Friday, March 12, 2010

Draw 160

A comic book artist friend of mine, when looking at comic art by Wally Wood (Wally Wood being the best artist ever, in his opinion), would point to Mr. Wood's art and always say, "Look at the knowledge!"

And that's what drawing is all about; acquiring the knowledge of how to draw. How do you draw a fish? A bird? a cool car? a poodle?

Sure, when you read those words you get a visual in your mind -- but how to train your hand to draw what you imagine?

By drawing a lot.

How do you get to be a better cartoonist?

There is the old piece of advice: take a stack of paper the same height that you are. Draw on every one. When you get to the bottom, you've gotten a lot of the bad drawings out of your system and you're a better artist.

I teach cartoon classes in New England and New York. One of the things we do is the "cartoon grid," a series of empty boxes on a page with a word under each panel. Above is one of the cartoon grids, all filled out by last Friday's class.

There are 10 kids in the class, all of them in the upper grades at the local elementary school. All of them are fearless drawing machines!

Here are some details:

Above: 4 of one page's 16 panels. The sleepy monster is one of my favorites.

The chef is crying! The student cartoonist added the emotion herself. What's the story? Cutting onions? Did the souffle fall? Did Gordon Ramsey yell?

This is the most devilly devil have ever seen!

I like the addition of "Yo! Yo!!"

Yes, that IS a big nose!

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Captain Underpants!

Look at that breathy exhaust! Great!

This does not look like a nice robot.

I couldn't draw a pencil better myself.

The class of 10 drew 160 images in about 25 minutes. How it works: you would get the cartoon grid and read all 16 of the boxes. Pick your favorite to draw and then, when finished drawing, pass it to the left, to the next student cartoonist. The 10 pieces of paper went around the circle of hardworking cartoonists until all of the grids were filled in.

Here is the rest of the results (click on them to supersize):

Just look at all that knowledge! And look at all of the personal, artistic touches: those steam lines coming out of that hot cup of coffee, the girl dancing with the "TAP TAP" sound effect, the mountain climber with all of his gear. I could go on and on, but pictures are worth a thousand words. And there are 160 pictures to look at, so take a moment to look above, and see this next generation of talent.

It worked out to be about 6.4 drawings per minute. All together it looked like this:

A lot of pages! It's not a pile of paper as high as I am, but it's a darn good bit of drawing by a classful of talent for sure!


Jim said...

Mike, awesome post!

You are a great teacher--lucky kids.

Jim Nolan

Carlos Mal said...

Amazing. Can we get a blank template so we can use it ourselves?

josh bauman said...

Agreed, a template would be great!

Mark Anderson said...

I mean, my goodness, man, that's just incredible.

Can I just say again how much I'd wish I'd had you as teacher starting out.

That is such a good idea and you're so clearly excited about it.

And that sleepy monster ROCKS!

Good for those kids and good for you!

Bawchee said...

Awesome idea. I'm definitely going to steal it. I think the super hero looks a lot like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

Anonymous said...

Mike, you are super cool. I love this blog, and I love people who talk about art in such an intelligent but accessible way.

Awesome stuff, dude

KellyB said...

I feel so fortunate that my son Bradley has participated in your classes at ND Library on Fridays! The creations he's coming home with are nothing short of amazing! Thank you for sharing your artistic abilities with these kids and for keeping it fun!

Breadwig said...

I am so diggin' your blog. Wonderful, awesome cartoons, and I love this class exercise, so fun.

Ed said...

Man, these are great. I really love the the dish running away with the spoon. They're eloping!

David Ng said...

This is an awesome activity. I'm going to try out on some kids who are a little younger.

Mike Lynch said...

Thanks so much for the kind words, Jim, Mark, Bawchee, Dreadwig, Ed and David.

Anytime a woman says I'm super cool, Veronica, it makes my day. Thanks.

Kelly, these are some really talented kids. I don't do this exercise with all of the classes I teach, but this group was definitely up for it.

Carlos and Josh: The exercise is all there if you would like to recreate it. I spend a long time putting these classes together and this is just a small part of the curriculum. Like I said to Kelly, this may not suit all kids who want to cartoon.

Jack Ruttan said...

Can I get your kids to come over here and draw my cartoons?