I know my main obstacle when it comes to drawing, you know. It’s drafting. Planning. Drawing thumbnails (a word which here means little sketches) and roughs. I basically don’t do that. I’m in it to win it, as it were: I draw to make BOOTIFUL pictures, not some random marks. I’ve had this negative attitude towards drafting since… basically since I knew what drafting was. Before that, it was “doodling” and it was totally acceptable. But drafting? NAY.
It’s my favorite stupidity, you might say. Anytime I can skip drafting, I do so. Until recently.
The last few pages of my sketchbook look way different from what I usually do. I’m actually drawing thumbnails!
Le gasp! I’m evening drawing a lot of them! I’ve really gone crazy with roughly gridding out my page into 10 squares or so, and filling them with quick ideas in about 15 minutes. It’s like doodling. Wait… it is doodling! I’ve brought doodling back into my life! But it’s doodling with purpose now, so it’s technically drafting. What’s the difference? The “purpose” part. This is how I start sketching now:
- I make a bullet lists of some key terms/ideas I’m trying to convey. Happy vs. sad, free vs. captive, friends vs. enemy, powerful vs. weak, etc. When people look at my drawing, I want them to “get” this.
- I draw 8 – 10 squares. The reason I draw squares is because I want my layout (horizontal or vertical) to be dictate by the drawing; not the other way round. If I draw two people standing, I’ll probably put them in a vertical composition. Unless the landscape behind them is important- then I’ll put ‘em in a horizontal composition.
- I think in terms of asleep, alert, and active. This has to do with what direction my composition will “go.”
- Asleep (for me) refers to horizontal composition (not necessarily page orientation). Lots of horizontal lines make an illustration have a “lying down” feel, which can be calmness or stillness.
- Alert refers to vertical composition. People standing erect, skylines, etc. This is “awake” but stationary. Like one of those British guards with the fuzzy hats. Totally alert but not moving.
- Active means diagonals. This is when you tilt your “camera” and things become a little bit more dynamic. The reason this seems a bit more “alive” than the other two is simply because real life isn’t straight up-and-down or straight across. There are angles and curves and bends to everything.
This is (ultra) basic composition, and in the first stages of a drawing, I guess it’s all that really matters. What do you want to feel from the drawing?
The overall feeling of the drawing, the initial reaction a viewer has to it, is like the main melody. It’s the part everyone “hums” and remembers. All other parts of the drawing are harmony, embellishing and supporting the melody.