Saturday, January 29, 2011

Beowulf; Somebody Else Knew There Was More Story.

I've FINALLY figured out what bugs me about "Beowulf."  It's an Excuse Tale, like an American western:  what the invading society tells itself as it wipes out the locals.  I KNEW it was true because there is a "Mother," and "son;" those are signs of a news report.  

I'm not a very good reporter myself, or at least not in the modern AP style.  But struggling to be a freelancer has taught me where the seed in a story is hidden. 

There is such hate for these obviously nonexistent characters -- there are, after all, no demons from hell or dragons or sea-hags or sea-serpents -- such ego-pumping, long-told and long-developed, that it's probably representing repeated ancestral behavior.

If anything, it's the conquest-tale of the Indo-Europeans as they take out the European locals, especially any that refused to accept defeat or hid or resisted.  You Finns and Hungarians may be proud you've still got your language after the ancestral Beowulf gang got done with you.

The dragon?  We've all got a little file in our basic mammal brain that pops up an image of the 3-foot dinosaur that used to gobble us up by the millions over the millenia.  Scare a heron and you will see it, yellow with green stripes.  Some of our tiny mouse-sized ancestors escaped the long toothy jaws, and felt the hot breath.

Proof that dinosaurs were hot-blooded?  That Grendel really was the last of a tribe?  I'm just asking, and wondering.

Oh, the comment on this post reminded me:  I just saw a really fun movie based on a rethink of the old story:  Beowulf and GrendelDon't miss the special features and the commentary.

And OF COURSE a there's a lot of pissing in it -- there's a lot of GUYS in it.  That's the most reasonable way of getting a torch down a cliff I've ever seen.  And the funniest.  There's a law in movies: if it comes in from out or moves out of the sides, it reads as funny.  How ELSE would you get a torch down a cliff if all you had to descend was a knot rope?  I bet they found that out by accident.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Stinz to the Rescue

Cartoonists Northwest auctions art at their Toonies Awards banquets.  They need funding right now.  Like most artists, I got more art than cash, so offered to do them some art for the banquet.

Bidding for this piece starts at $200.00 -- I'll be posting more details once they get them to me.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How to Draw a Horse -- The Short Version

Note on Facebook, and thread:  Get your team-leader to hire me to supervise the horse jobs. Why? When your movie comes out w/badly-drawn horses, it says to the female audience "This crap is good enough for YOU," and WE DON'T SHARE THE MOVIE WITH OUR FRIENDS. Girls go on WORD OF MOUTH. Can we say "TITANIC?" or "TWILIGHT?"

Okay, quick horse-drawing course: 
"A horse is a box with a leg at each corner."
Its front "knees" are its wrists; its back "knees" are its heels (hocks). 
It's walking on its fingernails. 
The neck is a springy flat curve.
The head is a parallelogram, w/long crocodile jaws inside (joint under the ears, not under the chin). 
The tail has bone & meat in it, like a dog's tail.
It has a big belly, viewed from above. 
It can take 10 lbs out meat out of you at a bite.
The hind-leg kick releases the same level of energy as a hand-grenade explosion (the leg extended by a movement of the upper hip-joint, lashing out the entire limb).

With this in mind, go watch moving horses on YouTube, and see if you don't improve.  Send me your pictures or links and I'll post 'em here.

Okay?  No more excuses, like that mess in the movie Beowulf.  And THEY had real horses, for crying out loud, and they still managed to produce marshmallow horses.  

First submission, from Wendy Parker, an old friend, army buddy, and now civil engineer assigned to obscure posts in the snows of Alaska:

Wendy's notes: 

"I know you are not supposed to teach us dweebs about drawing  for free, but since you gave some advice, I attempted to do what you said.
"Here it is after three hours of erasing.  The hardest part was the head, and the legs, getting them the right length. Not sure how I did on that.  Anyway, here is my horse with a stick up his butt.  I think I did his tail okay though....from the spine."

My critique:  "Your first horse?  Nice, solid weight on the earth, excellent work on the feet.  And yes, that IS the hardest part, getting the legs right.  The head is very nice.

Remember there's a dog-like tail under that hair.  And that everything a horse does with the ears and tail is a language, and they have many different positions.   The heavy, straight hair flows around the tail as it whips about.

I'd say this horse is calm, but with some ambivalence; that ear and the slight switching of the tail telegraph emotion very well."

I should point out Wendy has owned horses; being around real ones helps.  All these notes may help you understand your own process of learning to draw.

Next step:
Wendy:  "I did what you said and looked up a page on drawing horses.  My goal was to draw a horse with his head down like he was sniffing for grass. I found this site that dealt with the horses muscles and skeleton. Anyway, it still took forever, and, I'm not sure about the legs.  They look better than they did because they reminded me of Gumby or that super hero that stretches lol!. I don't think any of your friends would believe that I couldn't draw a decent horse before.  I thought maybe the neck wasn't long enough, but the way the horses head is tilted meant it should look shorter because she is looking this way.  Am I right?  I thought about the back leg, and it occurred to me that it looked like a leg bent at the knee and the hoof was a foot.  So when I approached it that way, it came out better.  I know I have a long way to go, and I'm not sure I will even go there, but I did what I did.  Nifty eh?"

My critique: "Here's another drawing hint:  stew a chicken, then slowly pull off the meat, paying attention to all muscle masses and bones.  Most muscles and bones are the same -- evolution is a very simple tool-box we all dip back down into (we have a lizard collar-bone, for example). The neck is exceptionally well done for a first tie.  Pat yourself on the back! REMEMBER; the horse walks on a single fingernail and the hock is YOUR heel, and the knee is up against the body.  The rest of the leg is "buried" in the quarters.  Remember there are bones under these forms.  Think of them as rebar.  To draw a hock, feel your own heel and ankle."