Recently I completed the third full illustration in my new sketchbook and, amongst the usual self-criticism of the perpetually improving artist, I stopped to take a look back at the sketchbook I had just set aside. Therein lay the tale of the year in which I believe I have made the most improvements. I decided to take a look back over the contents of that sketchbook, perform some self-critiques and pick out some choice unfinished art to breathe new life into, all part of my #SketchbookAdventures !!!
Just over a year ago and this was the best I could do at that time. For the longest time in my art efforts I had been held back by my inability to really grasp foreshortening,and this image highlights that, along with its bad anatomy. This is how I started that sketchbook, the first image I drew in it of any nature. At the time I was moderately impressed with myself, but thankfully now I see almost exclusively the errors and areas that need improvement. Unfortunately I also notice a couple of problems I still haven’t really moved beyond. But we can get into that more in later entries into this series that will explore more current images.
For this session in our adventures, we’re going to stick to the times that El Águila Ardiente graced the pages of my book. He’s one of those character’s who has haunted me routinely since the day I first thought him up, at least ten years ago, and has probably been the vehicle for the most improvement in my art. My love for the character, like my love for Pro-Wrestling itself, has grown immensely over the years and I aim to do many things with him. As such, he appears many times in this sketchbook, at various points when I am trying new things and will be a good gauge of overall progress.
Unfortunately, my ambition constantly outpaces my talent, and talent doesn’t get better quickly. Beyond the first image in this article I can’t guarantee that these images represent a genuine chronology of my efforts to improve, as I’m not the type to work on pages in order. I do most of my drawing on the subway and can’t be bothered to make certain I am using the next page in order with the limited time I am afforded, I just open up and go.
Every time I tried to play with foreshortening it just failed to produce even somewhat satisfactory results. It wasn’t until well into the last year that, after trying so hard for so many years, something that should have seemed obvious finally clicked for me. Maybe I just hadn’t been putting in enough hours. Like the image above, most of my play at foreshortening has been rough for a while. Keeping perspective and proportions correct, creating a sensation of depth that doesn’t accidentally make the character look horribly misshapen, is, for me, the most challenging aspect of creating art. Part of it I blame on my bad eyes, but a good part rests with me not trying harder to overcome my weaknesses and being too stubborn to realize I was part of the problem. So, while eventually I would find myself trying hard and having more confidence in these abilities it wouldn’t come for a while yet.
During this time I did, however, push myself to continue improving upon even an established design of mine, as El Águila Ardiente developed more details and began to look more like a true Luchador in the intricacies of his mask and attire. As you can see from some of my experimentation with foreshortening and my #NoLookingBack philosophy, this updated aesthetic has stuck around.
Being one of my most cherished creations, El Águila Ardiente just keeps showing up as I try to push my own limits with posing and foreshortening. I strive to reach a level where the scenes I see him in as I create stories and flesh out his world flow as easily from my fingers holding a pencil to art board as when they fly across the keys as I type.
His world has long been my impetus to create and improve.
These wouldn’t be the last images of The Masked Mexican Master of Matwork to appear in the sketchbook, but they would be for a while.
Come back next week for more #SketchbookAdventures and don’t forget to share this article and follow me on Twitter and like me on Facebook !