Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Studio Mirror

Here's a studio tip.

This full-length mirror is about 24 inches wide by 5 feet tall, made from heavy plate glass. I got it at a yard sale. I attached it to a plywood panel with a wood moulding around it. The whole panel is firmly screwed to the wall of the studio with a very strong piano hinge along the left-hand side. This allows the mirror to be swung out from the wall at any angle.

I use this mirror in two ways. First, since it is about ten feet behind my drawing table, I can look back to check the reflection of a work in progress. In this way I can quickly spot any flaws in the drawing, and I can see if the tonal organization carries from a long distance.

Before I hung it on the wall, I used to put a big mirror on an easel behind me, but I backed up into (and broke) a couple that way.

I also use the mirror for quick preliminary studies like this one, where I posed for a figure carrying a bunch of bananas (I was too lazy to get real models). I took the pose, studied the action, and established the basics. The American illustrator Tom Lovell suggested this idea to me.
Thanks, BoingBoing for doing a post yesterday about "My Friend the Cave Man," and thanks, Kyle, for telling me about it (I was literally staying in a log cabin in Ithaca cut off from everything for the last three days).


Jason Peck said...

Hey James,

Very nice idea, I have a mirror about the same size. Ill have to give this a try. My mirror has always leaned against the wall.

Did you screw the piano hinge into the wall stud?

Super Villain said...

haha, so that wasnt the real james gurney posting a comment to my question, haha...

so does this mean there really wont be a future post on the fire and ice movie? and your not really a fan of MAD magaizine......dang! haha

Ramon said...

That's a really nice study, it looks like one of Cornwell's preliminaries!

Setting up the mirror is a great idea, it must be nice to have it in the studio though. A few months ago I got nothing but weird looks after people saw me posing and drawing in front of a mirror in our animation room :)

Paolo Rivera said...

I do the same thing, but I use a plexiglass mirror. That way, if I back up into it (which I do) the results aren't disastrous. I also keep a tripod handy to take pictures of myself in the mirror so I don't have to hold the pose forever.

SCIBOTIC said...

Wow Wu-Man, what an astonishing display of patience.

Thanks you James for the wonderful blog, I've learnt absolute tons and it's a real inspiration to me.

If you don't mind, I'm having trouble learning to simplify my tones and palette because I grew up on digital, where without consequences I could just play a balancing act with the colours and values until I found something pleasing. I was wondering if you had any suggestions as to what I could study so I could stop playing this little guessing game of mine?

Doodle.nl said...

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dragonladych said...

Funny I also do that.

Sometimes I simply take a digital photo of my drawing, and seeing it as a thumbnail on the camera's screen is enough to reveal the more striking errors or "unbalanced" parts.

James Gurney said...

I'd suggest trying some painting in gouache. Although the colors shift a bit when they dry, the medium forces you to make quick, accurate, and final decisions in color.

Ramon, don't let them make you feel weird. As you know, making faces in mirrors has a noble tradition in animation.

Super-Wu: It might be weeks before I get around to posting about Fire and Ice. Please be patient. And yes, I'm a MAD nut!

Dragonladych: Good idea. I have friends who do that for plein air sketches. Also a reducing glass (a special kind of lens) is also a similar help.

Jason: Yes, the piano hinge is a super strong hinge that runs the full vertical length of the mirror, and it has to be screwed or bolted strongly and directly to a stud.

Super Villain said...

yeah i appologize, i thought i was clear in my post when i said "future"?

i was only joking around, thats where all the "haha's" came in, haha.

i'm happy with any post from mr gurney, fire and ice, or about the sex appeal of a caveman...i'm happy, sorry buddies...