Welcome to my little corner.
This will largely be focused on drawing from life and from the mind and how those two inform each other. It may delve into painting as well. It will start very basic with some exercises for drawing from the mind and progress from there based on the students. I have no formal plan but have been looking to solidify some ideas that I have, so this should be a very useful process for me as well.
Right now it's just Sve, RyanBarrett, and Gryphon if she wants to join in. Others please PM if interested in joining, but note that I will probably not be taking on anybody new for the time being (until I figure out what kind of time I can dedicate to this).
And finally- since I'll have some regular readers on this thread, I'll let them in on a little secret- my username is my last name, and it's pronounced "doh-say". There's an accent mark on the 'e' that the internet is fond of destroying, so I leave it off.
Anyway- assignment 1 coming soon.
Assignment 1: Cubes, Cubes Cubes!
Draw 3 cubes of three different shapes- one that's almost a perfect cube (a bit longer in one dimension), one that's flat and rectangular, and one longer and skinnier cube. Don't go too dramatic with any of the shapes (i.e. the long/skinny should still be more "block-like" than "pole-like"). Attached is an example picture to demonstrate the approximate sizes- but please don't copy this image. Please draw similarly shaped cubes, but try to draw them from a different angle.
Your goal in this drawing is to make sure that the lines in the same plane are as parallel as you can make them without using a ruler or any measuring techniques- even with the pencil. The only materials for now are pencil, paper, an eraser, and your eyes. Put the lines down lightly, then erase and adjust and erase adjust until it's absolutely right. It's not about the coordination of putting them down correctly the first time, or having nice marks or anything like that, it's about reading your own drawing and seeing what's wrong with it and how to fix it. With time you might get more coordination and nicer lines, but that won't matter a hoot if you can't tell whether or not they're right. This exercise would be just as useful using your weak hand.
You're not going to get it exactly right- that's not really the point. Without some kind of checks you're going to make mistakes. But we're going to be developing your eye here, and this is a good, objective exercise to start out with- look at your drawing, and if you can tell the lines aren't parallel then don't rest until they look right to you. Success in this exercise is not drawing a perfect cube, but rather if you see what is off in your own drawing and how to fix it.
See second attached diagram to see what I mean by "lines that are in the same plane". Draw the cubes fairly small, but not so small that you are cramped. Somewhere between 1 and 2 inches is probably good. For reference, the demo cubes were done in a 5"x7" sketchbook.
If you're feeling ambitious, draw more cubes of different shapes. But for now, focus on quality not quantity. Don't go on to another one until you're sure you've got the first one right.
If you have any questions, please PM me.
TIP: When correcting a line, it's usually easier to draw the new, corrected line before erasing the incorrect line.
Sveta... are you taking on another mentor?
please leave spaves for people who cant' get one. aren't you in steve's class?
Sigh, I knew it will come up. Nellie I talked with Tim and Steve very early on, when this activity was just started and there was no rush and no competition for the spot. I wrote to both of them and they both said all right. What do you want me to do? It is not like they took me right away, they looked at my book and decided if I am suitable for them. I really think it is between me and them.
Meh... my cubes.
Here they are:
done in painter 9, with wacom intuos2. Hope digital is ok... I still followed all the rules. I'm trying to improve my tablet drafting skills as well.
Hello, those are mine, pencils. I can see that their sides are not in the same planes though.
I will redo the exercise if it is not acceptable.
Tim, I'm gonna redo it.
I'm sorry I misunderstood the exercise. My fault. I redid it, but still not happy and scanner erased some of lines.
Those are digitals, I know you asked us to use pencils... but scanner destroys pencil's' lines, I probably need to use charcoal for this task or make lines stronger in contrast.
I have to say this exercise is not as easy as it might look and it might make me to lose my mind. There is always somehting to correct.
I will continue to try it traditionally.
