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Thread: Guidelines...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2006
    On the road.


    this is going to be my mentoring thread...

    I don't know the "rules" of the mentoring forums. Maybe i should've looked for the Tutorials forums, but anyway I'm using this as a kind of classroom for things I get asked over and over.

    So here are my rules/guidelines:

    1. Please do not post your artwork here unless i give some kind of an assignment or experiment. If I don't ask for a character design of a bunny, don't post one here.

    2.I will try to keep a theme for each lesson or group of lessons. Please stay on topic. (i.e. don't ask about oil painting if we're going to work on cross hatching.) Based on the natural progression of things we'll decide future topics together. Maybe I'll figure out how to set-up the vote/poll feature. If you have a question for a different topic, hold on to it for the time being. maybe i'll have to start a thread for suggestions...

    3. By all means, share info with whoever you want. But please don't print this stuff out and try to pass it off as your own. I could easily go teach a class and charge money, but I want people who don't have access to a teacher due to where they live to have free access to what I know. At some point in the future maybe I'll want to make a book or something, you know... Don't be a dick or the karma police will come and get you.

    4. don't be a jackass. you know what i mean. ...yes... you know what i mean. no shit-talking, no threats, no whining, no favoritism, none of that.

    5. you don't have to enroll or sign up or ask me permission or anything like that. i help as my time and circumstances permit. you're free to come and go as you please.

    Last edited by ccsears; February 9th, 2008 at 05:06 AM. Reason: update
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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    On the road.

    copy and paste...

    Anyway, you guys know how prone i am to rambling motivational speeches. Someone asked me the following question online the other day, and I tried to write a helpful, but honest response. There's a bunch of anectdotal rambling in there as well.

    "I have only one question this time (expect more later ) and its probably very frequently asked one: Do you know any magic trick that would help me with my discipline (I feel shitty asking this)? I mean, without teachers I need a lot of self discipline and I kinda lack there. I set myself a goal on a new year that I would do at least a self portrait or a master study a day but it lasted about 20 days... so I'm trying now with schedule (with minimaly 2h of drawing a day) and hoping it will last."

    It's a good question, but a difficult one to answer. A while back, I took a short seminar with Nathan Fowkes called "From Student to Professional" that was based on more or less the same question. He made several concrete suggestions. I'm including some of them here with my own thoughts.

    Drawing or painting regularly is just as difficult as starting an exercise program or losing weight on a diet. In order to make it work, you have to make drawing/painting so convenient and enjoyable that you can't come up with an excuse not to do it. This is more or less what led Nathan to start painting those small landscapes with his portable watercolor/gouache kit. (If you haven't looked at his page, you really need to-- He miniaturized his paintings and tools so that he could take them everywhere. By concentrating on smaller bite-sized chunks of art, he made it possible to get a painting study done in 30 minutes during lunch, or in his car on the drive to or from work. He made it so easy and fun to put in mileage that it became impossible to not do it. And look at his work--it obviously paid off!

    Nathan has a natural grasp on watercolor and gouache. Personally, i found it too frustrating to get much work done the same way. So, one lesson to keep in mind is that solutions to these problems can be very different from person to person, but the underlying problem remains the same.

    One significant problem I have experienced is that I sometimes find it very difficult to concentrate if there are people I know around me. This doesn't apply for group life drawing sessions or whatever where a decent number of people makes it more comfortable, but more for personal work. Psychologically, it's just a sense of confinement--not enough space. And when you're not rich, maybe living at home, maybe renting a tiny, tiny room, it just makes you feel that much worse. When I was growing up, I used to skateboard a lot. At the time, I was living at a residential high school in a dorm, and I was a bit of a weird, shy, outcast kid on antidepressants. So I left every night at about 8pm and walked through the fields until I found some flat pavement I could skate on, and that was my personal space until 10pm curfew every night. It was close to a 2-3 mile walk/skate, so none of the other kids would bother following me. Skateboarding in general is a lot like that--you don't literally own the curb, the parking lot, the sidewalk, etc., but you make it your own when people aren't looking. Doing that at a young age taught me a lot about self-sufficiency, determination, and a healthy way to spend time by yourself without worrying about a lot of extra bullshit.

    In college, I used to have certain "friends" and "acquaintances" who would bug me to help them write their essays and med school applications, etc. English wasn't their native language, so I helped them a lot, but eventually it turned into a situation where I wouldn't correct their English. On the contrary, I would end up doing it for them while they chatted on the phone to their girlfriends or whatever. I couldn't stay in my own apartment because they would come and bang on the fucking door if I didn't pick up the phone. So my solution was the same skateboarding one--I'd study or draw at a far-off, run-down McDonalds from 8pm till midnight. All it cost me was the price of a Coke. Not many people eat there after 8pm--mostly they go through the drive-thru. So you have a whole booth to yourself. A personal art studio. Granted, you've gotta make sure it's in a safe neighborhood and people won't steal your stuff if you go to the bathroom, but other than that it's yours for a buck a day. I did the same thing in Japan when I needed to study for my kanji character exam. I still do the same thing now.

    In other words, feeling like you're trying to do a personal thing in someone else's space is going to fuck up your artwork. Do whatever it takes to find a way to make your space your own.

    Understand that the stuff I'm talking about here doesn't work for large-scale oil paintings or whatever. But that's all polish and finish anyway. What's more important is getting your ideas down correctly and consistently. When you have 30 finished sketches that you can compose into a finished painting, then it's time to switch gears and paint at home. At that point, I kind of zone out anyway and run on auto-pilot. Most of the hard decisions come at the early stages of a drawing.

