Best Advice You Ever Got In Your Sketchbook
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  1. #1
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    TASmith is offline Registered User Level 16 Gladiator: Spartacus' Retiarii
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    Best Advice You Ever Got In Your Sketchbook

    So, in my ongoing effort to learn something, I've gone through my SB for any insights into my messy art. Here's the best advice so far. If everyone here does the same thing, and posts in this thread, maybe we can condense our knowledge into one great big tasty read? Sorry, I didn't add names for all this. got lazy.

    "maybe you need to loosen your linework a little in order to make them look more alive."

    "from you first figure studies you show a real strength with form construction if you managed to combine that when you are drawing from life it would help you a lot with structure rather then just copying the value shape"

    "think about the direction of your lines"

    "Try using less lines, When you are doing contour drawings of figures and shapes."

    "check out the main features that make up the head."

    "a pencil tip only really covers the size of a period ---> . and using that to render out a huge image is like trying to kill an elephant by stabbing it to death with a toothpick."

    "sketches don't have to be prescious little things; scribble if you have to, show your underlines and where you had to adjust/make changes. Stop trying to render everything. Structural lines can even be found in the studies Michealangelo did for the sistene chapel"

    "Looking at some of your heads, I see that you're leaving quite a bit of the paper showing through. This would be ok if the rest of your shading were more subtle, but as it is you have a lot of dark darks and a lot of light lights very disjointed. It's splitting up your forms and we lose the impression of three-dimensionality."

    "With your drawings, however I miss some of the love and patience you put into your brushstrokes. youare seeing drawing too much like painting, sure the principles are somewhat the same, you have values and midtones and all that. But you don't have color which is what you are relying on. You could do a monochromatic painting and you'd see that relying on value alone does make a difference in recognition of the subject. The value-relationships are crucial to drawing, especially when rendering. Mindcandymanonce gave the tip to consciously limit yourvalues just to 2 lighttones, 3 Midtones and 2 shadowtones, if youcan, do even less, you can achieve beauty just wth 2 values and things willstill be recognizable. Apart from that, your pencil-strokes are flattening the form. this becomes especially aparent in your portraits where this messes up the cheek and the forehead in a lot of cases. Try to defne around the form, not through it."

    "I really hate to spoil it, but although this guy is sound in structure, your rendering is making things bad again. The folds and wrinkles (mainly on his forehead, the mouth is fine) look like they are painted on top of the skin and not like 3D-gaps in the surface."

    "I don't quite know what happened from then to now, but it seems your line quality has gone down a bit, instead of being relatively smooth and steady now it's much more scratchy and less accurate. If I were to work on something, I think it would be concentrating on line quality and accuracy."

    EDIT: This was from a WIP thread of mine, and I feel unworthy to get Chris Bennett praising me for anything, but it's definately some of the best advice I've gotten from CA. So here it is. If any of you got advice from C. Bennett, post it!

    "The second painting, of the trees in the snow is beautiful just as it is. It has the same energy and suprise as the first drawing of the chrurch steeple seen through the trees.
    The strength of that second painting is in the way you animate the surface with pure pictorial expression - its all about the delight of having things happen on the surface made by the shapes of the paint marks which somehow translate your excitement about looking into this glade in winter sunshine.
    I would try and make a painting by using this very painting as your subject to paint from that simply exploited this rather than trying to work up a 'more detailed' scene."

    "The drawing of the two windows at the end of the room is also very good - a real experience that you have made something of and have something to 'say' about. It would be good to see you do something with that. There is a lot of heart felt feeling and tenderness that comes from your drawings that seems independent of technical assurance. It's a precious gift, don't loose it!"

    "The fact that they are limited pallette exercises makes no difference whatsoever - their beauty derives from the fact they are clear and direct.
    Looking at the drawing of the net curtain and how it relates to the other drawings I see that you work really well with flat patterning and form being a sort of by-product - they are like a persian carpet in a way. I'll stick my neck out and say that this is where your real strength lies - a sort of 'poetry of patterning'. The reason I say 'poetry' is because your work is not just decorative patterning whose only purpose is to 'look nice' but the patterning sort of speaks of the drama of the world. That first drawing of the church steeple is better than the second for just this reason - it is a pattern dance on the surface which, because it gives itself up to this, evokes form in a way that works for you much better than when you directly try to 'describe' it. Some of those drawings of the girls surrounded by the desks are full of drama, all made out of the way you have quietly linked the shapes together, almost irrespective of what they represent."

