30 sketches in 30 days- October 2014

1st_oct 2st_oct 3st_oct 4tht_oct 5tht_oct 6th_oct 7th_oct 8th_oct 9th_oct 10th_oct 11th_oct 12th_oct 13th_oct 14th_oct

OK….that  may have appeared an incredibly lazy way to dump 14 days of sketching on a blog, but I thought, better late than never. I’ll try to be more daily with posting one at a time, but I’ve been really busy with projects.

Basically the dry markers sketches are demonstrations to students who are taking my class for “anatomy for animators”, a 3D game design course. I supplement the 2D drawing side of things for them. Plus I’ve included a few napkin studies when I want to go out for breakfast just for a change.

Quick doodle at the Blue Onion, McAllen, Texas


This was a bunch of A4’s sheets I got from the Casa Del Palmos, the hotel I was staying at. I decided to experiment a little with arranging the 3 sheets and try and continue the theme across the 3 sheets.


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Sketching – Doodles and Scribbles

Graham Toms-Sketching overview

The perception of sketching can sometimes be that people assume the practitioners of the craft who show any coherence sketching, were naturally born to draw. The reality is, it is indeed a craft that must be finely honed in order to achieve any degree of skill.

Practice, but Practice the right approach

A classical approach, a good foundation.

One old adage that comes up for artists when searching for instruction on drawing and sketching is” to draw what you see”. It sounds simple enough, but we are subjective individuals, which of course adds to our unique identities, but we need to be on the same “page” or “desk top” when it comes to terminology let me share my presupposition on this phrase.  So lets rephrase it slightly, “draw what you know you are seeing”. That will have to be achieved with some prior knowledge of the subject matter you are about to observe and render. So if possible, it’s prudent to research the subject matter you’re about to capture.

For example if the subject is a cow, start by finding out the  anatomy of the livestock. Maybe even the particular breed of cattle so you can include specific features of the animal to distinguish it. Even understanding the digestive system of the animal could add some small nuances. This adds a greater richness and emotional epiphany to the subject and feel for your work, it would be giving you an edge . This knowledge helps you understand a characters motivation and how it negotiates its environment. In a production studio this type of attention to detail will help you bring important ingredients to the development of a teams collaboration.

Other aspects of knowledge worth researching are the environmental lighting conditions, what time of day is it. Is the light diffused because of cloud or is the sun directly hitting your subject, if so the shadows will be different.

Your interest may be more focused on the lighting, rather than the cow. It may be the case that your inclination is to be a set designer for theater, film or a Game Engine designer for environments, layout. If may be you just have a curious nature for everything in the world around you.

Sketching is a great way of helping you realize these important aspects of your subject and where you want to specialize or diversify in the future. Either way, sketching with this prior approach in mind, will help arm you with tools for critical analysis, observation, interpretation, inference, evaluation, explanation, and finally, meta-cognition. An individuals knowledge of their own cognitive processes and their ability to control these processes by organizing, monitoring and modifying information they have accumulated.

I used to just think drawing a picture was just that, trying to draw a pretty picture. Understanding the processes while at the same time trying to achieve a finished picture, long term have perhaps greater intrinsic value . The process and skills acquired in sketching have a far greater significance to our holistic understanding of the world around us. Those crucial skills can be applied to so many things.

Sketching equipment-

1) Sketch books.

See the sketch book as a place to scribble down ideas and catch dreams! Having something close at hand when you get a eureka moment is important. If you have a great idea and can’t record it quickly, it will evaporate and burst into nothing like a soap bubble.

We’re transfixed for a few moments when what seems a good idea comes to mind and then it sits a few seconds and bursts. Record it quickly, who knows, one day that idea, maybe turned into an illustrated book, a film a game. The sketch book to the left, i use a mid-tone paper that can create a quicker sense of depth when applying white and dark tones.

Experiment with different mediums. Don’t rely on just on favorite size of note pad or drawing instrument. By experimenting, you might surprise yourself and find something that works really well for a particular style that’s illustrates an idea better than what you’ve become accustomed to.

2) Scrapes of drawing material or other surfaces, because you don’t have a sketch book with you.

In restaurants and cafes, a napkin can be a great substitute for a notepad or sketch book. A paper table cloth can be great fun. A linen table clothe or napkin is a bit risky and can get you a good telling off by the staff or proprietor, defiantly the naughty category. Defiling their white linen table cloth with children’s crayons is generally a “no no”. However, they could offer you some free “drinky poos” on the house or the meal you’ve just been served, I’ve run into all three scenarios.

3) Recording implements.

Click here to watch the process of above painting sketch.

Pencils , China pencils, they draw on virtually all surfaces including plastic plastic. Portable watercolor paint set. Small felt pen and a piece of chalk are my preference for a smaller sized sketch book. For larger sketch books my preference will be colored crayons, I like them because they are inexpensive and make bold marks. They force you to be decisive, to make a decision quickly. And so there is a childlike quality to them I enjoy

The biggest ingredient to success…..practice, but more importantly, practicing the right things so those good methods eventually become spontaneous actions.

Here i have made some videos that demonstrate warm-up sketching exercises to get you started.

