I started drawing the Little Knight book over 19 months ago and it's very encouraging the amount of improvement I've seen in myself. I've been drawing day in and day out at work for years already, but drawing for yourself in one consistent style all the time you figure out more about that style.
When I started this project the idea was to do it in a more simple style but at first the concept of simple threw me. I had only drawn most of these characters a few times and only a dozen or so illustrations in this style. Now I'm almost 150 pages into the comic and I not only better understand the style, but also what I want from my characters and my drawings.
At first simple meant less anatomy, bolder lines and shapes with the idea to sell the story with character design and solid storytelling and avoiding over rendering things, a concern of mine.
The above panels show a page from the first week of drawing the book. I remember I even wrestled with the full figure of Odric. He's marching towards his enemy, angrily calling him out. I remember not being 100% about the final but didn't want to waste time and kept moving forward.
I saw this page recently, and as a reward for working hard I allowed myself to spend some time redoing the figures. (Yes, I reward my work with more work because fun is fun.) When I tell people I plan on redoing a lot of the figures from the first 20 or so pages of the book I often get warned about falling into that trap. Redoing pages can keep things from ever getting done and can become a never ending process. I've seen this happen and have done it before myself.
Now ask any artist and they'd probably be willing to redo many pages they've done before. I've seen lots of comics where the creator gets a better handle of drawing his characters and I like seeing that evolution. Look at early Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts or Usagi Yojimbo. It's not wildly different but you can tell they're still getting a handle on it. However, with all I have learned about drawing my characters and my style, and with the idea of keeping things consistent for the final product, I still plan on touching up my characters in the early pages. It won't even be too time consuming because I did the inks digitally
Here's the new version of the two panels from Page 8 that I redrew on Friday. I think it's much more bold and powerful. There is much more implied anatomy and shape to the figure. Plus it's just a more interesting drawing. Same with the eyes. I didn't feel like I needed to redraw that panel, but I wanted to see how much better it would look if I did. It took about half the time as it did the first time, probably 15 minutes, and I think it's a major improvement too.
Still a simple style but instead I am using the simplicity to my benefit. Implied anatomy gives the figure more shape and more bulk, and the expression is more exaggerated and interesting. Both add to the character and the storytelling so it's win/win.
If you enlarge the pictures on Blogspot you can toggle between the two and see the differences.