    "The street scenes look a little to 'ordinary' or everyday' for me, and would not present something too different from what you see around in terms of 'standard street scene' type paintings."

    "That latest pallete knife painting of trees along some sort of river or path is exactly what I mean in terms of your work working really well when you are 'patterning' - there is an unself-conscious delight in the ordering of 2D relationships across the surface that due to its conviction and confidence and you evidently feeling comfortable with this, implies a very powerful and 'surprising' sense of space and form in an emotional way."

    "In fact, thinking about your net curtain drawing, your trees drawing, the classroom drawings, your street paintings and the 'painting of the snow avenue' that I liked so much; your really powerful guns are located in your feeling for space and light rather than form. When you you are thinking of space and light, which is brought out naturally with the 'patterning approach', you seem to be speaking of something you have an intense and natural feeling for and is uniquely your own. It is your feeling for space and light rather than form that is your brightest jewel - you should exploit it to the full, polish it and place it at the centre of your crown.
    The pallette knife forces you to interpret things as a pattern on a surface - the whole buisness of laying the paint on with the side of the knife makes you think in terms of shapes rather than digging into the surface with a brush. It is like a glorious tapestry or carpet - exactly the way that we get the most joy out of looking at paintings.
    Patterning....patterning is the probity of painting - it is the way we comunicate our way of looking. Being translated into the code of marks on a flat surface, the onlooker is quite literally made to feel your way of seeing form by 'reading' the flat shapes into a solid form inside their own minds."

    "Do this when you paint the figure, reinventing what you see as form into flat patternings just as you do the trees, rocks and skies of your landscapes. Don't worry about 'getting it right'. It will be right if you believe in your pattern. Because if you believe it then so will the onlooker and thus so will they believe in the figure you represent. Believing in an image, feeling it is 'right' has nothing to do with accuracy and everything to do with a music of pattern."

    Last edited by TASmith; September 20th, 2008 at 03:05 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Great idea! It's rare that the work done in the scetchbook-forums gets honoured in such a way since for some peeps that forum seems to lean more to the finally finished than to the critique center. But on occasion, crits given there are extremely valuable and personal and I would want to point that out since the asskissing in some threads made them nearly unreadable, we need some kind of a crit-promotion in the SBs .

    On the other hand, its the forum where it's the most apparent that once you turn 5 stars, the critting ends apruptly. If I ever get into that dimension, I'll hire someone to vote my thread down for that reason.

    It's all about the regulars, though. Over the years i made a bunch of friends that really stayed with me and they are usually the best to judge my stuff since they witnessed my development firsthand. And I do the same to them. Works perfectly and even better than the SSG-system which is a nice plus. Just don't go around post 1-sentence crits, that way you'll not make those connections.

    Speaking of which, assembling some bits of knowledge from the pst weeks in mine:

    Tugelbend: "Dude, your pencils are getting really good.
    I'm an amateur myself so I'm actually not in the position to give advice BUT IMHO getting a better feeling for proportions should a be a higher priority for you now because I feel like that's what you're really missing at the moment.
    Also, I believe, it'd be good to to let colors be colors for a while and concentrate on nailing values better. Not that you should stop doing colors at all, of course.

    I am also struggling a lot with proportions and what really helped me was to stop being a lazy ass and actually measure the proportions carefully before getting into the drawing (when doing figure studies, of course). It's really a pain in the ass but it helps. Also looking at a figure and trying to find relations yourself helps a lot. I memorize self-discovered stuff much better than things I read in a book.

    Also, dude.. believe in yourself man. You can fucking do it."

