Sketchbook: Economy Of Line
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Thread: Economy Of Line

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    Economy Of Line

    Typical story here, recently got back into art after a long hiatus and looking to take it further.

    I plan on following a classical approach so I'll be doing some Bargue plates, life drawing and lots of quick figure studies to keep my hand loose. Ultimate goal is learning to paint in oils.

    I'm a perfectionist by nature so expect lots of overly critical comments! Hopefully looking back on this sketchbook in the months to come I'll see some progress.

    Here are a few recent sketches, I've been working in pen to try and improve the quality of my lines:

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    Some more sketches after Sargent and Guptill (rendering in pen and ink) one after Harold Speed and a few of my own. Absolutely hate the Loomis method of constructing heads but I keep going back to it - I'm a glutton for punishment.

    Going to visit Lavender Hill Studios in London tomorrow. Would love to go there next April for a year but can't really afford it, will be interesting to see though. Hoping someone there can give me a few pointers on using vine charcoal as its driving me nuts



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  3. #3
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    Here are a few more sketches that will bring me up to date:

    Bargue plates - I don't get carried away with these so I would guess the longest I spent on one page was 4 hours (the profiles.) I think my time is better spent producing multiple less finished bits for now, I used to spend hours doing pencil portraits so I don't really feel like going down that road! I will do a more complex one soon and see how far I can take it

    Figure drawings - I have literally been using charcoal for a week so I have a long way to go with it. One of the below is a copy of a drawing by an artist called luca Indraccolo, I'm trying to learn from his approach. I think I am struggling most with edges so I have spent today practising those. The two last ones are from life drawing class. Managed to destroy one by putting a harsh black line round it then went the other way at the next class - too light! I'll get there...The portrait took 45 mins with grayscale markers. Sneaked a couple of Bargue figures in and tried to quickly render them.

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    These are the drawings from today (so far) practising with charcoal. Trying to take care with edges and really look at what im drawing. Feel like I learned a bit just from doing these. I did the pencil sketches this morning before walking the dog. Probably about 20 - 30 mins each.

    One of the images scanned strangely.


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    Your story is familiar to me! I took a long hiatus too. But, it doesn't seem to me that your skills suffered much for it! You have beautiful work here and I look forward to seeing more I have to say the line drawings in your first post are my favourite so far.

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    Thanks very much anivy - I like doing continuous line drawings, they always seems to loosen me up. Feel like I have a loooong way to go - especially with rendering and drawing from imagination.

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    Nightshift for me the last couple of days. Managed to squeeze in some real work despite my hectic work schedule /sarcasm.

    Few heads, majority from imagination but some are photo studies (page with eye patch woman). I can only draw two types - pouty and pensive or Smirking. Need to work on facial expressions. The Bridgman type ones are non referenced - making sure that I retain all this information.

    Tried one of the Hogarth style multi limbed figures. Can see the value in this but need to work on the hands!

    Couple of perspective photo studies - weak point for me.

    A regular feature of this sketchbook will be drawings going off on a tangent when they aren't going well. I also like to smash my pencil through the paper in rage. Record is 7 pages at 150 gsm. I'm sure with the right attitude and hard work I'll better this



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    Your shading is excellent -the only reocurring issue I see is that the eyes are often a bit too far apart, otherwise it's really an amzing start!

    Please take a look at my Sketchbook! <- Comments are highly appreciated and returned C:
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    Been busy the last week but managed to squeeze in quite a bit of work. Apologies for the massive upload...

    Charcoal value studies - about 45mins each. Enjoy doing these, feel like im getting somewhere with the charcoal now but it's a slow process. The weird ball thing is a dog toy on a rope.

    Bargue plate - about 8 hours over the last few days. Rushed in there at the start and probably spent two hours fixing the huge mistakes I had made. Must approach these with the right mindset (which is half the point anyway) and keep my lines confident. It hasn't scanned very well and looks much better irl.

    Sketchbook pages from last two days, all in pen.

    I'm on a massive hands fest soon to be followed by feet. Some from imagination, some from photo reference and a few from "Drawing Dynamic Hands" by Burne Hogarth. I like the book but his illustrations are very busy and idealised. I wish my hands looked like that!

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  11. #10
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    Another big update from the last few days. Would have been even more but I've left about 8 sheets of A4 hand studies on the desk at work

    You'll just have to take my word for it!

