Last week I drew some gesture drawings of dogs from Line of Action and here are a few of the results! I enjoyed trying to capture the attitude of each dog.

Most of these were drawn in 30 seconds. The ones with more detail were done in two minutes.

Last year I came across this tweet, which challenged me to start thinking differently about how I draw through the week.

Most of the time I only draw whatever I feel like, or what I’m working on. Life drawing has been the only regular study I’ve done since school. I pick things up here and there when I need to, but I recognise this slows me down in many areas. So I came up with a plan of my own:

Over the last few months I’ve being doing a bit of this. Some anatomy study here, some perspective there, some animal gestures while working on a project with animals. However, I want to create good habits. When I was studying at VFS I had regular colour theory and perspective classes, plus many more. It helps me a lot to think about it in that way: this is a class I’m skipping. I need to keep going!

So here’s a little look at what I’m trying do; what I don’t normally post online. A lot of these drawings are unfinished. There’s always work I never show that’s purely done for me to grow as an artist.

Anatomy

Life drawing helps a lot with this, but it’s important to take a look at the underlying structure (muscles and bones) too. I’m weak in this area.

When I first started life drawing I was taught to draw the bones of a live model using printouts of a skeleton. So I’m doing something similar with the torso studies above, sketching a range of poses (this is a sequence from Bodies in Motion) and then drawing the muscles on top. For the muscle reference I’m using an app called 3D Anatomy for the Artist. I’m hoping that as I go my studies will become more accurate!

Life Drawing

This is something I have been pretty good at keeping up with, but I want to do more gesture drawing.

I also want to think more about exaggerating the pose and caricaturing reality.

Finally, I want to spend time doing longer studies. The one below is still pretty quick at ten minutes. It would be good to start using colour, too.

Perspective Exercises

When storyboarding I almost always guess the perspective, but occasionally create little models or research online to figure out how the characters work in an area. To refresh my understanding of perspective I’ve gone back to the beginning, using Draw a Box’s exercises.

Cinematography

Shockingly, I haven’t done any studies from films for a while, so here’s an old one from Jaws. My intention with this area is to study composition from films and paintings.

Landscape Studies and Colour Theory

I plan to make this section a mix between colour studies – focusing on a photograph or, hopefully, real-world landscapes – and then applying what I learn to colour made-up objects and environments.

Animal Anatomy

Like with life drawing, I’ve been fairly good at drawing animals regularly. However, I want to spend more time studying how they work.

There are some areas I’d like to find more resources for, particularly animal anatomy and colour theory. With animal anatomy I’d love to have detailed images or models of muscle structure. For colour, I’ve struggled to find simple exercises that put the theory into practice. If you have any recommendations, please let me know below.

But I realise today I’ve been writing about all this, rather than drawing … I’m off to remedy that now!

Sue modelled at the final life drawing session of 2019. It’s hard to believe it’s a new year, let alone a new decade!

Sophie, an acrobat, modelled at life drawing this week and held some unusual poses! I also did some sketching as she warmed up.

It’s been about two and a half years since I last updated my drawing portfolio (!) so I thought it was time to give it a refresh. What’s been exciting about putting this one together is that it’s all new – nothing from the last portfolio is still in it.

You can take a look here!

Way back in August, after finishing on Klaus (I’m hoping to post more about my work on that soon), I took a day to visit Edinburgh Zoo. Thankfully the weather was pretty good and I was able to see, and draw, a lot of animals.

Pelicans – slightly pinker than they were in real life!
The penguins – always a treat to watch.
I definitely focused on birds, but I drew a huge variety of animals. I liked the Lowland Nyalas and Koalas a lot. Sadly the only big cat I saw was this very sleepy Sumatran Tiger …
Rainbow Lorikeets – Edinburgh Zoo has an aviary room of them. It was wonderful!
Chilean Flamingoes – my final visit of the day.

I’ve got behind with uploading my sketches from life drawing again … I’ll upload them soon! These drawings are from late October, modelled by Lydia.

