Thursday, September 8, 2016

Chris Ayers

We are studying animal caricatures. A master of the animal caricature, Chris Ayers is movie concept artist and illustrator. A leukemia survivor, Ayers used his art as a positive motivation to help heal mentally as his body fought against his cancer. The result was creating an animal illustration for every day the year in his sketchbooks, which became books called The Daily Zoo

A key to Ayers artististic success besides diligently working everyday, is his use of gesture drawing.

Gesture Drawing is a laying in of the action, form, and pose of a model/figure.

Master Artist Rembrandt says...

Not only are Ayers's animals well drawn with a clear understanding of their anatomy, but are combined human characteristics. It is important to make combinations of anatomy and feeling that viewers can identify with. The star of the caricature is the exaggeration of these human emotions that Ayers wants to convey to his audience. 

Nearly any artist can draw an octopus, but through gestural exaggeration the octopus really develops a personality that is hard to convey without it. Ayers has mastered imparting a life and energy in his work that feeds the personality of his creations and our imaginations. 

Body language is a wonderful example of gesture. You can see a whole story in this illustration by Ayers without reading a single word. Think of how you emotionally express yourself not with words, but through actions. Why is your stance the way it is? What are your eyes doing? How are your hands responding? (Never forget the hands, only amateurs hide the hands...or in this case the claws, hooves, or feet.)

So when designing your animal caricatures are you thinking about the personality you are trying to impart on your character? What makes someone memorable to you? When you tell a joke or a story, a little exaggeration can take a ordinary moment and upgrade it to a memory. The key though is keeping the exaggeration truthful. A distortion doesn't work. George Carlin once said the, "Secret to being funny is to tell the truth."  Give your character a name and recall your personal experiences with that name. Chances are your audience will relate.