Saturday, January 14, 2006

Figure Drawing IV

Click the picture above to view more drawings.
The model was great this past week - his physique reminded me of something Jim McMullan once said about the figure, how the muscles are like porpoises weaving and diving through the body. It was also a very nice to see Kozyndan at the workshop. They've been attending the workshop for some time now, and I only just got started when they were too busy to attend during the holiday season. They were some of the first people I met when I moved to LA 3 years ago, and they've since gone on to conquer the world with their artwork; I'm grateful to them for introducing me to some great clients as well. I also met America's favorite uncle, Uncle Phil, and Jim who both recently moved to LA after having graduated from SVA.


Jed said...

James, once again, your figure drawings put me to shame. This is some beautiful work and I couldn't be more jealous of your draftsmanship. I've been working from photos for so long, I should take your lead and go back to looking at the model. I think I would end up struggling with the figure a lot less--my usual tactic for a difficult pose is to take about 20 digital pics of myself in order to achieve anything half as successful as what you do from your imaginiation alone. My work's changed since you probably last saw it, and now I'm going for a more naturalistic look, but I'm struggling.

Saw the Project Superior piece here on your site--looked great--though I wish it was larger so I could read it--Do you intend to do more comics? I know that compared to freelance they pay pretty poorly (and Project Superior was probably a pretty low-paying gig, considering it was Adhouse) , but it looks like you could be really great at it. I like the fact that, with your comics, it seems like you know when to be a cartoonist rather than an illustrator, and you're one of the few people who can do a painted strip that doesn't become static and die on the page. You don't over render. So many excellent illustrators tend to be such lousy cartoonists. There are exceptions to the rule, Matotti in particular is one I can think of who's great in both disciplines.

On a whim I looked up Sleater, whose books you've been doing covers for recently for Tor. Some of those looked like fun books--he seems like a compelling young adult author in a Madeline E'ngle (sp?) kind of way. Sometimes with books like that, the cover gets used for years. Some of the covers to his other books look like they'll easily date, but I think yours might stick around for a while. Do you get paid for reprintings?

I can remember this cover to a copy of Lord of the Flies that got imprinted on my brain as a kid, and then years later, I had the illustrator who painted it, Baron Storey, as an instructor. What a cool thing, about books like that, that tend to linger around. Think: In ten years they'll be grown-up kids who spent hours staring at those pictures and thinking of them in the same way we think of the same kinds of books from our own childhood. Doesn't that rock?

5:57 AM  
TheKcirbuk said...

Great-art -work!!
This is now a new favorite blog!!
Thanks again.

8:35 AM  
jed said...

One more quick remark: I've been struggling this morning with a figure problem, and so, have been spending a good ammount of time looking at how you and others solve these kinds of problems. Finally, I figured out something I think is fundamental--sometimes you have to exaggerate a pose to make it look right, even if in reality it would be immensly uncomfortable or even just a little impossible.

I notice a lot of people who use heavy photo reference tend to make images that look a little stiff. In part, I think, this is because you're taking a static image and making a static image from it. I've learned that it's important to sort of reinvent the figure in your mind and on paper when using photo reference to avoid this, but it hadn't occurred to me that hyperextending the pose a little bit past the breaking point can add a good deal of movement and energy. I'm noticing that I can get away with this as long as the anatomy works out--as long as the relationships between say, clavical and neck, or hips and shoulders are essentially correct. It's just when you don't get the head on straight or something that it ends up looking wrong.

I've unfortunately had to suss a lot of this stuff out on my own, having had the misfortune of having some of the worst figure drawing teachers in the history of art education.

Like I alluded to before, I've been getting away with cartooning for so long, that now that I"m taking on the challenge of genuine anatomy, it's sort of like having to relearn everything from scratch to some degree. I doubt I'll ever be as good as you and Tomer at it, but it's definately a tool I'd like to have in my toolbox.

Ok, maybe it wasn't a quick note.

Sorry to talk so much about myself on the James Jean site, but I think, since other people checking out your site are likely struggling with some of the same problems, I, at least, find it useful to share, and hopefully exchange approaches. You have skills I'd like to steal, basically. And as they say, always steal from the best.

9:28 AM  
W said...

I'm terrified that I like your work so much that I'm destined for nothing except to become a pale, incomparable imitation.

Did you happen to be in New York during the transit strike? I thought I saw someone that resembled you (based on an eisner award photo) but didn't dare ask for an autograph, as it didn't seem likely that it would be you...

How much time did you spend drawing and painting and things during school? I feel awful if I go a day without drawing anything, but I haven't been quite serious about trying to better my skills until recently. I'm sure you'll recommend "as often as one can", if I should ask how often one should be drawing? ;]


11:48 AM  
Process Recess said...

jed - glad you liked what you saw of the Project Superior story, but I'm afraid that my writing is a bit feeble. I will be doing some interior pages for the upcoming Fables graphic novel, but that will be it. And it would be very nice if those Sleator covers stood the test of time.
kubrick/paco - Thanks for stopping by. Are you drawing Batgirl now? I miss doing those covers.
jed - Many times, recreating anatomy from memory can make for more compelling drawings, though photo reference can lead you towards different solutions and break bad habits.
w - my friend, Kenichi, has started to collect pictures of people who look like me. I have a generic face, and my appearance has seemed to become more nondescript as I get older. So, no, I was not in NY during the transit strike. But I was in NY right before thanksgiving . . . When I was in school, I was drawing all the time -- for example, on Tuesdays, I would sit in 3 drawing classes in a row and then attend workshop at night.

10:36 PM  
jed said...

Don't dismiss yourself as a writer just yet. You're good at telling stories with pictures--and you seem to be able to express yourself clearly in the blogs and journal entries you write. You don't necessarily have to write the greatest prose in the world to make good comics--dialogue is a plus, but to improve that, you just need to listen.

But then maybe comics isn't where you want to lean.

1:01 AM  
the clownninja said...

hey James, I miss seeing you on those tuesdays, your work is still lovely though. I have to get back in front of the figure again, i always kinda thought of it as the front line of my favorite battlefield. Hope Cali's treating you well. -Simon

4:54 PM  
Jon Han said...

Really nice drawing James.

12:22 AM  
Uncle Phil said...

Hey James,

It was great running into you last week. You're drawing is quite beautiful. I really struggled with 'finding' this model. When models have perfect physiques I tend to get lost. Maybe it's because I just can't relate. Hah. Plus I've been away from the model for a little too long, gotta work out some of the rust.

talk soon,

3:08 PM  
Logan said...

Hi James,

Im in love with your figure drawings. Ive been trying to glean from them as much as I can. Who would you recommend I look at to achieve alot of the lyrical quality you have in your drawings? And what exactly are trace lines and patches by the way?

Keep up the great drawing. Its tasty as can be.

8:02 PM  
Jim M. said...

Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. Such sensitivity and varied attention. Looking at these drawings, I have to remind myself to be waaaay more decisive about what to push and what to emphasize. This model has this crazy Ferengi-shaped head that I wanted to caricature so badly, but I kept on fighting myself for some reason. I have to remember to just have fun, as it looks like you are.

Anyways, hope to see you weekly, & thanks for the link!

8:02 AM  
Br1 said...

Brilliant! it is a great work and until I could see the work of Kenichi Hoshine well, he is huge, I wonder myself if you contemplated to put since you made the works of Calexico, serious huge because they estan in my list of favorites (they excuse my English badly)

9:16 AM  
Anonymous said...

these are probably my favorite drawings of yours. Don't get me wrong I love the illustration work but these are just stunning. thanks for sharing


11:24 AM  

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