A long time ago, in a post far down the feed…
There was a man, and his name was ryandirks. He asked a simple question…
“Hey man, really beautiful work! Have you ever done a process/tools post? Really curious about what brushes you like and white pens(?)”
I answered with something humbly self-deprecating, likely out of a fear that once all of you who look with wonder upon the Great Works (TM) that I do knew Just How I Do Them (TM), your awe and adulation would fade into the distance, like the sun sinking into the sea.
The reality is that the how of what I do isn’t complicated. I’ve just spent the past twenty three years making sure my eye and my hand cooperate when I stand at my drawing table and get to work.
So without further ado, I give thee…A PROCESS POST.
(See this link for the final piece.)
(From L. to R. Top to Bottom…)
- Liquitex Heavy Body Titanium White
- White Out
- FW White Acrylic Ink
- White Gelly Roll Pen
- Calligraphy Nib
- Leonardt 40 Nib
- Dick Blick Masterstroke Finest Red Sable 5
- Raphael Kolinsky Sable 3
- Shit Nylon Liner
- Sumi Ink (Not Pictured)
First off, let me give credit where it’s due. My entire philosophy of drawing is lifted wholesale from my mentor and friend, George Pratt. He’s a legend. When he draws, it’s like magic. No safety net, straight ink, straight paint, whatever material he has handy, he dives right in. It’s a pretty sexy way to go so far as drawing methods are concerned. There’s a confidence to it, you either go big or go home. You get timid, the drawing fails. You hesitate, the drawing fails. You can only succeed when you learn to embrace your hand’s natural eccentricities and go with the motherfucking flow. This isn’t something you master right off the bat. Like with anything else, it takes time, it takes filling hundreds of sketchbooks and making stack after stack of drawings. It means careful observation and complete concentration on the task at hand. It also helps if you’ve shot some kick ass reference…
(Photo cropped to protect the innocent…Even though this innocent could probably deck you into next week.)
With my reference and my materials set up, the next part turns fun.
I usually start with the head. No preliminary pencil drawing, no proportional measuring, no ‘let me hold this pencil up in front of me with my eye squinted to get things right.’ That’s for sissies.
I just work my way down.
The whole time I’m constantly looking back and forth between my photography and my drawing. I’m looking at different angles within the figure, playing shapes off of one another, setting curved lines against straight ones, looking for places where I can interpret my reference in an interesting way and getting lost in that scratch and pull of a nib on paper.
With the more recent fashion work, I’ve taken to laying in my basic architecture with the calligraphy nib, as that offers me the ability to lay down sharp and straight lines alongside fat and heavy ones and get the whole figure down quickly. I can also start to scrub in some of the heavier darks, and by virtue of doing this with a nib, I get some texture to them that I wouldn’t normally simply by using a brush.
With my heaviest lines laid down and the envelope of the figure secure, I can start to play. I bring in the Leonardt nib, which gives an extremely fine line, to finesse the more delicate features of the drawing. I also love flipping the Leonardt over and dragging the top end into things as well, as it gives me very sharp and fat dark shapes. Sometimes I’ll spot my blacks using just the Leonardt, never touching my brushes, much like I did with this drawing.
At this point in the drawing, things are pretty much a wrap. I might brush a thin glaze of ink-filled water over certain areas to solidify a shape or make a silhouette read more clearly, but by this stage I’ve had my fun.
Obviously there are errors in proportion. Obviously I cut her off at the ankles. Obviously there are just as many pitfalls to working without a net as there are to working with one. You can waste a lot of paper. Or not. What working this way does wonders for though is your confidence. The knowledge that you can roll up your sleeves, grab your pen and make work like a machine. Trust yourself. Trust your instincts. When you’ve reached a certain level of representational confidence with your work, try taking off the training wheels and going straight for the jugular with your drawings.
On to the next one!
Let me know if any of this has been helpful to you. Codifying what I do when I work is new to me, and if there are any subtleties you’d like explained, HOLLER AT ME.