March 5th, 2015

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Instruction: Willy Pogany’s Drawing Lessons

Pogany's Drawing Lessons

Willy Pogany was one of the most important book illustrators and designers of the first half of the 20th century. His Rime of the Ancient Mariner and books based on Wagnerian opera are masterpieces, to say nothing of his editions of Mother Goose, Alice in Wonderland and Faust. While other illustrators were confining themselves to an occasional tipped in plate buried among page after page of identical text blocks, Pogany broke the mold, designing elaborate pen and ink illustrations that surrounded the text, ornate capitals for the beginning of each page and calligraphy that turned the words into art. He is probably the artist most responsible for establishing what we think of as modern children’s book illustration.

Pogany's Drawing Lessons

He was also an author and teacher, with three books covering drawing, oil painting and watercolor. Today, I am presenting two sections from his book Willy Pogany’s Drawing Lessons. The first is titled…

FIGURE SKETCHING

Pogany's Drawing Lessons

One of the most fascinating subjects to draw is the human figure. The fine proportions, beautiful modeling and delicate balance, and the infinite variations in movement and repose are such that there is no other living thing to compare with it. Through countless ages artists of all races have drawn, painted and modeled the human form.

Pogany's Drawing Lessons

If you have never done any figure drawing, I would suggest that you start to draw the human figure in its simplest pose with little or no foreshortening. This is an upright standing position with arms close to the body and feet together.

Make up your mid before you begin, how large you want your drawing to be and mark on the paper the total length desired. Your drawing must be exactly the size that you have indicated on your paper.

Your next step is to draw a straight vertical line connecting the two marks. This will indicate the imaginary line of gravitation running from head to foot.

Now mark the center of the body by dividing the vertical line into two equal parts. Mark your proportions.

Draw in the oval of the head.

Pogany's Drawing Lessons

Measure the width of the shoulders compared to the length of the body. Draw in the shoulder line. Do the same with the hips.

To measure, use a pencil in your outstretched hand, first getting the width, then measuring vertically the number of times the width goes into the total length of the body. Now proceed to draw the masses of the chest, hips, legs, etc.

Pogany's Drawing Lessons

To check on your drawing, watch the shape of the background that surrounds the figure. See if these "left spaces" (or negative shapes) correspond with the outline of your drawing.

For instance, whatever the position of your subject, watch the shape and size of the space between the arms and the body; between the tilted head and the shoulder; between the two legs, etc, etc.

These will be your left spaces. Special attention to them will be of great help in making a correct drawing.

Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons

Cartoons are about things that aren’t real- pure imagination. But even here, it’s important to have balance… A friend of mine, Louise Zingarelli once told me, “You can’t draw crazy things until you can draw perfectly straight. Wonky perspective all over isn’t weird or interesting- it’s just ugly and dumb. You’ve got to have both, working right against wrong… just like working warms against cools in colors." The second section of the book we are presenting today illustrates these points.

POGANY’S SKETCHBOOK

Pogany's Drawing Lessons

Willy Pogany was a children’s book illustrator who specialized in fantasy subjects. At the end of the book, after the lessons, he presents a selection of his work sketches. Pogany was particularly eloquent, with a huge library of shapes and forms in his head. He also had an amazing sense of balance- making the fantastic seem real. This is truly great draftsmanship.

Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons
Pogany's Drawing Lessons

Drawing is a language, and it requires building a vocabulary to be eloquent. Students should carry a sketchbook with them wherever they go and draw everything they see- from people’s heads in a late night coffee shop to fireplugs on the street. Everything you draw becomes part of your dictionary of imagery in the future.

Pogany’s classic drawing lessons are still in print under the title, “The Art of Drawing”. Pick up a copy at Amazon for your reference library.

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.

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 12:26 pm

March 4th, 2015

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Theory: Big Boy and the Power of Licensing- A Cautionary Tale

Bobs Big Boy

In 1936, entrepeneur Bob Wian opened a small lunch stand. He had a brilliant, yet slightly devious idea for a hamburger. If he took a standard hamburger bun and sliced it down the middle twice, instead of once… and if he took a standard hamburger patty and divided it into two small patties… he could create a double-decker hamburger that appeared to be larger than the average without costing him any more to make. He named it the "Big Boy".

