This month I’d like to share with you some drawings from a new series I have been working on!
It is a collection of monsters, each one taken from a tiny scribble that I drew, at some point, in the margin of one of my sketchbooks. I’ve drawn these in my notes ever since middle school (where most of us first learned of boredom) and now, like then, they are usually drawn when I should be paying attention to other things… “What’s that your Honor? Oh, yes! Umm, I mean no! I plead not guilty! Sorry, I was uhhhh just, writing down some notes, your Honor.”
Some of these are inspired by nature, some by mythology or literature, but most; most are simply the product of a deranged mind left to wander unattended. They often are prompted by something going on at the moment. Holiday festivities, bats dive bombing me at night, slugs invading my garden, or in the case of this latest one (shown below), a family trip to Jekyll Island to see some coastal wildlife.
I love painting animals, and I love working with character expressions, so these monsters are a chance to meld those two loves. I do these drawings when I have the time, and I don’t stress out too much over them. I try to finish each in an hour or two. Most of my client work in the past year has been rewarding and enjoyable, but still, even when the work is fun, it is still work. These are a chance to really just do what I want to be doing.
The basic concept scribbles for these are all made with a cheap ballpoint pen (pictured in the sketchbook image above). Most start as just a simple shape, a square, a trapezoid, a bean, and then I add another shape and see where that takes me. It is like making my own Rorschach test over and over again until I find something that seems interesting.
After that I do a free-hand colored pencil drawing of this ink scribble to clean up the design (pictured below).
Colored Pencil Design Phase
I enjoy all the stages, but my favorite is probably this design phase where I can really have some fun with the character, but I don’t yet have to worry about the final product. I rarely share these design drawings because they tend to be wonky, out of proportion, and disorganized chaos. I like to work on basic copy paper and use color pencils (nothing fancy) because I find that I tend to be less fussy about everything when I do.
For the final drawing, I use graphite pencils in 2H and HB on bristol to craft a refined version that will be a good base for color. I DO tend to be fussy about everything here, and will often use 0.5mm Staedtler mechanical pencils to do the detail areas. This stage is enjoyable as well, but always a bit more stressful because I know that I am going to want to share this image with people online and at shows. So ‘DON’T SCREW IT UP!’ is always echoing in my brain while I am working here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these! I have about 1,956 more to go. We’ll see how far we get.
Next Post: I’ll be doing a follow-up to share some of the color work for these guys and discuss some tips for taking graphite characters to color!
Awesome stuff man! I love how much character and meat these guys have.
Very curious to see the color episode. Some nice characters here. I was a little surprised about your fear to show works.
Thanks Li-An! I have been hesitant to show my more unfinished-looking art ever since a mentor of mine told me that people often judge you based on your weakest work. It lowers your overall average. In recent years I’ve been more careful about what I post. (Not sure if that has been a good thing or a bad thing yet…)
These are just beautiful Justin. “The wanderings of a deranged mind.” – indeed.