Monthly Archives: April 2020

AHIS 430 – Glossary

Amplification through Simplification
The idea that simplification of an image makes its representation stronger. It is important to remember that this concept isn’t just about taking away detail. One must figure out which are the most important details that anchor an idea and keep it recognisable and cut out the other details which don’t.

This concept is actually pretty important in cartoons, as it aids in self-identification. The idea being that the more detailed and developed a character is, the more we think of them as separate from us. While a more stylised and simplified character allows the reader to project onto them.

For example, which one of this do pictures can you more easily see as representing you as an individual?

A smiley face?

Or perhaps

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa?

Scott McCloud defines closure “phenomenon of observing the parts but perceiving the whole.” In other words, it is when readers imply what happens between the gutters of the panels. We can think of closure as the reader filling in the blanks. The example which McCloud utilises is one panel showing an axe being raised and the following panel showing a scream.

The space that separates panels from each other. It might be helpful to think gutters akin to a cut when watching a film. Their size and placement are up to the artist. They are integral to the pacing of comics, as they can be used to slow down time by spacing it out. Likewise, events can also occur between a comics gutter’s without ever being drawn out explicitly (this is when closure comes in!)

A picture contained within some kind of border. Similarly to gutters they also contribute to the pacing of a comic, for example, the repetition of very similar panels can be used to slow down a story and focus on a specific moment. Panels come in a large variety of different shapes and are these can be use for different effects. For example, irregularly shaped panels are used to convey different states of being (for example, a dream state or a flashback) and add dynamism to action scenes or imply conflict.

What one could be considered a panel except that the image is not contained within a border. They often have the effect of slowing down time in comics, as they give a substantial amount of space and time to one moment.

A visual representation of a person, place, thing, or idea. These are everywhere and there are too many to name them all, but we can use a smiley face as an example. I know what a smiley face is meant to represent, and almost everyone does, even though it bears very little resemblance to the face of an actual smiling face. Icons are often not not direct representations of what they are meant to invoke.

This is a common type of icon used for phones, even though this type of phone is no longer relevant to most people’s lives. Its not a direct representation of what most people see as a phone, but the idea is communicated strongly regardless!

The idea that visual elements such as lines, shapes, colours, patterns, etc. all hold a potential to express and link to senses. A lot of good examples of this being shown is in the expressive lettering of comics. Specifically, sound effects are usually lettered in a way that links them to a sense. 

Motion/Action Lines
A stylised element made up of lines meant to communicate speed and or movement. Sometimes they’ll include streaking, which is the trail which an object leaves when moving quickly. 

This this panel from Lynda Barry’s “One! Hundred! Demons!” contains a subtle example of motion lines as well as streaking, which shows the path of her arms in movement.

Mono Sensory Medium
A medium which only engages a single sense. Comics for example, are an example of this as they engage their audience solely through visuals. Another example could be radio, which only engages through audio. A film would not fit into this category because it is a medium which combines audio and visuals.

Speech Bubbles
Speech bubbles Contain the speech of a cartoon. The most recognisable version is an oval with a tail that points towards the speaking character. However, they have as much potential to be expressive as any visual element of comics. The shape generally indicates the way something is spoken. For example, a broken up speech bubble often indicates a character is whispering, while a jagged speech bubble can indicate that a character is shouting.

Here are just a few examples of the different shapes which speech bubbles can take!

AHIS 430 – Working Digitally vs Traditionally

Whether to work traditionally or digitally: its a question that we all have to ask ourselves! And its especially relevant to artists, as sometimes it feels like digital art and traditional art are two beasts which develop completely separate from each other. I tend to use a combination of both methods.

Specifically, I often find myself working traditionally when creating a solid foundation before I move forward. Paper and pencil provide the quickest vehicle for getting out all my ideas, no matter the project I’m working on.

At this stage, (perhaps ironically) I find the precision and control that working digital allows to be overly restricting. At this moment, I don’t need to have much control, because its not producing ready to go, beautiful working. My sketching process is about figuring out my plan of action and getting stuff onto paper.In my experience, the undo button or the backspace button is my worst enemy. It’s very easy to fall into a cycle where you work for hours and in the end, having nothing to do to show for it because the option to get rid of your work exists. For that reason, when sketching I find it can be helpful to avoid using erasers or even to pens or markers instead.

I find I have less of a problem using my ipad and ipad pencil than typing (if I’m writing something). It’s a feature , which by all means is supposed to mimic the process of writing. It requires the same physical actions and the “pencil strokes” even mimic that of graphites. I’m not sure that I’d consider it the same as writing on paper. It’s definitely not my first choice, I think I’ll always prefer working on paper, but it is a definite upgrade than just tying.

However, that’s not to say that digital mediums don’t have their place in sketching process. I find working digitally at a later stage of my sketching process to be immensely useful. Especially when I’m creating different colour palettes for an illustration. Digital media allows me access to whatever colour I want (which sometimes is also not a good thing) and I don’t have to worry about any kind of mess or any limitations of traditional media. Additionally the copy and paste features are very useful when I’m trying to create lots of different variations. When writing, it’s easier to edit sentences and to compare variations of possible sentences I could use. In summary, when I’m trying to create and compare variations I find digital media a better option.

When approaching the final product, I tend to find myself using digital media. Less so in art, but definitely when writing. In art, I appreciate the flexibility that is inherent in the media, although I don’t think that is necessary at all. Additionally resizing options, rotation and symmetry tools, are very convinient tools to have and significantly speed up the processs.

I think when doing illustrations digitally, it requires a less thought out of plan. The ability to undo things and change my colour palette along the way and straight up paint over what i’ve already done and still have the possibility to undone it all (thank you layers) acts as a very good safety net. Additionally, in my experience it’s usually faster (although that may be due to a  lack of experience working with traditional artwork) . So while I often do work digitally and I think its an option that works very well for me, I’m definitely interested in seeing if it’s truly the best medium for me to use.

In short, I find that there are advantages and disadvantages to each and I often change my direction in order to take advantage of each medium. I think that working traditionally has massive benefits but I wonder if those benefits outweigh the negatives for everyone.