You know how they tell kids who want to play basketball for a living to take a basketball with them everywhere? They should be sleeping with that basketball. You have to get a feel for it in your hands, the space it occupies next to you, how it moves when you dribble it. It’s the same with drawing. I take a sketchbook with me where ever I go. In fact, I’m a junkie for sketchbooks. I have moleskin’s tucked into the glovebox in my car. Sketchbook on the coffee table, another by my computer. One there under my bed. I’m drowning in the damn things. They might not ever get all filled up but the important thing is that when I have an idea it’s written down or even better, drawn.
|Michelangelo’s Sensitive Line and Expert Rendering|
You have to draw every day. You’re waiting in the doctor’s office? Don’t pull out your phone. That’s a time sink. Get that sketch book out and draw the fake ficus in the corner. Draw from life as much as possible. And then draw from your imagination twice as much. Dry to envision something random and draw it, exactly as it appears in your mind.
When I was studying painting in Italy our first task was the old cast drawing gag. We weren’t supposed to touch a paint brush until we’d been drawing plaster replicas of classical sculpture in charcoal for at least one year. That’s four hours a day, every week day, working on a single drawing for at least a week, sometimes as much as three. Those unfamiliar with drawing from busts and other plaster models don’t know what they’re missing. It’s tedious but it teaches your eye to really see. It sharpens your edge so you’re attuned to proportion like nothing else.
BUT, the point is not cast drawing. That’s a worthy exercise, but it only gets you so far. We’re talking about the sketchbook here. Whip that thing out and spin your ideas, copy from magazines, get friends to sit for you, draw that sleeping dog over there. Become sensitive to line and mass. Those two elements are the groundwork for anything you’d build on the page. Those are the visual components, but they are informed by your honed understanding of proportion, perspective, volume and light.
Anyway, this all brings us to what I’m calling THE CURRICULUM. I’ve set myself a series of twelve areas of study to become an effective creator of Graphic Novels, webcomics, what have you, and they are these:
2] Art Direction
5] Character Design
10] Ink Wash
12] Digital Coloring
Now, each of these categories contains subgroups that I won’t go into now as I have more in-depth write-ups planned for each, but these are the major building blocks I’ve identified that are important to master when creating a graphic novel. I feel I’m experienced in a number of these, while others are severely lacking at the moment. BUT, from this list, I’m setting tasks for myself which I will detail here. Those aspiring creators out there are welcome to join me and also, suggest things I may have left off the list.
Before I go, I’m highly, highly recommending a book for anyone who calls themselves an artist. It’s Harold Speed’s Practice and Science of Drawing, and it is phenomenal. Though it was written in the late 19th or early 20th century it contains none of that stuffy, antiquated language. It’s remarkably fresh and easy to digest and even if you don’t draw, it will make you want to.