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 549 - Love stories

Sep 20, 2021

3 likes, 0 comments

In today's cast we're chatting about LOVE stories! This isn't a subject we get into much but it's a huge genre so we thought we'd tackle it. We thought none of us even WORK in that genre till I belatedly realised that Banes and I sort of DO with Bottomless Waitress hahaha! There's all sorts of love in there… Sorry for the sound quality with this one I've no idea what went wrong.

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 499 - Life's worth?!

Oct 5, 2020

5 likes, 0 comments

What is the worth of human life in your stories? This isn't something people often consider, we just tend to have a fairly accurate guess based on our experience of the real world, but sometimes stories get it really wrong and that can harm suspension of disbelief.

Episode 428 - Expectations of Male and female audiences

May 27, 2019

3 likes, 3 comments

What are the different expectations for female and male audiences? This almost entirely a culture based thing, it changes depending on where and WHEN you are from as well as your age and experience… but some obvious things are determined by our physiology: sex sells, but there are slight differences based on gender. I wasn't interested in the “why” (genetic predeterminisim or evolutionary psychology), just the “what”.

Episode 286 - Offence, walking on eggshells

Aug 29, 2016

4 likes, 6 comments

Do you worry about offending specific people with your writing? Where's your line between honest expression and regard for other people's feelings? This was Bane's brilliant idea for a Quackcast. We touch a little on the idea of a “culture of offence”, where it seems that people look for things to be offended by, perhaps on behalf of others, but also about things that really CAN cause offence and how to avoid that. On one hand you have people complaining that everything is too “PC” these days, but on the other it's really not OK to be a dick to people just because you like to cling to the old days when it was fine to put down people on the basis of ethnicity, skin-colour, gender, or sexuality… But we can also cause offence accidentally, unintentionally, unknowingly… Should you compromise your vision to appease people, or should you forge ahead regardless? Keep in mind that some things that are fine for SOME audiences are offensive to others, so rather than fight with your audience or appease them perhaps it's better to try and actively direct your work at the CORRECT audience it's intended for? - speaking in terms of sex scenes, politics, etc. Listen to the theme Gunwallace concocted for us THIS time! Geminni: Get down to the bad sounds of this classic funk rock tune! Danceable!

Episode 254 - Sexism in your OWN work?k

Jan 18, 2016

2 likes, 0 comments

OMFG you sexist PIG! Heh… today we talk about trying to recognise sexism in your OWN work, what to do about it, and WHY. It turns out it can be very hard to do, and if you DO acknowledged it the instinct is to rationalise it away, justify it, or just try and brazen it out in some kind of old fashioned, largely embarrassing, display. I frequently do all three. How do we spot it? Well the Bechdel test isn't that useful, that's better for looking at broad trends not giving specific works a pass/fail - sexy outfits is one thing, if females are dressed minimally or in tight gear in CONTRAST to the males or vice versa - females ONLY having old stereotype roles (maiden/mother/whore archetypes, secretary, nurse, victim, maid etc), though this is context sensitive, i.e. it's more forgiveable if you're doing a historical story or something stylised like a fairytale or a noire story - Gender balance is another thing, it's context sensitive because certain stories will naturally have more of one gender (WW2 submarine crew, Girl's school, a prison story etc), and you don't have to have an exact balance anyway but it's definitely something to THINK about because there is no reason most stories should feature a majority of male characters and a minority of females. WHY should you think about it? Why should you care? Well the audience for almost ALL types of stories, be they action adventure, romance, Scifi, fantasy, historical, even porn, is getting close to 50/50 between men and women these days (maybe it always was?), it really doesn't make sense to alienate or belittle half your audience just because you like to cling to older ways of doing stuff. Gunwallace's theme this week reminds me of a cross between the Knightrider theme and Gunship- it's VERY retro-future. It's the theme to DDSR, a comic with cool custom “sprites”, AKA pixel-art.

Episode 139 - Telling Gender From Comic Styles

Oct 28, 2013

5 likes, 7 comments

For Quackcast 139 Banes and I were joined by Kawaiidaigakusei, who had an amazingly interesting subject to talk about: “Telling Someone's Sex By the Way They Draw". Kawaiidaigakusei says:This has been a subject matter that is of great interest to me since college, and I am sure a lot of people who draw webcomics can relate. The early periods of Western Art have been mostly dominated by men. Female artists were rare during the Baroque Period with the exception of a key figure, Artemisia Gentileschi, whose dark interpretation of Judith Beheading Holofernes can be read with psychoanalytic overtones of a woman asserting her dominance over a man by decapitation. The twentieth century welcomed an influx of women artists during the Feminist art movement that began in the late 1960s. In the present day, with the introduction of webcomics and the Internet, women and men now have a level playing field to showcase their art to the public. Now the question remains–Is it possible to tell a person's sex by the way they draw?


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