Wow- great work, both of you. I'm not going to comment on the accuracy of either of your cubes- it's inevitable that there will be some mistakes doing it freehand like this. The point is more learning to look at your own work critically and seeing what needs to get fixed. Here, we had an objective goal- are the lines in the same plane parallel? But the same kind of looking is important in all kinds of drawing. Does it look like the model yet? Are the proportions right? Is the expression right? Is this what I was going for? Etc, etc. It actually doesn't take much technical knowledge to tell if something is off- you can probably look at pretty much anybody else's drawing and see some errors pretty quickly. However, for some reason it's difficult to see this way with your own work. But it's absolutely critical to learn to do so as well as possible. The next assignment will be about ways techniques to help you with this.
I call this type of seeing "reading your drawing". I will probably use it a lot in critiquing.
Another thing this exercise teaches is to never be complacent with your work. If you see that the line is off, you need to change it. You owe it to the piece you're working on. Here it's not so tough because there's objective criteria to follow, and since it's a cube and you only need to change one of nine lines. But it's tougher when you're drawing a portrait- say you've gone in and drawn the face and rendered out the eyes and nose and mouth really beautifully. And then you realize- the whole head is a quarter inch too small and needs to move over to the left a bit. All that time making the eyes pretty was wasted! It's tempting to just leave it- but if it's gotta move, it's gotta move!
A few notes for each of you separately:
Digital is fine, as long as you don't use it to cheat the exercise (i.e. using the straight line tool or holding shift to get straight lines for this exercise).
These are nice, solid cubes. The perspective is pretty nice- have you studied perspective at all?
I'm curious also to know how long the exercise took you- I see lots of evidence of corrections, but since you can actually erase perfectly digitally I don't have the same sense that I do with paper of how long it took.
Wow, lots of cubes! The first one was indeed off from the directions, but still a good exercise. It's actually very useful to be able to draw cubes quickly & accurately- but it's much more valuable to be able to recognize when they're off. It's also nice to be able to push to more complex shapes. But we'll come back to this a little later- I don't want to keep you guys on cubes 100% of the time, and anyway I need to figure out how to explain the next step in thinking with cubes!
I was happy to see a nice progression in your three sets of cubes. The third set is definitely the best of the three. And I definitely feel your frustration- there's always something to correct! But I think this is always the case with art, if you're honest with yourself. The tricky part is realizing is that that is actually one of the great things about art- that no matter what there's more for you to learn and do, more ways to grow. But there's a ledge you can fall over of being hyper-critical to the point that it cripples you (I certainly fall into this trap!).
Next assignment coming soon!
p.s.- Would love to hear any and all thoughts from either of you about this exercise- questions, comments, rants, thoughts. This goes for any exercise I post. I am very interested in teaching some day, and could use some constructive feedback. Please do this over PM though (but don't hesitate to do so)!
Assignment 2: Seeing What Needs Changing
So, last exercise we drew some cubes from our mind. In the process, we tried to read our own work objectively and see what needs changing.
In this exercise, I want to examine different methods for seeing your own work more clearly. Last exercise, we just used one method: eyeballing it! We're still going to stay away from the really technical ones like getting out a ruler or a piece of string, but there are other things you can do to help see more clearly. In general, I think they fall into two categories: getting distance, and getting a different perspective. Here are the main ones I use:
1. Look at it in a mirror (or flip horizontal).
2. Step back pretty far (or shrink it down pretty small).
3. Wait a few days and look again.
I'd like you to take one of your three cubes and subject them each of the techniques in the list above. After you've done all three, make some corrections. Post your results (before and after if you can), and let me know which one you saw the most to change with and which you saw the least.
You know, Tim, I like the way you lead this activity, calm but with a certain system and approach behind your thoughts :). Well thought out, you know, prepared. Makes me relaxed and calm too. Ha, I will have to redraw the whole cube probably after I see it flipped. I know two of them or may all three are not exactly cubes, the angles are not 90 degrees, they are askew... yeah... didn't think about it.
I thought about the same, that's what we do when we work on any image, we are obsessing over its imperfection..
OK the rest I'll write like you asked... privately,,,this was done by impulse.
