Line Quality, Messy Sketchbook
7mo
Tom Donovan
Hey Everyone, So I am trying to engage in the community a bit more. I have a critique/help request. I am wanting to improve my line quality. I go back through my sketchbooks and everything is so messy! I'm wondering if any of you have had trouble with this or have some advice? I am trying to tighten up and be more 'intentional' by using INK and doing longer studies (2 - 3 - 5 mins instead of 45sec and 1mins) but I still end up all loosey-goosey. I'm thinking I will re watch the gesture videos and practice my 'S' and 'C' curves. Anyway, any ideas? Also, do you think I'm good enough to start trying to give some critiques? I want to be more involved in the community but I'm a bit of a hermit ahaha. Look forward to hearing from anyone, I'm tired of grappling with this on my own. Cheers, Tom
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Leon ter Molen
Hi @Thomas Donovan , Wow!! I really like the energy in your studies!! Great stuff! No feedback but just a tip, in a fun and informative episode of the Draftsmen Podcast Stan and Marshall talk about linequality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIm2OtP5oPc Cheers, Leon
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James Doane
Nice work! Glad you want to get more active here. I have always told students of mine to not worry too much about line quality. It is better to keep the pencil moving and be loose (almost let the pencil go where it wants) than to worry about line quality. If you 'worry' about line quality too early your drawings become very stiff as a result. If you are drawing regularly and keeping things loose, your lines will start to become more intentional on their own and your line quality will improve with time. A lot of my quick sketches have poor line quality, because I may be focusing more on being extremely loose at the expense of line quality. I also tend to have a very loose style of painting, so my sketches are kind of the same way. I can have clean lines, but I don't want to get stiff as a result.
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Liandro
I think these are really gorgeous sketches, @Thomas Donovan. And even if they were messy and ugly (which they aren't, but still), the sketchbook is the exact place to mess it up. A friend of a guy I knew used to label the cover os his sketchbooks as "book of mistakes" - which I think feels kind of liberating... Also, there's no such thing as "being good enough" to give some constructive feedback, so yes, please engage with the community all you wish and definitely start giving some critiques. I'm sure everyone will appreciate. Thank you!
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Amanda Rutledge
If this is what you call messy then my sketchbooks are a disaster. I really think these are great, granted the images are quite small but in terms of them looking “messy” I don’t quite get that. Even if they were what I’d consider messy, there is nothing so wrong with that in my opinion. A sketchbook for me is a place to be messy and try things out and work on top of old sketches and scribble ideas quickly that maybe translate to no one else but yourself. It’s also a place to work on line quality and being sharp or what have you. A sketchbook can be a myriad of ideas and styles. Anyways, perhaps you mean messy in a different way, as you seem to be saying you don’t feel confident with the line work you produce and you want to learn to be more intentional. In that case I have for sure felt messy. The obvious advice is practice. I’ve had feelings that I wasn’t happy with the way my studies were coming out in indescribable ways. Like, it just doesn’t FEEL good to look at or looks BLAH. I’d think about what exactly it is that’s bothering you in that case. Maybe you think you use too many lines, or it’s too bubbly, or too sharp. The more specific you can pinpoint the issue the easier you can find a solution to it. You mention drawing in ink and doing studies for minutes at a time as opposed to seconds, this is a nice way to learn intentionality as it gives you time to pay attention and think before you put a line down and the ink remains permanent. I really enjoy doing gestures in blunt prisma-style colored pencils so I simply keep the idea of erasing out of my mind as it would by doing it in ink. Also, look at examples of what you find attractive, look at many from all sorts of artists. Try to imagine how they layed their lines (now you can even watch people do this which is super helpful). In terms of critiques, if you feel confident in a subject I see no harm. It’s good practice to learn how to communicate to all sorts of people and getting good at a skill like that will work in all aspects of your life. I can see how it is a bit daunting, but if you can objectively look at something and describe what is off, or what differences there are, then I think you fit the bill. It’s when people ask very vague questions where it gets a bit confusing, like “does this look good,” because that is subjective. Even then you can obviously say what you like or don’t like but with things like that it’s just good to remind someone that it’s not set in stone and there are millions of styles and approaches. Anyways, I’ve gone on far too long. Enjoy the novel I have written you and good luck with your intentional lines!
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Izak van Langevelde
Loose sketches have a quality by themselves, but if you want to work towards cleaner lines, I recommend https://drawabox.com, in particular the first lessons. And, no, the purpose of these exercises is not to draw a box, but to improve eye-hand coordination for drawing.
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Tom Donovan
Already a fan of Drawabox :)
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Mia le Roux
Hi there! Also new, but also want to be more involved :D these are STUNNING and honestly...I'm a bigger fan of loose sketches, especially ink sketches. Something about ink is just so lovely to me. But if you do want advise on cleaner line work, a tip I received from my tattoo mentor is to use the thinnest possible micron (0.003 is the thinnest I've seen) and ink your work with it to help improve line stability. If that makes sense? so maybe to practice clean line work, line over old pencil sketches as another layer of practice :) I hope that's useful - I kind of have to practice that since I want to be a tattoo artist :).
