09 From thumbnail to final line

Part 17

This is taking more time than  I thought. The one hour a day I get, in order to draw my stuff, is not enough time to work on this drawing.

I blew up my thumbnail about 200% on a 11×17 sheet of paper. I took a sheet of tracing paper and began cleaning up the drawing, as well as adjusting the poses.    I adjusted the position of the Sorcerers by moving them over a bit to the right.  I also changed the pose of one of the Sorcerers to make him a little more dynamic.

I’d drawn Rob first and after I drew the Sorcerers in, I discovered their feet and Robs feet where not quite in the right place. Rob’s feet were in front of the Sorcerer’s feet, so I had to erase Rob and redraw him higher up.  I also ended up redrawing him three more times because I didn’t like his proportions at first and then I tried a different angle for his head, but it didn’t look right.

Rob is also bigger in this final drawing than he is in the thumbnail.  I wanted to be able to see him more.

The winged apes are not even in the drawing yet because I was having trouble finding good poses for them.  Poses that look threatening and at the same time, place their wings in such a way, that they didn’t cover each other up. In order to figure out exactly what poses I was going to put them in, I need to do some sketches.

Even looking at the drawing as it is now, I kinda want to move the Sorcerers over a bit more to give Rob a little bit of “breathing room”:


Drawing a finished piece is far trickier than a sketch. Mainly because you actually want your drawing to be well drafted. With a sketch, you can live with things being a bit off.

Usually, once I’ve done a thumbnail or a general sketch as to where the characters are going to be placed in a drawing, I find the horizon line.   When doing so, the most important thing, is to make sure that characters  have the horizon line cross them in the same part of their body a it would, if they were standing side by side. In the drawing above, the horizon line (which is drawn in red) crosses everyone mid-foot. The exception being the closest Sorcerer, whose feet go slightly below the Horizon Line to give the ground a bit of a curving feel. Once I have the Horizon Line in place, I draw a perspective grid all over the page. That way, I see the 3 dimensional space the characters are suppose to inhabit at a glance. I’ve only drawn one perceptive point so far, only because I don’t absolutely need the other point just yet, I will draw it in in once I start with the details of the background.

I then start adding a bit more construction and form on the drawings of the characters.  I also try to improve everyone’s poses and gestures. In the case above, I’m still not completely satisfied with Rob’s pose and drawing, so it still needs a bit of work.

I need to make sure I get the drawing above right for a couple of reasons. 1) I plan to do different finished versions of the drawing using different styles, in order to figure out what I want the final look of the cartoon to look like.  2) I plan to animate it.  It will become the experimental piece that I will use to figure out how I’m going to approach the animation in the cartoon. I’m thinking of a few programs I can use, and I might want to see which ones works the best.



Since I had to take care of my kids Monday and Tuesday, it was very difficult to get any time to draw.  I was planning to have the drawing done by this point but it seems it will take a little longer than I planned. This is what I got done:


I roughed out the Winged Apes on a separate piece of tracing paper and once I was satisfied, I transferred them to the main drawing.  The roughs of the Apes where too big, so I had to shrink them in order to have them fit:


Lots of things I don’t like so far.  The face of the flying one was off. He wasn’t actually looking at Rob so I erased it in order to draw a better one (haven’t gotten to it yet).  I’m also  unhappy with the way the pose came out overall and I’m going to change it so that it’s a little bit more like my original thumbnail. The claws on the apes need work and I still don’t like how tight everyone is round Rob. I still think Rob’s arms need to be worked out better as well. Some of these problems I will solve once I scan the drawing in for the final pass.

One of the things I changed was the height of the buildings in the background. Since I had increased Rob’s size, he was much taller than the buildings, which meant that, if the building were going to be the darkest dark, I need them to “cover” a bit more of him.


Because of Memorial day, and because I had to spend Wednesday taking care of my kids, I didn’t really get much done on my drawing this week either.  I DID get a little bit done though.

