Each year I make my own Christmas cards and print them out. So here are the three cards for this year.
It’s Thursday morning, so that means figure drawing. This is the last for the year, we won’t be having any sessions during the holidays, and the first week of January, I’ll be in Boston. There will still be art posted. Just not figure drawing.
We tried something new this week, a 5 minute pose, where the model picks a pose, and every 5 seconds, changes the pose slightly, by moving an arm or a leg, so there is something similar from pose to pose. It’s an interesting exercise, and I recommend trying it. However, I’m not posting anything from that, while interesting to do, it’s not as interesting to look at.
I started going to the drawing group back in April of 2009. Back then it was every two weeks, and eventually it went up to once a week. While you should try and draw every day, even once a week figure drawing makes a noticeable difference. As seen as below.
The knee and leg on the left side are so over worked. What is there is what I saw, but my execution of it wasn’t correct. The proportions are good in both, but I know, it was a lot more work to get them in on the left. There was a lot more sketch in, take out, adjust. I have my own list of things to focus on and to learn, such as facial features/expressions, hands and feet. How lighting works on the body. I’ve definitely seen an improvement in those areas. When learning to draw the figure, it’s a natural reaction to try and avoid drawing hands and feet, but if you do, how are you ever going to draw them correctly? The solution, draw the figure big enough so that feet don’t fit on the page! Uh, no. Learn to fit the figure on the page.
Between then and now, I’ve changed the way I hold my pencil.
The suggestion came from my friend Marc, who is an amazing artist. It’s something I’ve read in books and knew was a better way to hold your drawing tool. I just never really done it. The way you normally hold a pencil is a very natural way to hold it. But holding it the other way, quickly becomes as natural. It also gives you a wider range of movement, and the ability to make bold lines, fine lines, shading just about any mark you need to make.
During the break, I talked with the other group organizer, Kristen. The subject was, when do you stop having to measure out like you learned in school, when does it become automatic. I doubt it ever does. Oh you probably get really good and make less mistakes along the way. There are always adjustments. I passed on the advice from Marc to Kristen, about how to hold your pencil. Because it really does make a difference in what you can do. I can’t remember if I was ever told this when I was in art school.
And getting used to holding your pencil like this doesn’t take much time at all.
An important aspect of being an artist, is being organized, and often it’s a subject that seldom gets talked about. I’m a big supporter of being organized, and when it becomes a habit, it can really save you. Example: several months ago, I was working an onsite temp job, and had lots of down time. During one of those down times, I wrote down a bunch of notes and script for a follow up to Kool Aid Gets Fired, to be included in the reprint.
I did some sketches, and then had to put it away to focus on paying work, and now I can get back to it. I thought I had handwritten them out, as I generally do, and hadn’t gotten around to typing out. But looking through all my current project journals, I couldn’t find them. Oh here is a sketch from the new work.
So I looked in the folder on my computer, and low and behold it was there! I had typed it out, in fact, there were no hand written notes, because it’s not a lengthy project.
Because I had gotten into the habit of putting things where they belong, when my memory came up with something different then reality, I wasn’t left having to redo work.
I credit my organization habits to working corporate publishing. You really have to be organized when you are the person handling all the files, for several books all being made at the same time. You either get organized, or end up being frustrated and hating your job.
But even without working at a big Publisher, or some other company, you can be organized.
I’ve got one folder I keep the files for my various comics in. Broken down by Client or project. Everything for that goes in the main folder, and gets organized inside. Black and white art, finished pages, layouts, reference art and more.
However you decide to organize yourself, the main thing is to be consistent. Each project will require it’s own categories. Certainly I don’t have a folder for LegalDocuments for my own work, like I do for a big client, like Marvel.
But I am consistent in putting the files where they belong. And not inventing a new category, or using temp folders, which end up never being deleted. It gets to the point where it becomes automatic, and so when I go searching, I generally find things right where they need to be.
You can be like this with your business side of being a professional artist. I have a folder for all my stuff pertaining to being a freelancer. Samples, resumes, art of business and postcards. Invoices, contracts (Which get printed out, a little note written on them for what, and then filed).
Yeah, it sounds like a lot of work. The biggest work is just figuring out your needs. Once you get that, the rest is just follow through. And your needs may change over time, or you many think of a better way of doing things.
For example, when I finish a page for a comic, I make a RGB jpg of the page, at 200 and 72 DPI, so if I have to show someone, it’s ready to go. If I take screen shots to send a visual along with a question, I keep those in a folder along with these low rez images. Why? Those are not files I will need to keep, so once the project is over, I can delete the folder, without losing anything important, and get back some space.
All those lo rez files and screen shots can start to take up space.
After all, which is more work, taking a few seconds to save a file to the right spot, or trying to remember the script and notes to a comic you wrote 3 months ago, and haven’t looked at more then once in that time?
After a two week break, we got our figure drawing back on last night. At first, I just wasn’t hitting it. It was a new model, so I wasn’t as familiar with her body as I was with past models. It might have been that it’s been two weeks since the last session, even though I’ve been doing drawing and such at home. But the final pose, which we gave a hour for, I felt I really got the form down, though I wish I had paid more attention to the stairs and surroundings in my drawing, I feel I crapped them out.