Decemboobs 2015, Day 32: Unabashed Joy

Bonus art!
Day 32:

Digital sketch of a topless woman in garish pants screaming with joy
Digital sketch of a topless woman in garish pants screaming with joy

What I wrote about this at the time:

This one is probably going into my scraps. It is a sketch for a second Decemboobs drawing I made on December 31st , based on this Tumblr post. The girl in the picture looks like a grown-up Pippi Longstocking – not just because of the red hair but also because of the brightly coloured leggings, mismatched socks and expression of unabashed joy. It’s a lovely image, but boy did I fail hard at capturing it in digital pencils. Still, it is vital for drawing challenges like this that I show my work – succesful or not. You learn the most from the failures, and one thing I learned here is that I am not nearly as observant as I think I am. I would not have noticed the second person’s foot in the pucture, or the slippers hidden beneath the purses, if I hadn’t gone through the whole reference image systematically.

In January, my focus is going to shift to faces! Faces are the thing that needs fixing the most urgently.

Updates: I did not move the image to my DeviantArt scraps. The source image still exists on Tumblr at the time of writing.

That’s one month of drawing challenges covered. If you’re reading here, you’re seeing them run at a much faster pace than when they were done. Over three years of challenges including two more months of Decemboobs, three of Portrait January, one Inktober, a NaNoMango and a Fatvent Calendar, you will see the range and quality of my photoreferenced and other art improve. Challenges have been a lot more effective for that than comics.

The first Portrait January will be posted at a rate of one a day. I didn’t come anywhere near completing one month, so it’ll be over by the time actual January of 2019 starts.

Decemboobs 2015, Day 31: Deconstructing the Semiotics

Day 31:

Digital drawing of a topless woman with extensive arm tattoos in an intense conversation
Digital drawing of a topless woman in an intense conversation

What I wrote about this at the time:

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I was home from work early. Other than getting home early, my only acknowledgement of the fact that it’s New Year’s Eve is that I had a drink (just one) before starting on today’s Decemboobs2015 image. It shows… I had some issues with accuracy and the arm and hand position and size are very different from the reference image (Here courtesy of The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society. Once again, the face was buggered up in inking, though that, too, wasn’t that great to start with in pencils. Too bad. I loved the impression the lady gave of being caught in the middle of an impassioned conversation about literature.

In January, my focus is going to shift to faces! Faces are the thing that needs fixing the most urgently.

Decemboobs 2015, Day 30

I think this is the best image from the first month of Decemboobs.

Day 30:

Silhouette of model Nicole bending over, seen from the side.
Silhouette of model Nicole.

What I wrote about this at the time:

For Day 30, it’s Nicole again, silhouetted against a backlight in a photo by theNakedLens Studio. Because while rendering exquisite detail is a useful thing to practice, so are simplification and abstraction. (also I was a bit strapped for time today).

Model: Nicole Nudes http://nicolenudes.tumblr.com
Photographer: theNakedLens Studio

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Nicole’s DA site and the reference image contained there are gone. Her Tumblr will be deleted on December 17. However, she has a Patreon: Nicolenudes on Patreon, which I support.

Decemboobs 2015, Day 29

Olivia Campbell! I should check if she has a Patreon because she will be a recurring subject over three seasons of Decemboobs. This is my first drawing of her.

Day 29:

Digital pencil and ink drawing of plus-sized model Olivia Campbell
Digital drawing of plus-sized model Olivia Campbell

What I wrote about this at the time:

Today’s drawing is of plus size model Olivia Campbell. Love the outfit, but I’m not going to render the stripes and patterns fully as they interfere with the folds that her body produces in her clothing.

Original photo made for Curvaceous Inc. Magazine whose website no longer appears to exist. Olivia has an Instagram account, which I am now following, as well as a Twitter account and a Facebook account in case any of you need more glamour to brighten up your drab, dreary lives. Or if you want to contact her for a professional (i.e. properly paid) modeling gig. (She’s in the UK, BTW). There are several Olivia Campbells on Tumblr but I don’t think any of them are her. Here’s a Tumblr search.

The reference image on Plusmodelstoday still exists.

Decemboobs 2015, Day 28

Day 28:

Digital line drawing of a nude woman with a bicycle, looking towards the viewer's right.
Nude woman with a bicycle

What I wrote about this at the time:

Today, I decided to relax and draw like myself for a bit. I figured that my transition from a writer-who-draws to a real artist wasn’t going to be done in a day or a month. We’ll start seeing a real impact of those daily challenges when I’ve done them, mindfully and critically, for a year or longer. So it’s OK on any given day if I don’t get it right. I’ll be working on that for a while longer.

