Creative Kickoff

Since this is the first Creative Corner article, I’d like to start off by discussing Susie Q’s debut in Broccocalypse.

Although it was the first installment, Broccocalypse wasn’t the first or even the second concept I sketched out for Susie Q.

I was going to start the series off with a longer story arc, but there were parts of it that weren’t flowing naturally when I tried to translate it into comic form, and (as an introductory story) it felt boring. That story was something much better suited for when readers had become more familiar with the characters and their personalities further down the road.

For Susie’s first impression, I wanted something that would slap you in the face (so to speak) and say “Hey! This is what it’s going to be about!” Broccocalypse turned out to be exactly what I was looking for, and the little snippet of Susie we see gives us a clear idea about who she is.

Okay, I’ve discussed Susie Q enough for now. Let’s talk about a topic that I think might be able to help you young or beginning artists (or those of you that get frustrated with yourself quickly): your personal sketchbook.

When I was younger and still in high school, I would try to make every drawing in my sketchbook a work of art. I think part of that reason was because people would always ask to see my sketchbook because they knew I was artistic. When someone would look through my sketchbook and saw what I had in there, they usually didn’t say anything. That reaction always make me feel like I didn’t have something worth while for them to see in there, and as a young and growing artist, it felt a bit discouraging.

A little later on, while I was going to college, I came to view the purpose of my sketchbook differently.

First, your sketchbook is exactly that; your sketchbook. Asking to see an artist’s sketchbook is like asking to read through someone’s diary. When someone asks you to see it, they don’t mean to put you on the spot, they just don’t understand how much of a private item your sketchbook is to you.

Next, don’t be so critical about what you draw in your sketchbook. So what if you have half-finished or abandoned ideas in there? It’s your sketchbook, your ideas are allowed to be undeveloped, out of proportion, or lack perspective. They don’t need to be polished concepts, they are meant to be revisited and reworked. What really matters is if you’ve given yourself enough detail to decipher what you’ve drawn so you can work on your ideas. No one else needs to visualize your concepts, you are the one that needs to understand them.

Just for an example, let me show you how horrible my Broccocalypse sketch was:

Broccocalypse Sketch

The basic concept for panel layout is the same and composition is there, but some of the dialogue is missing and/or timed differently, the level of detail leaves a lot to the imagination and the characters look almost nothing like they do in the finished product. Regardless of all its visual flaws, I still knew how I wanted the page to look in the end.

Lastly, think of your sketchbook as a tool, and less as a portfolio. For example, just as a calculator is a tool to help you complete your math homework, your sketchbook is a tool to help you complete your finished pieces. You wouldn’t be expected to keep your math homework stored in your calculator, so don’t keep all of your finished drawings in your sketchbook. It’s okay if you go into detail every once in a while, but think of it more as a place to work out the problems you run into while creating.

If I had felt this way about my sketchbook as a teen and a beginning artist, I would have been much more comfortable about exploring my ideas and worried less about what other people thought of the work I had in them.

I think that about sums it up for this topic. Hopefully some of you growing artists out there will be looking at your sketchbook in a new light, and will let your ideas flow a little more freely.

Happy drawing!