Saturday, 5 May 2012

Building is Building is Building

A while ago I listed 10 Things I Want to Do Before I Die.  On that list I wrote:

Learn to Draw Like Wot They Do In The Comics.
Now, I am nothing if not a woman of my word.  In a dull moment on a training course I flicked onto Amazon on my iphone.  Of the dangers of Amazon One Click I shall not speak.  They are self evident, because within three days I was in proud possession of...




Within hours I was sitting in the garden sketching stick men.  WHO KNEW that sketching stick men was so hard.  The Marvel team advise us budding Marvelites not to run before we can walk.  Spend time on the stick men, they tell us.  Spend days, weeks, months on the stick men.  Draw stick men until they are coming out of your ears, dancing off the page, bending, flying, crouching and sitting. 

MASTER THE STICK MEN.

Then you can move onto the drawing. 

Of course, like Captain Barbarossa I like to think of the rules more as guidelines. 

Am I going to wait for mastery of the form before plunging in?

Have I ever?

Of course not.  

I ploughed right on with my stick man.  I added flesh and contours.  I gave him a cloak and a helmet.  My stick man turned into a Spartan warrior with slightly odd proportions.  Here he is:

Pencil sketch

Rudimentary inked version, with sharpie

What does this process tell me about myself?

1. I'm impatient.  I plunge in before I really know what I'm doing.  I blast onwards with an excess of enthusiasm and then get bloody frustrated when I'm not producing work like Stan Lee.

2. I'm not good at following the rules.  I want to do the fun stuff.

All of this is perfectly in keeping with the preferences revealed by my Myers Briggs questionnaire.  I'm an ENTP.  The typelogic website tells me:

"ENTPs can be prone to "sharp practice" – especially cutting corners without regard to the rules if it's expedient – or, their juggling acts may simply be so over-ambitious they collapse."

Is this something I should address?

The answer to that is... yes.  Whilst it's easier to work in ways that suit my preferences, often my best work comes when I push myself to persist, graft and work away at developing my skill.  If I slow down.  If I force myself to look at detail.  If I plan.  It might not be comfortable but it makes both me and my work more well rounded.

What else did it tell me?

It tells me that world building is the same no matter what medium you use.  If I'm writing, I start with a few sketchy ideas, loosely linked.  My stick man.   Slowly I build up.  I flesh out characters, I put them into action.  I add colour, background, setting.

And half the time I leap ahead and write a full scene without having done all this.

But it's better when I do take time.  When I capture the essence of the world and the character, before I plunge into detail.

So what's next?


Next stop: a graphic novel.

Only kidding. 

I think. 



3 comments:

Bryce Daniels said...

Excellent, excellent analogy.

At first, I was laughing at the great humor in this post. Then, WHAM, you hit me between the eyes with a too-true truth.

Well done.

Meg McNulty said...

Lovely to hear from you Bryce! *waves* I need to pop on over to the Bryce Blog it's been too long since I heard from the Poet (and the man).

littleindian said...

The way you approached is entirely in keeping with your 'type'. You say you are an ENTP.

The NTP makes you see the bigger picture very quickly. Only then you will look at smaller details.

You do not have to look closely at the little jigsaw fragments closely to build up the bigger picture piece by piece. That, I'm guessing, is what you must have done all your life. Why change now?

Draw you character first. And then apply the 'stickman' drawing methods to modify/improve. The 'stickmen drawing book' was devised by someone who doesn't understands the ~NTPs.

Keep doing what comes naturally. That is your original creation in a style only you can create.

Let free the Johnathan Livingston in you. Do it your way.