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Posts tagged as “Drawing Every Day”

Day 15

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Revised Layout

tl;dr: if the flaw is in the bones of the art, you must change its skeleton, not its clothing

Today's drawing is a revised layout for the "Batman 80's style cover" page. While the previous page had more refined inks, Batman's body posture was a bit off, and the Dreamweaver's hands were floating about like he was Rayman. While I could have finished those inks, when I got to coloring the disembodied Dreamweaver would have posed a problem, and the misproportioned Batman would have just looked bad, no matter how much effort I put into the inks or coloring.

I've seen a lot of people spend a lot of effort trying to fix things with finesse or technique when the problems actually lie in the layout. If the flaw is in the bones of the art, you need to change its skeleton, not its clothing. And one of the freedoms that working in Photoshop on the Wacom Cintiq is that you can take a problematic layer, reduce its opacity to 25%, slap a new layer over it with its compositing set to darken, and --- BAM --- you have an instant lightbox to help you sketch a new one.

When Jim Lee got started, reputedly he spent a lot of time drawing from photo reference to help build up his skills. I'm no Batman, but nevertheless, I spent some time tonight taking reference photos of myself clutching my chest and a throw-blanket, trying to perfect Batman's cape-grab, and other references of me villainously spidering my fingers, trying to imitate this "Dreamweaver" chap.

The result is a layout which, at first glance, looks a lot like the old one. Everything is where it was, more or less. But Dreamweaver's hands are now attached to his body, his helmet makes sense, and Batman's arms and cape now interact in a more realistic way. And his fingers aren't rigid as boards, so it actually looks a bit like he's clutching his heart.

No amount of refining the original drawing in place would have fixed these issues: Batman's arm was too long and bent, his fingers were in the wrong place, and the Dreamweaver's thumbs were actually out of their sockets - never mind the missing arms and shoulders. Finesse and technique only take you so far: at some point you may have to stop and rethink your layout to make real progress.

One step backward, two steps forward. Drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Drawing Every Day

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Drawing Every Day Folder

tl;dr: to get good at something, you've got to put in a lot of practice

Hail, fellow adventurers! You may have been wondering what's up with the "Drawing Every Day" on this website. Or, hey, maybe you just got here. But I've gotten far enough into it that I feel comfortable taking a short break from developing this habit to tell you about this habit I'm trying to develop.

Fanu Fiku Page 49

I've loved comic books since I was a child. I've drawn since I was a young kid. I even started working on comics in graduate school, consciously refining my art until I was able to launch a webcomic, f@nu fiku, partially inspired by anime, manga, and the FLCL anime.

Then I broke my arm. And while I was recovering, someone stole my laptop. I took the opportunity to switch from Windows to Mac, and, as luck would have it, got my first book contract for FROST MOON. By the time I got enough free time from editing and book launches to go back to the webcomic and pick up where I left off, I found out my hand-crafted webcomic software wouldn't work on the Mac.

The real blow, however, was hidden: my confidence in my artwork had collapsed.

I went from fearlessly putting together two-page spreads way beyond my ability, doing bodies and perspective, and changing my layout theory at the drop of a hat, eventually producing pages that appeared in an art show - to being unable, or more precisely, unwilling to draw at all.

I had become intimidated by - embarrased by - my art. My wife is also an artist, and is familiar with the phenomenon. She and I talked about the reasons behind this at length, and like writer's block preventing writers from writers, one of the things that really affects artists is simply getting started.

If you've only done a handful of drawings, well, then, every one is super important, and there's pressure to make it perfect. But if you've done lots of drawings, then each one is an experiment, and if it doesn't turn out good, well, then, you can always draw another one.

the art studio

We moved recently, and I made it a priority to set up an art studio. But things by themselves don't create good habits - believe me, I know: purchasing a keyboard and bass guitar all those years ago didn't turn me into a musician, because I didn't build the proper habits around them.

But how do you build a habit if you're too intimidated to get started? At the Write to the End writing group, we tackle it by sitting down to write for 20 minutes, no excuses. At Taos Toolbox, Walter Jon Williams pointed out that this seemingly small amount of writing per day could produce a novel.