And also, the reason I know people like today’s model Becky in the first place is through my comics, which I’ve all done as a writer-who-draws. I have comics online going back 25 years and even the very crudest of them have had people read and like them. What I do when I draw like myself is perfectly acceptable at least to some

Ironically, I think that attitude has helped me make my second attempt at drawing Becky, pictured here at the Portland World Naked Bike Ride earlier this year, a lot more succesful than the first. Yes, she looks like the comics characters I draw. Drawing better comics is what I do this for and I would hope that my own style doesn’t get completely lost in the increased realism that I’m aiming for.

Decemboobs 2015, Day 27

With Boxing Day skipped, we introduce an organization that will show up in future Decemboobs challenges: the The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society.
Day 27:

Digital image of a reclining nude woman with a crudely-rendered book on her stomach
Reclining nude woman, with a book on her stomach

What I wrote about this at the time:

I spent yesterday and much of today in bed with a splitting headache. I started to recover around 2 PM today, but as of now, 9 PM local time, I am still a bit feeble. My hands aren’t as steady as they normally are, my concentration is even worse than normal and generally it’s a struggle just to stay awake. Basically it’s like a two-day hangover, except without the benefit of having at least had a lot to drink the night before (for the record, I had one beer with our modest Christmas dinner).

And yet here I am with another attempt at drawing boobs, and more of a female body, as part of the drawing challenge known as Decemboobs 2015. Today’s image is based on a public outing from the Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society, a group of women who gather together in New York to read books in as comfortable a manner as they can get away with. Back when this group first gained public attention, there were some questions about its authenticity: people noticed that there were a lot of conventionally beautiful young women among them, and that they all seemed to be reading the same book. Since then the original group has expanded a bit and it now seems like the original group were simply the ones who could find confidence the most easily. Subsequent public group outings have included at least one lady who is a friend-of-a-friend of mine, and who I intend to draw if I can get a good clear picture of her. So I for one now think they are legit.

Having said that, I won’t lie: this original image caught my eye because it was of a conventionally beautiful woman and also because it is a somewhat artful shot, taken by a photographer who knew what they were doing even if they weren’t doing it in a professional capacity. Its one major flaw is the big shadow of another person (maybe the photographer themselves, but maybe not), over the model’s head and chest. I have taken the liberty of leaving that out of my drawing.

Being self-hosted, the source image and the blog it was on still exist.

Decemboobs 2015, Day 24

Officially, Decemboobs was structured like an advent calendar, meaning it ends on Christmas. However, because I got a late start and missed a few days, I continued after Christmas. So there are a few more after this one, which was made on Christmas Eve.

Day 24:

Digital sketch after a still from the Doctor Who episode Face the Raven, showing Clara Oswald just before the death thing hits.
Digital sketch after a still from the Doctor Who episode Face the Raven, showing Clara Oswald just before the death thing hits.

What I wrote about this at the time:

Well, while I was drawing celebrity images, this was bound to happen. It’s Clara Oswald’s death scene from the Doctor Who episode “Face The Raven”, the moment before the eponymous raven makes its deadly impact. Reference: https://youtu.be/pPik89cDhko?t=5s .

A few comments:
Tones: I didn’t remember this scene being quite as dark when I pulled up the reference. That was a surprise.
Technique: I actually have a layer in the original image with a partial attempt at painting this. I soon realized that Learning To Paint would definitely need to be a separate project, and that for this, for the amount of time I can spend, I need to use techniques that are closer to what I’m used to. So: digital pencil and ink, for the most part, or in this case, digital pencils only, trying to replicate the effect of using an 8B pencil in a real sketchbook. The problem is that Sketchbook Pro’s pencils don’t quite behave like the real thing: when you reduce pressure, they get lighter but also thinner, and changing pressure in mid-stroke doesn’t work quite right. Also, if I was doing this in traditional art, I’d be smudging constantly and deliberately with my hand and also using a light eraser to lighten things back a bit. The result would not look nearly as much like wild, undisciplined cross-hatching with a pen. Finally, I miss grain. Grain makes pencil drawings so much nicer. Still, I ended up using a smudging brush and an eraser set to 5% opacity in a few places, and the effect actually works on the scaled-down image. Will use more of that next time. Probably should have used more of it here, now that I look at the end result.
Accuracy: Naturally, I left out a lot of the details. Gotta make choices. At some point, the face was closer to the source than it ended up being, and some of the dynamism of the pose was lost. Still, I do think I’m improving. I’ll learn this before I’m dead.

The YouTube video still exists, but you shouldn’t go to YouTube really. It promotes nazis and flat earth theory.

Decemboobs 2015, Day 25

Let’s get straight to the point.
Day 25:

A woman's chest in a tight T-shirt with the slogan "Be Polite You Fuckers"
A woman’s chest in a tight T-shirt with the slogan “Be Polite You Fuckers”

What I wrote about this at the time:

Well, you know, it’s Christmas day, we’re moving a housemate out to a new apartment, and what with the food and the beer after that, I was ready for a lazy afternoon and evening, so just for once, I thought I’d just do boobs and nothing but. Keep things nice and simple, and not get caught up with distracting faces, buildings and I don’t know, fucking spaceships or some shit. This image showed up on my Tumblr dash this morning, and it was perfect. Disembodied boobs, no fuss, no muss.

Well, except for the fucking western-style lettering on the model’s chest. Fuck.

(I still had fun drawing this! )

The Tumblr post, as of the time of writing, still exists!

Decemboobs 2015, Day 23

Yep, I went there.

Day 23:

Kate Bush throwing a shape
It’s Kate Bush!

What I wrote about this at the time:

So yeah, I didn’t feel like inking at all today. Instead, I indicated value somewhat with rough hatching as I would if I were sketching this in a paper sketchbook.

Source: Put your hands up for Kate Bush. I was ambivalent about using a picture of Kate Bush as a source, because one thing I know about her is that she used to hate it when she was reduced to just a body, like in the leotard-clad picture of her that appeared on all the London buses in 1979. So for the record: everyone should admire Kate for her massive talent as a songwriter, composer, singer, (former) dancer, conceptual artist, producer and video producer.
But today, I was getting more and more desperate for an image to draw from that met my requirements (for nudes, I need them properly sourced and either with permission attached, a track record of allowing and enjoying fan art, or taken in a public location; for pictures that are not nude, I’m a little more relaxed about things, but it’s harder for them to meet the requirements of the drawing challenge), and I saw this in my Tumblr likes, posted by a fellow fan who regularly cycles through their images of Kate, and there’s no denying that both her dress and her anatomy do interesting things here. All those folds with the applique flowers to help me keep track of where in the image i am, plus her torso that’s twisted around three different axes. Fun! And those skinny arms waving around like she used to do in her earliest performance days. So in as respectful a way as possible, I tried to capture that movement in my sketch.

In the end, the face didn’t turn out too horrible. It doesn’t look like Kate’s and I do need to work on faces in general, but it’s pretty representative of where I’m at with drawing faces in general.

Decemboobs 2015, Day 22

On day 22, I continued the pattern of alternating quite good drawings with rather clumsy ones.

Day 22:

Oddly distorted digital drawing of a nude woman sitting on a towel
Oddly distorted image of a nude woman sitting on a towel

What I wrote about this at the time:

Now, this one, it turned out, I didn’t enjoy drawing at all, and the reasons have to do with photography. Yesterday’s source image, found on Tumblr with no photographer credit, is a well-composed, in-focus photograph that doesn’t try to do any funny business with perspective distortion, depth of field or ‘artsy’ angles. Nothing against those things, mind, but when a photographer does do those things, the photo becomes harder to draw from, because you may not see exactly what’s going on, or your brain may be tricked into accepting distortion that it otherwise wouldn’t.

Now, while I don’t think Sauna Self Portrait by Micky Jenver pretends to be great art or anything else but a fun nude self-portrait, it does have a lot of weird camera distortion going on in it. The subject legs look like weird tree branches, her arm is pointed towards the camera in a way that makes her hand look huge, and the composition is a bit off. Problem is, other than maybe the composition, you don’t really notice this when you look at the photo itself. Your brain is tricked into accepting it, because after all, everything does connect to everything else in a logical way. But when you draw it… hoo boy. I couldn’t get any of the angles or proportions right. Least of all the face. After doing a decent job on the face, yesterday, I thought I could get this one more or less right using the same construction method. Nope nope nope, it was a giant mess. In the end, I just decided that now that I had something sketched that had all the parts of the original but didn’t succeed in putting them together right, I might as well do something with it. So I went for stylization instead, changing the face to the way I draw my comic characters and inking the rest with thicker, rougher lines. I’m still not happy with it, but it’s not desperately bad.

By the way, this is nothing against :devmickyjenver:’s photography, which she does for fun and to document the fun things she and her friends do. I’m not blaming her photos for my poor results – rather, I have to learn the limits of drawing from photo reference – what does and what does not work for that.

Today’s Thing I Learned More About Than Boobs: Photography, what works and what doesn’t. (Yesterday’s was “Thinking About How To Paint Something That I’m Not Going To Paint Right Now”).