I finished the first draft of a new story. The first draft of anything is going to be lacking. It’s going to have typos, and missing words, and rough edges where the prose doesn’t flow. There are pacing issues and maybe even missing details, details that, were they there, would bring the story to life in the mind of the reader. I know this, and still I want it to be great right away. I want it to work the first time.
I draw. If you have read any of these posts previously, or you have known me for any length of time, you probably know this. I have drawn since I was very young. Every single time I make a mark on paper or activate a collection of pixels, I want it to work perfectly the first time. I want every mark to be perfect. They aren’t, and they have never been. I want it, but I know that’s not how it works.
When you draw anything, it usually helps to start out with a sketch. Some simple marks that won’t be part of the final image, but give you anchor points to build an image around. If the picture is a person, I like to create a line of action. One or two marks that represent the characters balance or movement in the image. Then I like to create certain anatomy landmarks. The rigid and immutable parts of a person work well. The skull, the rib cage, the positions of the joints. After that I build up the mass of the form. Muscles, fat, hair, clothing, etc. This is what gives the character their silhouette, their unique shape. Then I go in and create detail that defines that character.
I continue to do the same for every element of the image. Structures, machines, animals, garbage, all of it. Everything is built of layers, and every layer is dependent on the one before it being strong and accurate. But it isn’t only a one way process. Sometimes the shape of a hand will define the base structure of an arm and the line of action through the shoulder and down through the hips.
I only know this because I have been making drawings for a long time. Drawing for a long time means I have learned to trust this process. I know that it will get me from a blank page to a finished drawing.
Every single time I still think, this is the one where I do it all perfectly, right out of the gate. I won’t need a strong pose, because everything will work the first time. I won’t need to create landmarks because all the details will just be in the right place.
That never happens. So, instead, I trust the process. I work through the steps. I refine the drawing in stages.
I just finished writing a sketch. I haven’t been writing like this nearly as long as I have been drawing, so my path forward is a little more hazy, a little less practiced. But I know that I have a sketch. I think it’s a strong sketch, but I will have to move some landmarks. Maybe the line of action isn’t exactly balanced yet. I’ve been starting to develop a process for this, but it will take time. For now I just have to think that it will get there. It will be a finished story. It might take more than one pass is all.