Loose lines or tight lines? Comics or animals?

  • I am seeing all these super cool drawings online with nice tight lines and I get line envy. But part of me feels like that I lose something when I try to emulate that tight style even as I admire it. I naturally gravitate toward a much more loose line when I draw. Should I work on tightening my lines up or should I embrace the loose lines that I create? You can look at my Instagram posts to see the last 22 days of inking.

    On a side note, I can see that I do have a certain style developing even as I do a wide variety of compositions. I really like my animal sketches and can see a future in illustrating nature/science type books. But I love comic books, too. Which do you guys think I would do better at? I am really not sure of a direction here (Realizing that I can do both)

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @chrisaakins I think your line work looks great. I find it interesting as we as artists work on finding a style, it doesn't come. But when you just mess around it starts to show its head. And then you can grab it and move on with it and develop it.

  • Pro

    I think your lines look good too! Sometimes it happens that what we really admire in other artists isn't what we put in our work. I think what you have to ask yourself is are you not doing the tight lines because they're harder and you haven't developed the skill yet, or is it really that it's not you? It can be easy to write off something we can't do by saying it's just not "our style". I used to think that drawing backgrounds was just not my style, turns out it's because I didn't know how and now that I do, I love drawing backgrounds!
    To find out, there's nothing like trying it. Commit to learning these tight lines for a certain period of time, say a few weeks, and see how that feels!

  • @nessillustration I can do it. But it feels like torture because it is so tedious and slow.. Maybe I'm a bit too impatient. I usually finish drawings and paintings in a frenzy of creativity and inky goodness. I think perhaps that's why I like the wash, too. Lots of coverage for little effort.

  • You and I seem to have similar struggles with line art. My favorite art is really slick-looking cell-shaded work, but whenever I try to imitate the line art aspect I absolutely murder my sketch. I really wish I had some good advice for you, so I guess I'm posting this to commiserate.

  • Hey Chris. I love your art for one and admire it greatly too ;). Maybe you can try it out a bit more, give it some more time and if you're really struggling with it, still feeling so uncomfortable, you'll know that it might not be your thing? Maybe some day in the future, you want to take a new swing at the ball game and give it another try?

  • SVS OG

    Chris, your work has a je ne sais quoi. I know that sounds like a cop out, but its best qualities are something that I can't quite put a finger on--partly concepts, partly line art that isn't either too tight or too loose, but just its quirky self. Just keep working and do study, but don't force yourself into a box. Yeah, I know, easy for me to say, but I can see development in your Inktober sketches. Keep it up!

    P.S. For full disclosure, I might as well come out and say that I am generally prejudiced towards looser lines and wish they were more accepted in illustration 😛.

  • Pro

    @chrisaakins Uhmmm... That's a tough one! Obviously if it feels like torture, it might not be for you and that's not going to shine on the page as your best work. However I find that in terms of how many hours you can spend on a project before you blow your top off, that's something that can be practiced and improved on with time! Will Terry said something similar in one of his videos. In high school the max I could spend on a piece was 2 hours then I couldn't look at it anymore. In my first years of college, I was able to spend 4-5 hours. When I switched to animation then I spent 10+ hours on projects, I kind of didn't have a choice. Heck the last 7 months I worked exclusively on my graduation movie! 7 whole months, I was hella tired of it by that point but hey, now I don't bat an eye at spending hours and hours doing slow inking, or spending a week on a painting. There's almost something zen about it. The point is, I know it's possible to work up to that. But again it's tough because if that's just awful and boring to you, then obviously it's not for you.

  • Oh man. We have the opposite issue. I tend to keep my lines pretty tight, straight... almost too perfect sometimes. (I have the same issue when I create 3d game art) Then I see these other illustrations on here and I realize how my art really doesn't fit that "picture book" style that you see so often. So it's a struggle on the other side too. Especially using digital tools.

    For me though, I'm just doing what I know how to do. Doing what I enjoy. Creating and not worrying about any style. Not sure if I have a style? Maybe I do? I just know I am having fun when I do it so I try not to care what it ends up looking like or how it compares to others.

    However, I just did this mummy piece for the October competition and it's the first time I used just the pencil in iPad Pro (Procreate) instead of having a perfectly smooth inked outline. I tried to keep it "loose" as you say.. and I think I liked it. Felt like I was back to using pencil on paper. So with regards to your work, keep doing you man. I'm personally digging the animals.

  • SVS OG

    Style is just a fancy way of saying the type of work you’re most comfortable using. As long as you’re having fun with what you do, your style will just develop overtime. So just do what you love. Do what brings you most joy.

  • SVS OG

    I like both. I also like it when you can see the loose underdrawing just peaking through.

    You could always do a loose pencil sketch then do a tighter line after. I've done that before and enjoy it. And I am a messy painter really haha

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