Sketch diary post mortem: three days in

• My sketch diary project takes a crapload of time. I spent maybe an hour and a half on last night’s entry, and the one from Saturday took me a little over two hours — mostly because of that freaking Terminator endoskeleton head (but, I drew the *hell* out of that head; really happy with how that turned out). I’m going to have to get faster at these somehow; carving out that much time to draw every day is going to be *tough*, and I don’t want to lose the momentum I’ve got going with this so far.

This weekend, I spent some time doing some sketchbook work before I started drawing out the actual sketch diary entry; so for Saturday I drew a sandwich that I had for lunch and the eggplant parm that Mel made for dinner, fun stuff that didn’t make the final product, just to work out some shapes and other things. I also used the sketchbook to work out the shapes of the Velcro jumping wall for yesterday’s entry, which I was glad I did — even though that final product is still pretty crappy. 🙂

• These diaries are taking so long that I’m concerned that they’ll be the only thing I have time to draw unless I can find some way to make them go significantly faster. I want to do another Lego Gaga this week, but if these sketch entries are taking 1.5-2 hours a night I’m not sure when I’ll find the time. I may try to do just a pencil diary tonight, foregoing the marker finishes, and see a) how the final product looks and b) how the final product looks after I scan it with my incredibly cheap scanner.

• In the short term, I’m not going to continue coloring my hair with that sepia brown color like I did in the first entry. I found that I really didn’t like the flat, solid patch of brown on the final product; I’ve got a crapton of Prismacolor pencils that I might start working with to get some color into the entries, and I’ve also got a set of 24 Prismacolor makers to start working with. I want to see if I can copy some of  the things Katie Cook does with her trading card sketches in terms of using markers for colors; she’s using very basic, rapid techniques for some of these, but her execution and layering are really good. I’m going to try and find some time this week to sit down with my markers and try to replicate some of her techniques and see what I can learn from her.

• I’ve been doing some sketching on envelopes, etc., and am getting pretty comfortable with my renditions of Helen and Millie. I did some more work on Millie’s ears today, paying more attention to how they’re actually proportioned on her head (baby ears are *huge*, by the way), and I’m pretty happy with how she’s coming. Need to do some more work on the shape of Helen’s head, but I’m close on her. Need to start on Meg and Mel next.

• I have so incredibly much work to do to be anything remotely resembling OK at this. I can feel some degree of progress, even over the last three days, mostly because I can feel myself seeing things better and, as a result, being better able to translate some of that stuff to paper (and yes, I realize it’s bizarre to describe feeling how you’re seeing – deal with it, because that description works for me 🙂 ). This is going to be the greatest thing for me to develop, even the sense of proportion and shape for drawing the figure. Like everything else, the only way to develop this is by practicing.

• I got three new pencils today – a trio of Pentel GraphGear 1000 mechanical pencils in 0.3, 0.5 and 0.7 mm sizes. I originally found them at dickblick.com for $14.99; that site claims they list for $21.99. I almost ordered them, but decided to check eBay instead. I found them from a place in Korea for $8.49 each; shipping was crazily slow (approximately 22 days), but understandably so considering where they were coming from and the fact that shipping for the three pencils was only around six bucks. I goofed around and drew some stuff on an envelope with the pencils when I was home for lunch, and immediately ordered the 0.9 mm version when I got back to work from the same vendor.

They are *great* pencils; they’re all metal on the exterior (although it does look like there are some plastic parts inside on the mechanism that retracts the tip), have rubber grip pads at the top, and rather than just having the lead retract into a metal sheath, the entire tip of the pencil retracts into the barrel like a ballpoint pen. They are just fabulous; I’d have been happy with them even if I would’ve paid the $15 for them that I almost did at first. To get them for $8.50, even with the lengthy delivery process, is just awesome.

The only issue is going to be finding a source for the 0.3 mm lead; so far, I haven’t found any place in town that carries it. There’s only one other place I can even think to look, and I seriously doubt they would carry it. I might go check, just for an excuse to go out there though.

Walmart has 0.9 mm Pentel lead, but it’s the only place I’ve seen lead that size locally; I may go this week and buy it all, just so I have some stockpiled for when that pencil shows up. I may hold out and look for the 0.3 mm lead when we (hopefully) go to Minneapolis for a long weekend at the end of the month rather than feeling like I have to get a dozen tubes online in order to justify the inevitable $7 shipping charge.

Even just goofing around with them for 20 minutes, I can tell I’m really going to like drawing with these… Heck, I could ultimately see myself doing something crazy like having multiple pencils in each size to account for different lead densities (you can rotate the grip over an inscribed ring that includes various densities, so they’re designed for this). However, even with the stock HB lead they’re just great, and I’m going to draw with them for a long, long time.

• My mother-in-law dropped the news to me at lunch that she and Mel’s dad have talked to an architect friend of theirs about trying to track down a drafting table for me. This is… awesome. We’ll see if anything comes of that. I haven’t drawn on an actual drafting table since my drafting classes at Kansas State, the last of which probably happened in the fall of 1991. I’m not going to lie – I’m a little jacked about the prospect of having one of my own. Right now, my work surface is a melamine drawing board that has these janky little flip-down legs on the back to provide tilt; the legs don’t lock into place, so it’s pretty easy to collapse a corner of that board if it gets moved just so. The board is sitting on the old, beat-to-hell desk that was my present from my parents when I graduated from high school. That thing has been a workhorse over the last two decades, but it’s probably beyond time for it to be retired to a life of service in the garage. 🙂