A More Methodical Process


By robgale November 27, 2018

A quick study of a sketch by Ian McQue

Here’s another study of an Ian McQue sketch. I like doing these studies at different aspect ratios from the original, because it forces me to try to recreate what the artist is doing, rather than simply copy the shapes. I learn a lot more by trying to use a process to recreate an image, because I’m breaking things down and understanding the process that I will be using in my own images, rather than simply copying what’s in front of me, which leaves me totally reliant on having something to copy.

Keeping my value layers separate helps me control and maintain that clarity of value shapes. Then, adding very transparent (10%-20%) dark and light layers helps to give those layers a bit of texture and visual interest without losing that clarity of separation. Only at the end, adding the gradients helps give it some atmosphere.

It’s another lesson I learned from Stephané Wootha Richard, who’s approach is very much about breaking things down into manageable pieces so that you’re only ever dealing with one problem at a time. I’m not even dealing with things like edges right now, and transitions only very minimally. My goal is still to work out a process for building strong compositions with strong shapes that I can build off of when I get into the fun stuff that brings the image to life.

Things that Could be Better

How do the shapes describe form? Some of the shapes, I’m just throwing down randomly, I think this can be useful for creating certain large areas that are more textural, and for creating interesting abstract compositional shapes, but I could go a step further and tell more of a story about what those abstract shapes are. I don’t need to fully flesh out everything, but giving some of the abstract areas more definition would go a long way.


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