As an illustrator and a professor of illustration, I am constantly asked by students about “Style”. First, I just want to say I hate that word. Forget that word. Just draw, draw, and draw some more. Keep drawing and informing yourself. You are still in school, absorb and take it all in. Try stuff, fail, and learn from it. Try other stuff, succeed, and learn from it. Trust what it is that makes you happy. “Style” is not about the medium you used or what color you decide to make things. “Style” is your upbringing, your opinions, your experiences, your likes, your dislikes, your instincts, your education, your knowledge…all combined to inform your art on a consistent level that is unique to you. So, stop obsessing and just work! It will find its way to you someday.
Hello! I was wondering what your opinion was on design vs. realistic/accurate portrayal of the model when figure drawing. How do you balance the two so that your figure drawings aren't copying the model while still staying true to what you're observing? Thank you for your help.
I see no point in just drawing what’s in front of me. Drawing is about making decisions, no matter what. Using lines or paint or any tool is a decision by itself. How you use these tools is personal as well.
I’ve always been interested in using life drawing to compliment and adapt to what I’m interested in (animation/character design/storyboarding). I feel like most of the design and animation principles I know can, and should be reflected into my life drawings. Same goes for life drawing instructing how I approach my “regular work”. In a perfect world, they should all inform each other. Easier said than done.
The problem that I’ve always had is time constraint. It’s easy to say: “think about line of action, squash & stretch, silhouette, volume, caricature, anatomy, weight, etc when you draw from life.” It’s especially hard to think about and apply those principles in real-time, in poses ranging from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.
My simple answer is: “Do as much as you can given those time constraints.” But, really, find what’s most important, and then build from it. For example, it’s impossible to apply a ton of critical thinking when sketching poses in 30 seconds. In 30 seconds, you should be able to at least draw a quick gesture, without worrying about details and specific anatomy too much. The more time you have, the more principles you should be able to apply. Most basic principles should be reflected in a 5 minutes pose for example. At 10 min, a more fleshed-out, toned version is something that can be achieved.
Honestly, there shouldn’t be any benchmarks, but you should always try to aim for something, even if it’s one principle, within each pose. Sometimes, a certain model (or real-life situation) might inspire you to explore a specific principle.
The more you do it, the more certain things will become second-nature. You can then apply more layers to your work and make it shine.
Thank you for this wonderful question. It’s a the core of what my mind is going through these days. There’s more to be said about how to balance figure drawing and design, but I will continue to explore this idea in upcoming Tuesday Tips.