Episode 584 - Drawing gender

May 23, 2022

We start off with the idea of talking about art techniques, tips and tricks we've mastered and could help people with but the cast turned into a discussion about drawing male and female characters- also trans, androgynous, etc. There's an art to representing gender in imagery! It's super important to remember that the way we see gender in art is mainly culture based rather than an innate biological reaction and the perception of gender in art is different according to your cultural background. It's basically a visual language that everyone learns, but as an artist you have to learn to actually “speak” it, and that's not as straight forward as you think.

Topics and Show Notes

A rough example of of how culture based our perception of gender in imagery is:

- In most Western art the “male” is the default. We take for granted that a figure is male in art unless it's augmented in some way, the most basic version is the stick figure. These are men. To make a female stick figure you add long hair, a dress or boobs. Some or all of that, it doesn't matter. And this scales up to other representations. A natural, more realistic depiction of a female person won't always read as a woman in art unless they are “feminised” in some way, i.e. a prominent bust, removing angles and lines and adding soft, rounded features, featured lips, larger eyes, thin waste, wide hips, long legs, large thighs, styled hair, thin neck, large head. And doing any of that to a male figure is a way to “feminise” them or blend their gender.

-In comic art from places like Japan and Korea it's the opposite somewhat, especially manga. The female form there is more of the default. Male characters involve a lot more augmentation to create a “masculine” effect, sometimes bordering on caricature, as can happen with female characters in Western art. A generic male manga character would typically read as more “feminine” if dumped straight into a western context.

In times past the focus was more on primary (genitals), or secondary (beards, boobs etc), sexual characteristics, i.e the Venus of Willendorf (a very female form) and male figures with disproportionately sized penises. While early Egyptian sculpture is pretty androgynous in his regard, male and female are not well differentiated, the main focus is on the build - eg. men having slightly broader chests. Early Greek sculpture even more so with simple abstract forms representing “humans”. Much later on this changed into a more separated, codified style: men being heavy, muscular, bearded, women being soft and slim, with youth of both sexes being more androgynous. Interestingly genitals were very diminished in this art, penises were small and flaccid, while vaginas were never depicted.
Though it was a different story with the art intended for more secular, “common” consumption, which could show pornographic scenes (mainly 2D). Art featuring Satyrs or Priapus massively exaggerated the genitals for deliberate comedic effect. For them focus on genitals didn't indicate masculinity or femininity so much as comedy, stupidity, shame, or porn.

Basically gender in art isn't about genitals or genetics, it's all culture based and you need to learn the visual language of your audience to make yourself understood by them, as well as to confuse them or subvert their expectations!
What trouble have you had when depicting gender? I always run into issues myself. I make my women too angular and my men are too slim.

This week Gunwallace has given us a theme to Gyor - Charged up, magnetically accelerating into clean, sweeping, panoramic electronic tones, momentarily overrun by a furious chaotic electric discharge, only to return to serenity once more.


Topics and shownotes

Links

Featured comic:
Gyor - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2022/may/17/featured-comic-gyor/

Featured music:
Gyor - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Gyor/ - by Tuxie, rated E.


Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
PitFace - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Kawaiidaigakusei - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/kawaiidaigakusei/

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Episode 533 - Can Mary Sues be likeable?

May 30, 2021

5 likes, 0 comments

We've done a few Quackcasts about how terrible Mary Sues are… well this is the opposite! Tantz postulated that they can be likable and GOOD for a story and then won us over easily by telling us why during our Patreon video. In the Quackcast Banes and I join in, having been convinced of the idea. We talk about how if the Mary Sue is a likable, good person, genuinely humble or altruistic and helpful then that can mitigate their Mary Sueness. Whereas if they're selfish, take their status for granted, take advantage of others or are just there to be marvelled and worshiped by the astonished onlookers (re: Rey), they can be unpleasant.

Episode 530 - What is SciFi?

