Sketch Process

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

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

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

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

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?



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