Friday, October 7, 2011

Progress Made

Wow... It has been a while. Especially since I did say I'd be posting here on a weekly basis. Well, here I am again now regaurdless, and pleased to say that the practice has not stopped in my absense. Here's a little recap on what I've been up to.

I'll start from where I left off with my drawing, replicating the art of the artists I admire most as part of my practice and to build up some experience in working with those styles. Marc Silvestri and David Finch were my main sources of inspiration and I certainly worked from their art for a number of months, drawing what they drew, getting a good feel for the time and effort involved in creating such detailed illustrations. Working with shadow and rendering was extremely valueable in teaching my self how to manipulate lighting around the forms, how little and how much rendering I should include on the drawing. I watched David Finches DVD's over and over again, asked advice from artists such as Greg Capullo and Nar, all of whome were very helpful and encouraging. After a while, I did notice my own style coming through onto the paper. A hybrid of other styles at first, my true style became more and more prevalent, I think, just due to the fact that I had been drawing so much.

When I noticed this, I started drawing on my own, without any reference from other artists or photography. It was time to go out on my own, to discover my own ways of  composing, conceptualising, detailing, and rendering, to build up my own confidence without having to depend on any outside resources. The more I drew, the more comfortable I became. Here's some of my own works:

Another major factor in improving on my skills has been gesture drawing. I frequently started using a website called where I would do sets of about 120 30 second gestures a day (about an hour of gesture drawing). Although these were very simple, thumb nail sized gestures, the more I practiced these poses the more energy, character and strength I began to find in my final works. These tiny sketches cannot be underestimated. They have helped me so much in not only being able to proportionalise, pose and manipulate the body a lot easier, but it's alowed to to sketch out a base drawing at a much faster rate and with better accuracy. In fact now, if I think about it too much or am too careful about starting out with a drawing I find the results a lot less sufficiant then if I just go with the flow and trust my instincts.

Over the last week or two I have to admit the motivation to keep on going, to keep pushing myself has worn thin. It's hard to keep on going when you feel like your energy is so depleted. I'm afraid if I don't though, if I become lazy with this I will lose all the progress I have made thus far, and I can't let that happen.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Fine Balancing Act

I’m just going to make a quick post today; I have to go off to one of my classes in an hour or so. I was up till about 4 this morning, finishing off these sketches. I had other work to do during the day, so I had to put the hours in during the night, as often is the case. It’s a hard balancing act, putting enough time into personnel life so that relationships don’t fall apart, putting the time into your day job so that you don’t lose it, finding time to finish off the home work for the part time course you’re doing, and then using up the rest of the time to do what I consider most important – my drawing. And getting whatever sleep you can in between. 

These sketches are from the usual artists, David Finch, Mark Silvestri, Ed Benes. Humans are creatures of habit. The way I see it, when you’re trying to learn how to draw you need to copy and emulate other artists in order to gain experience from them. That’s how you gain new knowledge. Because the thing is, if you’re trying to draw stuff from your own head, you can’t learn anything from yourself if the knowledge and experience isn’t there to begin with. I like using other comic artists as practice mainly because as somebody who wants to work in the art form it’s important not only to have the skills in anatomy an proportions, but also the dynamic appearance comics have which make them so appealing. People enjoy comics because it allows them to escape from reality and enter a fantastic world inhabited by fantastic characters.  That dynamic element you find in comics is hard to capture when drawing from life or photography (although both are still just as important).

Anyway, that about wraps it up for today, I will probably do some of my own stuff tonight; see how I go. Hopefully this practice I’ve been doing has rubbed off on me a little more.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Anything Worth Doing Never Comes Easy

I did these sketches a few weeks ago, when I first decided to get serious about my drawing practice. Again, these sketches are mainly referenced from the work of comic artist David Finch. I think what attracts me most to his style is his use of shadow and rendering, and the sheer amount of detail he manages to fit into his work without it ever looking over done. I guess I have always been attracted to that grungier, darker comic art style and it is defiantly a style I am looking to incorporate into my own work. 

These sets of sketches are the newest ones I’ve been working on. Nothing special, just more practice, getting up that experience. It can be hard doing these every day and night, as the motivation slowly drains and procrastination sets in. But I have to be tough and learn to get past it because the matter of the fact is there is no better way to develop my skills then to practice, practice, practice.

And here is some of my own work, straight from my head. The first image is of a character called Reptile from the Mortal Kombat game series. I did him a few weeks ago now, he was kinda my first guinea pig in regards to testing out some of the stuff I’d learnt from drawing the work of David Finch and Marc Silvestri. The only thing I referenced in the reptile picture was his clothing. I have been playing a fair bit of Mortal Kombat lately and I really like all the unique characters available to play as. Reptile and Noob Saibot are the two fighters I like the most though, probably because of their creepiness.

The cone head zombie guy is more recent and is actually a creature I had lurking around in my dreams the other night. He seemed to have the ability to raise the dead, and I was there defending myself against the zombies with nothing more than a small hand gun. It was a frightening dream but very cool at the same time. I like nightmares for the reason they can often provide one with quite unique and profound ideas for a new art work or even a story. As you can see with the cone head drawing though, it stands as much cleaner and confident when compared to the reptile one, so I do think all this practice is rubbing off on me. 

