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Journal Entry #06 – Daily Exercises

No, I’m not talking about a run in the park or a visit to the gym. I’m just talking about drawing exercises. Specifically, layout gestures.


Layout gestures? What the heck is that!?


It’s like gesture drawing, but your model will be the comps you are particularly inspired by that you see while watching your favorite film or series.



This is an example of a comp I liked. I add notes to remind myself how effective is the specific shot comp in storytelling.


Wow, who has time for that? I know, right? But when I do find myself with some spare time to watch a video or two, I go ahead and sketch out comps that I am particularly struck by...quick sketches...thumbnails...gestures.


This is what a typical page of my notebook looks like:

The sketches are not necessarily in sequence, but usually come from the same movie or TV episode.

But I try to keep it fun. I don’t want it to FEEL like studying. I tend to choose things that I have seen many times and really enjoy. It doesn’t always have to be so high-brow or Academy Award-worthy. After all, I figure if I enjoy it, it already has value. There must be something that’s working in the storytelling.


Then, I often scribble a few notes about what I happen to notice as I watch. It’s surprising what could be discovered about storytelling and direction.






And once in a while, I like to adjust the comp to see how to use it as an illustration. Film is different in that often times, the movement carries the storytelling, while a still (or illustration) needs to lead the viewer more so things need to be emphasized.

The first image (top left) is a still frame from the show, while the image on the bottom right is how I would have adjusted the comp for illustration: adding a diagonal plane and a sweep design behind the car to lead you in the comp – to compensate the lack of motion.


Well, I just wanted to share my learning methods. And if any of you out there do the same, perhaps we can all share our discoveries: We are creating a FB group linked to The Drawing Board Journals page, The Sketchpad, for this purpose. I am looking forward to see all of you as members of the group soon!




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© 2018 by Denise Shimabukuro