Sunday, April 10, 2011

From Start to Finish: The Anatomy of a Commission.

I've had a few people over the years ask exactly how I set about to create a drawing and I thought it might be fun to take some photos and sort of document the process. I really and truly believe that anyone can create art, you just have to devote the time and effort to the craft you choose be it drawing or painting etc...

Today I will be drawing Betty & Veronica from Archie comics. My aim is not to draw them exactly like they look in the comic but sort of translated though my style. First you need to decide what kind of a pose in which to draw the girls. You can of course come up with something on your own but I figured for the sake of this exercise I would use a photo reference. It is much easier to draw anything using a photo reference as it gives you an idea where everything fits, perspective, etc... but I'm only using it a reference and fully intend to add my own touches, to make the drawing uniquely Becca.

I keep tons of pictures from magazines as well as several books of pin-up photos for pose reference. They really come in handy when you just can't figure out what you want to draw. In those cases I'll just flip through the books until the drawing comes to being in my head. Sometimes I use one photo other times I combine several to create the pose I desire.

Now that we have a basic idea for our pose, using pencil I draw loose circles and lines to represent the body and it's pose. It doesn't look like much but this is a very important step. It sets up the groundwork for the whole drawing. The more dramatic the pose the more interesting your drawing will likely be.

I suppose now would be a good place to talk about supplies. I usually draw on 11x14 smooth bristol paper but will draw on just about anything really that has an acid free white surface :) The pencil I use is just a BIC #2 retractable pencil the kind you buy in the office supply area of the grocery store. I tried fancier pencils but could never get the lines to erase completely so I stick with BIC. My eraser is a Mars Plastic eraser by Staedtler, it's super cheap and erases completely. I adore my eraser not enough to marry it though.

Once the circles and lines are on the page you want to sort of refine the body shape, add very basic details. You are sort of like a sculptor at this point adding and taking away where you need to.

Once I have the basic body shape down now the fun really starts and I begin adding all the details, create the face (eyes, nose, lips)...

YwuOr9 on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

created using the animated gifs maker at MakeAGif

Here are a couple of examples of how I draw lips. In the second gif you'll notice after I add Betty's mouth it makes her face too short. That's why I do roughs in pencil so I can make adjustments which I will do before adding ink!

oFIvk5 on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs
created using the animated gifs maker at MakeAGif

Add clothes, jewelry, add a background, add whatever you like and once you've filled your page with what was in your head you are done with pencils :)

Now is the time to add ink! There are hundreds of options for pens and everyone has their favorite, my favorite are PITT artist pens by Faber-Castell. The pens come in 5 sizes; XS (smallest tip), S (small tip), F (fine tip), M (medium tip) and BRUSH tip! It's like painting with a pen :) The pens are waterproof India Ink (great detail if you use markers to add color) and are fantastic! If I could marry them, I would...sorry SamuraiFrog but it's true.

First I ink every detail I want kept in the final drawing using the "S" pen. Unless there are details too small for "S" and then I occasionally use the "XS"

Next up brush pen! I use the brush pen to draw sort of an outline on my characters.

Question: Why do I use so many different pens for inking?

Answer: By using different size pens I am creating the illusions of depth. If you use only one size pen the image tends to look a bit flat. The bolder the line the closer the object will look.

You don't want to use tons of brush pen however, if you use too much you will just go back to having a flat image only now the lines will be thicker so that's where magical Mister "M" comes in!

Use the "M" pens in areas that you want to stand out but not so much it would be distracting. (hey look I got my finger in that photo :)

When you finish with the "M" pen you can erase the pencil and add any finishing touches! Leave your drawing black and white or you can add color manually or with a computer painting program.

And there you have it, a drawing is born. If anyone actually read this whole thing and has any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments area :)


M. D. Jackson said...

I can't agree with you about the pencil. Those mechanical jobs jist aren't made for drawing... not with my big mitts, anyway.

I have to agree about the eraser, though non of mine would want to marry me ebacuse of all the abuse I hand out.

You've sold me on the Faber Castell pens. I'm a bit of a dilletante when it comes to pens, probably becasue much of my finishing happens in Corel Painter, but those pens of yours sound good.

