Sunday, February 18, 2007
Reference and Emotion
I have used quite a bit or reference material in the making or Rose and Isabel and now Cora, but I must admit I'm not using enough. Too often I find myself trying to wing it and ending up with results that are inferior to what I could have come up with had I used reference.
Take the pic above for example; this was one of the ones I used to help me represent the anguish expressed by the two sisters in the Rose and Isabel book. Often times there is a tendency to rely on stock expressions or preconceived notions of what emotions look like on the face and they tend to be one dimensional. When someone is sad or crying, do the eyebrows always tilt back and the mouth point downward into a clownlike frown? Not really. It's very complex what happens when the face contorts to represent emotions. What I noticed about the expression above is that the eyebrows are pointing down, as if on an angry face, the mouth curls in both directions, up and down, almost adding a bit of an odd smile to the mix and the hair is falling across as well; details that would not necessarily have occured to me had I not looked at this film still.
These combinations are not only just true of the extreme emotions either; a subtle face can convey any number of complex feelings. The slightest tilt in an eyebrow (and I'm not talking the cocked eyebrow combined with the slightly crooked smile that you see on a million character's faces when they say "hey baby, what's happenin'?"); the slightest tilt of an eybrow or lilt of a head or how the eyelids are (specifically the bottom lid) can mean a TON of things; most of which are combinations of emotions that don't fall into the general categories.
When I was drawing the comics, I tried very hard to avoid purely happy,sad,angry, etc. faces. There is something behind those emotions that bring them to the front -- is the anger caused by frustration? boredom? ego? I try to find out what it is before putting it on the face and using reference is a great way to acheive it.
Here is an early sketch of Rose holding her brother at the end of the story that I really liked, but this particular shot never made its way into the final book.