Monday, August 2, 2010

Quite stylish

Right, back onto the subject of style. I've dealt with this before over at deviantart, but I'm gonna rant a little about it here.

I'm like a magpie. I see something shiny, and I'm all over it. New gimmicks, looks, approaches, media, the lot. I like to try a bit of everything, and at this stage I've dipped my toe into about as many media as I have come across.

Where has that gotten me? A fairly broad understanding of a lot of things, but lacking in a mastery in any particular field. Its like walking down a street full of different restaurants and only getting to eat a mouthful of the cusine in each.

Yes, you taste it, but you don't get the whole meal, the subtlety, the secret behind the sauce.

I think it was something Dan Panosian said that he disliked coloring because he kept trying new things, and it stopped him from mastering any one approach. At the time, I disagreed with him, but in wholly practical terms he was right. I don't see Cheeks painting like Dan Luvisi, and I don't see Dan painting like Cheeks. Masters of different fields.

What makes them both excellent though? I hate to say it, because the idea is as old as time itself, but its the basics. Mastering the basics. Anatomy, gesture, posing, storytelling, colour, light, materials. I recently read something else that said 'style is what you leave out', and this is the main reason I use the example of Cheeks. His work is bold, and minimal. But everything's there.

Seeing as I'm talking about style, now is the time to say 'simplicity is the ultimate sophistication' Maybe. It depends on the intent. We're in the business of storytelling, and style says a lot about content.

Now the key difference in this rant is WHY styles are applied, most notably in comics.

One thing I've noticed recently is that the higher line mileage in a panel, the longer I spend looking at it, the visual equivalent of using big words.
The other end of the spectrum is Scott Pilgrim, whose simple visual style is very easy to read. I got through 2-5 in just under 90 minutes, and 6 in under 30. Not rushing, just that's the speed the books took me at. I'll read them again and again, because they're a great adventure, but the upbeat pacing worked great.

The art and method of pacing is still very foreign to me. What works in a film storyboard is not what works in comics. I've so much to learn, its thrilling and terrifying.

I'm working on two projects at the moment; one of which I'm keeping to very simple lines and cartoony designs, purely as a test to see how it affects storytelling. Also, busy pages take a hella lotta time.
The other, I'm going all out on, and hoping to really make it pop in the best way.

One of these days, I'll pick one style and master it. In the interest of making all of darklight work at some point in the future, I've been gearing myself towards darker, grittier stuff. Am I just kidding myself? I dunno. I've stopped thinking like 'I love XXXXXXs work, I wish I could draw like him'. Now I'm thinking 'I need to work on my gesture/design/storytelling' In a ways, I'm saying 'screw how everyone else draws, I'm not happy with how I make things look. Gotta do something about that'

I'm guessing that's where style is born.

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