Ten years ago in 2009 I wrote an NW post highlighting pieces that significantly influenced my drawing over the previous ten years. I don’t write about art much these days as it doesn’t change nearly as much, but I think another ten-year omnibus is appropriate.
I’m going to split out traditional and digital media because I find that variations in my digital painting are much more exploratory than progressive, while my traditional work – pencil, pen, colored pencil, even watercolor – does actually improve.
The first significant piece is a 2011 colored pencil drawing, which also appears in my CanoScan LiDE 300 post. This is one in a string of colored pencil works, my first since 2005, most of which turned out well enough for me to start using colored pencils more often than once every six years.
Next is my neoclassical station of 2012. At the time I remarked that this drawing and the couple that followed could be a turning point, and indeed they were. I had struggled with pen since even before the beginning of NW, but after doing this piece it finally started to click.
Comic pages started becoming rare after the end of the “Directorate” story, and after a couple shorter and shorter one-shots in 2011 and 2012, I managed just two pages in 2013. That being said, these were my first good inked comic pages, but also my last pages for quite some time.
Doing HB back-draws for my pen work enabled me to ditch H6 back-draws for my pencil work, which in turn improved said pencil work probably due to the removal of an extra tool and the related overhead. This 2013 pure-HB drawing is not the first of its kind, but it’s one of the first really good ones.
When I scrapped H6 back-draws I also started scrapping the homogeneous shading that characterized my drawing during the later years of NW. You can already see both in the previous piece, but my HB back-draw gets cleaner and my heterogeneous shading gets better in the next year and this 2014 pencil drawing is still one of my all-time favorites.
In 2014 I tried my hand at doing some watercolor, which turned out better than I expected! In the process I had to learn to use a nib pen in order to use waterproof ink in order to make waterproof line art. Perhaps disappointingly, one of my earliest watercolor pieces is also still one of my all-time favorites.
Having gotten better at heterogeneous shading in pencil, I also gave it a try in pen, but unfortunately this proved to be difficult, and I still struggle to do it consistently to this day. Nonetheless, this early attempt at the end of 2014 is pretty solid.
2015 saw the return of some colored pencil work in which I mainly tried to be cleaner and more precise than before. More experience with ink line art helped a lot, and these turned out really well, even though I would not be able to get good scans of colored pencil until just this year.
In 2016 I started experimenting with a variety of pens and techniques looking for better inking results, but nothing consistent would come out of it for a while. Still, here is a nice ink drawing from the end of the year, where I try to get more shade variation by stacking lines with a very fine pen.
Somewhat related to the last piece, this 2017 pencil drawing is the first in a bunch where I tried to draw more detailed figures at a bigger scale. I had not gotten particularly good results with this in the past, but once I got the hang of it, I think it improved my smaller figures as well.
The next logical step would of course be to try the same in pen, and while this 2018 piece might not be as good as or perhaps less detailed than the last ink drawing, it was/is better representative of a quality I can more consistently achieve.
Speaking of consistent, my first comic pages in five years were an attempt at exactly that. The previous work was actually practice for my four-page ballpoint pen contribution to the 2018 Southbay Comickers anthology, which turned out well on the whole, even if I made mistakes and some of the panels were kind of stiff.
And finally, I’ll round this off with a 2019 piece from just a few weeks ago, which I believe is a good representation of the best average pencil quality I can achieve for now. You can see that it’s perhaps only marginally sharper and cleaner than the 2014 drawing, hence my original comment about not that much change…
But that’s a wrap for now. Next time the digital omnibus!