Sketch Pad: Arms, Books, Trees and more…

I’m nearly 40 and for some reason I think now is a good time to learn to be an artist.  Sketch Pad is a collection of drawings I’ve done throughout the week.  My time to draw is usually from 4-5 in the morning or from 9:30 at night until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore and crawl into bed.  I have included everything.  The good, the bad and the ugly, in order to remind myself that this is a process and it’s not about getting it perfect the first time…or the second….or the third…or…


This week was a bunch of fun.  I had a few main focuses.  One, I’m still working on the human form.  For some reason I am focused on arms and torso. I guess when I daydream, it’s mainly from the waist up to the neck.  I also have another original character I am trying to flush out.  Last week it was Dinx, this week it is an Elementalist who has no special abilities.  So that inspired my search for learning how to draw books and robes.  In addition, I drew some trees because my friend Gil said so.  Finally, I did something for my daughter.  In the end, if something I draw makes her happy, then that’s all I need.

Where is your shirt?!?!

SP_Arms-TorsoI feel that learning to replicate the human body through art is an important skill.  A few years ago, Jim Lee, famed artist and currently the co-publisher of DC Comics, was on Kevin’s Smith’s podcast called “Fatman on Batman.”  During the show, Mr. Lee provided two bits of wisdom that are still planted in my head.  One, he spent a lot of time learning human anatomy.  Having the ability to reconstruct a character from the skeleton up is priceless.  That way, you know which way the muscles go and how the size of one body part can affect the size or placement of another.   Second, he discussed how he focused on drawing as if it was a job.  Wake up, go to your desk, draw for 8, 10, 12 hours, go to bed, repeat.  Now, I don’t have that kind of time to dedicate to drawing, but what it tells me is that practice does make you better.  Therefore, a person is not stuck with a limited about of art skill.  That was how I felt when I stopped drawing decades ago.  Today, I don’t think I have the time to get any better than mediocre, but what I do have is my wife, who has a great understanding of anatomy.  She learned it in school and has applied it ever since in her career as a personal trainer/Pilates instructor.  So, I have a three part plan.  First, become competent in regards to drawing the human form.  Second, learn how to shade and create shadows on the skin.  Finally, show my wife so she can make fun of my shadowing because it will look like the muscles are not accurate, whereby I will learn to apply proper anatomy to my artwork.

However, I also like comic books and comic books include aliens, people with metallic skin and other odd things, so not everything was focused solely on anatomical accuracy.  All in all, I am making progress and even though there are a lot of inconsistencies, at least I feel that I am on the right track.

Let me tell you about <UNK>

Last week I mentioned that I was toying with the idea of some original characters.  I posted a pick of Dinx, a Friar Tuck type of creature with a secret.  This week, I worked on <UNK>.  UNK isn’t the character’s name, it just standing for unknown because I haven’t thought of one yet.  I want this to be a female character who is training to be an Elementalist.  There is a problem though.  Elementalist are born with a skill for a specific element, whether it be Earth, Fire, Wind or Water.  Many have a strong bias towards a particular element and that becomes their specialty.  Some can control two or three and very few can control all four.  However, these people will still be more skilled in one element and only competent in the others.  <UNK> has been born with no discernable skill in any of them.  However, all she has ever wanted to be since she was a child was an Elementalist.  The two things she has going for her is a dogged determination and extreme intelligence. So, through pure will, she is committed to fulfilling her dream.  She is quiet and withdrawn, a product of many hours alone studying.  She wears an oversized robe in order to further conceal herself from others.  Many believe her to be quite old, due to the fact that the only part of her body that people see is a boney hand.  Yet, she is young and youthful.  Her hands are a product of literally working them to the bone.

