Sketchbook: Lulie's theory-laden Sketchbook

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  1. #1
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    Lulie's theory-laden Sketchbook

    [Updated for 2013]

    Goal is to get good enough to monetize, and to learn everything.

    Description from 2009:
    Favourite part of drawing: The theory side. The actual drawing part is okay, but only because it helps with theory. I like the technical stuff.

    I originally found this site.. actually, through Encyclopedia Dramatica. I've always thought DeviantArt was a bit naff, and was delighted to discover that there exists a high-criticism art site. Just what I've always wanted!

    These days, I mostly hang out in the Critique Center. It's a great way to train one's eye. But, putting the stuff one learns into practise is also pretty vital (not to mention getting direct crits on my own stuff!), so I decided to start a sketchbook.

    Here are some studies. I welcome any suggestions on how to learn better, or how do studies in a more efficient way. Crit away.

    PS: I realise that the split bodies have a bit cut off in the middle. I was focussing more on making each side look right in themselves and didn't notice I wasn't giving the guy enough space until it was too late. Ah well, you live and learn.

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    Updated/representative stuff:
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    Last edited by Lulie; August 1st, 2013 at 12:54 PM. Reason: Updated
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  3. #2
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    things look a bit solid ,lines was a bit too thick
    but i think you get the very basic quite right and some part to sharp up on(body shape)
    if you love realistic hero stuff i suggest you take a muscle mazagine and book home and draw them or use some poser software draw on fat and skin.W.

    ^^keep it up

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  4. #3
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    Yes, I do have a problem with 'petting' my lines sometimes. I'll work on that. Thanks!

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    Some of the drawings look like you may not be using enough guidelines and planning? Can't be sure of this tho.
    The hard lines on the profile view torso (top pic) look nice and deliberate. Were as most others are quite sketchy and looks like you're less sure about where they should go.


    Also, the guy in the top right of the bottom picture has a torso too small for the size of his arms and head. The head also looks quite large on the bottom left guy too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ockeroid View Post
    Some of the drawings look like you may not be using enough guidelines and planning? Can't be sure of this tho.
    Which? And how does it make it look bad? And what should I do instead?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ockeroid View Post
    Also, the guy in the top right of the bottom picture has a torso too small for the size of his arms and head. The head also looks quite large on the bottom left guy too.
    Ah yes, I see that. Care to do a redline for the top-right guy?

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  7. #6
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    Learn with Lulie

    I've decided to take a different turn with my sketchbook. There are loads of sketchbooks that have pictures of people's progression, but not many that actually explain how they got there and what to avoid.

    With that, the following images are attempts to explain what I've been learning about recently. The reference picture is taken from a Leonardo da Vinci picture found here, on Wikipedia.

    As always, if I've got anything wrong, or if you know a better way to do anything, do let me know and crit away!

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    Shapes and eye structure studies

    I figured that once one has a good understanding of basic shapes, it'll be a lot easier to draw everything else, because everything is made of basic shapes.

    When light falls on something, it can only do a limited variety of things (illuminate a flat plane entirely, e.g. a cube; illuminate part of a curved plane with a gradient to darkness, e.g. a sphere; or a combination of these two, e.g. a cylinder). Though these studies aren't of light, that's what I'm aiming to get a good understanding of.


    The second image consists of my notes of what I've been learning from Gary Faigin's fantastic book the Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression. These doodles are extremely small in real life; I might make blown-up readable versions once I have a better grasp on it.


    The reason for the anime eyes at the bottom left is: I thought the way to 'dreamy' manga eyes (calm, collected) was something to do with the shape of the iris and the highlight. Now I understand it's entirely to do with how close to (or covering!) the pupil the upper eyelid is.

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    Just work some more with pencils until your hand feel more confident.
    Line weight is mostly too thick and line quality too shaky , nevertheless , studies you do will benefit you.

    Deceive me out of my emptiness
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    Just work some more with pencils until your hand feel more confident.
    Line weight is mostly too thick and line quality too shaky , nevertheless , studies you do will benefit you.

    Deceive me out of my emptiness
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  11. #10
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    Trying to learn to get likeness in portraits.

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    Any books or tutorials to recommend? Seems like I mostly need to work on details of face anatomy, plus practising photorealism (instead of just 'likeness') couldn't hurt.

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    Here's a few tips. Maybe someone else has better ideas.

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    Self portrait

    Leonor that's awesome. Tried copying your suggestion and it came out much better. I still don't understand how to do it from scratch well enough (need to practice some plane heads I s'pose), but I look forward to trying it again in future.

