"The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that 100 years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life" -Faulkner
Recently, during my coffee in the morning, I've been going through old art books that I own to refresh my memory and see if the lessons I learned from them still hold true. Today's reading is from a gem of a book I purchased a few years ago. It's called "Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators" and it is one of the best books for any aspiring character artist. The reason? It focuses not on 'here's how to draw a nose, but rather more on how to get out of your own way as an artist. It forces you to acknowledge your own limitations, and then blow past them by using energy and confidence in line and form. Getting this book was ground breaking for me, and it's the only book I own where I've drawn in. I was so caught up in the lessons and theory that it was teaching that I couldn't even break away to find a sketchpad. Essentially, it shows you how to recognize the rhythm of opposing forces that go into making a figure look alive, and how to recognize them in yourself and others. Chances are you're sitting in a computer chair while you're reading this. Do you feel that slight pinch in the small of your back, caused by the gravity pushing your midsection down and into the chair? How about that slight tension in the back of your shoulder-blades because of your arms sitting on the arm rest. Are you drinking a beverage? Then you'll feel the tension and force on the inside of your upper arm when you lift it to your mouth. That kind of thought and secondary realization is only the beginning of this book. It shows you that vitality and humanity can come though, and not only that, but NEEDS to show through on your drawings. It makes you explain what you see, rather than just copying it, and showing you how to draw with clear directional forces that make your characters alive, rather than a simple representation. It teaches you to always have something to say in a particular piece, and how to draw with excitement rather than getting caught up in the minor details that can be so very self-defeating at times. Confidence, vitality, humanity, and from that comes works that you can always be proud of.
In addition to the bear this morning, here are a selection of pictures I did for the ever popular subreddit r/redditgetsdrawn. It's a very welcoming place where people upload images of themselves to be drawn in whatever style you wish (generally speaking.) It's an excellent place to go for a quick warm up or idea sketch, as most of these took under 20 minutes. As you can see, for rendering I used the softer brush and eraser to sculpt the lines and render all on one layer. I'm still playing around with different coloring techniques, but it seems that a layer above the line art set to multiply works fairly well. The only problem is it eliminates the pre-existing highlights, so one needs to go back and repaint those in. It's a bit of an inconvenience, but it gives you a chance to go over your highlights one more time and make sure they're rendered the way they should be. The more you have to redraw something, the more practice you get to make sure its accurate. After that, a quick gloss over with a high opacity white pumps up the highlights and adds shines and specular lighting for the final pass.
For today's warm up sketch, I focused on using the technique mentioned previously about using the eraser to shape and shade the figure. I need to gain more confidence with using bigger brushes, especially in the rendering stage because the brush-strokes are pretty visible in this one. Regardless, I had a lot of fun with it today, and I think it made for a rather fun warm-up sketch. I think using the paper overlay for the BG helped too, but I'll play around with that and maybe scan in some images. A high-res scan of a toothy watercolor paper makes for a really good texture overlay that helps make digital pieces pop. More at 11.