I started sketching on my iPad to relax. I don’t post every sketch I make; I do a lot of practice sketches that are generally not fit for human consumption. Some sketches come out well enough to post, so I do. They’re not perfect, and I’m a complete self-taught amateur, but it can be fun to see me improve over time.

Here’s the album if you don’t care to read through the posts: Sketch Album

Sketch of me

April 16, 2021

I’ve always heard that sketching yourself was supposed to be hard. To be honest, I didn’t find this any more or less hard than sketching anything else. I was confused until I showed it to my mom and she asked me if I used a mirror to sketch from.

A mirror? To sketch? Why in the world would anyone do that? Why not just take a picture and use that?

Perhaps it’s a right of passage, and until you’ve sketched yourself from a mirror, you cannot call yourself an artist? I dunno. Luckily, I don’t actually care if I’m called an artist. I just enjoy sketching.

This one is different from the others in that I’ve done no blending. This was, in part, due to a request from my wife. Sarah wanted me to do something a little less photo-realistic 1, something a little more sketch-like, I suppose. I opted for charcoal.

  1. Not that my prior stuff even approached ‘photo-realistic’. 

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Conan (Sketch)

February 10, 2021

I almost called this one “I hate plaid.” I chose the reference photo because of his smile, which is very ‘him.’ I didn’t even think about the shirt. Nolan’s shirt was basically a black blob, so it was easy, but I’d done Fiona’s shirt before and that one had a bit of detail.

Plaid? Eh. Just a few lines.


Well, the rest came out pretty well, I think.

Let’s pick it apart.

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Nolan (my youngest)

January 23, 2021

OMG that hair.

It’s the first thing anybody sees when Nolan totters into a room. It’s always a mess; cameras autofocus on it; fingers itch to caress it; women swoon. Seriously, my wife refuses to ever cut it for fear the curls won’t come back.

But good lord is it a PITA to sketch. I think I spent more time on those curls than on all my other sketches combined. I have no idea how many times I redid it, trying different techniques in attempt to capture the messiness, the texture, and the sheer depth.

At least it was a learning experience.

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Fiona (my daughter)

January 22, 2021

She’s four and has mastered several cute poses, ones she’s unashamed of assuming the moment the camera is pointed at her. The reference photo was taken the same day as the photo I used for my brother’s sketch. With our families together for the first time in years, we had a photo shoot. We even had a professional come out to take the photos. Of course, I have no idea where those photos are, but the nearly seven hundred photos I took with my iPhone are always in easy reach.

I used a different method to sketch this time. One of the hardest things for me to get right is feature proportions. Even with the reference photo literally sitting side by side to my sketch, I often cannot tell that the eye is off, or the nose needs to move down slightly, or the mouth needs to move left a little. I only realize these things toward the end, which is obviously not idea.

So I cheated, sort of. Let’s just say I used my iPad to provide me a learning opportunity.

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Brother Sketch

January 21, 2021

I sketched this from a photo I took on a recent vacation our two families did together for the first time… ever? We’d certainly seen each other before, but this time we rented a cabin in the mountains and let our all five of our kids go wild.

Mike has a hard time not throwing on a goofy face whenever a camera is aimed at him. It’s fantastic. I really want to sketch interesting faces, especially expressions, and so I naturally gravitated toward his photos 1.

Again, this was done on Procreate. For this drawing, I entirely used their charcoal ‘brushes’, which I really like. That being said, this sketch looks unfinished compared to what I’m doing now.

  1. Although my own kids are also good at this. More on those in later posts. 

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January 20, 2021

My first “sketch”, although calling it a sketch may not be accurate. I worked on it off and on for over two years, intending to give it as a gift to my wife. Eventually, I used Fracture to print it on a big piece of glass and gave it to my wife for Christmas or maybe her birthday; I don’t actually recall. It broke on our move to PA, so I’ll need to replace it.

I made a lot of mistakes just learning Procreate. Mostly, how to effectively use layers. Layers are really, really important. They allow you to try something new without ruining all your work, but you’ve gotta remember to 1) use them and 2) make sure you’re actually drawing on the correct one.

Like I said, I made a lot of mistakes, but I also learned a lot.

The final product is decent. The shadows could use some work, but I think the colors are nice. I redrew the bud in the top-left at least a dozen times and even now I’m not happy with it. The stem especially could use more work, especially more texture and shadow. I have no intention of doing any of that, of course; this is as far as I’ll take this sketch.

As a first try, though, I’m not disappointed. It’s good for what it is.

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