Saturday, June 30, 2012

"So what's going on?" you ask

What's going on Andreas? Have you quit already? That didn't take long!

Ha! I haven't. Since last time I've been progressing in "Drawing on the right side of the brain", checking out more web lessons, and trying some new paper to draw on.

I'll start with the first. In the last update I was working on what they refer to as "modified contour drawing". This means that when drawing the contours of something you're not looking away from the drawing at ALL times, only most of the time. You draw very, very slowly, looking briefly at the paper to ensure that the angles and lengths are correct. This supposedly engages the right side of the brain, yielding better results than if you were using the symbols of the left part of the brain. This TED video talks about this subject, though not so much with regards to drawing. It's definitely worth watching.

The final parts of the contour section has you practice drawing things with complex contours, like flowers. I went and grabbed some a few days ago, left it on my desk, found it looking far more sad in the morning, and got to drawing. It turned out okay.

Next came the chapter on drawing portraits, which I've been looking forward to. It does a great job of teaching placement all the facial features we share, where they're typically found in relation to each other, and size. This REALLY helped, though I'm still having problems drawing a decent looking cranium. With practice I'm sure that'll get easier, so that's what I'm doing today.

Web lessons
While this book serves very well as an intro to portraits I've also found quite a lot of videos on youtube (and various "file borrowing sites") - not only on faces as a whole, but also more in-depth talks about eyes, ears, hair, expressions, poses, and so on.

This guy has a lot of good ones, along with premium lessons that you can buy at his site.

When you read a bunch of intro to drawing sites you can't help but also read a lot about pencils, charcoal, conté, and paper. Some paper is smooth, and some is not. Some is suitable for painting, some for drawing, and some for charcoal.

So far I've been using a cheap A3 sketch book, which works okay for my modest needs. What I've noted though is that although I'm using an 8B pencil - supposedly one of the darkest you can find I haven't been able to achieve the blackness levels of the books I've been reading, where they've only used a 6B. That's not really fair, right?

Well a friend gave me a "Fabriano Accademia, 200g/m2 94 lbs" book, which is notably coarser. I'll update this with a comparison pic as soon as I can get around to it, but in short I get blacker blacks with the stuff I've got around here, so I'm happy. In the future I'll definitely get (compressed) charcoal sticks too, but for now I'm good.

Here are a couple of tests I did to see how dark I could get the black tone

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kate Upton makes an appearance

I was going through my RSS-reader a couple of days ago, and I stumbled across a story on some celebrity gossip site about a Kate Upton spread in Spanish Vogue. There was one photo in particular that stood out to me, so last night I decided to try drawing it.

Probably not the most comfortable pose, but that's okay, she's a trooper.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Woman day"?

As much as I like dogs there are other subjects I prefer drawing. This one was also done with the guidance of "The Complete Book of Drawing".

That's Maurice (the plant - named by its previous owner) and Lenny (named after the guitarist Lenny Breau) on the right.

Probably going to draw people on a larger scale from now on. Had a really tough time getting the face looking okay-ish

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dog day

Got a bit deeper into "The complete book on drawing", and using its instructions I drew a dog.

The weather was pretty awesome. I finished up at about 9pm, and the sun made everything just amazing looking. One thing I'm noticing is that I can see views that I want to draw, and to some extent how they would look. I like it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Upside-down, outside, inside, without looking

Today I finished off the last of the two upside-down drawings I had to do, following the course in "Drawing on the right side of the brain". "The Complete Book Of Drawing" has a history of drawing section and I figured starting with the Egyptians would be a realistic challenge. Again, I really doubt mine would have looked anywhere near this .. non-terrible, had I drawn in the normal orientation.

In the next section the book wanted me to draw my hand without actually looking on the paper. The purpose is to sense the feeling of using the right side of the brain, focusing entirely on shapes instead of naming sections as you go along (index finger, pinky, etc.).

As you can see it was an amazing success. Still, one or two of the student examples in the book looked worse. Next tasks are: using the same process draw a relatively complex plant, a relatively complex thing in nature (I'm going with a rock), and finally crumpled paper. Here's a spoiler: the plant looks even worse than the hands.

The weather turned pretty good, so I figured I could use my newly acquired skills to try some landscape drawing. Close to my home there's a really nice park, and when I got there the sun was shining brightly at a low angle, creating some really nice dark shadows, and high contrast goodness.

