Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Different techniques in digital drawing

Good morning readers! 

It's not actually morning here anymore, and I've been awake for several hours already. But being unemployed and not otherwise occupied, midday just never seems to begin. Because I have no set routines (Except for always waking up at 09:00, I do that!), everything's a sort of morning, midday or evening. It doesn't matter what you call them, because for me, they're all the same at this point!

So, Good times readers!

But, uh, to be perfectly honest, I'm getting a bit sick of it. Routines are good for us, for body and mind. And being unoccupied is kind of boring. In this sort of situation, you have nothing to look forward to. Except changing your situation, e.g. getting a job, which I've been hard at work at.

I guess we will just leave it at Hello readers!

Today I'm comparing and analyzing the procedure behind two of my most recent drawings. The first of these can be seen below. It's an angry snowman. There really isn't much more to say about it. Perhaps I'm getting tired of the chilling weather, and therefore I'm subconsciously applying my frustration to all things snowy. Who knows.
This analysis applies mainly to painting on a digital medium, by which I mean drawing with a digitizer pen and software like PhotoShop.

Anyhow, the approach to drawing this one was quite different from what I'm used to. As you can see in this GIF, I begin by drawing contour lines, and that's important because this decision shapes the stylistic direction of the painting, and it's basically always seen in the end result. It's very difficult to begin erasing all those black lines, because once they're there, you start to build up the painting and composition around them, and the painting relies on them to work.

When you later make the decision that those lines make the painting look not serious or unimpressive, you're going to regret you ever drew them. When you push that "Hide Layer"-button to make the lines disappear, your painting looks like crap again. Everything near a black line will have to be redrawn. And in that moment, you're going to wish you started out differently.

You're going to wish you started drawing like I did below! 

By blocking in general shapes and working on from there. I've written about the holistic approach to drawing before, and I won't go into much detail again. In practice, it means you start out with an extremely rough sketch and slowly work your way in to the finer details.

In the case of the snowman, beginning with the linework meant working from the details outward. It leads you to build up the artwork around those details. In some sense, it's easier because you always have a firm structure to rely on, which you can see I didn't have when I drew the male. I was sort of just winging it with the size of the head and general proportions. When you work like that, the first pass is rarely right. As you can see in the GIF, I have to change the size of his cranium 3-4 times before I'm satisfied with how it looks.

That's one of the drawbacks of the holistic approach. It's a lot harder to structure your art, and what often happens is you become blind to the structural mistakes you make. Looking back now, ten days after I drew the picture of that guy, the shape of the of his head really bothers me. Maybe that wouldn't have happened if I'd begun with linework.

Anyway. Holistic painting works better for me. A lot of painters have much success in mixing these two or simply always beginning with linework, but I find attractive linework really hard to do on a digital medium, which is why I avoid it. With traditional media I almost always begin by sketching the contour lines, but not so when I'm drawing on a tablet.

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