clay learns to draw

One of the most frustrating things that has dogged me throughout the years is my inability to draw. That’s probably a strange thing for someone who draws comics to say, but here we are. After drawing hundreds of comic strips , I will now honestly state that I do not know how to draw.

How I’ve gotten this far is simply by sheer luck. I had some talent when I was younger, I was the best “drawer” in my class, and I loved art class the most. But I only liked the things in art class I was good at. Give me a pencil and a paper, I would go to town on that baby. Give me anything else though, and I would just lose interest. A lot of high school art was doing anything BUT pencil and paper, so I quickly decided art wasn’t worth pursuing and focused on things I really loved doing like algebra and physics (sarcasm).

This didn’t mean I hated art, I loved making comics. But I hated having to do anything that wasn’t comics. Learning how to paint? Good God. Learning anatomy? Kill me now. So I settled in with a drawing ability that allowed me to do some comic strips but not much else. I learned enough Photoshop to colour the strips, but not enough to actually create from scratch within.

Although there were many things hampering me when I was trying to do a comic like Sexy Losers, one of the biggest ones was my lack of drawing skill. My characters were always stiff, perspective non-existent, and I often copy pasted out of sheer laziness. If there was a particular drawing problem which would need me to do something other than have the characters talk at each other, I would immediately hit a rut. A good example of this is the Shiunji thread, where I knew I had to draw dogs at some point, but I procrastinated the hell out of it, dragging the strip on forever. Because I couldn’t sit down and learn how to draw a dog. It doesn’t really come up as a problem in a comic like depression comix but it really is a comic about people doing nothing other than talking to each other. Artistically, depcom really isn’t that demanding.

This year, I have realized how much my own inability is holding me back, stopping me from making the comics I want to create. So far, I’ve coasted on luck and not skill and I’m finding it increasingly constraining. Up until now, I’ve been an adequate artist for the work I do, not a good artist. And it’s time I did something about it.

So what I’m going to do is teach myself through books, YouTube and practice. Although art school is going to be out of reach for me, and something I have always regretted not attending, I’m going to do this by myself but through the tutorials of people better than me.

I’ve identified areas in which I need immediate help:

  • anatomy
  • using PhotoShop as an illustration tool
  • properly using tools like pencils and inks

These are areas which I need help very soon:

  • perspective & backgrounds
  • colour and light
  • layout

There are more areas I need help in, but these I think are the essential ones I need to work on this year. If I don’t improve myself and become more than an adequate artist, I won’t be able to draw better and faster, and bring to life many of the ideas in my head that I don’t have the skill to transfer to paper just yet.

I’ll be updating this blog to talk about my progress. I hope that if you’re reading my work, it’ll become something more enjoyable and dynamic.

Good luck, me!