    ---

    First attempt at self portrait. Decided to just use a photo for now to get used to drawing faces, proportions etc. before moving on to the complication of 3D with mirrors.

    Chose a silly ref for fun/interesting eye angle:

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    First I measured with my pencil the height and width of the head and the hair. Then I pencilled in some guidelines, and guessed where things should go, all the while looking at the ref:

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    I think I also measured the mouth and nose from the bottom at this point.

    Then I checked the eyes against measuring and found they were way too high. Once I pencilled in the new position, it felt like it made a lot more sense fitting-in-the-skull wise:

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    Drew in an eye...

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    Finally held it up to the light to reverse the image and noticed it was lop-sided, so I added a lot more on the right of the jaw. Drew in the other features, cleaned it up a bit, started shading:

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    Remains unfinished, but good learning experience.

    I drew the outline of the lips because it seemed like the easiest thing to do, and I wanted to focus on proportions, drawing larger (filling most of the A4 page instead of a small part of it like I would usually do), and generally what it feels like to draw more closely from reference. I figure if I want to practice forms, it'll be easier to use a tablet with a thick brush. (Or at least tone paper.)

    I look forward to being able to measure more accurately with my eyes without always needing a pencil.

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  15. #13
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    There was definite improvement between the sketches before and your self-portrait, in my opinion. The features are aligned better and it has the proper expression.

    That said, I don't think that you aren't really thinking in terms of the "planes" of the face yet. My suggestion would be to look into perspective drawing a bit more, or at least trying to understand the basic concepts. Particularly when you're trying to learn how to draw a face, it's a good idea to know how it's being set up in space.

    For me, the Loomis books helped (particularly when he gets into how to construct the face)... but the other BIG help was just learning to work from real life. If you don't have access to a group of people to draw, you could try doing still-lifes. You'd probably also have some luck if you picked up one of those plaster faces or found a statue to work from. It could be good practice. The key idea is to just practice drawing angles and translating 3D shapes onto paper. The face is full of subtle planes and picking up on those (or learning how to construct them) is gonna be key to your understanding. Learning from a photograph just makes the process a lot slower and more difficult.

    Speaking from experience, I used to work only from photographs and other people's drawings and it took me a really long time to realize that that was part of my problem. Photographs are, let's face it, flat. Your job as an artist is to turn that flat image into something that has dimensions. It's much easier to flatten an image than it is to add depth. Once you learn how to draw things with dimensions (from real life), though, it becomes a lot easier to learn how to construct a convincing face. So then, when you do your photo drawings, they are likely to come out looking much better and have more depth to boot.

    It's a long road to real understanding and I'm certainly not where I want to be yet either, but hopefully my advice will help save you some time. Oh, and let me know if I'm not making sense. It's clear in my head, but I don't always convey my ideas clearly. Haha.

    Anyhow, good luck with your sketchbook!

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  16. #14
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    Haha, you sound like the advice I'd give. Needless to say I approve.

    Specifically: Yes indeed, I'm very aware of still thinking of things in terms of lines rather than planes, and that's high on my list of things to learn.

    Been spending the weekend watching perspective videos. Gotta try putting it into practice more, so I can actually remember and understand everything. Watch this space.

    As for working from real life: Yeah, I plan to eventually. I see sketches from photos as a means to an end: something less complicated to learn from first, so I don't get overwhelmed with information, then I'll tackle how to translate 3D stuff to 2D paper later. (Well, I'm playing around with both, but putting my focus on one at a time.) I like the idea that drawing from life will enhance drawings from photos -- didn't think of it that way around before.

    Definitely need to do more Loomis studies. Also Bridgman, maybe some others...

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    Decided to have a look at your sketchbook after you linked it in the WIP section and the improvement you've made after using the measurement technique is amazing. I'm sort of at the same stage in my own drawing adventures and I'm definitely going to try it out for myself, cheers!

    Keep up the good progress.

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  18. #16
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    Hey Lulie long time no see, I didn't know you were here - aye it's the best place to improve art on the web for sure! It looks like you're doing all the right things so I look forward to seeing where you take this.

    That self-portrait's especially nice, the shapes are well observed, a far cry from usual beginner-ish simplified symbols.

    Edit: hey, how weird. We joined in the same month and haven't met til now x) Apart from at hesfes, that is, haha.

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    Hey Lulie, nice improvement! I like the studies, you don't make the mistake a lot of people do when doing studies. Which is copying right out of the books and not trying to comprehend how they work.

    As a side note on taking photos of yourself, depending on what lens you use the photograph will actually distort your face, Especially if it's a close up shot. So it's something to watch out for, you wouldn't want to develop a warped knowledge of facial features. I usually use a small stand mirror which i keep on my desk, if i'm doing self portraits. I'm not sure if that corrects the distortion or not, someone will have to confirm for me.

