Another look at Frank Godwin’s inking — using a 1945 “Liberty” illustration as an example . . .

If you look at reproductions of Frank Godwin’s pen-and-ink drawings, you can discern several different styles. One might be his “James Montgomery Flagg” style, which has its own characteristics.  One might be his “early Connie daily” style, which (though not at all limited to early Connie dailies) might be described as apparently casual and rather sparse. Then there is his “Blue Fairy Book” style, where the drawings are meticulously detailed throughout. Then there other styles as well, or sub-categories of styles, or mixtures of styles.

Many of Godwin’s Rusty Riley dailies were done in a sort of middle-of-the-road style — not too spare, not too detailed, just orthodox Frank Godwin.

So, all in all, it is hard to make generalizations about Godwin’s pen-and-ink work. But it is interesting and instructive to look at various examples of his work and think about the methods he used.

I have I think four original illustrations that Godwin produced for Liberty magazine. Below is a portion of one from 1945 (to judge by the rubber-stamp impression on it), showing the left-hand part of the illustration (a Bible scene). This example further indicates some of the things I mentioned in the preceding post. There are a wide variety of strokes, applied with great precision, to achieve certain specific effects and textures.

Lib left 72

I have posted this rather small, to show an overall idea of the range of values, from black, to white. (You can probably view a larger version by clicking on it once.)

Below is a more detailed version of a portion of the drawing, from the top edge. This is a night scene, and I take this to be sky, or other dark background. It almost looks like random scribbling, which, of course, it is not. Notice that the overall density becomes lighter to the right, by means of fewer strokes. In the smaller version, above, you can see that the background becomes lighter still as you look further to the right, in the more complete view. (This brighter background is caused by the light of four or so torches that are being carried by people in the illustration.)

Lib detail 2

Below is one more detailed section, from the lower-left. The shows the high level of detail imparted by Godwin, principally in the man’s nose, mouth, and chin area. The features are portrayed via a great number of strokes of varying length, width, curvature, and placement. It shows the type of skill that is amazing. Also visible in the following detail are other types of strokes used to achieve other effects, such as the thick, dark strokes at the left, which provide a kind of counterpoint to the nearby area of white at the top of the man’s head.

Lib detail 1

—Tom Sawyer

July 3, 2015

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