I know I’ve written about this before, but I keep getting these little realizations about process. What I am thinking about specifically is drawing or digital painting. Many people talk about these established processes for drawing things: how to draw a head, how to draw the figure, how to draw hands, how to draw cars. And these ‘established’ processes are beneficial because they’ve come from people who really know what they’re doing. One really common reference for art, whether it be concept, comic, or fine art, is Andrew Loomis and all his books on drawing and illustration.
Andrew Loomis was an amazing artist, and I still look at his educational materials from time to time, but his process is his process.
So, the above picture is the process that Loomis uses when drawing the human head. He starts with a circle, draws a center-line for the face, then sub-divides that into sections for the eyebrow line, the nose line, the mouth line, and the chin. Then, he puts in distinctions for the cheekbones and cheeks. From there, he continues to refine until he has a head detailed. I’m sure, though that when he would do a job or some sketching, he would use a shorthand version of this, imagining the circle and divisions while he detailed the face.
This is a good method to use because starting with a sphere and the centerline for the face is an easy way to get a quick orientation for the head you’re drawing and immediately gives the artist a sense of form. Also, this is a process developed by someone who had been doing fine art and commercial art for a long time, so it’s a tested process. As I said, I doubt he does all of this process in every drawing.
Here is an example of someone who does not use any type of underdrawing in his process
Click the image for a video:
I’ve noticed a focus, though, on learning his process or the process of some other prominent artist as though they’re “the” way of drawing a head or figure or landscape. What I’ve come to realize is that, while these methods are wonderful tools for understanding form and proportion, letting yourself develop your own method and technique can be very valuable because then, you might think less about getting the method “right” and just trying to get your idea onto the page, which I think is the most important thing. It also depends on your end goal.
Comic artists and fine artists have different end goals, so they have different processes, different workflows for how they develop their drawings. There might be a lot of overlap, depending, again, on what the end goal is, but the two do differ. And that’s OK. That’s what I want to impart here, is that no one should feel like they have to draw something in a certain way or write something in a certain way. There are tools out there to get familiarity and mastery over a subject, but expression of idea is the important part.