Thursday, 24 March 2011

Ruskin explains Manga

I'm reading John Ruskin's "The Nature of gothic" at the moment.
I noticed he describes exactly what Manga is, (or any artistic label, that's the point) better than almost anyone. I've edited his text here, replacing various words and examples- and repeatedly the word "Gothic" with "Manga". Take a look.

(cross posted from my own blog, so that you don't have to read it in white text on a black background...)

We know already what the early Disney art style is from which the transition to Manga was made, but we ought to know something of the modern Manga style into which it led. I shall endeavour therefore to give the reader in this chapter an idea, at once broad and definite, of the true nature of Manga style, properly so called; not of that of Japan only, but of universal Manga.

The principal difficulty in doing this arises from the fact that every book in the Manga style differs in some important respect from every other; and many include features which, if they occurred in other books, would not be considered Manga at all; so that all we have to reason upon is merely, if I may be allowed so to express it, a greater or less degree of Manganess in each image we examine. And it is this Manganess the character which according as it is found more or less in a book makes it more or less Manga--of which I want to define the nature; and I feel the same kind of difficulty in doing so which would be encountered by anyone who undertook to explain for instance, the Nature of Redness, without any actually red thing to point to, but only orange and purple things. Suppose he had only a piece of heather and a dead oak-leaf to do it with. He might say "the colour which is mixed with the yellow in this oak-leaf, and with the blue in this heather, would be red, if you had it separate; but it would be difficult, nevertheless, to make the abstraction perfectly intelligible; and it is so in a far greatest degree to make the abstraction of the Manga style intelligible because that character itself is made up of many mingled ideas and can consist only in their union. That is to say, giant eyes do not constitute Manga--nor tiny mouths--nor speedlines, nor screen-tones; but all or some of these things--amid many other things with them--when they come together so as to have life.

Observe also that in the definition proposed I shall only endeavor to analyze the idea which I suppose already to exist in the readers mind. We all have some notion, most of us a very determined one, of the meaning of the term Manga; but I know that many persons have this idea in their minds without being able to define it: that is to say understanding generally that Naruto is Manga and Spiderman is not, that Love Hina is Manga, and Watchmen is not, they are nevertheless, no clear notion of what It IS that they recognize In the one or miss in the other such as would enable them to say how far the work by Kodansha or Marvel is good and pure of its kind; still less to say of any nondescript art, like Adam Warren or Jiro Taniguchi how much right Manga element there is in and how much wanting. And I believe this inquiry to be a pleasant and profitable one; and that there will be found something more than usually interesting in tracing out this grey shadow many-pinnacled image of the Manga spirit in us; and discerning what fellowship there is between it and our Western hearts. And if, at any point of the inquiry, I should interfere with any of the reader's previously formed conceptions, and use the term Manga in any sense which he would not willingly attach to it, I do not ask to accept, but only to examine and understand, my interpretation, as necessary to the intelligibility of what follows in the rest of the work.

Now go and read The Nature of Gothic, by John Ruskin (From The Stones of Venice, Vol.II)


Thursday, 3 February 2011

Daily Chicken Scratchings

This collective blog is so dead isn't it? I really should get around to cleaning up my own blog and setting things up, but until then, have some art and some vaguely philosophical writings on your screen.

Part of my challenge this year is to spend less time thinking about drawing and more time actually drawing. Life drawing, tonal study, pr0n drawing, crappy doodles... anything to get my hand-eye coordination going.

It actually feels pretty good to draw on crappy cheap paper with no expectations whatsoever other than some (feeble) attempt at thinking and studying the shape etc etc.... less pressure to put down a masterpiece in my precious sketchbook. :D

This is the January 2011 batch (starting from the 18th), a doodle or more every day with the exception of weekends when I'm usually AFS (away from sketchbook).

It's actually a lot harder than I thought, to have to consciously make time in my day to just "draw" for no purpose whatsoever. But feels good, like exercise. XD

(click for larger pic)

Friday, 14 January 2011

After some painterly advice...

Having not touched my tablet for way too many months, Steve was making puppy eyes for some fanart for his novel. As it involves lovely ladies in minimal clothing and dragons with cities growing on their backs, I couldn't really resist.  In this scene the main character Natalie is running from her home in a massive city to the dragon city which has landed in the fields surrounding it.

