dadushin Thanks. 28chelseaslater sorry for keeping you up! the one you linked to was a good moment of inspiration. thanks for subscribing, i'll try to maintain a decent level of output to make it worth your while.
actually... what throws the proportions out of whack is the line of her shoulder and chest. the line on the left needs to be darker at the far left hand side smudge. otherwise her neck looks too small. i think everything else would then fall back into place.
Hi chris, Just to say cheers for the reply!..Thats great advice....I have only been able to look at Nathans construction technique by looking at his web site and studying his drawings. I have a feeling some of the subtleties may be escaping me! Do you know where his aproach came from and weather Its written up somewhere??
2007-12-10 Frank Reilly's Head Construction advice...
I'm at work at the Edwards Air Force Base right now, so I've gotta keep this short...
The short history of that head construction is:
The original person who made it up was Frank J. Reilly. Reilly was a student of Pyle and Wyeth, and I think he knew Bridgman too. Reilly became a very famous instructor at the New York Art Students League back in the early 1900's.
Fred Fixler, a pulp cover, magazine and advertising illlustrator was a student of Reilly's. When he retired from the industry he moved out to LA. My teacher, Mark Westermoe, along with some other notable people (like Morgan Weistling) convinced Fred to start a school and teach. That's how it migrated to California.
Fixler had a number of really impressive students. My teacher (and friend) Mark became a notoriously good teacher--Kevin Chen, Nathan Fowkes, Sergio Sanchez, and a ton of other people studied with him. And many other famous illustrators taught at the school--Paul Wee, Nathan Fowkes, John Watkiss, Glenn Vilppu, etc. etc. etc.) Many of that school's former students went on to teach at Art Center in Pasadena, work in the movie industry, etc.
Glen Orbik and Jeff Watts were also students of Fixler. Both of them still teach that method in California. Many up and coming painters have studied with both those guys as well. Jeremy Lipking, Richard Morris, Aaron Westerberg (i.e. most of the instructors at Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Arts).
If you're looking for a book resource, the only thing even close is Jack Faragasso's book. I think it's title is "Mastering Drawing the Human Figure" Unfortunately, he does a poor job at simplification. Frankly, I don't like his drawings much at all--he loses the elegance and simplicity of it all. I don't recommend buying it. If you've got 50$ or so to spend, go ahead and get it, but otherwise...
Ron Lemen (aka Fred Flickstone on CA.org--see the bar at top with all the famous dudes...) has a couple of tutorials on here that use the construction too. He's a good teacher and studied under Watts for a while and some other people who use it.
Everybody has a slightly different use for it, but you can tell the people who use it from those who don't. As time permits, I'd like to do a series of rough tutorials about it because it really is part of a really important heritage of good art instruction. In the meantime, just post a comment here with a link to a Head Construction-type drawing that you want me to do a paintover of. I'll probably be able to whip out something in Painter to show you a few things...
Hey Chris, thanks ALOT for postin in my sketchbook. I've been lookin at your sketchbook every chance I had at work today. I really love all your studies at the beginning of the thread. The way you shaded them is really beautiful. I've been trying to figure out how you do it, but mine always look sooo messy.
Anyway, I really like everything you've posted up here! Please post more!
Cheers for the Info....Its really interesting, I am based in the UK, over the last 2-3 years I have come across quite a few of the artists you mentioned, However I was never aware of the interconnection.
Jeremy Lipking, Frank Rielly, Glen Orbik & Nathan they are all in favorites folder!
It shows how much you can benefit from contact with a great teacher, I guess the second best is just to see the work! I wish I had come across this rich source of knowledge and insperation when I was at college and university! -
Anyway I had another go at Nathans technique...If you can give me any pointers or insight into how to think of the shapes, that would be awsome!....Cheers!
number777uk, i will try my best to help you out when i get home tonight, but i can't promise anything. (i've worked 40 hours at the air force base in under 3 days--i'm exhausted right now as i type this)
in the meantime, here's a little food for thought: the reilly head abstraction is not very useful for proportion and measurement. there are many sources in all kinds of books that will tell you the head is "5 eyes wide" etc.
this abstraction is mostly useful for two things: rhythm and overlapping forms (and those two things are very beautifully related to each other). the general rule in drawing almost anything is that you draw or paint or emphasize the overlapping form, not the overlapped form.
anyway, i'll try to show you what i mean later on tonight.