    Another problem to think about is your materials. They have to work properly for what you want to do, but they have to be cheap and portable, easy-to-find if you move from city to city. For sketching out ideas and practicing, think about using typing paper. Get in the habit of using tracing paper or vellum to bring rough ideas in a sketch to a medium-level of finish. For drawing tools try ballpoint pen, pencil, mechanical pencil, drafting lead holders, sharpie markers, etc. Anything that's portable and not delicate. Charcoal doesn't work well on the road. For paints, acrylic and watercolor work best. I lean towards acrylic, but that's just me. If your materials are bulky, find a way to make them more compact. buy smaller tubes of paint, break your pencils in half and sharpen both ends. INVEST IN A GOOD ELECTRIC PORTABLE PENCIL SHARPENER--(that's very important in the long run).

    Yet another problem is, quite frankly, ideas and the size of those ideas. People change their moods at different time scales. some things change from hour-to-hour, some things change from day-to-day, some things from month-to-month, etc. You might not always be in the mood to start working on a 200-hour painting, right? My general advice is to always start out with small ideas until you keep repeating yourself and you settle on something that you like. then take it to a medium-level. then finish it. usually, you will find that even more ideas pop into your head while you're working at that medium and larger level--it's a good habit to jot those down in a sketchbook so they don't clog up your brain. Usually they're pretty good ideas too. Understand that motivation comes in all kinds of sizes and shapes. As far as that goes--never compare yourself to other people. They might be at one part of their cycle while you're in an entirely different part of your own. Learn by watching them, of course, but don't let it frustrate you.

    When you're working from imagination, realize that at least half of the time you're working from memory. If you don't draw regularly and consistently, your visual drawing memory will be weak at first. It works like a computer's RAM. you might have a ton of stuff stored in your head on the hard drive, but the drawing tools are stored in the RAM part of your head. needs to be instantly accessible. If you draw 100 heads, you can mix and match and exaggerate parts to come up with 1000 more. etc. etc. etc.

    Psychologically, the worst thing about working from imagination is "writer's block." Staring at a blank piece of paper can drive you nuts. I had a friend in college who was doing graphic design work. She would get an assignment to do something she didn't really care about. "design a menu" or "design a logo" type stuff. she had trouble getting started even with thumbnails. As the deadline for her homework got closer and closer, she always wound up having to do last-minute stuff that she wasn't happy with. I used to tell her to look at the clock, and make a decision to spend 10 minutes drawing out ideas. If nothing worked, then stop. Look at the clock and come back in an hour and do another ten minutes. Only keep working if the "magic" is there. If you do that at work or at school daily, you might get a good 90 minutes of ideas over the course of the day, and you won't feel empty-handed at the end of it.

    Whatever you decide to do, don't reinforce negative thinking about your artwork. It's better to stop drawing when you're just beating yourself up, and come back to it later. If you make a habit out of staring at a blank page, feeling confined about your drawing space or living situation, feeling poor because you don't have the cool art materials, etc. you're going to do some heavy damage to your motivation and it will take a lot more work to fix it.

    As far as themes go... it's the same with the scale of your ideas. if you feel like you can take on the whole world, do something from imagination. if you want to just zone out and relax, pick a picture to copy. if you feel like seriously studying, pick an area to concentrate on. In the end, as long as you're making progress on mastering the fundamentals of composition, line, value, shape, form,'re doing the right thing. if you feel good about it, you'll do that much better at it.

    As far as classes go... BE A GOOD STUDENT. If you were learning to play the piano, you would take lessons maybe once per week. But you would practice at home, memorize the pieces or scales and then get the teacher to correct them the next week. You would not ask the teacher to come home with you and spend 40 hours watching you practice, ignoring all of your other students. Teachers teach, students practice. You wouldn't believe how many rich kids and rich adults I've seen who still can't paint after being taught by the same teachers who taught me, some of them are truly legendary illustrators. You are supposed to show the results of your practice to the teacher. The teacher should then adjust your practice to correct your mistakes. That's the basics of forward progress as far as that goes. It's an easy, fundamental, human relationship. And it's one that should be respected and valued more. It's tragic that so many people fuck it up.

    As far as long-term motivation goes... the rule of thumb that i've stated before is 10,000 hours before you're ready to start working professionally every day. some kids get that because they've been drawing non-stop since they were six years old. some people do that later. some people graduate college and still have to put in several years more work. but if you make it to that point where you're free to draw anything you want, however you want, in whatever style you want, then it's all worth it.

    in a good way, 10,000 hours is a long time. there's more than enough time to spend some on thumbnails, and some on finished studies. Don't get in the habit of saying you're going to spend the next 10,000 hours doing 20 500-hour-long paintings. and don't defeat yourself by saying you're going to do 600,000 1-minute sketches either. you will eventually find the right mixture of practice and experimentation, quickness and deliberation to suit your needs and succeed.

    Anyway, back to the beginning... it's a lot like exercise or dieting or learning a musical instrument. It's difficult because some aspects of it can be very lonely and private. It's difficult because many people have misconceptions that you have to be born an artistic "genius" to know how to do it. And it's difficult because so many people worry about making a living at it, worry about rankings in last man standing, worry about what some technical anatomist jerks off about, worry about uncovering the master techniques of 18th century France, etc. But in reality, it's the same as any other part of your life. You want to enjoy it, you want to express yourself in it, you want to be free in it.

    That's the touchy-feely, feel-good, happy side of it.