What went well: 
Sketching the outline went quick and without significant problems. I had forgotten my eraser - maybe that's why.
Shading went fairly well too.

Needs improvements:
Leaves are annoying, geez.

If you had asked me a couple of weeks ago to spend an hour or two sitting in the park drawing a landscape I'd probably look at you funny, but sitting there in the sun drawing to the sounds of Stan Getz, João Gilberto and John Coltrane was highly satisfying.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Drawing on the right side of the brain

Started on the book on drawing using the right side of the brain. I'm disengaging the nerdy left side and trying to engage the creative right side by doing tasks that the left suck at, such as judging things that are upside down. I'm now to copy this guy without thinking "and now for the leg", "now for the lapel" etc, instead thinking of interconnected lines and curves. I'll keep you updated on how it good.

Update 1:

Well I kind of ran out of space, so the head ended up looking mangled as usual. Still, this looks way better than it probably would have had I attempted to draw it in the normal orientation. With that out of the way the book wants me to do two other ones.

Also kind of happy with this one.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Intro to poses and odd-looking faces

"Drawing Workbook" has a useful little section on sketching people in various poses. By the end I felt a bit more comfortable with proportions and anatomy.

Having  a weird time with medial deltoits sometimes (the shoulder muscle that's poking out in the rear drawing). Still, they don't look as weird as most heads that I draw.

What IS that? An overweight person with a slight case of Down's syndrome? I don't even know.

And I think people realized back in the early 2000s that outlining lips like that doesn't look good.

Plan for next update is, if anything, to make less ridiculous looking heads.

To get you up to speed

During day one I checked out Art Academy. It told me to get some 8B pencils, and sharpen them using a double edged razor blade and coarse sand paper. I feel slightly more like an artist doing it this way.

The course begins by having you learn to measure proportions of rectangles, using a pencil or whatever to measure the narrow side, and seeing how many of these you need to form the long side. You begin by guesstimating the proportions, and then measuring to see how you did, and correcting by expanding or contracting the narrow side.

I did alright.

Next came non rectangular shapes. I didn't have the fancy artsy pencils at this point.

Now we're moving into day two and three. More shapes, and intro to shading using cross hatching. This means lightly drawing 8-10 lines in one direction, rotate slightly, do 8-10 more, rotate slightly, do 8-10 more, and move to the next region. This way you can gradually build up tone that looks pretty smooth, at least after smudging it with a pinky. I'm looking forward to when I'm good at this, because the Art Academy guy makes awesome looking stuff.

In this photo you can also see that started on How To Draw 101 Cartoon Characters. They're not very complicated, but it makes me feel productive as I can crank them out fairly fast.

You can probably expect more of these.

The battle plan v0.42

And just how do I plan on improving?

Through the magic of the Internet I've acquired "Art Academy - Beginning To Draw", a video course with an accompanying .pdf, "How to draw 101 cartoon characters" (.pdf), "Draw With Confidence - From Basics To Brilliant" (video).

Next I went to the library and picked up the following books

"The Beginner's Guide to Human Anatomy - An artist's step-by-step guide to techniques and materials"
"Anatomi - Kropp og kunst" (Anatomy - Body and art)
"Drawing Workbook - A complete course in ten lessons"
"An introduction to drawing the nude"
"The Complete Book of Drawing"
"Å Tegne Er Å Se" (Drawing on the right side of the brain)

It is now day 4, if I remember correctly, and I'm still very much trying to get the big picture by reading a bit of everything. My main goal as of now is to draw people, as opposed to landscapes or plants, but I realize I'll need to try a bit of everything.

Humble beginnings

As of a few years ago I've started trying to get better at things I'm bad at. I don't like the mentality of "oh, I'm just not good at ...", and in many cases it's a matter of just putting in some work. One of the things I'm good at is learning new things, though until my early twenties that was mostly typical left-brain activities like computers, math, gaming, and so on. Growing up I didn't REALLY play any instruments, dance, or sing, as they seemed like diversions. I still don't sing particularly well, but I now play (and teach) instruments and can dance with just about anyone.

My next project is learning to draw decently. Like many I've considered myself to be one of those "oh I just can't draw to save my life", but I'm now going to get that handled.

The neat thing about a hobby like this is that it's easy to document. I doubt many will find much interest in this blog, but if anything it'll document my own progress.