offset \ˈȯf-ˌset\ noun

a force or influence that makes an opposing force ineffective or less effective

On drawing

It's been a while since I last assembled my thoughts regarding artwork. The 365 challenge is progressing nicely. The sketchbook I mentioned was filled and closed some weeks ago. I bought a new one and am over two thirds into the challenge now. I used that opportunity to get some felt tip pens so I started inking as well. I did a small motivational post about art on my deviantArt account. I try to upload images weekly in the scrapbook so there's a rhythm to it. Right now I'm trying to relax as much as I can so it becomes a second nature to me.

Reading up on the last art post, here's what I've learned so far. Go small and don't be afraid of doing thumbnails. It is good to create a composition this way. For detailed work, go big. It's easier to scale down digitally when needed. Drawing from observation is very different from drawing from imagination. Having something displayed in front of you makes it that much easier to depict it on paper. You still have to construct and you know by comparison if what you're drawing is wrong. When doing things from imagination, it's that much harder because you have to keep an image in your mind. The concentration is crucial in this because it helps you become more observant. Although, when you do get something of the imagined object on paper it becomes easier. There's something to hold on to. This leads me to the reference lines.

Aside from the vertical and horizontal lines on your paper of choice, it is possible to help yourself by drawing vertical and horizontal lines where needed. They help angle the subject and keep it vertical or tilt it if needed so when you do it it's on purpose and not accidentally skewed. Having those, and having the construction lines helps a lot.

People traverse through various stages of drawing. First is capturing the gesture. You don't have to be careful here and can be as messy as you want. The point is that you should be quick because in this way your mind doesn't get the time to overthink things. Only to feel. You can practice this. It gets something quickly on the paper so you can use it as a reference and it gives a natural energy to the result of the drawing process.

The second is constructing the object. Depending on whether imagination is used, which requires knowledge (anatomy for instance), or whether observation is used, which requires a keen eye, the object can be measured and constructed. Take your time here. Use construction lines. This is like building foundations. A good construction is the key to a successful image. Ignore all the other aspects like values, color, texture. Focus only on the shape and the form.

Taking your time is crucial because people usually focus on speed. Speed will come with experience. Even though you can set up the pomodoro technique alarms for yourself and work with constraints to achieve creativity, you don't want to stress yourself. You will want to enjoy the making of the art. This is what will keep you pushing. If you want to digress here, you can check out the Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Back on track. If you are satisfied with the drawing, you are free to clean up the mess. Either with an eraser, with a new tracing paper or with a new layer if you're working digitally. You might get frustrated with erasing here because the paper cannot take erasing anymore or cannot absorb graphite. These are common problems that don't happen digitally. It has happened to me and here are some things that helped me. For one, you can do everything digitally. Or you can ignore that there's a mess and clean it up after scanning it. There are non-photo blue pencils that you can use and eliminate them after the scanning process as well. The most important thing that you must come to terms with is not taking it as a failure. You can always throw it away and start anew. It's not like you lost time. You learned something while doing it. Count your blessings.

In the line drawing, depending on the light source, the lines in shadow can be fat, and the ones in light thin or broken. You can further emphasize that in your work.

The method can diverge from now on. I tend not to bother myself with texture and color at this stage and instead focus only on values. The key is representing the object simply enough to get the mind of the observer to fill in the blanks. I lightly draw the outlines of the shapes that represent the values here. The values can be simple enough to be represented with three to five shades. You can ignore the transition and group together what you can. They say squint your eyes. This just bugged me to no end every time I encountered it. When I contract the lenses in my eyes it just puts the entire image out of focus and blurs it. You can also take a photo of the thing you're drawing. Convert it to grayscale, blur and posterize to get the shapes to appear.

You can start thinking about the texture information before doing the values. Metal has a high falloff so the values are separated more than on skin. If the material is smooth, maybe you want to blend and if it's not, maybe you just want to hatch or stipple. The last two techniques are mandatory when inking because ink is binary. It's either there or not. I find that the hatching with the lines following the form of the object works for me. The end result is not that flat.

When doing the texture you need to know two things. You can emphasize the texture on the contour and the texture is only a repeating pattern. You can put dots, lines, circles, hatch, i.e. do whatever pattern you think of and just repeat it. The texture, for example, scales of a fish, can just be hinted and you let the observer fill in the blanks. Draw a few of them and that's usually enough.

Depending on how your mind works, you can jump from technique to technique without thinking too much. Speaking of which, think in layers. It's easier to put the value in first and then texture over it. Also think of layers as the distance in depth between objects. The distant objects can be drawn thin, light and broken, but the close objects are using bolder strokes. Depending where the focus is, right?

Nowadays I tend to finish a sketch by using an inking pen over a pencil and I have to be careful in that part of work. That's why I allow myself to be messy with a pencil. Remember the binary thing? I have to use heavy texturing work where needed here. Of course, some things I fill in with black because I simplify it that way and it makes that distinct effect that the ink has. You can also go wild with the texture. When the ink is dry, I clean up with an eraser and all that I'm left with is the inked drawing.

With the detail work in the end you can make the things pop. The devil is in the details so make sure that you emphasize the things that matter and obscure the ones that are not important to the image. We tend to focus only on one thing. Don't make the background of the composition important because you'll distract the viewer's attention from the main object. Of course, if that is your intention, then ignore what I said. The rules can also be broken.

You can always fix the mistakes in the post processing on a PC. Keep that in mind, but don't use it as a crutch. In the following artsy posts, I'll probably talk about color if I manage to feel confident using it. Anyway, remember to have fun.