All art copyright (c) Mike Kloepfer
"The level of achievement that we have at anything is a reflection of how well we were able to focus on it."
-Steve Vai

Saturday, February 22, 2014

ONGOING IMPROVEMENT of Skills, Knowledge, and Process: Dynamic Sketching, Character Development, Environmental Design...

There is so much more to good art than skill with a pen or paintbrush. 

In my ongoing quest to improve not only my art skills, but the visual impact of my artwork, I have been researching Character Development and Environmental Design. YouTube and Google are invaluable resources. There is a lot of good information out there, and the research has opened new and exciting horizons for myself, my creativity, and my artwork.
One of the most beneficial has been Peter Han's introduction to Dynamic Sketching.
Check out the videos here:
Dynamic Sketching I with Peter Han
Dynamic Sketching II with Peter Han
I strongly recommend these videos for anyone who is learning to draw, or who wants to improve their drawing skills. And that pretty much should include everybody!

The exercises covered are deceptively simple, but extremely powerful. They remind me of the training and warmup exercises Dino Casterline gives his caricature artists. Although it would not seem to the casual observer as 'exciting,' I have to say it really has been exciting and fun for me! There is immense power in mastering the fundamentals.
That being said, I must admit that my first attempts at the exercises were surprisingly lame... lol
I haven't done exercises like these in a while, and I see that I have a lot of rust under the ol' pen.
The challenge is going back over the same line multiple times without straying - eight times or more!
That is a lot more difficult than it sounds!!!

I have a long way to go... lol
But that's why I continue to learn and improve. And that's why I find it extremely powerful to go back to the basics regularly.
I believe with regular repetition, practice and focus, these exercises will help my linework become more fluent, accurate, and assured.The ability to put down a line swiftly and smoothly, fluently and elegantly, with more confidence and accuracy is always worth the effort.
The power of drawing a simple circle swiftly, elegantly, and accurately - time after time - is exciting. It is amazing to watch seasoned veterans execute linework as if it is second nature. That is what I am after. 
One of the interesting discoveries has been "slowing down to become faster." By calming myself, and slowing down just enough, my lines are more confident and smooth, and much more accurate. This results in the drawing being more accurate and more expedient. Who'da thunkit? ;)

Environmental design is a very exciting field, one that an artist could spend an entire career exploring without exhausting all the possibilities and inspiration to be found. I would like to improve my skills in this area - I know it will only benefit my final paintings to have stronger environments to place my figures and elements into, to tell a richer visual story. There is a lot to learn from this field.

Character design and development is a fascinating subject. I have always admired the artists who develop the characters in movies and games.
By nature, I am an 'impulsive renderer.' In my excitement to 'get to the good part' I jump into rendering a final image, too early (at least in my estimation,) before I have taken the time to fully develop the elements in the drawing or painting.
By following some of the examples of character design, I have been enjoying exploring and developing the characters in my sketches, and I know this will carry over into my final paintings.

Character Study
Sea Goddess 1a
Character Study
Sea Goddess 1b

One video demonstration by Ted Kim showed the artist working in Photoshop and using new layers to try out variations on a character's costume. I adapted this to my traditional art methods by using inexpensive paper which allows me to see the drawing underneath. I use this to try out different variations, without altering and losing the 'freshness' and inspiration of the initial sketch. This opens the door for me to do as many variations as I want while maintaining the initial sketch as a foundation. Equally important, it allows me to try out ideas without worrying whether they will succeed - the point is to work through the process and explore as many variations as I can come up with. Some of them will be good, some will not. But then I can pick and choose elements from both the good and the bad sketches, and combine them into a final sketch that is way better than anything I could come up with in a single, impulsive attempt.

Character study
Sea Spirit3a
Character study
Sea Spirit 23b

I believe that strengthening my skills in these areas will bring immense benefits to my artwork, and my enjoyment of the artistic process.
I have been enjoying the process of exploring my sketches in a way I never had in the past.

Character Study
Sea Goddess a
Character Study
Sea Goddess 2b

What is the larger lesson from all this? 
Slow down to speed up - and enjoy the process. 

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