Detailed drawing – step by step

This week I made a detailed drawing of a Dragonfly. Here’s my step by step process of doing this…

1. First I draw the basic shapes very lightly. Here I’m just looking at the bigger shapes of things. (I have a tendency to jump ahead and include some more detail in this but I try to stop myself from doing that because I need the basic big angles and connections to be right.) So here I was looking at the size of the body compared to the wings, the angle the body was on and the angles of the wings. When I do this basic layout I try not to think about a 3D object in 3D space at all, rather I think about the shapes and relative sizes in 2D only. So, in a way, I never draw an animal or whatever my subject happens to be, I just drew a group of basic shapes. Doing this I don’t have to push my mind through the shape transitions needed for forshortening, I just deal with flat shapes.

(I forgot to photo this stage when I’d finished it, so this is taken just after I’d started to put in a little more detail on the abdomen and wing joints but before I went over all of my lines more accurately.)

The pencils I used for this are two mechanical pencils (I can’t find my Graphgear at the moment.) and a mechanical pencil sharpener to keep things tight.)

2. Once I’ve got my basic shapes looking right, the next stage is to look more carefully at the line directions and angles and redraw all of my outline with greater accuracy and add some more obvious details like the wing joints and abdominal sections.

As I go I use three types of eraser – a thicker pencil eraser, tiny detail pencil eraser and putty…

3. Next I add more of the major details to the wings and refine my linework even more. I quite enjoy this stage as I can see really accurate lines coming out clearly for the first time.

4. Then I went to work on the detail. I began with the wings which have gorgeous patterns in them…

Then finally I added my shading to the body…

My final step was to add a shadow which was a bit tricky because my reference was a cut out digital image and didn’t have one.

Here’s the final drawing…

A tribute to the Hollow Knight

Ok, I admit it, I’m a massive gamer. It helps enormously to manage my pain and keeps my mind very active. I recently bought a Nintendo Switch Lite which is a handheld games machine by Nintendo (who have a superb reputation in this area). That way, I can play wherever I am. One of the games I’ve recently got is called Hollow Knight by Team Cherry. The game is set in a fictional land of bugs. It’s beautiful. The artwork in the game just blows my mind away. Here are some examples..

They use a simple cartoon style for the foreground objects and then a digital watercolour / gouche style painting effect for the backgrounds. It’s a lot like Studio Ghibli.

So I decided to paint a tribute to them in traditional media. This post details my first try at this. It’s quite difficult to make a traditional painting look like a digital design since all of the tools of the trade are different.

I began with a basic watercolour wash on which I pencilled in my basic drawing…

As usual I used several pictures as reference and combined different parts of them. Then I added my lineart…

And then finally I painted the foreground. I used watercolour for almost all of it with some white gouache mixed in in places and used on it’s own for highlights.

Little Acorns

 

This is a small pencil sketch of some oak leaves and their little acorns.  It was done with Fabre-Castell watercolour pencils and a small watercolour brush.  I wanted to see how small I could go and still put in some textural detail in the acorn cups.  The actual drawing is two and a half inches across.

Here’s a slightly enlarged photo of the drawing…

Quick Comic Practice Studies

This week I ‘ve been very busy with the end of term so here are the final panel art practice sketches I made in the summer. I had been doing really quick 10 minute sketches from TV to speed up my ability to draw comic panels. For this last section of the exercise, rather than sketching from a video, I tried to draw 3 sketches of real comic panels by artists I enjoy as quickly as possible without them becoming unrecognisable.

I began with Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto. I studied two original panels by Kishimoto and then tried to draw and tone them really quickly.

The first one was a picture of Naruto’s sensei Kakashi in a classic ninja pose. This one took about 10 minutes in total…

The second was also from Naruto and has Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura sitting together. This one had a lot more detail in it and took me 15 minutes. I blew my time limit on the background details…

The final study I did was from a comic series called DMZ written by Brian Wood with artwork by Riccardo Burchielli (and sometimes Wood himself). The panel is of the moment a nuclear device is triggered in New York during a fictional future war in the US. It’s an amazing panel. My study took about 15 minutes. Here’s what it looked like…

So, that’s the end of my quick practice studies

(NB: All three panels here were drawn and inked by me, but they are not my own original work – they are studies of the comic art of Kishimoto and Burchielli.)

Ten Minute Video Observation Practice #6

 

This is the last week of video observation practice.  My 10 minute practice drawings seemed to follow a war theme this week although it wasn’t intentional.  It began when I watched a documentary on the Vietnam War which was horrific in places and difficult to watch.  Then I  got into looking at clips of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.  Finally I ended up, where I nearly always end up, with Star Wars!

Here’s the picture I sketched from the documentary…

 

Here’s a sketch of Royal Marines deploying in a RIB from an RN ship…

 

And here’s a Star Wars rebel fighter pilot going into hyperspace!

 

 

 

Ten Minute Video Observation Practice #5

This week’s sketches were all of animals.  I mainly used my Pigma Microns and brush markers, although I did experiment with a bit of charcoal over the ink for the body of my gorilla.  I’m still in two minds about that decision.

Here are the pictures…

 

 

The dog is my favourite, despite running over my ten minute limit by 3 minutes.

 

Ten Minute Video Observation Practice #4

This set of sketches was also done really quickly while watching Netflix and YouTube. I’m working towards being able to draw fast and clearly enough to be able to draw and write a comic book one day. Each sketch takes about ten minutes. I think when working on a real project, rather than just doing some sketching practice, I would definitely take more time. The question is, how fast would I need to go to be at a professional level in terms of time?