 It is hard for me to upload my own work, because I feel at this point it is very inferior compared to where I want the quality of it to be. I wouldn't say I'm embarrassed of it exactly, but I do feel like I'm putting myself out there on the line. 

This is still something which I think is necessary though. I want people to see how I progress. I want other artists to watch me as I take on this journey, and how I will get to where I eventually want to be. This is a big part of why I created this blog. I think some people just think an artist is born with their skills already there; the reality is talent can only get you so far and you have to work hard to grow as an artist. I wanted to show people who make these assumptions that we all start out on the same level. And I want other young artists who are at the beginning of this long and treacherous path that they will get out what they are willing to put in. The more you practice, the more you sacrifice, and the more pain you are willing to go through in order to get what you want the more you will be rewarded. Anything worth doing never comes easy; it's as simple as that.

I have often wondered what talent is really, and the way I see it is it is that drive to better ones self. And it just doesn't apply to art; it applies to anything someone can have a passion for. It's the thing inside you that tells you not to give up.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Quantity over Quality

I didn’t get a chance to upload this set of sketches the other night. These ones in particular were referenced from photos rather than art. Although I think that drawing from the work of artists you admire is important, using photos as a reference during practice helps you to gain the ability to transmit real life onto paper, perceiving it in your own way, similar to the way a caricaturist interoperates their observations into their own exaggerated interpretation. 

 And here is some more work I did yesterday, some studies from Marc Silvestri and Ed Benes. As I re draw the work of these comic artists I notice more and more that I am picking up bits and pieces of their techniques. It looks like I am trying to emulate their style, but it’s more the fact I am learning how to use shadows and render effectively, not to mention practice with the human proportions and anatomy something I really need to know how to use and have a solid knowledge in as a comic artist. I feel I should defend myself on the matter of copying other artist’s art as a method of learning and source of study for fear of judgment, but at the same time feel that there is no need to as all artists have their influences. I will take away the knowledge and practice I have attained through the experience of drawing the work of the talented people I admire, and I will apply it in my own art.  I do feel that seeing and doing is the best way one can learn, so going by that, if I draw enough of the magnificent work these artists have done, my skills will rise to meet theirs at some point given enough experience.

Some of these sketches do have mistakes in them which aren’t too hard to find. I just wanted to mention that the reason I have not corrected these errors is because I draw these sketches in pen from the beginning. The reason I use pen (a regular ball point biro to be exact), is because of my belief that to get the most out of experience and practice what matters most is quantity over quality. So, by doing these sketches in pen, I do not have the luxury of spending hours fixing up a single drawing using a pencil and eraser which in turn forces me to move on from one sketch and get multiple more done. Some will disagree on the quality over quantity remark, but this is simply my own bias, and the reason for it is that a few months or a year from now, regardless of how errorless my work may seem now I am probably going to look back and see that it is nowhere near the standard it will be by then. It makes more sense to smash out as many sketches as I can, because the more I practice, the more of that volume of work standing between me and my eventual goal I will get through.

These drawings are of my own, completely from my head without the aid of any reference what so ever. I don’t have many of these right now for the fact that I am still learning, and if I don’t have the skills there yet, there isn’t too much knowledge I feel I am able to retrieve from myself at this point to further my learning. I do think that drawing my own work without reference is so so important, and possibly the biggest step toward my goal with the most to gain, but right now it is a lot of experimenting and applying what I have learnt from my experiences, practice and memory. I do think I could and should do more of these, I guess I have been avoiding it because of the fear of going out on my own. It’s very hard to create an image entirely from your imagination without any other sources of reference, that’s why I applaud comic artists so much for their abilities to do this every day. Yes, most of them use reference, but in large they rely on their skill to draw a 2D picture of a 3D scene from no place other than their mind.

I sketched out this gun toting gal this evening, using pencil. I am fairly happy with her, although she isn’t perfect, I can see a clear rise in my skill level since cracking down on my drawing practice. It has only been two weeks since I’ve starting getting serious and really committing myself to drawing every day so I am look forward to seeing where I will be at in a few months’ time. I just need to be patient and stick with it.

I accept now that my work will never be perfect, but that will never stop me from thriving to reach that perfection. And this is the beauty of art. A good artist is never satisfied with their work and so they are always trying to improve, and alas, they always do.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Getting into Gear

It hit me a few weeks ago that I really need to knuckle down and practice my drawing far more then I have been. I feel such a long way from where I want to be at with my art and I see that the reason for this is simply because I am just not putting in enough. The procrastination and laziness needs to cease, I have been guilty of both these things way too much lately. It is a slow process, and I know that it is going to take me weeks, even months if not years of consistent drawing every single day before I see a noticeable rise in my skills. This is something I need to get past. I need to realize that patience in my development is a virtue. I need to stop expecting  my talents to exceed at such a fast rate, it takes time, a lot of time. Those artists I admire, such as Todd McFarlane, Greg Capullo, David Finch and Marc Silvestri only reached the level of expertise they are at through commitment and constant practice. This is my problem, failing to stick at it. I need to keep digging this hole, digging it deep enough until I hit water. I know this is the only way, and there is no getting around the huge volume of work I need to get through before I can call myself a pro. 

