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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Not sure how to develop skill.

    I'm having a very hard time with figure drawing and it has taken a bit of courage to even post this.

    For the past few years I have been practicing human anatomy from multiple books. If you could name it I probably tried learning from it. I practiced from the Loomis books, the Jack Hamm books, the Christopher Hart books, and a few others. I just never seem to progress and I cant shake the feeling of inadequacy. I barely know how to begin a figure drawing. Sometimes I even go on 24 hour learning sessions and leave with no gain. During practice I feel like a pinball bouncing around with no clear goals in mind.

    This art stuff doesn't come easy to me but I still have a desire to learn. The advice "practice makes perfect" doesn't apply in my position. The truth is, practice makes permanent, so one must practice correctly. I'm not fit to teach myself this type of thing. All the books and internet tutorials in the world cant replace real training at a college but I'm not confidant enough to bother trying a life drawing class. I'm posting a link to a PhotoBucket gallery. I would be pleased to read any advice by someone who knows the craft.

    http://s826.photobucket.com/albums/z...From_Zero/art/

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  3. #2
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    I'm gonna begin by asking a few questions rather than jumping in.

    1) How do you "practice" describe what you do when looking at these books?

    2) Do you draw from life at all?

    You can teach yourself anything Just requires determination. Often in my experience, colleges arn't great either, unless they specialise in what you want to study, general art colleges spend time discussing theory, not that this isn't important for reference but nothing but hard graft can teach you how to really draw. I'll get more into giving you a hand when I know more about you and how you learn. Oh and Posemaniacs.com in my opinion is a terrible site to learn from. It's great for reference and speeding up sketching when you know what you are doing, but I feel you get very little from it when you are learning.

    Btw I have looked at your drawings. I'm just waiting for your reply before I say anything.

    R.I.P Frank Frazetta 1928-2010


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  4. #3
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    Thanks for replying.

    Yeah, I gave up on PoseManiacs within a few days. I got sick of the strange birds eye/bug views.

    To practice I usually try to progress through a book. I got most caught up in the Loomis books because people say they are the best. I try to use the basic mannequin to build or copy a pose and then flesh over it. To me its a grueling process of trail and error and it almost never comes out right. The same for the ball and plane method for the head. I have never tried drawing from life since I have no clue where to begin. It takes me a long time to logically plan my approach.

    As for my drawings, you can say whatever you please. I could use any criticism. To me they are my best drawings but I know in the end they are beginner's play

    Edit: Oh, I should also say that I do not plan on going to an art college. I want to take Graphic Design in a community college but the first 2 classes are 2D Design and Life Drawing. At my skill level I almost want to put it off to avoid embarrassment. Im really willing to get some basics down before next semester starts in fall. I would even settle for winter if I need that much time.

    Last edited by startFrom_Zero; May 29th, 2010 at 07:33 AM.
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  5. #4
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    Ok I want to begin by saying I didn't mean anything bad about not commenting on your work, I just wanted to get a better feel of you before I said anything.

    My first peice of advice is throw yourself in at the deep end. If you want to study Graphic Design, then go as soon as possible, you're only going to learn how to draw from life by getting in there and doing it. We all produce stuff which we want to burn, I think for some it never really changes, art is kind of like that, but if you are serious about it don't worry, we all have to pass that starting stage and I feel you are beginning to form some foundational knowledge in your pictures.

    The poses in the books are great to copy, but copying can only get you so far, like you said, you end up in a process of trial and error, I mean in some respects the initial set up of art does contain an element of "getting it to FEEL right" by moving lines, but what you should be aiming to do when studying a peice is making mental notes of distance and proportion, how far is this eye from this eye? How large is the space between the nose and the top of the lips? These "blank" areas between are important and will help you space objects within the drawing, look up "Negative space" on google.

    One thing I am going to suggest and you might not like is do some life drawing of every day objects, pots, pans, cups etc, objects from around the house that appeal to you, maybe just start with one object, on its own and attempt to draw it, take note of how the object exists in 3D space and what simple forms the shape is made up of. For example, a mug is basically a cylinder with a semi-circle prism attached to the side, once you have these basic forms down the detail falls into place easy.

    The human body works in exactly the same way, just made up of more basic shapes, as you will find is illustrated with George Bridgman, Loomis as a student of Bridgeman also focuses on basic forms, but both of these peoples approaches are tough without the basic knowlegde of form itself.

