< Piro >
Monday - January 22, 2001
[note - i ended up making a screenshot of the Gum Comics website - it seems that my linkage shut the page down temporarily due to exessive traffic. Oops. I need to be more careful when i link things, i guess. I still can't get used to this. - piro]
Frustrating, isn't it? the girls in the screenshot above look pretty cute, don't they? Or are they? Can you tell? Are you ready to kill me? :P
I know that people who wear glasses tend to be envious of those people who have perfect vision and don't need them. Seraphim has perfect vision. I don't. I can't see anything without my glasses. Sure, glasses are a pain, and I've never worn contacts (I just can't stand the idea of putting anything in my eye), but there is one thing I can do that those with perfect vision can't - take them off and look at the world thru unfocused eyes.
What are the benefits of being able to do this? Well, sight is a funny thing. To me, it's therapeutic to look at the world a little less indistinct. You can look at things without being drawn to the details. If you look at the pictures above, you will see that you can make out a lot of general information - the girls are cute, you have a general idea of their pose, their hair styles, and even the fact that at least one of them is smiling.
The reason you can do this is because your mind is 'filling in the blanks' - you are processing the limited information and forming an image in your head. It's a lot like the way your computer screen works. In reality, it's just a bunch of pixels - your brain puts them together into an image. Your brain also adds the information that they are girls and that they are cute. Interesting, isn't it?
Now, If you printed this image out and tried to trace the outlines, it would be very hard to do. There's nothing really THERE to trace.
If you have ever taken an art class (I think the last one I had was back when i was in 7th grade) you will remember being told that you needed to learn how to 'see'. "I can see just fine", you think. Well, that's not really true. Seeing well enough identify cute girls and avoid walking into trees is one thing. Seeing things well enough to draw them is something different.
When you sit down to draw something, you need to have a good idea of how to look at things in real life. You need to be able to get a good sense of volume, space, and relationships between objects. Also, a good understanding of shadow and edges is important. It's all right in front of your eyes - it always has been. Learning to understand what you are seeing takes practice.
People are always asking me for lessons. Well, you can consider this an unofficial lesson. Tracing the work of other people is always a good way to learn - and I suggest that it's a great way to start (trace my stuff or stuff from your favorite manga) All art is an abstraction of the real thing. Try to think about what it is these lines and shapes are really representing.
There is no such thing as a 'line' in nature. It has been said that lines are only thinly defined areas of shadow. Look at the way things are shaded, how the colors change on a surface. When you trace something, you should think of those lines as shadows themselves. You might find that this helps you think about the 'volume' you are drawing.
After you have traced it a few times, try drawing it freehand. It doesn't matter if it totally sucks - just do it, give it a try. Put the images together and look at the differences. Try to understand what works and what doesn't. Then try it again.
Some other tips - step back from a drawing and squint at it - your brain will tell you if it is right or wrong. Go back and look at it later - sometimes a drawing that looked really swell at 2am looks really crappy in the morning. Put it up to a mirror to see if it balances right. These are little tricks that I've often used.
Oh, and one other thing. Sometimes when looking, you can miss things. Take a closer look at the manga cover shown here and the blurry image of the girls above. Notice anything different?
Speaking of Kadoi Aya, I'm sitting here reading a collection of short story comics called "Heaven's Gate" - man... another artist that makes me want to give it all up for good. The stories are really cute too. (sigh) She also has some online comics over at ZDnet Japan. Check it out.
I dream of drawing as well as her someday. Till then, i can take off my glasses and look at the world a little less sharp for a while. You don't always have to focus on things. :)