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Old 01-30-2018, 07:13 PM
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ThatAussieGeek ThatAussieGeek is offline
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Why does illustration look like illustration?

I've taught myself to paint over the last ten years or so using everything from watercolours to oils, and I'm not bad. I've now come to a place where I understand that the style I most want to produce is a more illustrative look. I'm attaching examples of two pieces that very well demonstrate what I mean. The first is a comic book panel from "Onibi" by Atelier Sento, and the second is two sketches by Hiromasa Yonebayashi for "The Secret World of Arrietty" by Studio Ghibli. They're representational, but clearly look like illustration or animation.

Here's my dilemma; even after months of poring over works like these and doing many studies of them (which end up looking quite similar), I still can't get my head around what makes them look like illustration as opposed to realism, so when I try to produce something of my own, it's still looking closer to realism (the third attachment, the lighthouse, is a recent example).

Where am I going wrong? All I really need is a clue of what I should be trying to adjust in my work. Are my lines too straight? My colours too intense? Too much detail?

Sorry, I realise that when talking of style it's easy to get into "how long is a piece of string" type arguments, but at this point I'm open to any insights as to how to move closer to the style I adore so much. (There are plenty more examples of recent work in my Instagram if that helps - link in sig).

Thanks,
Lindsay
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Old 02-01-2018, 10:02 AM
otherworlder otherworlder is offline
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Re: Why does illustration look like illustration?

Hi Lindsay, I think your lighthouse looks fine stylistically for an illustration. In fact I think it has that illustrated look, with simplified shapes, line and wash, and clean colors. Also, illustrated books and comic books can be very realistic in style. Two examples that immediately jump to mind are how James Gurney illustrated the Dinotopia series, and Alex Ross's comic book runs. Here is an example from Ross.



I think this kind of style might not be practical for a regular comic book production timeline, but there is nothing saying you can't.
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Old 02-02-2018, 06:42 PM
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Re: Why does illustration look like illustration?

Thanks for this. I realise my question is very open but you've actually clarified something by saying simplified shapes and clean colours. When I look back at the art I admire, I realise that the colours in particular are quite flat - light, shadow, occlusion, highlight - but within those areas there's very little variation. Thanks for getting me another step closer
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Old 02-05-2018, 11:30 AM
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Re: Why does illustration look like illustration?

Like other technologies, the history of the ability to print pictures has gone through an evolution, from Gutenberg- like woodcuts, to etching, to camera color separation of various fineness. When pictures are made for mass production, they must be printed, and so you need to work with the printing technology available to you. I think that the genre of comic book was based on the ability of older newspaper printing set-ups (this goes for old Marvel's. DC's and other brands). Now, the ability to print is not based as much on the whole dot-patterns, and more "high fidelity" used in nearly photographic glossy magazine-style printing, using other technology of color separation is possible. However since the flat and simple style is the genre's "thing" to say it simply, most illustrators stick with that. Pictures really need no "embellishing." The style you do is generally the one (or near the one, with artistic license involved), that is traditional to your genre. For instance, wildlife artists, render minute detail, whereas impressionists use bold and unhinged brush strokes and colors untrue to the object they depict (if that makes sense).

I am more school of Frank Frazetta, so I actually like the more realistic style, but I respect others of different schools as well. You do what you feel that is the artists way. Never get forced into a hole if you do not belong there.
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Old 02-05-2018, 06:56 PM
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Re: Why does illustration look like illustration?

Thanks Katy. Frazetta was great, and I really liked Vallejo and Royo too -- but holy cow could those guys draw and paint. I've got no delusions about ever being in that league!

You're quite right though; "do what you feel". Heading towards an illustration/comic style is my way of reacting to how serious and ugly the "real world" seems to be becoming. I just came looking for a little guidance on what makes that style look the way it does, and I got it
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Old 02-05-2018, 07:47 PM
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Re: Why does illustration look like illustration?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThatAussieGeek
Thanks Katy. Frazetta was great, and I really liked Vallejo and Royo too -- but holy cow could those guys draw and paint. I've got no delusions about ever being in that league!

