Friday, April 9, 2010


Okay, confession time: drawing is something I struggle with from day to day. Some aspects more than others - hands, for example, are a real bear. They're gradually getting easier, but they still take a lot of work. Which doesn't come as much of a surprise, given how complex the structure of a human hand is. Definitely one of those areas where practice is the answer. I also used to find hair pretty difficult as well, but not so much anymore. (Oddly enough, it was harder to draw back when I still had hair.)

In comparison, pulling a long, even, curved line in ink never gets easier for me. I've never had the steadiest hands for that kind of thing. Short lines aren't a problem, so if you've seen me do something with lots of loose, sketchy lines, now you know at least part of the story.

Take this illustration for example:

I inked this today. The rough sketch was printed out at about 10 inches wide, and I inked over that. Now, knowing how tricky the linework can be, I got out my French curves, my oval template and my ruler, and I decided to just keep drawing through if something went wrong, rather than agonizing over something I could fix after the fact, and letting that derail the whole process.

So finally I got the linework finished and scanned, and then I spent a few hours on the details - smoothing out uneven curves, duplicating repeating elements like the louvers, and just general touchup. Probably spent almost as long cleaning up the illustration in Photoshop as I did drawing it in the first place.

This is often a dilemma on my part, of course. On one hand I'm tempted to draw the stuff fairly small, so it's easier to get smooth curves. But then the gaps between the lines fill in, and I can't use reduction to clean things up.

On the other hand, if I draw it large I have to freehand all the lines, because none of my French curves and oval templates are big enough.

I guess it's largely a matter of what sort of touchup I want to do. Do I fix a lot of little, niggling details, or do I use Bezier curves in Photoshop to fine-tune the bigger areas of the lines? By now I'd likely have hit upon the optimum procedure, if I didn't work in so many different styles.

Something to consider in the future, I guess. Not like my hands are magically gonna get less shaky.

Thanks for listening, everybody. What aspects of drawing trouble you?


Jeff said...

Have you tried using a Flexicurve? That should help with the bigger arcs that French curves can't handle.

Also, I've given up entirely on pen & ink because my hands are shaky. I use Illustrator to ink, and no one can tell that I'm not using a brush. It takes longer, but I'm always happy with the results.

Bret Taylor said...

Hmm. Food for thought. I had a small flexible curve years ago, in my first round of college.

Maybe I should pick another one up.

Jeff Hotchkiss said...

I have one hell of a time drawing cars. The whole perspective + curves always frustrates me. Give me a gaggle of hand drawings any day.

Jeff Hotchkiss said...

To be clear, I meant drawing hands.

Anonymous said...

Drawing the human form from memory is fun for me. Trying to visualise, in my mind, how the body looks in different poses is a blast.
Hands... I get it right here and there and other times it's alot of erasing. :)