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    Taking it back to basics.

    Hey guys,

    Recently i've found myself struggling quite a bit with my limitations as an artist. Specifically with the human form, anatomy, proportions etc. I've had no real art training and I know that would be a great way to improve, unfortunately at this point money is tight and there is no way i can give up my rather menial job to go pursue what i really want to do.

    A little bit of background. Outside of the daily grind i do a bit of comission work, mostly for metal bands in a pen and ink style. Sort of mimicing that woodcut/engraving style. Very popular at the moment. Anyway, i've found that drawings are taking me far longer than they should due to my need to constantly check everythings right with reference photos. Basically, I just take a photo of myself in the pose i want and then use that as a base for things.

    Essentially, I feel that i'm cheating. What's worse is the cheating is making me take longer than i should!

    Sob story aside, i'm really just looking for a good book to purchase for someone that needs to re-learn what little they know about figure drawing. What would you guys recommend? What helped you? Any particular study habits that helped?

    I'd love to go to a life drawing class, or enroll in an evening course, but right now it's just not an option financially.

    Any suggestions for a place to start would be greatly appreciated!

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    Ipos, only books i know that could help you are Anatomy a complete guide for artists by Joseph Sheppard, and it's addon Drawing the living figurine, also by Joseph Sheppard, maybe latter is better for you, for it shows models with (of course) anatomy of pose, it makes you realize how things work, i mean if you just would buy Drawing the living figurine, and draw the drawings in that book.

    It should not cost very much, for it's quite old, but it definetly does the job, and does it pretty damn well

    But if you really would bother, you should buy the first book i recommended too, it will teach you anatomy, and seriously. Take time with it, for it's really freaking worth it


    And it could be helpful in many ways, since you after all do this stuff for metal bands, anatomy = bones and muscles


    Unfortunately, i don't know any other books that could help your problem but anatomy helps, always
    And if you just don't bother to learn all that then study theese models from this site:
    There aren't any males there though But everything helps you know.

    http://www.gracefulnudes.com/main


    Anyways: i wish you luck with your future endeavors ^^

    -J-P

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    Don't feel guilty about referencing. It's a valuable tool, and a lot of artists don't use it nearly often enough. Even with extensive anatomy study, you should still reference a lot. My own instructors are always after us to reference more, and if we don't have a stack of printouts on hand at all times, we're doing it wrong.

    As Glenn Vilppu often says, "There are no rules, only tools". Learning anatomy is great, it'll help your ability in all sorts of ways, including improving your ability to use reference effectively.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nezumi Works View Post
    Don't feel guilty about referencing. It's a valuable tool, and a lot of artists don't use it nearly often enough.
    I disagree. You can usually notice when works are referenced, they are often distorted because the image in the artist's mind is conflicting with the reference. Good artists can spot referenced works, usually artists who use reference are pretty bad.

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    Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightfalls View Post
    usually artists who use reference are pretty bad.
    What a bizarre statement..

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    Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightfalls View Post
    .....they are often distorted because the image in the artist's mind is conflicting with the reference...
    Even more bizarre.

    Last edited by Artimatum; June 4th, 2010 at 11:11 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightfalls View Post
    usually artists who use reference are pretty bad.
    The Web provides plenty of blatant tracings and paintovers of women in awkward poses to make that seem true.

    Successful use of reference is dependent upon appropriate choice of reference material and the abilities of the artist. Good artists that use reference skillfully can produce excellent results.

    - Michael

    Last edited by PsiBug; June 4th, 2010 at 12:05 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightfalls View Post
    I disagree. You can usually notice when works are referenced, they are often distorted because the image in the artist's mind is conflicting with the reference. Good artists can spot referenced works, usually artists who use reference are pretty bad.
    o.O;; That is a backwards statement unlike any I've ever seen.

    Have you ever used a reference? I've come to accept that it's fine to use them, hell it's good to! It's improved my artwork ten fold by doing just two reference studies, imagine those that use references all the time for professional works.

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    I think part of the problem here is confusing people copying a reference image with referencing it. There's a big difference. Referencing is common practice, and I know lots of folks in the industry who use it all the time.

