Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Sketching: The Framework for My Illustrations

Previously this weekend, I foreshadowed a post about how I come up with the framework for my illustrations. I've always been an avid sketcher--sometimes on the back of a school worksheet, otherwise in one of my many sketchbooks. I often received sketchbooks from my mom for Christmas because she knew how much I loved to draw; I always made sure to fill each one up with drawings before moving onto the next.

I had the opportunity to take a lot of art classes during middle/highschool, and since I was a design major in college, they made up the core of my coursework. After trying out many different avenues of drawing (still life, portraits, cartooning, patterns, etc.) I didn't feel that burst of creativity until I branched out and started drawing things that were completely my own. I used to look at illustration styles (i.e. Pixar, Disney, children's books, etc.) and try to mimic them. Sometimes I became frustrated because the end result often looked like a lopsided reflection of the actual art, such as the unfinished drawing below:

When an artist/designer is asked about their sketching process, sometimes it is hard to put that into words. For example, I know for myself personally, I have different processes depending on what I'd like my end result to be. Sometimes the sketches are more refined, while others they are scribbles that only I understand.

For example, this page from my sketchbook:

Was the framework that eventually led to this:

As you can see, some things changed slightly (he ditched the book for me and popcorn instead!) but the main concept remains the same. For those that don't illustrate things digitally, you might wonder why I don't just skip the whole sketching process and move straight to the screen and mouse. There's actually quite a few reasons that I avoid that whenever possible:

  1. Sketching gives you much more freedom. our movements with the pen/pencil are much more fluid and it is easier to create a replica of what you see in your head on paper rather than on the screen.
  2. Sketching provides a guide for your illustration. While working on a difficult illustration, I often scan my original sketch in, and build my illustration on top of it. It may be "tracing," but heck, it's my drawing in the first place.
  3. Sketching is a way of jotting ideas down anywhere. I don't have my computer with my wherever I go, so when an idea hits while I'm out and about, I have a way to scribble it out and tuck it into my purse to save for later. Almost always, these little scribbles are on post-it notes or paper napkins because when inspiration hits, sometimes you just have to run with it.

There you have my process in a nutshell. As I continue to cover different topics, I'll reference this post as well as elaborate on other parts of my design process. Stay tuned! 

Are there any sketchers, artists, or designers out there? What does your process look like?

2 comments:

allieksmith said...

I love this post! You are an amazing sketcher :) I know how you feel about filling up your sketch books, i'm that way with journals :)

Maia said...

Hi Laura! Love your blog! And very much admire your artisticness (is that a word...) ;)
maybe we should get together for a run sometime?!?!?!

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