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  • drawing small

    I have a really hard time drawing smaller figures. I'm not talking about tiny or anything, just smaller. I pencil really loosely but when it comes time to tighten, it comes across as stiff and flat. Does anyone have any pointers for drawing the figure small.

  • #2
    Use a small book.

    Serious! I had this issue (with drawing small) for a while too, and it's important to be able to work smaller for a range of reasons, from layout to scaling to working in thumbnail.

    One of the things I did (aside from just making a conscious effort) was pick up one of those little pocket-sized Moleskine or Picadilly sketchbooks that are about 3x5 and sketch in it, rather than in my usual 8x10 book.

    Being restrained by the smaller page size forces you to work smaller. Being able to work smaller helps you to move your focus away from detail and towards composition and framing, both of which are vital but often invisible elements of construction that need to be addressed at the earliest stages of layout.

    It's a good thing.
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    • #3
      ive gotten a smaller sketchbook, but i still draw the same size and just run out of room
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      • #4
        I sometimes have just the opposite problem. I normally draw my figures, heads and faces a certain size, but have difficulty when I have to draw bigger.

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        • #5
          The small book really works well. I also found great success by drawing on lined paper (loose leaf paper or in a notebook) - the lines gave me a scale guide. Definitely try the small book though.
          Cheers, Alex

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          • #6
            Originally posted by NickGuy View Post
            ive gotten a smaller sketchbook, but i still draw the same size and just run out of room
            This is a layout problem. Practice laying out the ENTIRE intended drawing in a loose rough form before you put down a single clean line.

            Practicing that as a particular habit (conscious layout) is part of the point of the exercise. Once you get that ingrained into your process, it'll never happen again.

            By working in small scale, you can (I can, anyhow, so I'm hoping it transfers) more easily dismiss detail. Remember, when working small, IT IS NOT ABOUT DETAIL. It's about the image as a whole, the composition of the illustration. If you do that right, it'll work in silhouettes and scribbles, AND it'll scale up when you need it to.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by ccicconi View Post
              I sometimes have just the opposite problem. I normally draw my figures, heads and faces a certain size, but have difficulty when I have to draw bigger.
              Not sure what I can suggest for this... even before I went digital, when I needed to take something really big I often did a thumbnail layout, something at a comfortable size, and then I would take it to the nearest office copier and make a duplicate that was scaled up/zoomed in. Then I'd take the upsize copy and lightbox it.

              Nowadays, of course, I just scale up a copy of the sketch Layer. But that's not really helpful.
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              • #8
                My biggest problem is my desire to get details. If I know what the characters are wearing or what kinda equipment they have, I feel the need to add all of it. It's maddening!...especially during inks. But the small book makes sense. One of the biggest hurdles of coming from a fine arts background is unlearning a lot of what I was taught. My head and my hands are so use to making grand sweeping motions because of the big Strathmore pads. I'm gonna definitely give the small books a try.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dnld View Post
                  My biggest problem is my desire to get details. If I know what the characters are wearing or what kinda equipment they have, I feel the need to add all of it. It's maddening!...especially during inks. But the small book makes sense. One of the biggest hurdles of coming from a fine arts background is unlearning a lot of what I was taught. My head and my hands are so use to making grand sweeping motions because of the big Strathmore pads. I'm gonna definitely give the small books a try.
                  Coming from a fine arts back ground and learning the visual language of comics you will find that creating small figures is a necessary evil. I have learned that by taking a impressionist point of view and implying a figure instead of completely rendering them works well for me.
                  "Comics come from the part of us that never grows up."

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                  • #10
                    when your drawing small is it simply because of the size of the paper or are you doing your roughs/thumbnails to get the overall design of your image down?

                    If you are drwaing a finished picture on a smaller piece of paper are you doing any kind of preparation drawing? Doing thumbnails on smalls pieces of paper will allow you to get everything down in a very loose manner so when you get ready to draw it on the slightly bigger piece you will know where everything fits... so it may help you with placing everything on the paper..

                    I'm at work right now doing 2 things at once so i apologize if my thoughts are expressed clearly here.lol
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                    • #11
                      Drawing involves thinking which means work. You can't just tackle everything with a zombie mentality.

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                      • #12
                        Related question: How small is too small?
                        If we're talking about a standard 11x17 art board, and i'm drawing a comic book page that'll get reduced to 66% or something like that I always do my prelim thumbnails at comic book print size, that way the smallest detail is already sorted out beforehand, then i scan and print it out to actual working size, if I did a clear enough job in the thumbnail by the time I'm drawing at full size it'll be easier to translate properly.

                        An exercise i used to do was to take any drawing, reduce it to a smaller size and try copy it at that smaller size.
                        If you're in a pinch and you just cant nail that smaller detail, like a person passing by in the background, just draw that part larger on a separate piece of paper, then scan, reduce and lighbox it.
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