Modern Arena Sorceress
The Modern Day Arena Sorceress

I've been trying to focus on subtleties and nuanced details (specifically, around the neck/shoulders/upper torso) with my sketches, and so when I sat down to draw here I really wanted to put into practice what I'd picked up. I'm actually very proud of the girl's pose. More so than many of my typical drawings, the way her feet are planted gives her some sense of weight (as opposed to just floating) and how natural/relaxed she looks (as opposed to the "stiffness" a lot of us artists struggle with drawing the figure), her body language and, in particular, her arms/hands make a statement. I'm usually very (very) disappointed in a lot of my character illustrations not so much out of being unable to render them correctly (although that happens too, and frequently), rather I feel like I hit a brick wall. I find myself asking, "okay ... what should my character be doing?" and I can't answer it.

Arms and hands are so expressive (more so than eyes, IMO) that I don't feel like I ever use them to even a fraction of their potential. Long before you're close enough to see "the window to the soul" you can see what a person is doing with their limbs, and there lies a ton of information about that person. You can reduce a person holding a baseball bat to a silhouette, and it remains an effective and powerful image. In a batter's stance? They're playing a game. If they have the bat over their head, it's menacing and hostile. Bat resting on his shoulder? A casual pose. Whenever I draw hands and arms, I almost always feel like I've missed an opportunity to express something deeper about the character. But here, I think her pose works in expressing her character, does so naturally, and is an aesthetically pleasing shape that's interesting to look at.

I'm also proud of the simplicity of her clothes. Lately, I've been in a rut of wanting to overcomplicate the render by drawing every single little wrinkle (and even adding some where there shouldn't be.) I had to deliberately keep repeating "keep it simple" over and over and as a direct result I think it looks much better than anything I've done in the past month with my doodles (clothing wise.) I still really need to do a study of fabric, clothing, how it folds, drapes and clings to the figure (et cetera).

If you've read any number of past commentaries, you've probably correctly guessed that I drew the figure with no background in mind. But once the pose solidified in my mind, the background came naturally. A sexy sorceress in an ominous pose needs a victim to nuke and an audience to fry him in front of—the background essentially composes itself (now, if only it would draw itself.) And, again, I've done a study on landscapes and wanted to put to use the things I've picked up. I wouldn't call this coliseum background a masterpiece by any stretch, but I think it's more interesting and dynamic than anything I have up here at Dark Side and I think it conveys the most sense of depth of anything I've done.

The coliseum's audience recedes, and so I deliberately drew the figures smaller and less detailed on the far right (they're little more than glorified stick figures) while the people on the left extreme of the frame are larger with discernable details (for some reason, I also drew them askew for some sort of distortion effect that didn't work and in retrospect I have no idea what the hell I was trying to do. But it was deliberate.) I'm very reluctant to draw crowds because crowds require a special sort of attention—you can't have 100+ people sitting there with their hands folded in their laps looking on. Crowds have life and variety. Some people are drinking, eating, making out, checking Facebook on their phone—lots of different activity. But I liked the idea of a coliseum so much, and it just didn't look right empty that I went through with it ... drawing each and every person in the audience with as wide array of activities as I could come up with.

On a final note, this marks the first time I finished cleaning up up the construction lines and retouched the linework of an illustration, looked over the image, and said "you know, I don't think it needs shading. I'm comfortable leaving it as line-only."