I would like you to say some more about the book "Fear and art", you mentioned in another thread, if it is really that good. I might want to read it and I have a daughter, nine years old, I think she might already understand some things there and might already needs to read it.
I spent around 40 minutes on the first one. I probably could have done it quicker traditionally, but this is awesome practice with the tablet. No, I haven't studied perspective except for some basic 2-point stuff in high school.
Here's my 2nd assignment entry:
After looking at the before and after together.. I see the vertical edges still converge a bit at the bottom.. but to me thats more pleasing to the eye.. for them to to be perfectly parallel just looked too.. isometric? Not sure of the terminology.. but pretty sure if this were, say, a building, in a real 3D environment, those edges would converge on a point anyways.
After reading through the assignment again... well, I'll leave it and come back in a couple days. If I feel it needs further correction... I'll post a new one.
The flip/mirror view showed the most glaring errors on my short edges. Zooming out showed how poor my line quality was.
I played with two of my cubes and will post the ugliest one (in my eyes).
I changed a lot and I think I can change even more. It is like in the little fairy tale I loved in my childhood: when two mice tried to divide a suddenly found head of cheese evenly and kept biting from each other shares until cheese disappeared... Thats what happened with me as well... after correcting one side I flipped the cube and saw the imperfections on another one. I'm afraid our vision is playing tricks with me as well. I'm drawing the cube in perspective, instead of checking the parallel planes against my will and it fools my eyes.
Well anyway. Scaling the cube was helpful, but the most changes I did with flipping it. I suspect the least i will do with two days interval.
Actually, I'm very glad that for both of you there is the feeling to put the cubes in perspective. I wasn't sure if others would have that feeling as well. But I wasn't sure what either of you knew about perspective, so this was helpful to that extent. Also, it would have taken forever to explain the exercise clearly if I got into perspective...
Next exercise soon!
Well, it took much longer than I expected to get back here! Work has been rather insanely busy. And I thought things would be so much more relaxed after the wedding!
Anyway, apologies for the delay, but on to:
Assignment 3: Cube City
OK, this one builds on the last two. We're still in cube-land, but I assure you it's going somewhere.
Build a small "city" out of cubes. Start with a rather flat cube, and spend a decent bit of time getting the lines right. If you're comfortable with perspective, you can add in a tiny bit of diminishing to the lines (such that they won't be exactly parallel, but converge slightly as they recede in space). Make it large enough that there will be room to add some cubes on top of it.
Use the mirror and stepping away to check occasionally, but try not to use them as a crutch. Above all, if you check your cube in the mirror, for example, be absolutely sure that you perceive with your own eyes whatever errors you see in the mirror before you make any corrections. I was in a drawing class once with a guy who spent more time looking in the mirror than drawing- he couldn't draw without it.
After you feel pretty comfortable with the first cube, start placing cubes of varying sizes on top of it. The only limit for now is that they are all facing the same way, and the planes/edges are parallel to those of the ground cube. When you are first drawing a cube, try to pay close attention to the edges of the ground cube as you make each line. Don't put your pencil down without consider which line from the ground cube the line you are drawing will be in relation to. Spend a bit of time correcting each cube as you add it.
As you add cubes, you will probably notice that others you put down are a bit off. You might even find that the ground cube needs adjusting. Don't hesitate to adjust any of the cubes including the ground cube. If you see something off, you should fix it right away. However, you should also be aware that changing the ground cube or any of the other cubes has a subtle effect on the whole picture.
In the end, you should have a nice little town/city of cubes with edges that are all nicely parallel. You might have a bit of perspective diminishing, but try to keep it very slight for the sake of keeping things simple for the exercise.
The goal here is partly to continue honing your objective perception from the other exercises. However, the larger goal in this is to begin to try to see the whole drawing as you work. Normally, we tend to focus in on whatever part we're drawing and almost literally not see the rest of the picture. For example, when drawing the figure most people draw each part (whatever they perceive as a separate part) from a slightly different angle and slightly different scale. But if you draw the nose at a slightly different angle and scale than the nose, it's probably going to look slightly deformed and definitely not like the model. You lose proportion, and you lose the sense of a consistent viewpoint in the image.
