|"1000 Yards" digital drawing, from an encountered photo|
Sometimes an image on the internet is so striking it makes me want to draw--maybe to understand an expression, or the gesture in a figure, or perhaps work out how various values and shapes interconnect. Regardless, because it's so simple to start, Sketchbook is my handiest tool. It's easy and quick to load in my desktop computer, so if I want to sketch, all I have to do is open the program, set a few parameters--portrait vs. landscape orientation, image size, drawing tool and so on--and off we go.
Drawing with Sketchbook and a pressure-sensitive tablet lets you make an image that has variation in line weights and darkness with the unparalleled advantage of having an Undo button. Unlike real life, you don't have to erase and you can always Undo and remove the offending marks. And like video games, you can touch Save at a critical point in the drawing before going further, then if need be return to the place where your work departed from desired. So to me it's worth it to learn these programs, even if it's hard to teach an old dog.
Sketchbook provides all sorts of creative possibilities. The drawing above is a combat soldier in the Middle East who was photographed after coming under attack. As is the case with so many, he has acquired what veterans call the "thousand yard stare," a nearly vacant expression that says while he may be physically here, his mind is far far away, likely still under hostile fire. It's a compelling look, and not an easy one to capture, for me at any rate. Sketchbook allowed me to focus on the drawing and forget the medium. The face--eyes and mouth mostly--are what set the tone for me in doing the drawing. Using the pencil tool I was able to vary line weights and darkness but I added volume mostly by cross-hatching in a similar way to graphite or hard charcoal. I ignored most of the helmet and almost all detail besides the central face.
It's a different situation with my iPad. In that case I've begun using various sketch apps in addition to Sketchbook. More on that another time.