    Kelly x: "nice updates and seeing several faces, your noses are all a little long meaning too far down from the eyes - just a quick fix but it would fix the faces and I only say it because I did this at first too and still do!! - just cut the face in half and move the whole thing up.... just a tiny bit but it would fix a lot - then you can see."

    purb36 (One of my oldest contacts here, I consider him a friend by now and had the pleasure to hang out personally as well):

    "yo man. the balls from post 602...since they have such a defined cast shadow, wouldn't their form shadow be a lot harder as well? or are they buttons and not spheres? just wondering. for this last soldier, did you mean for him to be shrugging his shoulder, or for his arm to be down? you would need to make his shoulder bigger and end higher, as well as have his elbow come up much higher. keep paint alive! peace."

    "great pic of the angel. she needs bigger hands. keep on pushing man, you're learning at a phenomenal pace."

    "nice bridgman. now go slower and really concentrate on your lines, and seeing what's what. reading it helps a lot as well...i learned more from reading the book than from anything else. first woman in post 683 needs more chin.

    keep working hard man; you got it in you. "

    "http://conceptart.org/forums/attachm...d=1216486 120

    really like this one (the crutches girl writing/drawing). you keep getting better and better man.

    her upperarm seems a little long though; check that again. elbow should be approximately at the bottom of the ribcage. elbow to wrist should be approximately the same length as the elbow to shoulder top. anatomy dude; you can doooooo-it! "

    and so on... always a great input

    and Farvus of course, damn I have to meet that guy one day, always a great source of information and he's got a great eye for my mistakes and weak spots lol:
    "http://conceptart.org/forums/attachm...d=1217540 709 - Oh, man.. See? You can turn your usual excercises into finished art. Not even that. Naked chicks and geometry are very interesting combination .

    In the last piece the shadow she is casting has so uniform value that it flattens the form a bit. I'd suggest giving it brihtness according to the sides of box so that it merges with the environment a bit.

    I think your composition sense is improving. Keep it up."

    "Hey. I must say you have interesting sense of color. That will be propably your strong point in near future. There are often here a bit too random tries but it's getting better with every update. I don't remember if I mentioned it before but try to think of color as value. On this forum there is this really good tutorial about color theory that mentions that. Check it out - http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=17837

    Your gestural sketches are really nice but those castle life drawings look too rushed to me. Try to take your time when drawing architecture.

    The last enviro was a big surprise for me. You usually post very small images and suddenly this big structure . I dig the design. It seems like you were a bit unconfident when painting foreground with this dark shadow. Generally it could gradually get brighter when it goes farther from the building.
    Also element placed in bottom rigt corner which is the closest to the viewer seems to be in wrong angle to the perspective lines. I'm not sure about that so check it.

    I'm impressed by your dedication. Keep it up."

    "Wow. Lots of new updates in here.
    When it comes to drawing architecture it just matter of proportions and angles. If you just measure everything well what's in front of you and draw it in, it not very different from drawing anything else in the world. At least that's how I approach to drawing. Once you realise that, life drawing becomes easy task .

    I see more finished art than before and that's great.

    http://conceptart.org/forums/attachm...d=1219417 444 - the female face in the bottom left corner has weird angle of the jaw. Even though it's smaller than in masculine face, it's still goes in horizontal line and then goes up to the ear in curve.

    http://conceptart.org/forums/attachm...d=1219491 950 - This one is nice. You could try using more agressive saturated colors to enhace the mood. I'm also worried a bit about the bottom right corner of the picture. There is some texture there but it doesn't attract eye. Maybe you could add hands of the creatures there. I dunno.

    http://conceptart.org/forums/attachm...d=1219491 979 - This one is my new favourite picture from you. It has interesting design, light and colors. I'm only not sure what is is that red thing. From silhouette it could read as figure bit there's not enough information.

    Value studies from last update are great. The small dot texture looks like from some etchings .

    Keep it up!"

    "Hey. Good updates. The car has really good perspective and I like different specular level on those materials. I think it's too dark in the shadow though. It's also hard to see what's happening in those more detailed parts but I guess the concept is still unfinished.