1) i'm not the final authority on this construction method, but this is my take on it. everybody (westermoe, nathan fowkes, kevin chen, ron lemen, etc. etc.) has their own interpretation of it. what made reilly a genius is that very fact--everybody, even accomplished artists, can use this as a means to some very valuable insights.
2) this is not a rigid method. not all of these construction lines are visible in every head orientation. they do not fix proportional problems. they are simplified to make some important generalizations. it is up to you to ponder them and figure them out in a meaningful way, then adapt them as necessary to your drawing at hand.
3) some of the lines in the construction drawing should be "dotted lines" to show overlaps. study them and eventually that will become clear
4) your goal is to draw WITHOUT drawing these lines as such. even nathan doesn't draw these out explicitly when he works on his own--he only does it to explain when he teaches. when you "master" this information, it becomes part of your knowledge. you don't explicitly draw a skull every time you draw a head--but you damn sure try to make it feel like every head has a skull in it.
i'm not sure if i should start throwing this into a tutorial thread or not... not really representative of "my work." but it does show some things about how i think.
This is just a quick eye tutorial in response to some requests i've gotten for one. i'm not a digital painting or drawing whiz, so it's a bit rough. (i love my ballpoint pens) i did this with the scratchboard tool and square chalk in corel painter ix--i don't know how to customize brushes that well.
Please send me some feedback if you have any questions.
1) i usually start with an abstract "butterfly" or "sunglasses" shape. basically, i'm trying to draw the brow/eyesocket on the top, the rough placement of the bridge of the nose, the rough boundary of the lower eyelid, and that plane that looks like a big oval on the reilly construction (where thos little pads on the eyeglasses sit on the sides of your nose) Attachment 259687
2) i make a more intersesting shape. notice that i'm kind of working from the outside to the inside here. but in general, this is what i do:
i) draw a rough oval, block or whatever to show where the head is going to be on the paper. maybe a light "cross" to show the bridge of the nose and just determine which way it's pointing
ii) i then start drawing kind of from the inside out. i almost always draw the "butterfly" shape or some version of it depending on the tilt of the head and maybe the underplane or shadow of the nose.
iii) my approach varies a lot depending on lighting and orientation, but i generally put large indications of the features tied together with lighting indications. then start working on detail. Attachment 259688
3)for me, once i have the big shape right, it's easier to judge where the eyebrow, the upper eyelid, and the flesh between the eyebrow and upper eyelid all fit together. i usually leave the lower eyelid very soft. (if i'm not working in ballpoint or something that can't be erased, i usually lay in a big halftone or darkish blur on the whole shape at this point. I usually plan on cutting into that shape on the bottom side to show the softness of the lower eyelid. if that makes any sense...) Attachment 259689
4) this is how i indicate the whites of the eyes. NOTICE: i don't usually draw a circle or ellipse for the iris/pupil because it tends to make it look flat. it is easier to keep in mind the grouping of shadows if you do it this way. ALSO, the shapes of the whites of the eyes are the key to many facial expressions. how much "white" you show above or below the iris, and the where the eyelid cuts across the iris determine "sleepiness" "surprise" "anger" etc. I can't emphasize this enough... also helps make eyes look symmetrical. (If your eyes look "wrong" for some "vague" reason--check this. about 7 out of 10 times, this can help fix it.) Attachment 259690
5)i can't really show my ballpoint technique "in progress" like this. i usually shade with two types of hatching i)patches of lines that go with the contours of the forms or the soft edges of shadows, and ii) "washes" of parallel lines to adjust the tone of a big shape. sometimes, depending on the tool, i keep all of these washes parallel, sometimes i do them in different "layers." depends on the pen. Attachment 259691
8)not a great painting, but you get the idea... not going for good colors or anything; mostly value. Attachment 259694
so that's a basic tutorial and some information for anyone who cares. i hope it helps. there is a lot of "advanced information" that i didn't have time to go into here. "what makes asian eyes look asian" "diffrences between males and females" "old vs. young" "happy vs. sad" etc.
