Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pierre Speaks: Photorealism AKA Hyper-realism

Joker by PierrePhoto references are heavily used in comics these days.

It is nothing new… but it seems to be becoming more and more obvious lately.

I rarely draw in a photorealistic way. Sometimes I will do it just as an exercise… but usually, it is something that I do only when I am specifically asked to.

I will always remember the first time that I fully understood how to draw from a model. Ahhh… the memories.

I had often been told about “values” and “measuring”, but was only half aware of what was truly being said.

Then one night, as I was drawing a portrait as an exercise, I had an illumination and suddenly, it finally all made sense.

It was quite a moment that I will never forget.

Some time after that… I was shown a very simple way to draw from photos (which if you keep reading I will explain later in this Blog), and I knew there and then that it was not what I wanted to do.

Make no mistake… I do use photos as references.

But usually just to know what things look like, to know how certain things work.

I was always worried that drawing too much from photos… it would become a crutch from which I would become too dependent.

So I used photos loosely as references.

But once in a while, I do use photos heavily when I am specifically asked to.

One of the most obvious example of someone who uses photos heavily in his work is Brian Hitch. Although he is not the only one… he is an obvious example that is pretty much publicly known… so let’s use his work as an example.

I remember when I first saw a preview of the Ultimates comics in Wizard, I was scratching my head as to why they were starting the comic by lifting images/scenes straight from the “Saving Private Ryan” movie.

The movie hadn’t come out that long ago.

Heck once the comic finally saw print, some of these images lifted from the movie were removed. I guess someone figured that they may have gone a little too far.

But the comic was a success, and before long, many tried to copy that approach.

It was nothing new. Long before that, others were using movie stills as “inspiration” to do their work.

But in this case… it was very obvious where the “inspiration” was coming from.

How photorealistic artwork is produce? What is the big secret??

It is very, very simple.

Photorealism is produced…. By using/copying photos.

A few centuries ago… artists would actually use live models to do their work.

But now with the invention of the camera… or now the digital camera… all that is required is a few snapshots of your model and voila! You have the reference you need to do your artwork.

Thanks to the NET, some don’t even need to bother with finding models or taking their own photos. They simply use Google to find whatever references they might need.

Although before the NET, what many would do is have a truckload of magazines and build reference files out of the photos they would find in those magazines.

Essentially to draw from photos… whether you take your photos yourself or you get them from Googles, you need a truckload of photos.

That is most likely why for example Greg Land often reuses multiple times the same photos over and over. He needs lots and lots of photos to produce a single comic, and probably runs out of photos to use after a while. So at some point, he might need to reuse some photos he already used before.

When I was in college, I was shown a very simple way to work from photos.

Here is a quick example.

First you find the photo that you want to use.

Then you simply make a grid over your photo. The grid can be as big or as small as you need it to be.

As an exercise, you can take a piece of paper and in it you can cut a square the size of one square on your grid. You can literally draw each square one by one separately. You simply need to reproduce the value of what you see in the square.

Once you are done with the last square… you might be surprised by the result.

Using that method, drawing from photos becomes not unlike those drawings where you connect the dots.

Often it is assumed that some drawings were done by tracing the photo, or tracing another drawing… but with the grid, tracing is not really needed.

I guess it ultimately comes down to whether you prefer to use the grid, or use your light table and actually trace the photo references.

Of course, sometimes you will need to do more then just trace the photo.

Or you can simply use it as a reference without even tracing it.

The choice is yours.

Until next time.

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