Mickey Mouse, Bart Simpson and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have something in common. They can each be drawn with three simple shapes: the circle, triangle and square. During the Character Creation workshop at Central Park Library on May 23, adult students quickly learned to draw these characters while creating their own characters as well. The teacher, San Jose artist Andy Gouveia is experienced in fine art, illustration, comics and murals.
“The main purpose of the class is to give out basic pointers that we would use when going into any sort of concept that has characters in it, any sort of narrative artwork,” says Gouveia, who has been teaching art for about nine years. “That could be a fine art painting with human figures or it could be an illustration for print. In my case, one place I use human figures and more narrative work is in painting murals. The whole class is structured to give you the basics to create your own actors for narrative images whether they are illustrations or fine art work.”
Gouveia taught the contrast between light and dark in characters’ faces as well as contrasts that can be depicted between characters’ personalities. For example, in the movie “Up,” Carl’s face is composed mainly of squares while circles make up Russell’s face. Artists can take a basic face and morph it when it is squashed or stretched. Adding gestures to characters is also encouraged. Armed with these pointers, students sketched an animal with characteristics suggested by classmates.
“I like working on the poses and gestures that the teacher mentioned,” says Cupertino High School senior Shriya Kannan, who is headed to Ringling College of Art and Design.
“The way he teaches about using the shapes makes it simpler to understand how to create a fully dimensional character.”
Molding a bust from clay also helped students create a fully dimensional character. Gouveia explains that having a bust helps the artist sketch their characters from different angles during a project, such as illustrations for a picture book. In a quick demonstration, he showed how to make a bust. After rolling a ball for the head and a smaller ball for the neck, Gouveia pinched the clay to shape the eyes, nose and lips. Eyeballs formed when a pencil poked the clay.
“My classes always have students with various skill levels,” Gouveia says. “My goal is to give everybody a chance to feel confident at the level they’re coming in at and to have a chance to raise their level.”