Here, we are limiting the complexity and giving ourselves very specific ways to look at the rest of the picture. Eventually you will find a place where you begin to see the whole picture at once, and you forget that the line is diagonal in 2D and begin to feel instead that it's parallel in 3D. Everything starts to be in relation to everything else in the picture.
Watch especially in this exercise for a tendency to "square off" the perspective and start drawing lines that are parallel to the edges of the paper instead of the edges of the ground cube. This is a natural tendency. Most beginning figures have every part of a standing figure from the head to the feet drawn as if was straight on, although this is actually impossible (unless the figure is looking down!). If you are at the same level as the head, you will be looking down at the feet, and vice versa. This is, in fact, an important key to drawing from life and from your head, and one of the things I hope these lessons build to.
Here's a quick one I did for reference. Some angle like this is probably good- one where only the height/vertical plane of the ground cube is parallel to the edge of the paper and you're forced to pay attention to some diagonals. However, beyond that feel free to arrange your cubes however you like, and add more cubes or less. For now, just keep it to cubes though. In the next couple assignments we'll get into dividing cubes into more complex objects and using them to build complex objects up.
As usual, if you have any questions or concerns, please PM me.
Hello, Tim... Funny to remember now that I asked for more challenge for me in the beginning. I made more than one and two attempts to make this right, it is a pretty complex exercise.
What I got from this is that I need to watch that all parallel sides converge in believable but not necessarily the same angles, in a right direction.
Here is my two cities:
Wow- those are great Sveta! I particularly like the first one- it's quite a nice little object.
Of course there are errors to be pointed out, but take another look now that it's been a few days and see what you see. I will post a quick paintover in a day or two. But keep in mind that anybody- including you- could see the same errors. Often even someone with little or no artistic training will be able to see something that is off that maybe you frustratingly don't see yet, but they will often lack the vocabulary to explain what they mean (they might be able to say "it looks off", or "it seems crooked", but they couldn't tell you which lines aren't believably parallel).
Assignment 4: The Quick & The Slow
At this point I would recommend practicing cubes in perspective in two ways. The first is to continue this "slow" method, where you keep at one (or a small group) until you get it right. The second way to practice focuses more on getting them right the first time. I would recommend something like this:
- Decide the general shape of the cube before you make any lines(long&skinny? Short & squat? Flat? Equal sides?)
- Decide on the cube's orientation (the way that it's facing) before you start drawing (is it almost facing you? Can you see 3 sides pretty much equally? Is it tilted a bit this way or that way?).
- Then, as you make each line for the cube, consider for a moment the direction it should be going before you draw the line. If you are drawing a line that should be parallel (maybe with a bit of perspective), really stop and be aware of the direction of the other line. Your goal is still to get the lines believably parallel & build awareness.
- After you've drawn the whole cube, you can correct each line only once if necessary. You are still trying with all your might to get it right, but now you only have 9-18 lines to do it in.
- Move on to the next cube.
You can make single cubes, or very simple/small groups of cubes that share the same orientation. Experiment with the following variables:
- Thought/awareness speed- do they come out better if you consider more quickly, more slowly, or something in between? Or maybe you can decide the size and orientation of the cube quickly, but you have to really think about the directions of the line? Or maybe something else?
- Line speed and pressure- do they come out better with faster lines pressing hard, slower lines pressing softly, or something else?
- Digital vs. Pen/paper - This is mostly about the surface that you're drawing on- is it better with more friction or less? Also, is there a difference when there is a separation between your pencil & the actual drawing (i.e. with the tablet the drawing is on the screen but you draw on the table) (A side note- I recommend taping a piece of nice, heavyweight paper over the drawing area of your tablet. I really couldn't draw at all with the tablet until I did this. I also recommend making sure that the active area of your tablet is the same proportion as your screen- otherwise your lines are actually distorted slightly as you work. If you have a Wacom tablet you can set this in Wacom Settings->Mapping->Force Proportions checkbox).
