Sketching Studies

In a bid to better my drawing skills and sketching abilities, I recently picked up Portrait Drawing by Joanna Henly. It’s a fantastic and concise series of exercises and tips on how to draw people’s faces and features. The first set of exercises are to study and practice sketching the skull, to get a better appreciation of shape and form.

I decided to initially try this out using Autodesk Sketchbook on the Samsung S4 Tab with the S-pen. With palm rejection fully enabled within the apps, it is quite a joy to use. I’m seriously impressed with the responsiveness of the tablet & pen. Other Android devices I have owned have never been able to deliver a truly capable drawing experience, having to pair third-party styluses and often leaving unwanted lines and artifacts on the screen when the side of my hand rests on it. I plan to try out several other apps such as Infinite Painter, Medibang and Artflow, and then write up a brief comparison.

Skull Study 002 was created using Adobe’s Photoshop Sketch, whilst Skull Study 003 utilised Artflow.

Of the two applications, I personally found Artflow to provide a richer and more engaging drawing experience. A much greater selection of tools overall, as well as a more distinct feel to the pencils and brushes, gave a really natural and expressive response when producing both initial linework and fuller detail. (In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I opted for the paid upgrade to pro for even more presets). The colouring was especially fun, and a good selection of both airbrush and natural brush tools allowed for some nice shading combinations.

Adobe Photoshop Sketch, on the other hand, felt quite basic with little in the way of tools or brushes by comparison. With just the bare essentials, the actual drawing process did not feel as natural as Artflow, and the results resembled that of a simpler illustration than a detailed sketch or technical study. I felt quite restricted when using the program, and to me, it felt more suited to quicker, less developed doodling or idea generation.

I plan on using Medibang for the next couple of studies and will post a brief review of the experience. However for now, Autodesk Sketchbook and Artflow are definite frontrunners, and I’d recommend either application for digital sketching.

A quick shout out to a few highly talented YouTubers I’ve started following who have a wealth of useful drawing and sketching resources: