It sometimes takes time to see a drawing with clear eyes. I know that but on occasion it takes me by surprise when my vision clears up. It’s never that a think a drawing is great and then a few days later hate it. If I don’t like a drawing I can tell pretty quickly. And if it’s a truly terrible drawing it reveals itself within a half an hour or so. I’ve had a couple of those this week.

I was trying to draw some portraits in my busted brush monster style and two of them came out awful. They were so bad that I tore them up. Well, one of them I cut into smaller pieces so I could draw on the back of the paper and the other got torn. The back of the paper on that one wasn’t salvageable since the paper was heavy with ink and that warped the paper. But neither was good enough to ever be salvaged. A bad drawing can have a good part or two in it that I can possibly use later so I don’t tear up every bad drawing but for the really bad ones I need the catharsis of destroying it.

This week I discovered two drawings that were pretty good. They were from a couple of weeks ago and I had tucked them away. On purpose. I do a few different types of drawing. One of the types is from photo reference. I either take or find a photo that looks like something I could use and draw from it. I digitally draw a sketch over top of the photo and then print that sketch out and draw over that with a pencil. I do this when I want the drawing to be a little closer to reality than my far out drawings.

I’m not really fond of the process though. I’m very picky about what photos I use to draw from. I used to take a lot more of my own photo reference back before the age of the internet but nowadays with an endless supply of images just a search away I rarely take my own anymore. Of course there is a problem with the endless supply of images. How to find one that I can use? It takes a lot of looking. I’d guess that one out of a thousand photos that I look at are useful to me.

First of all I don’t want a famous photograph. One of the rules of photo reference that I was taught early on is never let the public see your photo reference. It’s never good to show how the sausage is made. It demystifies things and there is a solid chance if you’re a young artist starting out that the public will like your photo reference better than the art you make from it. That’s a tough lesson to learn. So I stay away from any famous photos.

I have a folder on my computer of potential reference photos. I’ve learned over the years to always be on the look out for reference and sometimes go looking for it even if I have no idea in mind at that moment. So if I’m bored and low energy it’s a good task to do. It doesn’t take much to look through pictures on the internet. It’s just tedious and takes a little bit of concentration.

Now when I’m looking for some photo inspiration I just have to look through my photo reference folder. I’ve got a few hundred pictures in there and one of them is sure to catch my eye. I even go back to ones I’ve used before and draw something new from them. So a couple of weeks ago I picked out a couple of photos and drew from them. One was a drawing for one of my “Red Mary” faux comic book covers and the other was a generic figure drawing that I didn’t even know what I was drawing it for. That’s always a problem. If I don’t even know what the point of the drawing is how can it be anything but pointless?

I toughed my way through the drawings. They weren’t doing anything for me. It’s not that they were bad it’s that I was mechanically following a drawing method. And I didn’t have any interest in that method at the time. I finished them and was completely uninspired by the drawings. They weren’t bad but I knew I had to get them out of my sight. So I put them under a pile of recently finished and half finished drawings and forgot about them.

This week I was organizing that very same pile of drawings and I found those two drawings again. And guess what? They were pretty good. The “Red Mary” one was a solid pencil drawing and though the other one needed some more work it also was solid. I may not have liked them last week but this week I was grooving on them. That’s why I didn’t tear these ones up. I just needed some distance form them.

I finished the “Red Mary” faux cover. The drawing was ready to go so I printed it out onto a 8.5×11 inch piece of Bristol board, inked it, and then colored it with markers. It came out well.

The second one needed a bit more work though. Oddly I was so frustrated the first time I drew it that instead of using a pencil I drew over the pencil in a thin ink line. So printed out this ink line drawing and drew over it in pencil. Most of the work was done on it so it didn’t take lone before I had a finished pencil drawing. I haven’t finished with that one yet but I turned it into one of my “Hypno-Love Girls” sketch covers. That means I’m going to draw it on a comic book size posed of Bristol Board and then cut that board to size and wrap it around a comic book making my own hand bound sketch cover.

This weeks lesson is never let good drawings go to waste. If you don’t like then right now give it a week. The really bad ones you can get rid of though.


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