One of the many things I inherited from my late father (and he from his own grandfather) was a box of cigarette cards. When I was a kid, Brooke Bond used to place cards inside boxes of tea and we would try to collect the whole set. Usually there were 50 different cards in each set and they ranged in subject matter from Inventors and Inventions to The Race into Space. Once you had your set you could purchase a special illustrated album to stick the cards into (little realising that in doing so you were destroying their value completely for future collectors). I still have many of these albums to this day. In the USA, the same hobby involved not boxes of tea but packs of gum. How delightfully stereotyped is that? British = tea, American = gum.
But before tea cards, the UK had an altogether more unhealthy way to get us all collecting - smoking. Every packet of cigarettes would contain a collectible card and the idea was that you smoked yourself half to death to get a full set. The various sets included caricatures of cricketers and rugby players, football and tennis players. There were sets depicting Cries of old London (the unique calls of street traders), another of Hollywood stars and yet another set with engravings of breeds of dog. I inherited a big old box of these cards - all too tatty to have any value - and I still have them now. My favourite set was called Straight Line Caricatures and featured exactly that; fifty famous people captured by the artist Alick Ritchie using just straight lines. The set dates from 1926 and was given away by Player's Cigarettes. They do provide a fascinating snapshot of who the celebs were in those far off days. No vacuous teenage pop stars here I'm afraid. They were all very worthy and also very male. Some of Ritchie's caricatures were very detailed. Others -like the Earl of Balfour (always my favourite) - were simplistic and very funny. Inspired by these cards I can remember as a kid trying to make drawings of people and animals by just using straight lines.
And that's the connection.
All of the things I've drawn with a mouse this week were drawn using straight lines. The only exception was using a shape tool for the circles of the eyes. It's actually been quite good fun - it took me right back to my childhood - so I decided to share the fun with you. I've scrabbled together a short video demonstration of how to draw with a mouse the Stevyn Colgan way. It's actually more like sculpting than drawing as I use the mouse to chip away at a basic shape and then mask off areas and shade them or lighten them. So here you go. Enjoy.
And yes, I did it in a hurry and forgot to give the poor little beggar any nostrils. Or ears. Or, indeed, a body. What do you expect from a two minute demo? Guernica?!