My Creation Process: Sketching Before Painting

In my last blog post, I showed you how I color a bunny with watercolor pencils. Today, I'm going to reveal my process of designing a drawing before I create my final artwork. In this particular case, I will walk you through my sketch I created for this cute little bunny.

You can watch the video to see the processes or read below.


Strathmore Drawing Pad, 8 in. x 10 in.
Number two pencils
Tracing Paper

Although it seems that artists create and draw anything with super ease, that's not true. At least not for me. There's a whole process behind designing a drawing. Sometimes, it takes years to draw something well by repeatedly sketching it. For me, I'll probably get bored drawing similar object for many years, and there are so many beautiful things to draw anyways. I'm a generalist when it comes to art; I can't focus on one thing. Some artists can concentrate on one object exclusively, for instance, a "rose" and draw, paint, create it many times. I can't agree more with the statement: practice makes perfect. Nonetheless, instead of drawing one object of interest repeatedly to get better, I use a process that helps me come up with the drawing or any design that looks good.

1. Design the layout, the message, and mood of your artwork.

Initially, I did a quick sketch of the layout. For instance, I drew boxes where I wanted to place the text and the main drawing. In this particular case, I wanted to create a cute bunny with some original text. I wanted to create a card for valentines day but, hey, this bunny card could work for Easter too! Pretty cool, right? I thought it would be super cute to have a bunny with red cheeks and with a pretty cursive message written underneath it. I decided that I wanted the text to be "you make me blush."

2. Use references to study the subject you want to draw.

Since I can't draw a bunny from my head, I never owned one, and I don't remember how they look like exactly. I needed references for inspiration. In this case, I went to Pinterest to get an idea of how a bunny looks like. Since my drawing would be somewhat cartoonish, I didn't need to copy a photo. I just needed something for inspiration and reference. And, it's better not to copy a photograph unless you own the rights to that image. I like having multiple references and studying the object before I start sketching. If you have a life subject to draw from, that's even better. 

3. Simplify the drawing process by dividing your object into multiple simple shapes.

When drawing, I break apart the object into multiple simplified shapes and then erase them when they are no longer helpful. In a way, I'm molding the drawing similar to molding a sculpture. Draw, erase and redraw until I get what I like. 

4. Give freedom to experimentation, for trial and error, and sketch on cheap paper first.

When I create drawings for my paintings, I like to experiment and do silly things and see if something comes out of this. In a way, I give myself the full freedom to do whatever I like because it's a draft version that I don't need to commit to. In this particular case, I tried drawing the bunny with a big heart, but I decided that the big heart doesn't work for the composition, so didn't add it to my final drawing. I was still hesitant about the little hearts if I should include them or not. I decided not to include them in the final version. Drawing in my sketchbook means I can erase multiple times without worrying about ruining the paper. That is the reason why I like to draw first on sketch paper and then transfer it to watercolor paper. As you probably know, watercolor paper is expensive, and continuously drawing and erasing on it, it will ruin the texture of the paper fibers. When you finally start painting, the paper will not absorb the water and pigments properly.

5. Make multiple sketches and then choose the one you like.

After I finished the sketch, I didn't particularly like it. So, to vary it a little bit. I drew a simpler version of the bunny, but I didn't like it either. I wanted something different. I drew the final version of a bunny, which I loved more than the other sketches. To transfer the drawing, I used a piece of tracing paper. I shaded the back of it with a pencil and then using a pen transferred the sketch to my watercolor paper. If I don't like my initial drawing, I always do multiple drafts to see if I love them more. I considering sketching to be the foundation for creating artwork. From my experience, the best sketch produces the best painting. 

So that's it, this is my process to create sketches for my paintings. To see how I created the DIY card from this sketch, please visit my previous post

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