With the last bank holiday, a mind finally at rest after an eventful year, and ultimately, an interesting idea, I finally decided to get back on track, I want to get into storyboarding after all and need to get used to draw digitally.
I am a no-nonsense kind of guy. I was an advocate of Tablet PCs and digital portable workflow back in 2006/2007.
The animatic and storyboard for my never finished short film was entirely done on a Tablet PC in cafés and parks but I gradually got tired of having to constantly make sure my Tablet PC had enough battery or having to carry a charger and reverted to pencil and paper.
No battery, no glare, ultra lightweight and I don't attract unwanted attention, quite the opposite in fact, people call me to return my lost sketchbooks those days.
In France I love using the recycled Zap notebooks.They are inexpensive, come in a vast array of colours which is great when sorting them out.
I used to rough out my comics idea on an A4 version as it allowed me to have several drawings on the same page. Recently I switched to an A5 version as it is more portable and I can have a single cleaned up drawing on one page as you will see below.
So how did I get started with my latest "Addiction recovery" story.
It all started when I went to visit my friend Katarina who just like me, is addicted to coffee but instead of a dark concoction, she offered me to drink tea from a massive bowl she had prepared.
I am always looking for ideas I can dramatize and this was a good contender.
I didn't want to forget about the idea so I quickly sketched out the setup in my sketchbook, this is the drawing on the top right. It is very simplified but has all the elements I needed to move to the next step, the details of the T-shirt would also allow to make the drawing a bit more specific. At the bottom right you can already see a rough thumbnail of the cartoony exaggerated version.
Once I got home, I cleaned up the drawing a bit and here is what I got.
The drawing was pretty much nailed, with the tangents between the left arm and mouth ironed out and the hands posing simplified. I have been trying to draw hands in a more Milt Kahl way lately but I felt the drawing called for something akin to "Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs".
There was a bit of discussion regarding the realism of the gluteus maximus as I was trying to get a really clean line of action so I eventually settled for something more rounded.
Legs and torso were a bit too short for my liking so I corrected those in Photoshop with a colouring treatment I .... "borrowed" from my friend Sandra Brandstätter.
I also adopted her sketchy line work as the Uderzo/Franquin one which I love is way above my skill range for now.
Here is an example from the great Franquin popularised with Spirou and his character "Gaston Lagaffe".
I don't have a scanner and having to adjust the proportions a bit of work digitally anyway, I just took a picture of the drawing and cleaned it up in Photoshop.
Ah ah!!! I was about to forget something!
Like I said earlier I am a no-nonsense type of guy.
Loads of vis Dev/concept artist can't accept that a drawing would be done on something cheaper than a 1 to 2k piece of kit like a Cintiq but with the space those take, the risk of malfunction or theft and the lack of portability, I'd rather stick to a regular Wacom tablet. I think I have also seen Zébé, Vis dev/story artist extraordinaire from Mac Guff, working on a giant Wacom tablet rather than a Cintiq.
Also a Wacom tablet is the only way to replicate the feel of the pencil pushing on the paper on the cheap by just sticking a piece of paper (layout paper for me) on the tablet as you can see below.
On a side note and for my old readers, I have discarded my Monoprice tablet since there are no drivers for Windows 10, yep that sucks.
Now, here is a screenshot of my work file and the brush I used, or Tool, since this is what it is called. It is based on one of "Kyle's Ultimate brushset". Have a look, he seems to have a free pencil brush available if you are that cheap ;-)
As you can see there is nothing too fancy regarding my layers, the only trick was for the tshirt. I just created a pattern as I wanted to experiment with the size and placement then masked it. I didn't think there was a need to have the pattern accurately follow the curvature of the shirt.
Once I had the end gag of my story which was the trigger for the idea, I had to find a setup for it.
I didn't want to spend too much time on the drawings as this would lead to my usual procrastination and discarded a discussion between two characters. Instead I just went with Katarina explaining the backstory.
That pose seemed a lot easier to do until I had to address the right hand and the foreshortening of the thumb. What helped me as usual was just to look at my hand in a mirror.
