Rocky

Rocks have always given me trouble, which is a pity because once I actually got around to doing these quick two- minute thumbnail studies, I realized that they’re actually super fun to draw. My Pinterest has been enthusiastically throwing increasingly more fantastical rocky landscapes at me, and I’ve been pinning them all and working my way through them. There’s so much beauty in the way these landforms are shaped by wind or wave, the natural rhythms in in the ridges and ripples on otherwise smooth surfaces. It’s beautiful design in its very purest form.

Come to think of it, I remember one of the art directors for Game of Thrones talking about how Dragonstone was inspired by a specific rock formation. At the time I remember thinking they must have found a really rare and unusual formation of rocks to serve as inspiration for something so regal, but the more I study natural rock formations, the more obvious it becomes to me that rocks are really just glorious, and it’s not surprising at all that fantasy or real world architecture should draw inspiration from them. To be honest, I’d be impressed if man made structures ever come close to the natural magnificence of some of these.

I want to keep gathering references and work up at least twenty or so more thumbnail studies, since they’re so quick and easy (and fun) to do. I especially like doing them with just a 2mm 2B pencil on my favourite sketchbook paper, as opposed to digitally on on my iPad, because I feel like with a subject as viscerally textured as rocks and rock formations, it’s nice to feel the rough, tactile feedback of pencil against paper. However, I will soon be progressing to value sketching, which of course will have to be done in ProCreate for consistency.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of starting to enjoy something that I used to find so challenging. I do still find it challenging, but in an exciting way as opposed to getting frustrated. The taller, bolder, more jagged shapes are easier to place and render, but softer, rounded river rocks I find more difficult. Rocks covered in grass, moss, dirt or snow I find even harder, and but I look forward to figuring out a shorthand to render those. I’ve also been doing gestural drawings with my new TWSBI GO fountain pen, a relatively cheap plasticky pen that I’ve already grown very fond of, though not as much as my Pilot Kakuno, which which deserves an entire post devoted to it on this blog. And a bunch of other sketches on my favourite sketching iPad apps: mainly ProCreate and Clip Studio, but also occasionally Infinite Painter.

I particularly enjoyed doing the little gestural sketches above, of kids and adults playing sports. I tried to use as few lines as possible to capture the sense of rhythm, energy, and movement, and of course, as is usual with these kind of sketches, taking no longer than a minute or so on each pose. The sketches on the parchment background below I spent more time on, trying out a new technique. First, I sketched in just the skeleton wireframes. (The references used for these were all skeletons. Fun fact; it inadvertently lead me down a rabbit hole of how our skeletons look in all kinds of sexual contexts). Then I filled each skeleton figure with a silhouette, using a tip I learnt from Nikolai Lockertsen from his Schoolism class. Then I lightened the silhouette and inked in the form, still keeping it loose. I’m not too pleased with them but I figure a few more pages should show improvement.

Finally, in other news, I got bitten by a venomous beetle, and the little bastard left an angry chemical burn type rash across the nape of my neck and upper shoulder. It was really scary- my arm went painful for a couple of days from the toxins, and I’ve come to despise the Delhi heat even more than I already did. Thankfully it’s already getting much better, but oh my god I cannot wait for this wretched summer to be over.

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