# My sketchbook is a conversation...

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In my journey and struggle to become a better artist - illustrator and animator, and perhaps some day painter - I have transitioned from drawing "comic book" hyperboles to drawing the everyday. The comic book characters are easy, in a sense; they're cliché, muscular... over-muscular, even. They pose in extremes, they wear form-fitting spandex. Drawing them encourages me to adopt a symbolic shorthand, which stands in the way of my pursuit of realism. Perhaps I'll come back to them, though, after I learn to draw. And so I started trying to draw more pedestrian things. I struggled momentarily, but I began to try to focus on small moments, to communicate the totality of movement, of feeling of expression. I drew a man stretching to touch his toe. I drew a woman with arms folded overhead and legs crossed, severely foreshortened. I made mistakes and created inconsistent statements... and my sketchbook started talking back to me. No, not audibly. I'm not crazy. What I mean is that I began to approach each drawing almost as a puzzle or challenge, in which the sketchbook is an instructor and I am the apprentice. As I inscribe shape and chisel out form, the sketchbook offers its criticisms: "a little fat in the waist, there"; "the position of that foot suggests a knee in reflex"; "you lost the action in the mass of the body". I finally learned why - intuitively why - artists conducted studies before commencing their works. It feels amazing. Who knew drawing the simplest things could be the most challenging? I'm infused with a new excitement, a new eagerness to try my hand at unfamiliar problems, and to refine those I've "solved" (for no solution is perfect; were it so, why would you ever draw it again?) I'm just dashing this off to ask if anyone else who draws freehand can relate. I'll post scans from my sketchbook tomorrow, when I get back from work.

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Since I was up, I decided to test my scanner with my Mac (bought it about two months ago - the Mac, not the scanner). Bottom line, Canon sucks. I mean... wow.

So, yeah, my options are 1.) go buy another scanner, or 2.) use my girlfriend's and have her email me my scans, which I've had to do before. Her scanner's not bad, so I might do that in the short term, but long-term I'm going to need a flatbed scanner that works well with OS X Leopard. Any suggestions?

(Another workaround is to photograph the sketchbook, but that's... ugh.)

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Quote:
 Original post by OluseyiSince I was up, I decided to test my scanner with my Mac (bought it about two months ago - the Mac, not the scanner). Bottom line, Canon sucks. I mean... wow.So, yeah, my options are 1.) go buy another scanner, or 2.) use my girlfriend's and have her email me my scans, which I've had to do before. Her scanner's not bad, so I might do that in the short term, but long-term I'm going to need a flatbed scanner that works well with OS X Leopard. Any suggestions?(Another workaround is to photograph the sketchbook, but that's... ugh.)

I've had nothing but problems with Canon's gear, so I'd avoid their stuff like the plague.

I recently bought a Kodak 5500 All-In-One printer/scanner/fax/copier thing. It's damned good, though probably overkill if all you need is a scanner. (Kodaks are a bit pricey to buy, but they don't charge a fortune for inks, which is a big plus if you do a lot of printing.)

I think they may have just revamped their line, so take a look. I recommend them.

If you only need a scanner, and you want a damned good one, I'd suggest looking at Epson's range. They have a good reputation for quality. (HP do as well, but I don't think there's much in it and I find HP's drivers tend to be bloated.)

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Hi,

I can relate to that experience since I am learning to draw. To me the difficulty is to succeed to seize the instant of a pose (quick drawing) when people are moving. A static or posed drawing gives you time to realize and correct while a dynamic does not.
I still learn to draw quickly a pose and try to fill in details later. My sketchbook helps me in understanding what I missed in my drawings.
Sometimes, I use the free newspapers we are given in the subway. They have a lot of photographs: I draw on the photograph to understand how each body part in a pose realate to each other and how to properly apply shadows. This also helps me to improve my drawing skills.
However I still have much much work in front of me before succeeding to achieve capturing a dynamic pose (esp. when I compare with the sketchbook of Delacroix whose style I admire).

Ghostly yours,
Red.

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Quote:
 Original post by stimarcoIf you only need a scanner, and you want a damned good one, I'd suggest looking at Epson's range. They have a good reputation for quality. (HP do as well, but I don't think there's much in it and I find HP's drivers tend to be bloated.)

Thanks. I virtually never print (for now), so I don't need an all-in-one. I might buy a printer later if/when I start doing proofs, or working in InDesign more (a requirement for the program I'm trying to get into next year).

Quote:
 Original post by Red GhostI can relate to that experience since I am learning to draw. To me the difficulty is to succeed to seize the instant of a pose (quick drawing) when people are moving. A static or posed drawing gives you time to realize and correct while a dynamic does not.

Absolutely. I used to go to places like Columbus Circle or Lincoln Center and try to capture the kids in motion, putting down the overall energy of the body in motion first, then looking to specific parts to fill in details.

