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How to fix sloppy sketches?


Needs an anthro avatar pic...
Hello all. I've posted on here before asking for tips, and I've gotten some very helpful responses.

One of my most common problems is how I sketch. It normally takes me 6-8 tries before I can get the correct line down onto what I'm drawing (and that's even with a model already drawn!) Unfortunately, my rampant erasing is also cause for many smudges around the main part of my drawing, which I CAN technically Photoshop out, but they're still very annoying. Anyways, can anybody give me tips on how I can sketch my ideas down without destroying the paper? Also, if there's a really good way to do it without drawing that ball and line pose model, that would be awesome, as that's where half my problem stems from.


If you get some sort of good memory of the more... spaceous forms of body parts (such as the shape of a leg) and can turn that around in your head, its better than balls and lines. Cylinders, pyramids, boxes etc., many prefer these to balls and lines.

I mostly sketch via curves, no real balls and lines there :s

Uhm. And to your first question; retrace it on another paper?


Needs an anthro avatar pic...
Hmm. I'll try thinking about the curves next time. For now, I'll just Photoshop my current WIP so I can kill those damned smudges. I just noticed after your curves tip how much I need to learn about muscle structure...


draw very lightly and use a lead harder than a #2 for sketches that are intended to be inked. I usually work up from a very messy "gesture" sketch with is little more than a bunch of scribbles. Also try using a lightbox. There's nothing wrong with tracing your own work.
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New Member
Try doing warmups before you sketch. Spheres and parallel lines, or a copy of a Bridgeman drawing. Drawing from the shoulder/elbow allows you greater range of motion than just your wrist alone. Then when you're about to make the stroke, try doing a few practice strokes in the air, before you actually put it down. Kind of like golfing. :)

I've also heard of using a sort of connect-the-dot method to help draw lines. Kind of like bezier curves, or the pen tool in Photoshop, just put some points down as a guide, then draw the line through those points.


Needs an anthro avatar pic...
Ooh. Thank you very much. Great tips that I would have never even thought of. I don't have access to a lightbox ATM, but how much would one cost and where could I acquire one? I'll definately try using a harder lead as soon as I can get access to it.

Arshes Nei

Masticates in Public
Tracing your own work also gets you in better habit with line economy. You can also do practice strokes before actually laying them down. Drawing and Painting take in this methodology. It's like a pitcher doing a few practice swings before tossing the ball. Also wear cloth gloves, so that your palm is covered (the fingers can be open).

In Painting, in order for painters to avoid smudging they have a dowel to keep their palms from reaching the canvas.

A lightbox can cost about 30 bucks better and bigger ones will be more of course:

http://www.dickblick.com/products/gagne-porta-trace-light-boxes-with-stainless-steel-frames/ (has them on sale)

Paper and Pencils are also a factor, as someone suggested using a harder lead type might help, but in addition take in consideration the kind of paper you're using to make your marks. Erasers too, a Gummy/Kneadable eraser is good for getting rid of a lot of marks and good for cleanup without being abrasive.

The plastic/vynil well soft erasers like Factis http://www.dickblick.com/products/generals-factis-extra-soft-eraser/ and http://www.dickblick.com/products/generals-factis-soft-black-eraser/ are really good too.


Needs an anthro avatar pic...
Ah. It just so happens I still have a few art supplies that my older sister gave to me. There's a whole case full of pencils, so I lucked out there. I already have a gummy eraser AND a plastic or vinyl kind, so I'm set there. I'm sure the paper isn't too good of a quality either. My mom found the sketchbook I'm currently using in the basement. I plan on getting some new sketchbooks with my birthday money. (1 more week!) I'll see if I can afford a lightbox too, as there's a few other priority items I must get.


Dragon by day, Wolf by night
May I suggest if you're going to be drawing with graphite that you get some fixant spray if you can find any? It helps keep the pencil from smudging after you've finished drawing and makes the picture last a lot longer. :)
This is why I don't draw with graphite. I hate the stuff. This page has all sorts of coloured pencil leads for a mechanical pencil, in various sizes, and they erase wonderfully. I rather fancy the green, myself.

And the added bonus to coloured leads is that if you scan in black and white bitmap, the sketch lines don't show up (this only works for inked drawings, of course). Just scan it at about 300 dpi, convert it from bitmap to RGB or greyscale, and then shrink it down, and you get nice crisp, smooth lines.


Runs on caffeine, ice and love
I too use allot of searching lines in my work. Generally I have found that they do reduce with practice. However I just have to make a concous effort to draw lightly. Usually when I sketch its with a 3H and once I find the line I go over it with an HB or whatever, depending on the piece.


wow, that connect the dots one might help, but tracing might be difficult as i use a visual arts diary which i found within seconds isnt very good for inking >.< it looks blurry round the edges or is it sposed to do that? or is it because i dont know how to ink full stop! grrr v.v


draw very lightly and use a lead harder than a #2 for sketches that are intended to be inked. I usually work up from a very messy "gesture" sketch with is little more than a bunch of scribbles. Also try using a lightbox. There's nothing wrong with tracing your own work.

Question from a foreigner: How hard is #2? How many hardnesses are there, and which would you consider the medium? :eek:


Play from your ****ing HEART
Question from a foreigner: How hard is #2? How many hardnesses are there, and which would you consider the medium? :eek:

Correct me if I'm wrong, knowledgeable artist peoples, but I believe #2 pencils are HB, right in the middle.

My pencil set goes from 6B (very soft) to 6H (very hard). The gradient from softer to harder would look something like [...3B, 2B, B, F, HB, H, 2H, 3H...], F and HB being right in the middle.


Saint Beast
You can rig a lightbox with a small glass topped end table and a lamp with a bendy neck. I found my table at a thrift store for fifteen bucks. It's bigger and brighter than a lightbox. I dunno if it's better, but certainly workable and much cheaper by size. Of course you do need a bit of luck finding the table for cheap.


Blinding you with science.
i swear by a lightbox. i find it easier to do work knowing i can make my sketches as sloppy as i want to and that ill just be going back over them on clean paper. i love love love using a lightbox. also.. paper quality has A LOT to do with it. i was sketching on *pretty decent* but still just regular printer paper. i had forgotten how bad it marks up and erases. i usually use cardstock which can take a lot of abuse. cheaper paper does *not* erase well at all.