Archive for the ‘magazine’ Category

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Illustration: Wartime Colliers Magazine

Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration

Wartime Colliers Magazine IllustrationWartime Colliers Magazine IllustrationThanks to Animation Resources supporters Kent Butterworth and Mike Fontanelli, our database includes many great examples of classic illustration from the pages of the "Rolls Royce" of weekly publications, Colliers magazine.

Today, we turn our attention to a very interesting time in American history, WWII. The war effort permeated everyday life throughout the nation, from the richest person all the way down to the poorest. This magazine reflects that, with feature stories, illustrations and ads that all reflect wartime themes.

Wartime Colliers Magazine IllustrationWartime Colliers Magazine IllustrationAt the time this issue was published, circulation for Colliers was nearing 2.5 million readers. By the mid 50s, circulation would rise to 4 million copies, but it wasn’t enough to save the magazine. Competition for ad revenues with television spelled doom for many of the big magazines, and Colliers was forced to go biweekly in 1953, ceasing publication altogether in 1957.

At Colliers, the illustrator was king, and many great artists filled its pages over the years, from Charles Dana Gibson, Maxfield Parrish, Arthur Szyk and F.X. Leyendecker.

If you are interested in classic magazine illustration, see our articles 1930s and 40s Colliers Illustrations and Wash Painting: In Praise of Happy Accidents. Also make sure to check out the modern illustration section of our online exhibit dealing with illustration for our articles on Coronet magazine, Lawson Wood, Arthur Szyk and Earl Oliver Hurst.

Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration

Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration
Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration
Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration
Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration
Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration
Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration
Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration
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Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration
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Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration
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Wartime Colliers Magazi<br />
ne Illustration
Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration
Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration
Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration
Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration
Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration

Thanks to Mike Fontanelli for contributing these great vintage magazines to be digitized for the Animation Resources digital archive project.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

IllustrationIllustration

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Instruction: Wash Painting- In Praise Of Happy Accidents

Wash Painting

Animation Resources supporter, Mike Fontanelli brought by a stack of mid-1930s Colliers magazines for us to digitize. Colliers was the "Rolls Royce" of weekly magazines for many years, employing some of the greatest illustrators in the business. In browsing through page after page of beautiful wash paintings, I was struck by how rare it is to see illustrations like this any more. That’s just plain wrong.

Wash Painting

In our digital age, programs like Photoshop have replaced brush and pen. But Photoshop doesn’t come close to the flexibility and variety of natural textures that water painting can provide. And in the hands of an experienced artist, a brush can knock out a finished painting much faster than with a computer. It just takes advance planning, concentration and an experienced hand.

Wash Painting

Look at the beautiful compositions in these examples. The artists were working from a carefully constructed drawing, and they worked out every detail before paint touched paper. The light source and the value scale are precisely controlled to make the image "mesh" in your eye. There’s no wasted effort or extraneous detail. The paintings themselves were executed very quickly.

Wash Painting

That’s the exact opposite of the way that a digital image is created. Instead of making all the creative decisions up front, the digital artist makes those decisions as he paints. In Photoshop, it’s typical to build up the illustration in layers, stacking up planes that can be shifted around as needed. The composition evolves, created in sections and joined with blurred seams to connect them. This evolutionary process may result in an image that is acceptably complex, but it doesn’t lend itself to creating a strong or unified statement.

Wash PaintingWash PaintingRecently, I saw a cityscape background from an animated feature that had been created by cutting and pasting pieces of images together. The light came from six different directions. The perspective changed from one part of the image to another. If you looked at any one small section, it looked OK, but the whole didn’t work together. The overall impression was cacophony. Worse yet, the image looked terrible if it was reduced in size or resolution. The scale of the overall composition and the degree of detail was uniform across the entire image. When you resized or reduced the resolution, it all turned to mush.

Contrast that with these beautiful wash paintings… The overall composition reads no matter how small you make it, and there’s a lot of variety between sharp details (in the faces and hands) and loose brushwork (in the fabric and backgrounds). This keeps your eye focused on the important part of the composition. But there’s an even bigger difference… Even when enlarged many times, these paintings still look good because of what watercolor painters refer to as the "happy accidents". Any digital anomaly or seam between layers in a Photoshop image will stand out like a sore thumb, but a loose brush stroke, a bit of paper peeking through the dry brush, or a bleeding bit of pigment can look beautiful. The accidents are natural looking.

Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting

All of the images you see here come from two issues of Colliers from 1934. Every week, the staff artists had to quickly produce striking images to accompany the articles. Speed was of the essence. Wash painting was a quick and beautiful solution.

