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Inktober Continues with Pagliacci & Harley Quinn

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Inktober Continues with Pagliacci & Harley Quinn

INKTOBER 2015, PART THREE

We’re now past the halfway part of the month, and I’m going day by day with the challenge. Last year, I had a bit of a buffer through most of the month. This past week, I’ve been doing pencils and inks on the same night. I’m going to try to get ahead soon, but I’m running out of time to be ahead of schedule already. Time flies!

Day 15: Miho

SOME ON-LINE ART LEARNING

There are plenty of websites out there to teach you how to draw or how to animate. Some offer high end courses complete with live web lectures and personal portfolio reviews, while others give you text tutorials with screenshots, at best.

This month, I’ve been giving SVSLearn.com (Society of Visual Storytelling) a try, and I’ve been liking what I’ve seen so far.

The brainchild of Jake Parker and Will Terry, SVSLearn.com offers a variety of classes for a monthly fee ($15). Pay for a full year, and you get a discount ($150). Each class is a series of videos that might total anywhere from a couple of hours to six or seven hours.

There are almost 30 classes available to take today once you’ve paid your monthly dues. Each class is broken up into relatively bite-sized chapters, depending on the topic. Each chapter might go three minutes, or could run an hour and a half, depending on what best suits the material.

I like having the chapters to give me resting points and places I can easily remember to pick up from when I have to walk away for a while or a couple of days.

Classes include titles as general and as specific as:

  • “Working with Color”
  • “Painting in Photoshop”
  • “Creative Composition”
  • “Posing Characters”
  • “Painting Color and Light”
  • “Drawing a Portrait”
  • “Illustrating Children’s Books”

There’s a massive class titled “Drawing Comics” led by Jeff Parker that goes soup to nuts, from comics industry history to character and world building through all the tricks of comics storytelling. It’s a six hour course spread over 19 videos.

The videos are available as a stream through the website only at this point. You can pay to buy each class, too, so you can watch it without the monthly fee. (It’s unclear, but I imagine you get to download the videos with that.)

I’ve watched four of the courses so far, all taught by Parker, none of which are listed above:

“Inking”

Of course I watched this first — it’s Inktober, Jake Parker’s brainchild! The timing was not coincidental. While I’ve read a lot about the art of inking, I found Parker’s demonstrations and exercises to be illuminating. It’s a pattern I’ve seen a lot in my time at SVS, actually: The highlights of the course are Parker’s live demos, even more so than the “lecturing” parts.

Still, I learned a couple ideas for inking in this course, a couple of which I’ve even used in my Inktober adventures so far. I probably should go through some of the exercises to strengthen my meager skills. It couldn’t hurt…

The course is taught mostly with Parker drawing at his table and a camera pointed directly down from overhead. Sound and video quality are good, though it’s not a slick high-end production.

While this relatively edit-free video making leads to occasional issues with pacing, I enjoy the rawness and honesty of it. It feels like you’re looking over an artist’s shoulder and playing apprentice, rather than being spoon fed some slick over-produced things that are hiding the flaws.

The course is quick, clocking in at just under two and a half hours.

“Creative Environments”

This class was a series of webinars originally, with a live audience watching over the web as Parker and Will Terry show the process of how environments can be designed from silhouettes to final details. Parker uses Photoshop with all his “slides” as layers he turns on and off as he talks, also allowing him to draw over the slides to make points, give examples, etc.

This is the one that blew my mind. I’ve read enough art books from animation studios to know about visual development and how there are artists whose job it is to spend months just thinking up ideas and color schemes for the overall production of a movie or an animated series. There’s so much more that goes on behind that that the books never see.

Parker shines in these videos, deftly illustrating how ideas can build, how to brainstorm ideas, what qualities an environment needs to be interesting, and lots more. Size and shape are most important, to the point where he often draws thumbnails of silhouettes to find the most interesting shapes to draw. Then he goes in to add details and build an environment — whether a building or a room or a bit of nature — piece by piece.

The class has some pacing issues, but Terry does a good job in being a sounding board for Parker to talk to, as well as a source of interruptions and questions from the audience to keep things lively and not totally scripted. When Parker is concentrating on his drawing, Terry fills the gaps admirably. The two have a good rapport, too, which helps.

The one production problem with these webinar-style classes is that Terry’s mic is so much louder than Parker’s. I’m guessing Parker’s mic is too far away from his mouth. While watching the videos at night, I had to listen with headphones so I could hear everyone without waking up the rest of my sleeping family.

The total class runs close to six hours, but then there are also two 90 minutes videos at the end where the instructors give live critiques to students taking the class. Theory is great, but seeing the experts apply that to art that has common beginner flaws in it makes for some great examples to hammer down the lessons to be learned.

“How to Draw Everything”

This was aimed a little lower than I expected, which seems silly, I know. Maybe I’m past this phase, but I’m not excited by spending two hours watching Parker draw basic shapes and build them up to make more complex shapes. You know how everything is just a pile of squares and pyramids and globes? Think of that for two hours.

If you’ve never taken an art class in your life and wanted to learn a few helpful basics, this class might be for you, though. If you can draw three dimensional shapes and handle foreshortening, just skip this one.

“Mastering Perspective”

This is another webinar course, with Parker going over the basics of perspective as you’d expect him to: Horizon line, vanishing point, one-, two-, and three point perspective. If you’ve never taken an art course before, this is good knowledge to have. Parker’s examples, illustrations, and explanations are very good on the topic.

If you know about the different perspective types already, you can almost safely skip the first four chapters and save yourself an hour. The more advanced topics in the second half of the course are where things get interesting, including Parker giving a perspective demo before discussing things like adding shadows and reflections in proper perspective. Things got more interesting for me in that part, as Parker goes beyond those fundamentals taught in Art 1 or in on-line tutorials.

Overall, the site has definitely been worth the money to me for the month, and I’ll probably extend it another month to watch a few more classes. Parker and Terry work well together, though it’s time for me to watch courses from other instructors, too. The Photoshop-centric courses won’t be of much use to me, but there are still lots of other topics to look at.

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