I really love solid draftsmanship. “Draftsmanship” being the technical skill of drawing anatomy, environments, and rendering lighting/color in one or multiple mediums. Its one of those things that I want most in my skill set. If an artist has excellent draftsmanship, there isn’t much he or she cannot do. I come to this subject because I was recently flipping through the pages of my Blacksad graphic novel by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido. I love the way these stories are drawn! Its a perfect mixture of cartoon and realistic drawing. Guarnido knows where and how to simplify forms. The lighting and color is superb, as well. The Blacksad graphic novel that I own is the epitome of the sort of draftsmanship that I want. Here’s a taste of what it looks like and of the skill of Guarnido:

However, that’s only one side of it. Being able to draw on “both sides of the coin” is also a notion of strong draftsmanship. Being able to stretch and express characters in exaggerated/cartoon forms is one side of the coin, where rendering characters with realistic proportions is the other. Both are essential, and you cannot truly have one without the other. In my experience, an artist needs classical training in realistic forms, lighting and color before he or she can grasp how to put a spin on it. I often see people who jump right into cartooning, (whether it be Disney-style, or manga/anime), without any real knowledge of how the human (or animal) body works in the real world. The artists who first simplified the human and animal forms into the styles we see today did so with an extensive knowledge of how they worked first! It was because of that understanding that the artists were able to simplify correctly. That’s why, for example, the Disney lions don’t seem awkward and why some (*cough*most*cough*) fanart does. Granted, everyone has to start somewhere, and drawing your favorite cartoon characters is often a great place to start. An artist can always, (and should always), practice draftsmanship; from line quality to anatomy.

I struggle with my draftsmanship all the time, and I’m frustrated that I’m nearly 21 and not better than I am right now. I feel my drawings, in their quality and subject, are childish and repetitive. Sure, I can do some drawing, but I cannot truly create….not yet.