One of the “bigger” things I changed was the pose for the flying ape.  I like this pose much more than the one I originally had.  I then photocopied my drawing and shrunk it.  The reason for this was so that I could have a smaller copy of the ape faces.  The winged apes were “off model” their faces where too big.  I erased the faces I had put on them and then re-drew their faces off of the shrunk copy I had made.  I think they look much better.  I also changed the “texture” of the viper’s body.

I took a long hard look at the drawing so far and began nitpicking the things I didn’t like. I wrote it all down on a sticky note as a “to do list” and pasted it on the drawing.  I added the things I needed to finish to the list as well. Crossed out the ones I finished doing as I went:


The drawing was on my table at work and a co-worker came in to talk to me.  He took a look at my drawing and began to make suggestions, unasked. It kinda took me aback a bit, but I listened.  He said two things and asked me one question.  First he told me that the viper fangs I had drawn were inaccurate, and it dawned on me that he was very right.  It’s one of those things I just mindlessly overlooked.  He made a note of it on a sticky note and put it on my drawing.  He then suggested that I put the tail of the viper in the left corner of the drawing so that there wasn’t empty space there.  It was a good suggestion. He made another note of it on a sticky note and put it on the drawing.

I made the adjustments he had suggested soon after.  I’m not happy with the viper tail the way I drew it so I’m going to adjust it. Other than that I’m happier with how the drawing is turning out.

Taking critique is difficult, especially when you don’t ask for it.  It’s beneficial if you learn to block that prideful side of you that immediately get’s insulted. It’s a skill that takes practice.  In this job, your stuff is always getting critiqued. Sometimes it’s done well, and sometimes it’s done lousy.  Whichever way you get it, you need to be able to leave your ego out of it and listen to what is being said objectively.  In the case of my co-worker’s critique, I’m glad I listened.  He offered suggestions and pointed out a blunder, I didn’t know I’d made.  I think the drawing is better off for it.

As I said before, he also asked a question, namely, why I hadn’t drawn the running Winged Ape from 3/4 back view. I told him I’d intentionally did that in order to have more of his face show.

He kinda apologized for saying anything but I told him I was glad he did.  Especially in this stage of the drawing when I can still make fixes.

Getting critiqued is a huge part of my job now. As a board artist it’s rare when I show my work to a director and it’s accepted as is.  Sometime there are a few changes, sometimes half of what I do is changed and sometimes it’s completely thrown out an I have to change it all.  I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me when everything gets thrown out.  Usually, the director comes up with better ideas which make so much more sense, that I end up not minding at all.   I learn more putting my ego aside and I end up happier for it. It’s a skill I haven’t mastered yet.  I think the more I do it, the better I’ll get.  It’s part of my job now more than ever.


After all that time, I FINALLY finished the final lines on the drawing I was working on.  This was drawn with, black Prismacolor pencil on tracing paper. It’s great because if I messed up, I was able to erase the Prismacolor:


If you compare the rough with the final, you will see that the “bad guys” are actually farther apart from Rob than in  the rough.  He definitely needed  more breathing room.  I finalized the background as well.  I didn’t really go out of my way to measure every little thing like,  placing the windows in the perfect places.  The things are a little off but I just didn’t think they were important enough to spend the time on.  The characters is where your eyes go anyway.  I also cheated the perspective in a big way.  If you pay very close attention to the bad guys on the right in the foreground, you will notice that the background lines are vertical to the way they’re standing, which is parallel to the picture frame.  YET, it’s a dutch angle, in other words the drawing is tilted. Shouldn’t the vertical lines be slightly angled like they are in the center part of the background? The answer, is yes but I cheated the characters in the foreground, so in order to make the background look right, I cheated it.  You probably wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t pointed it out.  Often with perspective in backgrounds, it’s more important for it to look right, than to make it accurate. That said, it helps immensely to learn to do it the “right way” before you begin to cheat.

The next step is to add tone.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: