Sometimes I put aside whatever project I am “supposed” to be working on and do a drawing just because. I’ve got quite a few of those, but I’ve picked out just three to share. Stylistically these are very different. That tends to happen when I am doing art just because. I don’t feel like I have to follow my usual forms. Style aside though, I am showing these together because they have a lot in common.
All three originated as ideas of mood and style. All three are based on found reference that I collected to help realize the idea I had already formed. This is common with my just because drawings—you don’t have time to shoot your own reference when you are changing plans in the spur of the moment. All three also feature a moody woman—it’s not the only thing I draw, but it is a good fall-back for a simple composition and plentiful reference.
I think I’ll arrange these chronologically:
The first one I call Afrodite. Bad pun? Well, I doubt that I am the first one to think of it. The concept was simple, I wanted to do a woman with a natural hair style and sort of stern face. I wanted her to be relatively thin for contrast with the big hair.
So then I needed reference. I had a good idea of what I wanted the image to look like, but unless you are Frank Frazetta the easiest way to discover how much your imagination can fall short in the details is by trying to draw straight from your head. That doesn’t mean you should be a slave to your reference, and it especially doesn’t mean that you want your work to be just a copy of some photo you found on Pinterest.
For this, I searched and searched until I found a face that matched what I had imagined pretty well. Then I composited that with an image that matched the style of hair I wanted. As I drew, I translated the reference back into my original concept, but with the details and proportions that are harder to make up.
I went for toned paper to fill in all the mid-tones in the flesh, and so that she could fade into the background without any transition in value.
The second image started with a desire to do an illustration of Vin from Brandon Sanderson‘s Mistborn novels. I wanted a soft loosey-charcoal sort of feel. Obviously my first impulse was to show her mid-allomantic leap with hair and cloak streaming. But, after searching extensively and finally settling on some reference I thought would work for her face. I decided just to focus there and see if the style I was imagining would work out rather than getting all involved in a big illustration. I drew this one in charcoal on white paper and then scanned it and added values and a little (very little) color digitally.
Is she still Vin as just a face? Maybe so.
Lastly, this girl who feels misunderstood by everyone—even her crow. I used the same reference gathering and compositing method as with the first. The head, body, dress and crow were all from separate images. As happens every fairly often with me, I was a little inspired by Arthur Rackham. Unlike the previous two I did save some process shots of this one.
Here is the pencil sketch based on my composited reference and with my own imagined background. I then proceeded to ink.
The drawing was on 100# bristol which was great for the ink, though I went ahead and left a lot of the pencil intact. I mounted the drawing to a board, created some texture with matte medium and painted it with thinned acrylic gauche. The nonabsorbent surface made for a little different painting experience, but it meant I could lift paint from areas like the clouds. It also meant that since I paint in alot of thin layers, if I wasn’t careful, I would lift paint from areas that I wanted to stay put.
Hope you enjoy these three. I am sure to be making more like them.