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    Critique Drawing Approach

    I need my drawing process critiqued. When I draw I start out with a gesture to get the placement of the body parts down, then I construct the forms using basic geometric shapes and finish with adding more details and clean-up. I think I must be doing something wrong because if you compare the final drawing to the reference image (from Marcus Ranum), you can see in general I made the forms too big, the legs are thicker and the arms are raised too high off the ground.

    I think the main problem is I rely too much on the gesture which is inaccurate and I'm also not sure if the forms are accurate. My main concern is placement and proportions. If anyone has feedback or suggestions for a better approach, please let me know. Just to clarify I'm learning contruction techniques from Vilppu, Loomis, Bridgman and by studying a bunch of animation drawings/book. Not sure if I'm missing any key points...

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    Last edited by RickyS; May 14th, 2011 at 07:31 PM.
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    I think your approach/process is fine and the results are solid as well. You may be getting too caught up in comparing your drawing with the reference - also I know you want to be able to draw as accurately as possible while learning - but you're not a camera either. Just keep at it - you're more than on the right track - IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    I think your approach/process is fine and the results are solid as well. You may be getting too caught up in comparing your drawing with the reference - also I know you want to be able to draw as accurately as possible while learning - but you're not a camera either. Just keep at it - you're more than on the right track - IMO.
    Thanks for the reply! I guess I am getting caught up too much with perfectionism. However the proportion problem becomes more obvious when I use this process to draw from imagination. Since I want to do animation it's essential to be consistent with forms and proportions because the slightest change could affect the outcome of the drawings in a motion sequence. So I was wondering if somewhere in my process I'm doing something that prevents me from having consistency and accurate proportions. Like the hardest thing for me is to redraw the same character twice and make them look like the same character...

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    Quote Originally Posted by RickyS View Post
    However the proportion problem becomes more obvious when I use this process to draw from imagination. Since I want to do animation it's essential to be consistent with forms and proportions because the slightest change could affect the outcome of the drawings in a motion sequence.

    Like the hardest thing for me is to redraw the same character twice and make them look like the same character...
    Oh yeah - that's all very true. That is definitely one of the most challenging things about animation or sequential art (comics/storyboards) and also one of the main reasons behind simplification and stylization. Also one of the main reasons for using maquettes of characters to maintain consistency.

    Just don't obsess over it - you're doing the right stuff and doing it pretty well - it may just take time before you feel you've got the proportion thing under control - something most of us that are still learning have to constantly pay attention to.

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    Let me just say it is better than most I see on here. Having said that, the main problem is proprtion and weight. You are missing the way the weight is distributed across her body from the pose.
    The straight arms are forcing a bow shape with her shoulders and clavicle; on the front of that bow shape her head and neck hang. On the back her spine takes the weight of her ribcage you see the break where it ends and the weight is transferred to her hips Her left hip and thigh are at rest on the ground plane, her right hip is taking the weight of her right leg as it touches her knee and then distributes the remaining weight at her ankle where it contacts the ground plane. Now look at how you've distributed the weight in your drawing. This is very important for animation, weight and balance.

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    @ JeffX99 - Okay thanks. I'm glad I'm at least on the right track. It's just so hard to get the proportions right, but I'll keep trying and hopefully I'll get the hang of it.


    @ dpaint - Wow, to be honest I never thought of weight before! I guess that was the key point I was missing. I don't know exactly how weight works, but I can see the problems with my drawing where the hips do not support the weight, the ankle does not contact the ground, the right knee isn't being effected by gravity and purhaps the breasts are not weighted by gravity as much as they should be. That should also explain why my drawings from imagination are so stiff.. Thanks a lot, you gave me something else to focus on in my studies!

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    Quote Originally Posted by RickyS View Post
    However the proportion problem becomes more obvious when I use this process to draw from imagination. Since I want to do animation it's essential to be consistent with forms and proportions because the slightest change could affect the outcome of the drawings in a motion sequence.
    So don't draw without reference. I'm a first year animation student myself, and we're told all the time, never draw ANYTHING without some sort of reference at hand. It's your best friend, especially in animation.

    What you need to learn to be consistent with forms in animation is structure, and it looks like that's what you're working on right now. Take a look through this page and this one, a huge amount of what you need to know is in there. Possibly more than you'd find in Loomis, at least if you're looking at animation work.

    I'd also look at getting and reading through The Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston and maybe the Drawn to Life books by Walt Stanchfield. The former is one of the must-have books in the animation industry, and the latter is a fairly new two-volume collection of articles by the man who used to run the animation classes at Disney Studios. Both are well worth a look, and will teach you a lot.

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    @ Nezumi Works - Yeah, Preston Blair is awesome! I have a copy of his book. At first it was impossible to get the characters to look like his, but after a while I improved. It's still hard to draw the characters from different angles and with different expressions.

    I also have the other books, but they are fairly lengthy, so I didn't have the chance to read through them all. I think Walt Stanchfield has good advice for gesture drawing, but it's hard to apply his tips to my own work. I guess I just need to practice more and finish reading those books.

    As for the reference thing, I do try to use it as much as possible, but lets say you want to draw a character with a specific pose. Sometimes it takes much longer to find a photo of that pose to use as reference or you cannot take a photo of yourself for whatever reason (like you're at school). In those situations drawing from imagination would be the only alternative. Plus there are people who can draw amazing stuff from their imagination (but maybe that's only due to knowledge, practice and experience). I'll try to find more ways of using reference. Like, maybe a giant mirror in my room? Thanks for the tips!

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    Okay, I see what you're getting at. That's why Preston Blair is extremely useful to study, as is what you're doing above. In order to move a character consistently, you need to be able to break that character down into very simple shapes. Spheres, tapered cylinders, wedges, etc., all following a line of action. You can probably see where I'm headed with that. Then what you do is apply what you learn from doing a lot of gesture study and life drawing to that set of simple shapes. That's where consistency comes from.

    I'll give you an example of what I do. We recently did a walk assignment, where the idea was to have a character walk off screen (it's a bit rough, but you can see my effort here). So the first step in doing that is to get reference, which means actually videotaping and studying a real person walking. In my case, I set up a tripod and filmed myself doing a few different walks. Then I did quick, rough studies of the key positions (there are four in a walk: stride, recoil, passing and high) and sketched those based on the video. From there, it was a relatively simple matter to apply the construction from the model sheet (again, more reference) to turn it into the character. Then inbetweening to make the motion smoother, and there we go. Note at every point, I'm always referring back to either the video I shot or the various model sheets I have taped to my desk and wall. This is supported as well by field studies, which are also at that same link, of people walking at bus stops and the like. That's part of reference as well as life drawing, and essential to an animator.

    As to the people drawing from imagination, the thing to remember about a lot of them is that they're experienced enough that they're remembering reference. So while it might not be in front of them, they still can call to mind what an elbow looks like, or how someone might shift their hips when standing. However, nobody knows what everything looks like, so it's always best to use reference wherever possible, especially when you're trying to keep a character consistent.

    For sources of reference, your own body is excellent and always there, even if you're just standing up to see what a pose feels like. That's important, too, since an animator's lot generally involves a lot of jumping around and making funny noises when you're working out an action. Mirrors are good, so are cameras with timers and a tripod. There are also a lot of good sites full of stock photos. I use the deviantART stock galleries a lot, and Posemaniacs and characterdesign.com are both good. There's stock here on CA as well, although I haven't really used it much myself. And, of course, there's always just going to the park or down to the mall and sketching people. It's good practice, and helps build up a pose library inside your head.

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