    I'm in a bit of a quandary at the moment as to how much time I should spend on my stuff. Quantity or quality? I'm starting to think I should be focussing on the latter, I'm maybe in a little bit too much of a rush to improve - I know I can produce refined work when I set my mind to it. Anyway, spent four hours on the following Bargue plate. Feel much better about it than the last one which was a mess.

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    Following are various figure drawings and studies on A1 newsprint. Some are from a book called Figure drawing in Charcoal by Douglas R Graves. He suggests using vine charcoal and I used willow which is a bit more difficult but I'm enjoying it as vine feels really "scratchy." Again I think I need to slow down and take these further. Sorry these are a bit big. Still getting used to scan and upload.

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    And here are a bunch of Bridgman studies for your delectation. Any crits or comments welcome..

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  12. #11
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    those bridgeman studies help soooo much they look really solid too, if you have the time check out michael hamptons work its similar to bridgeman in the sense they both take the gestural-placement-volume in anatomy, your charcoals skills are good too im so jealous hahaha, it feels you are already back on the horse just keep drawing and posting so we can see C: wish you the best

    my sketchbook! Drawing like a maniac!!

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    Destroy your weaknesses! theres nothing more to it! stop bitching grab that pencil and sketch Away!
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    Thanks for the kind words. i think i still have a long way to go with charcoal but at least I'm enjoying it : )
    I just had a quick look at Michael Hamptons stuff, looks really helpful. Will have to do some studies from that now...

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    Really great sketchbook! Exactly the kind that has me burning with envy Btw i think you're right: quality over quantity, i think you can only get good when you really stick with a drawing until it's the best it can be. Also a good way to see your flaws as some - maddeningly - only show up at the last stages!

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    Thanks KP. Doing these Bargue plates certainly encourages me to invest more time into a drawing - now I have to apply that to some charcoal pieces.

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    Really good work buddy its great to see how you have thrown yourself back into your art. I am bit of a perfectionist too and very self critical and I think with art that's no bad thing as long as it does not stop you working. But by the looks of it you have enough fire to just keep churning it out. Like the classical approach you are taking I can see that this is going to develop into a very interesting thread. Great start, amazing to see how quickly you have got a handle on charcoal the studies are really looking good. I really like the way you pay attention to the form of the object as you render. Keep it up you can go really far. I really admire your work ethic.

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    Have been away visiting relatives for a week. Managed to get some work in though.

    This Bargue plate was a bit of a nightmare. Restarted it twice and took an age to get the darks laid down...

    Next one is even more complicated

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    Following are a bunch of studies on A1 newsprint using charcoal, trying to keep the lines flowing some are from imagination and some are studies.

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    Some more A2 size studies using a brush pen trying to keep the lines simple - overworked these! Couple of sheets printer paper at the end were done at work.

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    Bit of a crap update this week :/

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  21. #17
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    I am still here, still drawing. Been very busy with another project last two weeks but that's finished now so back on it.

    Bargue plate - Photo only at the moment which shows how I am setting these up. This one took about 8 hours - 3 layers of pencil = v time consuming. The actual line drawing went v smoothly. I wont be trying to get a perfectly proportioned line drawing at an early stage ever again as it's an unrealistic approach (plus it stresses me out!) I also find that I notice mistakes once I start filling in areas of tone. This one is pretty accurate I think - few problems such as the angle of the wrist and some of the line work.

    Have just started the other one trying a new approach

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    I have tonnes of these newsprint studies. I enjoy sketching in charcoal from life but it's difficult when the subject is a mad Springer Spaniel. These are all quick, nothing special. I'm trying to work on my overlapping lines to show form in space - something which sticks out when I do life drawing is how flat and staid they look. Hence the squiggly lines. I should say that these are huge - between A0 and A1 size.

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    More to follow soon. Thanks for looking.

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  22. #18
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    I'm really amazed with your stuff, great line quality.

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    Thanks Pete!

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    Love those brush pen female figures - very strong - whenever i try anything with brush pen it always looks like crap because the undo in digital has made me sloppy.
    Really like the dog sketches as well, i know how hard those are as i have a manic Jack Russel, you gotta get 'em while they're sleeping!

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  26. #21
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    Small upload from the last couple of days. Mostly pen sketches from life or imagination in an A2 sketchbook. Also just got myself some watercolour pencils so two practice sketches in that medium. Hopefully I'll have time to get more done over the Christmas period. From now on I'll be scanning and stitching these larger drawings together - photographing them looks awful.

