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Bob Tupper, in his prime, is a good example of an artist who gets the balance right. This drawing is full of life and energy with great spontaneous, calligraphic lines and interesting contrasting shapes. The characters have life and personality and are interacting convincingly. The guy clearly just woke up with a hangover.
All of it reads instantly and most importantly it’s just really fun to look at. Your eye follows all the cool s-curves and flowing lines and strange shapes- but none of it is haphazard. The figures exist in space with clear perspective- see the guys feet planted on the ground plane, the cabinets- even the woman’s butt.
He could’ve spent more time working out details like hands and feet but it wouldn’t have improved the drawing and may have even killed the flow and stiffened the figures.
I remember when I did this illustration a few years back that I was going through a very difficult transitional period with my drawings. If you look at my earlier Lily & Flinch drawings (like the ones posted below and in the Lily & Flinch book) they are full of snap and flow and energy- but they are pretty freakish and have really poor construction and perspective. This always frustrated me and I became determined to correct it.
With this cowgirl cover I was trying to give each shape a really solid volume and construction- which unfortunately resulted in a very stiff and lifeless drawing. The shapes have a certain solidity but they don’t flow gracefully into each other. Shapes are thick and parallel when they should flow and taper. The proportions lack contrast and most importantly the drawing lacks life and feeling.
To me, these “before and after” Lily drawings really show the difference between drawing quickly with feeling and emotion (my earlier “right brain” approach) and more careful drawing with more thinking, planning, and construction (this cowgirl cover.)
Both are necessary to do a successful drawing and while I’ve come a long way from this stiff illustration I’m still trying to find the right balance while working to get back some of that wild energy of my earlier work.