Noilly Prattle: Call Me Mr. B. – Fifteen

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Call Me Mr. B. – Fifteen

Grade 5

eye exaggeration in joshi manga
so-called costume play,
girl with manga eye makeup
      Exaggeration is a technique used by cartoon and comic book artists and caricaturists to highlight certain elements of a drawing to make them stand out for different effects. This technique is used to excess in Japanese “joshi manga” (girls comic books), which are enormously popular with elementary school aged girls, in the treatment of the eyes of the characters. Many aspiring young lady cartoonists can spend hours drawing pictures of girls featuring these eyes. So, without knowing it, many of my students were already familiar with the exaggeration technique.

       Boys are also comic book addicts here in Japan and their favorite comics also use exaggeration in gestures and facial expressions. Although some boys try to draw cartoon characters, they are not as numerous as the girls, who, by and large, tend to be more artistically oriented than the boys at the elementary school age. So, I decided they could all benefit from a lesson in doing exaggerated drawings and most could handle the skill necessary to pull them off.

       Exaggeration is accomplished mostly by contrasting one element of a drawing with another, often by size distortion. For example, you could draw a man with extremely large hands holding a small globe [Atlas holding the world in his hands] as in the Getty image on the left. This image is also an example of foreshortening to bring the hands to the front of the picture plane, another technique of exaggeration.

       To set up the mindset for this project I would have the kids bring their comic books and talk about the techniques the artists used along with some examples of my own. I also set up a model that showed in 3-D exactly how the size contrasting technique works. I had an inflatable model of an All Nippon Airlines (ANA) [All Japan Airlines] jet plane in my Prep. Room. I arranged it with with an umbrella to give the appearance of a jet taking off and crashing into a gigantic umbrella—exaggeration galore. The kids were easily able to grasp the idea; then I left them free to try a drawing on their own using their comic books as a guide, or the model of the airplane and umbrella or just using their own imaginations.

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