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Fourth Wall Portrait
Works drawn in a simplistic or cartoonish style may feature a piece of art, often including a person, drawn in what we would consider a much more detailed or realistic style. Almost invariably, some character will remark on how unrealistic that art is, or how bad the artist's grasp of anatomy must be— why would anyone give people five fingers
? This is how artists show off their creative range, displaying details and style that are obviously inconsistent with the visual style of the work.
Largely a subtrope of Stylistic Self-Parody
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Anime and Manga
- Parodied in the anime version of Shaman King, where a member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad makes a portrait of one robber in a 70's Shōjo style (a style more detailed than the cartoony Shōnen of the series - but not by much).
- Used in the 4-koma short comics at the back of the manga adaptation of Gundam Wing, which were far less detailed than the manga. The shorts also featured strips on "how to draw characters" which were three panels long (the last reserved for the punchline) and even simpler than the 4-koma themselves.
- A couple of strips centered on Doctor J inventing a de-chibifier ray and using it on Heero. Unfortunately for him, it only affected his head and left the rest of him super-deformed and looking pretty strange.
- Happens in Bakuman。, when Takagi and Mashiro create their first manga series. Since Mashiro wants his girlfriend Azuki, an aspiring voice actress, to give her voice to the heroine in the anime adaptation of his series, he makes the heroine resemble Azuki, and the first draft design of her is much more realistic than the usual "big eyes" style in which Azuki is actually drawn within the Bakuman manga. Later he decides to makes the character more stylistic.
- Inverted by Ika Musume, where Takeru draws a picture of Ika, which looks exactly the same as her. Takeru complains that it looks too "manga-like," while Ika argues that she doesn't have such a simplistic face. (Of course, she does.)
- It's also played straight with Ika Musume's (realistic-looking) portraits. Combined with the above, it comes as a bit of a Mind Screw.
- Busou Renkin plays this straight when Kazuki draws a picture of Chouno to show around the school while they try to track him down. It's in incredibly detailed style and both Tokiko and Chouno himself are taken aback by it. That said, Kazuki did put his heart and soul into it.
- In issue #9 of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic series, Big Macintosh is presented a caricature of himself, drawn as a realistic horse than the cartoon style, by the pony-sona of the book's artist in the role of the caricature artist. Big Macintosh declines buying the artwork.
- Frequently used in Calvin and Hobbes. In very early strips, Calvin's imaginary excursions were often drawn in a cartoonish style basically the same as the main strip's art. Later on though, the artist experimented with different styles in different fantasy worlds. When Calvin played "house" or "doctor" with Susie, the art was in a style a lot like soap opera strips: normal human proportions, angular lines on characters, etc.
- The commentary in one Calvin and Hobbes collection revealed that it unintentionally showed Watterson's true talent. Whereas the usual Soap Opera Comic is drawn on a much larger paper and scaled down, Watterson's parody of it was drawn at normal scale without losing any quality of detail.
- A FoxTrot strip featured a still life of some fruit in a bowl, starting from a fairly realistic drawing and "improving" to the comic's cartoony style.
- Another had Jason drawing comic characters with eyes identical to the comic's googly eyes; Peter says he's never seen such realistic eyes, and Jason replies he's going for the "graphic novel feel".
- Yet another has Jason making a snowman. It looks normal until Peter points out that the nose is in the wrong place, and Jason moves it to the side of the head to match the normal Foxtrot face.
- The Far Side once featured a street artist in a city where everyone had a simple two-dots-and-a-semicircle smiley face for a head. He is, of course, completely unable to draw them correctly.
- In Sam & Max: Freelance Police: The Devil's Playhouse, there is a painting of Sam and Max on the wall of Momma Bosco's lab, as a realistic-looking dog and rabbit.
- Parodied in an Abridged Series of Yu-Gi-Oh! (no, not that one) by puddleths. Yugi is asked to sign a deviantART drawing of him, and claims it looks nothing like him, even though it's drawn in anime style. He then praises a stick figure drawing of him.