Well, I dunno how much more I’m going to post given that J seemingly isn’t anymore, but here’s one more for the road.
Well, I dunno how much more I’m going to post given that J seemingly isn’t anymore, but here’s one more for the road.
Recently I did some sketches, and I had some thoughts! It’s been about a year and change since Ink, and the best thing it’s done for me is make me draw more with pencil.
I’m not really talking about quantity, as that just doesn’t happen. Two years ago I wrote about drawing and sketching and about how I usually drew instead of sketched. I’d been feeling that the added effort required to hit this drawing tier was limiting my drawing in the same way that the added effort required to make a painting was limiting my painting. The overhead has also made it harder for me to just “go and draw” than it had been for me when I was a kid.
While not necessarily a cause or effect, I’m confident that backdrawing with a harder pencil contributed to that overhead. At one point H6 backdraw with HB lines had been the only way for me to get clean drawings, and then both H6 backdraw and clean drawings became the norm. When I switched to HB backdraw with ink lines to get those clean drawings, I discovered that I could get decent quality sketches using HB backdraw with HB lines. It’s now come to my attention that the latter may have been just as enabling as the former.
For a long time, I’ve had difficulty putting figures and non figures together in a way that doesn’t suck. I’ve physically written and mentally noted some theories, but having this low-quality, low-effort sketching ability has helped me execute: most of these doodles are about scaling figures and backgrounds and having them interact with each other.
This is a ground level view of my neoclassical station from the start of Ink. I think the more aggressive angle gives it a better sense of depth; this is actually much closer to the view that I originally wanted but apparently couldn’t implement. The light battleships up top are mockups of a model I might build in Lego.
This is my favorite one of the lot. It’s hard to draw figures and trains at the same scale because figures are small and trains are not, so you have to draw tiny figures or giant train parts… and that’s hard. That being said, I think the giant train parts turned out pretty good.
This is the cab of the 7-9 Series steam-electric locomotive I keep drawing. It’s probably a little small relative to the figures, but likewise scaling is hard. I semi thought through what all of the levers and dials did, which is what makes this sort of greebling hard for me these days; I don’t think I did that nearly as much when I was a kid. For much the same reason, I mostly reuse designs now and only occasionally introduce new ones.
This is my second favorite of the lot. The conductor is actually from here. The condenser isn’t actually part of the original design, but I felt like having it.
I originally thought the 7-9 Series was a legacy design that survived the BKS era, but I couldn’t find an original drawing, so I assume it originated as part of my 2006 BKS/CL locomotive reference set, which codified some legacy designs like that AT01 Series Atlantis class shay, and introduced some new ones like the 7-9. These drawings are based off an updated 2012 revision.
Another month, another update. One of these months we might get two, since the mean time between updates is more like 20-25 days. This update features some history and some semi-experimental ink drawings done over the past couple weeks where most of the focus is on backgrounding.
Early last year, I started to make a conscious effort to work on backgrounds and the balance between foreground and background. As such, there were some okay drawings and some slightly less okay drawings. These were all done with the same process that I had been using since the end of the NW Directorate story, and I think even back then I realized that I was pushing up against some of the process’s limits that would eventually be “solved” by pen.
But pen was still more than a year away at that point, so in the meantime there were some experiments including an unconventional series of draw-by-references, and a splash of what I’m now calling “gritty” drawings before I went on my painting rampage earlier this year. Only toward the end of said painting rampage did background/foreground balance come back to mind, cumulating in my scratch-painted background for ToG 2012 R2.
I think traditional line-and-fill figure on painted background is ultimately the way to go, so I recently thought that I should try to implement the same thing in pen.
The figures are drawn the way I always draw figures, but I’ve been testing this multi-directional hatching, which tries not to obscure actual lineart “underneath” it. It does a decent job of that, but it also makes everything look textured, or moreso than mono-directional hatching. I’m also trying to distinguish between “hard” and “soft” divides by outlining or not outlining the shadows. The background is an evolution of what I just called “gritty” (J’s term, btw), but it’s basically my pen equivalent of a painted background. This picture is actually the first time all these things are coming together, and I think it turned out pretty well.
This is actually a redraw of a drawing from spring.
Moving along, a drawing in all HB. I’ve been trying to sketch in pure HB and basically eliminate a specialty tool from my processes (lighter pencils). Here I guess I just wanted to try shading a lot of stuff.
Tried some landscaping and water and stuff like that. This was actually okay until I tried to put in the cloud effect in the background, which didn’t go over well. It’s supposed to be sunlight above a thick layer of clouds.
Finally, a drawing from one of J’s prompts. I was trying to draw a better sense of space, but the cloud effect (which I just had to try again) screwed it up again. I’ll make it work someday.
