When I first start a drawing, I'm not thinking about how things look or where each element is placed. I think about how everything in the space moves and where they are going so I can tell the story.
A lot of times my initial drawings are unrecognizable squiggles and blobs. I'm trying to capture the motion and energy of the entire illustration. I want to keep the initial sketch as loose and exaggerated as possible so a lot of the liveliness will carry through to the final painting.
To me, this messy stage is the most important. The temptation to just skip it and dive right into the fun details like the character's face is so tempting to me. Experience has taught me that most of the time if I skip this stage, I pay for it later. It's too easy to end up with a painting that is just pretty but lifeless and stiff. Trying to get the life and energy back after this point is like wading through mud and just never happens most of the time.
Another reason why I want to keep the very start of the process looking like a mess is so I won't treat it like a precious thing. As long as it's just scribbles, I can make the marks quickly and throw them away if it's not working.
Doing a lot of these quick sketches make my sketchbook look like a mess. I keep on reminding myself that it's ok. As an illustrator, it's not good enough for my images to only be pretty -- they need to be alive.
Here are some resources for practicing gesture drawings:
- Quickposes: an online gesture drawing tool
- Figure and Gesture Drawing: another online gesture drawing tool. This site includes both human and animals.
- Vilppu Drawing Manual by Glenn Vilppu
- Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes: Volume 1: The Walt Stanchfield Lectures
- Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes: Volume 2: The Walt Stanchfield Lectures