The Drawing Club, Master the Art of Drawing Characters From Life

For the past 15 plus years, I have had the great pleasure of being around some of the best artists in Los Angeles as they draw different characters from life every Thursday night at my workshop The Drawing Club. In this book you will see 200+ drawings by over 65 of these artists as well as some of my insights, exercises and helpful tips. I hope you like it!

Featured artists:
Jennie Ahn, Stacey Aoyama, Mike Barry, Brett Bean, Jeremy Bernstein, Mike Bertino, Thomas Breeden, Paul Briggs, Su Jen Buchheim, Linda Bull, Forrest Card, Rick Caughman, Marc Chancer, Josh Cochran, April Connors, Chris Deboda, Jason Dunn, Frederic Durand, Camille Feinberg, Andrew Foster, Don Gillies, Mike Greenholt, Virginia Hein, Ron Husband, Sean Kreiner, Ronald Kurniawan, Danny Langston, Bobbi Lewis, Ronald Llanos, David Lowery, Ernie Marjoram, Will Martinez, Joey Mason, Kendra Melton, Scott Mosier, John Musker, Mike Neumann, Vivian Nguyen, Lizzie Nichols, Rudy Obrero, Aaron Paetz, Justine Limpus Parish, Joel Parod, Maximus Pauson, Bill Perkins, Erik Petri, John Puglisi, John Quinn, Miguel Angel Reyes, Daniel Rios, Bill Robertson, Justin Rodriguez, Stephen Silver, Jeffrey James Smith, Frank Stockton, George Stokes, Wilson Swain, Mike Swofford, John Tice, Cameron Tiede, Teod Tomlinson, Chris Turner, Rich Tuzon, Ron T. Velasco, Fred Warter, Jim Wheelock and myself.

The following is an excerpt from The Drawing Club, Master the Art of Drawing Characters from Life. Published by Quarry Books, available now online or at a book store near you.

I didn’t plan to start The Drawing Club. It found me. In 2001, I was working as an illustrator and teacher at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design. On the side, I held industry drawing workshops for artists at places such as Disney and Universal Studios Creative. The artists would draw from costumed models. (We are lucky because here in L.A., we have the best models!)

Although Hollywood was shifting from 2-D to 3-D animation, artists were constantly asking me to start a similar workshop they could attend outside of work. Being able to capture storytelling on paper is a core, essential skill for these artists. It trains your eye, and teaches communication—and if it’s set up in the right way, it can be a lot of fun, too.

So on August 1, 2002, in a rented space behind an architect’s studio in Los Angeles, The Drawing Club was born. We established ourselves as a place where anyone who was serious about drawing could come, pay the admission fee, and draw cool characters acting in costume. We put the characters—Tank Girl, Edward Scissorhands, Steam Punk, to name a few—in custom-built sets and played a themed soundtrack specific to that character.

The Drawing Club Book (Chp. 1)

(Chapter 1 sample)

The Drawing Club Book (Introduction)

(Introduction sample)

Since then, The Drawing Club has become part of the fabric of the character-drawing scene in L.A. Master artists, such as animation director John Musker and character artist Rich Tuzon, come to practice their craft, working alongside students who are fresh out of school and eager to get to the next level.

The tone of each workshop depends on who shows up. But probably because of my background as an illustrator and teacher at the Art Center in Pasadena, we always have a serious working environment, even when we have an over-the-top theme.

Illustrators, animators, story artists, art directors, production designers, producers, directors, students, fine artists, and hobbyists have all found their way here. Whether they are famous, infamous, up-and-coming, or like being under the radar, I’ve noticed that they are all enthusiastic about being a participant in an event. People now see drawing as an entertainment activity, a social and networking opportunity, and a way to express passion for a character.

The Drawing Club Book (Chapter 2)

(Chapter 2 Sample)

(Chapter 3 Sample)

(Chapter 3 Sample)

Not everyone can come out to L.A. to be a part of The Drawing Club (though if you’re in town, come on by!). So with this book, I’m bringing some of that group energy to the page. With the help of some of the artists who participate in The Drawing Club, we’ll explore how professional artists approach a subject, what they’ve done to hone their technique, and how a great drawing comes to be.

I’ll share insight on what makes a great drawing, ways to translate the world from 3-D to 2-D, how to tell a story through your work, and how to tap into your improvisational side. We’ll also look at how to choose materials, explore comic approaches to drawing, and take a peek at artists’ sketchbooks. Exercises will expand on the ideas in each chapter, helping you improve your skills and find your voice as an artist.

The Drawing Club Book (Chapter 8)

(Chapter 8 Sample)

(Chapter 7 Sample)

(Chapter 7 Sample)

Whether you’re a full-time commercial artist or a fine artist, or you just like to draw, this book will help you think differently about drawing, try new approaches, get a fresh perspective from people in the industry—and, in true Drawing Club spirit, have a good time doing it!


Bob Kato