Tag: huy cao

Illustration styles: Don’t think, just scribble

When it comes to my personal artwork, I constantly experiment with different approaches. Partly because I haven’t identified with a specific style, but mostly because I just like to challenge myself and see what happens. It’s very satisfying to try something different with zero idea of how it’ll turn out, whether it’s successful or not.

I settled on this scribblized style because I was looking for something that didn’t require much conceptualizing and let me just freely draw. The continuous scribbling allowed me to keep my rhythm and pencil moving without much thought or stoppage. It’s pure fun.

Below is a series of illustrations I did of my family. Pictured are my two nieces and my sister (I’ll eventually get through to the rest of the gang). Technique and timing notes at the end.

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Total time to complete each piece: 70 mins
Total time drawing for each piece: 15 min

The Setup

After choosing the photo I want to use, I print it out full size in black and white (easier to identify the shade values) and trace the outlines of the face and make markings for the eyes/nose/mouth for placement. I use that same photo for the shading reference for the drawing.

The Drawing

Just old-school graphite on paper. I draw the eyes first. Always. The eyes make or break any portrait drawing so I have to make sure it looks right for my own confidence and peace of mind to continue.

Then after filling in the nose and mouth... SCRIBBLE SCRIBBLE SCRIBBLE SCRIBBLE SCRIBBLE SCRIBBLE SCRIBBLE. I try to keep all the line weight consistent, just having more lines in the darker shades and fewer in the lighter areas.

The key is to set the right value with the middle tones so the drawing doesn’t come out to dark or light. I would take a step back periodically (2-3 times) to make sure i’m not going too crazy and the values look right.

The Finish

  • Scan drawing
  • Light Photoshopping
  • Add color overlay
  • Drink (optional).

-Huy Cao

Don’t think. Just draw.

This past year, I started realizing how little personal art I’ve done. It wasn’t due to a lack of effort, but more a lack of patience and commitment (okay, and some lack of effort too).

I tend to take on these huge projects that I carefully plan out inch by inch. The pieces I want to do usually require over a month of work and they almost never get finished. I get burnt out and ready for something new about halfway through.

I somehow managed to make my greatest passion stressful—I was trying too hard. I forgot the joy I always had just mindlessly doodling, not worrying about every line having to be precise and every element laid out perfectly on the page.

The four illustrations below are what I have done since this realization. They can hardly be called mindless doodles, but I attacked them with the same approach. As soon as I came up with the concept, I went to work, letting my hand move freely and didn’t stop until the piece was finished. Each illustration took me anywhere between an hour and an hour and a half. Much better.

Grandmas Boy

Mitch Hedberg - pastel

Jordan in Motion - graphite

R2D2 screenprint

There’s no end goal in mind with these illustrations, they’re just kind of laying around somewhere in my room. Although, one of them is contributing to a good cause. I’m donating the “Jordan in Motion” sketch to a silent art auction being put on by Philanthro — an organization I’m a member of — in partnership with Art with Heart. You can learn more about the event here and if you have an art piece you would also like to donate, email mary.wu@philanthroproductions.org by March 24.

Doing this reminded me what I was capable of creating when I allow myself to let go of some control. I relied more on my artistic instincts rather than having everything planned out. It has also helped breathe new life in other aspects of my design work. Sometimes, it’s better to not think and just draw.

-Huy Cao