I have a real problem with the symetery of my drawing, Im not sure what it is. I do hold my pen in a slightly strange manner. However even when I try simple construction I have a tendancy for my faces to be lopsided. I guess I just need to try harder to counter my natural tendancy.
I guess there used to be a tradition of looking at your work in a mirror to help counteract this (i might have try via PS)
Also the eye stuff is great, somthing im working on, again seem to struggle with proper foreshortening on the eyeballs! so that really helps...not to mention your studies at the begining of your SB.
Anyway cheers again for the help, seems amazing you saw NAthan Fowkes the other day! Well you can tell him his work is inspiring people as far as Ipswich in the UK..and much further afeild, im sure!
Anyway I hope there not working u too hard, putting those lasers on Planes (i guess someones got to do it!) = )
Wow, your work is fantastic. There's a sense of real weight to everything, like the figures are really standing on the surfaces they're on and not simply positioned there with their feet flat. Your crosshatching is great, and it's been a while since I'd seen anyone use it so much, or so well. Your pieces remind me of some older drawing instructional books I had growing up, with lots of pencil and charcoal sketches of models and faces.
This work is great! Awesome to see another student in the Reilly lineage outside of Watts and what they are doing with the training! So you are at LA Fig Arts now? How is that? I may have trained up there if I had not come down to Watts first (I lived in LA but did not know about LA Fig Arts or the California Art Institute).
All the work you show in your updates are so good. TYou know your stuff. I enjoyed reading the explanations, seeing your different emphasis on the same approach. The Watkiss attempt looks pretty sweet to me. The head drawings from Nathan's class are super nice. I recognize Dan. The woman you painted beautifully with the charcoal.
The Chase copies are solid. Did you block in the values using a flat charcoal for the 3/4 portrait copy?
i'm still in the chicago area. not able to upload anything right now.
happy new year to everybody. 'twas my birthday today (new year's eve) and i'm feeling a bit old.
anyway, somebody online asked me for advice about tonal drawing. i wrote this back to him and figured i'd share it with whoever stumbles across my sketchbook. it's the best advice i can offer a beginner- or intermediate-level drawer. (not that i have such an advanced understanding myself, of course).
sometimes it's hard to say what to do right and easier to say what NOT to do.
for basic tonal drawings, the number one mistake is value organization. when you draw with charcoal, your lightest value is either the paper or a little bit of white pastel, chalk or charcoal, and your darkest value is whatever you can beat out of your charcoal. you don't need to practice drawing gray scales, but you need to understand how light and how dark you can go in a drawing. next, no matter what you're looking at, you need to decide what's in the light and what's in the shadow and then decide what part of your charcoal's value range you are going to use for each.
so the number one mistake (besides proportions and basic line drawing) is having these two value ranges (light and shadow) overlap. if you have areas on the shadow side of a head that are just as bright as areas on the light side of a head, your tonal organization falls apart and the drawing will not read properly.
the number two mistake is using up all of your brightest brights and darkest darks too soon. most of the time, you'll be better off using the 10% to 90% range of brightness. save the really dark and the really bright stuff for the very end where you want to highlight or accent something. if you start off too bright or too dark, your drawing will look "muddy" or splotchy. so, the best thing to do is to practice drawing heads with only two values, one for the shadow side and one for the light side.
the number three mistake is using value without thinking about "shape." for example, you can draw an eye, eyelashes, eyelids, eye socket, etc. all with one shape. that shape might have complex edges, some soft and blurry and some hard edged. it might also have some "holes" cut out of it too (like for the whites of the eyes). but it still is one basic shape. most heads can be roughed out with maybe 7 or 8 basic light and dark shapes. this is difficult to understand at first, but it will make sense with practice.
