I can always tell when I’ve overworked a drawing. I can see it – for the most part though, no one else can – and it’s frustrating. There may be something stiff about it, or it doesn’t have fluidity…in a word, it’s lacking something.
I’m referring to spontaneity – it’s a contradiction, but spontaneity can be a lot of work.
Spontaneity is tough to cultivate because, paradoxically, its so easy, and requires at some point, being in what could be called, a ‘flow’ state. You just have to let it roll and doodle, draw, sketch, whatever. So, you doodle. And you doodle, again. And then draw some more. Inevitably, if you keep at it, your own naturally sunny personality shines through, and that becomes ‘style’, which is another post for another time.
Anyway, I’ve had drawings come out nice, right out of the pen, and then there have been times where I’ve had to work back into it, creating multiple versions. Not exactly fun, but rewarding when you make the lines do exactly what you want them to do.
Intuition plays a big part as well – after a while, you learn to let mistakes creep through, and not over-think the drawing. Easy for me to say…I tend to erase a lot at the rough stage, but that’s where you should get it all lined up – before you do the finish. I then ink them by tracing over the rough – that’s where it all comes together for me. And I don’t have to wait for the ink to dry to erase anything. I’d rather get the hard compositional stuff figured out at the rough stage, and then enjoy the process of creating the finish.
Let’s face it though, in the age of computers, it’s pretty easy to doctor up anything after the fact, and we all do it…photoshop is, after all, an amazing tool. Yet, photoshop isn’t very useful if the original drawing/rough you’re working with is stiff or lifeless.
When I first got into social expressions work, I idolized one cartoonist in particular – his stuff was fresh and hilarious to look at…it had an immediacy to it and looked utterly effortless (still does, in fact)…like it was just knocked out in seconds.
I found out years later, that he struggled over every single drawing to get it ‘just right’, doing multiple redraws.
Somehow, I felt better about erasing a lot.