Drawing from imagination

29 May

I wanted to draw a rhinoceros from imagination and here are some versions and what I’ve learned from it.

Rhino from imagination # 1

⇧ Here I was struggling with the image of a rhino. I mean, most of us have seen a photo of a rhino or a rhino in real life. Putting this “knowledge” on paper is not as easy as you might think.

Rhino from imagination # 2

⇧ After a short break, doing something completely different, I came back to the previous design and restated it. While the head is strong, the body is too much like a cat (yeah, I draw cats all the time).

Rhino from imagination # 3

⇧ I tried another viewing angle to get a better grip on the design. This is already looking much better!

Rhino from imagination # 4

⇧ Making the rhino stand up will give it a more human appearance and will probably be easier to draw and identify with. However, I know little of how to draw the human figure. Note how the features get better with every attempt.

Rhino from imagination # 5

⇧ The three-quarters view is by far the best way to present a character, because it has to be in three dimensions for this perspective. This is excellent to get a grip on the moving masses of your character.

Rhino from imagination # 6

⇧ Riffing on what other character designers have done can be useful as well. Here I based my rhino loosely on Maha Ganeshariff by Toru Nakayama (Megaman Zero video games). Sloppy drawing is key if you don’t want to just rip off someone else’s design.

Rhino from imagination # 7

⇧ Restating the Megaman Zero inspired design with my own take. If you’re a creative person, I don’t think you can plagiarize, even if you tried. There will always be something of yourself in a design. I’m not saying you couldn’t plagiarize, only that it’s more of an artisan thing, not as much of an artistic endeavor.

Rhino from imagination # 8

⇧ After reading a bit about how to do gesture drawings, I realized that every curve you put on paper has to be there for a reason. If you put intent in your lines, you will get a much clearer design. Before you can do that, you should think about what your character is doing.

That last bit was the big take-away, I think. Drawing with intent is so important. Also, if you want to breathe life into your character, an asymmetrical pose is important. If gives a dynamic appearance. I’m not there yet, but it’s getting better.

Another take-away is that you need to iterate your design, however laborious that may seem at first. After all, if you have drawn the best you can, that should be enough, right? Wrong! Even if you have the skill to draw a perfect character design, you should always explore alternatives. And if you don’t yet have that skill, drawing many iterations of a character design will give you this skill pretty soon, especially if you want it to be better.

Drawing with intent, not just for pleasure or passing the time, is what separates the amateur from the (aspiring) professional. Drawing from imagination is of course showing intent, but reducing the lines to the ones that you think best demonstrate your ideas (which you first should develop), and then in iteration pushing the design for more clarity, is where you want to go. Pushing your design should always be within limits, though. You still want believability, not something grotesque.

I will continue the design and probably share it on Flickr when done. I’ll probably write a new post on it.

Thanks for reading and I hope you found it useful. If you have any ideas or comments, feel free to add those in the comments section.


2 Responses to “Drawing from imagination”

  1. Michael May 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    It is true. If I start with just lines and no intent I end up with a result that I am usually not very pleased with.

    Not to say there can’t be some value in the exercise of drawing from free form lines but if your goal is to draw something specific then intent and good line choices is the way to go!


  2. Rene May 29, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    Well, there’s exploration of an idea, where you’re not quite sure what to draw. I suggest using thumbnails there, so the 15-30 s you invested in it doesn’t feel like a huge waste to throw away. But even then you want some kind of clarity, pull some lines out of the mess of lines, and extract those for a more involved sketch, like a rough.

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