Whether you’re a seasoned professional, a new student, or a hobbyist with dreams of becoming the next Jack Davis, figure and gesture drawing is important to practice to keep your skill levels up and to help you keep progressing as an artist. However, sometimes it isn’t always easy, especially if you aren’t in art school anymore, to go to a local figure drawing meet up when deadlines are looming. Thankfully, the kind folks over at Pixelovely have created a nice online replacement for those studio figure drawing classes that you can do right from home… in your sweatpants… with all those potato chip crumbs on your face… anytime you want. Its free too!
Grimace is a cool tool to help you reference facial expressions when you don’t have a mirror handy, to use yourself as a model, or can’t get your friends to make goofy faces for you to reference. Its got a nondescript cartoony face with sliders next to it that make the face change to portray various degrees of six common emotions. You can use two emotions together for even more emotive expressions as well. This resource is free online and there is also an app available for iOS mobile devices for 99¢. The only downside to this is that its pretty fun to spend a lot of time playing with the multitudes of different expressions you can get using the sliders. Don’t waste too much time though. I’m sure you’ve got a deadline right around the corner.
For those times when you just can’t seem to get a harmonious color scheme and things are starting to look like a clown just threw up on your illustration or you’re going for a nice color scheme that you saw in a photo or piece of art online (Remember… Great artists steal!), DeGraeve has a free color palette generator just for you. All you do is find the URL for an image that has a color palette that you like, copy and paste it in, and… VIOLA!… a simple palette is generated in seconds to get you started on your next masterpiece. The cool thing about it is that it gives you a desaturated and a saturated version of each palette generated too.
1. Write. Then rewrite. Then rewrite again. Etcetera…
After you’ve figured out who your main character is and what genre your story will fall in to, write a rough outline. Don’t worry about how it looks or if there are tons of misspellings. The outline is for you to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks while figuring out the beginning, middle, and end of your story. When you are satisfied with your rough outline, write another more detailed outline. Then write the first draft of your script. Put it away for a few days. I guarantee that you’ll find flaws with your first draft after you come back to it with fresh eyes, so write a second draft. Once the second draft is finished, if possible, show it to someone whose opinion you trust. Show it to someone who can be honest with you. Don’t get butt hurt and remember to say thank you! If you can’t show it to anyone… you guessed it… put it away for a few days. In my experience, no script is ready to go until at least the third draft is written, so get cracking on your next draft. Put it away again, but let it sit for a month or two while you work on something else. Use this time to nail down your character designs or design the environments your story takes place in, for example. After some time has elapsed, pull out that third draft. See if the story feels finished. You may want to show it to someone again or maybe you find more flaws or have ideas to make it better. You might need to do more drafts or less if you are a brilliant genius. Make sure that you know exactly what the story is, in and out, before you draw one line. It’ll save you headaches in the long run.
Read stories without pictures. Don’t just read comics in your genre, and for goodness sake, don’t just read comics. Doing so can make your comic come off as derivative. I’m not saying you shouldn’t read those comics at all. They can help you learn the language of comic storytelling, but please, vary your diet to see what works and what doesn’t work from storytellers that have come before you. Study that sh*t! I know its cliche, but reading does make you a better writer.
3. Keep It Simple Stupid!
Comics are about communication. Get rid of superfluous details! They can be distracting and take you out of the story. Simplify and go for clarity in your storytelling.
As artists, we are often hired to help make someone else’s dreams a reality while sometimes ignoring our own. This video is about the importance of following your own artistic dreams for the benefit of your art career and happiness.