Wash Painting

One week, an artist might be illustrating a romance…

Wash Painting

The next week a Western adventure…

Wash Painting

The technique lent itself to both realistic depiction and cartoony stylization.

Wash Painting

If you haven’t checked them out yet, make sure to take a look at our previous posts on 30s & 40s Colliers illustrations and Wartime Colliers. There’s a wealth of great images in old magazines like this.

Wash Painting

Many thanks to Mike Fontanelli for sharing these with us. He has a stack of Colliers with Earl Oliver Hurst covers that he will be bringing by soon. I can’t wait to see those.

Wash Painting
Wash Painting

If these amazing images have inspired you, and you’d like a project to sharpen your art skills, here’s a lesson from the fabulous Famous Artists Course. Pull out your brushes and some lamp black and give it a try. Have fun!

FAMOUS ARTISTS ON WASH PAINTING PART ONE: The Fundamentals Of Wash Painting

Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting

FAMOUS ARTISTS ON WASH PAINTING PART TWO: Step By Step Through Paintings By Dohanos and Whitcomb

Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting
Wash Painting

Let me see what you come up with.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

INSTRUCTIONINSTRUCTION

This posting is part of an online series of articles dealing with Instruction.

IllustrationIllustration

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Magazine Cartoons: Reginald Birch and St Nicholas Magazine

St Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch

A MAGAZINE FOR CHILDREN

In 1872, Scribner’s began publishing St Nicholas Magazine, a sister publication to The Century aimed at an audience between the ages of 5 and 18. As Linda Young points out in her excellent article on St Nicholas, in the late 19th and early 20th century, there was no real distinction between young children and teenagers. Children were considered children until they married or went away to college. Features "For The Little Folk" ran in St Nicholas side by side with articles on natural history or science intended for older readers. When it came to fiction, the subjects ranged from adventure stories about far-away lands to fairy tales and historical romance. St Nicholas was the premiere magazine of its type, and although it was aimed at children, it counted many adults among its readership.

St Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch

But the main reason why we’re interested in St Nicholas is the illustrations. Scribner’s had access to many of the best artists of the day… Arthur Rackham, Harrison Cady, Maxfield Parrish, Willy Pogany, Charles Dana Gibson, Palmer Cox and Howard Pyle, among many others. But no artist was as closely associated with the look of St Nicholas as Reginald Birch.

St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchReginald Birch was born in 1856 in London, England. At the age of 14, he relocated to San Francisco, CA where he prepared wood block theater posters in his father’s shop. In 1873, Birch attended the Royal Academy in Munich and upon his return to America, he settled in as an illustrator in New York City.

Today, Birch may be forgotten, but his contribution to our American cultural identity certainly isn’t. At St Nicholas Magazine Birch took the character of Santa Claus, created by Thomas Nast in the 1862 Christmas Issue of Harper’s Weekly, and refined it into the jolly bearded character in the red suit that we all think of today.

St Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch

1906 Christmas cover by Reginald Birch

Little Lord Fauntleroy Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchReginald Birch illustrated a wide variety of poems and stories for St Nicholas, but perhaps the most famous was Frances Hodgson Burnett’s "Little Lord Fauntleroy". Following Burnett’s vivid description, Birch created the iconic image of the precocious little boy in curls wearing a black velvet suit with lace collar. This image became the basis for the character Buster Brown, and was widely lampooned in parodies casting Burnett’s wunderkind as a spoiled brat or monster child, like Eddie Munster. The image of the enfant terrible in the Buster Brown outfit has entered our cultural subconscious to the point where most of us don’t even realize where it came from… but it came from Reginald Birch.

Little Lord Fauntleroy

Freddie Bartholomew as Little Lord Fauntleroy

By the beginning of World War I, Birch’s Victorian pen and ink style was beginning to look dated. Demand for his services began to decline, and by 1930, he was penniless. He enjoyed an "Indian Summer" as a book illustrator in the late 30s until his failing eyesight forced him to retire in 1941. He passed away in 1943.

Here is a fantastic story written by St Nicholas editor, Tudor Jenks and illustrated in the distinctive style by Reginald Birch. Notice how Birch juggles the text in the layouts, his superb draughtsmanship and control of perspective, and the expressive posing of his characters.

St Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
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St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch
St Nicholas Magazine Reginald BirchSt Nicholas Magazine Reginald Birch

A SELECTION OF IMAGES FROM
THE CHRISTMAS, 1910 ISSUE

To finish out this post, here is a sampling of the sort of illustration and cartooning that filled the pages of a typical issue of St. Nicholas Magazine.

St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910
St Nicholas Magazine December 1910

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Magazine CartoonsMagazine Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Magazine Cartoons.
IllustrationIllustration

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.