Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Student Spotlight: Thinking In Ink

For his final Thinking In Ink project, Laurence Maslon caricatured me in homage to his favorite comic from childhood, Not Brand Ecch. I was doubly honored by this because that was also MY favorite comic as a child. It was the cartooning there by the great Marie Severin that inspired me to become a cartoonist.

Check out this impressive haul of student work I collected in the inaugural semester of Thinking In Ink this past spring. We had fun practicing with brush feathering, hatching with nibs, working with outlines, working without lines, and experimenting with ink wash, spot color layers, non-traditional tools, and stencils, among other things. 

We made comics, illustrations, studies from photographs, observational drawings, and more:
Laurence Maslon's brush and ink sketch of his dog, Ruby.
Anne Keating's crosshatch study of a zombie plush doll
Julie Cleveland's sensitive-line drawing of a jawbone and plaster cast.
Maslon's tone-map design for a film-noir poster, ...
...and an ink wash study for another.
Lynn Bernstein added spot color to her high contrast study of William Powell,...
...and this hatched illustration of Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan. 
Anne Keating rubricated her Tarot card design.
Julie Cleveland finished a poster with wash and a dash of color.
Laurence Maslon cut a stencil merging shadows for an image of The Shadow himself.

Anne Keating carved stencils of seashells and airbrushed them in Photoshop,... 

...and she invented a method of drawing with a wine cork.

More examples can be seen in the catalog entry for the course at SVA.
It's satisfying and fun playing around with materials, trying out techniques, exploring creative strategies, thinking in ink. Who says an inking class has to be good? "I says," sez Mot.

My online classes are starting soon: Figure Drawing for Cartoonists, Thinking In Ink, and Cartooning Basics.
Broaden your skills this summer, from home.

Sunday, May 24, 2020


Anne Keating's final project for my Thinking In Ink course was this marvelously distressed vintage comic cover.
When our spring semester was abruptly cut short by the quarantine and many of us pressed forward via Zoom, our imaginations naturally turned toward the situation. I was cheered to see some amazing work appear amid the stress.

I suggested to my kid's class at Parsons that we title our group comic Quarantoons. They liked that.

Wraparound cover for the class comic at The New School's Pre-college Cartooning grades 3-5 spring course. We usually end with a printed book. This time we settled for a pdf.

Documenting experiences, sketching immediate surroundings, fantasizing, crafting poetic metaphors, cheering the heroes, there are so many ways to express so much that we need to express.  Cartooning is a big help in tough times. 

Elementary art teacher, Lynn Bernstein, began a Covid diary comic.
The view from Lynn's kitchen, I presume.

Julie Cleveland wills herself to a better place in this cinematic comic page for Think In Ink

Acting professor and caricaturist, Laurence Maslon memorialized the new way of conducting classes.

Highlights from Julius Giardina's minicomic project for Cartooning Basics.

This summer, we're trying afternoon online versions of my SVA courses, Figure Drawing for Cartoonists, Thinking In Ink, and Cartooning Basics. The upside is that these can be taken from anywhere in the world and any time, really, if you can't make the meetings. We start in June and run for 10 weeks. 

I'm happy to answer your questions: mot@tmotley.com 

I'll leave you with another great page by Anne Keating. See her website for more, including the comic she produced in Cartooning Basics last fall. Anne provides a nice view there of the minicomic process.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Figure Drawing for Cartoonists Student Work

Skeletons at the park by Lindsay Ducey

We had a dynamic group in Figure Drawing for Cartoonists last semester. I managed to document a couple of the amazing pieces by a couple of the amazing people, Lindsay Ducey and G. H, Yamauchi.

G. H. Yamauchi opted to work on skeletons of children.

In this class, we practice our figure drawing by tackling an array of challenges. We begin by looking at the human skeleton, along with the work of Posada and Holbein, in order to practice joint breaks, twist, silhouetting, and other figure staging concerns. Getting skeletons to look alive sets us up for more vivid finished art.

Then we work through topics like forces, foreshortening, muscle groups, and style, working from models, photos, reference, and imagination, leading up to the fun activity where we apply figures to the comic format, composing comic pages improvised from a costumed model.

Yamauchi bravely knocked out her comic in ink.

That one's so fun, I can never resist playing too:

...aaaaand, we proceed from there to plan a comic scene and complete a page or two. The class is informative, challenging and fun. The new semester begins January 28. Sign up soon, tell your friends, and like that. Thanks!

Friday, January 3, 2020

Thinking In Ink!

Come see me this Monday at the SVA Illustration & Cartooning information session and learn about my newest course, Thinking In Ink.

This course builds on techniques and topics from my previous inking comics course. It'll be edifying for beginners and returning students alike.

We'll look at bunches of bravura and master cartooning examples to get a sense of the effects that are possible and what the effects are useful for.

I'll offer a menu of unusual challenges including coloring book pages and stencil cutting.