Well, I haven’t really had the chance to draw much since the last update, but I figure I’d get this post in before the month was up (30 minutes left as of this writing!). Last time I posted what I’d consider my first “true” ink drawings, and today I’ve got two more. These are both from reference:
Both drawings are slightly disproportionately narrow compared to the original. I’m not exactly sure how I screwed them up the same way twice in a row, but it might have something to do with the translation of the photo aspect ratio to the paper aspect ratio. Hopefully will have a chance to draw more in the next few weeks.
The following comments about computing and whatnot were written at the beginning of August. As these things go, they are already out of date, but since it’s already written, I’ll post it for my future self to read.
In the future, I might look at the content in this post as a turning point. Then again, I might not.
Previously, my relationship with ink has been a downhill journey at best. When I first started doodling in preschool or elementary school, I used all sorts of permanent drawing tools including pens and markers and crayons and whatnot. Back then I don’t think my drawing sense had any concept of “rightness”, so I don’t think there was ever anything “wrong”, and as such, there was never any need to erase. As late as the first adventures of BKS this still appeared to be the case.
That being said, that first comic was probably one of the last of its kind, and ink doesn’t show up again until 2002, when I did a series of pen and colored pencil “paintings”. The pen was, of course, only used to trace the original lineart such that the colored pencil didn’t smear anything. A little later, I made an attempt to implement ink in my normal drawing process, but that clearly didn’t pan out.
It was only much, much later in 2010, that I finally turned out some decent drawings in pen, albeit for a class. I even attempted to ink a figure in pen, but ultimately, I went back to pencil for another two years. Ink came back in 2012, but it was, yet again, a matter of tracing completed pencil… until now.
This chapter actually starts in June, when I asked J for a topic to draw. He suggested “neoclassical”, and I sat on it for a while. I had something in mind, and I made a thumbnail or two, but for whatever reason, I didn’t get started in earnest until just a few days ago. For whatever reason, and I’m not really sure if this was premeditated, I started in pencil and decided to throw some pen in there, not as a trace, but as the original lines. Ultimately what resulted from J’s suggestion is this monstrosity:
And that is what I believe to be the turning point.
I admit, a little late in posting this post. I had it written for a while, and I thought it had been posted a while ago -___-
 – 
It’s windy like nobody’s business out there, and I should be sleeping… but I’m writing this update instead. So far I’ve actually done a considerable amount of drawing given that we are fairly well into an academic term, to the point that I’m basically going to be able to post a new painting for the next three or four updates (inclusive) at the rate I’m posting updates (roughly every 20 days).
This Tear Grants 2012 is the start of an effort to really clean up lineart. Included will possibly be my first serious effort to use the pen well since a long time ago. Hopefully with a bit of polish, general art quality can take a bigger step up than it has in recent years, but likewise, I try not to be too optimistic.
It’s a start. The process behind it is a development of what I used for Motoko 2012 in the last update; I got rid of the fairly heavy-handed pencil shading and simply outlined the areas that I would have shaded in pencil. Everything is still done on one layer, and the “effects” are also done manually. There is actually a painting between here and there, but it obviously didn’t make me happy, so I didn’t post it (so many paintings I can skip posting one – wow!). I think just a little bit of lineart stiffness can really put me off.
In a sort of uninspired way, this is somewhat of a redo of Philia 2009, just as Motoko 2012 was somewhat of a redo of DMG 2008. I think redos are just sort of my own little way of proving to myself that my art is getting a little better over time. I have a little graphic too, this time, but I didn’t realize my Tear data points were so few and far between.
From right to left, this is late 2006, late 2007, late 2009, and early 2012. The drastic improvement in lineart quality from 2006 to 2007 is partially attributable to the difference in the scale of the two figures, and probably also partially attributable to the volatility of my art back then; if you look at my DMG comparison from 2009, the 2006 DMG (direct center) is very different from the 2006 Tear, and the 2007 DMG (direct left of center) is very different from the 2007 Tear. The 2009 DMG and the 2009 Tear, while still scaled differently, are much more similar.
Interestingly enough, I believe that 2006 Tales painting is also single layered.
One trend that I would hope is evident is the gradual decline in “splotchiness” in the paint since 2009. It was already better in 2010, and I like to think the paint is pretty smooth in today’s painting. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s less about being “good” at blending the colors than it is about choosing colors that blend well. What exactly it is that makes particular colors blend well: I haven’t yet really formulated a cohesive theory on that.
also concerning color, I do believe I am generally getting better at choosing them from the start. For the most part, I haven’t really had to do any heavy-handed color correction on the past couple paintings; the worst as of late has been the really bad Akemi Homura 2011 piece, which is a while ago now. Below is the non-adjusted original, which, as you can see, is more or less the same thing.