    All the above advice kind of accumulates to one thing. Don't jump the gun, humans are hard work, all beings are hard work, return to the beginning and start from life, and simply. I started by drawing a jug, one jug, then got a pan, drew that on its own, then put them together, observing the space between them as well as how they existed themselves, sometimes you just really have to step slowly through things to allow your brain enough time to absorb the information.

    About these books, I think I may have mentioned, it sounds like you are just copying not actually studying, to study, you do not need to look at the image as a series of lines, but look at what builds it, methods of measurement. For the human the commonplace measurement is the head, the body will be roughly 7-8 heads, learn information like this, then when you draw from life, apply that rule, make the head the size it needs to be to fit seven times on your paper. Thats your first step. From there you can measure out most things. Know im not saying this is exact you may find they are 6 heads tall, 4 wide etc etc, and when you come to place other lines it may not look right, but then instead of pressing on, step back, what isnt right, what do you need to change to bring the form into place, are you measurements correct? If so, then what is it about your paper form that is different from how the form you are seeing really is?

    One final note: You absolutely must draw from life to gain a pointer for making your drawings improve. Books are meant to help support life drawing. But to learn soley from them is poor as all you are doing is copying a copy, which is even further from the "truth". You need to apply what it teaches to reality. And anyway, ask yourself this, how are you supposed to know what something looks like from imagination, if you haven't learn to draw it spot on from life?

    Sorry this is so long, I hope it makes sense, feel free to ask any questions you have.

    Last edited by Flapenko; May 29th, 2010 at 08:26 AM.
    R.I.P Frank Frazetta 1928-2010


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  6. #5
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    One thing I'd recommend is to go back and practice the basic shapes that Flapenko mentions. Spheres, cylinders and cubes. Draw page after page of them, doodle them when on the phone or standing in line, get really, really comfortable with them, over the course of several weeks. Combine them, stretch them, twist them, really get funky with them. Play with them and build your skill and confidence, as well as your ability to think in three dimensions. Don't draw circles and squares, draw spheres and cubes. Put one thing behind another to show depth, and so forth, and eventually without trying you'll end up thinking in those terms. That's what'll help prepare you more than anything for things like life drawing, and the best part is you can't screw it up! After all, it's just a bunch of random shapes.

    One note on putting off life drawing to avoiding embarrassment. That's foolish, and a waste of your own time. So you won't be any good when you start the course. So what? That's why you're taking the course! If you were already really good at it, then there wouldn't be any point in learning it, you'd be out doing it. Dump those worries, and instead look at it in the sense of "wow, there's so much I can learn here", and you'll have a much better time of it.

    The Nezumi Works Sketchbook - Now in progress

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    "Skill is the result of trying again and again, applying our ability and proving our knowledge as we gain it. Let us get used to throwing away the unsuccessful effort and doing the job over. Let us consider obstacles as something to be expected in any endeavor; then they won't seem quite so insurmountable or so defeating." - Andrew Loomis
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  7. #6
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    "To me its a grueling process of trial and error and it almost never comes out right"

    That's exactly why it does not come out right. You have to be aware of what you are doing to get it right.

    Copying from books is generally useless. You have to construct things in three dimensions, not copy them on a flat plane. Start with simple exercises constructing a cube, sphere, cylinder etc. Then begin constructing simple objects from life - a cup, a book, a table... But you have to do it while thinking of the form and relation of elements, not of lines and paper.

    Likewise, you have to understand anatomy before you can successfully construct a figure. And again, drawing from life while thinking of what anatomical structures you are seeing is a must. Photos or Poser are absolutely not for a beginner, it takes considerable skill to use them right.

    (BTW, I really do not recommend books by Hamm or Hart, or Posemaniacs / Poser. Loomis is good; check out also books on figure drawing by Sheppard and Ron Tiner. Norling is good for learning elements of perspective.)

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  8. #7
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    Dunno if I'd completely devalue copying from books. Artists are visual, and art involves a physical skill, so copying is a good way to comprehend what the artist is getting at and get a bit closer to their thought process. But then you have to apply that through life drawing, or it does become a bit of a circular process.

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    "Skill is the result of trying again and again, applying our ability and proving our knowledge as we gain it. Let us get used to throwing away the unsuccessful effort and doing the job over. Let us consider obstacles as something to be expected in any endeavor; then they won't seem quite so insurmountable or so defeating." - Andrew Loomis
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    I think learning art is quitea circular process, at least for me. Which works a bit like this, read book soak in some knowledge, draw from life - apply that knowledge, reach limits - push them a bit - get stuck, return to books for help - gather more knowledge - draw from life - apply that knowledge... I mean this is a very basic loop and is one of many that I carry out... but its a core one I often observe myself doing.

