Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The genesis of a drawing...

I've been getting very interested in looking at graphic novelist blogs recently. I love the particular flavour of graphic novel art, yet all the artists have very distinct styles.

One of the things quite of few of the blogs showed, was the stages a drawing goes through before it ends up in a comic or graphic novel. I've decided to do the same, except that mine is a graphite drawing - no pen, no ink, no photoshop finishing - and so is rather less dramatic.
But interesting none the less I hope!

The idea for this drawing arrived in my mind after a visit to the Pitt Rivers museum (in the dark with little torches) which got me thinking about the various transformative magics and visions humans employ.

Here, the hands are supposed to look a little like antlers, the man imagining himself into the form of a stag.

Initially I was going to draw only the outlines of the hands, to create heightened visual confusion about what they were, i.e. hands or antlers.
However, when I tried this in my sketchbook using the reference photos I had taken, it didn't quite work. The outlines didn't look 'handy' enough or 'antlery' enough.

I didn't want to retake the photo - I wanted to stick to the model's (my beloved) initial physical expression after I described to him what I wanted him to do.

The next step was to start drawing. I chose to use an HB pencil for the initial outline, and some of the finer, lighter lines in the shading, and a 3B pencil for the main line work. I find softish pencils good for human flesh - it is easier to make marks which look dispersed, like shadow.

As I went along (I started with the hands as the face is my favourite thing to do - I do the same with food, eating the things I like the least on the plate and working up to my favourite) I decided I actually didn't want to add colour, which I had been considering in my sketchbook. I liked the simplicity of the graphite on the paper. I was unsure what further 'meaning' the colour would add, and was worried it might distract from my idea.

Colours, like everything else, come with meaning. If I used green, around the hands, on the beard etc, you would potentially think of 'nature'. If I used purple in the same way, you might quite possibly think of magic, wizards etc. Dark red reminds us of blood and in our culture has come to signify sexuality.
So, you see, I decided not to mess with the complex matter of colour here.

I never quite know how my hand will translate the vision in my mind onto the page, just as with some new moves on my rope, I'm not entirely sure how my body weight will move through space, if my hands will catch my weight...Obviously it would seem to matter less in a drawing than in a circus move, but I can assure you, the mental fall from not achieving that translation from imagination to paper is just as painful.

I am very happy with how this drawing and this character turned out.


  1. Gorgeous pics - but then, just look at the material you work with...x

  2. Superb drawing, the tension in the hands is fantastic.

  3. Fantastic Nomi, love the way you've done his hair too (I have SOOO much trouble with hair, it never looks right!). Had a chuckle at Andy's comment, sounds like something my other half would say...though all true, of course!

  4. I just wish I had a good scanner...My camera is really terrible in basically all light conditions. Sigh. Glad you guys liked the drawing :)