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Some Thoughts on Style

Written on August 10, 2010 at 9:12 pm, by Doug Lefler

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When I was in High School a friend said that he had recently seen one of my drawings.  “I recognized your style,” he told me.  This caught me by surprise.  I wasn’t aware I had a style so I asked him to describe it to me.

“Oh, you know,” he replied.

I told him I didn’t.

“It’s the way you draw things.”

I asked for an example.

“Like your clouds, it looks as if you could stand on them.  Or the way you draw faces with the eyes slanted to one side, and hands that look like talons.”  He continued on, but I’ve mercifully forgotten most of it.  What he considered my “style” I considered a laundry list of my mistakes.

Webster defines style as a particular manner or technique by which something is done, created or performed.  I always assumed style had to do with the choices you made, and at that point in my artistic development I wasn’t aware of having made any.  I was trying to make figures look like they had anatomy, women look pretty and clouds look like, well — clouds.

After this conversation, I set out to develop a style.  My objective was simple.  I wanted my figures to look like a combination of Frank Frazetta and Neal Adams, but with the sense of mood and caricature Bernie Wrightson brought to his work.  I wanted my line work to have the control of Charles Dana Gibson, but the freedom of expression of Heinrich Kley.  That wasn’t too much to ask, was it?

Apparently so.

Nowadays I make more choices when I draw, but I have never conscientiously chosen a style for myself.  If people can recognize my drawings I still believe it is because they have become familiar with my recurring mistakes.

(NOTE:  if you think it’s impossible to ink with the control of Gibson and the spontaneity of Kley I encourage you to look at some of the pen and ink work done by James Montgomery Flagg.)

Digital Inking Demonstration 02

Written on June 1, 2010 at 6:25 pm, by Doug Lefler

Here’s a follow up to my follow up on “My Process of Complication“.  The final version of this image can be found in “Nocturnal Battle“.

Digital Inking Demonstration 01

Written on May 10, 2010 at 12:17 pm, by Doug Lefler

As a follow up to “My Process of Complication”, here is a video showing how I ink.  Although it was recorded while I was creating a drawing of Ziggy (featured in “Nocturnal Battle“) I used a similar process for Seven Extraordinary Things.  It also demonstrates an idea I wrote about in “Rough Sketches and Rehearsals” of leaving some of the drawing to be discovered in the inking stage, so your line retains a sense of spontaneity.

My Process of Complication

Written on April 12, 2010 at 6:41 am, by Doug Lefler

When I started Seven Extraordinary Things I told myself to establish a style of drawing and inking that was simple and quick to execute.

With that in mind I kept my initial drawings uncluttered…

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…my first ink lines were clean…

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…and unadventurous.  So far so good.

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I added blacks to separate foreground from background…

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…and thought, “It might be nice to cut some detail into the black areas with an erasure tool”…

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…Hmmm.  That’s fun.  Sorta like scratchboard.  Now maybe I’ll add a bit of local texture and some shading on the figures…

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…ah, what the hell?  May as well put some shading in the background.

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Now I’ve managed to complicate it.  This work flow quickly led me to creating panels like this:

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I remember hearing someone say it takes two people to paint a picture: the artist holding the paint brush, and someone standing next to him with a stick to make him stop when the painting was finished.

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