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    Last edited by Skill3ss; December 22nd, 2012 at 12:33 PM.
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  27. #22
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    Update from the Christmas period. I have been sketching nearly every day, also have many many pages of practice watercolor washes which I won't bore you with.

    First photo is the current Bargue plate I'm working on, lots of finicky detail in this one.

    All the other stuff is conte or charcoal sketching on a1 size newsprint. Ultimately I wan't to paint portraits hence the focus on the head so far. I'm trying to use charcoal like a brush with confident large strokes, it makes accuracy difficult but im sure ill get there in the end...

    Will update again this weekend.


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    Last edited by Skill3ss; January 4th, 2013 at 02:09 PM.
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  28. #23
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    Would have done this sooner but seems the site has had issues the last few days. Here is an update on the current Bargue plate I'm working on and a better photo of the previous one. I have went really dark on the current one as I'm assuming the plates are slightly lighter than they were originally plus I prefer them that way

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    Here are a bunch of a1 sized 30 - 45 second gesture drawings using brush pen, conte or charcoal. I'm enjoying doing these, just bought another brush pen today as current one is dry:

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    Finally here are 7 pages of a4 30 second gestures using pen. Did these at work last week on nightshift:

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  29. #24
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    I've been away on holiday the last two weeks so another big upload. Here are some of my amateurish first attempts at watercolor sketches in a small moleskine sketchbook. Did all of these on the beach using waterbrushes and a 1/2 inch travel brush - nice way to learn!

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    Also got myself a new brush pen, messy, but I love it. Did these over the course of the holiday on the plane, out eating or at the beach. Mostly from life or imagination.

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    This final one is a page of studies I did just before leaving to test the pen. Used photos for some of these ( I think you can tell which) I hope my drawing without reference approaches this level, Its hard to look at some of the really crap ones without cringing.

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    Thanks for looking. This week I'll be back doing some charcoal value studies and finishing off the Bargue plate. Will try and update in a few days time

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  30. #25
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    Wow those watercolors look great! Must say i envy the holiday as well, i've got a bad case of cabin fever from all the snow days... Where did you go?

    Don't really have any crits for ya sorry... Yeah the brush pen is very unforgiving and you made a few mistakes here and there but the with overall look of the pages you get away it completely
    Value studies - i really have to do those as well as my values are waay to weak, good luck on yours!

    Edit: ok looking again i have one sort-of crit: on the first watercolor you did a great job you in painting those buildings very muted wich gives more distance and the next ones you didn't. Not sure if that's a reflection of reality but the first one works best - really suits the watercolor feel.

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  31. #26
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    Thanks KP. I was out in Abu Dhabi for two weeks so I missed all the snow and came back to slush!

    Thanks for taking the time to crit my watercolors. I agree that the first attempt shows the most depth (those buildings were far away) still trying to get used to how they handle. Its nice to sit out in the sun and paint.

    Brush pen is extremely unforgiving but I like the variety of line I can get with it. Don't think ill go back to normal ballpoint for a while now

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  32. #27
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    Going to try and keep this updated every few days rather than every other week. Half the stuff I'm doing isn't even posted - must try harder.

    It now looks like I'll be attending Lavender Hill studios Atelier in London from April onwards, I've noticed that no one has really kept a record of their progress through an atelier like system (mindcandyman is the only one I have seen) so I will try to give a fairly comprehensive idea of the type of thing I am doing once there. Have been saving for months and I'm lucky enough to have a wife who is very supportive otherwise this wouldn't be an option.

    At the moment I'm working full time in a factory which I absolutely hate so April can't come soon enough - will be great to focus on this full time.

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    wow, love the figure drawing! I really need to get on it.

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  34. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spudonkey View Post
    wow, love the figure drawing! I really need to get on it.
    Thanks Spud.

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    Here is the finished Bargue plate I've been working on. Don't know what possessed me to pick this wrinkly hand, it was pretty difficult to render. I did this without blending anything which would probably make my life much easier but I want to really focus on controlling the pencil without "shortcuts" and this seems like one of the best ways to do it.

    Several fairly obvious mistakes (length of wrist) to be honest I'm not particularly pleased with it but will move swiftly onto the next and try to learn from earlier mistakes.

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