Thinking about why I draw…


By Shawn Robare

So here’s another thing I think about all the time, drawing. I used to draw a lot more than I do nowadays but I still enjoy it from time to time, though I’m sort of directionless of late. Basically I learned to draw from reading comics and watching cartoons all the time but I never quite got to a point where I felt comfortable with it. The biggest hurdle I’ve had to jump is giving up my reliance on photo reference. I see it as a crutch that’s so important that I don’t know if I’d keep doing it if it were taken away. That’s why I’ve been doing so much work on these mascot characters lately; I’m sort of experimenting with taking the crutch away.

When I first started drawing, it was just a series of copies of Tiny Tunes stills that I found in magazines, that and copying out of the Sunday comics. I very quickly tired of this and moved on to copying from more detailed comic book art, mostly Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld (gag-cough-hack-what was I thinking.) Soon though, I tired of that too, especially as everyone around me was starting to do their own things. I started experimenting with using comics as figure reference that I would re clothe with my own characters, and once again the zest left that soon as well.

I just couldn’t kick the reference bug. My only comfort was drawing from photos because if felt much less like stealing from existing art. When I discovered stock photos, I was in heaven as this is exactly the type of thing they were made for. This only lasted a couple of years though as I sort of felt disconnected to what I was drawing. I was happy with the output but not the creativity of the imagery itself.

Anyway, I was reading John K’s blog today and I ran across a couple of posts where he was talking about his apparent inability to paint and how he sort of overcame that with software and stuff. It reminded me of similar hurdles I’ve had with coloring my drawings. I used to use Prismacolor pencils a lot but I sort of got tired of the time it too to get a paint-y look out of them. So my answer came in the form of Photoshop with the polygonal lasso tool and the fill function. Finally I could get color to look like something I love, cartoons. That was my big breakthrough, getting my drawing colored, because then it sort of came to life for me. Anyway, here are a bunch of examples of my drawing process. I wish I had my pencils, but I ink directly on top of my pencils and I never think to scan them in.


This started as a bored doodle of Joseph Merrick’s eyes while I was reading the bio on the Elephant Man. I came across a photo of his skull that’s kept in a hospital museum in London and was sort of awed by the scope of the bone deformity. I sort of went nuts in the doodle department trying to capture all the nooks and crannies.


So the inks and stuff were fun, but the picture wasn’t alive to me. It needed color and here is a very basic example, at least in my eyes what a little color can do to liven up a picture.


This next one was a psuedo-commission from a small film company Low Budget Pictures to do a poster for an upcoming movie. Chris the owner, writer, director wanted me to do sort of a comic book like thing with the image. Here is my initial line art. Pretty much, this is what my drawing look like all the time. Unless there are areas of black, which I try to put in a lot to give the image more depth, it ends up pretty hollow like this. I’m not a big fan of cross hatching or stippling (at least my cross hatching or stippling) and I’ve never used zip-a-tone so the drawings are pretty simple.


See here is where the drawing comes to life for me. Through my eyes this became an animation still without all the painting. This is one of the few drawings I took to a third level by adding effects to make it appear like a comic book cover (though without the depth of looking like it was a real comic book scanned.)


I used another picture I did for them as the logo box and I slapped on some lettering and viola a comic cover is born. I am real proud of the outcome considering the sparseness of the original line art.


Here is my favorite example of coloring. This was the image that I discovered the polygonal lasso tool in Photoshop with. I was sort of happy with the inks, but it felt like it needed color and at this point I was pretty much only adding red with sharpie marker. But that didn’t seem like enough. Also, it was drawn from a stock photo.


The color made all the difference in the world to me. I was amazed, not at my talent, but that something this good (in my estimation) could come from my fingertips and brain.





Here are my two favorites though. Both drawn from the same stock photo source obviously, but I wanted to do a little more than making a cell animation like drawing of this girl. So I tried my damnedest to make something a little more out of it. I tried to put a mini story in it.


Here is one panel (my fav) colored. And then here is the final product:


I think this gave a ton more life to the original drawings.

Anyway, this has sort of led me to thinking about my philosophy of art. My philosophy is “do whatever makes you smile.? That’s what counts. When it stops making you smile, stop doing it. The above stuff stopped making me smile about a year ago. It ended up not fun anymore and seemed more like work just for the sake of posting it on Deviant Art and not enjoyable. The mascot stuff recently though has been tremendous fun.

In the last entry I talked about deciding whether or not to filter a movie review through those mascot characters and I think I’m leaning toward that because it’s making drawing fun. Even if the finished product doesn’t get near the quality of what I was doing before, it’s fun and since there isn’t money involved and let’s be honest, it’s all pop stuff, it’s not like high art, so I’m not learning any life lessons by following a more serious trend. So there’s that which I’ve been thinking about all day.  Hopefully I’ll have my first movie review done by Monday or Tuesday so I can test it to see if it’s worth all the drawing (vs. the time it takes to do.  It’s been fun, but if I can only do one or two of these a month it might not be fun anymore.)  We’ll See.