With a long-term goal of creating a web comic I wanted to hone my drawing skills. To that end I decided it was time to develop a daily art routine. This will give me a place to evolve my art and also provide me that daily warm-up to get the creative juices flowing.
But how do I turn the simplistic advice of “draw something everyday” and “keep a sketchbook,” into a more concrete plan? I searched for guidance and inspiration. What I found was a variety of advice that I could distill into guidelines that resonated with me.
The first grouping of advice deals with eliminating the roadblocks that will enable my procrastination.
- I will keep my space organized.
- I will have everything ready to go for drawing sessions.
- I will keep a notebook and pen with me at all times.
- I will have a road map–I will not sit down and wonder what I should do each day.
Step by step
The second grouping of advice deals with the how and why of a daily routine.
You can accomplish a lot in small bits. Set yourself a small daily task or set a quota of work for a larger project. Scaled up to the web comic this quota can transform into the Comic Artist Rehab concept where you work on four panels every four days for four weeks.
Habit is more important than time or quantity. It’s not about how long you draw or how much you draw each day. What’s important is drawing everyday. If you build that habit, then time and quantity will emerge naturally.
Practice should be specific, focused and deliberate. First identify the core skills you want to improve. Then decide on a method of practice. Then set a regular time to work on that practice.
So my plan is to devote about half an hour every night to life drawing. Using the websites quickposes.com and artists.pixelovely.com I can set up timed sessions that provide me random poses. This will help me focus on the drawing rather than the timing or choosing poses. My plan is 10 30-second poses, three 1-minute poses, one 2-minute pose, two 5-minute poses, and one 10-minute pose. When the habit becomes ingrained I’ll expand to include a focus on hands, feet, and faces. In addition to gesture and life drawing, I will spread my daily routine out to other areas of the day. Sketch Magazine’s Comic Related portal provides a video for daily inspiration or education. I will also devote half an hour to a “drawing-a-day” project. The first year I will focus on spaceships.
In The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics, Freddie Williams wrote about keeping all your reference material organized in a master reference folder. His working method is to have all the files organized in one place and then paste the needed images into their own layer group in his master page template in Photoshop.
Here’s how I set up my master reference folder in Manga Studio and I think it one-ups Photoshop
Last week I finally got around to reading The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics. It’s definitely on the short list for anyone looking to get started or making the transition to drawing their comics digitally.
Classic Doctor Who has a reputation for being low budget. When you read about the classic series you’re almost guaranteed to come across one reference to “wobbly sets”. Classic Doctor Who certainly had its fair share of special effects failures, but as I watch old episodes, even from the black-and-white era, I’m impressed by what they did accomplish.
Here’s a simple one. Do you have a lot of straight lines to draw but they’re all at random angles? You could use a ruler, but you’d have to keep repositioning it. Save time with the correction setting on your pen. If you crank correction all the way up to 20 on a tool, then no matter what you draw it’ll turn into a perfectly straight line. Even if your line turns, it’ll still end up as a straight line between the start and end points. When you’re done set it back to whatever you prefer or just select “Restore Default Settings.” This saved me some time and headaches. Hopefully it’ll do the same for you.