Quote:
 I still learn to draw quickly a pose and try to fill in details later. My sketchbook helps me in understanding what I missed in my drawings.

That's a fantastic way to look at things. My sketchbooks (I've filled one completely, and have two partially used) provide me with an opportunity to look at my progress, but also to draw lessons from specific failures. Perhaps an indication of how much I've improved, but now I can see and correct my mistakes sooner - in some cases almost immediately. It's funny to think about how I would show certain drawings to people with pride a year or two ago that absolutely make me wince now! [smile]

Quote:
 Sometimes, I use the free newspapers we are given in the subway. They have a lot of photographs: I draw on the photograph to understand how each body part in a pose realate to each other and how to properly apply shadows. This also helps me to improve my drawing skills.

That's a great idea. I've found myself clipping pictures from the free papers, too - there's a cover from AMNY, with Eli Manning of the Giants, sitting on my desk waiting for me to draw.

Quote:
 However I still have much much work in front of me before succeeding to achieve capturing a dynamic pose (esp. when I compare with the sketchbook of Delacroix whose style I admire).

But that's half the fun - constantly challenging yourself, first to acquire the basic visual vocabulary and rendering skills, then to grasp color, then to execute commissions of ever more ambitious scale. [smile]

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Quote:
 Original post by OluseyiSince I was up, I decided to test my scanner with my Mac (bought it about two months ago - the Mac, not the scanner). Bottom line, Canon sucks. I mean... wow.So, yeah, my options are 1.) go buy another scanner, or 2.) use my girlfriend's and have her email me my scans, which I've had to do before. Her scanner's not bad, so I might do that in the short term, but long-term I'm going to need a flatbed scanner that works well with OS X Leopard. Any suggestions?
If you don't mind shelling out $40, I have found that VueScan works very well, and supports pretty much any scanner I have thrown at it (including my mysterious$35 Office Max 'special' scanner). The interface is a little clunky, but the feature set is excellent, and they do offer a (very limited) trial version, to check if it will run your scanner.

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 Original post by swiftcoderIf you don't mind shelling out $40, I have found that VueScan works very well, and supports pretty much any scanner I have thrown at it (including my mysterious$35 Office Max 'special' scanner). The interface is a little clunky, but the feature set is excellent, and they do offer a (very limited) trial version, to check if it will run your scanner.

The trial version only seemed to scan to PDF. Is that a limitation of the demo specifically? I was going to buy it (fugly UI and all... after all, CanoScan is fugly, too), but only being able to obtain PDFs did not inspire confidence - especially when Preview couldn't open said PDF!

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I know what you mean exactly! There is the strange sensation when I walk away from something for a bit and come back to view it. I always find 'mistakes'. Others will say generic stuff like, 'awesome!' or 'neat!', but to me there is a TODO list compiling in my head as I scan over the whole thing. Luckily, now that I'm in school I have my professors to look to when I want actual opinions on what needs work.

Usually I know what the mistakes are. It's when I want to come up with fresh ideas and exploring them that I really want to hear opinions.

I have a tendency to lean toward the cartoony side. I find I grow bored if I can't express a sense of movement and for me, movement comes from exaggeration. Though I will admit that there are times when even the most realistic scene can give this same feeling. Just look at movie posters.

If you are interested I'm am beginning to keep a journal of my thoughts on this sort of stuff. You can find it here: http://deniedsluggy.livejournal.com/

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Quote:
 Original post by lack o commentsI know what you mean exactly! There is the strange sensation when I walk away from something for a bit and come back to view it. I always find 'mistakes'. Others will say generic stuff like, 'awesome!' or 'neat!', but to me there is a TODO list compiling in my head as I scan over the whole thing. Luckily, now that I'm in school I have my professors to look to when I want actual opinions on what needs work.

I'm hoping to go back to school next year, but it'll be grad school and industrial design. I might take some (more) art classes in the interim, though, perhaps at the Art Students League (because School of Visual Arts is expensive!)

Quote:
 I have a tendency to lean toward the cartoony side. I find I grow bored if I can't express a sense of movement and for me, movement comes from exaggeration. Though I will admit that there are times when even the most realistic scene can give this same feeling. Just look at movie posters.

I feel that if I master a realistic style, I can always scale back toward a cartoony style by using symbols and shorthand, but reaching from cartoony to portraiture is much more difficult.

Quote:
 If you are interested I'm am beginning to keep a journal of my thoughts on this sort of stuff. You can find it here: http://deniedsluggy.livejournal.com/

Cool. I'm overdue to put my site together as well (and since I work on sites all day now, it's becoming more of a reflex, so I'll probably do it in the next month when I renew my domains).

PS. The gridded contour image is very interesting!

