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  1. #1
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    What is the difference between drawing from life or photo reference or mirror

    I'm curious to know what are the differences of drawing let's say a model from life compared to drawing a model from a photographic reference? What about drawing via mirror?

    Edit:
    "Okay I have a question. How can I get the best out of studying from reference? I see a lot of people "copying" anatomy straight from Bridgman, Hogarth etc. I understand it's near to impossible to go study cadavers so studying for muscles is a must through books and then observing afterwards in real life. But what advantages does studying from books bring and how can I get the most out of of copying for example Bridgman's studies from his book?"
    Last edited by Jussi Tarvainen; July 19th, 2008 at 03:49 PM.
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  3. #2
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    good question

    well as far as i know there is but a little difference, the main point is that you should know how to see in the correct way. if possible i would recommend u to go through"drawing on the right side of thebrain by dr. betty edwards" its a good book which explores the scientific part of art of drawing( i am not her book agent ha ha ha) once u know the right way of seeing and understanding things and also rythm then u can draw any thing weather from photo reference or life.
    all the best.

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    Unnatural shadows that don't appear in life.
    Distorted foreshortening and skewed proportions.
    Flatness of the image leads to bad judgment of depth of field.

  5. #4
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    Andrew Loomis has alot to say about that in the introduction to "Sucessful drawing".

    Here's a quote by Steven Assael:

    "Drawing from life is an accumulation of subtle events made evident on a page. Unlike photography, drawing is not instantanious, but rather is sequental. A drawing can provide the viewer with a relic of compounded experiences that remains alive to the eye."

    Also, if you want to learn from copying from pictures, doing careful and precise master studies will oftenl be much more helpful, for reasons as stated above.
    Last edited by AndreasM; July 15th, 2008 at 04:22 AM.
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    -Cameras have lens distortion, see Loomis "Creative Illustration" for more on this
    -Cameras have only one eye
    -Cameras have a vastly more limited dynamic range than eyes
    -Cameras will tend to get colours wrong- your eyes can "white balance" on the fly, cameras generally can't
    -When you draw from photos the image is already flattened out to a 2d plane for you
    -You can't get up and walk around a photo to see something from a slightly different angle.

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    Space. Photos can't capture space, only surface. Drawing and painting are about reducing three dimensional forms IN SPACE onto a two dimensional surface, the camera removes you from the third dimension immediately and you're left interpreting an interpretation of life.
    Obvious troll is obvious

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  9. #7
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    Awesome to see so many very valuable and interesting replies to this thread!
    Definitely going to look into the books suggested and keep all this information in mind.

    Thanks a lot!
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  10. #8
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    do tons of technical, detailed drawings from life of objects like plants, objects, skeletons, etc then try and do the same with photos. the difference will hit you like night and day.

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    Steve kim:
    I'll do that!

    What about drawing via mirror?
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  12. #10
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    A mirror is not as restrictive and distorting as a camera (assuming your mirror's not warped). You can still move your head and get different angles. But of course a mirror is really only useful for self-portraits... which is still good, especially for practicing expressions and such.
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    Drawing from a mirror *is* drawing from life. The problem with drawing from photographs is that all the hard work of converting 3D to 2D has been done for you already, even if you took the photo yourself.
    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

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    And that hard work translates to learning stuff. When you look at a photo, you think, "there's a dark line near the eye." When you look at the same view in person, you think, "there's an indentation near the eye." That's a vastly more important thing to know.
    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).

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  16. #13
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    Okay I have a question. How can I get the best out of studying from reference? I see a lot of people "copying" anatomy straight from Bridgman, Hogarth etc. I understand it's near to impossible to go study cadavers so studying for muscles is a must through books and then observing afterwards in real life. But what advantages does studying from books bring and how can I get the most out of of copying for example Bridgman's studies from his book?

    Thanks.
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    I'd say just dive into it. You'll get just as good answers from just trying and failing as you will get from asking in here. Get as many books as possible: bridgeman, Paul Richer, Gottfried Bammes, Elliot Goldfinger, John Robert Peck etc. Trust me, one anatomy book is never enough. They all kind of say the same thing, but each book has a special something that is often cruicial to your mental library. As for getting the most out of reference drawings, I think it's important to always do them with a certain question in mind.
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  18. #15
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    Depth perception. 'Nuff said. D:

    Anyway, anatomy books are mostly for...well, reference. Sure, they can teach you things about the muscles and bone structures, but that knowledge works best when applied to something in real life instead of standing alone.
    I was taking life drawing and human anatomy at the same time in college, so once I started learning more, during my drawings, the process began to move faster because I knew what the bones and muscles were, where they were, how they should go [ie: the angle of the clavicles between a male and a female], their typical size, and other such things.

    It's kinda like...pb&j. Sure, it taste pretty swell with just peanut butter [life], but when you put on jelly[books], it adds an extra excitement.

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