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Tom Donovan
Fantastic Idea "as another LAYER of practice". Thankyou :) Imma try this too
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Mia le Roux
Woops, I meant 0.03..
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Ankita Sri S P
Wow!! These sketches are simply wonderful!!!
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Tom Donovan
Why thankyou Ankita
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Kristian Nee
Hey Thomas! These are awesome! I can tell you're really putting in a lot of work on getting better. Keep it up! I did want to say that there are diminishing returns on just studying CSI lines. Something that I really got a lot of out of was Meditation for Artists – The Automatic Drawing Technique by @Tim Gula. Just drawing with the only goal being that you're making beautiful abstract shapes and lines is really useful for not just your line quality, but also your creativity and mental drawing freedom. What I'd recommend is just sit down, and draw random lines for like 30 minutes. And if you enjoy it, keep doing it. You don't need to be studying the figure all the time to get better at the figure. Hope this helps!
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Tom Donovan
Thankyou :) I will try that and checking out the link now.
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Smithies
Thanks for this - I really struggle with line quality too and it's so hard to know how to improve!
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Gabriel Kahn
Hello Tom! Amazing work so far, can't wait to see more :) I don't think that's something you should worry about. Croquis are an amazing way to improve in gesture, especially if you are using more unforgiving instruments, like ink. If you want to imrpove, you are on a good way. Keep up the great work :)
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Tom Donovan
Thankyou Gabriel, I tried croquis a year or so ago and I ended up going to quickposes.com might have another look at croquis ive seen alot of great work from artists on Instagram using croquis :)
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Demetrio Cran
I believe that you can always critique if you use the proper level of confidence in your affirmations. You can share your thoughts but without making strong affirmations. For instance, you can say, "the legs seem long to me, but maybe that was a stylistic choice of yours, it does not look bad, but you tried to make them shorter? I believe that it would look cool!". On the other hand, you can always say how the piece makes you feel, and you could never be wrong on that. By the way, your drawings look clear to me; that is the most important part of line quality, right? Beautiful mark-making is an advanced skill that we are always improving, I think. Maybe you can record your drawing session on video and watch you draw later, paying attention to your movements.
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Tom Donovan
Thanks Demetrio, From what everyone has been saying i think that if I see a post and I maybe have something to offer I'm gonna go for it :) Id not considered recording my session?? Another good idea (this proko platform is awesome). Thankyou
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Bradwynn Jones
Hi Tom! I love your drive and the studies look good from what i can see of them. A bit blurry when I click and zoom in. My personal experience is that the more drawing I do the less tight I am and more intentional the line i make. I think the line quality just comes from training and drawing. Mileage. I don't know of any kind of secret to it other than time spent drawing. On top of that the ability to make good line quality has a diminishing return. If I try to power through a long study block without breaks my drawings will start to get worse. After a 5 minute break though it's better again. Have you noticed a similar thing happen?
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TeResA Bolen
Hi Thomas. I love what @Bradwynn Jones says about being intentional in the line making. Also it doesn’t have to be in big time chunks. It can be in little short bursts, a minute here, 3 minutes there. Good luck 😉.
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Tom Donovan
Thanks for your insight Bradwynn. Next Post Ill try to up the image quality, I do notice the diminishing return, I study in little blocks of 15 - 25 mins, by the end of a block trying to stop myself from 'caring less' and getting messy. Just force of will is keeping me on the page rather than any inspirational drive sometimes, so I do the same I go have a break have a tea or something else and then come back to it. It feels good to re affirm Mileage is the key, Thanks. Do you set yourself a timer or just draw till you notice the quality drop?
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Adam Wiebner
reply to @Thomas Donovan and some general thoughts on same topics... as to using sketchbooks over time, i like to think of mine as a personal continuous improvement process. I have tons, thousands maybe!, of pages stacked up of scribbly out of proportion messy drawings. For me i like to find something in each of my sketches that i could do better, and there is always room for improvement, and try try again next time, Like say tweaking proportions that seem off. Don’t only find fault but also find good stuff that you like, and use that good stuff again! @Stan Prokopenko also suggests deliberate practicing with stated purpose, like say in next gesture drawing practice choose a theme like identifying the main s or c curve and emphasizing that during your session, or get specific say i want to practice getting convincing hands today, etc. as to improving line quality, perhaps try comic book type approach with pencil being your loose scribble start, and ink on top with deliberate emphasis on choosing line qualities like thickness, curves, clean presentation. Also, no need to rush on line quality, be plenty generous in time you allow yourself so you can make decisions. This is something i personally really want to get good at. as to giving critiques, you are definitely more than good enough to provide helpful commentary to others. I find also after communicating what i like about a work gets me thinking related thoughts about what i can do better in my own work, so by helping others and bonus help yourself!
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Tom Donovan
Cheers Adam, I appreciate the reply. I never really use my sketches again once they're down they're either hit or miss. Guess it's just a matter of time persistance and practice. I am fairly intentional, Im either thinking in terms of shapes (anatomy) or flow (gesture) but I like the idea of being a bit more specific Thanks!
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