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Quote:
 Original post by OluseyiThe trial version only seemed to scan to PDF. Is that a limitation of the demo specifically? I was going to buy it (fugly UI and all... after all, CanoScan is fugly, too), but only being able to obtain PDFs did not inspire confidence - especially when Preview couldn't open said PDF!
The version I am using scans to tiff and jpeg as well - but I am a version or two back from the latest. As I said, it is one of the most flexible and feature-full scanner drivers I know of.

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I agree that a realistic style is something that can give you a much better understanding when developing any other style. I personally would like to develop somthing more along the lines of Frazzetta or Loomis.

You're on the right track using references from life. And of course you have the benefit of real world experience.

Thanks for the comment. I am definitely going to be doing this again when I have some free time.

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Okay, pictures!

This is from a couple months back, when I drew a "villain" character on a whim. The lesson here is that even clichés can be challenging to conceptualize without an understanding of the archetypes, the signifiers, etc.

While a fairly dynamic piece, there are so many anatomical problems with the ball handler here, not to mention posing problems. Observing how people actually move makes it easier to imagine how they would move in a hypothetical situation.

I drew this on a whim, and I never really developed it. I may turn back to it sometime when I feel I need a pseudo-apocalyptic (or P-Funk spaced out) black pastor/father archetype.

I read once that you have to have drawings you do purely for yourself, to keep the joy in drawing alive.

As I wrapped up the sketchbook that contains the above images, I got inspiration for a potential name for my design services company, should it ever come to that. Green is a color closely associated with Nigerians (by Nigerians, of course; the rest of you don't think about us that way [smile]), and I want to provide animation, video, production and film services, ultimately, in Nigeria. I want to help elevate the level of visual culture, thus "Green <something>". I settled on pencil for now because of its resonance as a creative tool, but I may need to refine that message still.

My favorite superheroes have been Batman and Iron Man for a long time, even though I have an iconic fondness for Superman (see my avatar, for instance). What I loved about Batman and Tony Stark is their lack of super powers and their reliance on intellect and technology/equipment to give them not just a fighting chance, but in many cases an edge.

Well, you can imagine my reaction when I learned about Mister Terrific (the second one; the first one was lame), especially given the fact that he's black. I need to research him a lot more - find some books to read, learn more stories - but he's up in there now among my favorites. This was a sketch of Alex Ross' phenomenal cover, done from memory.

It's election season, it was the day of the second debate, and I had realized the evening before that I couldn't identify any of Barack Obama's visual characteristics, making it impossible for me to draw him from memory (other than his large ears). So I dug up a photo and drew a quick portrait. It has tons of proportion problems, but it's a starting point to refine my comprehension of his face.

My John McCain is even worse than my Barack Obama... [smile]

This is actually the first of the "conversation pieces with my sketchbook" I was talking about. I was trying a relatively natural pose I'd never attempted, of a normal person in an everyday activity, albeit with an attempt at more extreme perspective. I made mistakes as I was drawing, but the paper was speaking to me, and you can see some of the corrected lines if you look through the body and legs. (I learned a while back, when I only worked in pencil, to minimize erasing and rather work the stray line into the final drawing, only using my kneaded rubber eraser to draw highlights and lighten tone. I've tried to apply the same general philosophy to my recent transition to predominantly pen work.)

The final drawing still has errors - see if you can find the right hand and make out its gesture - but the process of getting even to this flawed state was very informative.

Alright, that's that.

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 Original post by OluseyiOkay, pictures!Alright, that's that.

I love the Obama and McCain pictures; and not for how the people are drawn. It's the fact the portraits are black and white aside from their tie, which is colored with their political party affiliation. I believe simple pictures like this are the things that people can find more meaning in than you might ever have intended. I.e. would the fact the tie is the only thing that is colored allude to the fact that these men are more than just men; they are the human incarnations of ideas? What about all the connotations that red is associated with, cooperation and formal business attire vs a more casual connotations blue color, hard working (blue collar worker). Just the fact that those connotations apply directly to each of the men individually, pure coincidence?

I simply love it And to think, you want to improve how they are being portrayed :P

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Yay Pictures!

The third one down is definitely my favorite. No artistic reason really. I just love the subject matter.

Another one that caught my eye was the second one with the basketball players. You did a really good job capturing a sense of motion. And the depth added to the back of the shorts on the left-most player is done very well. So is the muscle tone on the legs. Keep in mind that sports players often contort themselves in unnatural poses so this may be why it seems off. Actually on a glance I hardly saw anything but on closer inspection it does appear that the one holding the ball has a problem with his right arm. At the very least, on a compositional level I think you could take some liberties and keep his arm from lining up with the other player's leg. Also the other player's left arm appears a bit short.

And I have to agree with Drew_Benton on the the politicians. Are they accurate? No. Are they iconic and fun to look at? Yes.

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