So I started to come around to the idea: what if I drew every day?

There's this theory in cognitive science that quantity begets quality. A famous example from the book Art and Fear alleges a ceramics professor graded half of a class on quality, the other half on quantity - but the students who produced more pieces also produced the better work.

There are no secrets: if you want to get good, you've got to put in the work. (Well, there are secrets, but the secret is, you have to put in a hell of a lot of work to take advantage of them). This is such a common thing in webcomics that it has its own TV Tropes page on Art Evolution.

I really want to draw again. I want to make science fiction webcomics like the ones I grew up loving in the 80s and 90s. But to do that, I've got to draw. So, once I finally got settled here and the holidays were in the taillights, once I finally got the Cintiq working ... I started drawing every day.

14 days running so far (counting complex drawings that took 2-3 sessions as 1 per session). How long does it take to cement a habit? 2-3 months, it sounds like from the online research; so, a good ways to go. If I keep at it, I'll have +70 more drawings, five times as many as I have so far.

I bet I'll see some changes.

Day 3 vs Day 13

I bet if you have something you want to change, start working on it every day, and keep it up for 2-3 months, you may see some changes too.

Best of luck with that! Wish me luck too.

-the Centaur

Day 14

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Batman v Dreamweaver, Stage 2

Roughs in Photoshop. Some of the limits of the original composition are becoming clearer here - like, what are the hands of our villain attached to? Has he no shoulders? Is he secretly Rayman?

Enough for now. Still, drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 13

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Rough sketch of cover for Batman v Dreamweaver

Rough sketch for a cover design a la Batman covers of the late 80's.

Drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 12

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Porsche and the Scythe at the Waterfall, Colored

Day 11's drawing, colorized. Lots I would fix in the underlying drawing; many techniques of digital coloring I wished I had learned. But enough of that. Tired, going to bed now.

Still ... Drawing. Every. Day.

-the Centaur

Day 11

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Porsche at the Waterfall

Hello, Porsche, my old friend; time to draw you again.

Getting more comfortable with the Cintiq + Photoshop + Humanscale combo. But only had time for the inks today. Colors maybe tomorrow, or perhaps another drawing.

Drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 10

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Cinnamon wants some ZZZ's

Cinnamon is tired and so am I. No-regrets quick cartooning with a heavy ink pen - a Faber-Castell "Pitt Artist Pen bullet nib 1.5", according to the label. It came in a box. (I filled a cup of pens after an emergency run for art supplies and literally just picked this pen at near random tonight).

Drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 9

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Nyissa, after National Geographic

A sketch of a National Geographic magazine cover that reminded me of the vampire Lady Nyissa from Dakota Frost, Skindancer.

Yeah, I'm not liking the broad lines of these colored pencils or the roughness of the texture I can get out of this charcoal pen, especially compared to my preferred comfort zone of pencils-then-ink for line art then Photoshop for color. And you can even see a bit of the previous page, where I'd been sketching the logo to the old space furry comic Dalgoda. Ugh!

But, as my wife and I were talking ... you have to put pen to paper in order to improve. So ... sigh ... lots more work to be done improving will require lots more work that, um, sucks.

Still ... Drawing. Every. Day.

-the Centaur

Day 8

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holy testing drawing light on black, batman

Not so successful experiments with light pencils on black paper. A consultation with my wife suggests Conté crayons or oil pastels as an alternative, but really, I think I prefer the brown paper of my other experiments as providing the best midtones. Even Photoshop couldn't salvage this one:

Dakota and the Skull, Colored Pencil on Black, Photoshopped

The original came out pretty grainy ... these pencils just won't cut it on black paper.

Original of the Dakota and Skull

Still, drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 7

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Jane Kirk

Bit of a rush job, as I want to turn in early tonight (and still leave a little time for Editing Every Day). Forehead a bit too high, could have used another rough sketch.

Still, drawing every day.

-the Centaur