Drawing Unknown Faces, part 173

1 Jun

I think the most important part of creating a drawing is having a good process. There are certain steps you need to take to end up with a solid piece of artwork. This usually involves working from big to small. It is tempting to go into nitty-gritty details immediately, being so awed by what you see. However, this seldom leads to a good drawing, or at least to a drawing that is the best you could do with your current drawing skills. Put off the details as long as you find bearable. Of course, this is all a matter of personal taste and skill level. Some artists can do most of the preparatory work in their heads and skip right ahead into the detail work. However, most artists need a piece of paper as an extension of their minds.

Now, the objective in my little exercise was to draw a solid outline. This starts with looking and roughly measuring, to get a feel of the big shapes. Then you start putting big, broad strokes on the paper, keeping track of the three-dimensional aspects of what you see. Don’t over-analyze, just be aware that you’re translating a 3D object into a 2D object, which should reflect the form and shape of the original object. This translation can only be done with any success if you visually understand what you are seeing. In other words, you have to do it a lot, have seen similar objects from different angles.

Here’s my initial outline. Impressed by Preston Blair’s animated cartoon drawings, in which he uses broad, but deliberate lines, I decided to do just that.

Drawing Unknown Faces, part 173, sketch 1

I always wondered what George Bridgman meant with “drawing the rough outline with straight lines”. I guess he meant to put gracious lines on the paper, which in turn inspire to put more gracious lines on the paper. The initial outline is your foundation, from which you build your drawing.

Like any foundation that has to last, it has to be strong, hence the need for an appealing first outline. Remember that you have to invest a lot of time in your drawing, so it better be fun and inspiring to look at.

Of course, it also has be strong in another sense. It has to capture the outline of the original. It doesn’t have to do so in a literal sense. You just have to give your outline the same appeal as the original. Just as cool, but not necessarily an exact copy. This is what allows for caricature and cartoon art. These art forms abstract features of real life and change them to fit a certain style.

To see the coolness of the original (the model) it helps to have a strong pose and powerful image. It is possible to see coolness in an everyday snapshot, but it takes a lot more effort. I guess that’s why many fine artists have a wardrobe of imaginative clothes and accessories. When put on their model, it helps them to spark their inspiration and see the beauty of the model enhanced by the beauty of what the model is wearing.

And most importantly, let the outline sink in for a while, come back later and check if it’s just as cool as you initially thought. If not, fix it.

Luckily, the initial outline didn’t need much fixing, so I made this sketch by filling in the details.

Drawing Unknown Faces, part 173, sketch 2

That is all.

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