Recommnded Reading: Dresden Codak’s Tumblelog

It’s been a while since I’ve done a website recommendation and in order to get a bit of structure back into this blog, it’s time to start doing them again.

Today, it is the turn of Dredan Codak a.k.a talented maestro, Aaron Diaz.

If you’re not already familiar with Dresden Codak, you probably should get yourself over to the website and do some catching up. It’s a superb (web)comic with a diverse cast of characters and a great look/design.

However, that is not what I’m recommending today, well it is, but the actual site is slightly different. It’s actually the Dresden Codak tumblelog, “Indistinguishable From Magic“.

Plenty of artists use Tumblr as more of an auxiliary blog for posting scraps, development work, personal stuff, etc. Others, like the too-talented-for-words Dan Meth actually use it as the base of their entire website!

Either way, many people appreciate the flexibility that Tumblr provides in terms of design and use as well as the following capabilities and reblogging features that help grow and maintain a devoted audience.

IFM is no exception to that rule but it is the content that sets itself apart from the rest. Far more than an auxiliary blog, Aaron has turned it into a veritable gold mine of art, advice, opinion and lessons.

For example, his excellent post on character’s figures (see image above) contains the kind of honest advice that is kinda hard to come across these days. One you read it, you begin to look at characters in a whole new light.

Aaron also uses the tumblelog to interact with people who ask various questions on the comic, art and drawing in general. All are answered with the upfront honesty that defines a creator who appreciates the devotion of his fans.

In addition to all of the above, what kind of artist would Aaron be if he didn’t post some cool sketches as well?

Sketch of Janelle Monae

If you’re an artist, comic or otherwise, following Indistinguishable From Magic is a must. You simply cannot miss out on all that Aaron is posting.

A Character’s Clothes: Something That’s Often Overlooked?

Yesterday, Aaron Diaz (a.k.a. Dresden Codak) tweeted a few things about what a character wears:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/dresdencodak/status/57481963342278656″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/dresdencodak/status/57483163085180928″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/dresdencodak/status/57483596939792384″]

It was a pleasure to meet Aaron this past weekend at the  MoCCA Festival albeit before I discovered his insanely superb tumblelog and it was also a pleasure writing this blog post until the computer crashed and took the previous version with it, but what can you do.

Aaron is spot-on in his analysis. The clothes a character wears can say a lot about them as does the wardrobe they keep. Take for example, Marge Simpson:

Marge in normal clothes

Marge in formal clothes (yoinked from the Dead Homer Society)

Although she is wearing two different outfits, they can both readily be identified as belonging to Marge.  How about another example, Sam from Danny Phantom:

Sam in normal clothes

Sam in formal attire

Both pictures are clearly Sam yet if you saw the clothes by themselves, you would still be able to associate them with her. The clothes really do maketh the man (or woman).

In animation, it is obviously desirable to have a character wear the same thing most of the time. If they didn’t, there sure would be plenty of opportunities for animators to make mistakes!

A great exception to this rule was My Life as a Teenage Robot. Although Jenny (XJ-9) doesn’t wear clothes (on account of being a robot), her colour does change quite a few times throughout each episode. While this has a far less effect than changing clothes, it does help establish the mood for a particular scene. Generally, cold colours for quiet scenes, hotter colours for action/drama scenes.

This is a complicated topic for sure. I personally think that some character designers in animation deserve just as much credit as their live-action counterparts when it comes to clothes, especially in feature films.

So take note and don’t just slap a T-shirt and jeans on your character, they (and your audience) deserve much more.