Experiments in Study Diversification

July 5, 2013

Recently I’ve been studying how to draw cartoon eyes and heads– specifically trying to figure out how to draw the eyes and facial features from any angle. To help me get a better grasp on the dimensions and foreshortening of a cartoon head, I decided to sculpt a couple maquettes out of cheap polymer clay I got from Walmart. Check it out! These faces are vaguely based on characters from Studio Ghibli’s “Ponyo.”

So far I’ve made two, and they’re not the prettiest things ever but I would say the experiment was a success. Sculpting the faces forced me to consider aspects of the head that were invisible to me when drawing with just pencil and paper. I would definitely encourage you drawers out there to try out sculpting if you’re hitting a road block.


After a good amount of thought I’ve decided to finish up this series of essays on sustainable creativity and self-publish them all in a book entitled “Brick by Brick.” I still have about 60 or 70 more pages worth of essays to draw, but once that is finished my hope is to micro-fund the first print-run through Kickstarter– maybe some time in September? Stay tuned!

Thanks for all your support since this project began– I really appreciate your kind notes and words of encouragement.


10 Responses to Experiments in Study Diversification

  1. Brian Russell on July 6, 2013 at 3:26 am

    This is a great idea. Not only does it help you in the long run for having models, but sometimes it’s just great to step out of your element for a while and create something different.

    • stephen on July 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Thanks Brian!

  2. Dado on July 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Brick by Brick —- I love the title.

    It honors Big Dad and works well.

    Love you

    • stephen on July 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Love you too Dad!

  3. ollwenjones on July 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Good advice for anyone: find a reference or make one. I’m pretty sure lots of traditional animators do this for characters they’re animating; or a studio will do it for a team. I’m sure cartoonists cheat for angles that look funny as a literal 2D representation of a 3D character – more or less depending on the style. You don’t need a super polished sculpture to help get around mental blocks for foreshortening/shadows. Great plan!

    I’ll definitely keep my eyes posted for your kick-starter.

    • stephen on July 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Thanks Ollwen! Much appreciated!

  4. Akryl on July 17, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Oh yes, the book! :D Can’t wait for it!
    And just a tiny suggestion: please make some pledges include multiple book copies – kickstarter allows to pledge to the project only once. And I’d like to get around three copies! With autographs! :D

  5. Tab Kimpton on July 25, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Excellent idea!

  6. Thea on July 26, 2013 at 5:55 am

    I wish your tumblr theme allowed me to reblog posts. :(

  7. Tim on December 10, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    My son shared your site. Each chapter is better than the last. My boys and me are A.D.D. and experiment/share tips and have struggled with each of the issues you provide tips on. Thank You!

    I sat next to a famous sculpturer on a flight and he opened his bag of clay heads and tools with me. I have never been so relaxed and inspired in my life after that flight. However, I do not know WHY I have never repeated it (despite immediately buying supplies). I am addicted to this monitor…ugh. I will go learn about RSS feeds as you suggest.

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