    I loke the portraits too. Interesting color palettes. Try to avoid using too much black beacause it looses form. Also some places have really strong jumps in saturation and it looks wierd to me. For example the yellow cloth in the left portrait. It's almost black in the shadow, then it turns grey in halftone, but some parts are yellowish. In some parts the white highlights are actually darker than halftone which doesn't look convincing.
    In Loomis "Creative illustration" you'll have:
    "Keep your color most intense on the edges of lighted areas, where it merges into shadow"

    Speedpainting has nice mood but no focal point. Every part of the image looks equal. I think you could give it some clouds with really strong contrast. It would make it more interesting.

    But don't worry. There is leveling up like people mentioned

    Keep it up "

    Oh, and not to forget Dile one of my #1 stars here:
    "Last update is definitely ace mate =D really like where you've taken those pencil characters, I like the digital environment, completely great update good quality!

    One thing I can mention as a 'tip' , value again. Try *not* to spread your values within the same plane to much, you know ? That way you save values for other areas in your drawings where they might be more useful!
    ...- Lukias does that very well, and I know many 'pencillers' that make a cool impression that are especially good at 'not wasting values'

    Hope that makes sense.. Its just an observation I've done and I notice when I paint that it helps a lot "

    "Hi man, Long time no see =) I still remember SSG17 as some of the better that ever happened to me haha ^^ got me into this art thingy seriously you know =D
    so what I'm saying is , that to see someone from this time still working hard, to me, is really awesome =)

    I think your biggest problem right now is your arrangement of values, in your
    last pencil sketch for example. The knees is a really good example of using contrast and value to your advantage, kinda like Kevin Chen while the shoulder areas are the quite opposite, quite flat and the use of value isn't helping to show the form.. I find it hard to tell you what I mean, but if you look at the girl with the tattoo from the same post, the face is great when your using such few values, but the neck area stands out in a bad way because of the value arrangement, there is this drop shadow there that is suggesting form, while in the rest of the drawing there is none!

    So, your forms aren't bad or anything , I just think you should look more at the 'whole drawing' and less on specific parts =D

    Your last digital is great, because the values are a lot better there, I think its because you've built the whole thing progressively and not added values 'here and there' =D I hope you understand what I mean

    Save those values til' when you really need them

    Keep it up mate, I get this huge inspiration kick everytime i look into your sketchbook

    -DiLE"

    And I could quote on and on and on

    I get so much input it's amazing I'm just so depressed that I'm so bad at following all that great advice... but I'm soooooo thankful for all your input guys!

    Rock on CA!

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    "Keep it up!"



    (Which of course doesn't mean that everything else was no great advice, but this one is what really sums it all up. I feel kinda stupid now, ten minutes after I wrote it o_O)

    Last edited by algenpfleger; September 20th, 2008 at 03:44 PM.
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    Ohh, this might just become one of the greatest thread in the lounge.

    I myself spend a lot of time reading other peoples received critique, so this thread can hopefully be very useful to other people !

    Thanks for taking the time to add those TASmith and Faust ! I had already picked up my from fausts thread, but I like the pointers you were given TASmith.. good stuff

    Edit**

    Best advice I ever got is probably *use big brushes* ! because its not only about using bigger brushes..its about seeing the whole image instead of just a small part of it.. seeing the whole process build up at once instead of overrendering parts and ending up with a crap piece with bad edges bad perspective bad everything.

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    Draw more.

    "Astronomy offers an aesthetic indulgence not duplicated in any other field. This is not an academic or hypothetical attraction and should require no apologies, for the beauty to be found in the skies has been universally appreciated for unrecorded centuries."
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    "Push the values!"
    And I'm trying, honest!

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    http://conceptart.org/forums/showpos...7&postcount=22

    Posted this several times before but it's the one post that made CA.org a staple in my mind.

    Another advice didn't come from my sketchbook, but it was Mike Correiro saying "Keep pushing yourself (in terms of colour and values)". I have yet to find a way to do it without making my shit look shittier.

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    "keep drawing and maybe try to vary your lines more for more depth."

    "I'd like to see some (more?) finished work."

    "Brainstorming in an incredibly important skill to develop. Try to generate as many ideas as possible in a limited amount of time, without concern about whether they're good or bad. Just jump from what if to what if. Then go back and cherry pick, develop further, etc."

