Now that the freelance job has finished, for the time being at least, it’s time to return to the other kind of creativity that occupies the time not spent working on other peoples stuff. The great pity about so much of the freelance work I do these days is that I can’t share it with you, which would help to bring a hefty dose of making activity to the blog. Development projects are always shrouded in a bit of mystery and the ever present blanket of confidentiality to prevent development details from being compromised. Few projects progress fast enough for details to see the light of day within months of being completed, let alone a couple of weeks. In this case it is more likely to be a year or more before it’s safe to show anything and of course there are always permissions that must be granted too. As a third party contractor one must live with this apparent inconvenience but it goes with the territory. I suppose I’ll have to build another bike and get the making-o-meter back round the dial that way. Now there’s a thought…….
In the meantime it’s back to the drawing board and some action with the brushes and pens. There is still some work to do on some colour sketches which are sitting here and that means getting warmed up again for some painting.
So here above is yesterdays warm up exercise in the form of another “bikehead”. Not quite as successful as the previous attempt, a bit heavy on the colours, but it served its purpose.Yes, there are lots of things wrong with it, but these only serve to remind me that there is some way to go on the journey to a more confident and polished technique.
As mentioned before on the blog there are always things going on in the background while work on the larger finished drawings is progressing. Sometimes this takes the form of working sketches which will form the basis of larger works, at other times they are small drawings that are used to practice techniques or develop an idea.
Above are a small group of what are known here as bikeheads. Invariably the larger drawings contain a character or two and it is often a challenge to get them looking right for the given context that they find themselves in. Finding the correct pose and body shape is never simple and the same goes for facial expression, and how this reflects the characters personality. The former are dealt with purely through sketching out varying forms but, the latter is harder, especially when you realise that even the slightest variation in line can change a facial expression completely. So as an aid to get things going I have started a kind of character bank in which to keep all the doodles of heads and faces that appear through the sketch sheets. It will then be easier to have a look through and find some inspiration when it’s needed. Adding some colour to these helps to bring out the character and keeps my colour pencil technique up to scratch too if it’s not being employed elsewhere.
Which leads me neatly onto this second group. Back in December a post contained some small groups of varying bike styles I was playing with at a reduced scale. Those had been completed in crayon and ink. These above were done purely to see what would happen if they were done using liquid inks and watercolours. To find out how intense the colours would be and how much of the detail could be held given the very liquid nature of the medium and the coarser paper used. Very fine Rotring pen has been applied too, to firm up[ the outlines and add extra black where desired. The paper was fine for the paints but proved to be a bit too “wooly” for the finer stuff subsequently done with the pen. Next up will be a test on harder paper.
Some say you can’t learn to draw from a book. This may be so, or not, but a couple of really useful books I refer to regularly are Action Cartooning by Ben Caldwell, here, and Cartooning The Head & Figure by Jack Hamm, here. Both are invariably out on the desk when character sketching. Neither will teach you a style but, both will inform whatever your personal style may be. Great books.