I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site a measurement/planning process I use when drawing, so I wanted to give an outline of how I do it. When I’m just sketching random nonsense, I don’t do any planning. This is more in reference to really getting down to business on a project; making sure dimensions and details are as accurate as possible.
Many of the pictures on the “Pencil Drawings” page used some aspects of this grid and measurement. As I said on that page, I have mixed feelings about this. It really helps me create accurate images, and I am ultimately more satisfied with a final product that looks realistic. The flip side is that it sort of feels like cheating. In my mind, a skillful artist can free-hand a sketch of a person successfully without relying on grids for proportion.
So, basically, I feel like an adult who never took the training wheels off of his bicycle. I wonder if I practice enough, could I ride my bike like a grown-up?
Step 1: First, I measure the grid lines. In this drawing, I used a 1″ x 1″ grid. After the grid is in place, I start filling in the outlines of the figures. Realistic proportion is very important to me, especially if the subjects are real people.
Step 2: I start to fill in the details. I almost always start with faces, since I think it’s the most interesting part of a drawing.
Step 3: I continue to fill in more details. I usually take a break from body details every so often to revisit facial features. In this case, I was somewhat unsatisfied with the first few incarnations.
Step 4: Details are pretty much complete at this point, and I usually spend a bit of time making sure the final product matches the subjects. I think it’s important to think about this from a broad, overall perspective first. Then, consider individual features that might not be accurate, especially the eyes, nose, and mouth.
This is odd and possibly of questionable merit, but I also often view “finished” art through a mirror. I feel that you can become sort of desensitized to your own work if you’ve spent enough time on one subject. A mirror’s reflected image seems to give a fresh perspective on something, and is one of the ways I judge if the picture was actually proportional and a proper representation.
Also, I usually have some background or additional stuff in mind that should be added, but I rarely actually include those things. I think it’s because I don’t really enjoy drawing scenery. Once the subjects are fully realized, I guess I become bored with the project. I mean, if I’m going to continue drawing, why bother drawing a wall or a table? Why not just draw more people?