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Finn's Sketchbook and Brush work



  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    I wanted to post these yesterday but the scanner I was using messed up, so trying to post these between classes so sorry for the rushed commentary on them.



    Tried to darken them, but I think I need to start using an art pencil like 4B. Planned to for these, but forgot to bring it when I was working on them.

    As an aside is it that the lower the number the smaller the range of colors? (2B vs. 6B pencils)

  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2015
    In order from harder to softer, leads go
    Over 6H (rare)
    Under 6B (rare)

    You'll get better darks from a 6b but find it difficult to keep a sharp point or do very light or precise work. Most people keep a range around and use different pencils for sketching vs line work vs shading. Personally I use a 2B for almost everything, but I do very little pure pencil work nowadays.

    tynic on
  • kevindeekevindee Registered User regular
    edited April 2015
    The new ones are a lot better.

    Don't worry so much about getting hung up on range or pencil hardness, because that's ultimately not what makes your forms read. I say this as someone who spent six months convinced that a darker pencil would solve my rendering issues, when really I just didn't understand that the relationship between values makes things feel solid, not the values itself (darker tones do help, though - i just think people overemphasize them).

    Take a look at this high key image. Reads fine, because the relationships are right.


    This one? Plenty dark, doesn't really matter when it doesn't help the form read.


    kevindee on
  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    So no art with this comment, but the reason I mentioned trying to get darker is not because I believe it will make it better but because what Enc said is something my professors have told me before that I need to increase my range of contrast, so increasing the darks I can get to have a wider range of greys to work with.

    And a question regarding comics. So I've been messing around with scripting/writing the story of the comic I've been working on, but I've been noticing something common in quite a few comics, most I've read, where the author uses comedic relief to break some tension or try to give a contrast to it so the heavy parts feel heavy by having a lighter time to compare it to. And in my script thus far I think I'm being a bit heavy quite a lot. The only exception I can think of off the top of my head is Broodhollow where the lighter parts actually make you more tense because you expect more horror.

    My question is how often and how humorous should comedic relief be used?

  • tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    That's really an issue of pacing, and it's hard to say how often or how humorous that should be. There's not really a right answer, but as an example, if you're aiming for a page-a-day type comic or a gag strip, think of some good/interesting ones and study them. REALLY study them. Stuff like Gunnerkrigg Court, for example, is a great study in comedy and drama within the same story, and sometimes even within the same page. It definitely leans more in the heavy direction, especially now, but that's what makes the humor really shine, IMO.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    There isn't an equation to good storytelling. You just write what feels right, then edit with a hatchet. Then write it again, and edit with a scalpel.

    Repeat until you are telling the story your want to tell.

  • FlayFlay Registered User regular
    Yeah, unfortunately writing well, like art, comes with experience.

    I don't have much experience myself, but maybe the guys in the Writer's Block might be able to help you out.

  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    edited May 2015
    Well it's Sunday and I've got nothing new to post since last time so I thought I might post some of the stuff I've been working on that has been eating up my time and will be one of the reasons I don't sleep this week. Last two weeks of the semester so all assignments and projects are due either this week or next...wish me luck please.
    The piece is an oil on canvas set of paintings.

    This is the first quick sketch I did to get an idea on paper and to get the layout of the panels down:

    Then I did these to get a more constructed idea down:

    And these WIPs are a week old, so maybe I should take some updated images tomorrow:


    BrushwoodMutt on
  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    edited May 2015
    How they look after today:

    Also apparently there is an issue of people viewing Finn as a bear as opposed to a dog, so I may need to work on that.

    BrushwoodMutt on
  • acadiaacadia Registered User regular
    Yeah I can see that getting confusing -- similar head shapes. Perhaps you can try to retain more of the inherently dog-like features to help make it clear? Could be the general 'thickness' of the body. Dogs have thinner legs and bodies than bears -- Finn can still be upright, but maybe on legs that more closely resemble an actual dogs leg? I'd recommend doing some studies of dog anatomy. I've always found that those artists that best represent anthropomorphic characters (like Tracy Butler of Lackadaisy Cats) have a deep understanding of that animal's anatomy.

  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    edited April 2015
    So got what is due Thursday done and during the process I just sketched a doodle. All I know is that I actually did it by doing an under-drawing first, trying to get the shapes down.


    I'm not sure how to move forward now so I guess I'm gonna try applying the studies to some images done in my "style." Though still unsure how these help with sketches where you may not be drawing volumetric forms.

    BrushwoodMutt on
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    edited April 2015
    You avoided hands and facial structures in this, which isn't something you want to get into the habit of.

