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CARTOONING COURSE OUTLINE


This course is offered at the Johns Hopkins University Art Workshops, in Baltimore, Maryland (410-516-6705).

Tom Chalkley is available for lectures and seminars on comics and cartooning.


1. WHAT IS CARTOONING? Course overview and discussion of a "definition" of cartooning. What purposes does cartooning serve today? What accounts for the broad appeal of cartoons? What are the strengths and weaknesses of cartooning as a form of art and communication? Studio assignment: Write a short piece on why you are interested in this course and what you want to get out of it. Draw an "autobiographical" cartoon -- something that tells something about your self, literally or symbolically.

2. THE SECRET ORIGINS OF COMICS. Conceptual roots and primordial beginnings of cartooning, up through the end of the 19th century. Discussion of the impact of technology on cartooning forms. Studio work: figure construction; stylizing and caricaturing the figue; copying exercise using pencil.

3. FUNNIES AND FANTASIES. An overview of cartooning in the 20th century, especially comic books and comic strips. Discussion of the role of the marketplace in the rise and decline of cartoon forms. Naturalistic versus "cartoony" trends in cartoon art. Studio work: Demonstration of how a cartoon develops from thumbnail sketch to finished "camera-ready" art. Another copying exercise, analyzing the forms that construct the character.

4. THE MIND'S CONSTRUCTION IN THE FACE. Character, caricature, and expression. Developing a distinct character and a "style sheet." How features, facial expression, body language, props, and dialogue are used to convey personality and emotion. Demonstration: how to draw a caricature. Studio work: Caricaturing the instructor; designing your own characters. Homework: Develop characters for use in your own work; have these ready for next class.

5. THE CARTOON LINE. The role of the line itself in defining style and content. How India ink and various technologies have influenced the development of cartooning. Studio work: working with the quill pen and the drawing brush. Learning about gesture. Copying exercise using ink.

6. THE DESERT ISLAND AND THE PSYCHIATRIST'S COUCH. An examination of the "gag cartoon" tradition, the evolution of cartoon humor, and the creative process as it applies to developing jokes. Also, how composition plays a role in humor and meaning. Studio work: Exercise in generating ideas. Techniques for stimulating free association. Homework: develop five ideas for single-panel or strip humor.

7. READING PICTURES AND LOOKING AT WORDS. The visual language of cartoons. How composition contributes to content; subliminal symbols; perspectives.  Studio work: Compose and develop the best of your humorous ideas.

8. READING PICTURES AND LOOKING AT WORDS, II. The vocabulary of symbols, ideograms, lettering styles and conventions used in cartooning, including the role of the panel frames. How these symbols developed -- and continue to develop. Test -- be sure to bring your notes. Studio work: Begin work on a final project.

9. NARRATIVE COMICS -- BREAKDOWNS AND PANELS. The division of a story or joke into sequential panels for optimal effect and readability; more on the panel itself as a narrative element; the concept of "closure." Exercise: Panelingout a sample narrative. Studio work: decide on final project.

10. CARTOONS AND SOCIETY. A review of the evolution of cartooning as a means of entertainment, social comment, propaganda, and commerce. Focus on political cartoons. Studio work: final project.

11. A BRIEF LOOK AT ANIMATION. Review of the history of animation; how animation relates to other cartoon forms; samples of great animation, from Tex Avery to Akira. Studio work: final project.

12. BUT IS IT ART?? Discussion of the "high art"/"low art" dichotomy, and the crossover status of a few artists. What distinguishes great cartooning from pretentious cartooning? Studio work: final project.

13. THE FUTURE OF CARTOONING: Brief informal discussion. Where do you see cartooning going? What forms excite you? Computer animation, computer games, and cartooning on-line.

All contents © Copyright 2004 Tom Chalkley (Baltimore, Maryland)
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