Archive | July, 2009

Life drawing, part 4

31 Jul

So I decided to draw some children on the playground behind my flat from my balcony. I’m somewhat shielding by a large tree, so I can spy on who’s on the playground without attracting too much attention. It also means I’ll get two or three second glimpses of people, so I have to be very attentive and instantly see the most important characteristics of a pose.

Life drawing, part 4

Children are just like grown-ups, only without the hesitation. They are still so sure of themselves, because they haven’t been slapped down by life experience. It’s the innocence of youth. This same youthful attitude helps them to gather lots of friends, which is important. Lots of life long connections are formed. They don’t know it yet, but they are going to need each and every of those connections if they want to succeed in later life. It is something teenagers do instinctively, but there is a good sociological reason for it as well.

That is all.

Slave Leia, part 9

31 Jul

Slave Leia, part 9I think I’m getting the hang of this. The sketch took only 40 or so minutes to make, first with red pencil, then inking with rollerball pen, inking with reed pen and Indian ink, and correcting with white out. The digital clean-up and coloring took the same amount of time, 40 minutes.

Being able to work faster is important if you want to create comics. Now story-wise being able to draw convincingly isn’t that important, because you can still convey what you want to say. However in my own experience, if the artwork is really bad (chicken scratches), the attention gets shifted towards the artwork, and it is less about the story in that situation. If that is what you want, then ok, but in most cases you want the art to be an integral part of the story in words and pictures, so the reader gets drawn into the story. A certain story needs a certain type of artwork in my humble opinion as a wannabe comics creator. If that is true, a limited skill level as a visual artist limits what kind of stories you are able to tell that appeal to other people.

However great the drawing may appear to some people, I think I still need quite some life drawing, like I did yesterday. Brief sketches of people on the move force you to concentrate and simplify. Now that is an important tool to have as a comics creator.

As an aside, I’ve looked into doing figure drawing with (payed) nude models, through community college. However, the basic costs (330 Euros for 30 lessons) doesn’t include paying for the model (depends on the number of participants), nor the costs of the materials. I guess if you can afford that because you already have a descent income, it is a good solution, but not having income from my art at this moment, I really can’t justify such an investment. Mind you, these art lessons are still subsidized.

What I also dearly miss in this community college education are any guarantees that these lessons are any good, or just meant to keep amateurs busy thinking they actually learn something. Knowing some of the art teachers by having been instructed by them, I’m afraid it is the latter. Good art teachers are a rarity, alas. Many want you to do what they have been taught in art school, instead of managing and supporting an artist in what he or she wants. The latter might not be the direction in which the art teacher went. Some also  never seem to question if what they have been taught is actually of any use in practice. Art school isn’t the be all and end all of art education, in my opinion. It is just something to get you started, to give you a bag of tricks, which you should expand upon when you bring theory into practice.

So for now I muddle on with what is available and affordable.

Even while I’m quite pleased with my colored ink drawing, I’m still a long way off from drawing characters from imagination. Drawing from a reference photo is one thing, and with imagination you can even represent the woman in the drawing as a magical creature. You can deviate somewhat from the pose in a reference photo, but if it gets too much, the viewers have to work hard to suspend their disbelieve, and they are taken out of the story.

I think that is because we see humans (or things that look like human) so often, that we  instantly spot any deviations from the norm. That intuitive knowledge doesn’t tell us, though, how to make it right. If one doesn’t know better, it would involve a lot of redrawing until  a good pose is found. I think it is much better if you understand how to construct a human being without any reference, and only use reference material to strengthen your initial sketch.

I think that is about all I have to write at this moment about this subject.

Life drawing

30 Jul

I did some life drawing at a small local outdoor music festival. I was a bit nervous, but no-one seemed to notice me. I was tucked away at the back and mostly drew people from behind. I need to get over that shyness.

Life drawing, part 1

This first drawing took 4 – 5 minutes to make. The people in the shot weren’t standing next to each other. I picked them from the (thin) crowd and put them there. The stage with musicians was more of a quick impression than a real sketch.

I used a cheap red pencil I bought today for only 23 Euro cents, and I inked at home with a dip pen used for writing. The size of the sketchbook was A5 (148.5 x 210 mm).

Here are some sketches I made of the audience. I used the same process of putting people next to each other that were never actually next to each other.

Life drawing, part 2

Life drawing, part 3

As you probably can imagine I was quite nervous at first, but after the first drawing I got the hang of it, and actually started to like it. Even so, I stopped after three drawings, so I’d stay fresh. The last two sketches were each made in 3 minutes tops, while people weren’t really standing still. So it was a lot of training of my visual memory, and restricting myself to the essentials. The funny thing was, though, that I started most people with their heads.

That is all.

Analogue or digital?

30 Jul

Since I started to be more serious about drawing and illustration this January 2009, I have been looking online and off-line for good drawing equipment for analogue art (say: paper and ink). The traditional supplier of professional drawing equipment have discontinued their pro-lines, and what is left can’t really be called professional anymore. The quality isn’t there. Probably because of the low production volumes, the quality control has gone down the drain.

That is unfortunate, because in my opinion, digital drawing equipment isn’t at the same level of excellence as analogue equipment. There is no good tactile feedback. And when the user has to adjust to the computer, instead of the other way around, something is wrong. Unfortunately, this let-the-human-step-down-to-the-level-of-the-PC attitude has prevailed in the last twenty years. At first, this approach by software developers was reasonable, because computers weren’t very powerful, but nowadays these machines have more than enough computing power.

The software, both on the OS level and the application level just hasn’t kept up with the advancements in hardware. There has grown a disconnect between what a computer can do and what software developers think it can do. When you look at it objectively, the technology sector hardly thinks outside the box; they rather look for places in the box that haven’t been used yet, for an unused niche in the market. I guess one can’t expect anything else if the tech sector remains primarily market driven and the public sector is kicking cans at the side line. The government needs to step in to get us out of this echo chamber of short term thinking innovation cycles of the current tech companies.

This all inspired me to draw the following cartoon. It is, as many cartoons are, born out of frustration or discontent with a particular situation, in this case a (hidden) status quo in computer aided illustration.

Analogue Or Digital?

That is all


29 Jul

Somehow cats now how to make you feel very guilty with their meowing. They clearly study humans and know how to manipulate them. Unfortunately the reverse is often not true. Most people wouldn’t know their cat from one that looks like their cat. In fact, it has been reported that some owners who lost their cats for some days saw that it has changed sex.


That is all.