Lunchtime and restaurants

Great way to keep yourself ‘drawing fit’ is to manage your time were you can at least do a drawing a day. Today i went with Gil to Rock San Thai Restaurant, very artist doodle friendly. They have absorbent paper table clothes, excellent for sketching. I always bring a bag along with crayons and plastic animals for subject matter.

You’ll need a bag with both shoulder straps and handles plus plenty of pockets for the different mediums and sketch books.

The idea is to draw quickly, but what usually ends up happening is i just draw in a relaxed manner, anticipating a nice lunch. However, i still get a sketch done.

Above are a number of Crayon sketched  table cloths at Rock San.

Here is another restaurant, a large franchise.


Sketching animals

This was a drawing session at Incarnate Word. A couple of dog’s were bought in to practice our skills. Great practice due to the activity of the dogs.

Each doddle was probably 5 to 10 seconds.

Probably about 2 minutes for each pose.

The final drawing was to draw the pose or poses and then invent something to go with the dog. Same dog, just to different poses. 30 minutes total.

Try to vary the subject matter you draw as much as possible. This stretches your development as a problem solver and stops you getting to comfortable with the same subject.

Happy doodles,

Graham Toms

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Graham Toms – Blog, July 15th 2012. Sketching the animals

San Antonio Zoo

I went with the family to San Antonio Zoo today. We arrived about 10.15 AM. The temperature was about 92 degrees, but the humidity was high. When i found a place to sketch it was usually under shade.

The Sketch below was in the Hippo house. A great place to start because it was air conditioned. As the people were standing in front of the Hippo through the glass i decided to draw the group of people in front. My objective is speed and overall shape and tone, deliberately forgetting about detail.

The below image is a group of Dama Gazelles, Northern Africa.  Considered critically endangered, with population estimates between 500 and 2000 animals in their native habitat.

I was using crayons with a sketch book at 18 by 24 inches. I am showing 3 stages of my process here. The 1st image to the right is the rapid sketch. When i got home i decided to digitize the image and try out Painter 11. A 2D paint program that specializes in developing painting effects. I haven’t really put the time into exploring this software, mainly because i am busy with other applications i use everyday.

The second image is trying to get the hang of the paint brush tools and using layers.

The third image is consolidating were the skeleton structure is.

The image below is an Asiatic Elephant. The first image is crayon the second image again has been digitized and then digitally painted.

Below is a drawing of the Okapi. I didn’t know about this animal until visiting the San Antonio Zoo. I love it’s structure and coloring.

Range: northeast region of Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) in Africa
Habitat: tropical rain forest

The Rhino pen, both Rhinos were lying down under shade.

Wart hogs.

Converting the research from sketching and using it for a 3D model

I choose my favorite animal out of the sketches to build in 3_D. The Okapi has such a unique look, i love the texture of their coats. Below is showing steps of how to build the base mesh. I am building this models base mesh in LightWave 3D’s Modeler with a total of about 5 tools.

Below is the final stage of preparing the base model before moving on to the next step.

Below is the final stage of the character development. Creating a painted texture map’

Joint set up to re pose the character.

Here is the final render.

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30 sketches in 30 days

Nov 1st, Crayon


Nov 2nd, crayon and Acrylic.

painting _000_small

Nov 3rd, Crayon.

Ballerina Pyramid_small

Nov 4th, Crayon & Acrylic.

painting _001_small

Nov 5th ( Guy Faulks? ), Crayons.


November 6th,  Crayons, pastels & Acrylic.

painting _002_small

Nov 7th, Crayons.


Nov 8th Crayons, yes time to change the theme?

long page

Nov 9th, Crayons.


Nov 10th, crayons


11th Nov, Crayons

Nov 12th

Today i had teaching. It is an evening class i teach twice a week at a local university. I teach anatomy for animators. So my sketch today was my research in order to demonstrate to students about specifics of this particular K9 physiology. Below is a small sample of my study

comp example_001

Nov 13th, Crayon.


I sold some of the Ballerina and Chicken & Rooster paintings sketches. SO i had to do some more as replacements in the last couple of days.

14th, Crayon & Acrylic.

starting a journey

15th, Crayon & Acrylic.

going for a walk

16th Nov, Crayons i used at my favorite restaurant, Rock Sans.


17th Nov, Crayons in my favorite restaurant again.


18th Nov, Crayons

Dino and Dancers_small

19th Nov, Crayon


21st, Crayon


22nd, Crayon


23rd Nov, Dry Board Markers


24th Nov, Crayons, Dancers & Allosaurus

dancers and allosaurus_small

25th Nov, Crayon. I was watching a film about Europa yesterday the moon that orbits Jupiter. I wanted to extend the theme of the dancers to Anschluss for one of Jupiters many moons.


Nov 26th, Charcoal. A couple of quick sketches I did for the students to illustrate similarities between  quadrupeds.

anatomy class copy

27th Nov, Crayon.

cow & calf

28th Nov, Charcoal, this was a sketch i did of the life model during anatomy class. I ask the model to cycle through a swinging motion for 4 minutes and sketch four key poses overlaying each other over that 4 minutes.


29th Nov, Crayons, Ballerinas and Chariots

Ballerinas on Chariots_small

30th Nov, Crayons

steg and dancer

Thanks Dave for the invite to 30 sketches in 30 days challenge.

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