Periodically I get questions from students, professionals, and curious people, and sometimes, those questions get me thinking. Recently, I received a question about how to develop a style. It really got me thinking, because I’ve never tried to deduce the origins of style when it comes to sketching. It happens so subtly and naturally, that it can be a hard thing to totally explain, but I have a few pointers and tips based on my own experiences that you may find useful. As always, feel free to leave any insights you have below, and as always, videos are coming soon
1. Find your Inspiration:
Don’t just copy someone, but rather seek out sketches or illustrations that give you that feeling or drive to draw even more. Find subjects that you like and practice them in your sketchbook. By doing this, you’ll find yourself beginning to mimick (not copy) the feeling of the sketch or illustration. It’s a natural process that happens over time when you have the right inspiration. For me it was feng zhu (artbyfeng.com) – I loved his sketch style at the time, and I admit, I tried copying a few things, but that wasn’t beneficial to me. It really clicked when I analyzed what made his sketch good, and then adapted that to my own natural tendencies. Simkom.com is another great online resource that’s updated frequently with juicy juicy sketches from many designers. Mainly car stuff, but adapting things you like is the key.
2. Pick a Tool:
Pick a tool and stick with it. I think when starting out, you’ll hear alot of people say use a felt pen or a pen in general. It’s good advice, but above and beyond the confidence you’ll gain from using a pen, when you can master a tool, your flow will be significantly greater. What I mean is, the awkwardness of using a tool to express an idea or concept can be a hinderance, and when the awkwardness is gone, your style will flow so much easier, as will your ideas.
3. Let Your Personality Flow on to the Paper
I’m a cheery, jovial guy, and I think alot of that translates into the paper. I tell people to relax when sketching. It’s good advice for technique in general, but good advice as well when trying to develop a style. Style is really about personal expression – letting it all out. If you’re shy, or afraid, your style won’t ever come out on paper. Be confident with each stroke and learn to express yourself. It’s OKAY to make a few mistakes here or there. My best sketching happens when I’m not caring so much about the accuracy or precision of each stroke, but rather the espression or the “big picture” of what I am trying to accomplish. Which leads me to my next point.
4. Break The Rules
When you master a set of rules, don’t be slave to them. Learn to break free. Now, I don’t mean abandon principles of perspective, lineweight, proper ellipse construction or basic primitive proportions. What I mean is learn to bend the rules a bit. Drawing with your shoulder and drawing through are two great rules that we’re taught early on, that can be broken. Coloring between the lines and not past is another example of a rule that can be bent to express your style and experiment in new means of expression.
5. Get Some Signature Moves
This is that little dot you put at the end of a line, or a non-descript squiggle at the end of a marker stroke. It’s the gaussian blur in photoshop that you use on a particular part of a rendering. Discover your signature moves when experimenting while “breaking the rules” as I mentioned, consistently implement them, and you’ll have a style developing from it.