Thoughts on Sketches

I’m finding myself surprisingly pleased by this sketch.

The cast of Doki Doki Literature Club cosplaying the characters from Puella Magi Madoka Magica

I posted this on Facebook last week, captioned:

The cast of Doki Doki Literature Club cosplaying the characters from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Why? Because, that’s why.

Sayori (as Sayaka): “That means you’ll play Kyoko, right, __________?”

Natsuki (as Madoka): “I feel like there’s a reason you all wanted me to be Madoka.” (There was, I’m sorry Natsuki, the short-and-cute thing just matched up too well.)

Yuri (as Homura): “Ah, if I had the chance to go back and do things over…”

Monika (as Mami): “Well, I guess there’s atama’nd a place for everything!”1

Drawing’s never been my strong suit. As I’ve mentioned before, part of that comes from my brother being so dang good at it—a combination of both talent and years of practice. Because he was always better than me, I never bothered too much. But a few years ago I started doing comic-style sketches for fun, inspired by the webcomic El Goonish Shive. That fell off for a while (at least partly because I filled up the pocket-sized sketchbook I had been carrying around), but picked up again in the latter half of 2017, where I started drawing anime/cartoon characters for the heck of it. My biggest success there was this sketch of Ruby from RWBY, which not only came out pretty well but which I spent another week or so turning into an actual digital piece.

So what was special about this one? I think the key thing is that I had an idea, and then I was able to do it. And it came out, you know, pretty good. Not in absolute terms, but all the characters are fairly recognizable and they have unique and appropriate expressions and even the bits where I tried to do shading actually came out the way I wanted. Contrast that with my previous “clever” idea of Weiss (again from RWBY) fencing Utena (from Revolutionary Girl Utena)

Weiss Schnee and Tenjou Utena face off in the Ohtori dueling arena with their swords out, with Himemiya Anthy observing and Ruby Rose cheering for Weiss

which I tried to draw multiple times, after practicing Utena’s face for a while, and still couldn’t really get right. And in both cases I was largely drawing from reference. Compared to that, having things just work felt really good.

(And then I’m still amused by the idea and the jokes I put in the caption, so I still feel really good a week later.)

The last time I felt like this was the Traced Portrait Project of 2013.2 I’m not going to commit to a whole project this time (it didn’t work so well for “True Hero”), but it still feels like a small but significant milestone in my drawing abilities.

Of course, I have a long way to go. I still have trouble with faces, especially from the side. I still have trouble with hands. I still have trouble with poses that aren’t “straight on” or “at a slight angle”. I still have trouble with legs. I’M STILL JUST NOT VERY GOOD. But that’s fine, because I have no real expectations for any of this. I’m just enjoying doing it and enjoying sharing it.

It’s one thing to be good at something. It’s quite another to not be good at something and to do it and enjoy it anyway. And when something comes out even the slightest bit good from the latter, I’m much more proud of it.

(This post comes dangerously close to the sort of musings just for myself that my high-school self promised not to do when I started this blog. But I know someone’s going to click Like on Facebook, which means they got something out of it, right? Even if all they got out of it is feeling good about encouraging me to draw more.)

  1. “Atama” means “head” in Japanese, and DDLC pokes fun at pretending to be a game that was translated from Japanese. If you still don’t get it, I can’t tell you because it’s a spoiler. ↩︎

  2. I still enjoy making these, so if you want one let me know! ↩︎