Comics have been around for a long time and to this day are still bought and read by many. The methods of producing a comic has changed with the times and technology has eased the production process of it. However, the essence of freehand drawing and designing characters for comics is not lost and is considered an art form in itself. To commemorate the release of his book ‘Freehand Figure Drawing for Illustrators’, renowned Hollywood comic-artist David H. Ross was invited to The One Academy to share his inspiring journey as well as impart some knowledge about illustration to the students and lecturers here.
Ross has worked with has worked with Marvel Comics, DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics amongst other major North American comic book publishers. Besides that, he has also produced storyboards for feature films, prepared artwork and advised on special projects for TV. His sharing session, ‘My Comic Journey’ highlighted his road to becoming the artists he is today, the challenges he faced when starting out as well as key pointers on how to nail freehand figure drawing. Attendees were treated to a live demonstration by Ross as he elaborated on his technique and skills.
“One of the hardest things to do in drawing is to start with the head, it is hard to make it seamless with the shoulder area, most of the time it is required to go back and redraw and redraw the neck and the shoulder area”, said Ross as he advised students to start drawing the body of the figure to establish a natural flow and line to it before tackling the head and facial features the last. He also explained that it is important to incorporate actual parts of the human anatomy, like the deltoids, when drawing the first sketch as it will help “to lock down some of the natural landmarks of the body to understand the movement”.
When speaking about his role as a comic-artist or a penciler, he reminded the participants that in comic, you are given the task of manifesting 3D characters via a 2D medium. “We are all just illusionists, everything we do when doing our artwork is to create the illusion of 3D depth in a flat piece of paper. Shading, depth and cross-contouring helps to bring the illusion to reality”, said Ross He also stressed on the importance of knowing how to draw a multitude of subjects, as a comic-artists, one is expected to draw not only the characters but also the scenery, convincing city-scape, jungle scenes, fire, smoke and lightning, mist, heavy rain. “You have to draw people with all their dramatic over the top action, you have to be able to draw very quiet scenes and restaurants. It has all got to be convincing.”
His top advice to the students was to get their work shown to publishers, editors and anyone else who is big in the creative field. He highlighted the convenience that social media brings in terms of putting their work out there and also making the right connections, all of which were not so simple last time. “When you get a chance to see and meet people in the industry in all the different areas, pick their brains and don’t be shy. You will find that they are very friendly, very accessible and more than willing to share information with you. And if you can get them to look at your work and give you some useful tips, that’s great that’s like gold. By all means, seek those people”, he concluded.