    Copying, well...deviantART. That's all I gotta say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ipos View Post



    Essentially, I feel that i'm cheating.
    Well, get over it because you're not cheating.

    There isn't anything wrong with using reference. How else are you going to draw something if you don't know what it looks like? If you want to be less reliant on reference, do some life drawings.

    But honestly, if snapping pics of yourself is making your art look better, that's a good thing. I used to not use reference at all. Now I sketch my initial idea and then snap a few pics of myself to see if I got anything blatantly wrong. 90% of the time I do, and thanks to my reference I fix my awful mistakes.

    Also the more I use reference to fix my mistakes, the less often those mistakes occur.

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    right now the greatest book on the planet (that currently is to me, may change tomorrow...so many books...) Jack Hamm's Drawing the human head & figure.

    The damn book is 120 pages of pure gold!

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ultimatum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Nightfalls
    .....they are often distorted because the image in the artist's mind is conflicting with the reference...
    Even more bizarre.
    Why wouldn't that make sense? Most artists that use reference aren't skillful enough to really integrate and mold the photo into their own work, so it's tends to look stiff, unnatural, pasted on, out of place, strange, because of inconsistent angles/lightning, inappropriate facial expressions, etc.

    My Self-Portraits

    "Work for your self first. You can paint best the things you like or the things you hate. You cannot paint well when indifferent.
    Express a mental opinion about something you are sensitive to in life around you. There is a profound difference between sensitivity and sentimentality."

    ~ John Sloan Gist of Art
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    As to books, I'm currently working on The Vilppu Drawing Manual, and so far it's really good. Although to be fair, I'm still on the familiarization with basic forms part rather than where he really gets into anatomy and drawing from life, but I've heard several people here on CA talk about how good it is.

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    Hmm, I think looking at a few photographs of say a parrot, and making a 3d model in your head of what a parrot looks like is better than just coping a photograph, although that's acceptable. Why guess.

    For figure drawing books, I really like Figure drawing: design and invention by Michael Hampton. I haven't had a chance to use it yet but I've had a flick through and I really understand what he talks about, and the book covers pretty much everything from gesture drawing to all individual body parts and the gestalt

    A nice cheap one with an endorsement from Bridgeman at the beginning is the human figure by Vanderpoel. Again, haven't used it yet but I've taken a look and it's very thorough, with a nice introduction which goes through the 'stages' a figurative artist goes through.

    And then of course you've got your Loomis and Bridgeman, probably heard of those by now

    List of free figure drawing books with pdf downloads

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    Quote Originally Posted by MidgardSerpent View Post
    Why wouldn't that make sense? Most artists that use reference aren't skillful enough to really integrate and mold the photo into their own work, so it's tends to look stiff, unnatural, pasted on, out of place, strange, because of inconsistent angles/lightning, inappropriate facial expressions, etc.
    Most?

    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=130468

    Even him?

    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=31674

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    Norman Rockwell and Fechin are clearly not 'most artists', so I don't really see the point in bringing that up unless you're inferring that I was knocking the use of reference, which I wasn't.

    My Self-Portraits

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    Express a mental opinion about something you are sensitive to in life around you. There is a profound difference between sensitivity and sentimentality."

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    I think the point is that using reference is absolutely fine, but understanding the form that you're referencing is even better.

    It's kind of a mix of looking at an object and defining the forms and value from what you see, and also relying on your own inner knowledge of the thing itself. Which is why doing something like miles and miles of anatomy studies is beneficial. That way, you can take a photo of something which does have some distortions to it, and use your inner vision to correct the mistakes of the reference itself.

    I can see why less skilled artists using reference won't always get the best results, because you're just making a copy; and, if it's from photo, it's even worse. Reference is good, but knowing the object's form apart from the reference is also very good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MidgardSerpent View Post
    Norman Rockwell and Fechin are clearly not 'most artists', so I don't really see the point in bringing that up unless you're inferring that I was knocking the use of reference, which I wasn't.
    No, actually they ARE most artists.

    You have it wrong. People still learning tend to use reference incorrectly. They tend to do a lot of things incorrectly. That's why they're still learning.

    The artists you're referring to tend to be in a different category they're also considered hobbyists or students. It's like comparing the guy next door who plays a mean game of basketball to Kobe Bryant.

