I agree! I agree at obscene length. And now I agree in re-blogable form for convenience with some edits for clarity, underneath a cut.
A person in an instructional position should know better than that, for multiple reasons. One, the target of the image—who, for sake of argument, we shall call Ms.
Delores Haze b ecause who the fuck else draws exactly like that—has completely different priorities than a character designer. Two, there is a precedent set by extremely thoughtful, well respected people for the distillation and standarization of forms; this isn’t just a “newbie mistake”. Three, that that comic doesn’t actually tell you fuck about the necessity of variety, it just sets up a strawman (though in this case I hesitate to call it even that because the target is easily recognizable and identifiable) and shows a funny face at the end to get a reaction. The only message I can get from the comic is “amirite?”. I see the comic equivalent of a conspiratorial elbow and eyebrow wiggle from the author. There’s not an iota of didactic value, inherent or implied. I assume the artist would explain the image in detail in his/her actual lecture, but posting without this context makes it ineffective, indulgent, self-congratulatory and all around useless.
RE: the first reason:
Let’s just assume for the duration of this post that this was a targeted image and not that the style lampooned was coincidentally identical to a well known artist. Given how many people have had the same reaction-(i.e. “LOL is this about gingerhaze?”) I’d say that’s a pretty safe assumption to make. Ms. Haze is a cartoonist who uses a limited vocabulary and set of forms in the exact same way as a knock knock joke uses the same forms. Just like a knock knock joke, all you need to hear is “knock knock” to know what you’re getting into. The set up is not the point, it’s the delivery. When two dots, an L shape and a slash for a mouth is enough to convey the idea of “this is a face”, and when your goal is to just lay down the base information that one needs to read the joke before moving on, “same face disorder” is not only excusable, it’s economically ideal.
Haze is a cartoonist at heart, and her work either exploits pre-established notions about extant characters, or plays off of common fantastical tropes. Both of these things require little in the way of elaboration, they rely on familiarity. Ergo, familiar shapes and familiar forms are all that she needs to express what she needs to express. I’m not saying that all of her faces look exactly the same, but she does have a very consistent way of constructing her images and that’s just effin’ fine.
RE: The second:
I read an anecdote about Ernie Bushmiller, artist/illustrator of legendary comic strip Nancy, by way of Scott McCloud once. Went a little something like this, whenever Bushmiller needed to convey “some rocks”, he would always draw three lopsided circles. Reason being is that one circle would convey “one rock”, two would convey “a couple of rocks”, four would convey “some rocks” but it would be one more rock than is needed. Three’s enough. You don’t need to shade or delineate any further, three circle shapes in proximity to a line that reads as “the ground” will be enough to tell you everything you need to know about the surroundings.
For a cartoonist dealing with the challenge of economy VS. readability, it’s important to realize, like Bushmiller realized, that you don’t need all that much. Haze and others like her doesn’t even bother with backgrounds for her works based on existing properties, because if drawing a simplified outfit, a suggestion of an iconic hairdo is enough to suggest the setting then you don’t need to draw in anything else—unless it’s specifically there to support the joke. All one needs to draw to describe a bedroom is a bed, the reader fills in the rest.
This goes the same for any part of the comic, a bendy tube is enough to describe an arm, :-I is enough to describe a face, etc. Hell, webcomics like Order of the Stick and, I don’t know, the Wotch proves that even stick figures can connect with people regardless of artistic virtuosity or lack thereof. Human beings have a remarkable ability to anthropomorphize and extrapolate meaning from squiggles. The interpretation of abstracted shapes and symbols is how we read, it’s how we can even experience art in the first place. You can trust a sighted human human who is familiar with the language of emoticons to be able to decode :D as a happy face. People can not only decode that, they can relate with and find meaning or humor in those two simple characters, because that’s what humans do.
RE: Numba Three
I understand where the author of this… “handout”, I guess… is coming from. Seeing the same face over and over again can get dull, if that’s all anyone ever does and if there is no content beyond that! In character design, appearance IS the content so that’s a completely valid criticism—but again that’s not what Haze is going for. To go out of one’s way to pick on a style that has no actual relevance to one’s own vocation is not helpful critique, it’s just jackassery. A better image would have just had an emoticon for a face, and it would have explained why that could be detrimental to one’s budding design skills and vocabulary. That’s not what we see here.
There is also a historical precedent for this kind of barely disguised hostility. Art movements have always been cyclical and incestuous, reacting to itself, reacting to the reaction of itself. The drama of the Baroque is a reaction to the rationality of the Renaissance. The austerity of Der Stijl is a reaction to the decadence and frivolousness of ornamentation—and it also sought to be the standard and only aesthetic. Complexity threatens simplicity with a Rube Golberg machine, simplicity menaces complexity with a sharp rock. Where one exists, the other must be ruthlessly made fun of and stamped out.
Except that it doesn’t have to be this way. There is room for both ornamentation and austerity in different contexts. Or, hell, even in the same. Formalism can coexist with symbolism. Naturalism and abstraction do not have to murder each other to gain legitimacy. The only reason why one would be “bad”, lesser, whatever, when compared to the other, is if one strives to convey complex shapes or ideals but is hampered by one’s simplistic approach, or vice versa.
RE: THE MORAL OF THE STORY
This image COULD have been helpful, but because it oversimplified a complex issue—ironically about the oversimplification of the complexity and myriad variations of the human face—it’s just about as useful as an asshole on your elbow
wait, actually that could be useful if you get on a roll while drawing and don’t want to get out of your sea
—SHIT, BRAIN IGNORE I JUST THOUGHT THAT
RE: Your hair
it looks great today. You look great! Goodnight.