A ghost in the Chell
With more and more projects piling on, it get’s harder to find time to sit down for a few hours and just draw. Of course this is really just an excuse, I’ve played my fair share of hours in Minecraft and Mass Effect 3’s multi-player to have four portfolios completed over the last few months. A friend wants me to do his story boards for his film, starting school again in August, and seeing friends of new and old surpass me in ability and passion was more than enough to motivate me to get back into it.
Instead of just posting the final product (which you’ve just seen) I’m going to take my time and show you the process of a sketch from a slightly egotistic, but self conscious “artist” (Any one who has a blog about his own art is at the very least a little egocentric. I’m just being honest with myself).
The first thing I had to do was pick a subject to draw. I considered drawing more facebook friends, but after a while it started to feel slightly awkward and it was deterring. “Does this look enough like said person?”, “What will he or she think?”. It wasn’t fun any more, it became kind of stressful trying to get every thing right, and nothing was good enough. I like drawing from photo’s or from real life, so I scoured google image as any good artist would. The only problem was I didn’t know what I was scouring for. Long story short, I like video games, so I searched “video game cosplay”. I found some pretty cool shots of Chell from Portal so from there I went with it.
Now that the subject has been selected it’s time to see where I was with my abilities. It has been a couple of months since my last sketch so I did a quick 15 minute warm up to see what I can still do. I chose a an old photo of a good friend and myself as the subject. It won’t win any awards, but I can tell it’s two people, and one is smoking. Good enough! let’s start.
During “Concept Art” class, while I was attending the Art Institute of Vancouver, I learned that the final product will only be as good as the time you spend on it, and a professional artist will be able to get that great final product with less time. We were taught to thumb nail as a warm up and to see how it would look on paper. I did two thumb nails that took much too long for what it turned out to be, so I stopped. It wasn’t fun and was deterring. The main goal of this was to bring the fun and passion back, and this wasn’t helping. Screw doing thing’s properly, I just want to have fun with this.
In hindsight I am glad I did them. I was able to get a gist of how it would look, and able to get all my mistakes and bad habits out on these two crapfest.
First thing I establish was the “line of action” (not pictured), a term myself and my AI (Art Institute) classmates know all to well, as it’s was our life drawing instructor’s favorite word. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it simply refers to the very quick one or 2 line drawing of the overall figure. It helps with posing and to get a feel of where all the weight of the figure will fall. Next I blocked out the basic anatomy, no commentary as it’s pretty obvious to why I would do that so I’ll recommend a movie here instead. I watched Ridley Scott’s “Life in a day” last night, and it was very enjoyable. Check it out, it’s on Netflix.
Next step was to block out some detail. This is the part where I have to make a conscious decision to how close it will be to the reference photo, and with that, let me tell you a tale. When I was just a youngling, my mother took me to some privet drawing classes at the local university on the week ends. One exercise that I still remember clear as day was when the instructor got the class to draw a statue, but we had to draw it upside down. To clarify, the statue itself was right side up, but our drawings had to be upside down. I remember when the class was done, the instructor picked up the drawing of the girl next to me. It was an excellent drawing, the likeness was dead on, and you would not be able to tell that it was drawn upside down. The instructor to our surprise, told us she was doing it wrong. She said she wanted to see how we saw the statue and not the statue itself. Drawing it upside down (according to the instructor) was supposed to help us interpret instead of copying. It sounds pretty artsy fartsy, but it resonated with me. So since then I’ve always made a conscious decision to never copy, but to interpret. That, plus it’s an excellent excuse for all the inaccuracies :P
Shading always scares me. I love lighting, but to be honest, I think I’m terrible at it. I procrastinated so much during this step, I must of had four smokes before I picked up the pencil. I’ve ruined good line drawings with really bad shading before, and I didn’t want it to happen with this one. I decided to go with a one or two tone shade. At this point I stopped referring to the original image and did my own thing. After the shading, I refined the lines some more, and bam-O bingo, a drawing of Portal’s Chell, resting after a long day, dreaming of that ever elusive cake they keep talking about.
Reference photo: NekoStars