This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
NO one can hope to become an illustrator who has to rely on the work of other illustrators to show him what to do. So obvious a fact would hardly seem to call for serious statement; but it is the rule and not the exception to tind would-be illustrators who are really only pen draughtsmen, and who are and will never be anything else but copyists.
To become an illustrator, it is absolutely essential early in life to form the habit of observing closely everything about you and of rapidly jotting down pictorial memoranda of what you see. Your sketch-book must ever be ready at hand. Whether you are in the house or in the street, whether in the omnibus or in the train, you must be constantly on the alert. Nothing can be too trivial for such memoranda. Observe, for instance, how men wear their hats, at what angles they are tipped, and how much of the face or head is visible below the brim. There is a good deal that is expressive and characteristic about a hat, if you can only catch it. Notice how different sorts of people dispose of their hands and feet. Watch the wrinkles in a man's coat when he is walking, and make quick memoranda of them. When he leans forward, sec where the line of the shoulder and arm will come, and how much of his neck is visible above this line. Get the pose of the head when it is thrown back, when he is asleep, reading the paper, or fumbling in his pocket for omnibus fare. If his arm is forward or back, note where the wrinkles in his coat front, back, or sleeve will be. Gentlemen, labouring men, business men, and tramps will all have different and characteristic attitudes, ways of disposing of their hands and feet and wearing their clothes. The more you study such trifles and are able to express them, the more skilful you will be as an illustrator. Make studies of the hang of a lady's drapery, the set of her bonnet or hat, the lines of her hair, the way in which she carries her bag, parcels, parasol, or umbrella, how she gets into a cab, on or off an omnibus, how she crosses a gutter, rings a door-bell, or plies a knocker. All these things sound very unimportant; but, suppose you want to make a sketch with a lady just stepping into an omnibus or cab, or a gentleman about to pay his fare, and yon have no model conveniently at hand to put into either of these positions, you are in doubt as to where those wrinkles in the coat sleeve would fall, or at what angle the lady's shoulders would be in relation to the rest of her figure, or where certain folds in her drapery would come. He must be an accomplished draughtsman of long experience who can trust to his memory in these things. You whip out your memoranda, and are at once helped out of your dilemma. On the streets there are always odd types of people to be found with some striking peculiarity.of face, dress, or figure, which you should get into the habit of transferring as quickly as possible to your sketchbook. They will be useful if not valuable capital in the future.
But it is not only men, women, and children that should go into your sketch-book, but all sorts of inanimate objects - the corner of an old wall, fence, or roof, a chimney-pot, sign, awning, balcony, window, apple-stand, or lamp-post. You will find you are quite likely to be wrong as to the proportions of these most familiar objects if you depend solely on your memory of them for all the various facts that are to be noted.
By way of variety, you may go out some day and make a study of nothing but feet, another day of hands, noses, or ears. You will find the results very amusing. We are supposing that you catch these little studies on the wing, while going about on other business; but if you were to devote whole days to doing nothing else, it would certainly, on the whole, be time well invested. One of the chief advantages of these hasty sketches is that you learn by repeated attempts and failures - for you will have failures at first - to seize upon the salient points. You are obliged to get the lines first that mean the most, so you learn to pounce upon them at once. If you do not catch these lines, your subject may get up and go away, or entirely change his pose, and what you have done means nothing. If after you have made your quick sketch you still have time for more details, then, if you wish, it can be easily elaborated.