Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How I am learning NOT to Draw ALL the Details

How I am learning NOT to Draw ALL the Details (with a big hat tip to Scott M Fischer)

OK.....the first Art Director that I showed my art to (waaaay back in the '90s) said: “Save your details for pen and ink......go bold and impressionistic with your colorwork.”. The most recent Art Director I showed my work to said: “Loose the details on your color illustrations......I like the details and modeling on your black and white work.” So I'm seeing a trend here......over 20+ years or so. I know....... it DOES take me a while to take advice.....but finally I'm working on adding less detailed styles to my repertoire.
After going back to basics in my sketching and drawing, I'm finding out that I don't HAVE to draw every little detail......I just like to! But I can change.....if I have to......I guess! (Hat tip to Red Green's the “Men's Prayer”.)

After a few years of experimenting I've come up with some neat ways to run end runs around my detailing obsession. After reading an article by Scott M. Fischer's in a 2011 issue of International Artist magazine, I became interested in his illustration technique of the moment.

 In that article he took a sketch and made multiple paper copies, and cut out stencils of each color component/block. He then lay down opaque color, whatever (often messy....) way he chose without fear of overlap or loss of form. He would then hardline outline his figures. His loose style allowed and encouraged “coloring outside the lines”......something I'm trying to learn to appreciate.

So my “style of the moment” is to also take multiple sketch copies and do paper cutouts, then apply colors with my sponge brush technique, in the various sections. Just right there I eliminate a LOT of detailing......I mean, you want to cut out as few of blocks of colour as's to avoid too much time spent “fussy cutting”. This also forces me to draw and plan my sketches with as many “broad colour blocks” as possible.

I use the stencils to apply transparent color washes, in my case acrylic glazes. Then, (as suggested in Scott Fischer's article)........

I put my master sketch under the bristol board with the colour washes, onto a light box. I can see thru the transparent colour washes on the thin bristol board to draw the few “location lines” I allow myself. 

After this step, it's onto refining the color washes to achieve a bit of depth. I prefer that kind of “detailing” rather than using a hardline outline. The softer finish seems to suit me better. I will often take the finished drawing into Photoshop for further refinement.

This technique allows me to side step the detail issue somewhat.....and hopefully find a new kind of freedom and lightness in my style. It's an ongoing learning experience......learning “how NOT to draw” the details.


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