    "In actuality I think you do have good ideas, but I don't think you're progressing them all the way through. I think you have to think in analytical terms.....like an industrial design student."

    Most of the other stuff was nice, but not quite as helpfull

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    All the advices are the best ive got, and i cannot categorize them. Every critique is the best critique

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    HumanNature6115:
    "Hey man, good work.
    Here are a few tips:

    1. See everything as a basic shape.
    The most important shape is the circle " since most things are soft".

    2. Learn how to gesture.
    This is the beginning of all drawings.

    3. Anatomy of all things..
    Everything has anatomy, from the human figure to the button of your pants.
    Study the structure" and what I mean by study is to look at an object and not just draw it."."

    Fishspawn:
    "Your last post shows a lot of improvement! Keep working on your observation skills. The problems I see with your faces are that the shapes are generic - I have the same problem. As far as I know the only way to fix it is to really try to observe closely the changes in form! Those figure sketches look much more like people than your sketches because you observed well! With color, you are getting too saturated. Once again its an issue of observation - try to really copy a color from a photo and then when you think you have it perfect, use the color picker to see what the color really is, you might be surprized at the results! Keep practicing, there's improvement in here already"

    Noë:
    "But in more seriousness: nice progress here! You're doing some niice studies!

    I like what you're doing with the pencil sketches, though you could try to divide something you're sketching into planes, and try to shade each of these planes according to how dark you think this would be. Try to shade evenly and not too hasty. Your lines tend to go scribbly sometimes, so you might want to draw the first lines with a hard pencil, and once you've got the general shape down, go in with a softer pencil for some bolder lines.
    On the digital area I guess I have pretty much the same crit it's a bit too scribbly. Try to go in with the hard edged round brush, with opacity and flow set to pressure sensitivity, and just stick with that brush all the way through your paintings. It might seem really difficult to mix colours with that brush, but really the pressure sensitivity helps you a lot, and the result will look a lot less smudgy than when you use the airbrush for blocking in colours. Though don't get me wrong, sometimes the airbrush is nice for polishing things up.

    Nice work dude ^^
    I'll check back here
    Love
    Marleen."

    DIego:
    "Hey man, you made hell of a progress since page 1, you must be happy. I'd say that you must focus more in the line quality, line weight and then you start loosening it up. Be more patient with your studies, it's when you learn the most and it's what you apply to your own drawings, so try to assymilate as much as you can while drawings, even if it is just a gesture.
    Your bic sketches are looking good, but the lines are pretty furry, try using a more confident/one stroke line, you'll get used to it and you'll sketch more freely as you practice more and more. I have a book just for ball point pen sketches, and it's been really good for my lines, you should give it a try, even if you draw just stuff from your home, it'd be a good training.
    Anyways, keep it up the hard work dude."

    Dannelf
    "Hi there mate! someone has been really productive! Like the 3D stuff!
    Keep the studies coming! You're really improving!
    Go man go! "

    Mr.Balckbird
    "
    I'm going to second what Ash888 mentioned about your brown ink figures being your strongest figure. I think focusing a bit more on light dynamics will help pop your figures out more. Other than that, keep up the good work. Really enjoying your models, especially the texture you put on the robot."

    Most of all it are the onliners that keep me extreemly motivated to push myself to get better
    some like:
    'keep on going, your really good'
    'your improving with megaspeed'
    'you must be proud of yourself'

    Myfavorite from Dannelf
    'GO MAN GO'

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    I can paraphrase some good advice I've gotten (not from SB though)

    A lot of the work can be done with just light and shadow. Don't go overboard with highlights and little sparkly bits, it will make things gritty. Restrain yourself.

    All lines doesn't need to be subtractive (darker than). There are other ways to create separation.

    Work on line/figure/gesture flow. It's easy to hold back the lines too much, creating a stale figure. Sometimes you think you're being pretty bold with the curves but you're really not. Push them a little more than you think is reasonable. Exaggerating the curves can create a more accurate portrayal and feel.

    Jamen jag tror att han skäms, och har gömt sig. Vårt universum det är en av dom otaliga spermasatser som Herren i sin självhärliga ensamhet har runkat fram för å besudla intet.
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