Back to the drawing school

Drawing tools for school
My drawing tools at the ready as I go back to school

All graphic designers have exceptional drawing skills. However, there are exceptions to all rules and I am she.

On Monday night, I started a new course at the Royal Drawing School here in London. It sounds very grand, doesn’t it? The Royal Drawing School is in fact a charity so the public drawing courses they offer to amateurs like myself are very, very reasonably priced.

I’ve embarked on the Drawing for Comics and Graphic Novels evening class. I have no desire to create comics nor graphic novels (yet).  The course description appealed to me for several reasons.

  1. Elements of this course involve life drawing. Something I am petrified of doing but must do and do regularly if I’m to improve my drawing skills.
  2. Sequential drawing.
  3. Learning to tell stories through drawing.

It was a big class of 22 people and we have a lovely lecturer called Emily. She is very mild mannered, knowledgable and engaging. Being an introvert myself, I very much admire people who can hold an audiences’ attention whilst being genuine and comfortable with their quietness.

What we did

We had to partner up and take turns drawing one another, first a head and shoulders sketch followed by a full body drawing. Having just five minutes for each, the old Charlotte would have panicked at the exercise as I couldn’t draw a WHOLE PERSON PERFECTLY IN FIVE MINUTES???! but the older Charlotte  is a lot more relaxed. I’m ok with showing my standard of drawing. Nobody is judging me and my work but me. And if they are, that’s not my problem.

First piece of life drawing since school!
It’s not pretty but with practice, my drawing will get loads better

We then played a really fun game. It was a bit like a picture version of Cards Against Humanity (which, if you haven’t played, you really must. Just not with kids. Or your parents. Or any friend you may have who is very easily offended). We each had eight skinny bits of paper and eight photograph size bits of paper. Using the skinny bits, our lecturer proceeded to ask us to write down eight specific things. The first was ‘something you overheard today’. You think of that…not so easy eh?

Others we were challenged with were:

  • A line from a film
  • A line from a song
  • A famous saying or slogan
  • A piece of advice someone recently gave you
  • Something you said to someone today
  • A question
  • Something a teacher once said to you

These were quite easy except for that last one! I had to make something up! I don’t know if its because it’s been so long since I was at school or that the teachers had zero impact but I couldn’t remember any pearls of wisdom.

So after the words came drawings and on our eight remaining pieces of paper we had a couple of minutes to draw each of the following:

  • Something funny
  • Something boring or mundane
  • Love
  • Something sad
  • A well-known painting
  • Something you saw today
  • Something scary
  • An animal performing a human act

The results – not what I expected!

We then took our words and pictures into groups of three, spread them all out on a table and from the combined pieces, we added text that we thought went well with a particular sketch. We then picked our favourite three and pinned them on the wall.

My drawing of ‘scary’ with someone else’s ‘question’.

The results were darkly hilarious. Gary, in my group, had drawn a pretty good visual of the end of the world via means of a nuclear bomb and we paired that with my memorable slogan of “Believe in Better”. We had another top pairing of his drawing of a turtle with a police siren as a shell with “I feel the need, the need for speed” from the 80s classic, Top Gun. My favourite from all of those pinned on the “finalists” wall was a picture of a small person kicking an animal into a giant blender with the caption “Nice boy. Easily distracted.”

This is my drawing of an ‘animal doing something human’ with someone else’s ‘something you heard today’.

A really wonderful exercise which showed to me the beauty of words and pictures working together and how the addition of words can completely change the meaning of a drawing. I didn’t think of the writing aspect of comics and some graphic novels that would be involved in this course, but I cannot wait to explore it more. It’s going to be a fun 10 weeks.

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