    My Sketchbook!This scrub needs your guidance

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    Ceinwen - Hey! I had no idea you were a CA person. It makes sense though, given the quality of your work.

    Ixallus - Yes indeed. I get bored and never remember what I've done when I'm 'just copying'. Though thanks for pointing that out -- I think with my latest studies they've been going slow because I haven't been thinking about them enough. (I'll post them soon.)

    Yeah, not just the lens but also the distance and so on. I think the lens I used should be relatively un-distorted, with an equivalent focal length of ~50mm (the human eye is equivalent around 43mm -- though this equivalents thing is a big complicated because the eye works so differently from the camera lens). It's a tricky business. Regular mirrors cause no distortion (the image is in the place that's exactly opposite to where the real object is).

    ---

    UPDATE: Most recent studies. Going through Peck's Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist. So far it's a bit slow and I'm not sure how much I'm internalising yet. Might try putting it in context more in future studies.

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  21. #19
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    Wow. You definitely put much more effort into the construction and the process than I. I love how you take all of your work and bullet your process and self-critiques next to them.

    It seems to me that when you get the construction and the proportions down well, though, you don't finish your pictures! Your self-portrait looks totally proportional, but its only a couple shades of grey, when there is definitely plenty of distinct lighting in the picture. I think you should take some of the time and effort you use to throw up all of your self-critiques to finish some of your portraits. Looking back at the finished product is my favorite part!

    Other than that, just keep drawing and keep posting! Your anatomy looks great and only your earlier portraits look a bit awkward. Your sketchbook is just young (like my own) and so there isn't too much to draw from (no pun intended). I look forward to updates!

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  22. #20
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    ChristianWeeks - Haha, you definitely caught me out: I rarely finish things because I get to a point where I've learned what I was curious about, and then move on.

    I did actually finish something recently! The local art society recently had a student exhibition with the theme 'Under the Mask'. So I decided to try the society's acrylics and paint something a few hours before the submissions deadline.

    It was inspired by/heavily referenced from this photo. (I figured, what is a more relevant mask in today's world? o0o0o0o p0litical) I did some sketches to get a feel for it before I commit it to canvas, but then the battery on my iPhone started dying, so I had to limit how much I looked at it during the actual painting.

    This was my first attempt at real painting, so it took me about 3 hours to do the layout and the first eye (looots of time spent trying to blend acrylics):

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    ... At which time I realised I only had 45 minutes left to do the other eye and finish it before the deadline.

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    And it kinda shows: the blending is a lot rougher, the eyelashes aren't as careful, and the iris isn't as round and doesn't extend down far enough.

    Annoyingly, because I was in such a rush, I covered up a lot more with black than I initially intended.

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    I also would have liked to add some very subtle highlights to the niqab (as you can see in the reference photo) to make it look less flat, but alas no time.

    (Apologises for the crappy scan. I'll scan it properly and do a cleaned up version later.)

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  23. #21
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    Well I think it's great that you did manage to finish it and take this as a lesson to work on all areas of an image before commiting to detailing one part when you're on a deadline

    You're definitely improving. I have Peck's atlas too, it's a great book in my opinion, his sketches are very helpful. I should get back to it as well hehe

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  24. #22
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    To see how far I am when it comes to getting likeness, I did a couple tiny sketches (each being about the size of my thumb -- size ratio between sketches intact).

    The reference pictures aren't ideal -- took them during a show in a pub, hence the odd light -- but seemed sufficient for quick sketches.

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    Currently wondering what are the differences between likeness and accuracy. Perfect accuracy means perfect likeness, but that kinda defeats the point of drawing over taking a photo. So wondering where to go from here, given I can always work on my accuracy if I need it.

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    Try to work bigger. This way you can add more details to your liking and in the long run it's more effecient for drawing. Good luck on your portrait studies and try to work from life as much as you can.

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    The major problem with the first guy (from post #22) is that you beautified him. You gave him a nice small nose, big eyes and overall averaged his facial proportions.

    First notice if you got the head tilt right. He seems to be looking slighly up. Then find angles and relationships between features. How far does the tip of the nose go in relation to the forehead? How far back go the nostrils? Where does the mouth corner lie in relation to the nostrils and eye? Use your pencil or another sheet of paper to make vertical and horizontal lines over the picture to find relationships. Then find diagonals. Then look at the shape and size of the features. Look at my example below. I made mistakes myself but I'm trying to work as I just described.

