George Pratt working freehand in ink
[ A+ ] /[ A- ]
His ink & wet media work has an amazing organic quality, a lot of which comes from the spontaneous way he works. He’s also a great teacher, this clip of him working on a movie poster and explaining it as he goes is inspiring, and informative.
Watching it I thought of a conversation with a student regarding photo reference and using a grid. They felt they needed a grid to render their studies for a final project.
I’m far from against that in principle and said they could start with one, once I saw the early results it was clear using it was feeding into a hesitant, overly cautious tendency.
Trying to get it ‘just right’ too hard and taking all the energy out of it. I’d use gridding for somethings, but to make it work you still have to keep the forms you draw fairly spontaneous, rendered much as George does here.
Exploit a guide, but don’t become beholden to it. Be it a grid or reference. And if you can’t then it’s better to do away with guides entirely, and have more lovely, lively, if not exacting lines.
Don’t be afraid of the abstractions, work with them!
Here’s a bonus, my friend Denis Rodier recording himself working on a book. He posted these as part of a successful kickstarter drive, I asked him for one slower so you guys can see him work. He’s got a little more rendering done in the roughs and more of a liner style but also a nice expressive use of ink. Note that while he has done rough pencils, he’s not carefully tracing those at all, they are a guide only. He keeps his ink lines energetic, refining or improvising based on the first draft but not slave to it.