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.
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.
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.