They say you learn something new every day.

A lot of people say that you can either draw or you can’t. I have to admit part of me believed this a bit as well until recently.

However, as can be seen from the last few posts, I’ve been messing around drawing odds and ends, and then fiddling with them in Photoshop.

The interesting thing is, flicking through a number of drawing books, and looking at other illustrators, there are certain “tips” and “techniques” that once you know them just make drawing easier. Yesterday I wrote about leaving a gap between the edges of the glasses, and about a way of drawing ears. It’s similar to the way of drawing noses straight on – once you know, you can just draw them.

Flicking through drawing books, a lot of things are like this. Obviously, a key thing to learn is technique, and how to look at things so that you can figure them out yourself; but there really are things you can learn. In fact, I’d almost go as far as to say that drawing is one of the few things that you don’t have natural talent for but have to learn.

An interesting thought really – not just for drawing, but for everything in life, really: whatever it is, practice and thinking about it will make you better at it.

Anyway, I had a go at drawing something a bit more complex yesterday.

It’s a little comic strip of me drawing it (it’s got one of those nifty self referential pictures of itself in it that we post-modern types love so much).

One of the things I’ve noticed about this, again, as before, is that it looks so much better in it’s penciled stage than it does finished on the computer. It looks so precise in pencil, but some bits of it look almost sloppy on the computer.

I suspect part of this is to do with straight lines. I tried drawing the straight lines freehand, because I thought they’d look strange if I drew them with a ruler, but actually, I think I should have probably thought back to my technical drawing lessons at school (all 8 of them), and got out the ruler and set square. I suspect another lesson here is: never underestimate the importance of precision.

I mean, take a look at this Tintin frame:

Look at the sharpness and detail in those trains, in the tracks and in the roof. (Somewhat annoyingly, the speech bubble obscures some of the incredible detail in the ceiling struts).

What I did, as a test, was redraw the frame edges with a straight line:

At this size, you may not be able to see much improvement, but I think it’s better. I may, if I get chance, have a go at drawing the desk with straight lines as well.

Now, as they say in The Week, it wasn’t all bad. I’m really happy with the chair – especially the way it pops out of the frame. And the same with my arm, hand and the top of my head.

The hands were really tough, and they’re still not quite right. Hand two isn’t too bad, but hand one is a bit wrong. I really struggled with that, and I think the lesson here is to make sure your drawing from the right photo. I tend to hold my pencil in a slightly funny way anyway, and hence it’s difficult to make it look realistic. Looking back at the photo now, even the photo looks a bit weird.

I also suspect that drawing at a large size and scaling down is the way to do this sort of thing as well. I went to Lowestoft and bought a 1.0mm pen today, so that I can improve the scaling. I think I like the lines to be about 0.5mm on the screen, so using a 1.0mm pen and scaling by half should create the correct effect.

One interesting thing I noticed about Tintin today is that nearly all the pictures are wide full-body shots. And when they are only part of a body, the body itself is the same size as a full body would have been: there are no close ups. I wonder if that what makes the comics seem so innocent – that there are rarely any close-ups that create emotional engagement. Dunno, just a thought really.

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