What do your sketches look like?

So here I am, slogging -- er, I mean, tripping gaily -- through another set of sketches for a 32-page edu book, and I'm thinking about the nature of the preliminary sketch. And wondering (okay, obsessing) about how my rough pencils measure up. I muse: are my sketches too detailed? Am I spending too much time on trying to get them to look perfect? (To which I answer myself: Yeah, but they have to be perfect or the A/D won't think I draw very well. Which is actually true.) But the ultimate question is: At what level of polish and detail is a rough sketch tight enough to get the intended message across to the A/D or editor? And, though my studio is heaped with file folders spilling out gajillions of sheets of tracing paper bearing my tortured scribbles...preliminaries to my tortured finished paintings, of course...I have no answers to these questions.
So I thought I would ask all you clever, accomplished and knowledgeable people to share. What do YOUR sketches look like? How do you know when they're polished enough?
I don't have a sketch example to post right now (I'm away from home right now, with just my little notebook computer) but I'd love to see some of everybody else's sketches and read some descriptions of how you approach the rough pencils process.
Musing...with graphite smudges on nose and forehead, Rebecca


Indigo Blue said...

Very good posted question :o) When I have time to scan some rough sketches and some more refined versions of the same sketches, I will join in... until then I look forward to seeing how others respond.
Deadlines loom....

poneill said...

I have not posted before, many technical difficulties, but I hope this goes through. I made very rough sketches, Rebecca. Very messy, very smudged. Sometimes I trace over and made a clean copy, sometimes I scan them in and clean them up in photoshop - depends if the art director wants them faxed or emailed. Right now I am working on some sketches for a manuscript a publisher is interested in. I had such fun doing them. I used a really cheap 2B pencil, one of those yellow ones - I really like them to work with when I want to be loose - stood up and used my whole arm (another way to stay loose) and when I was done drawing I lay some Payne's gray watercolor wash over them. I was really pleased with the results. I will try and post them. For edu jobs, I try to keep the sketching as simple and straightforward as possible because I find those art directors are not good at understanding anything loose or "artsy".

poneill said...

Hmm, technical difficulties again. I don't see how to post an image. There is no little icon for posting images that appears with my text block. Is this because I am using Safari?

Laura J. said...

O.K. I admit it, I keep forgetting about the blog. I'm in a super panic, crunch time, mostly self inflicted from taking on a job I should have let go, plus my dog Bella is dying, she has dementia, and its rough. ANYWAY, my sketches are extremely tight Rebecca. Pretty much the finishes without color. I ususally draw them as if I don't expect any changes. Remarkably this works pretty well MOST of the time. That way I can scan and dive right into the finishes. Now when I'm working for say a certain children's magazine that is well known for being a GIANT pain in the ass, well then it can backfire,, but I still think tight sketches are the way for me.

Paula said...

Laura, I'm so sorry about Bella!

Rebecca, its so funny, I just emailed some sketches to an AD and said "I hope these aren't too sketchy, I don't know what you expect."
I work with a softish pencil (No.2) on tracing paper. I do a retrace to tighten a bit, and try to clean up smudges in Photoshop. The main characters are usually pretty tight (or at least well drawn) and the backgrounds are usually much looser.
With ADs I've worked with a lot I turn in much looser drawings and say "you know I'll tighten this up when it goes to finish."

I've seen people do extremely tight (like, you could frame it) sketches and also so loose they're sloppy. I think I'm somewhere in between.