Research Sketching and pro-Pencil rant

I’m working on a stop motion projcct for a friend of mine. Right now we’re working on set and character designs. Before I started to sketching character concepts I wanted to do a little research sketching. I went down to my local library and got a stack of books on American and European costumes from the 19th to the mid-20th century.This is a collection of some of the clothing samples I sketched (ink, watercolor, pencil, water-soluble stabilo-marker, and a little bit of Photoshop).

Scanning pencil doesn’t always produce good results (especially when I’m rushing just to get the pages scanned), but while working on this collection I had one of those epiphanies: the humble pencil is the rock star of drawing tools. The range of values and marks that it can create, it’s portability, economy, and reception by most drawing surfaces make it the most versatile in the artistic arsenal. But one thing I really appreciate about the pencil in the context of a sketch is its power of conveying possibility—several lines can be lightly roughed in to imply a nearly infinite number of directions the drawing or idea could take without necessarily committing to, or singling one out.

This ability is certainly able to be mimicked in the digital realm by adjusting the opacity of a drawn line. Over on her blog, Emma posted a drawing that combines her strong sense of story and motion with a loose sketch style (if you haven’t visited her site, go take a peek).

Mike Kunkel actually just scans and darkens his pencil work rather than ink it, retaining his organic, animation-influenced line.

It’s cheap. It’s versatile. It can hold your hair in a bun*. THE PENCIL.

*Hair not included.

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