Missing Steps (Part 2)

Following on from yesterday, I’ve tried to break down the gaps into specific skills I can focus on learning/practising/re-learning.

Copying Accurately: Seeing and replicating the exact angles and proportions and measurements that make something what it is is pretty central to being able to take the good of a sketch and build on it in a later drawing.

Exercises:

  • Accurate observational drawing from life
  • Copy my own simple arrangements of shapes
  • Memory drawing exercises (look, cover, draw, check etc)

Refining a Composition: Taking a basic idea and testing out various compositions to find an arrangement that works well is the only way I’m going to make illustrations I really like. In a workflow I’ll want to draw lots of tiny thumbnails of the one idea – changing one aspect at a time. Hopefully these exercises will help my brain to do that without panicking.

Exercises:

  • Draw an object/still life from a different viewpoint than the one I’m looking at. (Simplify: Draw it twice, changing viewpoint in between)
  • Draw an object/still life with different lighting (and hence shadows) than reality. (Simplify: Draw it twice, changing the lighting in between.)
  • Draw a still life. Then redraw a more pleasing arrangement of those objects, without rearranging the physical objects.
  • Draw a rough sketch of an imagined interior, or other angular setting. Fix the perspective, and redraw basically but accurately.

Refining Details and Adding Information: The final stage is to add details, and make things feel right and complete, without losing any of the energy of the previous steps. Accurate copying should help with this step. But there’s also the fact that at this, the most precise step, I often use the undo button when working digitally. I need to practise being deliberate.

Exercises:

  • Draw a rough sketch of anything simple (animal, plant, prop, hand) and then refine/stylise using reference or memory, without losing overall shape.
  • Draw a composition of broad shapes. Turn into 3 different scenes by changing the details/objects.
  • Design a character. Roughly sketch different expressions/poses and refine each into the designed character.

There’s a lot to do here. I probably won’t even end up doing all of these exercises, but I hope they’ll start my brain and hands moving in the right direction.

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