You're quite right though; "do what you feel". Heading towards an illustration/comic style is my way of reacting to how serious and ugly the "real world" seems to be becoming. I just came looking for a little guidance on what makes that style look the way it does, and I got it

Well, you look at it this way: In the 1840's or 50's (I believe) the aniline dyes were created in chemistry labs. Prior to that, it was natural pigments made from clays, minerals, burnt bone etc. Once aniline dyes were invented, they moved to carpet makers, fabric and textile makers, and once the ability to create lead tubes (like toothpaste tubes) occurred, and the aniline dyes were used in paint manufacture, that led to the impressionist era, Van Gough and all of that. In Egyptian times, glass was more precious than gemstones. I can't imagine art without pencils, and yet there was a time, and not so long ago.
When I was young I knew Raymond Johnson, a famous New Mexican painter. He told me that in the 1930's when a person went to art school, the first thing they learned was how to make a paint-brush.
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Old 02-21-2018, 09:36 AM
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Re: Why does illustration look like illustration?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThatAussieGeek
Thanks Katy. Frazetta was great, and I really liked Vallejo and Royo too -- but holy cow could those guys draw and paint. I've got no delusions about ever being in that league!

You're quite right though; "do what you feel". Heading towards an illustration/comic style is my way of reacting to how serious and ugly the "real world" seems to be becoming. I just came looking for a little guidance on what makes that style look the way it does, and I got it


Those guys know the classic knowledge like the palm of their hands. Frazetta could teach muscular-skeletal anatomy to most doctors I knew. To achieve that level of excellence you need to learn a lot about what you are drawing/painting.
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Old 03-17-2018, 11:25 PM
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Re: Why does illustration look like illustration?

As a 30 year professional illustrator, the simple answer is, "I don't know."

What I do know, is that you have a style that is unique only to you and by constant practice and exercise, like an athlete or musician, you'll eventually begin to find that the style will emerge on its own.

For example, I loved the work of Jack Kirby, R. Crumb, and Jack Davis growing up. But, for whatever reason, I do not draw like them. I can try to emulate their style, but no matter what - it always looks like "me."

Knowing and respecting your style is vital, especially when your style outgrows you and needs to change, slightly, to become better and more signature.

Just my 2˘. Best wishes!
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Old 04-14-2018, 11:01 PM
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Re: Why does illustration look like illustration?

Lots of interesting info on this thread.
Oh my 2 cents worth Michael Whelan is my favorite, are book covers Illustration?
I think so!
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Old 04-18-2018, 12:45 PM
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Re: Why does illustration look like illustration?

I have recently come to the same realisation as you Lindsay (just realised I follow you on Instagram - please, no more painting in the nude photo's!).
Like you, I also studied a lot of illustrations and came to the conclusion that - for the most part - traditional illustration work had "colours in particular are quite flat - light, shadow, occlusion, highlight". There was very little bounced light, reflected colours, etc. As others have said, however, there are a great many "illustration" styles and this is not a rule.

By the way, take a look at omarrayyanart on Instagram and be prepared to throw your paint supplies out the window!
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Old 04-18-2018, 07:42 PM
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Re: Why does illustration look like illustration?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lensman
please, no more painting in the nude photo's!

Heh, that was referencing Felix from Orphan Black, but I don't think anybody got it. Perhaps I'm the only one who liked that show! What's your Instagram name? I follow and unfollow so many people (depending on my current level of artistic depression).

Quote:
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By the way, take a look at omarrayyanart on Instagram and be prepared to throw your paint supplies out the window!

I so routinely have the urge to throw my art supplies out the window that I had non-removable screens installed. (OK, so really, it was to stop the cat clawing his way out, but it was a handy side-benefit )
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Old 04-19-2018, 11:17 AM
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Re: Why does illustration look like illustration?

Haha.... missed that because I never watched Orphan Black.

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Old 04-19-2018, 03:26 PM
Shimiharu Shimiharu is offline
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Re: Why does illustration look like illustration?

I think it can be quite difficult to distinguish art and illustration sometimes. I suppose there are works when it's just how the artist themselves perceive it that matters and makes the difference.

Nonetheless, your lighthouse does look very illustrative to me and I especially like the clean colours. ^^

EDIT: Also cool to meet someone who also knows about Orphan Black. I kinda just watch it with my sister and have no one else to discuss it with.
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