Going into this year I really wanted to improve the way I drew faces and proportions. Most important of all I wanted to be able to see said improvements when not working with any references. I was noticing the loss of creativity that I had an abundance of, when I used to create art in the early days of middle & high school. Back then I was doing more of a manga/anime style work, however I had much more creative ideas come through in terms of design.
A really good article that caught my eye earlier this year was The Danger of Reference by Jesper Ejsing via. Muddy Colors (A website you should be following if you’re interested in acquiring a wealth of knowledge from artists in the industry). It was something that I had gotten too comfortable with, and something I hadn’t even noticed or thought about until I read Jesper’s article. I had indeed created a safety blanket for myself over these last couple years, relying heavily on references for all my work in every stage. Although there isn’t anything inherently wrong with this process (most artists require references at many stages of their work), there is a danger of killing creativity if you don’t step outside the technical once in a while. This reliance on references came from an insecurity of my own skills as an artist, and of course comparison to the masters in the fantasy art and illustration industry.
So at the end of September, as sort of a spur of the moment thing, I decided to do a painting in which I would draw a face without the help of any reference material. …Confession, I did give up on the hands 😅; something I have yet to master in terms of structure/shape. I am pleased I was able to come up with a face, composition and design at least. Small steps.
This painting along with many other originals are available for purchase directly through the Shop section in this website. If you are looking for prints, please visit my Inprnt store.
As a promise to myself to improve my figure drawing, (the male form in particular), I was surprisingly satisfied by the end of this piece. My current displeasure with my work was that there was something off about how my figures in my watercolour paintings were looking. There was a flatness that I didn’t really like, and really wanted to improve on. Therefore I went back to the basics with graphite. Obviously a much more forgiving medium, it gave me the chance to really analyze what I was missing in how I presented the male/female form in my work; taking a slower pace, and building up each layer with shadows, highlights & textures. I think the next step will be to play around with much more dramatic lighting to add more dimension to faces and figures.
It was also really fun to play around with some of the graphite shavings/residue I had saved from sharpening my pencils. So do save them if you sharpen your tools with a blade! 🙂 Although scanners don’t do a very good job at picking up the subtleties in traditional work, I hope you can at least see the attempt to create more solid black planes. I’ve wanted to incorporate this technique for a while now, without using black paper or ink washes. Although easily created (as seen in the halo), there will inevitably be a visible texture no matter how dark the graphite. So this technique was quite interesting to try out, as well as figuring out whether I like graphite better on white or tan-toned paper. The verdict’s still out on than one.