Thursday, June 25, 2015

Painting "Brownies" Comic Characters

In this mini trailer segment from "Gouache in the Wild" (Link to YouTube) I visit the antique toy collection of Mel Birnkrant to paint his "Brownies" candy containers in acryla gouache in a Pentalic 5x8 inch watercolor journal.

I'm fascinated by the character design from a century ago. They have a sort of eager mania with their big eyes and effervescent smiles. Who can resist those cute Kewpies with their eyes coyly turned aside, and the bouyant little Brownies. No wonder, they were designed by top artists of their day. 

The Brownies were created by Palmer Cox (1840–1924) starting in the 1880s. They were all little men, and they included standard types of that era: Uncle Sam, the Cowboy, the Policeman, the Sailor, the German, and the Chinaman. Brownies were some of the first mass-merchandised characters, and the Kodak "Brownie" camera was named after them.

It's one thing to look at these antique toys, but quite another to paint their portraits. Painting physical character toys is one of the best exercises for artists who want to get better at character design, especially for 3D CG animation. 

Read more
The next best thing to sketching a real museum of toys is to check out Mel Birnkrant's phantasmagorical website, starting with the page on Kewpies and Brownies.

Own the 72-minute feature "Gouache in the Wild"
• HD MP4 Download at Gumroad $14.95
• or HD MP4 Download at Sellfy (for Paypal customers) $14.95
• DVD at Purchase at (Region 1 encoded NTSC video) $24.50


gyrusdentus said...

Nice work. But what i do not get: Why is it better to do a flat local color and then glaze? some dark over it in the middle figur
than to mix the different values directly and apply them wet on wet?
Wouldn ´t that get better value shifts?

HNK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MrCachet said...

I've used Brownies for a number of years now, and they're always a favorite! These are done with Prismacolor pencils and pen and ink, although I use gouache occasionally.

Nancy said...

Hi, gyrusdentus - I believe James demonstrates a variety of methods for applying gouache in the "Gouache in the Wild" video. Starting with flat local color was just the method used in this particular demo.

Willow's Quiet Corner said...

I apologize for being off-topic, but wanted to share a link with you that I think you may find interesting. I am amazed at all the different apps out there for creating digital art, but this one looks particularly interesting for creating digital watercolors.

I think I will always prefer working with paint and paper or canvas rather than digitally, but I also have a lot of respect for those who are able to do this digitally.