Volume 4 Page 110
Posted May 18, 2018 at 12:01 am

Panel 1: While I rather like this shot of Emp, I’m not all that thrilled with her lower abdomen. Her midriff isn’t quite sliding into Mysteriously Intermittent Post-Millennial Torso Glitch territory, but does lack the reality-based content I’ve slowly, ever so slowly picked up over the last 1.5 years of semi-daily life drawing frequently involving female torsos.

I should clarify that artistic (ahem) “realism” per se isn’t the point of such practice; instead, I was just growing weary of recycling the same ol’ visual riffs in my artwork, and wanted to try something newer and fresher than just regurgitating my default conceptualization of an idealized superheroic midriff.

Panel 2: Why, its our old friend, “the profile cheat!” That’s my term for the notably cartoony riff I like to use, in which we see a foreground (or “FG”) character in profile as they respond to a background (“BG”) character. This is a “cheat” because, technically, here Emp isn’t directly facing the Grant-A-Wish® lady; in a more (ahem) “realistic” approach, Emp’s face should be turned away from the camera and towards the other woman, but then I wouldn’t be able to work an Emp facial expression into this shot. 

I’ve long felt that my art style is just cartoonishly stylized enough for this cheat to work, as I believe that the artificiality of the shot would be much more obvious with more reality-based artwork. (Side note: Back in 30s and 40s American cinema, “two-shots” of pairs of characters in conversation were often composed similarly, with the actors standing at 3/4 angles to the camera while talking, so the viewer could see them both clearly at the same time. Looks good, sorta, but does seem weirdly contrived once you notice the riff in use.)

That said, after many years of working the ol’ profile cheat, I’ve gradually started to wean myself from its use, and am increasingly trying to roll with the ol’ “back of the head” angle for FG characters reacting to BG elements. Why, you ask? Well, gotta admit that the artificiality and contrived nature of the cheat is starting to bug me more and more nowadays, even if the technique does allow for more (facially) expressive storytelling. (Not sure if the aforementioned life drawing has triggered this dissatisfaction or not, though.)

-Adam Warren

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