Here is a rough concept I sketched of <UNK> being overwhelmed by her studies.  So, on top of all the other things I am trying to learn, I need to learn to draw books and someone wearing a cloak.  Should be easy, right? (He says pleadingly.) SP_UNK-Concept

Luckily I found a YouTube video that showed the process of drawing an open book on a wood table (You can see it HERE.) I never considered drawing a wood table made out of essentially 2x4s.  I love that concept and plan on practicing it a lot.  I also tried a closed book (I pulled it out of the hodgepodge picture or a better view.)  I didn’t use a picture for a reference point and just tried it from things I’ve learned over the last few weeks.  I’ve never been able to just sit down and create something unique.  Usually I am just trying to replicate something I pulled off of an image search.  I totally forgot about the drawing until this morning when I started taking pics for this post and really liked the book.  I was a little proud of myself.


Another part of the concept which I have never had any experience with was drawing a cloak.  I also wanted to add in the fact that the hood was pulled down, concealing the face.  The two in the middle are the best I think.  I have learned to take pictures during multiple points of my drawing process because of two reasons.  One, I am highly capable at screwing up a good picture by trying to improve it with something extra.  Second, my daughter loves my drawings.  Everything I do she loves.  She also loves to color anything I create.  So it is very likely that all of my images will be scribbled on at some point.



On the OxenTrot Facebook page, my friend Gil provided the following comment after last week’s Sketch Pad post.  “Draw a happy little tree, in your world it can be wherever you want it.  A little squirrel can live there…”  Also “Just remember, there are no mistakes, just happy accidents.”  I love Bob Ross and always wanted to paint because of him but never did, at least not yet.  So, listening to the sage advice of my dear friend, I drew some happy trees.  I took a picture before and after I went over the outlines in pen.

It’s Gruff

Finally, I drew something specifically for my daughter.  She is an amazing 3 year old and is my muse in terms of having fun and being playful.  Last weekend her Grandma came to visit (my wife’s mom) and she brought tons of presents for Lily.  One is a Gruff doll from the movie, Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast.  If you don’t know, there are about half a dozen full length Tinkerbell movies.  In my honest opinion, they are all excellent.  High level animation.  Amazing voice actors.  And interesting storylines.  In this movie, Gruff is the NeverBeast and my daughter LOVES him.  Gruff was her first imaginary friend.  So, I thought I could try to be a cool dad and see if I had the ability to draw Gruff.  I included an image from the movie as well as the online image I used to help guide me.  It’s part of a YouTube video that I didn’t watch, but you can find it HERE.  I was surprised how it turned out and of course my daughter loved it, which made me really happy.  This was one of those instances where I did the drawing at 4:30 in the morning before I went to the gym.  I wasn’t sure if she was going to be awake before I left for work at 7:30, so I was half wishing she would get up and half wishing she would sleep in for my wife’s sake.  Well, my Honey lost out on that one.  My girl got up early and I was able to share the picture with her before I went off to my big boy job.  It is a great way to start the day.


And there you have it. Some of my adventures in drawing for the week.  Do you have any artsy/drawing/sculpting/painting kind of stuff to share?  Put it, or a link to it, in the comments.  Until later, remember to keep playing and having fun.

Also, don’t forget to check out some of the other stuff on this blog, such as Monday Cinema Club, Bookworm TuesdayAnything Can Happen WednesdayThrowback Thursday, and  Friday’s Week in Review.

And for more on the Adventures of OxenTrot, you can find me at:

About OxenTrot

During the day, I am a mild mannered desk jockey who helps to manage a large IT company.  At night, I am a family man, who is insanely in love with his wife and a proud daddy to an amazing girl.  But in the pre-dawn hours, as most everyone else is still asleep, I am my alter ego.  During that time, I am: OxenTrot. Ox was a call sign bestowed upon me while I was an active duty United States Marine, mainly in tribute to the fact that I was a major gym rat. After 5 years and three tours of duty, I reentered the civilian world.  My call sign was replaced by my actual name but the Ox still lived inside. As I began to adapt to my new life, I also began to take on new adventures, such as starting a family, getting a “big boy” job and taking on endurance sports.
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