Still sketching tight

Friday night I went to a very interesting presentation, called Pecha Kucha.  It is a style originated in Japan designed  for oral presentations to be fast and concise… Designers like to talk too much, so the presentation format is that you show 20 slides and can only speak 20 seconds on each.  They move with a fast pace, so it is dynamic and entertaining.  I got hooked with it and will be exploring how to use this concept.

Yesterday I got to make two sketches that I’m not that thrilled about but I’m gonna post them anyway.


The first sketch was done at the Tren Urbano, our equivalent of a subway (although it goes underground for only like 5 minutes…).  Keeping with the spirit of the Pecha Kucha, I sketched it very fast, around 2-3 minutes, with a sepia colored Pigma micron felt tip pen.  I was attempting to sketch it completely without lifting the pen from the paper, but I caught myself lifting it a couple of times.  It is a nice challenge that I’ll keep practicing to improve looseness.

The other sketch was done in Manatí, and was done directly with watercolors on a Moleskin sketchbook.  I selected a run down wood house, probably from early-mid 20th century that is close to the plaza.  I chose not to draw any outlines or guide lines, but to simply get the paper wet, start dropping colors while deciding on a composition on the go.


I spent around 40 minutes on this one.  In my opinion it is too “tight”.  I need to wet the paper more before dropping in the colors.  This was done with Yarka watercolors on a 8″x5″ Moleskine sketchbook.

In order to get to do a real Pecha Kucha I probably need to do 20 sketches in 20 minutes.  This could be a very interesting exercise.  I’ll be practicing until I can do it.  Yesterday I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art with my family and I saw some very inspiring works.  If I mix both concepts I know I can get a very intriguing result.


Overcoming my fears

When I was 10 years old I tried, as any other kid, to draw cars.  As  happens to almost everyone, the result wasn’t what I expected, so I stopped trying to draw them.  For years I’ve dodged drawing cars or faces.  Of course, when doing an architectural rendering I, either traced one or sketched a very generic one, with no details, just suggesting the scale.  Fair enough, the sketched blob has done its job, but deep inside I have been wanting to be able to draw them.

Well, today I did my first sketch of a non-blob car as an adult.  I decided that it was time I overcome my fears and start practicing sketching them properly.  I’m not doing neurosurgery, so I’m allowed to commit as many mistakes as I want.  As a friend of mine says, it is just a small drawing.

I used to own a Prius, and I loved it, and thus miss it very much.  So I googled for a picture of a Prius; mine was silver, but I wanted to use more brilliant colors so went for one with a red Prius.  The result wasn’t exactly as I had in mind, but there are parts of the sketch I love.  I need to keep practicing, a lot, especially the tires and rims, another epic proportions fail.  All in all, for being my first car drawn in 30 years I can’t complain that much.

I love the video tutorials some automotive designers have uploaded into Youtube; these guys do some wonderful drawings and marker renderings of the most exotic sports cars.  I watch them to learn techniques, but I don’t see myself doing those types of drawings.  It is like drawing manga, superheroes, monsters or spaceships.  I’d like to know how those guys do it, just because some of the techniques are incredible, but I don’t particularly like those subjects.

My next step will be people.  Just another small drawing…

My first sketch at a beach

Isn’t it strange that, although I live on a small island, this is the first time that I sketch a beach scene?  I just figured that out…  I live like a 20 minute drive from some nice beaches, but I normally go sketch at an urban setting, probably due to my architecture background.  Today I went with my family to this place, like a 35 minute drive from home, specifically to get one of the most delicious snacks I’ve ever had, a “bocadillo de marlin”.  It looks a lot like a cordon bleu on the outside.  However, on the inside it actually holds a very generous portion of the most tender marlin filet ever… for the extremely reasonable price of $3.  When put together with a very cold Medalla (the local beer) it is absolutely priceless.

I’d gone several times to the place since I met my wife 17 years ago, but today it was the first time I walked down the street to where the beach is.  It is really close, like 200 ft away from the restaurant, but I never cared to find out what was at the end of the street.  It was actually a nicer scene than I thought.  So I took out one of my sketchbooks and the watercolors.

I sketched it directly with the watercolors on a 8″x 5″ sketchbook in less than 10 minutes.  I really liked sketching that fast, but I still have to figure out a way to set myself up quicker.  I spent like 10 minutes preparing everything before starting and around 10 more minutes packing everything up again.  I have tried the pen-brush, and while it does an acceptable job with water-soluble pencils, I don’t like how it handles the actual watercolors.  I would’ve loved to do several sketches of this place, so I guess I need to find out a way to achieve a quicker set-up if I want to keep my interest at the same level longer.

Are markers obsolete? I don’t think so!

