Wednesday, January 04, 2012


Classical figure drawing (above) is helpful for an artist, no doubt about it. It's indispensable, even for cartoonists.

The problem is, that this kind of drawing disciplines an artist to think of the body in terms of beautiful shapes and forms. That's important, of course, but cartoonists are like baggy pants comedians. We also have to think of the body as a colony of mismatched and uncooperative parts, which are generally an embarrassment to its owner.

So, sure, cartoonists need classical figure drawing, but we also need practice in drawing figures that are more earthy and ignorant.

If you were teaching figure drawing to cartoonists what kind of models would you hire? Me, I'd choose funny models, like the girl above. She's a real country cyclone of a woman, straight out of Dogpatch. It doesn't get more earthy than this.

Geez, what a find! Every time I look at her (above) whole stories pop into my mind.
A model like this, with an expressive face, would probably work best in a small class of not more than fifteen students.

A first-rate female model like that would require a male model (above) to set her off. I'd choose a short, understated Mr. Meek type.

Or maybe someone like Arnold Stang (above).

For a model like this woman I'd say the ideal ratio of draped to undraped poses should be 50/50. You have to see her undraped to get an idea of what kind of structure adds up to a body like that, but draped is the only way you'll get the cool story ideas.

I'd choose models who were ham actors, and that kind of acting requires a loose story of some sort, something visual that's fun to act out.

It seems to me that the three most useful male types for a cartoonists to draw are Mr. Meeks, Leading Men (above, left) and Lumoxes. Fortunately Mr. Meeks and Lumoxes are abundant, but Leading Men are a rare type, very hard to find.

These three types should always be draped, with the Leading Man wearing only a bathing suit.

The ideal cartoony model would have been the late Imogene Coca, always draped. She was a genius actor and undraped would have broken the spell.

Physical comedians make great cartoon models, but if they're not used to doing it the poses should probably be short.

The blonde bombshell (above) is an absolute necessity for many comedic drawing sessions. The model would have to be someone worldly who looks good in a fuzzy bikini. Petite and wholesome types are fun to draw too, but not in the same session.

Hmmm....I think I'd team up this kind of woman with a Mr. Meek or a Leading Man. This kind of model would have to be frequently undraped in order to avoid a rebellion among the male students.

It would be great if a bombshell could be found who was also a dancer. If the budget permitted, I'd team her up with a sideman or two who could also dance.

In a case like this the instructor would serve as ersatz director and choreographer. It sounds complicated but I've worked with this kind of model before and, believe it or not, it comes together quickly and smoothely when the instructor makes it fun for the models.

After each new pose is settled on the cartoonist instructor might do a quick sketch of it on a large chalkboard. Seeing how an instructor organizes the shapes and spaces, and exaggerates for humor might help students who have trouble with things like that. After he does that, the instructor might make himself available for one-to-one teaching.

This woman's costume (above) is nice and cartoony: a big fluff ring to emphasize the hips, and a slit gown to empasize the legs.

Did I leave anything out, anything regarding model types? Oh yes. Some sessions should feature overweight girls in tight skirts.  This kind of girl is really versatile. They can play sexy sirens or nagging housewives...almost any role. They do need to have muscle tone, though, in spite of the weight. 


ADC said...

Hmmm... guess I could do with some more variation in regards to models.

Speaking of which, what suggestions (outside of humorous model types) would have in regards to some of my self studies Uncle Eddie?

My blog is below:


Thank you for your time.


Jorge Garrido said...

Great post! Could miss Jayne Mansfield be made available for one-on-one teaching? ROWRRRR!!!!!

Alberto said...

What perfect timing, I just started a life drawing class yesterday! I think this is a post more about if you had your way about what kind of models to hire and the poses and outfits they should wear (not to say I wouldn't attend, on the contrary!), but do you think you could provide some tips, tricks, and techniques, or just things to think about in general while drawing?

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

ADC, Alberto: When you're not in front of a live model, copy, copy, copy. Copy Classical art (or details of classical art) and cartoony stuff. For subjects that really interest you, copy multiple times til your copy has the same zest and excitement as the original.

Martinus said...

Hey Eddie.

This is off topic, but I was wondering if you could put up some pics of your toy collections, like John K and Kali have done?

pappy d said...

Life drawing models in L.A. are too good-looking. It makes for a high standard of standardness.

Anonymous said...

What does John K. thinking about life drawing? I've asked him a couple of times about it in the past, and I believe he said it doesn't necessarily help your cartoon drawings be cartoonier or anything like that? Do you agree with him on the matter?

I think after May of 2012, I'm gonna really get into some life drawing myself. I kinda suck at it, even though I'm still excellent when it comes to cartoony drawings.

Pete Emslie said...

When that hefty gal poses without her clothes on, her head seems about two sizes too small for her body!!

Zoran Taylor said...

The thing that's really hilarious about that fridge of a woman near the top of the post is that if you crop out her body, based on the face and hairstyle she could easily be mistaken for Marlo Meekins.