Professional Comic Artists

Well, in the comic industry the gold standard is that the penciller would be expected to draw 20 pages a month, which, if you take account of the weekends is one page a day for four weeks straight working only weekdays. But that is just the pencils, no ink, no colour or tone and no lettering. The person who inks the drawing will take less time to ink each page than the penciller did to do the drawing. Colour and tones take even less time and lettering, when done well apparently, takes a day for a whole book! (all 20 pages).

I know that some artists find this pace way too fast and feel forced by the timeline into producing work that isn’t their best which sounds miserable. Many work at a slower pace.  Conversely, comic artist legend Jack Kirby famously drew at an even faster rate  – producing an average of 3 pages a day and sometimes did up to 6!!!  If I were to produce a comic book, with the constraints of my health and a job (which has to come first), I would have to work fast to be able to get it done in a reasonable time frame.  If I stopped all other art I think I could get a page done in a week, working just in the evenings although it would depend on my health remaining OK.

Neria the Thanatologist

Jerry Hardin as Neria in Star Trek Voyager (Paramount)

This is a sketch from Star Trek Voyager of an alien male.  He was called Neria and was a Thanatologist from the planet Vhnori.  He was played by Jerry Hardin.  I like the sculpting of his head shape and enjoyed trying to capture that in a quick sketch.  (The still (left) is not the same pose and camera angle as the one I drew when pausing Netflix.)

Here’s the sketch…

 

The Seashore

The next exercise was to draw a screenshot of a nature programme I was watching about coastal ecology.  The camera man in this series captured a really stunning shot of the coastline and I had a go at sketching it…

This one took a full ten minutes to complete and I really felt pushed for time.

Stylised Hand

The final drawing was of a man’s hand.  I was watching someone scrubbing up for surgery in a documentary.  It seemed to me that a surgeon’s hands are incredibly important precision tools.  Watching him scrub, I saw the care he took to do things properly and became really fascinated by his hands.  I made the drawing of this really quickly (less than 5 minutes) but blew another full 5 on the shading with my brush pens.  Here’s the final result…

Ten Minute Video Observation Practice #3

This week’s video observation practice drawings were from the 1994 TV mini-series of Stephen King’s The Stand and from an advert I saw on You-Tube. I only caught the very end of it so I don’t know what it was advertising but I was really drawn to the cinematography. Again they were both drawn in approximately 10 minutes with Pigma Microns and a manga pen and shaded with natural tone brush pens.

 

Kathy Bates as Rae Flowers

Kathy Bates as Rae Flowers in the 1995 TV mini-series of The Stand produced by Greengrass Productions and Laurel Entertainment Inc.

I really loved reading The Stand and have read it twice now. So when I saw that they made a DVD of the miniseries I bought it. It wasn’t a bad adaptation either. I particularly liked the performance of Gary Sinise as Stuart Redman (although, for me, he will forever be Ken Mattingly, the part he played so perfectly in the film Apollo 13).

The frame I sketched was of the actor Kathy Bates playing the radio presenter Rae Flowers.

In this scene Flowers is running a call-in radio show during an outbreak of a deadly disease in America. Her callers describe the power of the epidemic and speculate, correctly, about the origin of the disease – that it was made in a government lab and was accidentally released. The station is stormed by US soldiers and Flowers is killed. It’s quite a powerful scene. I completely loved the bravery of the character defending her 1st ammendment rights.  Kathy plays it beautifully.  Here’s the sketch…

I managed to complete the sketch and most of the shading in just over ten minutes for this one (12min).

 

River scene

The second sketch this week is of a couple of people in a boat on a river. I’m afraid I don’t remember much about the advert this came from, except that it had an Asian feel to it. I’d been looking up the history of Japanese woodblock prints and somehow got this image from an ad associated with the video.

Here’s the sketch…

Mostly this was done with my trusty Pigma Microns again and my brush markers. I did try the branch silhouette, though, in a different Kuritaki manga pen. The pen was lovely, however the ink I chose to use wasn’t quite as waterproof as I am used to with the Microns and did smudge a little. At first I was going to give up on the sketch but then I decided to add more diffuse colour and try to get the river below the branch to look more watery with darker and lighter reflections. I quite liked the effect in the end, although it looks better if you don’t know about the ink issue!  This one took about 7 minutes in total.

As I write this it’s now half term and I’m trying to put together at least a month of posts ready for going back to work next week.  I’m nearly there with that which will mean I will finally have time to work on my “Fae” picture inspired by the Amazon series Carnival Row.  I am really looking forward to it.  I also have another importantproject I’m doing for my mum, but I’m not sure about sharing it here as it’s especially for her.  I really want to get it done by Christmas if possible.

Video Observation Practice #1

While I work away on my fairy drawing which I began last week I’m going to post a series of sketches I drew in ink during the spring and summer.

I did them whilst relaxing in bed in the evenings, watching various videos – everything from YouTube discussions to regular TV series. It was pretty varied. The idea was to attempt to capture a scene really quickly as if I were planning a comic panel based on that scene. I would one day like to write my own comic book but I needed to see if I could draw scenes and people quickly and well enough for the artwork to be able to carry a story. Now, none of this is finished comic art – it’s just a series of practice sketches which I never intended to publish at all – I did them to speed up my ink drawing and get a feel for working fast on comic panels.

So here are the first two…

I love watching animals and horses are one of my favourites. So here is a fast sketch of a horse from a YouTube video about a horse rescue…

The next picture was from a Netflix series called “Sex Education”. It was a funny series about a teenage lad who’s mum is a sex therapist. Otis is pretty insecure but finds, with the help of his rebellious female friend Maeve, a way to move forward with his life by giving sex advice to other young people at his school. (Oddly, it was set in the UK but the school was run like an american school.) Anyway, here’s a scene I chose from this series…

This is the excellent actor Kedar Williams-Stirling playing a character called Jackson Marchetti in the show.