I'm signed up for a half day calligraphy workshop next month. That has little to nothing to do with the rest of this blog entry but it does tie in. My fascination with medieval manuscripts has been kicked into gear again by some of the accounts I follow on Twitter. Since those manuscripts are illuminated and decorated that means drawing.
Add in the interest in drawing RPG maps and it's inevitable that I would be pulling out the pencils and fighting my lack of innate talent.
I was cruising YouTube when I found a set of instructional videos on knotwork where it finally 'clicked' for me. I'd tried drawing that off and on for years but never really got the hang of it. I can grasp the theory behind it and even some of the design structure. I just couldn't (or wouldn't) get them on paper.
Here's some of the things I've done. There's failures in there, especially as I work with break lines. I tend to mess those up about twenty percent of the time. But it's better than it was!
You can see some of the progression as I keep trying different things. You can also see where I stopped filling in the negative space.
Let's face it. These are easy designs. And I haven't worked towards the thinner lines yet or adding color. I'm working on the core concepts and until I'm happy with that I'm going to stay right where I am.
Break lines take more work both in placement and remembering not to get too close and/or cross them. I'm still working on that. I'm staying with graph paper until then.
After I'm comfortable with my ability to do slightly more complex designs then I'll probably move down to thinner lines. These are nice but not really practical when used in layouts. They're too chunky. Chunky helps with learning so I'm not complaining.
For those of you who do this regularly or can just doodle them out then I salute you. For me this is a real work of effort and concentration. I've got more pages I've been filling up with various sizes, shapes, and patterns as I practice. On every page there's a couple of failures and I refer back to them to find out what did wrong.
I know I can scan these and clean up things like lines I accidentally crossed. But that's not the point. I want to not cross those lines in the first place. The way to do that is understand the mistake.
Not too long ago the mistakes would have made me frustrated and upset. They would have given me pause about continuing. I've mellowed out about that in the last few years and can accept mistakes for what they are. Mistakes and learning opportunities.
The work I want to do in the future will only hit the scanner once it's complete. Nothing will be done to clean it up or change it. I like the little inconsistencies of hand drawn work. Looking at historical documents they're not perfect. That's part of their appeal.
In my opinion we're spoiled by perfection. Computers are a part of that. But somehow that looks 'dead' to me. The hand drawn works with all their little oddities make for a piece with life. It's more work and mistakes mean fixing or even starting over. Or changing the design. Hand drawn is certainly more demanding. That suits my personality very well.
I do plan on using these designs for freehand on miniatures and on terrain painting. The techniques will be adapted for those, of course. But the very first step is knowing I can be sitting in a boring meeting and do a fabulous corner doodle while someone is reading off the PowerPoint slides that were emailed to us days earlier. It's a personal thing and a way to keep myself amused.
As I said. Things that are difficult for me give me more satisfaction when I can do them. If it's something that is easy then the achievements are expected. These achievements are work.