M. D. Jackson said...

Oh, yeah, and the Betty and Veronica drawing? Really excellent and it gives me very impure thoughts about those two.

Kal said...

That was terrific and very entertaining. You make me feel that I could do that. I should pullout the old sketch pad and try to draw something all my own. I appreciate learning all the various 'tricks' you do to create the various effects. I look to the images you made for me and I see all the effort that went into making them as good as they were.

Anonymous said...

Yay this was p. good for a tutorial helped me to understand how it all works and it's put together so nicely. Can't wait to start drawing full bodies now.



freker said...

I've been following the blog for years now as you post all kinds of brilliant cult stuff.

Seeing this was brilliant, I really appreciate the fact you've admitted you used reference abd just take the form from there. The art is brilliant. Will really take this advice on board.

Arkonbey said...

Love the process stuff! (and the finished work, too).

I've never seen your pencils before, and they're very nice. If I was to commission, I'd just pay you to try a dip pen and ink. I think your awesome pencils would live the variety of line that only a dip pen can bring.

Erasers: Sweet Enemy has fallen in love with a tool that's basically a tube-shaped Staedtler eraser in a pencil-like holder. She won't use anything else.

(I haven't drawn in about five days. You've now shamed me into drawing tonight and tomorrow).

Becca said...

It's always fun to talk to other artists about the tools they use and why. It's almost like a math problem, there are many ways to solve an equation, the only thing that really matters is the final product :)

Ugh did I just compare art to math? aren't they age old enemies? ;)

The Faber Catell pens are awesome and they are not super expensive so if you try 'em and don't like 'em you won't feel guilty about spending $40 on a pen you'll never use. Plus there are no messy cartridge refills. Of course I'm a klutz so maybe it's just me that gets messy changing out cartridges.

And I'm glad you like the drawing :D

You can totally do that! I'd love to see some drawings from you :)

And thanks again for being so kind :)

I can't wait to see what you come up with! I hope you post some drawings.

Thank you! I'm glad you have been enjoying my silly little blog :)

I don't use photo references all the time but when I do it's a fantastic jumping off point. Frankly I think more professional artists use photo references then people would think.

And you can use almost anything as a photo reference. I once read a piece where Dean Yeagle said he used an image of Bambi as a reference for a Mandy drawing. Sure enough when looking at the two images side by side you could see the similarities.

And thank you very much for the compliment! Your art is pretty sweet too!

Sometimes I think I like the pencils in their roughest form better than the final image ;)

I've never used a dip pen. I have used a paint brush and India ink in the past but there is no blotting or spotting with the brush pen. Do you have many problems like that with a dip pen? Of course I'm sure the more you use it the more control you have.


Hooray! I hope you did draw :) I'll pop over to your blog to see if you've put anything new up :)

Anonymous said...

Becca -

I enjoyed this post immensely. Thanks for sharing your process.

I *hope* art and math aren't age-old enemies.

Otherwise, Filippo Brunelleschi ( spinning in his grave. And that quarter of "Mathematical Basis of Perspective Drawing" that I took in lieu of Calculus III was a waste of time...

Anyway, thanks again - and another post on formats, prices, delivery times, etc., etc. is in order. There's something I've wanted drawn for sometime and I think your style is just the thing for it...

Becca said...

Ha! No I was just joking...since math and I are, alas, age old enemies :)

But clearly math is important to a number of the arts, like you so graciously point out architecture and of course there is music and I'm sure there are tons more... I'm always so impressed by the skill a great architect must posses to create!

And I haven't done a post about formats pricing etc in some time. I will put one up tonight or tomorrow. Since I am presently unemployed I have tons of time on my hands to do some great drawing!

Thanks for the comment!

dave said...

Nice to see the process an artist has to go through. Not everyone would share their step by steps. =)

I've been meaning to drop a line for quite some time and have the perfect wall space for your mind's eye. I've a couple great ideas that need artistic magic and know you'll run with it. Hopefully anyways..

been forever and glad I stopped back! Will drop an email shortly.


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