May 10, 2021

4 likes, 0 comments

So what IS SciFi? Well it's a pretty wide umbrella term and contains a lot of different things. In some senses it's just an imaginative fiction story where science replaces magic. SciFi can simply be a sciencey setting where genre stories take place (romance, adventure, nior, horror). It can be a magical fantasy space opera with a futuristic skin (Star Wars), it can be “hard SciFi” where the story is set in the future but the science is completely plausible, it can be written with strong themes that examine philosophical questions and make interesting points about the nature of humanity, and it can be so many more things too. It's a broad church!

Episode 526 A return to Mary Sue!

Apr 12, 2021

5 likes, 3 comments

Mary Sues are always a fun topic! There are some misconceptions about them though… Mary Sues aren't all female, they can be any gender. Being super powerful or super popular or super pretty etc doesn't equal a Mary Sue, not even if your character super stands out next to all the others, those things ONLY indicate they might possibly be one. What equals a Mary Sue is a character that doesn't have to struggle very hard for anything, a character that is almost universally admired, and or loved (even by the enemy), a character that masters hard skills with ease and ends up teaching the teachers and beating the masters, a character that's destined to succeed and does in spite of internal story logic… All these things and more can add up to make a Mary Sue.

Episode 524 - Empathy

Mar 28, 2021

4 likes, 0 comments

Image credit: There's Something About Mary, 20th Century Fox. Empathy is like sympathy but you don't think about it. It's what happens when you see someone get hurt and you wince in pain watching them, it's when you see a really uncomfortable moment in a sitcom like The Office and you cringe, It's when you feel sad when the characters are sad about something. Empathy is an important tool for audience immersion- if they're feeling that strongly for the characters then you've got them invested in your story! Funny story… the topic of this Quackcast was inspired by us talking about the risks of “going commando” and the fact that it can happen to women as well as men. This led us to go looking for photographic and video proof, as you do… and what we saw gave us instant empathy for the poor unfortunate. Hence the Quackcast topic ;) This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to PleaseRewind: Quiet threat, creepy, seeping, strumming, thrumbing, coming CLOSER, inside, peering around, waiting to begin. This is a quiet track filled with an undertone of urgency suggested by the constant quick rhythm and lonely guitar.

Episode 495 - A fan of fanfiction?

Sep 7, 2020

3 likes, 0 comments

Fanfiction is a massive subject, there are so many aspects to it, from the bad stuff with the Mary Sues, rampant shipping, author inserts and wish fulfilment etc to homages and great works that extend the story and characters beyond what they were in the original and add interesting and fun aspects to fan favourites. There are many good reasons to do fanfiction: It's fun, you're inspired and want to use that inspiration, all the characteristics of the story are readymade so you don't have to do world building or character development, the work has a built in audience so you're going to have readers no matter what and hopefully some feedback, it can help make you more popular as a creator because of the fans of the original work, and you get to experiment because you can't sell the work or do anything serious with it so you may as well have fun and enjoy it!

Episode 473 - Genre vs Setting

Apr 5, 2020

3 likes, 3 comments

In this Quackcast we talk about the differences between genre and setting and what genre really is. For instance: Fantasy and SciFi aren't genres, they're settings… Mostly. It's complicated but they both pretty much USED to be genres, now they're mainly just settings for genre stories to take place in. What does that mean? Well, Fantasy wasn't even considered a genre back in the day, not really till after the success of Tolkien. Later on a lot of writers began using that same style and consumers really wanted it, so it became a “genre”. It was only later on when it graduated out of that to become a setting that has genre stories set within it.

Episode 471 - Fantasy

Mar 23, 2020

2 likes, 0 comments

Today we're having a chat about fantasy fiction! Mainly books and the fantasy writing that inspired us and that we love! Faves like Tolkien, Fritz Leiber and Piers Anthony! Just to define, we're talking swords, elves, armour, dragons etc, in a “medieval” context, generally European. As a subset there's native, Arabian, Asian, Mayan etc, also high fantasy, low fantasy, sword and sorcery, historical fantasy and even mythology…. And then techno fantasy, contemporary fantasy, steampunk, fantasy cyberpunk and so on… but we mainly stick to the mainstream stuff and only just touch on the weird little variations for now.


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