Yes, the time has come for another Sketch Saturday (I never said it would be every Saturday). If you enjoyed the first one, I think you’ll enjoy this one as well. Like I explained last time, Sketch Saturday is where I take a drawing of mine and talk you through how I did it and why I did what I did. Here we go!
Last time, I showed you guys a traditional sketch that ended with a digital piece. This time, however, I’m going to talk about a purely traditional piece. Unfortunately, I did not take pictures of each step of the process this time, but it was a simple enough drawing. I started with the chest the girl, Mari, is sitting on. I drew the rectangle; made sure it was tilted so I would be drawing a ¾ view that featured Mari’s back.
After I had the chest Mari would be sitting on done, I sketched her silhouette, starting with the shoulders. I used circles to represent the joints and then outlined her back and her waist so it was clear where she was seated on the chest. I did the arms after that, having them both stretched so her hands would be supporting part of her weight. Once the Mari’s body was outlined, I went back and did a light sketch of the head. I did not need the actual head as I knew the hair would just hide both it and the neck, but I needed it to know where the hair would start growing so I did not mess up my proportions. I ended up making the hair so long it covered her entire back and some of the chest, thus hiding the back of her outfit from view.
Once I had finished sketching Mari and the chest, I tried to figure out where I wanted the floor to meet the wall. I tested a few different lines, but they didn’t quite look right. Eventually, I drew a line where it felt like a good balance between how much floor there was and how much wall there was. I definitely wanted to make sure there was enough room for the window to be on the wall without it distracting from the rest of the picture. When sketching the window, I tried a few various different pieces of a landscape that Mari would be looking at, but scrapped them because it was too much detail for what was meant to be a simple piece, and distracted from what the focus was, Mari herself.
With the sketching done, I went to color in Mari first with colored pencils. I don’t use any fancy artist pencils. The typical back to school backs are what fill up my containers, and they work perfectly fine for me. Maybe in the future I’ll look into some higher quality pencils. Anyway, I did Mari’s hair and skin before doing her dress in various colors. When I had finished Mari, I colored the chest using several shades of brown to try to communicate a rough texture. Instead of using the same lighter shades from the chest, for the floor and wall I used darker shades. I only used the colored pencils for the sections of the wall and floor around Mari and window before fading it out.
Having finished with the colored pencils, I pulled out my set of soft pastels. (I’m fairly new to using soft pastels, so I am in no way claiming the way I used them was the right way, or that you should use them like I do. This is just how I used them for the purpose of this piece.) I used a dark brown color around the edge of the colored pencil to try to blend them together. Afterwards, I used a black color around the edges and coming inward, trying to blend the black and brown so they faded into each other seamlessly (I’m not sure I succeeded). I moved onto using orange and red pastels for the window and the beam of light. I wanted it to be somewhat hazy and cast Mari in a bit of a glow. That way it would contrast with the dark colors in the rest of the picture. I tried to blend it in so it seemed natural, but it didn’t quite work like I meant it to.
Now that I’ve talked to you about how I did the piece, I’m going to tell you why. The girl in the piece, Mari, is the main character of my fantasy serial fiction Before the Day Is Done. This piece is meant to capture the idea behind the very first scene in the story. The story opens to Mari, sitting at home alone, on a chest, watching the sun, waiting for a group of people to return. I wanted to capture what I intended to be the mood behind the scene which is why I did not create a literal representation of the scene. In an attempt to give it a dark, solitary, lost feeling, I faded the rest of the room to brown and black. I wanted to show how Mari was completely alone for what was the first time. I kept her line of sight on the window, not just because it’s how I wrote it in the story, but also because it shows how she is fairly oblivious the dark around her. She’s too focused on the window, a source of light, a signifier of the passing of time, to dwell on her solitude.
On Mari’s appearance, I wanted to show her outfit was patchwork and made out of several old, discarded dresses. When picking colors, I used browns and grays to show their age, and the fact they weren’t in good condition. I also wanted to stick to a muted color scheme, so it didn’t clash with the orange light or the black and brown surroundings. It was also an attempt communicate her character, the fact that her personality is also fairly muted and quiet and not bright or happy like other colors could have communicated.
I’m not completely satisfied with this piece; I still have a lot to learn about using soft pastels. For instance, I wish I had been able to make the orange brighter and more distinct; however, I’m mostly pleased with the way Mari came out. The main thing I wasn’t thrilled with was I originally meant for her to be paler because of a lack of sunlight, but the pencil marks smudged and stained the paper slightly grayish, and made her tanner than I intended. However, after some consideration, I’m okay with the current skin tone because it could also show dirt, and a lack of personal hygiene. Either pale or smudged with dirt works with the character. I’m more pleased with how her hair turned out than anything else. I feel like I succeeded in showing how it is thick partly because of tangles and is uneven in places because of length.
Thank you for reading my rambling thoughts on my own art. Don’t be afraid to leave me feedback about what you thought. If any of you guys are fellow artists, let me know and give me your tips and strategies. I hope you guys enjoyed the second Sketch Saturday, and I’ll see you again soon!