Sunday, March 02, 2014
THE LOST VOCABULARY OF VISUAL STORYTELLING, day 3
Before I go any further, I should emphasize that I am not talking about the mere ability to draw detailed, photographic pictures. Details are just as likely to be a liability as an asset in a picture. So it's time to talk about the importance of restraint in drawing.
In the following strip, Starr draws a conversation in the dark, between two silhouettes.
You won't find any unnecessary details such as fingernails, buttons or folds, just flat geometric shapes until we arrive at the single expression that Starr needs: that eyebrow raised in doubt. So the moon catches the character's face at that moment before returning to the shadows.
Artists with technical skills often find it hard to resist details, but there is no virtue in detail for its own sake. Today we see many popular comics with highly detailed drawings that amount to little more than a calamitous blizzard of lines. Unless an artist makes the choices necessary for prioritization, a drawing cannot cohere.
One reason I like Starr's drawings is his selective use of detail, his restraint of his great technical skill in the service of the picture.