    The other side of it is. you're not meant to be a permanent prisoner of Art with a capital "A." Hey, kid. here's the same spoon i stole from the prison cafeteria. i dug a hole and broke out. now you dig a hole through that wall and break free. that pencil or that brush you're holding is your fucking spoon, man. that's all you've got, and you gotta break out using that. you can borrow a spoon from someone, but you've gotta dig that hole yourself.

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  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    On the road.
    Number777uknothing complicated. i just meant that you should use either a lightbox or tracing paper or vellum over your rough compositional ideas to clean them up as opposed to trying to re-do them completely. it's faster, and it keeps the spontanaeity of your original idea.

    it's more for a medium-stage of work, although there are ways to make finished work from it. if you can find Seth Cole Dura-lene drafting acetate or the Graphix(?) Dura-lar stuff you can do finished black prismacolor tracings/sketches of your originals, and they will be pretty damn archival. those two surfaces have the advantage that they are incredibly erasable with no ghosting. you can literally erase black colored pencil right off the surface. sketching in prismacolor is very good for some kinds of artwork where you just want to scan in an image and pop some highlights in PS.

    look at Mike Butkus' stuff. he's a very famous movie poster and DVD/game box illustrator. almost all of his finished black and white sketches are done like that. back in the 90's and 80's he used tracing paper and vellum. there are some other techniques you can use involving turpenoid to dissolve the prismacolor and blend it, etc.

    basically, all i meant to say is that if you have to start over again from scratch every time you want to refine an idea, you're wasting a lot of time. sure, there's something to be said for persistence and practice making perfect, but once you reach a certain level of proficiency, it's just a waste of time.

    Also, you should get in the habit of correcting your mistakes. A lot of teachers I've known have used tracing paper over students' drawings to show them how to correct their own work. If you feel like you've done a good job on something except for a mistake or two that would be difficult to repair--fix it on a sheet of tracing paper.

    cheap tracing paper is usually shit. beware of generic stuff because it's meant for little kids to use. buy the medium grade stuff at least.

    also, getting access to a cheap 24-hr xerox machine is a great resource. in the US we've got a bunch of Kinko's places everywhere. if you have a good thumbnail, blow it up to the size you want to work at and trace it to a finished state.

    this gets back to the issue of being portable. you never know what crazy bullshit life may bring, so you want to be able to find basic drawing supplies wherever you wind up. it's a kind of survivalist approach. the more ability you have to get more finished work done under non-ideal circumstances, the better.

    i deal with it when i fly back home to my parents' house for x-mas and holidays. i can't take my drafting table with me, and i usually forget to pack one thing or another. being able to walk into an office supply store and pick up 500 sheets of typing paper, ballpoint pens, tracing paper and some sharpie markers is a great comfort. with just that stuff you can get through the planning and prep stages for a finished 30x40 inch painting or more. and you can do as much quick sketching as you want. either way, no matter where you go, you can start from scratch for about 20$ US. That's pretty badass when you think about it.

    if you rely on art stores for everything, you'll fall victim to certain luxuries. yeah, there are some things you can only get there--like oil paint. and unless you have a cool store near you, you're more or less just feeding a huge corporate outlet. and even in the good ones, you can easily spend more money on stuff you don't even have time to use. ordering stuff online is always cheaper, but it might take 2 weeks for the stuff to show up.

    but the bottom line is that you should never let the absence of a good art supply store or lack of spending money prevent you from getting work done.

    i learned all of this the hard way. i spent two and a half years bouncing around in a different hotel every two weeks for my job. you never know where life will take you, but you better know how to get some drawing done wherever you go.

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  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
    On the road.

    Pen Hatching

    The first topic I'm going to take up is pen and ink (i.e. hatching) stuff. If you have any questions you want to ask about that in particular before i get going, please post them here:

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  6. #5
    hey ccesars, i love your work, yours was the first sb i saw upon joining ca, im 16 yrs old, studying art in the uk, and im just looking for new ideas, and id like it if i could join your mentoring group, i preffer pencil/ink and you can see some of my work in my sb, thanks

    All comments/criticisms will be returned, thanks.
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  7. #6
    hi ccsears, after looking through your sketch book and your previous post in this thread you seem to have alot of wisdom and apparent skill, so i was wondering if you had chosen the mentorees already, if not is there any space for me?

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  8. #7
    ccsears will you be setting us tasks? if so im eager lol

    All comments/criticisms will be returned, thanks.
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  9. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    san jose, ca
    pen/ink: let's say using any given pen (bic ballpoint. or finepoint sharpie) different techniques to render different materials. heck you were probably going to go over this anyway. but i'm thinking specific recognizable materials, i.e.: skin, chrome, glass, ... fiberous stuff (i.e. wool, jackets, jeans, etc). Tied into this is, i guess, generating the -right- level of details w/out going overboard and generating too much work for yourself to convey the idea/form/surface properly. (i guess that second one applies to every type of drawing medium.)

    also i'm thinking techniques/strategies to improve line control. which, considering we're using pens this time would be important given in most cases you cannot just erase and try again.

    pick and choose what you like. don't feel pressured to answer everything.

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  10. #9
    Thanx a lot for your time and effort mate, count me in in your mentoring group
    i´m looking foward for the assigments

    I would be very happy learning also the techniques to improving my line control.
    Also some stuff that you mentioned in your sb thread like:

    "getting to learn from the limitations on pen. like:
    --how to make a soft edge with a "hard" media.
    --how to commit to making a mark when you can't easily adjust it
    --how to be comfortable leaving your construction lines as part of a piece.
    --how to vary your hatching to suggest different planes
    --how to indicate texture.
    --how to lay in an even tone or a gradation"

    think this is a very good starting point, imo.