    This sketch looks really small, or is really large and lacks much detail. The pose is also not very dynamic, which makes evaluating volume a bit tricky.

    Have you used something like posemaniacs ( ) to work on gestures along with your volumes? Something that helped me a ton (like a huge huge amount) was spending the first 30 minutes of every drawing session using the loomis under-structure figure with posemaniacs to "warm up."


    You can find the Loomis Figure Drawing for all its Worth book in the resources as a pdf. It's a really good book.

    Enc on
  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    edited May 2015
    Either I have more free time than I thought and I'm on the ball for what I have due or I'm wasting time on things when I should be working, and it's most likely the latter. Anyways, here is an 1 hour and a half sketch of my roommate trying to work on my "style"
    Edit: included my process because it seems like that might be important in improving.




    And I already realize I made the head too small.

    BrushwoodMutt on
  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    edited August 2015

    What I worked on this week between class work. May need to find a way to increase my output.

    BrushwoodMutt on
  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    edited August 2015
    Right so I've started taking Enc's and trying that pose site to work on gestures.

    And I can't work on oil paintings so I'm trying my hand at watercolors to practice. I'm finding it is a completely different medium. Any tips on working this way as a way to improve?

    *in my defense on this one the camera added more glare than I actually saw when working on it.

    BrushwoodMutt on
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Yeah! Fill that sketchbook!

  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    edited May 2015

    BrushwoodMutt on
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    None of those are clear enough to understand what you are going for.

  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    That too seems like an issue I have. Designing a sketch so that other people besides myself know what the f I'm talking about...

  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    edited May 2015
    So here is the design I've been working on all week via fanart for a youtuber named Millbee

    Wasn't sure if I should post it small or if it would help to get advice if it was bigger so spoiler for bigger image

    BrushwoodMutt on
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    edited May 2015
    Disclaimer: I'm by no means an expert on this. But these are my thoughts on this:

    Looking at this I see the compilation of games the guy plays, and lots of his avatar in action, but the actual layout doesn't tell me a whole lot and gets a bit confusing given some of your choices. Some of the avatars are running towards the main dude in the middle, drawing your attention towards him, while the mariocart and Dont Starve ones seem to be ignoring it all together. The starscape over whatever the bottom right is just floods into ground of the other two games, while the mariocart road just seems to be there to divide lets starve and whatever the witch is.

    You may want to test your compilations by blocking out your negative space to see how the things sit in profile. Right now this is what you have:

    It's very flat and, aside from the two guys on the bottom, asymmetrical and distracting from the main fellow in the center.

    Lets look at some other layouts from pros (I like looking at pro images before making a layout, map, or design to see what worked for them so that I can have something to build from):


    When you have things looking in, typically that's not to convey motion but rather to convey examination or reverence. Typically you want static poses or supplicating poses pointing towards your central focus, telling your audience that those looking are showing the emotions the audience themselves should be having. You don't find many movie or game art compilations with this unless it is for a mystery or contemplative piece because of this.


    Then you have the exploding out image, where everything is rushing out from behind your central figure. It conveys motion, unified action, and shows off the main image as a leader of action with the things in the background conveying aspects of what makes the central figure great. This might work a bit more towards what you are going for since it seems to be the same avatar in different forms.

    Another example:

    Note that the larger the figure, the more important it is to the content. Now that's just for figure layouts, for your landscape you might want to try and get your background topography to line up in one big sky arc:


    So that even though you have different landscapes and different times of day they read easier by having your ground and sky being one big panorama, rather than a patchwork. Alternatively, if you are going to have a patchwork you need to have clear divisions between them:


    So that your audience can parse the differences between the different settings without them washing together. Having sky below the white mass of the Smash area or the mario track seems confusing, as does the transition from top down Dont Starve to the in profile witch and nightscape characters.

    I'd say take a bit to look at how LewieP'sMummy does her layouts ( Size is by importance to the content (Link is the largest, then Gannon and Zelda (larger in form but smaller in image space to show their influence on Link) then all the supporting things much, much smaller. The story is about Link and his interactions with Gannon and Zelda, everything else comes after.

    Applying that here, what is the main thing this guy does? What is important to what he does and in what order? Are you conveying him being active and exciting, or others finding him contemplative and interesting? Where should my eye rest the most?

    Maybe just make a bunch of thumbnails and then see which one you like best. You have rough assets to work with using the first one. Just clip and move things around. Here's a rough using a fire brush:


    I desaturated the background to a make the rainbow pop, but this is where I would probably start from. There are ten thousand ways to do things though, so this isn't authoritative! Play around with it. :)

    Enc on
  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    Thanks for the detailed critique. Part of this is still to find my voice, so while I know of that composition, to me it has been done to death (probably because it works). Kind of like the single man standing with back to viewer, holding weapon. I will admit they work, but I'd rather try and experiment to find new ways to create good designs as well as learn to create good designs.