Being from the ameteur school of "draw some lines and colour in the gaps" I'm really trying this time to make something a bit more painterly. I want to go for an old school scifi book cover look, a bit kitsch and fun. I've got to this point and I'm liking the colours and the rough shadows, but I'm now a bit stuck on how to progress. If I draw in all the lines (my usual approach...) I think i'll loose some of the atmosphere and goodness. Also the landscape looks more like sand dunes and is kind of featureless, which I need to work on...

Anyway, thought I'd ask some advice before I screw it up!And yes, i've done the orange and blue thing...

ooh ooh, check out these so bad they're good fantasy book covers....

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

New way of working

Just a few days ago, I actually got an idea for a comic that for once, didn't feel like a fluffy/stereotype rom-com, and didn't feel like me forcing myself to be deep and meaningfully philosophical. :D

It feels like a really challenging short story to do, as there really is "nothing" going on inside it, but I have to convey the something in that nothing, dialogue has to be natural and nondescript, yet pack the meaning of my story... Which is why I'm trying Fehed's advice of actually putting more thought into the scripting of my dialogue.

In the past when working on my own projects, I'd do that usual artist-cum-writer thing of plotting out a general sequence of events, approximate dialogue like "Rai makes fun of Mary's klutziness", and generally make dialogue up when it came to pencilling in the speech bubbles, and "edit" dialogue when the speech bubbles get too big and full of words.... Really not a good way I guess. It's just me being lazy and wanting to get the comic DRAWN and done already, which results in pretty artwork but dialogue that sounds fake, stilted, formulaic, stereotypical... like lines from a bad cheesy movie.

In this case, though the comic will rely heavily on the visuals, it will also be relying heavily on the dialogue. No chibis, no crazy funny faces, no comedy, no bish, no pretty shoujo hair and tone doilies to help ease the way. So less room for laziness or error.

I have to say, I'm finding this "planning my script and dialogue properly" feels very daunting. I think it harks back to the knee jerk reaction that writing something down in proper format, editing it, re-editing it, cutting out bits that I thought was pretty but actually is pointless, reminds us of the boring non-arty days of school/ office when you had to write mind numbing essays about history or something boring like that. The weeaboo in me is just whining about "I JUST WANNA DRAW MANGAAAAAA". It is an interesting experience (and slightly scary facing that page and trying to think intelligently of lines and speech), which hopefully will pay off when it comes to actually drawing the comic. :D

ps> Also since I cringe at the idea of sullying my sketchbook with my chicken scratching handwriting (possibly containing a lot of bullshit), I have hijacked one of Fehed's many abandoned writer notebooks to write my notes in (pictured above). LOL I R SRS WRITER NAO. XD

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Doodle: Murphy's Law

Well, I certainly wrote the comic book on it, didn't I?

When ideas go stale

Holy moly, I had an idea for a proper long comic in the shower today (I swear that's where I get all of my good ideas). This NEVER happens!
Possibilities kept popping up so I jotted them down quickly. All of a sudden I had an interesting premise to build on and 10 characters on my hands, all in the matter of an hour or so. Now I just hope that this will continue to seem like a good story. Usually my story ideas tend to lose their sparkle when they lose their freshness, and in the end I'm convinced that it was a bad idea to begin with. And that's as far as it goes.

This is not really an art post but it would be interesting to hear if anyone else has had this experience and what you do about it.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Hair Rambling 3

I finally got round to finishing this. Actually forced myself to keep polishing selective bits after the point where I usually go "GARRGH it's DONE", and I'm pretty happy with how the overall look came out. I feel I've managed to take one step closer to finding out that technique (or eye) for making stuff look rough and dynamic, but still looking polished enough that it's not scruffy.

Lighting and colour wise... also a level up I think. Happy with how this turned out, as I kept away from the usual multiply, colour dodge, overlay etc etc layer effects, so no mess of over-exposure abuse. I'm a lot happier with the lighting on this than any of my previous paintings and doodles, as it feels more alive and glowy to me, and less fake muddy midtones. Skin is really hard to paint, and despite my improvement here I still have yet to achieve the skill of painting skin that glows and looks luminously beautiful and alive.

Anyway, happy with this pic, LEVEL UP! :D