Scrunch mouth

On the left is the original, incorrect mouth. Too small. Not nearly wide enough. The corners of the mouth should roughly align with the center of the eye. On the right is a corrected mouth, much better overall proportion, and a better likeness because of it.

On the left is the original, incorrect mouth. Too small. Not nearly wide enough. The corners of the mouth should roughly align with the center of the eye.
On the right is a corrected mouth, much better overall proportion, and a better likeness because of it.

I had a decent drawing session last Thursday I am still standing to draw and still trying to take things slow and really establish shape and structure. I’m trying, also, to keep things a little looser. I already know I can do tight, detailed work, but I’ve never really excelled at loose, expressive work. I’d like to have that arrow in my quiver.

Life drawing in ProCreate using the "HB Pencil" brush on grey background in two colors.

Life drawing in ProCreate using the "HB Pencil" brush on grey background in two colors.

I started on a long drawing which took almost 2 of the three hours. Once I reached a stopping place I decided to “sketch” instead of beating a painting to death. I used an off-white background and pencil tools in ProCreate. By sketching, and erasing, and sketching again, it’s possible to build up something that has much of the quality of a real drawing on paper.

I noticed though, that right after I finished, the proportions on my “sketch” were far more accurate. I realized where I had gotten lost. I made the model’s mouth far to wide - I lost track of that basic structure while I was working.

I decided to try and correct the issue using my second sketch as a reference. Since I’m working in ProCreate I could just coarsely select the mouth, copy it to a new layer and blend away the edges. I used the transform tool to scrunch the mouth up a little shorter and then corrected the drawing a bit. Then I merged this back down into the drawing and blended away the seams.

A floating mouth, scrunched to size.

A floating mouth, scrunched to size.

This kind of endless fiddling is a risk of working digitally. With a painting you will reach a stopping point naturally because everything is wet. With a drawing you will eventually saturate the page with drawing medium and you must stop. But digital art allows endless futzing around. That can be paralyzing. I try to aggressively merge layers, flatten images, and call things “done” so I’m forced to learn to act correctly the first time.

The lesson from last Thursday is to start with the sketch next time. Spend that first hour or so on a warm-up sketch before attempting a painting.

Michael Barrett

Tacoma, WA 98402