    Last edited by Azalin; February 9th, 2008 at 05:57 AM.
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  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Nice thread Chris. You've moved some thoughts in my head, made me really think about alot of stuff. You give excellent insight on the struggle some of us have wth creative muscles.

    Figure's 'n' Stuff SketchBook

    Charcoal Paintings


    "Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless."-Thomas A. Edison

    "Convention is craft. Invention is art. In art, knowledge assists invention"-John E. Carlsson
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  12. #11
    Join Date
    May 2006
    On the road.
    Lesson 1. Pen and Ink--Line and Edge

    I. Considerations About Materials
    Here's a huge understatement: pens vary greatly. With a ballpoint pen, I can get a faint scratching, printmaking kind of fine line or a smoothly varying line from light to dark. Speed across the paper and pressure on the paper control these things. But either way, the width doesn't change much. In other words, I can't use the side of the pen to get a big blur the same way I can use the side of a pencil. With other technical pens, there is no light-to-dark variation and no width variation. It's pretty much a static medium. At the other extreme is the old-fashioned nib pens that vary greatly. Beyond that, you can find a lot of examples where brush and ink are mixed in with pen work—but that's a bit outside the scope of what I'm talking about here.

    Inks vary a lot too. You should always be "careful" in mixing different brand pens and inks in the same piece of work. Black is not always black. Ballpoint pen black ink is not the same as India ink or sumi-e style ink or Sharpie marker ink. Some are warm and look almost purplish, some are black as death. If you're just going to scan or Xerox your work anyway, it doesn't matter. But if you want to display something finished, you better be aware of that fact and know your materials well beforehand.

    Paper plays a big role too. A rule for almost any type of paper drawing though is that you should draw on "stacks" of paper, probably at least 15-20 sheets thick. You want to have a little bit of "cushion" or "give" in the surface you work on. Some papers have more grain than others—that can affect how your pen performs on it. A few papers are actually abrasive—they will eat up a felt tip or plastic-nibbed pen. You should also check how stable the ink is on the paper, whether it smudges, if it takes time for the ink to dry on it, whether it bleeds, etc. It's a good habit for any medium to keep a scrap of the surface you're working on to test out marks—don't experiment on your finished work unless you can handle the risk of messing it up.

    Exercise 1.1) Go to the art store or the office supply store and choose a pen you want to work with. Choose something cheap enough you can get a lot of and easy to find in case you want to buy more—at least a dozen pens. Buy more if you lose them easily or leave them in coat pockets like me.

    Exercise 1.2) Go buy a pack of typing paper or a sketchbook. Avoid getting something expensive. Make sure it's compatible with the pen you want to use. Get a lot of it, get a stack of it, keep it on your desk, and keep more in a folder or sketchbook that you take with you.

    II. Big Picture--"The Big Four" and how they relate to pen and ink…
    According to my past teachers, there are four general technical aspects to all drawing, regardless of whether it's abstract or photorealistic, stylized or academic: 1)Line, 2)Shape, 3)Value, 4)Edges. These four parts more or less make up the language of drawing—just like you have the parts of speech in English—nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc. When I learn a new medium, I try to figure out a kind of translation of these four ideas. The only difference between drawing and painting is that you have to add 5) Color to the list. …that's a whole other subject completely.

    III. Line is King
    The first thing you have to realize is that Line is King in pen and ink. You can't do a watercolor wash, you can't do a controlled smudge, you can't do a lot of things. What you can do well is obvious—you can draw lines. So you're first priority, before wondering how to do detailed shading and rendering is how to translate "The Big Four" into a world where all you've got is line.

    For simplicity, I'm going to assume the most difficult situation: you've got a pen that isn't too responsive to pressure or speed and pretty much lays down even lines consistently. It's somewhat boring compared to other pens. It has a thin, brittle line and it would take all day to hatch a large picture.

    Exercise 3.1) Lines & More Lines
    This is the generic touchy-feely art school exercise. Make a bunch of different types of lines using your pen. Here is a non-exhaustive list of questions and experiments:
    How easy is it to make a long (10") line with your pen? Can you move your hand smoothly to get a long line out of it? How about short lines? How fast do you have to move your hand to get a good line? If you move your hand quickly, can you get a lighter, thinner line out of it? What do the ends of the lines look like when you deliberately start and stop? Does ink pool up and bleed at the ends when you do? When you draw a sharp corner does the same thing happen? Is there a difference in your lines when you hold your pen at different angles? How easy is it to make a broken line, dashed line, dot, etc.?

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    (No need to save these doodle sheets or post 3.1 in this mentoring thread. I'm pretty sure most people can doodle. But if you're ever feeling bored or uninspired and can't think of something to draw, you can always experiment with your mark-making. Sometimes you'll come up with the inspiration for a whole piece of work just based on what you enjoy about making certain marks.)

    IV. Edges Come Next.
    When my teachers talked about painting, the most important of the big four were shape and value because that's how paint brushes work. For pen and ink, it's line and edges. If you've got a decent amount of experience and you read the forums a lot, you'll eventually pick up certain ideas about edges. Basically, the hardeness/softness ranges from non-existent to soft to medium to hard to knife-sharp; and the width varies from ultra thin to wide. Each edge has a use in a drawing or a painting. In painting, you usually don't use lines for this, you use the edges of the brush marks you make. For pen and ink, you use different types of lines.