Here you can also see the relatively small color palette and the relatively large amount of cropping in this particular painting. I think colors follow some variant of the 80/20 rule: you use 20% of the colors 80% of the time… or something like that. The lighting effect from her staff came out better than I thought, too. I make an effort to try to do any such effects manually and I think it paid off in this case.
Last but not least, a small craft I designed, partially based off of something I dreamed about; it’s kind of an Aruku Reshivu shaped hull with Last Exile styling. I really like the square-radiator-into-conical-propeller-cone thing, and corrugating the hull does wonders too. Otherwise, this thing has boat elements, plane elements, and car elements all in one. Maybe there will be a painting in the future. I’m trying to do a lot this year.
That’s all for now.
 – 
This update features the continuation of my Love Hina character doodles.
I noted that the order in which I draw these characters is more of less arbitrary. The order in which I’m posting them is also such. With Haruka, the overall drawing quality starts to increase. I didn’t actually think she was going to turn out too well at the lineart stage, but sometimes it’s amazing what a little bit of shading can do for you. Other times, it’s not so impressive.
With Naru I encountered quite a few situations where I just wasn’t sure how I was supposed to draw something, but surprisingly, it also turned out quite well. Here, as well as in the next drawing, I start trying to fill out backgrounds with hybrid shading. The traditional pencils are really good at texturing surfaces, so it’s kind of unfortunate that I ended up contrasting a lot of that shading away in post-processing.
Shinobu’s figure is only okay, but I think the bushes here are great. The bench is actually based off a Google Images hit for nice bench”.
[111220 – 120102]
The first illustration in today’s update was actually done before the last picture in the last update, but everything in the last update flowed together better, so I didn’t include this.
This is basically a remake of what I consider the crappiest painting as of late, the Akemi Homura 2011 painting. While this colored pencil piece is obviously somewhat less polished than its digital counterpart I think its also a lot closer to what I originally wanted. In part due to the immaturity of my colored pencil process, the lighting here is also fairly ambiguous.
There’s a less-than-interesting process photo I took a little more than halfway through too. A little bit of color testing on the side; for whatever reason it was significantly harder to settle on Akemi’s colors than it was to settle on Inori’s colors. You can also see that there’s actually a lot of “junk” lines that the colored pencil covered up really well. Overall, fairly satisfied, though. Satisfied enough that I wouldn’t attempt another in the near future.
[111205 – 111220]
So this post features some doodles I did not during Thanksgiving break, but, surprisingly, during the weeks after.
I’ve kind of gotten at this in the past, but I think one of the issues I’ve been having in general is that the more I try to “polish” a drawing, the crappier it gets. To be more specific (in a really vague way), I just feel that things get “stiffer” or just less “fluid” when I actually try to commit to doing a full painting or whatnot. Often enough, I think the sketches leading up to a particular painting are, with respect to lineart mostly, better than the painting itself. The most telling manifestation of this phenomenon is something I’ve written about many times in the past; it’s that the lineart for a painting always turns out worse at the end.
And obviously I’ve tried various things in the past to get around this, the latest being that I’m using pencil linearts straight up with only a little bit of erasing, but even then I still find something just isn’t preserved.
So this colored pencil thing initially didn’t have anything to do with the whole polished = rubbish thing. I was just using the colored pencils to indicate the colors on some thoughts, and I was just messing with how exactly to apply the colors (like as shading or ontop of shading, etc). That’s the top left. Then I had this thought, and I was talking to J about this, about doing like shading and coloring in parallel rather than in series, and that’s kind of what’s going on in the bottom left and right. That didn’t go far, but I got two sketches out of it.
Another month, another update (though it’s more like 1.5 updates a month, given the last three or four). Today’s is admittedly weak, but I basically didn’t do any drawing this quarter and I basically didn’t do any drawing over the break as well.
These first two pages of doodle were done in August. This is a general redesign of Bradly’s yacht from Reflection. I don’t seem to have a drawing of the original posted, but the general gist is that lines became straighter and the ship became less obnoxious. Also present are Charles, Bradly’s pilot (chauffeur? butler? secretary? we’re not really sure at this point), and Bradly donning his traditional Founder suit over a Steve Jobs-esque black turtleneck.
This is a little more recent, but it’s another general redesign, this time of the Wind Charmer Wynn from TIAIIS. Again, I can’t seem to find my original sketches on the site, but again, the lines became straighter (though this one wasn’t particularly obnoxious in the first place). I think the general result here is that the ship is overall more “professional” than it used to be. Meaning, even though it is still built from two ships, it looks like the military did the conversion, rather than John Doe.