Small Artistic Details, Uniqueness And Places – A Ramble

2015 Artwork Small Artistic Details article sketch

Once again, although this is an article about making art (and possibly comics too), I’m going to have to start by talking about videogames and plastic bowls for a while. Yes, plastic bowls. As usual, there’s a good reason for this that I hope will become obvious later.

Anyway, a few months ago, I ended up watching a series of “Let’s Play” videos for a really interesting sci-fi/horror Playstation Four game called “Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture”. As cynical as I am about modern games, this one actually looks sort of interesting because it’s set in rural Shropshire in the 1980s.

This is the kind of setting that you’d find in classic 1970s-90s splatterpunk novels (by writers like Shaun Hutson and James Herbert), rather than in modern videogames with astonishingly realistic graphics.

That said, the most recent Playstation console that I own is a Playstation Two and – even if the game was ever ported to the PC – the graphics look like they’d be far too realistic to run on my computer. So, why am I mentioning this game?

Well, during one of the “let’s play” videos, the commentator made a really interesting observation. She pointed out that the kitchen sink in one of the houses in the game doesn’t have a large plastic bowl in it.

This is an unrealistic detail that I hadn’t really noticed, but using large plastic bowls in our kitchen sinks is apparently something that we only do in Britain. And, now that I think about it, I really don’t understand why we put plastic bowls in our sinks (I mean, sinks are made out of stainless steel, so it isn’t like the bowl has to protect it from rust). It’s just some kind of strange tradition, I guess. I mean, it’d actually feel kind of weird to use a kitchen sink that didn’t have a plastic bowl in it.

So, again, why am I mentioning this?

Well, I’m mentioning it because it illustrates how small details can either enhance the sense of place in a piece of art or how small details can become part of your own unique art style.

Whilst it’s probably fairly obvious how realistic small details can reallly make a painting or a drawing (or even a videogame) of somewhere really come alive, I thought that I’d spend the rest of this article talking briefly about how small details are also a part of your personal art style too.

To use a phrase coined by Shoo Rayner (I can’t remember which video he came up with this phrase in though), all artists have their own mental “library” of what things look like. When we draw or paint something from our imaginations, we use this mental library.

However, since this mental library is based on things that we’ve seen in real life, in movies, on TV, on the internet etc… then it’s going to be slightly different for everyone.

For everyday items, you’re probably going to base them on things that you’ve seen in real life – so, to everyone everywhere else, your ideas of what, say, a kitchen sink, or a plug socket or anything like that will look like will seem distinctive and unusual.

So, even if you don’t pay too much attention to the small details in your art (or your comic), then it’s still going to look fairly distinctive nonetheless.


Sorry for the short (and fairly rambling) article, but I hope that this was interesting 🙂

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