Friday, September 5, 2014

Sponge Test

The backgrounders at Hanna Barbera understood one thing very well: you draw with shapes.  They don't have to be fancy, they don't even have to be accurate.  They do, though, have to be assertive.  Declarative shapes.  Shapes that say: this is something!

So a-learning I must go, meaning I looked for the simplest most Art Lozzi (or Art Lozzi-like) background I could find... and I think I found it here:
First of all, Yogi and Cindy Bear are sitting on a blue log.  A blue log!  What's with the blue log?  Because here's the point: it doesn't matter what color it is, it doesn't matter that logs are normally brown (or grayish brown)... what matters is that this simple shape leaves no doubt in your mind.  It's a log!!

That's the lesson... and the genius... of early 60's era HB.  Simple, declarative shapes that backgrounders could paint all day but leaving no doubt in your mind, no confusion, as to what they were trying to convey.  It's might be a blue log but what we see is "log."  Period.

Second, notice that most the background detail isn't painted but sponged.  Now, that's a tricky one for me and it took me awhile to understand how to do it (I never claimed to be the smartest guy on the planet).

Again, because the shapes are simple and declarative, the sponging technique suits them well.  It adds texture; it makes things interesting.  So I tried it - but removing Yogi and Cindy Bear; and I didn't bother with the foreground flowers - and by relocating that log I came up with this:
Not exact but pretty similar to the original.  Doesn't that just scream Hanna Barbera?

For this exercise I didn't knock myself out trying to duplicate the color of the background objects.  Instead I sponged them with black Cel-Vinyl and then re-adjusted the color in Photoshop.  I would have done that in SketchBook Pro but the hue adjuster in that program is pretty wimpy in comparison to Photoshop's.

The sky was painted in gouache but I wonder if that was worth the effort (not to mention the paint and the paper?)  I could have easily simply filled a layer with that background color.

There's something strangely satisfying about putting shapes to paper and watching them become a composition.  I intend to do some more of that.

Mmm.  Good.  Stay tuned.

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