    R.I.P Frank Frazetta 1928-2010


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  10. #9
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    Study without practice is hollow.

    Practice without study is directionless.

    Combining study and practice allows you to move forward.

    The Nezumi Works Sketchbook - Now in progress

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    "Skill is the result of trying again and again, applying our ability and proving our knowledge as we gain it. Let us get used to throwing away the unsuccessful effort and doing the job over. Let us consider obstacles as something to be expected in any endeavor; then they won't seem quite so insurmountable or so defeating." - Andrew Loomis
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    So...you have a life drawing class (as well as a 2d fundamental, which if true to form, will be life drawing those lovely shapes spoken of before from easy to the more complex-VERY USEFUL to beginners) available.....you want to take it...but you won't take it to improve your skills because you are scared people will learn that you need to improve your skills? Waaaat? That's silly and THAT"S WHAT IT'S FOR! If it's there, do it. I guarantee something, you won't be the only one who is just starting out. You won't be the first, you won't be the last. Additionally, you can't be shy. Yes, the teacher may point out what you do wrong, shock gasp, in front of everyone. That's the point. Everyone learns from it, especially you. If you are into art, learn to take your licks, or you won't get anywhere.

    Can you learn by yourself? sure. Will it take longer? probably. Did 3 years of required daily life drawing help me get a better grip on anatomy? Hell yes. On the addition of that, You get models. I can't say it is the easiest thing to find people willing to get naked for life drawing on a regular basis. "hey its ok baby, I'm an artist" only works in the movies. It's possible, but very expensive.

    So take those tools and GO, MAN, GO!

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    Haha, its all very profound and we are making awesome points, but the question is... will he come back to read all this?

    R.I.P Frank Frazetta 1928-2010


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    Wow lots of replies. Thanks for the advice everyone. So I will begin practicing the basic forms. Should I make a sketchbook for this? Or maybe I should just post in this thread? Before I jump in, does anyone recommend a website or book to start me off? I'll fill up a page each of boxes, spheres, cylinders, and cones and upload them so people with good eyes can point out my mistakes. Then I'll do it again the next day. Then I'll move onto basic objects such as pots and cups. Is this a good gameplan?

    Edit:
    Sorry for taking so long to reply. I'm on summer break and fell asleep after staying up all night trying to draw. Now I'm awake and have nothing more important to do then to practice some more.

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  14. #13
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    I would say start a sketchbook, I mean, I know I haven't got on here yet, but they are a great way to get feedback and have you're own personal corner.

    My advice is no books, no place to start as such. Draw from life only to begin with, focus only on what is truly there, not what you think is there. Post it in your sketchbook and start the journey!

    I'll fill up a page each of boxes, spheres, cylinders, and cones and upload them so people with good eyes can point out my mistakes. Then I'll do it again the next day.
    Sounds good to me. However, you'll know when you have got the basic shape right, because it will look like a cylinder/sphere etc. But im definately up for seeing your progress

    R.I.P Frank Frazetta 1928-2010


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    I drew a few objects around the house an its tough. How should I approach drawing these objects? I don't know if simply copying the contour or negative spaces will help me remember how to draw them later from different angles. What types of things should I look for as visual clues? Am I asking the correct questions? Either way I'll keep at it for the rest of the day. At night, I'll upload it all to my photobucket account in order from earliest to recent.

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    It will, repetition will make it sink in more. The most important thing is to trust your mind, its like learning a whole new language, first you must learn simple words, you may not remember them all and you wont be able to make sentences but you know a few phrases. Same with art, trying to remember them and from different angles is a bit further along, stick with the here and now. But most importantly it is and will go in just give it time.

    As for how to approach it. Well thats pretty much up to you, you need to break the object down into its base shapes, then work the detail in afterwards. But first maybe spend 1-2 minutes just looking at it, follow the lines, the contour, forget the paper. Plus when you are drawing, spend 70-80% of the time looking at the object and not at the paper, you only need to look at the paper to make sure what you are drawing is in the right place, but learn to see with the hand and the eye, not preconceptions your brain may try and tell you are there, becomes alot easier when you get over that step.

    Good luck.

    R.I.P Frank Frazetta 1928-2010


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    That was a rough 1/2 an hour of drawing. Im gonna take a break and come back later. I put what I did in photobucket. Knowing what I'm doing wrong will help me get it right. I'll keep adding more every few hours. Im not too happy with my work now but we'll see where a few weeks of this takes me.

    http://s826.photobucket.com/albums/z...basic%20forms/

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    Seeing improvement even in the first few images (Maybe start a sketchbook and put a link to it here).

