Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Trouble With Faces

I just realized why at times it's been so difficult for me to ease into the "children's" genre. It's all in the faces. One of the first things I remember discovering for myself about art, when I was young, is that eyes aren't round, or even almond-shaped. No two people have eyes that are quite the same shape, have the same folds and the same expression. Next came noses. From that first upside-down 7 that we learned to draw, to some of the horrible in-between attempts at figuring out how to draw nostrils, to being able to accurately describe the schnoz. Same with lips, ears, smiles, frowns, hair, and on and on.

It took a long time to figure out how to turn this:

Into this:

While these revelations are great for a portrait-painter, they can sometimes hinder a children's-book artist. Not that I'm saying that art for children must be cartoony- I've seen plenty of beautifully realistic children's book art. But due to the demands of the genre, sometimes simplicity is called for. Sometimes you just can't spend your whole day filling pages with beautiful portraits of children- that doesn't make for very good storytelling. And sometimes you don't want a beautiful portrait of a child- sometimes it's just not what the story needs.

It took me a long time to realize that there can be a time and a place for this, as well:

By the way, I don't know where these images came from, just found them on Google. I did not create any of them.

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