Bobs Big Boy

Wian hired pretty high school girls as car-hops and dressed them in short skirts and cowboy hats. But something was still missing…

Bobs Big Boy

One day, animator Benny Washam was lunching at Wian’s stand, doodling on placemats. Wian saw that he was a cartoonist and asked him to draw a caricature of Richard Woodruff, a chubby, apple cheeked boy who helped out at the stand sweeping up after school. Washam obliged, depicting the lad in oversized checkered overalls munching on a burger.

Bobs Big Boy

Ben Washam’s Original Design

Wian loved the doodle and gave Washam his lunch for free. Bennie gave the sketch to Wian to use as a mascot for the stand.

Bobs Big Boy

Bennie didn’t think any more of it for many years…

Bobs Big Boy
Bobs Big Boy

Bobs Big Boy

Wian turned the caricature into an empire, branding not only his hamburger stand, but a line of sauces and spices and a franchised chain of family restaurants that eventually covered the entire country. A cutened version of Washam’s doodle was plastered all over the menus, signage and television advertising.

Bobs Big Boy

Bobs Big Boy

Wian knew who in the family made the decisions about where to eat… It wasn’t mom and dad, it was the kids. Outside each restaurant in the chain, he placed a huge fiberglass statue of Big Boy as a beacon to attract children…

Bobs Big Boy

And cartoonists, like assistant archivists, Alex Vassilev and JoJo Baptista!

At the restaurants, Wian gave away free comic books featuring the character. Here is an extremely rare example… Big Boy comics number one from 1956. These comics were produced by Timely Comics, which later became Marvel. They were written by Stan Lee and drawn by Bill Everett. Later issues featured the work of Archie comics artist, Dan DeCarlo. Adventures of the Big Boy is one of the longest continuously running comic book lines. It’s still being produced fifty years later.

Bobs Big Boy

Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy

Years later, when Big Boy had become a familiar figure to the entire country, Washam admitted to his fellow artists at Warner Bros that he was the cartoonist who had created the character. They laughed and teased him, saying, "Benny, you should have been heir to a hamburger fortune, but no! Your lot in life is to toil day and night making animated cartoons!" They were joking, but there’s an element of truth in it. Never underestimate the power of a doodle. The Big Boy sketch that Washam traded away for a free meal in 1936 ended up selling millions and millions of dollars worth of hamburgers.

If you would like to see more Big Boy comics, let me know in the comments.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryTheory

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Theory.

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 1:37 pm

March 3rd, 2015

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Exhibit: Carlo Vinci’s Student Life Drawing

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

All of us at Animation Resources are deeply grateful to the family of legendary animator Carlo Vinci for the material they have shared with us over the past couple of years. Around 1929, Vinci attended the prestigious National Academy of Design in New York, receiving the silver medal from the Tiffany Foundation Fellowship upon graduation. By stroke of luck, his student drawings have survived in an old portfolio tucked at the back of a closet. They provide an invaluable peek into the artistic development of a golden age animator.

In a previous article, we posted scans of the course outline for the National Academy of Design. The class schedule ran six days a week with studio classes from 9am to 4pm and lecture classes beginning at 4:10pm, and night classes offered from 7pm to 10pm Monday through Friday. It was an intensive program focused on traditional art skills- drawing, painting, and sculpture, as well as art history, composition and color theory.

DRAWING FROM CASTS

The first year student began with three hour sessions drawing from casts of classical sculpture. Since the casts were static, the student had the opportunity to work slowly and develop the ability to construct the organic shapes and complex volumes of the human figure without the time constraint of working from live models. They were not allowed to progress to drawing from life until they had mastered the basic principles by working from casts.

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

DRAWING FROM LIFE:
LONG SESSIONS

Drawing from life continued throughout the entire course of study, starting with longer sessions to allow the student time to work out the problems of anatomy and perspective. As time went by and the student gained experience, the sessions were shortened.

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

DRAWING FROM LIFE:
SHORT SESSIONS

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

PORTRAITS

Special classes in portraiture and composition were also on the schedule.

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

PEERS’ WORK

Vinci admired the work of his peers and saved a few of their sketches to study.

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

By Umberto Romano

Carlo Vinci Life Drawing
Carlo Vinci Life Drawing

By Ilya Bolotowsky

It’s interesting to note that even though Bolotowsky became very well known for his abstract paintings, he was obviously very skilled at traditional representational art as well.

Life drawing forms the foundation for all art. Students of animation would do well to focus on life drawing while they are in school and have the time to develop their skills.

For more on traditional life drawing, please see David Apatoff’s excellent articles on George Bridgman’s Art Class and The Training of Robert Fawcett.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 1:29 pm