Over the weekend, I watched a bunch of videos with Jim Lee drawing. He streams on Twitch (jimlee channel).
I enjoy comics but in no way can I say I’ve been keeping up with them beyond watching the movies. I probably stumbled on Jim Lee videos as recommendations after watching various MCU theory videos. Then I watched, and watched, and watched. And I’m pretty eager to keep watching more.
Not that I want to become an artist, but I’ve been enjoying drawing lately. I enjoy that their art is part of a process. They draw scenes in bigger stories.
I’ve been seeing a lot of good lessons watching interviews with different comics artists. (Oh yeah! Now I’m remembering that a lot of these interview recommendations were probably kicked off by watching a Todd McFarlane interview with Complex.)
Oh yeah, one of the biggest lessons seems to just be applying a blue collar mentality to the creative field. If you’re paid to do this, you’re not sitting around waiting for inspiration. You’ve got to get your 22 pages out that month.
I made that video above to talk about a few other lessons from Jim Lee:
- Draw from your elbow—in one of his tutorial videos at a conference, he says “draw from your elbow”. Meaning that early on, focus on the overall layout and not the details. That resonates a lot with some of the design and writing I’ve been thinking about lately. I easily get caught up in details that don’t matter (yet).
- Need some ink? Break your pen—in one of his streams, he starts out saying he only has a pen so he won’t be able to do big solid blocks of black. It’ll be a lot of cross hatching. Eventually he decides to just take the cartridge out and squeeze ink onto the paper to start fingerpainting.
- Draw glass well—there’s a series of videos from the 90s where Stan Lee interviews different artists and then they show their process while Stan asks questions. (Another thing: Stan Lee does a great job asking questions that the viewer is probably thinking. I’m guessing he already knows the answer to some of them.) Anyway at one point Stan Lee says that Jim Lee is known for his glass. I’m not sure if that was just a joke or not, but Jim goes on to explain that the best artists care about the small things. Their passion goes through all the layers so that they care to draw a broken window right. To remember to put broken glass pieces on the ground.
How you do anything is how you do everything. So draw with your elbow and finish with good pieces of broken glass.
As mentioned, Jim Lee continues to share his process on Twitch. It’s pretty amazing that the internet makes it possible to watch Jim Lee making Kirby Krackles in the 90s and then again 25 years later.
I tried following along in Procreate while watching one of the streams where he draws Magneto.
This is probably one step above tracing, but I’m pretty happy with it!