- Pressure on yourself - Do they come out better when you have great intensity, or when you are more free-flowing?
- Scale - Is it harder or easier to get the lines believably parallel when the cube you are working on is bigger or smaller? Is there a certain point where it gets too small or too large? Is there a size that works best for you?
Please post a page or two of the quicker cubes. I don't expect to see all of the variables above represented in the page or two, but maybe pick two or three to experiment with for now. Be aware of the rest of them though, and please try them on your own. I would love to hear what works for you and what doesn't. I will post my preferences after you post yours.
You can continue to work on the slower cubes on your own. The two can inform each other quite nicely.
The idea here is to come at the same problem from a different angle (being aware of other parts of the drawing as you work).
Drawing slowly & really taking the time to get it right is very useful (and something a lot of people skip), but not always the best way to work. Awareness is a funny thing, and it doesn't always work best when you are slow & plodding. Sometimes you can keep the angle of another line in your head much better if you are moving more quickly. Other times you have to really slow down! It's good to be flexible.
Our ultimate goal is to get to the point where all of this comes naturally with very little effort or thought, which I think means it happens more quickly. It's not that you will ever get to a point where you get everything right the first time (maybe you'll get one drawing like this in your life), but more that you are aware when something is off more & more quickly, and your initial shot & corrections are better and better with less & less struggle.
There are also a lot of other reasons to try to get it right the first time. Later we'll be using the cubes to sketch out compositions & build up figures, and in such cases it's difficult to keep your idea in your head if you move too slowly. I find it's best to be able to get it down quickly (with an effort to get it right the first time), and then come back and correct afterwards.
The most important thing is to learn 2 things:
- Be aware of the rest of the drawing as you draw- not just the small part you are currently drawing, and
- Be aware of when something is off. If necessary, correct ASAP (which doesn't necessarily mean immediately).
Notice that it's all about awareness.
After this assignment, we're going to leave the cubes for a bit and work on something a bit less technical and more visceral. I'm thinking it will be good to bounce back and forth between the two (technical & visceral) and see how the two inform each other.
Tim, that's great instructions you are giving me... will do. If you don't mind I will start the assignment in four days. I really need to finish some project in three days and it kind of interferes. If you do mind I will try and make both things. I just kind of wanted to do it right with thinking and gaining information in process, not in a hurry.
Critique, overpaintings, notes, showing me obvious I didn't see before will be taking with a gratitude and happy feeling :). Thank you so much!
No problem Sveta- I understand! I often have the same situation. We all have a lot going on!
Hello, Tim ... so sorry for the delay, but I took time to think about the assignment. I hope you didn't abandon me...
First of the pages is digital and they are mostly slow. I started with a good intention to draw them carelessly and fast, but I couldn't stand their bad look and started to correct sides... I did tried to correct them in one or two attempts as you required... Digitals do make it hard... just because the hand is restrained.
I think it is easy to draw with a strong pressure on pencil and fast motion and bigger speed... results seems to me a bit closer to truth... The bigger boxes produce more mistakes in the perspective and lines tent to become uglier and more crooked.
Intensity... you know I think I'm on the stage when I accumulate knowledge... and because of that the free flowing is not happening just yet. I did start to see vanishing points of the particular box I drew in my mind and consequently I started to imagine how lines will converge and how they will go, at what angle.
Speed... well that was the hardest think to not start to correct everything and leave it be with all its mistakes.
Digital are harder to draw and even more harder to sto pmyself e space is until I draw at least two sides of it. In my mind the boxes don't stay still, they slightly fluctuate :) and roll :).
Yeah, silly excuses :).
Last two pages are quick pencils studies, without erasing the wrong lines... I started from them and then tried the digitals which are mostly slow... becasue I couldn't control myself well.
