So it finally hit me after several experiences: it’s way easier to draw something good if you draw the frame first.
The reason is because of intention. Take the case of ovals, see here:
TL;DW ovular shapes don’t really point in a clear direction, so it’s better to draw with wedges / angular shapes.
Good illustration is all about intention. But what happens when you have a blank page? How do we establish any semblance of order (intention) on a boundless white void?
And so this drawing took about 50 failed rough sketches in one session. Just to get ONE good drawing. I would draw something random, it would look retarded or wrong, and then I would just make the layer invisible and move onto the next one.
These three? I did them all with maybe 1 or two failed attempts per drawing, not even. This is a level of output that I am unfamiliar with.
I think it’s because in drawing the frame you are establishing the intention and giving the drawing a strong backbone. And so composing something actually good becomes very simple.
In fact I’ve noticed this phenomenon in some of my panel tests for planned comics. It’s really easy to make excellent drawings one after the other so long as you start with a frame.
So, make a layer and play with the line tool. Then simply crop whatever’s inside it when you’re done!