    The easiest thing to make with a pen is a solid line. It's probably relatively hard for an edge. You can make it sharper sometimes by retracing it over and over and trying to clean it up or make it very crisp. Anyway, that part is not what's difficult. Before you get too much deeper into a serious drawing, you need to find out what it takes to make a soft edge, a thin edge, a light edge and a dark edge. If you were drawing with pencil or charcoal, this wouldn't be too difficult because those marks can be made naturally. What you're doing here is reinterpreting and translating those ideas into linear pen marks.

    Exercise IV.1) Find the range of edges your pen can produce. See the image below. It is even more helpful if you find two pens to compare and contrast. (Please DO NOT post your experiments here for the time being.)

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    Exercise IV.2) Copy any of these simple geometric forms and these heads and features, paying attention to the lines and edges I'm using. How you use line to lay in your shapes and how you organize your edges and linework is the framework that you're going to build your shapes and values. I know there are many ways to do this—what I've done is just a small sample of what's actually possible. But concentrate on organizing and thinking in your head "soft edge, hard edge, thin edge, thick edge." Being conscious of what you see in these drawings is the first step. Then you will be able to make your own conscious decisions in your own artwork.

    Note: There are a few hatching and rendering examples in here. You guys know the drill. Copy these or invent your own. If you're nervous about "getting it right the first time", lightly sketch in the placement with a pencil.

    Note: When using a pen like the one I am here, a big wide blurry edge gets lost and turns into a kind of hatched tone. It'll make more sense later.

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    Exercise IV.3) this is for fun... Invent the enigmatic floating elipsoid from outer space. These four photos show the process...

    Step 1. Sketch something out in pencil, ink it with the pen, erase the pencil.
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    Step 2. This is what I'm thinking about form and lighting in my head. I map out the size of the core shadows--where it is really important to understand edges. Notice how wide some of these core shadows are compared to my pen line thickness. It would be impossible to use just a simple broken set of lines to map out something that wide...
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    Step 3. Map out the core shadows. When the edge becomes too wide and blurry, lose it and leave it blank. You can't do a gradation in an edge, just let the edge fade out into nothing for the time being.
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    Step 4. Fill in the shadow side with an even tone. Since the area I'm filling in is so big and my pen is thin, I can't use uniform parallel lines to fill it in. So I just pick any regular random pattern and fill it in. Since there aren't any competing details at the same size scale as the hatching (e.g. leaves or grass), I can get away with using this pattern as just a stylistic decision. Next. reinforce some of the drawn contour lines where needed for visibility. Finally, handle the big blurry lost edge.
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    I hatch the core shadows on large objects like this using a kind of cross-contour direction for the lines. How much you use and how dense depends on the value of the object and strength of the light. Even if you wind up doing washes of hatching over these, there will still be the feel of the cross contour showing through it, which can be important sometimes.

    If you have any questions about this stuff, ask 'em here. The only pictures I'd like to see posted are the objects or the blob exercise.

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  13. #12
    wow, so much info, that´s exactly what i´ve been looking for.
    i´ll start working on it right away.
    Cheers mate

    Unfortunately didn´t have much time today, so i couldn't´t finish the whole tutorial, but made a some of the shapes and faces. Tried to keep in mind what kind of Edge i was doing while copying your exercises. but was hard because of my bad line control. Anyhow i´ll do the rest tomorrow, now i´m off to bed, very tired.

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    Last edited by Azalin; February 10th, 2008 at 06:37 PM.
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  14. #13
    Join Date
    May 2006
    On the road.

    2008-02-10 Lesson 1 (Continued)

    V. Resources

    Before I get into shapes and hatching for value, I wanted to share the resources, books, and artists that I look to for this type of pen and ink work.

    1. Franklin Booth: Painter with a Pen
    2. Franklin Booth: American Illustrator
    3. Joseph Clement Coll: A Legacy in Line
    4. Joseph Clement Coll: The Art of Adventure
    5. Rendering in Pen and Ink:The Classic Book on Pen and Ink Techniques for Artists, Illustrators, Architects, and Designers
    6. Look at all the books about Gustave Dore available from Dover publishing (most of these are cheap, around 10$)
    7. The Gibson Girl and Her America Look for other books by Dover Publishing about Charles Dana Gibson too--they're very affordable.
    8. Website of Noli Novak--the artist who currently does all those little portraits for the Wall Street Journal
    9. Website of Kevin Sprouls--the first illustrator to do those portraits for the Wall Street Journal
    10, 11.Hollywood Glamor Portraits &
    Film Star Portraits of the Fifties--two excellent books of black and white portrait photographs. great material to practice from.

    (They recently had an exhibit of those portraits. I saw about 30 of them up close...)

    If you have trouble finding these, check Dover Publishing's website for the Dore and Charles Dana Gibson books. You can also look at great resource for all kinds of illustration books.

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  15. #14
    Join Date
    May 2006
    On the road.
    arkos78 Very good work! Some people have a tendency to get pretty uptight and nervous just because ink doesn't erase, but you've done a good job here. I like how loosely you're using the pen. You're ready to start doing some of the value and shape stuff now too, but I'm going to wait a little while to write all that up. (I've got my own work I've gotta finish for some deadlines)

    Also, notice that most people don't have a lot of hard edges. After all, human bodies don't have too many sharp corners. When I start roughing in figures, i mainly use broken lines. When I "do the right thing," I don't put in marks for shadow edges until I'm pretty sure I've gotten the necessary contour line information and construction correctly.