Back in school I did most of my renderings with colored pencil and airbrush.  I only used markers very sparingly, they were expensive and didn’t seem as forgiving as I would’ve thought.  I remember though seeing a lot of beautiful drawings rendered with markers, but I never put the effort to learn to use them extensively.  Around a year ago I decided to get a set of markers and learn for good.

Nowadays with the internet you can do a lot more research before purchasing a product than before.  I had only used Prismacolors before, so I “googled” for recommendations.  With all the vast resources the internet can offer I was surprised to find out that there is much less information than for other media, watercolors for example.  There are very few websites on this subject.  A friend of mine told me his favorites were the Chartpak AD, because they were very juicy and you could color very evenly with them.  I tried his, but frankly the odor is unbearable.

I actually like to see the strokes.  It’s very difficult to control to show those strokes and for them to look good, but I believe it’s the charm of the medium.  Based solely on reviews I found online, I decided to get myself a set of Copic Sketch markers.  I am extremely happy with them.  Yes, they are expensive, but they are refillable.  They have replaceable nibs, so if you wear them out, you can easily get in back as new.  So I figured that they were more an investment.  In fact, my favorite color has already almost dried out, so I will be purchasing the refill this week.  Here are some of my sketches with them from early last year.

I really enjoy sketching with markers… the only problem is the paper.  I haven’t found the perfect sketchbook yet.  I’m looking for a paper that doesn’t bleed too much and that doesn’t bleed through and damages three pages underneath.   I’m thinking of making (rather, asking my wife to make me… I trust her more with that kind of jobs) my custom sketchbook.  I am still trying out different types of paper; until the moment, my favorite has been Hammermill Laser Print Office, 32 lbs.  If I can order it heavier, that will be my first choice; I simply love the tooth of it.  I hope their 60 lbs or 80 lbs cover stock surface feels the same.

For several months I only sketched with markers, until I decided to learn watercolors by September 2010.  I really miss them, they are a wonderful sketch tool.  So I’ll have to go ahead with the custom sketchbook project and practice a lot more.

My son’s challenges

Well, I found a name for my blog… I updated the header image to include a scan of the title, handwritten with a Sharpie.  The symbol below is part of my signature, representing the first three letters of my last name, Aparicio.  Virtually all my friends (my wife included) know me as Apa.  In fact, when my wife calls me by me whole name I know she is really mad at me.  Anyways, I liked the title and had to sign it.

For the past four months I’ve tried to sketch something every day, to keep my hand in shape.  I had barely sketched in my first twelve years of architectural practice, other than quick doodles on tracing over plans to solve certain issues before committing myself to CAD.  After having drawn and rendered on paper for years I fell for the computerized trap.  Of course, computer software helps us a lot, especially when you have to make changes, but I hadn’t noticed how much I enjoyed sketching.  For twelve years, I had rendered almost invariably with a computer, so I am re-learning to draw.  It is so much more fun than waiting for the computer to finish ray tracing the reflections on every material, and even if you can do a very realistic rendering, to me digital still feels cold.  And sketching is way faster.

My 7-yr old son likes drawing a lot.  And he is really good!  Children can learn so fast it is simply amazing.  We sketch together a lot, although he continuously insists that we draw only his favorite Super Mario characters.  My wife and I tell him to draw some of his characters, but that at least he draws something by observation.  He calls it, translated from Spanish, reality and fantasy.  But sometimes we agree to draw his characters, as to  keep him interested in drawing.  Here are a couple of his drawings:

What amazed me of the second one is that he did it sitting on the backseat of the car, while I was driving!  At a couple of points he got really mad because I caught some road bumps and he said I was ruining his drawing.  So funny… but when I saw it I couldn’t  believe it.  And these drawings are quite small, a little over 3″x 3″, so the amount of detail he is capturing is great.

This weekend he issued me a challenge, that I couldn’t draw all his action figures.  Well, he was right…  My hand was really hurting after drawing like ten of them with ballpoint on bond paper.  In architecture school we were told that drawing with a ballpoint was a no-no.  I never questioned that, so I always used either pencil of felt-tips.  But after discovering Spencer Nugent’s I.D. sketching web site, I am so disappointed to find out that it was all a lie!  For my surprise, the ballpoint can be a very useful tool, as you can adjust the line and tone value with the stroke pressure, much as we do with pencil, but without the smudging.  I guess I need to discover a better quality ballpoint, as probably the grip wasn’t too comfortable and ended up hurting my hand.

Then on Sunday he issued another challenge, to draw his Nintendo DSI.  So we did, and here is the sketch.  Epic proportions fail, as the top part is much smaller than the bottom, but I liked the shading.  This was with a regular #2 pencil.

Today is Tuesday and my hand still hurts… weird because I’m left-handed but I use the mouse with my right hand, and I’ve been working with CAD these past two days.  I think this was supposed to be enough rest, but I guess not then.