What the eff are you looking at

Guest article by R(ed) of Meiosis.

First things first:

I am not an artist. My comic draws itself.

If you have ever asked someone “How do I improve my art” you will get the fair and reasonable answer that’s something along the lines of drawing from real life. Sure it might be landscapes, or nudes, or even your pets, and it’s good advice.

But I want you to consider the things that are unreal.

Looked at the right way, this could be just about anything. Neo-future paradise beacon: just add imagination.

Do you remember when you were a child, when a small abstract blob of Lego became a person, or a shape, something with a name? Have you ever stared at a floor tile pattern and not seen cement but roads, or rivers of an alien landscape? Before you had toys, do you remember when a barrel on its side became a tunnel or cave?

They still are.

What is different is our interpretation and understanding. As we get older, our imagination wanes. The Lego bricks become just Lego, floor tiles are just that, tiles. That barrel probably breaks a few government health and safety laws…

But that understanding brings limitation, because while we need to get into that habit to survive into adulthood, I would gather it’s difficult to find inspiration from the mundane. Want to draw a gun? Find a gun. Want to draw a house? Find a house. It’s not bad practice to do just that. But what if I want to draw a gun that looks like the Lovecraftian horrors of the Eldritch Wars would wield it? Or a house that the Giant Land frogs of Tara-Menkroosh would live in?

We can use our imaginations reasonably well to create work from scratch and I will repeat again that there is nothing wrong with doing so. But as artists, and webcomickers we are not limited to an obvious way of looking at the world. A chain can represent an orbital cluster, a groove becomes a canyon, a single sheet of paper (of low quality) looks like nothing else when seen close up. For me, it’s not abstract, but taking what information we want and interpreting it into something new and more importantly, it works for an unusual detail, a sense of relevance to a prop or even a character that makes it unique.

Try it yourself when you’re stuck for inspiration, don’t look at an object and identify it by name, stare at its shape, or its colour or its texture. Feel it and roll it around in your hands and let your mind wonder over what it could be.

Take a look at the picture and tell me. What do you see?

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