This is a commissioned piece that the client has kindly allowed me to share. I did a pencil sketch like this years ago, probably about a year after I started drawing again, and although I liked it at the time it now looks incredibly naïve. I also like how the troll has crammed itself under the bridge, which makes me wonder if trolls are like hermit crabs; do they move to ever larger bridges as they grow in size? Someone should look into this I think.
Before I drew this I did my usual scan of pinterest for reference images to work from (stuff like goat horns, faun, satyre etc…) and I then did a few sketches of what I thought the character might look like and how it might pose, but nothing seemed to work. This occasionally happens and I suppose it’s a bit like writers block, except, well, for art. What I’ve found, through much trial and error, is that if you continue focus on what you can’t do then you’ll never get anything done (or worse, you’ll hate what you produce). Instead work around the problem and the answer will appear in a more organic manner. In this case, as I’ve mentioned, the character was the problem. My issue was trying to make the character pose in a certain way and I was drawing blanks (pun intended, thank you). So instead of focusing on this I decided to start drawing a background in which the character would exist. I must have spent no less than a minute sketching a very rough tree before the answer came to me and the rest of the illustration grew from there. It seems obvious, but the best characters come to life when they are put in imaginary situations or are reacting to the world they live in in some way. That has been, in my opinion, why some of the most interesting characters I’ve drawn recently appear to be reacting to something. To hammer this point home to myself there is now a note pinned to my board that reads “With characters think about; the world, interaction, reaction”. I think this fairly sums up in a succinct manner a great many aspects of character design without getting too specific, which is a good thing because you can’t see the woods for the trees sometimes.
I struggle enormously with colour application. I always have. I’m incredibly jealous of artists who have an eye for good colour composition and it is genuinely something I work hard to improve at., but seem unable to understand fully. I think (without sounding arrogant) my drawing ability is of a very good quality; I understand shapes and how they move in a three dimensional space; my grasp of character design is good; my line work is solid; and I can draw what’s in my head without much of an issue. Adding colour though is the bane of my existence and I most certainly cannot translate what is in my head to the page. The above illustration took about six hours… at least four of which were spent pissing around with the colours. Granted, I may have messed around with the line work a lot as well, but still! I thoroughly look forward to the day when colour application clicks for me! That is unless I’m actually dead and I’m currently in my own personal hell where colour will continue to baffle me for the rest of eternity…
Dinosaur week has come to an end and we move on to mythical creatures! However, apart from the gryphon and unicorn I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to draw. Dinosaurs were easy because a few spring to mind straight away and we seemed to be taught a great deal about them at school, though for what reason I’ve yet to discover. Mythical creatures weren’t so much on the curriculum, except of course the Greek ones like Medusa, Cerberus, the Hydra, and the Minotaur, but I’m wanting to focus on more general ones, which in itself poses the question; what other mythical creatures are there? Is Bigfoot one? The yeti? Or are they the same, but geographically different? Dragons are a possible option as they appear in many different cultures but again; which type to choose? Are goblins and orcs mythical or were they made up by fantasy authors? I will ruminate on these questions and get back to you. You’ve been most helpful.
I’m still not completely used to seeing depictions of dinosaurs with feathers, especially Raptors and Tyrannosaurus, but I’m fully onboard with the whole “dinosaurs evolved into birds” theory. I like the idea that you’re seeing living fossils pecking around the garden and flying around your head (less so when they shit on you of course).
The Jurassic Park is still THE dinosaur movie. I don’t think any of the sequels have even come close to the original. The T-Rex in the rain; the raptors in the kitchen; what an outstanding film! I remember watching it with a friend when I was about 10, and we shit ourselves when we found out that the Raptors had escaped. I think we thought they’d be at the front door jimmying open the locks.
I feel like there’s a good amount progress being made with the designs now. There’s definitely a consistent style with this work when compared to the start of the daily characters, which was what I was aiming for.
I genuinely (and this is probably the first time I’ve ever said this) like all of the above illustrations, which is weird because there’s usually about one piece in four that I hate. That’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement – there certainly is – and, as much as it’s nice to hear, there is nothing more dangerous than being told “good job” (usually via instagram in some form of comment or another), because I think people are prone to rest on their laurels once hearing it. No laurel resting here.
I think this week will be dinosaur week, kicking off with the Stegosaurus.
I’ve been trying less and less to clean up the gesture lines I use to construct these characters in order to maintain a feeling of energy and movement. The wildebeest I think is a good example of this. You can see the lines are more chaotic and less precise than any of the previous characters and I think that adds to the overall aesthetic of the piece. As well as maintaining a sense of movement and energy this process is also training me to work in an almost traditional “pencil and paper” manner. I’ve said before that I’d like to start working using traditional media, be it pencil, charcoal, or ink, and make some originals, so these characters and this style of work would be a nice gateway to that.