Comic Non-Sans: Cleansing the Palate

I’m not sure if it’s true of anyone but me, but even though I need a routine to get through my day, it can’t get too routine.  I have to exercise after I wake up, but I can’t do the same set of exercises.  I try to get myself to eat at the same time of day so I don’t go ’til the wee hours and forget I haven’t eaten, but I can’t have a “usual” unless I’m away from home.  And just as I set aside certain times of day to write and draw, I can’t draw the same thing over and over.  That can be a bit of a bugger when, say, you draw a regular comic or a regular set of commissioned characters.

For a while there, and with the best of intentions, I started a game with my friends where I asked for any fictional character at all, and I’d draw fanart — line art only — whether I knew/liked the character or not.  It was a great exercise up to a point, after which my friends started getting really silly and jumped the line between challenging me and just being wiseasses.  (I do love my friends, though.)

There was a time, way back in the day, when I would partake in fanfic-y/fanart-y forum-based RPGs — mainly “Sailormoon”-based — where you constructed and drew your own Mary-Sue for RP purposes.  I stumbled across one such group on deviantART for another show I like, and after having a giggle over it with some friends, though … well, what the hell.

I’ll admit to feeling a little goofy taking part in it.  I probably shouldn’t, but I admit it.  At the same time, though, I’m finding it’s a fantastic way to break up my work, for that exact reason.  I don’t have to worry about perfection or depth, provided I’m having fun and drawing something shiny that gets a reaction (usually a giggle, in my case) out of fellow group members.

Really, I’m finding that this sort of thing is helping to keep my regular art fresh.  When I draw the same character back to back for a long time, I begin to lose sight of the lines and general look of him or her.  And while I do a lot of projects at once, they’re still regular projects.  Tossing in something that’s as regular or irregular as suits me, with a design that’s actually a bit difficult and involved to draw, keeps me fresh.  And if it’s not perfect, I don’t have to fret as much.  It’s a safe place for experimentation.

There are dozens of groups like that, and I used to participate in a straight-up fanart group with weekly challenges.  For some reason that was difficult for me.  The prompts are meant to inspire creativity, and sometimes they do, but sometimes they’d feel so much like homework assignments that I’d skip them.  While prompted art can be fun, I really am finding the freedom of this other group — both freedom in subject matter and freedom from any sort of feeling of needing super-serious perfection — to be a lot more helpful for my creative blocks than any sort of structured work.

Well, that and sometimes even I feel a need to draw sparkles.

Posted on July 5, 2011 at 01:00 by Kara Dennison · Permalink
In: Columns, The Written Word, Webcomics, Webcomics · Tagged with: , , ,