    R.I.P Frank Frazetta 1928-2010


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    I'm having a hard time seeing through the forms. Especially when they aren't extremely basic cubes and cylinders.

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    I found this figure drawing basics guide years ago as a pdf, and it helped me out a lot. You might want to check it out. Take some time with each section, it starts out so simply it will make you want to skip over the first few chapters, but don't. I find it helpful because it ramps up the difficulty of figure drawing more gradually than other books i've read.

    Hope it helps!

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/2080605/Figure-Drawing-Basics

    "Everyone loves a plump grandma." - Andrew Loomis
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daruma View Post
    I found this figure drawing basics guide years ago as a pdf, and it helped me out a lot. You might want to check it out. Take some time with each section, it starts out so simply it will make you want to skip over the first few chapters, but don't. I find it helpful because it ramps up the difficulty of figure drawing more gradually than other books i've read.

    Hope it helps!

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/2080605/Figure-Drawing-Basics
    Thanks, it looks really helpful. I'll refer to this once I get the basic forms down.

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  22. #21
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    If you've got a few bucks to spare, I'd suggest going out and getting The Vilppu Drawing Manual by Glenn Vilppu. I've been going through it lately, and Vilppu's approach seems to closely fit the trajectory you're on. Start with little, easy things like learning basic shapes, round shapes first, get comfortable with those, more on to squares, then flexible squares and combinations with round, and so on, building skill and confidence as you go. Better yet, his approach really applies to what you were saying about finding difficulty seeing the shapes in things.

    That's actually an important part of learning to draw, making that conceptual jump so that you're seeing things not as whole objects but in terms of structure and basic breakdowns. There are a few entries on the subject at the Rad How-To blog that Rad Sechrist maintains, go check them out. I'm sure you'll find it useful.

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    "Skill is the result of trying again and again, applying our ability and proving our knowledge as we gain it. Let us get used to throwing away the unsuccessful effort and doing the job over. Let us consider obstacles as something to be expected in any endeavor; then they won't seem quite so insurmountable or so defeating." - Andrew Loomis
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nezumi Works View Post
    If you've got a few bucks to spare, I'd suggest going out and getting The Vilppu Drawing Manual by Glenn Vilppu. I've been going through it lately, and Vilppu's approach seems to closely fit the trajectory you're on. Start with little, easy things like learning basic shapes, round shapes first, get comfortable with those, more on to squares, then flexible squares and combinations with round, and so on, building skill and confidence as you go. Better yet, his approach really applies to what you were saying about finding difficulty seeing the shapes in things.

    That's actually an important part of learning to draw, making that conceptual jump so that you're seeing things not as whole objects but in terms of structure and basic breakdowns. There are a few entries on the subject at the Rad How-To blog that Rad Sechrist maintains, go check them out. I'm sure you'll find it useful.
    Thanks for the book recommendation. I could tell that something about the illustrations click with my thought process. Actually, I found the book on scribd.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/6641821/Th...Drawing-Manual

    Also, here is the link to my new sketchbook.

    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...30#post2757630

    I'll be practicing the basic forms as long as it takes.

    The people on this board are nice. I've had experiences on other boards where my thread was simply closed and deleted by a moderator. Thanks everyone. I think I have some direction now. Expect to be seeing a lot of basic forms, and mistakes, by me.

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    When I'm drawing the cylinder or the cone in perspective should I be drawing a box in which the shape will fit into? Is this good practice or is it simply a crutch?

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  25. #24
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    Yup, that's the book. I've been finding his technique really accessible, although different people respond to different methods.

    As to drawing cylinders and cones in perspective, at the point you are right now it's really a matter of personal preference. I usually just eyeball the perspective and draw the cylinder rough, since for most purposes in figure drawing you can get away with it, but if you really want to learn solid perspective that's the way to go. The hard part, of course, is learning those ellipses. They's tricky, they is.

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    "Skill is the result of trying again and again, applying our ability and proving our knowledge as we gain it. Let us get used to throwing away the unsuccessful effort and doing the job over. Let us consider obstacles as something to be expected in any endeavor; then they won't seem quite so insurmountable or so defeating." - Andrew Loomis
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    Take a look at my sketchbook. Am I getting the idea right? I think Ive learned a little but shading the sphere is still difficult.

    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...30#post2757630

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