art

Why I Draw with Pencils First, and Then Trace in Pen if Desired

Image from Pixabay

I don’t know about you, but when I was a child, I was taught to draw in pencil first. Then trace it in pen if desired. And you know what? I think it was great advice. In fact, I still do that now these days… sometimes. To be honest, I haven’t been drawing that much recently.

Anyway, you know that pencils come with erasers. If you make a mistake, you erase that. There are also erasable pens. But I haven’t used those since, like, fifth grade.

Yes, if you make an error with a permanent pen, you can’t remove it. But you can put white-out over it. I’ve been doing that a lot these days.

What I like to do is draw the basic shapes with light pencil marks. Next, I draw the main images with normal pencil marks. Then trace over them with pens. I finish by erasing the pencil marks. After all, no one is perfect. So pencil marks will still show unless you erase them.

I have drawn purely without pencils before as a child. That was fine. But those were drawings for personal pleasure. Not for school. Plus, I hadn’t received the full formal training for art, then. I took art classes at school. But they were required for everyone, including those with little to no artistic talent.

Once I got the formal training in high school and college, I don’t think I ever started drawing with pens voluntarily again. Sadly, these days, my hands sometimes shake too much. And because I don’t have an authority forcing me to start with a pen, I probably won’t return to drawing with pens only for a long, long time. I will still trace pencil lines with pens, though.

art

Fun with Figure Drawing

At first, I would consider completely avoiding looking at nude models as I’d found nakedness disturbing. I would even decide that I’d rather fail a college art class than look at a nude model. But that was what I had thought when I was in high school.

In college, figure drawing was required in the art curriculum. At first, I was a bit nervous. Even when the model immediately removed her cover-up, I was a bit uncomfortable and tried not grin (obviously, I wouldn’t have burst out laughing—I was 21). But then I got used to it and discovered something new about myself: figure drawing was fun. I got past the discomfort of seeing nudity.

I learned how to draw poses and how to construct them with lines, shapes, and more. I still use these techniques when drawing for pleasure. It helps a lot.

Now why didn’t I post a picture of one of my drawings, you might wonder? Because I don’t believe it’s appropriate for a blog post. Everyone is welcome to read the articles, including kids. But you can try picturing drawing ideas in your head. This technique is necessary for art majors, especially if you are considering illustration or animation. Figure drawing may be exciting for you too. You never know.

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Lines & Shapes & References, Oh My… That’s What Illustration is All About

In my final semester of college last year, I took an illustration elective. I discovered some tips and tricks I never knew before.

Reference material was one. Believe it or not, that is super important for illustration. Whether it’s for a pose or an appearance. Yes, if you want to illustrate a house with a yard for an illustration project, you will need a reference. Of course, you’re not going to copy it (not just because of copyright protections, but also because it’s lazy and not your own) but you can refer to it for believable structure and appearances. You still have to change some things, like color, removal of something, etc., or else it become copying.

Another illustration rule I’ve learned was when designing characters, their physical looks matter and should relate to their ages, personalities, and roles to their stories. I started out with just simple smiles and different looks. But I had to change that. So I did.

Below is a drawing of Polydectes from the Greek myth, Perseus and Medusa.
Main Polydectes Scan

Had I not been taught to show the characters’ personalities, he would’ve just smiled and held his arms at his side.

If you’re going to design characters as a career, you’ll most likely have to do turnaround sheets. That is when you show the same characters in different POV’s. It’s less necessary for book illustration, but mandatory for animation, whether it’s for TV, film, or games.

Here’s a sample of an original character I’ve drawn in different POV’s.

20171023_212909 (2)

Okay. So it might be a bit sloppy. But you get the idea. This character is basically in every major POV.

When you grew up, regardless of your artistic talent, you probably drew by outlining first. Then you colored in the image. In illustration, however, you start with simple shapes as the building blocks for an object or character. You would use circles for round sections and rectangles or triangles for angled sections. Then you would finish from there.

In fact, one of our first assignments was to find character images and break them down into simple shapes. This is how you learn to show detail and consistency.

Have you ever watched a cartoon and noticed something off? If so, the cartoonist probably made an error. He or she probably didn’t mean to. However, this is something viewers will notice very easily, even if it’s very faint. It takes a lot of practice, though. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to make this easy. You really just have to gain that hand muscle memory and place everything the right position, such as the eyes.

Of course, you will have to practice on your own as I do not have enough illustration experience to post tutorials here. However, you can find others all over the Internet. If you’re really serious, you can read books or take a class.