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    Yes, understanding that what you draw is always a good thing and there are people like Marko Djurdjevic who (as far as I know) don't use any reference directly, but instead they look and learn from life. Bottom line, don't just copy from reference, be it life or a photograph, learn from it.

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    A human anatomy atlas is a nice tool to for learning and later referencing the human structures. I don't have a preference, but take a browse through Amazon to see what's good. Make sure you use the word "artist" in your search though, because there are anatomy books out there that are for medical use mostly. I typed in " atlas anatomy artists" and here's what I got...

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_no...rtists&x=0&y=0

    good luck, and you're not cheating btw

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    Post #9 in that thread is one of my finest moments.

    Also,
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=123346

    Finally, Nightfalls, do we have to start attaching warning labels to your posts?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Post #9 in that thread is one of my finest moments.
    It is indeed very fine, but I prefer post #12.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    If you know the danger you can avoid it. Fear makes you weak. Knowledge makes you strong.
    "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering... mmmm..."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    No, actually they ARE most artists.

    You have it wrong. People still learning tend to use reference incorrectly. They tend to do a lot of things incorrectly. That's why they're still learning.
    Where am I wrong? Did I say anything to the contrary? Most artists are still in a learning fase, even most professionals have plenty of weaknesses in their work. Just because they make a living out of it doesn't mean they can draw really well, quality varies greatly, with good artists being much rarer than medioce artists.

    I differentiate Rockwell and Fechin from most artists, because they have a better grasp of drawing, amateur OR professional.




    The artists you're referring to tend to be in a different category they're also considered hobbyists or students. It's like comparing the guy next door who plays a mean game of basketball to Kobe Bryant.
    No, I'm not. There are plenty of lower level pro artists in most fields that are either a slave to reference or don't draw well enough to use it organically.

    My Self-Portraits

    "Work for your self first. You can paint best the things you like or the things you hate. You cannot paint well when indifferent.
    Express a mental opinion about something you are sensitive to in life around you. There is a profound difference between sensitivity and sentimentality."

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    Quote Originally Posted by MidgardSerpent View Post
    No, I'm not. There are plenty of lower level pro artists in most fields that are either a slave to reference or don't draw well enough to use it organically.
    Numbers please. Evidenced by...?


    Also if actually READ the threads, you're still wrong. You keep listing 2 artists. I notice there's a lot more chiming in and giving even more examples of artists that used such.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    Numbers please. Evidenced by...?
    I'm sorry, but you either easily satisfied or you're really thick if you need someone else to give you evidence that there are a lot of low-level artists out there, despite them making a living out of it. I can't help you there.


    Also if actually READ the threads, you're still wrong.
    I don't understand what kind of english of argument this is.



    You keep listing 2 artists. I notice there's a lot more chiming in and giving even more examples of artists that used such.
    Besides being unnecessarily pedantic here, what's your point? I'm not hammering on those two names, I just picked the first two. '"Even more examples" in that topic were, off the top of my head, Fabry, Gurney, and Vermeer. Mentioning 3 more above average artists don't detract from my point at all.

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    You said "Most".

    Now if you have "seen many" that's your anecdotal opinion.

    So do you have some kind of actual evidence or are you just pulling some invisible math because you've seen people in your lifetime that have used reference incorrectly and now it's become "Most" ? It comes off as a qualifying statement of truth. I'm saying it's not.

    You haven't proven your point that it's an actual "most" and that you're being cynical over what you just observed. There are many many artists that have learned to use reference correctly.

    Just tired of that myth since there are many artists and most that call this a profession that have used it correctly and not the other way around.

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    "Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning." -Bruce Lee

    I think this sums its up

    The Penvirates:: Xeon_OND :: PermaN00b:: Kamber Parrk :: Cygear ::Diarum

    "Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning." -Bruce Lee

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    Okay, yeah, reference, blah, sometimes it looks bad, blah. But oh my God. USE REFERENCE. THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH IT. It doesn't make you a bad artist. But going without it makes it that much more difficult to improve.

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    Remember that drawing from our heads means pulling from a sort of library or archive. The only way we build that library is to examine and use reference.

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