Monday 12 July 2021

Life drawing: traditional vs. digital

I thought it might be interesting to contrast life drawings I did on paper with those on the iPad Pro, using ProCreate. 

ProCreate definitely gives you more flexibility and options, but when you're working super fast, you have to know what you're going to do in advance. Even switching between brushes takes time. There is also no texture to the art board.

I use either 8.5" x 11" hard bound sketchbooks, or smaller 5" x 7" versions. The iPad Pro is maybe a little lighter than the larger sketchbook, and not as bulky. I only have to carry the Apple Pencil with the Pro; with the sketchbook, I usually have a slew of pens, markers, pencil crayons and a portable watercolour kit. 

A life drawing watercolour; lots of the paper showing through.

With this drawing, you can see I've used too much water, and the paper is buckling. Some aspects of the drawing I like, but I rather messed up the face. Watercolour is not very forgiving, unlike ProCreate.

Watercolour in the sketchbook can get problematic if you use a lot of water. It crinkles up the page, and if you have to switch to a new page, folding it over, it'll mush up against the earlier pages and make a mess. So you can't work too fast with watercolour. That or you get a watercolour block and slice off each page with an Xacto blade as you go. I only use watercolour blocks for longer poses (half hour or longer), and there's only one class I know of that has poses that long (I generally don't go to it).

The pose

The sketchbook

The drawing. I used a brush pen for this. It's soft tipped, and when it starts to run down, it makes really interesting textured patterns when you scumble with it. Happy accidents like that are not easy to replicate on the iPad. I also combined it with a fineliner for, natch, the line work.

I started embelishing the drawings with quick doodles of ships, seas and rocks.

Straight up line work, overlapping drawings to save paper. That's one thing you won't have to worry about with the iPad.

In addition to almost limitless undos (so long as you haven't closed the file), ProCreate lets you save a video of the drawing process. This can be interesting to review, to study how you go about drawing, and where you might improve. It also allows you to watch how others create their drawings, which is even more educational.

This is a video of a life drawing session. I used a virtual 6B pencil for it, if I recall. You can make the colour whatever you like, but every time you change it costs you precious seconds. The video is pixelated when brought into Blogger. You actually get very good detail, and can post them to Instagram. 

I usually focus on the outline, the shape of the figure, and rarely do any structural work underneath. There's rarely any time to. Poses are 5 or 10 minutes, with a series of 2 minute gesture drawings to warm up. My sweet spot is 15 to 30 minutes. Long enough to get detail, but not long enough to get bored.

For gesture drawings, you do a quick sweeping stroke for the main energy line of the pose, then build out the figure using spheres and cylinder shapes. I just use circles and oblong ovals. 

I use one file for life drawing sessions now, and create new layers for new poses. If it's a long pose, I'll perhaps create a new file. You can make palettes in ProCreate, but quite often I've just done so manually on a layer. 

If I remember, I'll write down the type of brushes I used on a layer in the file, so I know how to achieve that look again, in the future.

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