Odori Park, by Chris Watkins Odori Park - Blog


With the rather broad stylistic departure I took in my strip for this past Friday, I think I’m satisfied–for the time being–with my “artsperiments.” I’ve learned a bit about what makes me faster, what I dig seeing in my own art, and what I want to do more of. I thought it might be fun as a capper to share some of these deep inner realizations.

But first, a few more sketches from my style explorations. (Click to enlarge samples.) You can see the genesis, in particular, of what I did in that Friday strip:

So, what I think I’ve figured out, or refigured out:

  • The level of detail in my strips seems to have less to do with the amount of time it takes to draw them than the energy I put into them. If I’m not having fun with the drawing in any style, I’ll lose focus and energy.
  • Heavy detail on difficult poses or complicated backgrounds doesn’t help, though. I can be looser and wibbly-wobblier, and the extra cartooniness helps the end result have energy of its own.
  • Limbs and body postures can get stiff when I overthink them; these are big beneficiaries of a wibblier wobblier approach, if I can avoid overconstructing the underlying structure.
  • I dig solid-shape curvy-line torsos. I’m thinking of art like Bryan Lee O’Malley’s and Bruce Timm’s, where single strong lines define the contours of the body forms.
  • Chunky calf-to-foot with tiny feet styles are interesting, too, although I’m taking this on a transformative path into my own style.
  • I’ve tried a bunch of different eyes. The “hollow pupil” approach is kind of appealing, but ultimately, I’m gravitating back to what I’ve drawn for a while.
  • I’m going to play with streamlining a lot of the overly complicated lines around my characters’ heads. Think of the top of Arisa’s hair as it breaks into her bangs and the flip in the back, or the dips in the head shapes near the eyes.
  • I don’t need to overdo while linework on black shapes; the form should do most of the communicating.
  • Unless I’m genuinely going for a pure page-to-screen sketch experience, doing the work digitally still saves time.
  • That said, some days, I should shut off the Internet while I’m working digitally.

On a side note, I’ve also started getting some tips on focus, avoiding distraction and maximizing productivity. One thing that’s helping is mindfulness practice, including “mindfulness of breathing” meditation (like muscle-building for the ability to keep your mind on one thing) and keeping a log of where my focus strays. It’s been setting the right tone and helping me keep my wandering mind in check.

Have a look, here, at where my style experiments took me last Friday

…to where I’m starting to integrate things into my “normal” style in the newest strip:

My wife had a thought about that cartoonier style–that it might be neat for one-off side-story gags. I might try that; it could be fun to envision the characters in these different styles on a regular basis.

That’s all for now, folks. Back to the drawing tablet!


  1. George Ford

    I’m not sure what to tell ya, Chris. You have one of the most original and unique art styles around. It’s what makes you special (along with your clever writing). I recall working on a guest strip for you a couple of times. I’ve never erased so much in my life! :) I kept asking myself, “how does he draw these characters and make it look so doggone easy?!” Arisa’s hair took me almost all day to get right (I think I did it right).

    What I’m saying is that your style cannot be duplicated. I love the way you’ve tried various methods and I hope that you find one that feels right to you. I love it however you execute it. Keep keepin’ on, my friend.

  2. jynksie

    Hopefully after the holidays are over, we can get together, its been awhile! I want to have that discussion about distractions and what your doing to stay focused. Also, when you say “tablet” are you talking a wacom tablet, or something else? I’m in the process of getting a new computer and I’m looking at touch screens where I can draw right on it. Didn’t know if you have dabbled with that and what computers attract your attention?

  3. Chris

    George: You’re a saint, George. Thanks for the kind words. That guest strip still tickles me, btw!

    Jynksie: I’d love to get together, so I’ll hold you to that! Re: tablets, right now my primary digital tool is a second-hand Cintiq 20WSX. I also have a tablet PC–a Toshiba Tecra M7–that runs on Wacom digitizer tech. There are also now a variety of options emerging in the true tablet space; there are some pressure-sensitive stylus products coming out for the iPad, and Samsung has a Galaxy Note 10.1 that features Wacom tech (I think it may also ship with a mobile version of Photoshop).
    Let me know what you go with!

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