Looking forward (and back)

I actually started this drawing before either of the other two. I had BB-8 mostly drawn last month and I’d started on Finn’s outline. I suspect that’s where things went a bit wrong in terms of improvements I was hoping to make.

For christmas I got a Star Wars drawing manual which is what enabled me to draw BB-8 because I basically followed the step by step instructions. With Finn I generated the pose using Adobe Fuse and Unreal Engine (same as I did with my past two pieces). So what did I do differently on this one?

In my last piece I thought that an issue was that the clothing didn’t have any texture. I tried to add that used some actual clothing texture brushes. I also speckled dirt on with another brush. Ultimately though I don’t think it made much of a difference. I’m still not happy with the clothes. There’s odd parts that are ok but the jacket is hanging oddly and his shoes look far too flat etc.

I did use a new technique with the burn tool for lighting, and made more use of the lasso tool. I also added a white highlight which can be seen most clearly on his knuckles but is also present on his upper arm and face. That tip came from Jazza for making the picture pop. I tried to follow this tutorial (referenced below) for the hair but I’m still not happy with that either.

Anyway I want to talk a bit now about the future.

Well I’m a fan of Draw with Jazza, I’ve certainly referenced him enough on these drawing posts, and he had an offer on one of his videos of 3 months premium Skillshare for 70p. So I signed up and started browsing through the tutorial videos. I started with the ones that Jazza recommended and ran into one part problem, one part amazement.

I can draw … a bit.

There was this character design tutorial. My attempts looking nothing like the examples – mind is blown – BUT I did succeed in actually drawing a picture without tracing over something – in fact! I actually did it without any references at all until I had to get a bit of help from google on arm placement.

Now as line drawings go it’s awful but it’s not stick figures, it’s actually recognisable – it’s a start! I feel a bit like I did back in 2012 when frustrated with rewriting Perfidy for the third? fourth? time I just started typing and an idea happened. Up until then I’d felt like a fraud because I’d always known where my ideas came from. It was such a rush to just generate an idea and it’s the same kind of thing with this.

So what’s this got to do with the Star Wars drawing? Well I was following this tutorial which took a sketch through to a full finished digital drawing and I hit a snag. My initial outline for Finn was basically just his shape, the sketch example was amazing, it looked like a proper drawing and it wasn’t even coloured/shaded or anything. He’d got loads of detail lines for the clothing, hair etc. and I didn’t have any of that. I tried to retrospectively add it and follow his shading tips but it was still nothing like his example – because I didn’t start from anywhere near the same place.

I pulled up eclecticmuses art because I’ve admired them ever since I first found their pieces on tumblr. My jaw literally dropped and I was practically incoherent in the tags as I was so impressed. I got a skin for my iPad with their art so that I can look at it everyday and think “maybe one day I’ll be half as good as that” as that’s the dream. I tried to study how they did it and found that their shading technique has more in common with this tutorial video, than the blending method I tried to copy from Jazza.

I can sort of see what I need to do but I’m just struggling to replicate it because … “skill not high enough” to quote Warcraft.

The truth is I need to go back to basics – I need to learn how to sketch. I have levelled up enough to be able to imitate something I’m referencing, so that would probably be a good place to start. I do like to make the pictures in my head – just like with writing I guess – I get an idea and I want to make it reality. Copying a photo kinda does beg the question in my mind of ‘why bother?’ as nothing will look as accurate as the photo. I guess this is where “life drawing” comes in because you draw what you see in front of you, and it’s like before cameras sketching was the only way to preserve it. It feels less pointless that way at least but it does mean you have to stay put until it’s done.

I don’t have fancy art supplies. Mum made me a couple of blank page ‘sketchbooks’ for christmas with copier paper. I have the usual assortment of random pencils BUT I do have a nice set of coloring pencils, which I don’t need for sketching but bought myself off Amazon anyway for … reasons. The problem with sketching on paper is it’s permanent and a big part of why I’m managing to kinda draw these days is that it’s digital – there’s a permanent undo button so I can tweak until it looks right. You try that with an eraser and it’ll tear a hole in the paper.

However! Facing facts I’ll never improve if I don’t step outside my comfort zone. If I ever want to have a sure hand like the artists in the videos, then I need to practice. I need to do what I’m absolutely terrible at – accept failure and leave it alone. I do have my iPad for sketching on the move but that does indulge my undo addiction and the surface is quite slippery. My graphics tablet is look at the screen and hope the hand follows where I’m looking. I can do it but obviously it’s not the most natural thing to do. If I pass my foundation year at uni I’m thinking I might treat myself to a new display graphics tablet. We’ll have to see on that one.

I do have some projects in the pipeline. I need to do a Beauty and the Beast adaptation comic strip, I started a Killjoys sketch (the thing I did without references) and I want to do a Regina and Henry comic strip for America’s mother’s day.

For now though I think I need to just practice.