As a follow-up to the "learning from comics" post, I'd like to point you to a compelling new blog which offers some wonderful information about comics, or "the art of storyboarding." Like the Scott McCloud book, this blog, called the Temple of the Seven Golden Camels, need not be for comics artists or animators only. Anyone interested in improving their own "visual literacy" or "design IQ" will want to add this site to their RSS feed. The author of the blog, storyboard artist Mark Kennedy, has several extremely interesting posts that anyone with an eye for graphics and storytelling will benefit from. Open your mind and let the learning begin. You may want to start with this one, "Design and Drawing":
"It only took me about fifteen years to realize that design is the key to everything in our business, especially being a big-time animator. People who can draw well are good designers. Much of what we think of as 'good draftsmanship' is just good design." — Mark Kennedy
Mark has posted scanned copies of the 7-page "Comic Strip Artist's Kit" created by famous Disney artist Carson Van Osten in 1975. Mark calls it "...probably the best thing I've ever seen about practical staging and drawing for storyboards or comic books." Thanks to the generosity of Mark — and of course, Carson — we can download good copies from the original sketches. This stuff is gold. Another great post with many large visual examples (suitable for printing) is this one entitled "D&D7: Rhythm (part one)" which explores rhythm as it relates to drawing. (See the August archives for more D&D tips). Checkout the 5 Minute Art School: Composition 102. I love the simple insights here on composition, much of which I believe can be applied to photography and slide design, etc.
In a post on proportion Mark shows some good examples. "They are a good example of how much you can do with very few elements! Less is more," he says. Actually, this young blog is filled with little gems so do not forget to explore the archives.
The life of a salaryman in 30 seconds
While watching the TBS channel yesterday I stumbled upon a short segment discussing the popularity (on the web) of two short commentaries by Japanese artists. One of them is "Sushi," a great video with lessons for presentation designers. I linked to this in a post back in January. The other is a 30-second animation called "run" (hashire). This simple animation is brilliant and does a good job of "summing up" the life of a so-called "typical salaryman." The power of the simple drawings in the animation is that they allow us to see ourselves in the salaryman's shoes. It's also a good example of McCloud's "amplification through simplification." Anyone who has visited Japan or knows anything about Japan and its culture will get a kick out of this clip.
Sample (sort of)
Several months ago I used these slides below as part of a presentation on blogging. Here I was talking about the idea of "buzz marketing" and building WOM (word of mouth). This was the first time I used a "cartoon" character in a visual I think. In this case, the character is a drawing of me made in about 30 seconds in Adobe Illustrator by my artist/designer-turned-PR-pro wife. I could have used a photo of myself, but since I was the one doing the talking, it just seemed weird to have a pic of myself on the large screen behind me. Besides, I am just using myself as a kind of representation of any individual or organization, brand, etc.
As you can probably tell, my point was that what I say about me (advertising) is far less important than what other people say about me. That is, I can (1) say I am great, but (2) who would believe that? <Sigh>...a lonely place. On the other hand, if (3) others say good things about me, well, *that* you just might believe. And (4) so-called "buzz-marketing" or WOM is giving people something worth talking about. Famous brands like Apple, Starbucks, Harley-Davidson, etc. know all about how to generate buzz and word-of-mouth by giving people something worth talking about. Us "little guys" can't spend the millions needed to make advertising begin to (maybe) work, but anyone with a compelling story to tell — a product or a mission worth talking about — can generate buzz and word-of-mouth worth far more than the ephemeral influence of traditional advertising.
• Tons to learn from drawn.ca