It's amazing what a difference style makes to a work. One can use the same drawing technique and basic design approach and yet come up with three completely different looks that almost appear to be from three different people all because of a change in style.
Style has a huge influence on a work. It it the first thing that the viewer notices. It's a close tie between style and subject for the major reason someone is drawn into a work. A unique enough style can even cover up a multitude of artistic blunders and weaknesses, at least for a short time.
And yet style also puts a work into a pigeon hole which both creates and limits the audience and potential uses for a work. Ironic.
The three illustrations above were all drawn with different tools and colored with different programs in different styles. My overall drawing style still pulls them together as being done by me because it is pretty strong and distinct, and yet there is some nice variety and experimentation going on.
Most of the time I post sketches and works in progress, but I thought I'd mix things up and post something I actually get paid for. Below is a poster I designed for a client on the west coast for his lobby. Enjoy!
A century ago the newspaper was THE source of information and entertainment for most Americans. During the first half of the 20th Century, papers were featured a large and glorious comics section filled with some of the greatest illustration at the time such at The Phantom by Lee Falk, Flash Gordon by Alex Raymond, Wash Tubss & Captain Easy and Buz Sawyer by Roy Crane, Terry & the Pirates and Steve Canyon by Milt Caniff, The Spirit by Will Eisner, Krazy Kat by George Harriman, Dick Tracy by Chester Gould, and so much more. Each day readers could follow the beautifully rendered adventures in glorious black & white.
Today, sadly, papers are a dying bread and the few comics they carry are pretty rough and amateurish gags by comparison. But they don't have to be. Thanks to the Internet, daily comics have a new home and a chance to find a new audience. And without the limitations of print and size, they have the ability to blaze new trails. But they also have the ability to take what was great about the past and build upon it.
The two daily strips above were inspired by the brilliant Buz Sawyer comic from the master of daily comics, Roy Crane. I've never really worked with any sort of patterned greyscale before. It really adds a different look. Just one more of my many experiments.
It doesn't take an eagle eye to spot the differences between the two illustrations above. One is colored with blue and the other is full color. So, which one is better? Which one is right? That's not an easy question to answer.
Color has been a part of art since the first work of art was created. Throughout history, its use has largely been dictated by the technology. Oil painters were limited to whatever colors they could make and mix with the materials they could find. Printers were limited to whatever colors their presses could produce, first just black and then slowly adding more and more colors until full color was feasible.
Today artists have more options available than ever. With that blessing comes a curse--too many colors to choose from. It's caused many artists to become lazy. During times when color is limited, one has to think and design much more carefully about how to render the work. This extra thought and effort shows thru and is one reason why old illustrations hold up so well. But when every color under the rainbow is available, some people are like kids in a candy shop and make themselves sick eating too much (and the viewer as well).
The advantage of the first illustration with a monochromatic scheme (blue plus black and white so technically there are three colors) is its simplicity. It's easier to read and communicates more clearly, because there are fewer colors to distract the viewer. Also, black and white art has the advantage of being visual text in that people can more easily read it like they read black and white text. That's one reason the black and white daily comic strips in newspapers are so effective, they clearly communicate the concept. The disadvantage is it isn't as pretty and therefore not as eye catching. It requires more effort from the viewer to notice and appreciate. Of course, that usually leads to a higher caliber of viewer.
The advantage of the second is it is prettier and attracts more attention. The disadvantage is there is so much going on that the message isn't as clear. Sometimes that isn't a problem when the message is a feeling or emotion conveyed largely thru the colors.
To decide which color scheme you should use, you need to first determine the purpose of the art work and who you want to see it. (You should probably consider how the final product will be delivered as technology will dictate your options, but you should consider that at the beginning when initially conceptualizing the work.)
Each year I create a Christmas card and send it out to family and friends. Then I started adding it to my website. And now I share it on my blog and social media.
This year's card was inspired by the dressed up shop windows that lined a town's main street stores. The beginning of A Christmas Story is probably most people's experience considering how everything has gone to shopping malls, discount stores, and online shopping.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe were some of my favorite toys growing up, so I had to include them in this year's card.