Christian Comic Arts Society

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Free handing: Natural progression or artistic preference?


Question that's been on my mind lately: is freehanding the natural course of pencil drawing (ie: start with basic shapes, then anatomy, then templates, then improvisation, then freehanding, no templates) or is it a technique for those who learned that way?

I've been experimenting with free handing lately, the biggest pro is it cuts my drawing time down to nearly 25% of the time it would take me to lay out a template and match up the anatomy and such.  The biggest down though is my proportions are either slightly or majorly off.  I watch drawing clinics on Youtube, and all of them (that I have seen so far) use free handing for the set up of each figure before erasing and adding expressions and details.  I feel more comfortable with templates, but find myself combining one or more steps to speed up the process or just to not overthink what I'm drawing.

Thoughts?  experiences?  Musings?

I'd be glad to hear them

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coincidentally I'm probably going to be teaching on this very soon within the next month or two.  Online and public classes.  But to some it up you have to get the point where you are telling your hand what to do at all times.  Like playing the piano, when you first start learning to play your hands tell you what you are going to do, but with a ton of practice and a great teacher you eventually tell your hands what to do.

You draw what ever you want to draw at will.  And it has more to do with learning the habits of what you are focused on drawing.  Meaning an eye is always going to look a certain way. The blacks in the hair are always going to look a certain way.  

The steps you take to complete a drawing is equally important.  Starting our with the stick figure mapping out where everything is first and being able to see it in your head and then building on that foundation.  There are artist that commit to one part of the body, without mapping out the entire form.  You have to map out the entire form first.

 I think starting our with basic shapes and measuring with accuracy is first, but learn to not to commit to any one piece because it is a learning process.  You have to play around first and practice drawing the shapes fast, like how you would see a Disney artist sketch, so it would be good to use charcoal pencils then conte.

After shapes then anatomy.  Because what you learned while drawing shapes you apply it to the figure drawing, but again drawing fast is the key and not committing to any one drawing.  Once you learn shapes and anatomy then templates are a breeze.  You can look at another artist's drawing and imitate it perfectly.  Jim Lee, Campbell, Picasso, doesn't matter. 


I do both and it depends on what you are drawing. If I do a pin up with one character, I usually don't need to do a great deal of setting up with templates and such. I more freehand with a few basic shapes. But if i'm doing a comic book panel or a more complicated pin-up then it is best to set things up a little bit more. But Chris is right about practice and experience(time). I know at times I can just ignore all basic shapes and such even on a complicated page and get proportions right. I've been able to do it sometimes with perspective drawings also.

I learned backwards growing up. I didn't start using basic shapes and such until I was in my 20's. I do feel I would had been a better and faster comic book artist if I mastered basic shapes and proportions.

I don't understand the

What do you mean by freehanding?

I understand drawing 'free hand', as opposed to 'tracing'....but it sounds like you mean something different...?

Ok...I understand...I
I agree with what Chris and map your basic shapes and anatomy till you get it right.


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