A Quick Peek Inside Coach’s Sketchbook – 001

This is the first in an ongoing series of posts where I will provide you all with a glimpse into my sketchbook. A sketchbook is a magical place for artists, it is where one learns, practices and works through problems. A sketchbook doesn’t have to look pretty, it is a tool with a specific function. A magician who designs their own illusions keeps notebooks and sketchbooks where they draw, design and work through their ideas and concepts, but they never let anyone see those pages. Once the illusion is ready, that is when they present it as a finished project for an audience to marvel at, this is how the magic remains a mystery and because of that mystery, the magician’s work becomes magic. It should be no different for a visual artist or storyteller, keep your ideas and rough sketches private in that book while you work towards a finished piece, then create that final piece on a presentable medium. This is how we put a little magic into our work as artists. This is how you use your sketchbook. With that said, to help you learn, I will open up my sketchbook and allow you all to see my ideas, rough work and my process.

Al E. Gater, the Farmer from Florida

Florida Farmer Al E. Gater here reaching out for… ah. yes! the first Orange of the season!

A quick sketch with Col-Erase pencils, then graphite, then India Ink via Pentel Brush Pen plus some smaller details done with a Pilot Plumix fountain pen, and finally a light render using a combination of Col-Erase pencils and Pencil Crayons. I love drawing alligators!

Random Sketches from my sketchbook

Random drawings!

No rhyme or reason to why I drew what I drew… but here they are!

A larger than life prehistoric-ish bird on a mountain peak nest holding a giant apple for some reason.

An alien I may use in a graphic novel one day, he is an intergalactic reporter named Chattie Fridays. I first came up with this concept with a former co-worker, he is a Slimer-like floating being with many mouths all reporting from different perspectives. Sports, Politics, Fashion… Chattie Fridays has you covered!

A very muscular caricature of my dog. A Boston Terrier/Pug named Dolly Parton! I’m not kidding, that’s my dog’s real name.

All of this was done with Col-Erase pencils to work it all out, graphite pencil to fine tune the drawing and Pentel Brush Pen to top it off.

Land of 1000 heads using animal character designs found on Pinterest

I teach an exercise to my students called “Land of 1000 Heads”!

It is one of my favourites. It is a very broad exercise that you can use to suit most artistic needs. In this case I used it to teach the kids how to learn on their own, outside of my classes.

There is nothing wrong with studying from existing art. Think of the musician who first picks up the guitar, their teacher does not instruct them to play a song without first learning to play music created by others first. Once a musician has learned to play may pre-existing songs, they may be more prepared to create a composition of their own.

Drawing is no different, if you want to learn to draw animals, find drawings of animals from artists you admire. Pinterest is a great place to do this, Art Station is another. Then recreate those works, in your sketchbook. Find the forms and recognize the basic shapes, try to build the characters as we do in Cartoon Coach. Over time, as an artist, you will absorb all the construction and techniques others have used before you. Eventually you will be designing your own animals in your own style.

Cartoon Coach exercise, quickly recreating a bunch of animal character designs I found on Pinterest