Christina Ricci
Christina Ricci

It's funny how Dark Side of the Soul has evolved over time. If you look at the index, you can observe very distinct phases I've gone through—drawing from imagination, drawing from pictures off CD booklets, drawing from IMDB photos, drawing from cartoons and video games, figure studies, and back to drawing from my imagination. As my drawing output increased, I'd find another outlet for "doodles" and decided Dark Side of The Soul would be reserved for my best stuff. Then after awhile I pushed that even further—new additions had to be either A. revisits to stuff I'd drawn previously to show progress or B. Illustrations from my imagination. That's it. No exceptions.

... and then I went and drew this, and really, really, really liked how it turned out.

Drawn from a publicity photo at IMDB, actress Christina Ricci. In the past, with rare exceptions, I would take a single crack at drawing any particular image. Every now and again, I might take two or three (usually if it became apparent that the first was hopeless and I knew I could do better). But even then, I wouldn't stick with the same image very long. On a previous Dark Side commentary, I mentioned sticking with the same image and drawing it over and over and over again. Well, lately I have been doing that with a publicity shot of Asia Argento, and I found that that's paid off across the board.

After drawing the same photo of Asia half a dozen times (with varying approaches), I needed a change of pace. I needed to do something different. So I pulled up a publicity photo of Christina Ricci and drew that instead. This is the second time I've drawn from this particular picture. The first, I flipped the photo upside down and drew it that way (from the computer screen) and it turned out border-line hideous. I get hit-or-miss (usually miss) results drawing upside down, and add to that I was working relatively fast (and not feeling all that with it.) Then a few days later, I came back drew this one right side up (again, from the computer screen.) I took my time, felt in the zone, and I wound up with a finished drawing that, quite frankly, looks better than I really feel like I am capable of drawing.

While drawing it upside down first no doubt helped familiarize me with the shapes, shading, and line quality and gave me an opportunity to test out some ideas on how to render it. I think my hours of studying/rendering the same face (even if it was a different face) helped out more. Really, most faces are basically the same, and it's the subtleties that make one face distinct and unique from another. And drawing the same face over and over again, you see more of those subtleties that you didn't see before, you become more attuned to the relationships of all the features, and then you have an idea of what to look for when you move on to someone else.

As for the order of things I drew, I honestly don't remember. I know I tackled it in phases, starting with drawing general "placeholder" shapes and progressively adding more and more details (line only), then came 3 different waves of shading (2 different pencil strokes, and then touchups). In the later stages (mainly shading), I tended to break the image down into 3 elements (clothing, hair, and face) and I would tend to work on each element by itself to keep the shading quality more consistent. I usual would start on the facial features, then branch out to the hair or the sweater. But even then, I would still often alternate between the different elements, fixing things that needed to be fixed, adjusting things as I saw it, and so on.

I still think luck factored more heavily into this than my own talents (or lack thereof). But, I am improving, and it is nice to see my linework and sense of shapes/geometry finally catching up with my shading. And, who knows, one day I might be able to fulfill my dream of drawing a Graphic Novel after all ...