Jenn asked me to blog today, as she has been super-busy, and well, I’m a good husband (today I am anyway). And since this is FREE FOR ALL FRIDAY I realized I could write about something other than the process I go through for doing a personalized illustration (a shameless little plug, I know). Instead, I decided to write about a personal goal of mine- doing one drawing a day.
During the month of October, I started drawing an inked sketch on a daily basis. Dubbed Inktober, this worldwide event challenges an artist to do an illustration using the medium of ink. The rules are fairly loose, and each artist set’s theirs up according to their own needs. For myself I wanted to get over a few fears I’ve acquired in the last few years. I wanted to do them traditionally, as opposed to digitally which is what I do on a daily basis. I also wanted to use very little reference and have a time limit. And finally, and probably most importantly, I wanted to practice inking traditionally, as I’m a bit uncomfortable rendering in this way and often lean on my colours to make up for my lack of skill. I’ll go through each reason a bit more to explain what my thinking was.
Because I draw in a digital medium almost exclusively, I’ve grown quite comfortable with what it allows me to do. I can undo any mistake, as well as overlap a clean drawing space over a rough sketch as many times as I want to keep on refining the illustration. Those two abilities are things you can’t do so easily in a traditional drawing. I can erase of course, but inevitably it leaves marks, and sometimes part of the line you want to keep is erased. I also have a tendency of drawing too dark in the initial sketch. I can also lay paper on top of paper and use a light box, but it becomes difficult distinguishing lines sometimes. Basically I felt drawing traditionally was more of a hindrance and as a result I haven’t really done any finished drawings in this way for myself in a while. I was rusty and a bit intimidated by them. Doing these daily drawings would allow me to practice doing the sketch lighter so that I didn’t worry about mistakes and doing a lot of erasing.
I also didn’t want to put too much referencing into this, which directly correlates to the time. When I draw digitally, I will first draw from my imagination. Once I go as far as I can with the sketch I will look up any reference that will help with posing, light and shadow, and detail. It takes time as well as adds to the refinement of the illustration. With the traditional illustration, I followed this same procedure, but spent very little energy on the reference. This meant I had to trust in my imagination and limit the amount of time I put into the illustration. Which leads me directly into the time factor.
Normally, when I’ve been sketching digitally, while there are many things that help save time, I seem to be drawing for longer and longer on each piece. I think I’m afraid of putting something out there that isn’t the best illustration I can do. With the daily inking exercises, I wanted to cut down on the time and release it to the world as is. I didn’t have an exact time limit in my head, but I wanted to be able to finish the drawing in the span of one or two short tv shows or one long one. Early on it was more like two or three shows, but by the end of the month, I was drawing within an hour, and liking most of what I was doing.
At the end of the month, I was pretty happy with what I was doing. Many of the illustrations were decent, and some I was very proud of. In the beginning I was having difficulty figuring out compositions and spending too much time on a single character illustration. By the end of the month, I was spending half as much time on the illustrations while adding multiple characters and creating more complicated compositions. I used little to no reference, and the overall illustrations were getting tighter and more finished looking. I missed one day, and could have tried two illustrations to make up for it, but decided since I was being honest by putting out illustrations as is I thought it would be honest to not add time on to another day too. My fear of traditionally illustrating was starting to become more lax, (it still lurks a bit), and it started to help my digital illustrating too.
With such a successful month of drawing, I didn’t want to stop, so instead of just doing a single month of Inktober, I’ve decided to turn each month into a theme and continue the daily illustrations. This month is Movember, which is where men grow mustaches, and raise money to support foundations that put money towards researching men’s illnesses like prostate cancer. I wanted to help, so instead of shaving off my beard, I have been drawing characters with mustaches on a daily basis. So if you want one of the illustrations I post on my Facebook page under Keith Grachow (look in my album titled Movember for all past illustrations) and let me know. I’ll take the money and put it towards Movember Canada – http://ca.movember.com/
Next month is Dismember! Happy Holidays y’all.