File puptcrit/puptcrit.0803, message 18

To: <>
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 2008 00:24:59 -0500
Subject: [Puptcrit] Body Parts Assembler (low tech)

Hi all.
Today I was introduced to a quicker than usual character sketching method, a deity-send for someone with limited grasp of anatomy.
We can use photos or drawings of humanoids or animals as guidelines to make our own, by tracing them or parts of them using tracing paper, and then re-interpreting them easily, now that we have a solid, believeable foundation to work from.

I have used tracing paper for my own drawings for a long time, to redraw them into a final piece.
I've used tracing paper to draw and redraw my own designs until satisfied.
But never have I done it with pictures to actually design something new in this way. Strange how the simplest and most efficient methods are so often overlooked!

It is quite easy to loosely trace a body part, slide the paper in another position or place it over another image, and continue the tracing, thus changing the proportions, body positions, and even the numbers and placements of body parts. Any collection of photos or illustrations representing humanoids becomes a bank of body parts you can assemble on the tracing paper, and create your own "blank". This blank and its pose can be transfered to a clean sheet of paper, and fully developped into a finished design. 
This seems like the easiest way to assemble a vast variety of hybrid creatures in no time at all!

The one danger is to damage the source material, so be careful and don't apply any excess pressure when tracing from books, photos, or original drawings. A light table can help tremendously, but not often if your source material is in a book. If it is the case, you can phocopy the page and use the copy as a source on the light table.

Of course, there is the issue of plagieurism to be concerned about. As far as I know, the human body nor the animal body cannot be copyrighted yet, so I guess using photos to trace the character's poses is totally OK. Even better if you change the pose to suit your needs, which is easy to do with tracing paper.  

I strongly hesitate to use anything already drawn, as there is plenty of interpretation already from another artist. I'd rather interpret photos in my own way, and distort and emphasize as little or as much as I want/need. If I cannot find a photo of a human with the right pose, I could take a picture of myself holding that pose, and trace that, once printed out.
Still, when all else fails, if a pre-interpreted piece of work is the only "right" reference available, I guess it is ok to use it as a base ONLY, and modify it until unrecognisable, except maybe for the pose itself.

This is so easy and fun I wonder why I never heard about it!
Imagine the creatures that can finally have a proper body in a believable position in space!

Of course, I still believe it is much better to learn the classics (anatomy, foreshortening, perspective, draping), but when you gotta do the work now, sometimes a shortcut can really help. 
Some good sources of "body parts" and poses:

-books of anatomy (human, animal)
-books of nude poses as references for artists
-clothing/swimsuit catalogues
-your own photos
-Your own drawings 
-Printed ads in  newspapers and those previously mentionned in this list.

Creative gift suggestion:
Give a creative kid a pencil, a pen eraser, and a pad of tracing paper, making sure to create a demo page (or more!) on the first page(s) inside. Show them an inkling of what can be done by tracing body parts from different sources and assembling them into a new character.
Then unleash them upon the world with this potentially harmful new toy. (parents represented as animals, provoking a future love for genetic research instead of Arts...NOOOOO!!!!).

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