In this story, I’m going to write about the drawing session which we have started in 2020 and have been doing regularly for about 3 months now. But as you may know I was born old and as an old person I’d like to talk about the past for about a couple of paragraphs. Feel free to skip the nostalgia bits if you just wanna read about 2020, the year you were born.
Back in 2014, Alice invited me to a drawing session in Richmond. We knew each other through mutual friends but I still didn’t know her that well. And that drawing session in Richmond gave us a good chance to bond and we started hanging out quite a bit. I also got to know what a good drawing session can do. I didn’t bond with anyone else I met in this drawing session; I didn’t make a masterpiece or anything–but it allowed me to feel not stressed out about all the things and concentrate on doodling and socialising aimlessly.
Fast forward to 2019, I realised that there are a quite a bit of visual artists who are interested in joining a drawing field trip in my newly started meet-up group Gæmz Meetup. Since I have a fond memory of that Richmond drawing session and because the way I drew has been stressing me out, I wanted to do something similar (we went to some other drawing sessions in London and I went to one in Berlin too but the Richmond one was the best). So, I proposed to do something and even named it (thanks Rafael for naming it) but had to postpone it several times and never made it come true.
Then in September 2020, almost a year later, drawing session finally became feasible probably thanks to the covid-19 pandemic. (I’m aware that it’s been a tough year for many people but online hangout getting normalised as well as telecommuting is inarguably one of the best things that come out of this pandemic).
I did a couple of test sessions and familiarised ourselves with the basic format. It actually took us a little more to figure out how to make the session work the way it does now. I’ll tell you how we run the sessions in the next section.
How to organise Drawing Sessions in 2020
So, actually I don’t remember if I was planning to make this a regular thing but we somehow collaboratively made it a regular thing. Here’s how we did it.
First, instead of using a certain platform such as Discord, we decided that a group email is the best decentralised way to keep everyone informed. Then the logistics wizard (and multi-talented) Marie suggested schedules that would work for people in different time zones (we nearly cover all the time zones on this planet). From those suggestions, we picked 14.00 UTC+0 as it was morning in North America, afternoon in Europe & Russia, and night just before the bedtime (for some people) in Japan & Australia. (It has changed slightly due to the end/beginning of Day Light Saving time)
Narrowing down the option for the starting time made the scheduling a lot easier. We use Doodle (https://doodle.com/) to determine the date to have the drawing session. After each session, I email the group the link to the poll for the upcoming week’s session and close the poll on Sunday night in NA/Monday in the rest of the world (nearly).
What Do We Do?
Even though I used to draw more than some people and I sometimes make living by drawing, I don’t really have a proper formal drawing school experience. So, I just started off the sessions with no principles whatsoever. And in one of the earlier sessions, we decided to have a prompt and share the drawings on a shared Google Docs file.
I think the first prompt (or what started this custom of giving ourselves a prompt) was introduce yourself. Here are some of the self introduction drawings that we got on 1 October 2020:
Other time, the prompt was spooky sun. (Apparently, this is coming from the clock in the 1995 film Whisper of the Heart but I don’t know why. Funnily enough I know a behind the scenes story about this particular scene though.)
We also play games.
The games we played include:
- A Fake Artist Goes to New York (https://fake-artist.herokuapp.com/)
- Drawphone (https://drawphone.tannerkrewson.com/)
- Cosel (Cosel.io)
- Skribbl (https://skribbl.io/)
- Drawful 2 (https://www.jackboxgames.com/drawful-two/)
Also, not during the regular drawing session but some of us also played a half (or 1/3) of The Quiet Year (https://buriedwithoutceremony.com/the-quiet-year)
Drawphone is a browser version of Telestrations–a Pictionary-like game in which is basically chinese whispers but the word is told by drawings and written text.
If you take a look at some of the examples here, I think you’ll get the idea. (If not, I can play it with you. It’s rather easy.)
We’ve also attempted to repurpose Drawphone to play another game. I’ll come back to it later.
We still play those games (especially Drawphone) but I think we have been very keen to find out other ways to play, too. Spontaneously coming up with prompts is a part of it. At least one of us is actually developing a cool drawing game and we recently had a playtest.
But before going into that, you might want to know how we usually play games when there’s no in-game canvas. We use shared canvas. Here are some of the shared canvases we have tried so far:
- AWW App (https://awwapp.com/) ← we’ve been coming back to this one. This is not the most perfect canvas but I think we like the simplicity and flexibility of it.
- Magma Studio (https://magmastudio.io/) ← this might be the most stable canvas of this kind that we’ve tried.
- Aggie (https://aggie.io/h92npxr3v2)
- Draw.chat (https://draw.chat/)
- Drawesome (https://drawesome.uy/)
- Piccles (https://app.piccles.com/)
So now I can tell you about how we’ve been trying to come up with different ways to play.
I suppose you might be familiar with figure drawing (especially with nude models) if you have ever been to paid drawing sessions. (OK I lied a bit earlier. I’ve been to those sessions a few times. A couple of times when I was forced to go to a painting school for the people who were studying to go to art schools to make friends, once at a public drawing session in Berlin that I attended with a few friends.) But since not all of us are super familiar with figure drawing and especially not on a big shared canvas, this has become a playable experience.
We used Quickposes (https://quickposes.com/en) thanks to the recommendation by Jessica. We haven’t tried this yet but Zack also recommended another tool for figure drawing (https://vimeo.com/croquiscafe).
Then Horatiu requested to turn the models into jazz players.
Then we decided to collaboratively sketch models since it was hard to draw the details within time and we thought that maybe we can cooperate instead.
We also tried to get inspired by AI Dungeon (https://play.aidungeon.io/main/landing). Most of us focused too much on the story writing/handling AI but it was a fun topic to explore.
At this point, it was clear that we are really into narrative things, (we also talked about MUSH, a text-based online social medium (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MUSH) quite a bit but more on that some other time maybe). So, I suggested we repurpose Drawphone to make a story.
The format went like this.
- the first player sets up the story in words (e.g. one day, a mysterious man gave james magical crystals)
- the second player draws the scene described by the previous player (e.g. a picture of james getting magical crystals from a mysterious man)
- the third player writes what’s going to happen next based on the picture they saw. (e.g. james accidentally drops magical crystals)
- the fourth player draws the scene described by the previous player.
- and so forth.
Here are some results:
I guess that’s all I wanted to show. As I’ve briefly mentioned, we’ve been playtesting a drawing game and that has been quite fun but I guess I’ll keep it a secret until it becomes public.
I don’t think there’s much to tell but feel free to contact me if you’d like know how to organise a drawing session or you’d like to join mine.
P.S. enjoy some more drawings: