Crap. I can’t draw that…

“Crap. I can’t draw that…”

Every so often I come across a strip, a row, or even a single panel whose concept as scripted requires me to do something difficult. You know, with my pencils and pens. Let’s face it — as much as my artwork has improved over the last five years, I’m no expert. I’m a hack professional who gets by with sneaky tricks, shortcuts, and really, really strong writing (if I do say so myself.)

So I’ll stare at the page, a picture forming in my head, and as the picture forms, this voice says “crap. I can’t draw that.”

I need to shut that voice up, or at least convince it to say something ELSE. Sure, there are things I can’t draw yet. And yes, there are times when I need to take shortcuts, or re-script the action so that what I CAN draw will tell the story. But most of the time when that voice chimes in, what it’s really saying is “I don’t want to try to draw that, because I’m afraid it’ll come out looking like crap.”

This coming Sunday’s strip is one of those. It’s not going to look especially complex when it airs, because I DID take a shortcut or two in the end, but I let myself try some of the difficult stuff too. Most of the problem was composition. The voice was right — I CAN’T draw the pictures from my head if they’re incomplete. I just needed to take ALL FREAKIN’ DAY to compose two panels.

–Howard

18 thoughts on “Crap. I can’t draw that…”

  1. All you need to do is modify that voice slightly…

    “I can’t draw that yet.”

    You are an exceptional artist (and we don’t want any of that self-depreciating crap from you) and all you are missing is actual experience in some of the things you want to do.

    So give it a go, try it out, as many times as required. You’ll work it out eventually.

    “I can’t draw that yet. But I’m going to keep on trying until I can!”

    1. All you need to do is modify that voice slightly…

      “I can’t draw that yet.”

      Instead of saying either of those things, try saying, “How would I draw that?”

      I find the answers that you get can at least give you a head start in advancing your skill.

      It works on other things as well. Bless Kiyosaki for coming up with that line, I tell ya…

  2. I get that too. I find it helps to move on to something you can draw, so you feel really good about drawing, and let your subconscious work out the hard to draw bits. Then you go back to them later, and they usually flow a lot better. You shouldn’t get down on yourself for drawing around the hard parts though, that in of itself is a major drawing skill~!

  3. Model

    Models. There’s Poser or Sims for people–err, humanoids, in this context–and other tools for ships and architecture. Really interesting use at:
    GoA. If you make a model out of food, you can eat it later.

  4. Long as you’re looking for short-cuts, you could always use your “Phone-A-Friend” lifeline. Get a friend who CAN draw that to send you pencils, trace it or shrink it, ink it yourself and *poof* it looks like you did it yourself and you need not divulge differently.

    Also, your art always rocks. The trick (that you illustrate beautifully) is to never make it look like a short-cut.

  5. ooh. have you updated your drawing how-to to include shortcuts? =)

    Hmm. “The process” link no linky. I guess the new site hasn’t gotten there yet. I’m happier with the finished result anyway, of course.

  6. For the record

    I don’t know if you remember me (I was the girl with the kitting at the Linucon in Austin with the annoying tech questions at your panel), but before I changed my major to computer science, I was an art dork.

    Let me tell you two things about your artwork.

    At first it sucked really badly. But, I actually ENJOY your artwork as part of your comic now, quite a bit. It’s good. And, if you remember me at all, you’ll recall I’m abrasively blunt, and if I didn’t mean that I wouldn’t say it.

    Second, one of the things that makes your art so much fun is that it’s very distinctive. You’ve managed to develop your own style, and I just love that. You’re not ripping off anime style or Marvel/DC. You do some slightly funky things with proportion and with posing that is just really fun.

    Please keep in mind, I was on the path of the Real Artist. I’ve had paintings hung in real gallaries, I can go on and on about color and contrast blah blah blah, I can pontificate on how Nara era sculpture in Japan was the height of the Asian buddhist sculpture tradition, blah blah blah. Cartooning is a difficult skill set, and you’re doing a lot better at it than a shitload of really hot stuff art students. The hardest part is finding your own voice and style, and you’ve got that.

    Relax, do some concept sketches, have fun with it. You’re good, you’ll do fine.

    Another note: You may want to do a 24 hour comic book challenge. Just to do something differant- drawing that fast can really loosen up your style, and get you to try new/ risky things you otherwise might now, esp. if you tend to get bogged down in perfectionism.

    Signing out,

    The Mad Pirate Bippy

  7. Hon, your problem isn’t that you think you can’t draw the pictures. You KNOW you can draw anything you take the time to study and sketch out. The problem you’re really having is that you want to draw really cool stuff really quickly.

  8. For the record, of all my classes in college, from the computer science courses I failed to the film classes that forced me to sit through silent movies, my ART class was the only one that reduced me to tears regularly.

    1. Too proud to subcontract?

      Are you too proud to contract out the occosonial bit you cant draw, Howard? I’m sure some fans might even pay you to do the artwork…

  9. I run into this problem all too often. It’s like my brain comes up with situations, objects and body positions that make my hands say, “Whoa! What the #$% are you trying to do to us?!” I hate having to draw mechanical objects and cars, buildings aren’t far behind that.

    1. See, I look at YOUR artwork, especially the dynamic postures of the characters, and I think “man, wouldn’t it be nice to be Paul, so I could actually DRAW.”

      –Howard

      1. Depending on the day, and the subject that I need to draw, I can get very insecure about what I have to commit to paper. And if only inking would look as nice as the pencils seem to.
        Much thanks for the positive words though! ^_^

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