New! eSketchbook and Bonus Screen Saver

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If you’ve attended a comic book convention in the last few years, you may have noticed the “sketchbook craze” spreading through the art world. Comic book and animation artists will assemble dozens of personal sketches, have them made into booklets at Kinko’s, and sell them at conventions and other events. I’ve been to Comic-Con twice in the last five years and each time I’ve come back with an armload of inspiring sketchbooks to drool over.

I’ve also experimented with printing sketchbooks myself. In 2004 I put together a book of mostly cartoony portraits and called it “Head Hunting”. I never rented a table or booth, but I made up a small print run and managed to eventually sell or trade all of them. In 2006 I printed a second volume, “Head Hunting Volume 2”. Again, it was a small print run and I sold out of them as well.

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Instead of doing a third volume, I’m going to try something different. I’ve chosen the best sketches from both volumes, plus about twenty new sketches, and assembled them into what I’m calling an “eSketchbook”. It’s a PDF file containing over 100 of my personal sketches and doodles which can be downloaded and, if you’d like, printed out on your home computer. A sample two-page spread is shown above.

As a bonus I’ve also saved each spread as a JPEG and included instructions on how to turn the JPEGs into a screen saver.

I’m selling the entire package—100+ sketches and a bonus screen saver—for $9.95.

To purchase the eSketchbook, , visit the store on my website. Once you buy the sketchbook, an email will be sent to you with a link to download the file. My website store is brand new, so if you run into any bugs or problems please email me and let me know.

Sketchbook Update

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To warm up each morning I’ve been trying to fill a page a day in my sketchbook. However, I’ve been so swamped with freelance work that I’ve only been averaging about a page a week. Better than nothing, I guess. Here’s a few heads I drew the other day from some old photos.

Sketchbook Update

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Lately I’ve been trying to discipline myself to fill a page a day in my sketchbook, usually first thing in the morning as a warm-up. I’m not a morning person so this is a good way for me to clear the morning fog out of my brain. So far I’ve managed it about once every 2-3 days. This page combines some of my better warm-up sketches as of late.

I wish I could say these were all done from life (that is, after all, the best way to draw). However, my crazy schedule hasn’t allowed for me to leave the studio just to sketch. Most of these were done from photos. I keep a file of interesting faces and poses that I find in books and magazines, solely so that I can sketch them later. I also get a lot of good images by typing crazy terms into Google image search.

Schoolism.com: The Importance Of Sketchbooks

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For eight weeks now I’ve been posting my assignments from a character design class I’m taking at schoolism.com (taught by Stephen Silver). Only one more week to go!

This week’s assignement was another two-parter. For Part 1 we had to go to a busy public place and fill a page with observational sketches. The Mall of America is near my house, so I went there to sketch the above page. Part 2 (which I’ll post tomorrow) was about memory sketching.

I can’t over-emphasize the importance of keeping a daily sketchbook. The only way to get better at drawing is to draw. As Stephen likes to say, “A page a day keeps the competition away”.

A sketchbook isn’t for polished drawings. Rather, it’s a private place where you can stay loose, experiment, stretch yourself, and make mistakes. Lots of them! (Mistakes are the best teachers). If you want to keep growing as an artist, the worst thing you can do is fill your sketchbook with things you already know how to draw.

Going to a busy place to draw real live people is something you should do regularly. (Stephen fills a page every day over his lunch hour). Most people don’t sit still for very long, so it forces you to stay loose, think fast and make bold decisions, which over time will increase your confidence. Don’t sweat the details; focus on the essence of a pose (which can usually be captured in just a few lines). Try to capture the overall physical attitude of the person, which is the foundation that breathes life into a drawing. You can always go back and flesh out the details later.

In his lecture, Stephen talked about what a character designer should focus on as he sketches the people around him (i.e. balance, gesture, line of action, negative space, rhythm, attitude, etc.) He also talked about not just seeing, but studying what you draw. Observe the different ways people walk, talk, and gesture. Notice body types, hairstyles, and clothing choices. Study how fabric clings and hangs around the body, how people position their legs when they sit, how they lean when they carry things, how their posture changes with their attitude (i.e. excited, bored, annoyed, etc.) These are the things that give your drawings personality and character.

Stephen also talked about “frankensteining”, that is, assembling parts of several people into one character. You might start to draw a man reading the paper, but as soon as you rough in his body pose he gets up to leave. Don’t abandon your drawing. Add the profile from another person, maybe the hair from a third person, etc. Frankensteining keeps you from getting frustrted when your models keep moving (or leaving) in mid-drawing, and you might be pleasantly surprised at the new character you’ve created.

The point is that you keep drawing, keep experimenting, keep learning.

Now get out there and draw!

Peter de Seve Interview

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Here’s a short but sweet interview with Peter de Seve about his sketchbook. I own a copy and it is incredible stuff. De Seve’s work is amazing. Besides being one of the world’s most sought-after illustrators, de Seve has also done character design work for movies such as A Bug’s Life, Prince of Egypt, and Ice Age. His website is well worth a visit.