I’ve been thinking for a while now that at some point I’m going to have to adjust my title scheme for drawing posts, mostly because they feel like they’re going to start coming faster than I’m really improving. I made some major improvements during Inktober (who knew that making yourself draw a thing every day for a month straight would yield better results?), and it really feels like I’m moving into a period where I’m more interested in doing compositions than studies and practice sketches. I’m sure this isn’t a permanent shift; I’m constantly thinking about a visualization I saw on Twitter that describes how artists’ perception of their skill compares with what they can actually do and how it relates to the gap between an artist’s ability to recognize what techniques are being used to create various visual effects and their ability to execute those techniques (it’s a variation on the maxim that creators always feel like they suck when they first start out because they have excellent taste and know their own work doesn’t compare to what they like). I expect that I’m probably going to plateau for a while sometime soon, but I want to push through that to keep drawing stuff. In the meantime, it feels like it might be disingenuous to continue a series called “Learning Sketchbook” when I may not have much insight to go with my new stuff. I’ll have to figure that out.
In the meantime, I had to do evening conferences at work last week, and that afforded me a lot of time to sit around and play while I waited for the very slow trickle of parents to come by and chat with me about their students (when you’re the co-teacher of a class, most parents don’t even realize you exist let alone that they can talk with you about their children’s learning). My explorations with coloring continue apace.
I’ve been feeling just slightly burnt out on superheroes, so I wanted to do something a little more grounded. The fantastic slice-of-life comic Giant Days just recently ended, and while I’m reading it in trade so I still have a few more volumes to look forward to, I thought it would be a good time to play around with Esther, Daisy, and Susan. Being essentially a comedy, the book has a very cartoonish visual style that’s been extremely consistent across its entire run, which created a fun opportunity to play with translating characters who aren’t typically depicted realistically into my own style, which is definitely closer to realism if not exactly realistic. Add to that the fact that each of the girls has a very distinct look to them, and it was a fun experiment to see how I could make them recognizable.
I settled on doing a scene of the three friends after an evening out drinking; Daisy is the very responsible one, but I always feel like she’s the least able to hold her booze, so here she’s being supported by Esther and Susan as they stroll home. Coloring the figures took me pretty much the entire three hours of the first evening of conferences because I realized it needed to be an evening scene which meant I was going to have to figure out how to shade everything without turning the colors muddy. There’s a lot of visual dissonance that you have to overcome when you’re coloring a white page for night time. I feel like I always way overthink light sources and shadows for how simple they end up being in the finished product. Things seems to coalesce a lot more once I colored the background; it helped immensely to have the pub wall and the sidewalk shaded, even though I did those big areas quickly, and they look a little sloppy compared to figures. The paper texture showing through the pencils drives me a bit nutty because the whole thing looks a little washed out, but I’m just learning to accept that’s how colored pencils are going to look, at least for me. Maybe someday I’ll actually learn how to scan my drawings instead of just snapping pictures on my phone to see if that helps things look a little more vibrant.
Also, because adding color tends to obscure the definition of the pencils, here’s a picture of the finished drawing before I started coloring it.
On the second night of conferences I was way less ambitious (it takes a long time to color a whole page). I still didn’t want to do another superhero, so I opted instead for an iconic moment from the best show currently on TV.
Jason Mendoza is a national treasure.
The uncolored pencils for comparison. I don’t know how it happened, but I feel like I drew one really good foot and one really bad one on this figure.
And to wrap up the collection of things I drew this week, here’s one that I actually like a lot except that I whiffed hard on the skin tone (see my earlier complaint about needing to figure out how to scan stuff).
I’ve mostly stayed away from fanart for The Wicked + The Divine up to this point because 1) McKelvie’s designs are so good that I’d mostly just be mad at myself that I couldn’t do interesting takes on them, and 2) colors is just as essential to WicDiv art as the lines are. Still, I think this Dionysus getting into the holiday spirit is pretty good overall. I just wish I’d been more aggressive with the orange for his skin tone because he looks white in the photo. When Dionysus is performing his color palette goes neon, so orange is fine in this moment, but he’s normally brown-skinned. That the photo makes him look white is embarrassing.
I’ll leave off with the pencils for this one (which was actually the first of this set of drawings that I did this week) because I thought they came out looking exceptionally clean. End on a high note, right?