I was also struggling with the placement of the breasts in relation to the sleeve. In the end I made the sleeve longer to avoid a tangent and get a clearer view of the breast line's silhouette in the right sleeve.
I then proceeded to do a cleaned up version at scale, still on my sketchbook. I have started drawing bigger lately as several artists I love also draw big (Stephanie Rizo, Chris Sasaki, ) and it allows me to get more details... This also makes them more frameable ;-)
As you can see I screwed up and flattened the nice line of action that was present in the original drawing. The problem is that I went too quickly for a clean drawing with bold marks I couldn't erase. I could have started all over again but I really liked the way I had done the face and wasn't sure I could get it right again.
And now here is the final drawing in colour. I would normally use comics fonts for the speech bubble but my handwriting is becoming so poor those days that I would take any opportunity to practice. I am also jealous of my friend Nolwenn's mastery in the art of writing with a Wacom pen! ;-)
In the future I will also probably use one of Kyle's watercolour brushes as they look really good.
I hope this was useful to any of you wanting to get into digital drawing/story telling.
Here is a document that should prevent you from making silly mistakes when tackling portraiture.
1. Units of one eye
Usually the space between the eyes is the equivalent of one eye and the space between the outside corner of the eye and the edge of the front side of the cranium is half an eye
I also drew two eyes between the bottom of the eyes and the corner of the lips but this came up while I was making that hand-out so I am not too sure if it a generic proportion.
2. The triangle
The shape of that triangle would vary from person to person so it is a great way to check the likeness. On this model the distance between the bottom of the nose and the pupil is equidistant
3. Features line up
The inner corners of the eyes usually line up with the wings of the nose and the inner edge of the Iris lines up with the corner of the mouth. It can be the pupil on a male model.
I just found the perfect video to explain the different painting techniques.
- Midtone is the method I was taught at Lavenderhill
- Tiling is the method used by Jeremy Lipking on his DVD and this is the one most of the artist I love use. (actually no he uses the midtone technique)
- Grisaille is taught in some schools but I would just use this as a method to learn values with paint
In 2013, a friend offered to sublet his flat in London from which I had moved out few years before as worked dried out. Well, it didn't really dry out but I wanted more experience in animated TV series and France is the best place for that.
Except when I lived in Paris, I found it extremely difficult to find life drawing classes in France where I could just turn up on the day, few times a week.
As I always wanted to be able to successfully sketch people in the street or even models, I am constantly on the look-out for life drawing classes and interestingly enough, when I lived in Angoulême which is the European capital of comics and possibly also the capital of animated TV series, there weren't any or nothing that was flexible enough.
Discovering Adrian's and Candid Art's classes was therefore a shock. Not only was I able to attend classes every evenings monday to thursday (the long pose friday class didn't exist yet) but I was also able to attend classes at lunch, and even get fed at Adrian's class!
With 6 classes a week, this summer became what I fondly refer to as my 2013 Life drawing boot camp, a boot camp where I met a bunch of lovely people who made me decide to come back to one of the most expensive places in the world to attend even more classes and hopefully get even better!
Right, a very long winded introduction for an ultra short post!
Clearing out my flat I was going through some of my very old drawings and found an interesting sketch I did in August 2013. It is a very interesting sketch as the model is Robin, the very same model I just drew few days ago, with hopefully some sign of progress in my abilities. Actually I don't think I have progressed that much in 2 and half years but one thing is for sure, I have better tools and better Instagram filters!
I am also posting a drawing of Jennifer where the difference is not very dramatic considering how long each poses are. The 2014 one is pretty good for 20 minutes and as a matter of fact, I think I used to be better at short poses in the past/
Going from graphite to compressed charcoal (Conté 1710 B/H) allowed me to better shade the form though, that's for sure and I would suggest anyone wanting to learn construction to do the same. This will give you a better understanding of form and anatomy. The ultimate skills to draw from imagination.
An other good point I should raise is the importance of marking the date and duration of the pose. This makes things easier when evaluating progress.