Wednesday, June 3, 2009
"Think Before You Ink"
One of the first exercises we do in this class is called "Think Before You Ink," which really helps give confidence to some of the comparatively less experienced drawers. Students are broken up into several groups of three to four each, and each team is given a short descriptive passage to illustrate. Trick is, they have to discuss it amongst themselves in fifteen minutes without actually drawing anything, which encourages brainstorming and how to impart the essential visual information as quickly and as effectively as possible. One of student from each group then comes up to the front of the room, grabs a Sharpie and a blank sheet of paper, and does their best to draw the scenario in sixty seconds. The results are then showed to the other groups to see how much they can tell what the picture is supposed to be. Much hilarity ensues.
Folks who tend to spend an inordinate amount of time getting meticulous details down don't do as well as someone who can distill an image down to a handful of descriptive lines. A cartoonist's stock in trade is visual shorthand - making marks that stand for something - a crucial communicative tool as the slightest, subtlest line can completely alter an impression or intent.
These several examples here are a wonderful demonstration of how much information can be quickly and effectively communicated: first is Dorothy, the Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow playing a game of strip poker; then a plumber discovering a walrus is clogging the sink; and lastly, a sexy moose popping out of a cake at a hunter's party. Doesn't really take much to get the message across; sometimes simpler is stronger. And before that, consciously and deliberately thinking about how best to tell a joke or tell your story.
And as always, speed is of the essence; literally in this case, but I constantly remind people of this exercise and what lessons were learned, they will be relevant regardless of the genres we explore as the class unfolds.