Transformation and Colors

After dealing with moirés, reliefs and modules now we’re working on transformations.

The topic “transformation” is all about combining and gradually changing shapes with different color pairs and contrasts. One simple way to transform shapes is to pick a basic border-shape and develop all the movement within these borders, which restrain the transformation process and reduce chances for confusion later on. Here is an example I made:

example colorless

Even if you leave out the borders in the beginning the order of elements is still obvious.

The next step revolves around colors. After a very short introduction in color theory we were supposed to apply different color combinations. A good way to gain the viewers attention is to expose him/her to contrasts, since the human eye reacts to those phenomena extraordinary strong. Nevertheless you can try the opposite way and use color harmonies to attract your audience and give them a nice feeling.

Here are two variations of the previous example:

complimentary contrast

complimentary contrast

color harmony

color harmony i.e. similar colors (without lines)

Next time we are going to do some manual color mixing (not digital) to sharpen our senses 🙂  Our professor really cares for us to know what we are doing when picking colors with computer programs and not depending on them to dictate our choices.

Illustrators Cheat

My drawing class professor is working as a professional illustrator for decades now and he gives us some general tips time to time. But there is one thing he continues repeating almost every lesson: “Try cheating as much as possible!” Now that really shocked me at the beginning. Up until now I was told to give my all in learning to draw out of my own imagination, my own creativity, and now I’m supposed to cheat?! The word itself implies that it’s something wrong, something bad. I really had a hard time adapting to this new attitude…

I attended some other drawing classes at the beginning of the semester and the other professors always stressed the point that we should really, sincerely try to learn drawing the traditional way meaning we should learn drawing from real life, learn everything on perspectives before actually applying the knowledge, learn the human hand’s anatomy and proportions in order to draw hands “the right way” and so on. So basically one has to learn all the theory first than use only real world reference and then combine all the knowledge and create art out of one’s imagination. One professor even referred to the illustrator’s cheats as “dirty little tricks” 😀

But what are those dirty tricks? Here are some examples I learned about concerning comics/manga (our current topic):

  • when drawing a background image, simply find a picture and use Photoshop (or any other image processing application) to trace it and color it
  • when you can’t draw some particular subject than don’t (the example our professor used was to draw horse legs, we were advised to draw the horse standing in tall grass or just cut the image so the legs aren’t visible)
  • try using perspective in order to create a view of the image where you need to draw as less as possible  (like when you draw a crowd of people from a low angle as opposed to a top view where far more individuals would be visible)
  • additionally I know of some professional concept artists who don’t even bother applying perspective on their own but use computer programs like Google SketchUp instead
  • and of course cheating with digital painting is a well known practice (for example line correction or texture application)

Well, some of these “dirty tricks” turned out to be actually really necessary for professionals since there’s no way one can know every aspect of drawing theory or know how to draw every subject. This would be too time-consuming, and time is the one thing illustrators apparently don’t have.

At the Comic Action exhibition a few weeks ago I saw a lot of artists using their cell phone cameras to use pictures of their own hands as reference material. And I really thought professionals don’t need to…

As a consequence I started asking myself “What is the right way to learn drawing hands for example? Should I learn the proportions and anatomy thoroughly first and then start drawing following those rules or should I simply make a picture of the hand I need for my image every time?” I’ve already read a lot on hands but I have to admit that didn’t help me dramatically drawing basic gestures. I came to the conclusion that the pure observation way is quite good for general drawing improvement but as soon as you want to draw a subject really convincingly, realistically and perhaps even without reference you’ll probably need the theoretical knowledge.

Considering both, the traditional and the illustrator’s approach to drawing, the perfect way to go would be to build up a solid basis of minimal knowledge which you should expand whenever you’ve got the time to combined with “cheating” in order to save time and/or achieve better results. So in my point of view trickery should be the ace up your sleeve. You’ll need to learn when and how to use it. And don’t be afraid to do so like I was.

On the Meaning of Design

In our first class in fine arts we tried to figure out what “design” actually means and what it’s good for.

First of all think about what the word “design” does when added to another word. Like in designer footwear, designer furniture, designer screw driver etc. Obviously it acts like a quality enhancement, meaning that designer clothes are better than normal or discounter clothes. But why do companies bother to produce designer couches or bottles? Aren’t the “normal” ones just as usable? The answer is yes, everything’s fine with most normal products and services BUT the market is immensely flooded with different providers so only the “special ones” get more attention. Design is the perfect way to make YOUR products stick out of the average and sell.

Therefore market research is crucial for every provider. With enough good information the product or service can be improved enough to sell better, though it might not be literally better than what the competition is offering. It’s only better adjusted to what the customers think they need. Advertisement is business worth millions!

There are some basic rules a good industrial design has to follow:

  • use people’s need to express individuality and prestige (social/cultural function)
  • keep costs as low as possible for the client (economy)
  • find the best and most inexpensive materials and ways of production (technology)
  • consider important ecological issues like energy balance, recycling and consumption of raw materials (ecology)
  • design an appealing form that at the same time integrates all the factors mentioned before (aesthetics)

As you can see there is a lot more to design than simply creating beautiful objects and images. That would be something free artists can consider an option 😉 If you want to read more on Art vs. Design click here.