i don't know what level of experience you have with tonal drawings, but the most basic and quick practice for all of this is to trace black and white photographs or xerox copies of color photogrpahs, magazine ads, etc. buy a pad of tracing paper (medium good quality is best (maybe 5-8$ per pad)--really cheap 99cent stuff can be a pain to work with). then lay it over the photograph and trace the shadow shapes of the head. when you do this, pay attention to what you can really see--not what you imagine you see or what you think might be there. if something is blurry and soft, use a blurry edge or no edge at all for your shapes; if something is hard edged, use a hard edge.
when you do this, make definite decisions about simplification, grouping and organization--you're trying to use as few shapes as needed, not map out every little change with an extra shape. after you've done this, put the tracing paper over a stack of white paper and just fill in the shadow shapes with a flat, even, medium-dark value. you will be surprised at how good these simple two-tone drawings will look. and the reason is also simple: good organization.
doing this is training your eyes to make a conscious decision between light and shadow, and it eliminates any worrying you have to do about "getting the lines right" and measuring proportions. the difference between a good line drawing and a good tonal drawing is being able to see light and shadow beautifully. that is your goal when you practice like this. the other good thing about tracing these photographs is that it is easy to get a lot of practice very quickly. you could easily trace 5 heads every night instead of struggling to get one drawing done. once this becomes "easy" you will be much better at tackling drawing people from life and imagination.
(i used prismacolor black colored pencils for those tracings when i first did them, but you can use anything you want that works on tracing paper.)
You'll have to forgive me... I'm back in California and drunk at the moment--trying to erase a pretty fucking depressing holiday experience. But it wasn't all bad...i did grab the tiger by the tail and pull these off at the Palette and Chisel's New Year's drawing marathon in Chicago. 9 hours of starting off the new year right and proper
this is the first time i seriously tried to do life drawings with a prismacolor black pencil. you can see how they kind of progress and i figure out my approach. by the end of the day, i was feeling better about myself... all the poses ranged from 1-25 minutes long. black prismacolor pencil in a moleskine.
Aztc Thanks, Ez. Happy New Year!!! I blocked in the faces like Nathan does--with a stick of alphacolor. The full length study of Chase/Whistler was done with a 6B general's charcoal pencil that I bummed off of Elaine V.
Grinn Thanks! I'm not really at LAAFA too much except for the uninstructed stuff and Nathan's class. I learned most of my stuff from Mark Westermoe at Associates back in the day and off in the middle of nowhere by myself. LAAFA is a decent school, but some aspects of it are too "atelier" or "bargue-ish" for my tastes. To each his own, y'know. The Reilly method is extremely useful, but it has to be applied judiciously. (it's not a recipe for sure-fire success) keep up your work! rest assured that there will be a payoff somewhere down the road.
Happy New Year to everybody (or anybody). Stay healthy, stay "safe"!!! Draw more and be happy about it!
HunterKiller Thanks. No, I'm not Asian. My dad is an adopted white guy, and my mom's side is Polish and Irish. But, I started studying Japanese 17 years ago in high school because I was bored with French and my school had NO drawing classes at all. so I've studied formally for 10 years, had a fellowship to go to Stanford's language institute in Yokohama for a year, passed the Kanji Exam at a pretty high level for a gaijin, etc., etc. etc. Now, i'm slowly forgetting most of what I learned while I work in the damn desert. Basically, I needed something visual to do in high school, and I latched onto Japanese. It turned into a life-long love of mine. I took a year and a half of Korean after I took all my Japanese grad classes--very similar to Japanese structurally, but harder to read. I didn't pursue it further because I didn't like the way it was being taught. I can read a smattering of Chinese, but I can't pronounce a damn thing. I don't understand a lot of the simplified characters either--I like the traditional ones.
Gardener, Howie Thanks! Hopefully I'll be able to do more life drawing soon. Right now, I might be a bit busy with other projects from imagination. I tend to approach shorter drawings as "taking notes." Most of the time i don't bother with trying to do "rendering" quickly--I want to get all the information I can from the model, and then worry about it later. Sure, I try to make it look as finished as it needs to be, but i don't worry about "shading." basically, i could fill in the shadows, halftones and highlights from what i've jotted down, so that's enough for me. Other artists have different approaches, but that's kind of what i gravitate towards.