me it doesn't look like you're thinking structurally, or at least are inconsistent in doing so. Prime example is the half-circle shadow on the red coat of the figure in the foreground. Just makes no sense and works against the form.
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Well, I probably overdid the curve a bit where the sunlight is hitting it, along with some other things. I have to make fixes anyway, so redoing some of the shading can definitely be a priority. I'm not a master shader right now, and everything is constantly a learning process.
Originally Posted by Benedikt
Just with a quick measurement, it looks like the left knee should actually go past the left shoulder.
Once again, thank you for posting your work. Instead of a standard critique, I've gone ahead and redrawn your main character in a slightly modified style and using a bit more disciplined technique. I used three phases, each of which makes the next one easier by providing helpful hints of what to draw where. It's a lengthy read as you can see, but I hope you find this useful and give it a shot. Here goes…
First, I put down few perspective lines and a rough skeletal structure using rigid angular forms. I did not use cylindrical or curvy shapes, because they don't imply perspective as well and they are too easy to “cheat into place". I consider all these shapes to be made of wood. They are easy to draw if you understand perspective, because they are mostly just boxes, spheres and pyramids. Their one and only purpose is to give me a rough idea of where the various sides of each body part are facing, and they do this very, very well.
If you look on the left side of this sketch, you can see that the box shapes also make it easy to figure out how a limb should be positioned. If you have the upper torso (in black) and you draw a square on its side, if you were to extend a “table leg" from there, it would be like an arm going out to the side 90 degrees. But if you tilt that little square, now you have an arm that is only raised part way up. There are a number of little things like that you can do, and it makes it easy to figure out where limbs are pointing, which is often the toughest thing.
I do apologize it's a little rough. It's hard to see the perspective on the limbs, but that's because they turned out to be almost entirely in profile. The right forearm is probably the most distinct one.
I sketched it to a point where I was more or less comfortable with the lengths of the limbs and the perspective. There are minor imperfections, but I knew they were there and I was comfortable leaving for now and fixing them in the next two phases. Note that this is very different from not knowing about them and moving ahead anyway—if you are not confident, practice perspective and/or post the sketch for critique.
Next, I took the geometric skeleton down to no more than about 10% opacity and started drawing the anatomy on a separate layer. The reason it's very important to take it to such a low opacity is because I have found without a doubt that if you draw overtop a sketch that is clearly visible to you, you become restricted by the mistakes you made in that sketch, and you simply push them forward into the next phases. If you have the under layer barely visible, just enough to give you little hints, you are free to make much more radical improvements. If you are working on paper, you can use tracing paper or a light-box to achieve the same effect.
How did the skeletal shapes help me draw the anatomy? Well, I am reasonably familiar with human anatomy to begin with, so there is no shortcutting that. But when you throw perspective into the mix, it can become confusing which way the arms are rotated, where the chest is pointing, the head is pointing, whether the legs are going off into the distance or just off to the side, where each muscle should be facing, etc. The walls of the boxes and pegs tell me all of this. Each side of the shape corresponds with the muscles that go there.
In your case, I would consider instead of jumping straight from boxes to anatomy, try and draw the skeleton of the character. It may help all the more with getting the right proportions and indicating where to attach certain muscles. Just remember to do it on a separate layer. Keep each stage separate and nice and clean.
One last thing that is of absolute importance is that you DO NOT consider the boxes and pegs to be any kind of representation of your character's final form. You can use them to judge volume a bit, but that's all. The biggest mistake would be to think that those forms somehow control the contours of your final drawing—they do not! You can draw a gestures over them if you want, realistic or cartoony shapes, doesn't matter. Just use the boxes as subtle hints as to what to draw where. You need freedom when drawing anatomy. A keen inspection would show that I didn't stick entirely to my boxes ;-)
Moving on, I left the anatomy in a more or less passable state. I could see issues, but as before I'd just try to correct some of them in the next stage. So I shrunk the opacity on the anatomy, hid the boxes layer and created a new layer for the final sketch. I used the anatomy layer to drape the clothes over. If you do a decent job of drawing the anatomy in perspective it should help draw the clothes in perspective as well, though the geometric shapes being stuck in my head helped as well.
And that's it. Boxes, anatomy, clothes. There's a ton to learn about the second two, but at least going in that order you won't be totally lost once you do gain that knowledge. You can check perspective in your entire scene this way too. It's really great. I always used to wonder why art books kept going on and on about these boxes and cylinders and basic shapes, and it terrified me to no end to actually use them, but once you get comfortable enough with perspective it really starts making sense why they are indispensable. It becomes so much easier, it almost feels like cheating sometimes :-)
Well, good luck!
Last edited by alex_86; August 9th, 2014 at 02:49 AM.
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Wow that's one hell of a reply! :3
Thanks for the detailed description and layout and explaining it all in exquisite detail. Volume is definitely the big area I need to keep hammering away at. I feel that I'm getting in the good habit of doing gesture and structure, but even then, I've still fallen short, hence the "femur issue". Here's the update progress I have. I mainly focused on fixing Arlo's knee and detailing the crap out of the background. I also adjusted some lighting and redid a lot of previous elements, like the trees.
I'm basically getting it down to the only thing I need to focus on.....lots and lots of kitty classmates in the front row. What a great time to keep pushing gesture, structure, and volume. (ok I'm nervous)
1920x1200 version so you actually SEE the detail: http://bit.ly/1r2AA51
That's as bad an excuse for sloppy drawing or not doing research as they get.
Originally Posted by fxscreamer
Seriously, unless gravity or muscle molecular machinery works differently in your world, then the space of possible movement that makes sense for combat with a humanoid body isn't going to be much different from our world. If the body is built differently, then you better make it consistent and believable, not explain away the question "why does it look broken" with "it's not Earth".
And the "certain" elements held for sake of familiarity should be structure, perspective, lighting... you know. You can get away with any sorts of fantastic things if you make them look right, but no one will believe even in the mundane things you draw, if you don't.
See, that's your fundamental problem. You haven't thought before doing. You keep doing without thinking all the time, whether it be lighting, pose, composition or even the story.
As far as the fighting technique, I haven't thought about it deep enough determining what fighting style they use.
That's THE problem. The dragon you must defeat.
Don't count on it. You are just a case of my favorite thorn in the side: someone who could progress but is holding back, content. That always makes me want to kick them until they make a breakthrough. But I shall get bored with it soon, if you don't show enough progress or commitment.
Yay there you are!
Sorry, that means that you don't use structure. You try to draw structurally, then ditch all that and switch back to flawed automatic drawing. Why bother with the structure in the first place if you toss it out and go back to the habit? It's not a formula, it's a whole different mode of thinking you must learn.
I definitely use gesture and structure on all my character drawings now. It simply helps and makes it easier (as I'm sure you know without a doubt). I have a bad habit that once I get my contour lines, I dump the rough structure lines (bad me..I know).
You must draw nothing in automatic mode, or you will be stuck with this skewed primitive drawing forever. When you are planning the sketch, think of structure. When you are inking, still think of structure. You must feel the structure every second while you are drawing or painting. Think like a sculptor, not like an automatic scribbler. Your habit is your enemy at this point. Every moment you spent lapsing into automatic drawing only reinforces the bad habit.
So do the damn perspective plots already. If you want to use anthro cats, do perspective plots of anthro cats. But do them.
I'm still trying to get in the habit of focusing on volume and really trying to get that 3D space with the bodies, but I'm definitely a far ways off from mastering it.
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