Re: “Improvement”

I re-drew my first ever Inktober piece—focusing on the quality of the base pose, rather than the quality of the outlines—as an experiment to see what I’m doing differently now compared to back then.

Here’s the original. I put a lot into making my lines look nice—varying weight and all that jazz. Her eyes are expressive and I’ve boldly attempted a hairline; drawing hair that’s been slicked back used to be a major source of frustration for me.

Here’s the recreation from 2 years later. Again, I’m not factoring the quality of line-work into my critique.

Before I call any of this “improvement”, I’m going to point out that the criteria I’m evaluating for are anatomy, expression, and how well the piece works overall.


Right away I fixed the hairline, which hugs the curves of her head better—at the expense of looking like it’s been pulled back. The part that’s been swept behind her ear is more of an afterthought and it reads as a completely different hairstyle, which I have mixed feelings about.

The inside of her ear better demonstrates the observations I’ve made of ears in that time, and its positioning isn’t quite so far away from her facial features. In the original I drew an okay face shape in proportion to the ear but the whole face was squished over to one side. Basically I was drawing a face and features in two different angles.

Her chin has more of a natural curve in the original, and while I’ve rendered her face in greater detail—I didn’t retain her facial expression. Her eyes and mouth communicate an entirely different emotion, which for me compromises the piece. Also, her lips, while better defined, offer too much information when rendered with ink.

Her nose feels much more natural, but I’ve done what I’ve fallen into the habit of doing (not long ago I insisted on not rendering the full shape of the nose because I hated the way it looked with a burning passion) and rendered it more like a cartoon character than something with manga influence. It wouldn’t be so noticeable if the lips weren’t so heavy. Her teeth, on the other hand, offer a better sense of depth than the original.

Does it Work?

I’ve traded some features for others, so I really don’t want to say this is an improvement overall. I’ve lost some of the things I really liked about the original, and the recreation feels more generic. I’ll be filing this piece away for a second time and hopefully, one day I’ll be able to present a piece that both demonstrates my skill, and that I actually like.


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