I took Basic Drawing during the Fall semester of freshman year at Marywood, a time where social distancing was practiced to the point where I was taking the class completely online. It was certainly strange learning and communicating with the professor via email behind a computer, but I made the most of it and did my best in the assignments that were due.
Basic Drawing required that we draw as much as possible in our sketchbooks, and six of our best drawings would be graded. During that time, I was beginning to watch an anime called Bungou Stray Dogs, a show that was recommended to me by a friend. The anime takes place in Japan, as most do, and focuses on the stories of individuals with supernatural abilities who are named after real-life authors in world literature; the names of their superpowers and abilities are based on the works of these authors as well.
For the given drawing, I focused on one of the characters from Bungou, who goes by Dazai Osamu, referencing the author of the same name. His special ability “No Longer Human” is named after one of the author’s books of the same title, which has the ability to nullify other characters’ abilities. From my point of view when watching Bungou, Dazai appeared to be this comedic relief character that played off dark humor when it came to his fascination with death. In reality, he was much more complex and mysterious, all the while demonstrating sadistic qualities and brilliant intellect. Dazai is a character that I was fascinated by for that reason, hence why he was the subject of the sketch I did for Basic Drawing.
I used a lot of references of Dazai from the anime in order to make this drawing, mainly to understand how a side profile works and how his hair was arranged. In the movie Bungo Stray Dogs: Dead Apple, there was a huge emphasis on the motif of skulls and apples, which I wanted to incorporate in this drawing. Dazai tends to “flirt” with death, so I wanted him to hold a cracked skull and look into its eyes (or eye sockets) with a “loving” gaze to represent that. In the background, I implemented some tree branches, apple blossoms, and an apple to allude to the motif of apples from the anime.
I did this sketch in pencil, and went back in with ink markers to make it contrast, cross-hatching to add some degree of shading. Freshman Victoria was quite proud of this specific drawing, and she had every right to be considering how much she grew from high school. However, there’s always room for improvement, and as a junior now, I have grown as an artist in numerous ways. Revisiting the old drawings I did, I wanted to redo some of them to demonstrate my growth since then.
Most of the elements in my 2020 sketch remain in my current redraw of it, but I invested more time and energy in the finer details. Color is the biggest difference between the two drawings as you could tell, and I believe it gives a life-like touch to Dazai and the blossoms in comparison to the stark contrast of black and white from the 2020 sketch. I made slight adjustments to Dazai’s face to make it a bit more proportionally accurate, referencing screenshots from the anime once again to show the fluffiness of his brown locks. The “loving” gaze still remains on his face, but the way he holds the skull differs; he now cups the skull in his hands while holding his gaze with its eye sockets. In the 2020 sketch, I noticed that the hand placement and proportion wasn’t all that accurate, so that was a definite change that needed to happen in the redraw.
There was so much zero space in the 2020 sketch, and I wanted to change that. Following the apple blossom usage, I made the background look as if Dazai was in an apple orchard during the spring, as the pink apple blossoms are vibrant and present. My line art also has also changed, obviously since I learned line depth and applied it to previous works of mine. This was a worthwhile experience of mine, considering I reflected on my thought process and art-making when I was younger, and how much I’ve changed since then. I’m always looking for a way to improve and hone in on my craft, so this may be a series of me redrawing and making new iterations of older work.