I call the accompanying illustrations A Non-Exhaustive Collection of Pieces I Enjoyed Making And Was Really Proud Of But For Various Reasons Never Followed Up On. Some of these are quite old, and excuses for not exploring these techniques more over the years include: I didn’t even consider it, it seemed too hard, I sorta did but it didn’t work so well the second time, and I was busy with other things.
A caveat: I have followed up on the black pencil drawing of the lake. It’s just that I’ve followed it up only in observational drawings and study, not trying to carry any of it over into finished pieces.
I really love these pictures. I loved making them. And yet (again, excluding the sketchbook picture of the lake) they’re basically one-offs. If I want to continue to develop a style that’s enjoyable and appeals to me, this feels like a good place to start. There’s a lot of potential that hasn’t been tapped.
One thing they all have in common is that they’re made primarily traditionally. The girl in the balloon was assembled digitally but, other than that, they were made on paper.
Another thing they have in common: they are simple. None of these pictures show a character in a fully rendered environment with solid perspective. And that’s why I could manage them.
I’ve really missed out on actually studying and practising the use of traditional materials. At first I was trying to learn so many aspects of illustration (composition, value, anatomy, perspective) that the challenge of also using traditional materials was beyond me. The computer was so forgiving. And then, once I had a rudimentary handle on those things, I didn’t want to give up the standard of rendering that I’d come to expect of myself. I didn’t want to feel like a beginner again. I just wanted to keep making better and better (aka more polished) illustrations.
Some dedication to actually learning to use traditional materials would give me a lot of freedom. I can’t expect to just jump into fully rendered scenes, but if I could build up to that, that would be worth doing.
I imagine most of this will happen through trial and error and simple practise. But, some aspects to highlight because I really like them:
- Give objects volume through value shading, even if texture is unrealistic or simplified
- Mixed media – add highlights and shadows with layers of pen or pencil
- Play with patterns and multiple layers of work
- Broaden “sketchbook-style” to other objects: interiors, people, animals, expressions
- Consider how elements of this could be done digitally or combined traditional/digital.
And after all this study and practise with traditional media, maybe I’ll go back to working mostly digitally. There’s a lot to be said for working digitally, after all. But if I can take some of the feel of these pieces back into my digital work, that’ll be worth while. One cool thing about practising art is that no time is really wasted.