So I bit the bullet last week and made a promise to myself that rather than pulling the ol’ sketch book out once or twice a week to do some drawing, I am going to pull it out every day and try my best to do as many drawings in it as I can. It’s been two weeks since I made that promise, and I have stuck firmly to it. I can see that already, drawing from photos, and the works of various artists such as David Finch and Marc Silvestri, I am gradually improving. The things I am learning while doing these sketches are starting to stick in my head.  The improvement isn’t huge, but it is there. I know there are going to be those out there who say it is wrong to draw from another artists work, but all I know is it is helping me to  build my confidence and solidify my own style. Yes I am copying their work, but solely for practice and nothing more. And I suggest other aspiring artists do the same, copy the artists you admire. It is wrong to call it your own, and all it will ever amount to is experience, but we must not forget that experience and practice is the key to developing as an artist. I think if you do anything enough times it starts to build itself into you. 

I have a little over half a year left until I begin drawing up my graphic novel. The fact that I am already starting to see my skills improve in only two weeks tells me that if I can stick with it and be consistent, with enough patience and time I will reach my goals. Now in saying that I am going to start uploading scans from my sketch book to my blog, very possibly on a daily basis. This isn’t to show my work off, but rather it will be a tool to motivate me to draw every day, it will serve as a kind of dead line that I need to stick too. Also, my blog has been kinda quiet, so if nothing else it might bring a little life to this place. 

So I’ll talk a little about these first few sketches from my new sketch book. As I mentioned, I started this sketch book less than a fortnight ago and have tried my best to do at least one or two sketches in it a day. I still have to do some more scans (I don’t have the time to scan anymore tonight), but the sketches are from a range of works by the artists David Finch, Marc Silvestri and Ed Bene’s, all of which I feel will serve as the greatest influences over my work. I admire these artists, and although I am endeavoring to develop my own style, the works these artists do in particular definitely lye in the direction I want to head in with my work.

I will be uploading some more scans from my sketch books, hopefully tomorrow with any luck. So if anyone is reading this, keep a look out for my new daily updates. 

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Ever Evolving Artist

My plan this year was to really work hard at developing my artistic skills in drawing and painting in preparation for a graphic novel adaption of Cradle which I planned on creating in 2012. And that's just what I've been doing, practicing daily whenever I can fit in the time. But I realise that although I have learnt so much there is still such a long way to go before I can feel content and confident with my artistic skills. It feels great when people compliment me about my work, and it's encouraging to receive that admiration because it provides that motivation to keep going but at the same time it feels undeserved, as if they think of me as more then what I actually am.

That's not to sound selfish, because I do appreciate my talents but I feel like a child that still has a lot of growing to do. This 'growing' turns out to be quite a slow process, and a process of which there are no short cuts or ways to go around. Its hard work, and when you work so hard yet see little improvement one wonders if there will ever be a point where you manage to get beyond the growing. When will I wake up and be the very best I can be? This is the challenge. It's not about comparing me to others; it's more of an inner battle in knowing that I do have so much more underlying potential that seems to be at such a far reach.
I'm starting to think this isn't such a bad thing. In fact this self-nagging to become better and better, never being content with the level I am at with my artistic skills could be the greatest gift of all. I believe now that the moment one becomes satisfied that they have mastered their skill they cease to improve beyond that. Maybe our very best potential is constantly striving to surpass even our own expectations.

And this I think is where my love for my art comes from. It’s a challenge. It’s hard, and may never be overcome but it will always be something I can get better at. The thing with mankind is we always want to attain something and once we fulfil this want we lose interest in it. This is why my art will continue to evolve for the better, because its perfection will always be unattainable.

Again, this is an inner journey. Yes I will compare my work to other artists, to those I both admire and don’t admire, and I may or may not surpass them, but to surpass myself? As hard as it is to know you’ll never reach you’re full potential when it is possibly the one most important goal in life, I hope I never do. I hope I never reach the end of the road.

I think this is the secret of artists such as Greg Capullo, Todd McFarlane and David Finch. Sure they are great, each with a huge fan base of admiring fans and fellow aspiring artists (myself being one of them), and of course they know they are good, they know that people admire their work for a reason, but do they ever feel they are at their full potential? Are they ever completely satisfied with their art work? I don’t think so, and this is precisely why I think their amazing talents continue to grow, because their art will always be a challenge for them.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Innocent Child

I am the innocent, honest child. My words, thoughts and ideas cannot be proven with facts or labels, and so they will tell me the way things are. They do not see it, therefore they never will.
I know nothing, contrary to those who think they do. I do not claim to know what you are, but you may not be what you claim to be. I will put the cards on the table and never ask you to take them.
I am your brother. I am just like you, and once you were just like me. At our core we are one in the same.

The Innocent Child,
By Clayton Barton - 2011