Maxime was the model on Tuesday. It was great to be at life drawing again; it’s been a long time.

For the last month and a half on my job in Edinburgh (I should be able to reveal what I was working on soon) I stayed in a flat near Arthur’s Seat. One evening I took advantage of the sunshine and spent a while drawing in the park. Here are a couple of my sketches!

St Anthony’s Chapel Ruins
Radical Road

I’m back in Edinburgh for a few months, working as a Clean Up Artist (if you don’t know what that is, here’s an example) on a feature film I can’t talk about yet. It’s a really exciting project and I’m looking forward to sharing more about that, hopefully soon. One of the tricky things with working in animation is that a lot of what I do can’t be shown for one reason or another, so this is a glimpse at some of my personal drawings!

This afternoon I spent some time in one of my favourite places, the National Museum of Scotland. I went down into the early Scottish history section and sketches a few objects that caught my interest. Here are a couple of them.

Elaborate Viking sword hilt, Eigg

Pony cap and horns (which were added at a later date), Torrs

I missed a session because of work, but was back at life drawing last week where Imogen modelled.

It’s been a while since I uploaded any sketches from life drawing … here are some from sessions modelled by Maxime, Lena, Evie, and Susan.

Sketches of Bea from last week. Even after a relatively short break from life drawing I struggled to get back into it! There are an awful lot of drawings that won’t see the light of day again. However here are a few sketches I am happy with. I particularly enjoyed drawing the study of Bea’s back – the lighting was just right to see all the details.

I spent some time today drawing quick sketches using the Bodies in Motion site. The Muybridge images are especially good for quick studies, and after exploring a variety of sequences I settled on this one.

Move Summit is an industry-focused animation conference in Edinburgh now in its third year. In 2017 and 2018 I was a volunteer, but this time I was able to attend. This year it was a three day event jam-packed with speakers from Pixar, Axis, Aardman Animations, Blue Zoo, and many many more. The first day, Wednesday, was geared to students and those new to the industry, though they could also attend the other days.

Noah Klocek, Art Director at Pixar, spoke on Thursday about ‘The Importance of Authenticity in Animation’. Noah spoke in depth about considering the story when designing, but much of what he said could be applied to other areas of filmmaking. I found this talk particularly inspiring.

That afternoon Noah ran a workshop which recapped and further explored the idea of authenticity. Especially emphasised was research – he said it’s better to have great research and a bad drawing than a beautiful drawing without research. It was thought-provoking, and has challenged me to think about and change how I go about my projects.

My sketch from Noah Klocek’s workshop, researching Akitas
Thumbnail sketches for a Greyfriars Bobby/Hachiko-inspired story

Mike Sharpe, of Found Studio, spoke about how he split work into three categories: Base work, Investment, and Unique. The first is the general day-to-day work which pays the bills, the second work that’s more exciting but doesn’t necessarily have the budget, and the third the space to play and try out new things as part of personal projects. Other speakers, including Jon Yeo and Noah Klocek, spoke about this work/play balance. It’s something else I need to rethink, and challenge myself to do.

On Friday I attended the character design talk and workshop led by Kenneth Anderson. It was great to learn about his journey into character design, and pick up several of his tips. In the workshop we worked through a character design for an evil and eccentric hunter child zombie. Beginning with really simple shapes, everyone developed their own version of the monster. I enjoyed watching his process, and seeing how much was very loose and undefined. I think with character design I tend to rush ahead, and get stuck, when I need to spend more time at the basic stages to set a good foundation.

Exploring basic shapes
Refining …
… and refining further – hopefully to be finished one day

The other part of Move Summit is the networking! There are plenty of opportunities throughout the days to catch up with or get to know other artists and professionals, but there are also evening socials. At Drink and Draw, I took the time to sketch some of the others there as well as have fun doodling.

I had an incredible time, and came away full of inspiration! It’s a fantastic event for those studying or working in animation. Be sure to put it in your diaries for next year!

Susannah modelled at the final January session. Lots of nice poses, but my drawings were a bit hit and miss.

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