Working on a big deadline today but I made time to bang out some “speed sketches”. Just a few faces I came across in a Google image search.
I won’t need to count any sheep tonight. It’s been an exhausting couple of days—fun but exhausting. The sheep in my head will get the night off, which gave me an idea for today’s Sketchbook Month sketch.
Which reminds me, I want to give a big shout-out to my wonderful, amazing, beautiful and supportive wife. She’s been doing most of the heavy lifting with the Sketchbook month blog, taking care of the uploads and answering most of the emails. Honey, where would I be without you?
To keep things manageable Sketchbook Month participants get the weekends off. See you on Monday!
I’ve got an awful lot on my plate today so I had to bang this out quick.
Don’t forget to check out all the great submissions over at the Sketchbook Month blog!
As I wrote in my last post I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of keeping a daily sketchbook in addition to my client work. Some days are better than others but overall I’m making good progress. Even after fourteen years working as a freelance illustrator I still enjoying finding new ways to push myself to grow and improve as an artist.
Case in point: Last year I attended the CTN Animation Expo in Burbank, California. While there I shopped my character design portfolio around a bit. Several animation professionals graciously gave me some very helpful feedback. One thing I kept hearing was that although my character designs were strong overall there was not much expressive acting in my characters. Most of the people and animals I drew just stood around, usually with one hand on the hip and the other in what Kyle Baker refers to in his book How To Draw Stupid (Amazon.com link) as the “hand of death” pose. They encouraged me to say more about a character’s personality and breathe life into the drawings through expressive posing.
The Expo is coming up again and I want to be ready with a new and improved portfolio. So tonight I took some time to experiment with posing. I quickly whipped up a very generic looking character and then tried to make him act, express, and emote. These few rough sketches are the result:
It’s a challenging exercise. The more I started to draw the more I realized how weak and cliched my mental acting library really is. While these poses are a vast improvement over the work I was doing last year I still have a lot of room to grow. It all goes back to a basic but very solid principle of drawing: Don’t just look, see. In order to draw well you really need to study and analyze the world around you. I need to be studying live people as well as other actors and especially animators. It will be an ongoing process but one I’m looking forward to.
I’m a strong believer in keeping a daily sketchbook.
I’m also a hypocrite. I often go days or weeks without cracking mine open.
Don’t get me wrong. I do a lot of drawing but the overwhelming bulk of my artwork is created for clients with strict guidelines and objectives that have to be met. Between commissioned work and the never ending slog of running a freelance business (emails, phone calls, bookkeeping, self-promotion, writing proposals, running errands, keeping a blog, etc.) its getting harder and harder for me to curl up with a blank page and sketch for my own study and enjoyment. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like a professional athlete who plays hard during the actual games but then never has time to exercise or come to practice.
As a result I’ve started to feel a bit stale in my artistic development. I’m catching myself falling back on reliable tricks and habits rather than pushing myself to learn and grow. That’s a slippery slope towards creative death. So lately I’ve been forcing myself to get back into it and crack open the ol’ sketchbook more regularly. My goal is to do a page a day. Some days I make it, many I still don’t, but I’m determined to keep pushing ahead.
Most of my sketchbook drawings are not very cartoony. In order to be a good cartoonists I believe you first have to understand how to draw realistically. You have to have a solid grasp the real thing before you can convincingly simplify and caricature it. So when I sketch I usually study real people, real poses, real clothing, etc.
I also do a lot of very bad drawings (though I don’t have the courage to show them here). You can’t grow and improve without making mistakes and my sketchbook is the one place where I give myself total permission to mess up royally. If all my sketchbook drawings were perfect it would only mean that I was drawing things I’ve already mastered. That’s a great way to get stale fast.
Here’s a few recent sketches. Nothing in this particular batch is from life—all are from photos or video stills.
Today I actually had time to do a few warm-up sketches:
(Artwork is copyright © Cedric Hohnstadt 2009. All rights reserved.)