    Which after wasting time this week I've come to the point where I'm going to be working on realism, something I've spent years trying to do to the level I'm at now...
    Anyways tried two different approaches to blending via brush or mixer brush:
    Don't know which is better

    BrushwoodMutt on
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Thanks for the detailed critique. Part of this is still to find my voice, so while I know of that composition, to me it has been done to death (probably because it works). Kind of like the single man standing with back to viewer, holding weapon. I will admit they work, but I'd rather try and experiment to find new ways to create good designs as well as learn to create good designs.

    No master just rolled out of bad and started making the next big thing, from impressionists to jazz to flashmobs to webcomics. It's an evolution of learning to imitate what is currently being done, mastering that, and then taking your own spin on things to row away from it. Going back to the martial arts metaphor, without mastering the basics there is no point in teaching super moves.

    Look even at Gabe here on PA. For a goodly portion of his art he imitated (and eventually mastered) the same art style as Stephen Silver before eventually breaking away and evolving it to where he is today.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Having vision for your future is good, but like ENC is saying, you need to ground yourself in the basic technical skills. Its one of those things where no one wants to beat you down and kill your motivations because we all want to find the things we like in our own work, but you'll accomplish your goals faster by putting more hard work into your base skills.

    You need to keep on the studies. I would also start looking at other media and artists. If you are thinking "I want to do new and interesting stuff" you need to have an excellent understanding of whats already out there, and not just in web comics and illustration, I mean really trying to get your nose into the art world and expanding your pallet.

    One of my best teachers ventured to teach us that no matter what we were getting into, technical skills and refined craft turn even mediocre ideas into better pieces. If you are doing installations you shouldn't have hot glue strings all over your shit. If you are doing gouache painting, you should be able to make a smooth, flat surface of colors without any dings in the paint. For you, structure and composition are something you aren't just going to be able to wing until you put some more time into trying the more basic set ups. Its like you are trying to be an improvisational musician but you never really figured out how to hold your instrument.


    For example, these studies look rushed. I cant tell if they are rushed or if they just look rushed, but I'm not sure if you took much away from either of them. Slow down and think about what skills you need to be taking away from these. The ball isn't even really a circle, the box has curved edges for some reason. Why? If you are trying to replicate what you see, you need to take the time to do the simple things like make strait lines. The shape studies at the top of the page show you can do it, so how much of your work could be better if you just had the patience to have that kind of accuracy through the process?

    Look at your favorite artists and ask your self in a realistic way, what they did to grow into where they are now. I've been reading through my old threads on the forum, which is a huge eye opener to how I generally react towards critique on my personal work, and the crux of it is that in the past I never took it well. Despite the fact that I can easily see the flaws in my old work, and how those crits were spot on when I was getting them, in the moment I had a lot of dumb reasons for making one choice or another. I would argue for them, and I think that's kinda natural, but when I read those threads now its cringe worthy. I suggest that whenever you can, actively try to lower your defenses. Be a little detached and let yourself stand back from your work.

    I think taking that stance has really helped me relax and enjoy doing things like technical studies, I just want to be able to have those technical skills because I know what it will do for my work, even if its a little tedious to get there sometimes. Its just as much of a mental process as it is a physical process, you have to want to do it, and be interested in the task of accomplishing it.

  • NakedZerglingNakedZergling A more apocalyptic post apocalypse Portland OregonRegistered User regular
    You can put under drawings down before you use water color too. Watercolor is fun and very versatile.
    Gris Grimly uses very muted tones with his watercolor. If you watch his technique he draws out his drawing, lightens the lines with a kneaded eraser, and lays foundation colors in. Because he does this, all the other colors and his choices fall into places. You have to nail fundamentals, and keep filling those sketchbooks! Remember that the aim isn't to produce a pretty piece every time you sketch. Its to take away knowledge. And EVERYONE has to brush up now and then!!

    DRawing video
    Coloring the drawing with watercolor

  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    edited August 2015
    A day late posting to try and finish the second fanart. The goal is once a week...preferably quicker than that.

    BrushwoodMutt on
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    None of those balls are spherical in your drawing. You need to be a lot more accurate to take away anything from these studies.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Have you tried making some pencils first of these layouts to get your shapes clear and then apply watercolor? You might want to make sure your shapes exist on a plane first to get crispness of your watercolor shapes before starting.

