Practice, practice, practice.

Despite what you may have read in my last post I still have a number of  removable, external hard drives brimming with artwork.
I am now very careful with these drives.

Each is placed upon a hypo-allergenic, gold-trimmed, velveteen cushion within a climate controlled, dust-free environment (ie a cardboard box on a shelf)

But there are some, however, which I treat like *PLOT SPOILER* Mr Rochester’s first wife; locked away, out of sight and out of mind. I treat them like this because they are full of…”old stuff”.
“Old stuff” can bring me out in a cold sweat. There have been times when I’ve looked at “old stuff” of mine and have let out a little involuntary groan because they are, as far as I’m concerned, terrible.

My “old stuff” includes pictures I drew with a mouse ( feels like you’re trying to paint with a brick ), as well as ones I did before I knew the tricks I know now…even really basic tricks like image-flipping.

If you don’t know about it already, try horizontally flipping your image in Photoshop or hold a mirror alongside it if you work with traditional media. Doing this reveals all the mistakes that you usually wouldn’t notice; over sized hands, skewed faces, wonky eyes etc. The first time I did it to a painting I was horrified! The image, which looked fine and dandy when viewed normally, looked all warped and freaky when mirrored. Thankfully Photoshop let me pull, stretch and tweak it back to something more agreeable before flipping it back to it’s original orientation.

I’m constantly learning new things like the old “flipping” trick, either through trial and error or through tips provided by other illustrators on community forums, so when I see pictures I did years ago it reminds me just how much I’ve improved.
Of course the best way to improve is simply to keep drawing. Practice as much as you can, or are willing to.
The more you draw the better you’ll get.
If I’m between jobs I’ll set about doing new pieces, not only to fatten up my portfolio so that editors have new stuff to look at but to make sure I maintain as high a standard as I possibly can.

Recently I’ve been having a go at doing more black and white work that looks like it’s done in pen and ink but, as usual, was drawn digitally. Actually, doing black and white pieces really reminds me of  using Rotring pens back at art college, but without all the swearing that fills the air when a pen falls nib-first toward the ground.

As Einstein observed;
Ground + delicate pen nib = F*%$!

Most of the black and white stuff I’ve been doing  has been character work, like this.

Character Sketch. Click to Bigify

I love doing this kind of thing. If I’m really enjoying drawing something, I find myself doing sound effects that reflect the subject matter. Laser gun fire, evil cackles, or monstrous roars…PTOO PTOO! GRAAAAARGH!

Oh, hold on…..did I say that out loud?

Anyway, because they’re non-commissioned pieces I can do whatever I want in whatever style I want, and keep up to speed with my drawing. I can play around with ideas and try out new stuff without fear of missing a deadline, and I think the art I do purely for fun undoubtedly adds to the quality of the art I’m actually paid to do.
That’s a “win” all round in my book, and If nothing else all this practising will hopefully keep the “old stuff” style of work exactly where it belongs.

Out of interest, I recently applied the discrepancy revealing “flipping” technique to an Old Master.


Proof, if ever any were needed.



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3 responses to “Practice, practice, practice.

  1. Mike Elkerton

    An Amazing Technique……….my Son!!!!! mmmmmmmmm?

  2. I laughed out loud at the Rembrandt image. Well played.

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