Sketchbook Roundup 5: Sketch Cards

It’s Day five of my sketchbook series, but today is not going to be about drawings from my sketchbooks, but sketch cards. Sketch cards are tiny cards, often (but not necessarily) the size of trading cards, 2.5×3.5 inches. I do them sometimes with fantasy or comics subjects, to sell at cons; they’re quick to do and I can offer a reasonable price for fans and collectors on a piece of original art. At the point I did these, I had just started the Zooly Art Challenge, but was swamped with illustration work, and wanted to do my daily animal drawings but not take up too much time about it. So I decided to do sketch cards.

Well. That only lasted for five days — I found drawing the animals so small incredibly frustrating — there was so much beautiful detail I wanted to put in and there just wasn’t space! Which was supposed to be the idea, of course — if there isn’t room for the detail, one is supposed to simplify. I still like the idea, and may come back to it sometime when I’m not under so much pressure (deadlines + daily challenge = stressed artist).

Coelacanth: this kind of gives you an idea of the size restrictions involved. This was really the level of detail I was envisioning when I started out doing these. Just a simple little sketch.
Ink, watercolour pencil, gel pen
Baby African Elephant: This one was also quick and loose, just what I had in mind. The water-soluble graphite pencils are a great way to cover an area very quickly for shading.
Ink, water-soluble graphite pencils
Magpie: Oops, then I got into trouble. Restricting this magnificent bird to sketch card size made me grit my teeth in frustrated detail-frenzy! And it ended up taking me longer than many a larger drawing, just because I was trying to fit too much into too small a space.
Ink, watercolour pencils
River Otter: Could have done with more space for this guy too, (he had to curl up to get in the picture!) but I was back to being a little looser. I’d like to try him again bigger too, though.
Ink and watercolour pencil
Ili pika: This one is the one that made me give up the sketch card idea. The sheer adorableness of these creatures could not be contained within the dimensions of a sketch card, although they themselves are fairly small animals!
Ink, Watercolour pencil

While my grand experiment didn’t work out that time, I’m game to try it again. The card size is so nice to carry around and sketch on wherever I am, and takes so little in the way of supplies.

I pre-tear the cards from the offcuts of the paper I use for doing watercolour or comics; it’s good quality, heavy paper, but maybe a little bumpy for this application. I think if I try it again I might try using some of my bristol paper offcuts, which lends itself better to ink.

This size is also the same size as Artist Trading Cards, and it’s fun to trade with other artists. We used to have a group at my studio where we would trade our tiny artworks with each other. If this idea appeals to you, why not start your own group? Even if we’re stuck inside right now, we can still share online.

See you tomorrow!

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