Right now, the 3D Design class is diving into the lesson idea that is Cartoons-in-the-round. It's such a favorite project for the students to do both because it offers them the opportunity to do handbuilding and work with clay and the subject matter? Well... cartoons are just so much fun! Still, for as much fun as it is, it's also incredibly challenging for so many of them. Most all of them are foundational student artists and this means that many of them have little to no experience with the visual arts. Just the same, that doesn't ever keep them from dreaming big about what they can create and as far as I am concerned, I am all about enabling them to make their seemingly impossible dreams come to fruition.
One of the big challenges I always have in teaching visual art is helping the students to see things in different ways. Sculpting is always a great adventure because of this challenge since the students inevitably pick subject matter that they know can be done in clay but they have a hard time figuring out how it will happen. Since I do not permit them to trace their selected cartoons, the frustration of the project always sets in very very early on. They print off pictures of what they want to do and insist that that is adequate for them to sculpt from. I never EVER allow it to stop there and I require them to draw (from picture reference) both a straight on front view and then a perfect side/profile view of their selected subject. I describe what they need to draw by telling them to draw a "mug shot" of their cartoon.
The majority of the students are ALWAYS frustrated by the drafting portion of this project though because they cannot figure out even how to draw things. I have found it's very helpful for them to see simple step-by-step directions (always readily online) of how to go about drawing cartoons...
After I do this with them, I project a random character selection onto the white board and then I draw in (with their prompting) the simple shapes found within the overall complex form. Then I turn the projector off and show them what the simple break down is...
|Can't find the original cartoon but this was a baby tiger I think|
I encourage them to do this simplification process to whatever they are attempting to draw not just to figure out how it should be drawn but also to show them that if they do this, they can use this to determine what complex forms they will need to have in order to put them together to make their character in sculpture form! They can even count how many spheres they will needs, cones, etc.
The students are working on sculpting all this week but they are supposed to be done by the end of this week in order for us to have enough time to dry them completely and then paint and fully articulate them. This will end up being the very last project that we do in 3D Design and I am really glad that it is working out like this.