    Have you ever done simple color studies using watercolor? I'd also recommend taking your paints and just painting colors to get as many gradients of each color you can for a few hours. Play with how your blacks will tint those colors, play with how each color effects the others. Just generally play around with it without focusing on making something. This goes back to fundamentals, but right now without proper construction your images all look rushed or warped (and not in a deconstructionist intentional way, but in a slipshod way), and your colors appear muddy even for watercolor (which, admittedly, is a muddy medium). Doing more with your fundamentals will pay off on your studies. Doing more studies a week will pay off for your personal projects.

    Don't worry so much about posting something once a week or completing a task once a week. Worry about getting as much as you can out of each thing you do and making sure you take the time and energy to do it right.

  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    edited August 2015
    So I'm probably gonna start back up doing the weekly post, because when I stopped doing that I fell into the old habit of not doing work. Anyways, probably gonna work on concept art type stuff since I found a writer who is interested in doing a webcomic and if I put it off I'll just continue to put off starting it.

    BrushwoodMutt on
  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular

    P.S. I know I need to still do studies, because I'm lacking a lot of skills still especially in dynamic and not static poses.

  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    Two specific things I am not great at is Women and Dynamic poses, don't know if there are any tricks or tips other than the go to "Practice"


    Spoilered because the reference photos are big and I got them from online.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Your shapes are still super wiggly, but I'm glad to see you still doing them. I'd really recommend Force, if you don't have that book yet, and trying to do some loomis studies. We have a good list of anatomy books here:

    You seem to build things up with a bunch of concentric ovals, like little balloon/mannequin men, but you want to have more informed shapes than that. Digging into a few books will help you, its good to study how different people break down anatomy and start working on your own process as you study pictures. Try not to work in a vacuum.

  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    Sorry to ask the same question again, but I'm looking for a different answer if there is one. The question is how do you get better at sketching and how do you get better at drawing images from the imagination?

    The answer I received last time was to do studies of real life to build up that skill. And thus far I have (and plan to continue) and I feel like I have decent observational skills and can decently depict images from a source so they feel alive and not stiff and static, but an figure I draw from imagination are still stiff and lifeless. Also I can't seem to sketch without it looking like an undecipherable mess to others, which is not a good sign.

    Is this one of those things where I need to read a book to learn this? Because as it stands I barely seem to find time to read my backlog of art books as is, let alone add new ones. Or even sketch or work on art outside of classes. Though maybe that just means I need better time management and/or to stop procrastinating.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    168 hours in a week. Have you actually done an audit of your time by hour or half hour to see where your time goes?

  • tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    Yeah, it sounds like you're hoping there is an answer which isn't "got to put the time in." adding another book to the pile isn't going to have the desired effect. The artists whose abilities and effortless work you wish to emulate is actually the result of years of work and study.

    If you want realistic features, you'll have to practice from reality relentlessly to where you know it in your soul through repetition and practice. That's not just hours but cumulative years where you try, fail, try again, and keep working because each failure is a better failure because failing teaches you something you hadn't noticed before. :)

    Think of the artists at Disney, etc, who go on-site to study and observe the animals they're translating into relatable humanoids. You don't have to do that just yet, but making animals into people requires understanding how to render both, too. What makes those characters believable and appealing is not just realism, of course; understanding anatomy and facial expressions is going to be essential as well. All of those things are components of character arts.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    I feel like I have decent observational skills and can decently depict images from a source so they feel alive and not stiff and static, but an figure I draw from imagination are still stiff and lifeless.

    From what I've seen in this thread, you are over estimating that skill. I don't mean this to be discouraging, but the studies in this thread are still wobbly and inaccurate. Studying is a process that isn't just mechanical, you do it to asses your observations skills. You really need to hold them up to a high standard "How hard can I work to make this look as much as what I have on the table in front of me", and there's no way you are doing that. I'm not sure if its because you just don't want to, or if you are truly having trouble seeing it, but this is a huge roadblock.

    Your ability to do that study is not about you ending up with a nice picture to frame, its to challenge your brain to disconnect from any emotional or ingrained habits you have when approaching art and focus on your technical abilities. When you go to draw a sphere, can you draw one accurately? That's how you build solid characters. If you cant do it while trying to observe one, you cant do it from memory either. Its a direct correlation. I feel like I'm on repeat with this, but there's a reason we keep saying it over and over again.

    It sounds to me like you aren't understanding that part of the process, You are looking to improve but are really looking to do it without having to reassess your process, to sit down and think. You may want to check out the conversation in Mabelma's thread ( as I feel like some of the struggle maybe the same.

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