Conclusion... far from a desirable freedom of thinking and performing on paper, but I had some progress nevertheless... progress in seeing the object in whole before I even made it real on paper, progress in knowing what I want and how to achieve it in perspective sense. Thank you, it's a very good training for brains muscle :).
I didn't forget about you! crazy week though.
Attached are some quick paintovers of the past couple groups of cubes. Keep in mind that I'm not really correcting these so much- just hopefully giving you another viewpoint.
One mistake that happened occasionally was flipped perspective, wherein the lines get further apart as they move away in space. On a cube this is impossible- it ends up reading as a trapezoid. If this was your intention, then please ignore.
Otherwise, just keep practicing. I wouldn't expect you to ever get them to a point where you nail them all the time- really if you wanted to get the perspective just right you would use perspective guides. But it helps to be able to do them freehand and recognize when you've made a mistake when you get to very complex forms like the human figure where it's impossible/impractical to set up guides for every vanishing point. It's also useful for sketching ideas for architecture, when you want to be more creative and not worry about getting the technical end down.
I've been giving a lot of thought to where to go next- there are a few different directions we could go. I'd like to get away from the cubes and more technical end for a bit, but I also think there's a nice progression that's been built up so far. I will continue to give it some thought.
In the meantime, why don't you do a bit of sketching of whatever you want and post it here and in your sketchbook. It doesn't need to have anything to do with the cubes- I'd just like to see what you're thinking about on your own for now. It might also help me to decide where to go next.
Talk to you soon
Thank you Dose, for taking the time to do this for us, but I'm going to have to bow out. Too much going on right now with work & family, and it looks like with all of our busy schedules you'll accomplish more here if its just a 1-on-1. Thanks again!
No problem Ryan- I understand completely.
I'll keep an eye on your sketchbook nonetheless- I like your stuff and think you have a lot of potential.
My dear teacher Tim,,, sorry for replying a bit late, but it doesn't mean I'm not grateful and I'm not listening... I really, really like your serious, calm, to the point manner to teach and I really like the direction we are going and I even like the pace of our class, hahaha...really shows we are for quality rather than anything else.
Totally agree with you critique and it is funny for me now that I didn't think about it before... of course a cube can't become wider in the base when it is descending from me... how silly it was...
Thanks you for taking your time to show me the mistakes, I love paintovers. always show me much more than words.
Don't worry, I think I understand clearly the use and function of the exercises and I appreciate them.
About sketches... I would post them but I have a stupid habit. I carry my images mostly in my head before I start to paint the picture ...and it happened that I'm preparing the image for LMS3 now and I can't show those preparations here...
Please don't stop the class unless you are very busy and even if so ... I'll wait as much as needed until you will have time for me.
I will wait for next assignment, OK? And maybe I will try and post some pencil's portrait and values studies in meanwhile... my first mentor advised me to do them.
Sounds great, Sveta. I'm glad you're OK with the pace of the class- it's good for me as well. I think about it a lot but I am a slow writer so it sometimes takes me a while to come up with a good assignment and then find the time to write it coherently. But for me it's invaluable to put a lot of what I've learned into words, and I'm glad to hear you're getting something out of it as well!
I understand about the sketches- I'm looking forward to seeing the LMS image when it's done. Also, after you're done we can talk about the way you go about preparing an image- there's a lot we can talk about with that. And if you'd like to post some older pencil portraits or value studies we can talk about those in the meantime. Mostly I just wanted to talk about something that you consider current. Often I've learned so much since something I did even a few months ago that it wouldn't be as helpful to talk about something that old, and I can see from the progress in your sketchbook that for you it must be the same.
Now that Ryan has unfortunately (but understandably) dropped out I think we can be a bit more flexible with this thread. I'd love to make this more of a dialogue. So if there are questions you have or specific drawings or pieces you would like to talk about please post them. Or it could be more general than that- if you'd like to work on drawing, painting, composition, or something else along those more general lines, please let me know.
I have two ideas for new assignments, each in a different direction- but I'd like to hear what direction you'd like this to go before I post a new assignment.
Talk to you soon