    Don't feel like you have to copy everything that I put up here. It's a lot of work, even for me. And always feel free to go off on your own and explore other things too.

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  16. #15
    Hi Ccsear,
    thanx for the compliment, although i still find my lines somehow a bit stiff, and they don´t go always where they´re suppose to, anyway nothing that some more practice won´t improve, i hope.

    Can´t wait for the values and shape stuff. Take your time mate, deadlines first.

    I got me today some Copic multiliners today, and all i can say is i love them, it´s very fun to draw with them, i know they're not cheap but i´m kind of an addict when it gets to buying art stuff Specially when its good quality stuff.

    Also took your advice and did some Eyes Studies and faces, -hope you don´t mind me posting them in this thread, promise i´ll make a SB soon- I did them from what i´ve learned in this tutorial and what has inspired me from your SB, i´ll buy me some of the books your recommended once my bank account is stable again. Also did the floating ellipsoid from outer space, and had a great deal of fun doing it. Its helping me lot improve my lines and i´m finally understanding the hatching process.
    Thanx again

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  17. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    A beautiful island:P
    Cool!! Wouldn't have known your mentoring thread if I didn't see your signature. Just want say thanks for these useful information, especially the assignment. People always understand thing better only when they are doing it by themselves, well, I am.

    Nice job!!

    It should always be bore in one's mind that he must be responsible for his life........

    Welcome to My !!!!!
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  18. #17
    Hi everyone,
    I have made some of the object in the exercise, here it is

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  19. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Exercise One

    Thank you for making this thread!

    I've chosen to work with a Hunt 102 nib pen, with Indian ink.

    A bit disappointed with the outcome my ellipsoid.
    The core shadow hatching is all over the place. I hope the shadow placements are at least somewhat correct.

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  20. #19
    Hi there, my best mate and roommate had his 31th Birthday so today i made him a kind of portrait based on what i´ve learned from this thread, hope when you have some time you can give me some crits. took me about 5 hours (want it to get it right for him... and i´m also a slow one at drawing...
    thanks in advance

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  21. #20
    Join Date
    May 2006
    On the road.

    feedback soon...

    arkos78, HunterKiller, Sigit, UnSharpened Thanks for the work you guys. I apologize for the late reply, but I've been super-busy organizing a portfolio, buying ink and paper for my cheap printer, and getting a cover letter and resume straightened out for an opening at Dreamworks Animation.

    (not to mention that a close friend of mine is now in jail...)

    it's been kicking my ass and i'd much rather be drawing...but it's a necessary evil if i want to change careers. the job openings are pretty sudden. if you're not ready to jump on them when they pop up, you miss out.

    I see some good things in here, and I see some really important items to correct and point out--mostly with Value organization and hatching. stuff that is very different in pen and ink than it is with pencil or charcoal, or any "easier" medium.

    I don't want to write them out just yet because they are part of the next lesson. Rest assured, we will definitely cover them. And don't worry, once I point out what they are they will be very easy for you guys to fix, and I think they will help your drawings in other mediums too. I'm excited about it and seeing what you guys think...

    Thanks for your patience.

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  22. #21
    Just dropping in to say I like what you're doing in here ccsears The introductionstory is a good read. It might help to decrease the size of your examples a bit as they are quite huge and would probably read better if they're smaller

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  23. #22
    Hi ccsears, don´t worry about not having time for the thread, can´t deny that i can hardly wait for the next assignment thou. in the mean time we can only practice, practice & practice...
    Good luck with your Job application.
    Dreamworks Animation sound like a dreamjob

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  24. #23
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Oakland, CA - Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Hopping on board...

    Thanks for this thread ccsears, it's great already! Just thought I'd jump in here with my unworthy scribbles and see what happens. I'm using a bic ballpoint pen, been using them or some other brand ballpoint for pretty much 90% or more of anything I draw for quite a while now. I love using them, just felt like I haven't been advancing in technique with them at all. You (or anyone else too) can also check out my sketchbook thread to see what I mean.

    Sorry about these images, no scanner here, all I have is a cheapo camera and a shaky grip apparently. I'll try to up the quality in the future, as for now hopefully these are acceptable.

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    Dman Sketchbook Thread
    Don't forget to visit The SOFA!
    Don't think, feeeeeeeel.
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  25. #24
    Join Date
    May 2006
    On the road.
    Sorry for the delay. And sorry for the lack of feedback too. And THANKS to everybody for doing these exercises and trying to take it even further.

    But before I go ahead and crit any of your work, I want to show you guys this stuff and give you the chance to look at your own work again. I don't think there were any huge technical mistakes that can't be fixed with this (and with a lot more drawing mileage). I'm not here to tell you, the nose is too big or whatever. with time, you will develop an eye for that stuff.

    Painful Lesson 1.
    There are two major gaps in the black-white spectrum when you're using a thin, hard line pen. On the light hand side, it is hard to get a very light gray over a large region. On the dark side, it will take all day for you to hatch a perfect black with a tiny pen. (I cheated here and used a sharpie marker--for beginners, I don't recommend mixing pen types like this...)

    Exercise 1. I know it's boring as hell, but I strongly recommend you copy this value scale at least once. Do it big too, at least 1.5 inches tall by 8 wide. This will teach you a painful, but important lesson about value with pen and ink. If you want extra credit, try doing it the really hard way with parallel line hatching instead of the random patches i use here. Neatness counts, right?

