thinking about drawing bottlecaps

Not actually drawing bottlecaps. Just thinking about it.

The process of learning to draw a familiar object can go several different ways.  If you’re lucky, you have at least one example of the object in your studio, or at least around the house.  A coffee mug, a book, a TV set: you either grab one that looks fairly close to the object in your comic (or some other drawing you are planning), set it on a convenient surface and start copying it into your sketchbook until you figure it out, or, in the case of the TV set, you grab your sketcbook and go to the object.  If your familiar object doesn’t come inside, like a stalk of corn, a car or a big laundromat style washing machine, you may have to go a little further.

If it’s the wrong time of year for corn, the car you want is an exotic, or you don’t really feel like drawing at the laundromat, you may have to head to the internet instead, and start hunting for photo references.  I really don’t like learning to draw something completely from scratch from photos, although there are plenty of times when there’s no other choice, and the new digital options make the research part much easier. (Yes, young cartoonist, we used to have to go to the public library.  And make photocopies.)  And photos are great for learning the distinctive details that change a horse into a mule, an elephant into a wooly mammoth, or one kind of antelope into another kind of antelope.

But what about an object that you should have, but don’t?  Did you know I do not have a bottlecap anywhere in this house?  There are a couple of bottles of Mexican Coke in the fridge, but I need a bottlecap that’s been pulled off the bottle, and it’s a little late for a deluxe rum and Coke.  And you’d think that I could draw something so familiar from memory, but it’s harder than you might think.  How deep is a bottlecap, compared to its diameter?  How many crimps does it have? How exactly is it bent out of shape when you wrench it off the bottle?  I could try to draw a bottlecap from a photo, but I want several different ones.  It would probably be easier to leave the spaces for the bottlecaps blocked in on my pages, finish the rest of my pencils, and just buy my hardworking husband a six pack of good beer and ask him to save the caps for me.  It won’t take more than a day or two to get the examples I need.  And there will be no excuse for my finished bottlecap drawings not to be pretty good.

(image by George Morris via tumblr.)

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