Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Making of Arms & Ether - Learning/Stealing From The Best - Dan Clowes

Shower Power: Arms & Ether (left) as cribbed from Dan Clowes' Ghost World (right).

In my first Arms and Ether comic I needed to draw a shower scene. To get a clue, I looked back at Dan Clowes' Ghost World. Ooh steamy. Here are a few of the many things I got from Clowes:

a. The tile pattern is not carried through the entire wall. If it did so, the tile would interfere with the shower curtain pattern.

b. That's a big expansive shower that they're in, and it's probably not a "realistic" depiction of what the shower in Enid's place would look like. The audience, however, won't notice this, and the bigger shower makes the shot easier to stage and "read." Clowes creates a shower that suits his visual narrative purpose without being distracting or cluttered.

c. The shower curtain reads very clearly as a shower curtain without being painstakingly rendered as a distracting, overly realistic shower curtain.

d. The water coming out of the shower head and onto the bodies is also very clearly and cleanly stylized.

e. If you look at the man's hands in Clowes' shot, they're surprisingly cartoony.  I've looked at this panel hundreds of times and only notice it when I'm analyzing his drawing method. I didn't notice the goofy hands when I was reading the book straight through. It's a great example of economy and method in drawing comics--staging and clarity first. No need to go all Albrecht Durer on us!

If you look closely (Highlights magazine!) you'll see I left out several Clowes details in my version -- the shower curtain rings, the shading on the shower head, the left hand wall, etc. I did this because my panel was smaller and was feeling cluttered. Since I have a looser, rougher style than Clowes, I scuffed my drawing up a bit to match my overall approach.