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    Painful Lesson 2.
    This painful lesson brings up another point. The possible values you can hatch with a pen are STRONGLY DEPENDENT ON THE SIZE OF THE SHAPE YOU ARE TRYING TO FILL!!! If you draw a tiny shape, the outline you use is already forming a kind of hatching value on its own. to make it lighter you can try to break up the outline a little, but not much. To make it darker, you can maybe get one or two values with hatching, and then a completely dark one.

    ALSO IMPORTANT--the values of tiny shapes are RELATIVE to the values of the areas around them. i.e. if you take that tiny shape and put it on pure black, it will look very bright. if you put it on pure white, it might look kind of dark. Pen and ink uses values RELATIVELY. Never forget that. It is the most painful uber-lesson of them all.

    As the shapes get bigger, you will find a "comfort zone." Shapes that are maybe 3/4" in size are pretty easy to hatch with parallel lines.

    As you make bigger shapes, you run into that black and white spectrum issue. It is impossible to fill a big shape with a very light gray. And it is a royal pain in the ass to fill in something with pure black with a tiny pen.

    Exercise 2. Painful again, but repeat what i've drawn here at a few different scales. Learn this painful lesson and understand it.
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    Slightly less painful Lesson 3.
    Now we'll talk briefly about actually drawing something. In this case, I'm drawing a typical eye shape for a head that's roughly 1.5-2" tall. This is a pretty typical task in drawing, so we might as well learn about it.

    Sometimes you have a head that's lilt from the front, and all the shadows kind of group together into dark. And sometimes you have a head that's lit from behind and to the side so you can see a rim of bright light on the side of the head. in that case all your detail is technically in the shadow, or the shadowy ambient light. You can't have your cake and eat it too. ESPECIALLY when you're using pen and ink. It is just too difficult most of the time. Keep your detail either in the shadow or in the light. group and simplify the side that doesn't have detail.

    Notice what happens when your "background" hatching competes with the size of your details. it looks like crap! and notice what happens when you don't go dark enough with your detail compared to your background hatching--it disappears and gets lost. Besides basic drawing (proportion, shape, placement, etc.) this and not understanding the gaps in the value scale are the number one killers of a good pen and ink drawing.

    (I see this in a lot of places on you guys' homework. You should be able to look at it and see it yourself.)

    Exercise 3. Copy this. Try it again with an entire head. Use the same head under different lighting conditions.
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    Lesson 4. Good Habits
    This is what i was talking about earlier. Your hand has a natural scale that it likes to hatch. This is different than in large scale figure drawing where you're making a single line with your entire hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder. This is making lots of parallel lines. Your fingers and thumb are good at this. Your wrist, elbow and shoulder are bad at it. This is what limits you from doing a perfectly "+-shaped" perpendicularly cross-hatched huge drawing. you are at a mechanical disadvantage.
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    When you do use cross-hatching, be thoughtful about it. Not every drawing has to be in a carefully controlled style. Loose is a cool feel sometimes. But be aware that loose does not mean thoughtless. Pick good directions for hatching, don't leave unnecessary gaps and don't leave overlaps that create distracting patterns. The key to having a loose style is not letting the randomness compete with what you are trying to say. That goes for painting, drawing and everything else in between.
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    some final parting thoughts...
    1. like i said a few times before. the key to organizing value is keeping light and shadow separate. because value is strongly limited with pen and ink, you either need to use most of your scale in the light OR the shadow to create detail. That means you need to simplify the side that doesn't have detail. I've seen a lot of people screw up good linework by not understanding this.

    2. the linework and shapes are the framework of your drawing. don't think you can be all touchy-feely and atmospheric with your values. yes, you sometimes can, but only if you've already drawn the lines in your mind's eye. unless you have very highly-developed drawing skills (way better than mine) it is not a good idea to be sloppy or half-assed with your lines. this isn't oil painting or charcoal, there is no ctrl-z.

    3. if you're upset that your construction lines are "ruining" your work, start doing them in pencil. make sure you're using a pen that can handle it though. ALSO use your pencil and eraser LIGHTLY. if you dent your paper by using your pencil to roughly, or have to rub the hell out of it to erase, you will screw up your ink work. you can't see it in anything that i scan here or in my sketchbook thread, but black ink does not look the same after you rub an eraser to hell all over it.
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    So those are your exercises, they suck, but you need to do them. trust me.

    I also want you to look at your own work and evaluate what i've said here. the most important thing for you guys to get out of anything that i say is the ability to self-teach, self-critique, and self-organize. if i look at your drawing and list 100 problems you need to fix, it won't change your awareness while you're actually drawing. what you really need is that ability to evaluate and make decisions real-time, not a list of things to worry about.

    thanks, feedback is appreciated.

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  26. #25
    Thanx mate, ill take this to work and practice there (working as security for 1 week at the cebit Fair)

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  27. #26
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Oakland, CA - Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Painful lessons...

    Here's my horrible quality pictures for the next exercise, sorry again about the lack of scanner. I'll get some full heads up soon as well. Working also on evaluating my work. It's not tough to see when something looks off, but understanding why can be a different matter.

