Monday, 22 October 2012

World record: 1000 Charcoal Sketches in a day!

If you're thinking about setting your own world record, i've got a few tips which you may find useful before you get started. It is vital to prepare for events like these so you don't have to stop mid way through, I know that can be quite frustrating. Here we go:


On 15th October 2012, I attempted to set a World record for the amount of Charcoal sketches drawn in one day. Here is the video outlining my achievement. 

Before attempting any major challenge, make sure you're fit enough to cope with the stress levels and the long hours. If you don't think you're fit for these challenges then try something lighter. I've been getting ready for this challenge for over a month so I knew I was ready for it. It is both exhausting and mentally tiring so make sure you're ready for it. Safety first!


Knowing that I would be glued to a chair for the whole day, I decided to lay off the usual heavy jeans and hoodies or even full sleeve jumpers. Instead I wore really comfortable shorts and a really light shirt. This shirt had a large neck area (no collars) so it didn't irritate me. I would avoid keeping keys, wallet and phones in your pockets as they will annoy you after a certain time. You're hands may also be covered with Charcoal or whatever medium it is that you're using for your event and the last thing you want to do is reach for your pockect when the phone rings, ruining your brand new trousers.   


Make sure you plan the day well in advance so you have no one disturbing you when you're doing your thing. You don't want to be answering phone calls, door to door salesman and realise half way through that you have a doctors appointment. I got round all these by choosing a day at which my mom and dad both had a day off. This was vital as I later found out that they really helped me stay focus throughuot the day. All my devices were set to either Airplane mode or Do not disturb mode so they don't buzz for every facebook or twitter notification I receive. 
Also test your devices that you're using for your event. I had a webcam streaming upside down all day but since it was right next to my phone recording the main livestream I couldn't move it. Make sure you test yours so your audience can enjoy the show. 


For this challenge I made sure I had adequet Charcoal to last me the whole day. I used a really comfy chair, although I would recommend an ergonomic chair if you suffer back pains of any sort. 

To mount the camera I used a home made rig using some very simple techniques. I was using two table lamps to get enough light on my page throughout the day, so I just used a elastic cable to form a bridge in between the two to hold my cameras. 

These elastic cables have been a life saver for me throughout this journey. You can easily bend/ fold them in any shape you like and at £1 each they really are great value for money. I used two of these to hold both my webcam and my phone over the drawings. It is crucial that you test the borders of your image and mark things down to make sure your drawings are cut on any side. 

These Ikea lamps are good but the hotspot from these were too harsh overexposing the sketches, so to overcome this problem I covered them up with printing paper. This helped diffuse the light and I really love the effect that you get from it, a really smooth soft light. If you're going to do this to your lamp make sure you leave a small space for the heat to escape, you don't want your paper to overheat. 

I used an app called LapseitPro (cheap as chips) to record the timelapse. According to my budget I knew no camera or webcam was capable of recording 17 hours in a go, so this was a real treat. I set the phone to take a pictures in intervals of 15 seconds and to make sure it doesn't corrupt the file I restarted the recording twice in the day. It worked, and I was really pleased with the result at the end. 

In order to protect the trestle table from all the charcoal marks and to give me a good underlay for the paper I used an A3 card. Make sure you mark the card or board you're using so it keeps in line with the camera. In the video you'll see some brackets on the table and also on the card itself, it was just to make sure the drawings stays in one place throughout the recording. 


You should really plan your intakes to make sure you don't starve yourself, but this is where you really have to keep your balance. It too little and you'll be dizzy by end of the day, eat too much and you'll have to use the toilet wasting previous time. 

I started my day with a bowl of cereals and slowly munched through them in the next 6 hours. Water is also important to keep yourself hydrated but again, too much water = frequent pee breaks. To make sure I avoid this, I only filled up a quarter of my bottle and was sipping it every hour or two. When you do eat, make sure you don't eat anything too heavy or oily as that will make you feel sleepy and tired. I ate a pack of fruits with my left hand after the first half of the day and my mom also made me some smoothie, which again I took really slowly. Using this technique I didn't really feel hungry and was able to go for hours. I managed to get the balance just right which helped me go for almost 18 hours with less than 20 minute of break in total. 


Timing is quite important if you'r attempting something which involves numbers. I wanted to reach a 1000 drawings in a day so I knew I had to finish by midnight so I can call it 1000 sketches in a day. I chose as that has a really nice script which changes images after every minute or whatever you set it to do. 

I got up early in the morning (4:30am) and did my usual chores and doing some last minute arrangements. I was on the table by 6:15 and I asked my mom to record a quick intro video before I get started. 
It was almost like watching a timelapse video of a flower through its life into different seasons. I felt everyone slowly waking up, having their breakfast, leaving for their journeys and then coming back home having their dinner and going to bed. All whilst I was in my chair. 

According to my original calculation I should have reached 1000 sketches by just 7pm but you have to take into account is that the site doesn't take into account the time it takes to load a page and the time in between two images. Ocassionally a few images were quite high in resolution slowing down the page load time, this in turn slowed down the overall number. I had a minute timer for each sketch so I really concentrated on big gestural marks and trying to get a pose sorted out the first 30 seconds. 


Having a good vision will help you see through the difficulties in challenges like these. Believe in yourself and know that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Don't loose focus and don't let things wind you up.

My goal was to reach a 1000 sketches by the end of the day and I wasn't going to let anything stop me. When I was racing against time in the last hour I used my other hand to do two drawings in the minute.
I hope that has been of some help to you and I wish you all the best for your challenge. :)


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Week 3: Markers Behind the scene

These markers were pain to use. My first day (Monday) didn't go as planned, I took these markers to a life drawing session, Ania and Adrian Dutton were kind enough to let me record my canvas in a life drawing session (super cool off them). I guess I was just too nervous/ excited about having the camera behind me whilst in a life drawing class.

I did get there on time (for a change) so I could set up my camera before class. Adrian was kind enough to tell the whole class about my journey (approx 50 of them) and by the end of the class all my business cards were gone. That was awesome! I was also forced (politely) to link up in the pub afterwards and the conversation about my journey continued there. It was a great day overall for networking...

I wasn't happy with the result of that night so I went back on Thursday and this was the result of  that session. Much better results imo.

I did a few marker studies which turned out ok and I compiled them together on this page:

This morning I decided to create a little story about me being kicked out the house and me working from a makeshift workbench. I set it all up how I wanted it and spent around 2 hours on recording the different parts I wanted for the video. However, when I got back in the audio was so choppy that it couldn't be used. The whole thing was a mess. So I decided to do another webcam video and upload it on the spot. 

Lets learn from our mistakes and move on. DON'T LIKE MARKERS....

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Long term goals vs short term goals

Just a quick note on setting goals for yourself.
The best way to set your goals would be to think about where you want to be in a years time, then work your way backwards and calculate what it is that you'll have to do by the end of lets say 2 months.

As long as you keep hitting your goals, you'll get where you want to be. It is ok to take a rest now and again. If your goal is too high and unrealistic you can always lower them. But remember you are trying to push yourself to the limit to maintain progress.

I want to be at Alex Negrea's standard in a years time.
Well, he has done thousands of sketches to get where he is right now. So I would say 6000 sketches in a year will help you towards your goal in a years time.
So that makes it only 500 sketches a month or 125 sketches a week. Doable right?

If you find the target too easy to beat, aim for 12000 pa. Remember, you only get out what you put in.

Remember to always eat healthy and stay fresh.

Design through expression