i’m going to give you a complicated answer. this is a subject of which i care very deeply. this isn’t a rule or anything, but if you’ve been cartooning for a long time you think a lot about your line (well maybe you do). this might be my favorite question.
it took me a long, long, long, long time to get to the place where i am drawing wise as far as line and texture, but the main thing that started me down the path to a jittery line was having carpel tunnel in my fingers and having to figure out a new way to draw that wouldn’t cause me stiffness and shooting pain in my hands.
i used to bare down very hard on the pencil and grip it very tightly but when i started having carpel tunnel my grip became very weak. if i gripped tight my hands would become numb. if i bared down intense pain would run up and down my arms. (this took place around 2001- 2003, during that time i also had major back problems) I was pretty bummed out about it. drawing was my jam, and when you’re jam is taken away you get pretty depressed. really depressed. at the time i thought my career in art was over turns out it might have been more of a blessing than a curse.
I found out that if i barely gripped the pencil and if i applied a light pressure to the page my hand did not hurt. my arm did not pain. the line came out jittery and cool, and over years developed into the way i draw today. it’s more of a style than a necessity these days, but i got there in a very gradual and natural way.
a line can say a lot about a person and their choices (well, if you want it to) or beliefs (if you have them).
at the time i was also thinking a lot about being a creator and a creators relationship and responsibilities to their creations. if you put your characters through horrible things are you hurting them? possibly torturing them? when you draw are you touching them? are they alive? if you bare down possibly hurting them? are you touching them in ways they don’t want you to? now, this sort of thinking is kinda silly to focus on but at the time i was really feeling everything (still am). i look at a hard line and these days and it’s like having a nail raked across my skin. it’s overbearing. it makes me claustrophobic (i have to admit almost everything makes me claustrophobic). I don’t want to be touched that way. I wanted my life to be gentle. so my line became gentle. I didn’t want to molest my characters so my line became light and breezy. i didn’t want to control my characters so my line became jittery. i wanted my line to represent nature itself so the line became more organic.
a line can represent a way of life.
try not holding onto things to tightly.
there is much beauty in frailty, in tragedy.
touch the world lightly and gently.
learn to let go of control.
life has ups and downs, it meanders.
i try to apply this to the way i write, the way i talk to people, the way i drive, the way i play music, the way i breath, and walk, and look.
all this is in my line but it’s been absorbed. I don’t really think about it anymore it’s just kinda in the background.
now what i’ve written here might seem kinda hoity-toity. I have been very hesitant to talk about this in the past. I don’t like forcing my beliefs on folks, and nobody wants anybody to preach to them, so hopefully this isn’t coming across like that.
it doesn’t really matter. take it or leave it. this is my line at the moment, it only applies to me. and my line will change in the future.