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    Dman Sketchbook Thread
    Don't forget to visit The SOFA!
    Don't think, feeeeeeeel.
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  28. #27
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Hey, this is actually my first time in the mentor board (I'm pretty new to in general). This is the first thread I stumbled upon. The introduction you have is superb. I'm generally new to the writing scene (only been "seriously" drawing the past couple of months. I've greatly improved by drawing skill from that of an eight year old to about a twelve year old (and I'm 16...). I can vouch that it is difficult to get started. Often times at night, I'm tempted to look away from my sketchbook or tablet and go straight to the computer games; shunning out the thought of seeing my poor writing ability and frustration of not being able to shade worth a damn. All I can say is persistence. For me, whenever I feel these bad thoughts being triggered by the wanting to draw, I instantly force myself to be optimistic and positive about it. I think "This is what I want to do for a living, and with patience and time I will be able to draw the way I want."

    If you spend any amount of time drawing a day, that's just that much more you've improved. You will always learn something drawing no matter how little you do it, be it on the conscious or sub-conscious level - just do it. It also reinforces what you've already learned. My dad told me once concerning guitar: For every day you're not playing guitar, you lose two hours worth of learning. But if you just play for a half hour a day, you'll retain everything you have learned and learn more. Obviously, this carries over to drawing (as well as writing, as I have the same problem with writing stories). The half hour a day thing is irrelevant as really anytime would suffice; but of course, the more the better. These are the approaches I follow.

    while I have no pen (in the whole apartment, I believe), I just used a pencil, and it was a great exercise. I wasn't planning to draw, furthermore upload what I did... But I figured I'd contribute a little. Did not do everything obviously, I just drew what I wanted for a little bit.

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  29. #28
    here are some of the hatching exercises, i´m still having trouble organizing my values, and also understanding lesson 3, not sure if i got it right. Also having hard time analysing my work. i´ll post more heads later.

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  30. #29
    Join Date
    May 2006
    On the road.

    2008-03-10 Arkos78's Feedback

    post #12 (above) Excellent work. Nice job with the shapes. Take a little more time when you're hatching--how fast you move the pen can affect your line quality.

    post #15 (above)
    image 1.
    in the bottom head, notice how much darker the eyes look than everything else in the picture. this is a problem in value organization. My guess is that you were concentrating on getting the likeness of the eyes more than anything else. Also notice how much work it would take to hatch everything darker on his head--thousands and thousands of lines. Also notice how hard it is to fill in a large area evenly. And finally, notice what happens if you use too few lines--it looks too much like a stripey-pattern.
    image 2
    very nicely done. I think a few of the outlines are a little heavy in some places but this is good.
    here, i think the problems are mostly drawing and not pen and ink specifically. When you draw the whites of the eyes, they are never as bright or as white as you might think. if you look closely at most photographs, you can even see a shadow on them from the upper lid and eyelashes. Also, you're using too much outline on these and not enough form-thinking. Finally, be very careful about what kind of outline you use for the eyebrows. try to use a broken (dashed) line more than a hard edge.
    (Don't worry about this stuff too much, we'll talk about head drawing in an upcoming lesson)
    here is the opposite problem from going too dark--going too light. The most impossible thing to do with a pen is to get an even, light gray over a large area. notice what happens when the spaces between your hatching lines are much, much bigger than the spaces--the hatching looks less like a tone and more like stripes or pattern. this is fine for some things, but i don't think it's what you're intending to do here.
    remember what i said a few lines before. the whites of eyes are never completely white. (unless you're trying to go for a "surprised" look in certain conditions)

    ***Keep practicing these eye studies though. for right now, i would work on trying to draw the entire eye socket using one complex shape (with a hole or two cut out of it). When you get the hang of grouping things correctly, a lot of your value mistakes will clear up because you will have your values automatically grouped correctly. look at post #285 in my sketchbook thread and try copying it a few times. (my drawing was sloppy and messier than what you should aim for though)

    post#19 Nice. But here you can really see the value "jump" i was talking about. look at how much darker his eyes are than everything else in the picture. it's good for having a focus in the picture because the viewer will immediately look at his eyes, but it's bad because there's nothing else in the picture to balance it out. (the contrast is so intense that it's hard to get the viewer to look at any of the other parts of the picture) It looks like you did a good job at getting a likeness though, which is important in doing pictures of people you know well. (artists beat themselves up when they mess up the likeness of someone they know, but they're easier on themselves when they do random, anonymous model drawings)

    we haven't talked about it yet, but the bird-body is a perfect opportunity to use pen for texture. instead of using a random pattern, you could easily use some kind of cleverly designed feather-shaped hatching pattern.

    But i think you see one of the big disadvantages of pen and ink. doing a large drawing can take an eternity. that is why it is all the more important to get a lot of experience on a small scale first. There are strategies for doing larger pen and ink drawings, but we can talk about them later. For right now, I definitely would not recommend drawing a head bigger than 5" in pen and ink--at least not with that pen.

    I'm skipping feedback on the last post for right now. not enough time at the moment.

    HunterKiller, Sigit, Dman, Lennybird
    I'll try to tackle feedback one-by-one for you guys next. Still, you should look at what I've written for arkos78 here and re-examine your own drawings. Take every opportunity to learn from each other's work.

    it's 1am and i've gotta get to work early tomorrow....

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  31. #30
    thanx for your critics, they have really helped me to see things i hadn´t notice before, well some i did but only after your painful lessons.
    Your right about taking more time to do the hatching, sometimes i just loose my patience and want to finish it as fast a possible... big mistake eh! gotta work on some yoga or some other self control activity like boxing
    That friend piece i did it took me an eternity, almost 7 hours of hatching were invested there, the extreme dark in the eyes was a product of overdoing my drawing, i should have stop 1 hour before or so, saw more balanced before that, but at least i learned a lot about hatching on larger areas that day i also was very happy that i actually nailed his likeness.
    looking forward for some more crits...

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