Proportions, Life and Everything
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  1. #1
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    Proportions, Life and Everything

    Hey guys,

    I have a problem, and i would greatly appreciate any help if you could spare some time. I've always had great trouble with drawing from life or photographs in correct proportions if I want to make the drawing larger or smaller than the 'reference'. If I just make a 1:1 sized drawing/copy i'm quite OK, but any rescaling simply won't work out for me. If i try to do that, my brain somehow automatically switches back to the reference size after some strokes, and i just am unable to relate the size of the things i see to the resized things i (want to) draw. I guess the standart answer would be "Well, it takes practice!", but i really have tried to practice this so much already (which means hundrets of failed attempts) , yet i still can't see real progress regarding this matter. Since proportions are about the most fundamental thing of any drawing, i am really am stuck right at the beginning which is nothing short but frustrating as hell. So I am wondering, is it just me, or has been drawing at a different size such a hurdle for many of you? Any ideas what I could do about it? Thanks a lot for your help and sorry for my clumsy english!

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  3. #2
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    First - You might be watching the reference too much, instead of your drawing. Reference is best used for checking your progress, not copying line for line. This is also good to develop your memory for anatomy.

    Second- Try drawing simple lines, like gesture lines to plan out proportions before hand at the scale you want to go for.

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  5. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by macabre View Post
    First - You might be watching the reference too much, instead of your drawing. Reference is best used for checking your progress, not copying line for line. This is also good to develop your memory for anatomy.

    Second- Try drawing simple lines, like gesture lines to plan out proportions before hand at the scale you want to go for.
    Thank you for your reply! The thing is, what i want to do is really to draw what i see, it's not about using reference for some stuff drawn from mind, but just the ability to make a sincere study, e.g. a still life. I'm not quite sure what you want to say with "best used for checking your progress", you mean the progress of my drawing or the progress of my drawing skills? You may be right about watching the reference too much though, I seem to do better with proportions when looking at the paper while setting down my lines, yet i tend to draw less what i really see and more what i think the subject looks like in that case. Normally i am trying to do gesture-like planning, but if i manage to do that about right i am still falling back to the wrong scale when drawing in detail.

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    Anid Maro is offline Psychotic Eldritch Zeppelin Level 9 Gladiator: Hoplomachi
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    It sounds like you may need to spend some more time measuring and plotting out the proportions. Here's a sample step by step for making a drawing from observation:

    If you were making a still life of an apple (for example), first step would be to draw out a square that would encompass the apple. Measure (likely with the sight-size method of holding out your pencil) the width and height of the apple and draw out your square according to those measurements.

    Stop. Study the apple again, see if your square looks correct. Measure again and redraw if you need to.

    Then on that box mark off where the contour of the apple touches the edge of the square. So you may end up with marks for where the stem hits the box, where the left and right sides of the apple touch, and where the base of the apple rests. Draw the contours making sure to meet up with all the landmarks you have placed.

    Stop. Check your work again. Measure again if you need to. If you have a strong nearby light source you can try flipping your drawing around and looking at it in reverse by holding it to the light (this helps trick your mind into seeing the actual proportions, as opposed to the proportions you think you drew). Redraw anything that doesn't look right.

    You can rinse and repeat for the rest of the drawing. Mark off landmarks like bruises on the apple, major value variations, important changes in contour, et cetera. Then draw out what you observe, stop and check, then find more landmarks to work from.

    How long you carry out this process is really up to you. Some people will do this indefinitely until they reach near perfection (e.g. Barque drawings), and some will stop once the drawing is satisfactorily proportionate (e.g. me). The key early on is patience, move as slow as you need to and work to the best of your ability. Do not shy away from corrections, make sure it looks as good as you can make it. With practice you'll be able to carry this out much quicker and also become better at just "eyeballing" measurements (no sight-sizing).

    -My work can be found at my local directory thread.
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    @Anid Maro: Thanks man for your detailed explanation ! I have heard about that kind of approach before and tried to apply it, but the way you put it it really makes sense, and you are probably right about me being too unpatient in that stage of drawing. It's just that it seems such a 'static' way to draw, especially with measuring mechanically, but I guess you have to go through it before you can archieve a decent drawing in a more loose manner. I will give it another try for sure, perhaps i will finally get my lazy ass up and start a sketchbook, it's just great how fast you get competent advice from guys around here.

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