We'll explore unusual tools and methods, building on traditional approaches to go beyond them. 

Thinking In Ink meets on Tuesdays, 6:30-9:30 pm at the School of Visual Arts, beginning January 28. Also enrolling are my Wednesday course, Figure Drawing for Cartoonists, and on Thursdays, Cartooning Basics. Come talk to me this Monday, or shoot me an email with your questions.

Friday, November 22, 2019

The Road to Golgonooza, part 1

Reading a lot of jam comics, one can discern characteristic tropes, rhythms, and vicissitudes. I think that makes the comic jam a unique genre any cartoonist might choose to work within. 

Here's the first third or so of my new comic running in The Brooklyn Rail. It plays with the comic jam and its sister genre, the biographic profile. I try to change styles two or three times per page, mashing up various artists who interest me. I don't feel I do justice to any of my influences, but it's fun to try. I hope you'll find this amusing or at least not too annoying. 


Page one: M.C. BloV8, logo and anagrams, recently had a career retrospective at NYC's Fugitive Gallery. He can be reached care of Singsing.

Chris M. Otterson, panel 1, is at work on a series of Tijuana Bibles inspired by the classic Man from Nantucket books. Check his instagram for a preview: @cmot15

Gonzo Loretta O'Hagood, panels 2-4, received this year's Pini Award for her webcomic, Ginger Duck and her Barnyard Friends. yourdailydoodle.tumblr.com

Page two: Cassie Motswald, panels 1 & 2, hosts the monthly Captain Crayon's Crap-Art Contest at T. Martooni's. Her Instagram: @cmot15

Jacqueline Pharmakos, panel 3, is best known for her psychedelic set designs off off Broadway in Helter Skelter, the Musical, but she also makes comics. cartooniologist.blogspot.com

M. Isaac Cartozia, panel 4, chronicles the adventures of Conan Doyle, Barbarian Detective at cartozia.com

Page three: Cyndi Rizzo, former show runner for Vivian Girls Anime, is hard at work designing rides for the spinoff park, Darger World.

Illustrator Stevens Valmor blogs at yourdailysketch.tumblr.com

Cookie Motowan's weekly strip, Hump Day Dump Tay, is seen every Wednesday by subscribers to The Artlink Letter. Instagram: @cmot15

Page four: Medea Starkers is a package designer for Condign Desserts, LLC. yourdailydoodle.tumblr.com

The team of Motte & Bailey serialize the adventures of the Putti Patrol in The Christian Youth's Fundament. Instagram: @cmot15

T. Motley is the author of The Road to Golgonooza, a fake jam comic.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Inking Comics Techniques: Tone Map and Thatch Hatch

by student Victoria DeMaria

One of the projects we get into in my Inking Comics course is a Noodling Worksheet, where students try out a number of rendering methods such as feathering, hatching, cross hatching, stippling, scribbling, trap shading, and more.

Let's take a good look at a couple of the more esoteric techniques, thatch-hatching and tone-mapping. You'll see that they open up broader discussions of illustration philosophy and art history.

pen strokes like a basket weave. From Alex Nino's adaptation of Moby Dick

Thatch hatching is a way to establish textures and gradients with a controlled, deliberate look. Practice with this opens up the habit of varying stroke directions to register plane changes, and to assert edges by abutting tones.

Jack Clifton explains the accented line approach, from Manual of Drawing and Painting,  1957

This has been a primary rendering method  since the earliest woodblock prints.

I couldn't resist sharing this Terry Gilliam sendup of Durer.

It was used widely in the era of the pulps.

from Spicy Detective Stories, circa 1936...

...artists unknown, I regret to say. 

The term tone mapping comes, as far as I know, from animation, though it wouldn't surprise me to learn painters have done this along, as it can resemble paint by numbers.

from Disney's Fantasia

As a direction to cel painters, tone mappers would use a blue or green pencil to delineate breaks from a form's base color to its highlight color, and a red pencil from the base to the shadow color.

Never to be outdone, maverick comic artist Jim Steranko shows his deftness with tone mapping in Our Love Story #5, 1970.
This approach was brought to the foreground in the psychedelic 1960s when artists like Peter Max filled tone maps with vibrating and unexpected colors.

Sci fi illustrator Mike Hinge made beautiful use of the technique in the 1970s.

Ink illustrators evolved a variation in the 1970s. Instead of wild colors, why not fill the tones with crazy patterns or underlayed images?

these examples are by Gonzalo Mayo from Eerie #66, 1975.
Will Eisner and Wallace Wood, 1952.

The overall effect is like peering through a reflection in a window onto a darker background. We see this memorably in the design of the Marvel character, Eternity.

Steve Ditko, 1965.

Techniques like these come in and out of fashion and turn up from time to time. We can't escape feeling that they haven't yet achieved their fullest potential. They seem ripe for a comeback. What would you bring to them?

The fall semester of Inking Comics runs on Fridays, beginning Sept. 20. Come hone your skills!