Recently, the DrawingForce site started putting out tutorials on drawing the figure without a reference and tackling the problems it poses for students using a variety of methods. One of those methods involved increasing the brush size if you’re working in a drawing program and to use that size to experiment with poses while leaving plenty of room for refinement later on. In general, it’s a great, worry-free way of finding a pose and planning your work.
Now, nowhere in the tutorial did it mention using this technique for drawing with a reference, and if you’re not told you can’t do something you can do it, right? At least in art you can, anyway. The thought of actually trying this didn’t strike me until about a month after using the technique on the above imaginative drawing, but after doing it, it turns out that starting with your brush over-sized has it’s advantages whether drawing with or without a ref.
As mentioned in earlier entries, it’s sometimes difficult for the aspiring artist to not get caught up in the details too soon, and losing focus. In this case however, one potential remedy may be found for a reason that is similar to the one which explains its usefulness in imaginative drawing: the lack of specificity.
Let’s look at how this works with a reference photo taken from AilinStock on Deviantart and the quick, broad-brushed technique applied to it:
The broader stroke literally forced me to stay at large shapes and only the largest of features. Had I tried diving into detail, it would reveal itself with indistinguishable, unidentifiable smudges that would throw up warning signs as I was observing the reference with the wrong scale in mind. Thus, once we obtain all the necessary general information about the pose, we move on to pass #2:
…where I use the first pass as a map, ensuring that I can focus on the extra detail without getting off-track. And of course, once this far along I could keep refining and refining, for this drawing I stopped at adding a little color…
As it turns out, asking “What if I…” can be one of the most useful questions in the long run, not just for the piece you’re working on in the moment, but for advancing much of your present and future work.