Tuesday, October 23, 2012

GUEST BLOG: Robert Atkins on the Figure Drawing and Construction course

In this guest blog, Robert Atkins, artist on Snake Eyes, GI JOE, Heroes for Hire, The Amazing Spider-Man, Ultimate Fantastic Four and Instructor of the Comics Experience Introduction to Figure Drawing & Figure Construction, shares his thoughts on the course. Classes will be held live, online, beginning Thursday November 1, 2012.

In nearly every form of entertainment available to the public, there is an artist contributing to its production. Starting with concept designs, storyboards, character designs or comic page layouts, an artist will bring a visual life to an idea.

In many industries and projects those ideas center on stories involving the human figure.

For artists to become successful in any of these industries, they MUST have a foundational understanding of how that figure is constructed and how it moves, then put that understanding into practice.

While I have used this foundational knowledge for figure construction in the comics field, this class is necessary to anyone looking to draw a figure for any entertainment industry.

Just to name a few: character design for video games or toys; fashion design for theater, costuming or the clothing industry; illustrations involving the figure for magazines, package art or websites; concept art for film and animation, and, of course, it is essential for telling stories in comics.

No matter what the finished style looks like, all great work involving the figure in art is based on a solid foundation of figure construction.

In animation, that figure is abstracted and stretched or contorted to show motion. To most effectively abstract from reality, you must first understand that reality. The best animators know how to draw a proportional human figure. They CHOOSE to manipulate those shapes when defining their characters.

It also guarantees for artists in any of the mentioned art fields that a figure they draw will look consistent, from frame to frame, design to design, or panel to panel.

How often have you been in an art portfolio review and heard the phrase, "It looks great, you just need to work on your anatomy", or some variation of that?

It's a universal critique because drawing the figure is a very hard thing to master. Weak figure drawing is also the first thing that will stand out in an amateur portfolio.

This is because everyone knows what a properly proportioned figure looks like. We look at it everyday.

Even though we all come in different shapes and sizes, it is typically within a range of proportion. If you can understand those proportions, and apply them to your art, your figures will start to look more consistent and that figure becomes believable.

So, how do you solve this problem?

Comics Experience is proudly expanding its art curriculum to include a new course in Figure Drawing and Construction starting November 1, 2012.

The course will run 6 weeks, with a 2-hour live, online class each of those weeks. Throughout the week you will be posting your assignments and sketches that I will critique on the dedicated course forum.

I will be using the instruction style I learned while receiving my M.F.A. from the Savannah College of Art and Design as the basis for this class. Building on that instruction, I will also incorporate what I have learned applying these figure drawing concepts over the last 8 years working for Marvel, DC, IDW, Dark Horse and other comic publishers.

For you to tell an effective story, the reader must be convinced of the character's reality. This will start with feeling that the figures look believable in the environments you place them in. If a character is going to look believable, it has to be constructed with a sure knowledge of figure anatomy.

Robert Atkins
Comics Experience Art Instructor

The first session of the live, online Introduction to Figure Drawing & Figure Construction course begins November 1, 2012. Enrollment is still open, but seats are limited, so sign up now!

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