    Then "unflatten" this understanding. What is the eyebrow shape from this angle and why? How does it work in 3D? What part of his face is sticking out to me the most in profile? After his ear (1) you would probably find the jaw corner (2) then his cheek (I marked 3 wrong, it should be the upper bit) then the zygomatic around the eye (4). I'm just guessing here and making mistakes myself.

    I noticed that the flesh under this jaw is hard to draw without making him look older. It's happening because he is stretching his face up, opening his mouth slightly and relaxing his tongue. For a finished art piece or a frame in a comic you would want to avoid this situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lulie View Post
    Currently wondering what are the differences between likeness and accuracy. Perfect accuracy means perfect likeness, but that kinda defeats the point of drawing over taking a photo. So wondering where to go from here, given I can always work on my accuracy if I need it.
    Do you mean accuracy as in rendering the picture neatly, so it looks like a photo? That's not important for now. You need accuracy as in understanding what you're seeing, measuring proportions, noticing angles, relationships, planes, volumes and so on.

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    Whitevillage: Thanks! Yeah I totally intend to work bigger more. Still in the process of working out what advantages drawing from life has above drawing from photos.

    Leonor: Thank you! I didn't think of it that way -- you hit the nail on the head. I actually first drew his nose far too large, but went overboard when I made it smaller (and it's so fiddly drawing at that size -- will work larger next time).

    Great tip on paying attention to the head tilt. And comparing angles and relationships; those questions really helped me see how it's all wrong.

    Your advice is so awesome, thank you. This helps tremendously.

    As for accuracy: Yes, that sounds right. I have a confusion about this: There seems to be a way of learning to draw where you just learn to have photo-accuracy -- of noticing angles and relationships and so on -- vs another way where you draw by understanding what you're drawing. I assume a mixture of these is necessary to do things like draw people in different poses/angles from your references?

    I'm still a bit confused about how to extract the knowledge from references. I suppose by constantly thinking about what you're looking at, how it works, why it might work that way, compare it to other things (e.g. metaphors for remembering the shape of things), that sort of thing?

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    hi lulie your sketchbook is great

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    HI.

    Sorry, I'm awful and haven't updated in forever. I have drawn a bit of stuff but just haven't put it up because taking photos of my sketchbook pages is a pain.

    Anyways, your updates look great! I love how you take such an analytical approach to everything and draw out and label everything in relation to eachother. I wouldve liked to see a whole face for that oil painting...

    I feel like I'm a broken record (and a hypocrite, since I've been so inactive) for saying this, but all I can say is just keep posting more!

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    Little update

    Got a sketchbook with toned paper, which I love. Also been experimenting with watercolour pencils (e.g. the salamander).

    Portraits were from photos. Still not the best quality photos for reference, and still not the largest drawings, but larger than what I was doing before.

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    [EDIT: For this one below, I did the initial guides with intersecting straight lines to measure and try to find planes, as Leonor suggested, and it helped loads!]

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    And some anatomy studies, still from Peck's book. I love how he shows different examples, and uses analogies to help with remembering the shapes of things.

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    Last edited by Lulie; September 21st, 2012 at 06:55 PM.
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  31. #29
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    Somewhat Stuck

    Having a lot of trouble getting this to look half-decent. I suspect it's because I didn't measure stuff out properly when starting -- I was mostly eyeing it -- so it all looks a bit wrong.

    I tried tracing the ref with another piece of paper to compare more easily, and that helped, but there's something about the angle or proportions that I can detect but not see.

    (The messy shading thing is just an indication to try to get me to see form better; it'll get cleaner when I'm doing the final sketch.)

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    Okay seeing it on the screen side-by-side I can already see loads of errors. Piercing too high and forward, mouth twisted, forehead too rounded...

    Have another ref for eyes in this direction, and shortened the sideburns on request (haven't decided what sort of shape they should be; just a placeholder while I get the face right -- is that a mistake?).

    I'm especially interested in comments on my construction (and why I'm making so many errors without noticing in the first place). Help/crits, anyone?

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  32. #30
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    I can't see the construction you used in the last portrait. Was it the Reilley method?

    My general impression is that you are still averaging faces. I see his nose much bigger and the forehead and chin smaller and more receded. I wonder if doing a little cartoon caricature first would help remember what is important about his features.

    I don't know how to solve the accuracy problem myself. I know some cheats, like these. You could try tracing construction lines over the photo and making relative measurements and then drawing on the side from that.

    Also, try to see shadows as plane changes. The Asaro head and manual might be helpful for this (you can find photos online).

    Sorry I couldn't be more helpful, but at least I bumped the thread. I hope some pro stops by.

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