I’ve been turning my attention to video games lately. I just bought a slew of them, and more will probably be en route on my birthday. I really like video games, of course, and I routinely play them. But the last few days have seen me delve into that virtual land with unfettered resolve, popping in Uncharted and playing for like two hours instead of doing what I should be doing: drawing. And that’s what I do. In order to escape my own terrifying lack of artistic skill, I retreat into somebody else’s wonderful preponderance of it. You will notice, when I post pictures, that my gaming library is filled with games that value art direction (with some exceptions). Those guys at Insomniac and Retro Studios, man, they’re freaking amazing. Likewise, I’ll often engorge myself on printed or web art drawn by artists who make my most complex pieces look like stick figures. I had this same crises a few years ago, after discovering Lackadaisy Cats. I’m having the same crisis now, but this time it extends to a subject I always thought I was good at: prehistoric animals. I met Lukas Panzarin at SVP and looked through his portfolio. A lot of unfinished work was in there. Unfinished work that put mine to fucking shame. I also met Mark Hallet, one of my paleo-art idols, and looked through his most recent works. I was similarly floored.
It’s probably my own stubbornness. I straight-up refuse to pay for a proper Photoshop and the kind of computer that would support it (Mac). Similarly, I don’t like painting--I’m not a patient guy. I do like doing digital work, but Photoshop Elements is distinctly crippled compared to its full-priced sibling, and I have a very small scanner. The amenities required for proper digital art are prohibitively expensive (a Mac, Photoshop, maybe Lightbox, Manga Studio, and a bigger tablet). So the work I do is generally pencil-and-ink stuff, though by no means detailed! No cross-hatching here. Very often, there is no shading. Usually, there is no context. Any why? Because I don’t have the patience to sit down and read a book about Mesozoic foliage.
I bring this up because I have two kind of “uber-projects” in mind that I’d like to start on in the next few months. Both of these require a degree of artistic skill that I do not have. The first is an honest-to-god webcomic, structured a bit like Lackadaisy or Dreamland Chronicles, that would demand I learn how to draw people, and learn how to draw people. And not just women, but men, too. And architecture, to a degree. And rock formations and backgrounds and context and all the crap I’ve been avoiding for almost 27 years. This is incredibly frustrating—I have such a crystal-clear idea in my head for this, but I don’t have the skill to put it on paper. And it seems like no matter how hard I practice, I rarely learn. Does that make sense? The second project is about dinosaurs. I have absolutely no hesitation with the writing—I’m a good writer—but the level of detail I want in the art is going to be hard. I know I can probably do it myself, but it’s gonna take a long-ass time. I’ll have to confront a different batch of demons here: perspective, detail work, and, most likely, heavy digital editing.
Granted, these feelings (about everything) have been building over time. I really can’t stand my own habit of drawing things from the side only, but it’s easy and quick. Now, I know I can draw dinosaurs from different angles (I have before), but it takes longer and requires more effort. It seems like there’s a maximum amount of effort I’m able to drain into some of my art. Maybe I’m just in a rut, or at a crossroad, or something else. I guess it boils down to this: I’m impatient. I’ve got these great ideas in my head and I want to be able to put them on paper NOW, not later.