Saturday, December 9, 2017

What about that rule?

Art by Dean Cornwell, a "grandstudent" of Pyle
Limn asks:
"Given that you are a huge fan of Howard Pyle (as am I!) there is the principle that he and many illustrators since have talked about. The principle regarding limiting a piece to 2 or 3 (or Loomis' 4) values and having a piece have stopping power from several yards away. However, there are many pictures where this is not the case."

Art by Piotr Jablonski

"I am attaching one such example by Piotr Jablonski (who is PHENOMENAL). He tends to use very heavy shadows and condensed values. So is this an example of what Loomis talks about with a value structure that is low key? Or is this example I have provided simply breaking the Howard Pyle rule? If so, when do you think this is an appropriate strategy/structure to utilize?"

Hi, Limn,
Wow, that is a very striking and memorable image, and you're right: it doesn't really follow the Pyle / Loomis rule. This one is successful, but maybe not so much in a poster-like way. It seems to depend on mystery and suggestion, achieved through gradation and close values. The values are definitely low key as you say, and the image would probably work best when not surrounded by bright white computer screen.

I suppose the lesson here is that the Pyle rule works for making a certain kind of picture, but maybe not for all kinds of pictures. So my advice is to learn all the tricks, be sensitive to how they affect you emotionally, then have them in your toolkit for when you need them.
Previously: Cure for Middle Value Mumbling
Loomis's Scheme for Value Organization


Smurfswacker said...

Another point to consider is that during the time both Loomis and Pyle were working, catching they eye (especially from afar) was what illustration was all about. Many old illustrators talked about selling "the poster."The illustration had to stand out from the visual clutter, instantly grab the reader's eye and (hopefully) get him or her to linger long enough to read the story or consider buying the product. For that reason most pictures had a strong narrative element.

A lot of concept art serves different purposes. It might set out simply to explain to a client what something looks like or to express the mood of a scene. It's still a selling job, and it still must make its point quickly. But it doesn't always need to sell a narrative. Sometimes it's more important to be evocative. You might say concept art is created for a "friendlier" audience. Unlike the general public, the client wants in advance to look at what you're offering (this doesn't mean clients are any "friendlier" if they don't like what they see!). The old "poster" theory might not apply here, though it still would for things like book covers.

Mel Gibsokarton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Pianta said...

Perhaps I don't understand the principles being referred to (although I did read Creative Illustration), but it seems to me that this image might be fit into a three or four value conception pretty readily, unless we're saying that the values need to have a certain distance between them. The light-lights would be the two bright windows on the nearest "building". The light grays are the main areas of light on the whale, buildings and ground. The dark grays are the smokey background way in the distance and the blacks are the main areas of shadow on the whale and buildings. Compared to Pyle and Loomis though, he is working in a very close value range. (which certainly lends a striking mood to the image). Is that enough to violate the rule?

arturoquimico said...

Was wondering if this might be a topic of interest... When I do pencil portraits I don't have much trouble with the male portrait... good lines, dark shadows... use about 5 shades of gray; but when doing a female pencil sketch... I struggle with pencil... if too dark, she looks "sunburned" or if the chin shadow is too dark, it looks like she has 5 o'clock shadow... if the corner of the lip is too dark, it looks like she was spitting tobacco... any advice on how to best judge values on the female portrait when doing value studies, pencil sketches?

Robert said...

That Dean Cornwell has a really interesting look to it, but it's kind of a flat, kaleidoscopic effect on the picture plane. The Jablonski painting has a ton of depth to it where it looks like there is a huge amount of space in the picture going into the distance.

So, maybe it's based on what kind of effect someone wants their picture to have. A striking, flat, visual pattern on the flat picture plane, or a picture with a lot of space and depth. Both are really interesting, just in different ways.