Distracted Doodles

These are really just the result of idle doodles and half hearted studies. I find I’m constantly torn between wanting to draw story moments from imagination, and wanting to purely study, and generally struggling to find a balance between the two. Anxiety never helps; when I’m studying I feel like I’m not exercising my creativity, and when I’m drawing from the imagination I feel like I’m neglecting the fundamentals. There’s a vague sense of wanting to work towards a finished illustrated narrative piece that’s battling with the urgency to keep bettering myself at the fundamentals of figure drawing, environment design and drawing, and getting the hang of lighting and perspective.

I also find myself severely lacking in stamina these days, in every way. I just run out of motivation and energy at the stage where I should just be ramping up and getting deeper into it. This applies to everything- everything I do these days seems to be half hearted. It’s only sheer discipline that keeps me practicing at all. In fairness, my speed has improved significantly just over the past few weeks. The problem is I keep losing interest because I keep doubting that I’m going about learning and practicing the right way. Probably need to address that soon.

Above is a page of character silhouettes following Nikolai Lockertsen’s Procreate tutorial. It’s my first time approaching character design using this method (or character design at all, really), and it’s both difficult and freeing. It’s a little graphic design-y in the sense that you’re thinking only about clean shapes during this stage.

This was an oil paint sketch where I played around with a brush I’d created, though of course I’m not happy with it because I had neither direction nor reference to work from. With the sketch below, I didn’t have a reference to work from either, but at least I had some direction- it’s part of a graphic project I’ve just started storyboarding. I have a decent amount of time to finish it, though, and not much other work to occupy me, so I’m not rushing it. The more I attempt it, the more I find I enjoy sequential art, so long as the story is intriguing and presents a decent scope for visual experimentation. Deathly dull and mundane client work for ad scripts had shrivelled up my love for boards.

Above is a value exercise- we had to pick a story moment and render it using just 3 grayscale values. I think I was fairly successful in this, and again I found I was able to churn these out much quicker than earlier, before I committed to regular practice.

And this is a barn owl just because. Finally another page of timed figure drawing. I tried not to adhere too closely to the reference with these, going over them once the timer was up to see how I could use references for character beats in storyboards or illustrations, and here I was reasonably pleased with my efforts. At the very least the two figures tussling in the centre of the page look like what they’re supposed to look like. Even just a year ago, conveying action like that would have taken me a painstaking hour or so to get right, and I’d be working much more closely with the reference, going on autopilot and mapping out distances mechanically without pausing to think about gesture and rhythm.

On the whole, a decidedly under productive and overwhelmingly mediocre week. But at the very least- there is comfort in knowing that even just a few months ago, this is the sort of week where I wouldn’t have produced any art at all. I’m considering a tactic I used last year to ramp up productivity- to divide the work day between two different kinds of creative focus, like drawing and practicing music- and switch to the other when I get frustrated with one, and to reward myself at the end of the day with an hour of gaming or reading.

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