sketchbook: silhouette-style samples

Flat / Color Samples: Etoch, Gren-Louis, Kiddig
Ink + Digital, 2014

Such a busy, busy time! But I couldn’t help myself – I miss these characters and haven’t done anything with them in months!

I love silhouettes and wanted to try something rooted in that aesthetic. Once I did, it just seemed right to color them, which I tried with a similar silhouette-like sensibility.

I’m sure someone else has already figured out how to do this better than I have (and I’d love to see their work), but it’s great fun to experiment with!

wattersmith part 2: reflections on drawing jeff smith

Next in my reflections on drawing environments in the working style of some of my favorite cartoonists: Jeff Smith and his classic Bone. (Read my Bill Watterson reflections in case you missed them.)


Tools and Process (gleaned from an interview of Jeff Smith by Sardinian Connection)

  1. Really loose or sparse penciling, more for laying out composition of the ink-based drawings
  2. #1 “horse hair” brush and India ink; couldn’t find exactly what this translated to in standard brush-speak, but I assumed it meant red sable
  3. Not stated but seems to be the case in Bone: pen nib for occasional cross-hatching / blending work — but, I could be wrong!

My drawing process here felt extremely tight and tense. Smith’s style is clearly cartoon, full of fluid lines, rounded shapes, and simplified forms. But it can get dense with tiny tic marks and carefully overlapping shapes. For some drawings I got the same sensation as when typing up quotes from a book — looking incessantly back and forth between my drawing and the original, tracking all the little visual details in an attempt to get my translation as accurate as possible.

Smith: Gulp.
Smith: Gulp.

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wattersmith part 1: reflections on drawing bill watterson

Starting back in December of 2013, I began a daily drawing practice focused on environments by some of my favorite comic artists. By now I’ve accumulated a sketchbook on Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes) and Jeff Smith (Bone). Taking on the tools, working processes, and styles of two other artists has been a challenge, but it’s also taught me some things. Here I’ll begin sharing my notes on the experience.


Tools and Process (gleaned from The Calvin & Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book):

  1. Little to no penciling save for more complex compositions or items (mechanical equipment, for example)
  2. Red sable brush and India ink; I went with a “standard” #6
  3. Pen nib for a handful of small details (Calvin’s shirt stripes, for example)

There’s incredible vivacity and animation possible with the red sable brush. It can be hard to contain at times, but what life! Up until drawing Watterson I had only used synthetic, and I never imagined how much of a difference there could be between the two!

Despite leaving Calvin and Hobbes out of these drawings, there’s still an amazing amount of movement and energy to Watterson’s environments—especially ones from wagon-race strips.

Watterson: Decision Hill
Watterson: Decision Hill

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jeff smith sketchbook: week 7 (final)

Above: Smith: OK. I’ll Go.

And so shall I. With this piece, my Jeff Smith drawing series comes to an end. It’s been a rewarding ongoing challenge, the impact of which I think I have yet to see fully in my own work.

Drawing Smith has given me a sense of just how tight and careful a cartooning can be–especially in light of the Watterson series I did before this. It would be interesting to compare my experiences between the two a bit more.

But for now, a break and a shift of focus! I’ll work from another artist starting sometime soon. Whose work that will be is yet to be determined…

View the Jeff Smith sketchbook.