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    Looking for a starting point

    Greetings all, a new member here and one out to learn to draw from scratch! I'm a (still learning) hobbyist photographer with a specific interest in general wildlife, animals, insects and nature photography and I've come to want to be able to make either record or more artistic renditions of my photos in other mediums - currently with a specific lean toward sketching.

    My current skill level is not much more than a chimp would achieve with a pencil and paper; sadly drawing is something that I've never really pushed myself at in the past nor something that I have ever had any basic training in (at school if you were good the teachers fawned over you - if you were bad they kept finding things for you to do till you got to GCSEs and they preyed you didn't take art as an option).

    The general medium and area that I would like to begin with is basic sketching/pencil drawing with a specific lean toward wildlife/pets. People hold less interest for me, so whilst I respect the skills learnt and the fact that I will end up drawing people (most likely) at some point its toward animal subjects that my main interest is at at present.

    So without further ado do any here have any advice for a good starting point for a very clean slate to learn from. Ideally some book references that I can get hold of that would give me some basic grounding skills and starting points as well as any advice on tools/set up that would aid me at this stage (ie what pencils, paper etc to start with).

    I have had a look around the site and around Google and the more I search the more I get a little more lost - information overload has well set in as well as a general lack of understanding making it hard to impossible to filter the results to pick out the best advice from the general, the mundane and the inaccurate.

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    Welcome to the site, overread.

    I am not entirely sure what books would be of interest to you, being that you are primarily interested in animals. My knowledge lacks in that field, I'm afraid. There's a common exercise all should undergo, despite their appetites --Draw what you see. Buy a sketchbook (any will do!) and buy a regular pencil. If possible, carry them around with you. Register what you are most sensitive to. Make quick doodles, free your movements and enrich your perception of reality, as is.

    You might want to have a look at the following boards, too:
    - Fine Arts
    - Art Discussion
    - Art School & Education
    - Tutorials, Tips & Tricks
    - References & Inspirations

    These will all be of great help to you. Search hard and read a lot, and you'll be set, eventually (variable to your persistency, devotion and commitment). When ever you feel comfortable enough, get yourself a Sketchbook going on --they tend to attract attention towards your work, and critiques sailing along.


    Best of luck,
    Klaasillu

    Last edited by Klaasillu; August 8th, 2010 at 08:50 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by overread View Post
    The general medium and area that I would like to begin with is basic sketching/pencil drawing with a specific lean toward wildlife/pets. People hold less interest for me, so whilst I respect the skills learnt and the fact that I will end up drawing people (most likely) at some point its toward animal subjects that my main interest is at at present.
    It is difficult to learn to draw well without learning to draw people. This is because only with figures and faces do our errors really jump out at us. I know from experience that with animals one can to some extent get away with inaccuracies, and it is easy to convince oneself that a drawing of an animal isn't too bad. With figures and portraits that does not happen easily - even very minor errors stick out like the proverbial sore thumb, so you learn a great deal of discipline. You also learn quite a lot about expressive form and line, which are skills that come in handy when drawing anything else.

    So without further ado do any here have any advice for a good starting point for a very clean slate to learn from. Ideally some book references that I can get hold of that would give me some basic grounding skills and starting points as well as any advice on tools/set up that would aid me at this stage (ie what pencils, paper etc to start with).
    If you are just beginning, you need no more than a clipboard, sheets of photocopy or printer paper, and a few HB pencil and/or ballpoint pens.

    If you cannot draw at all, you need to learn the basics of drawing, and for that I recommend "Drawing on the right side of the brain" by Betty Edwards, which is a classic and the first self-help book in history that actually works. It does not specifically teach you how to draw animals, mind you, but for the the very sound reason that drawing animals is exactly the same thing as drawing anything else.

    Other advice: resist the temptation to work only or mainly from photographic references. Contrary to popular opinion, art is not the copying of photographs. It is better to sketch live animals (however difficult it may be, considering how damn uncooperative the models are!), and to copy the work of master artists. This teaches one the skills necessary to later make sensible use of reference photos.

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    Many thanks both Klaasillu and Brian - I do very much agree that the basic building blocks of drawing are going to be the same no matter how one approaches the art and that learning to draw one thing directly helps one to start to get those blocks together to form the basis of learning to draw another subject. The only main limit being ones interest in the drawing subject of choice, hence why I am more keen to find good references books that that the process with a view to animal/wildlife rather than with human figure (I'm simply not as interested in drawing people).

    Brian with regard to your point about detail I do understand your thinking here, though with myself I don't think it will be a problem. I say this because in the past, when put in situations where I have had to draw, attention to detail is something that I am good at, however basic drawing and scale tend to go out the window so whilst I pay attention to the finer details I fail to reproduce them suitable on the paper. This is also something that has carried over into my photography as well (eg I once spend time putting the eye segments back into a fly portrait I took, from where the eye itself had what appeard to be damaged/dead eye segments - granted copy/paste/clone and heal are a lot easier than drawing).

    I have quickly done a search on the book you mentioned and also found a workbook that accompanies the main book as well as overall favourable reviews so it certainly looks like one to add to the reading list!

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    The Art of Animal Drawing by Kent Hulgren covers the basics and is a pretty inexpensive book.

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    Thing about the Betty Edwards book is it's aimed at the non-artist, people who haven't picked up a pencil since they were kids and want to learn to draw. For someone with an artistic background like you (photography does train the eye), I'd recommend only going through about half the book, then moving on to other sources, such as Glenn Vilppu's The Vilppu Drawing Manual, Jack Hamm's Drawing the Head & Figure, or the works of Andrew Loomis, together with general anatomy study and drawing from life.

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    My thanks Dpaint and Nezumi - sounds to me like the second part of the book moves more into composition whilst the first half is the basic grounding in drawing skills. Interestingly whilst photography has improved my eye its still my weaker area and one I hope to improve still through learning to draw - even if in the end I only make it as far as being able to draw decent technical reference

    I have also been scouting around amazon as well for a few ideas-
    An Atlas of Animal Anatomy for Artists
    Animal Anatomy for Artists: The Elements of Form
    appear to be two books (the first especially) that hold as good for anatomical reference (even though I admit fully that I still have to learn to walk before I run in this).

    On basic drawing there appear to be a lot more books covering the subject
    I've done a look around at the books you recommend Nezumi and whilst the Hamm's is easily available the Vilppu appears out of stock in most places UK side. I've also done some basic searching around Amazon and found a few titles, sadly few reviews of them on amazon itself:

    Drawing Wildlife
    Artist's Guide to Drawing Realistic Animals
    Whilst a group called "Drawing Made Easy" appear to have a range of shorter publications that cover a few select areas of drawing.

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    Whereabouts in UK do you live, overread?

    As for the books; I think you could benefit a lot from the freebies you find laying around CA and then decide to get some books and move towards it with more seriousness. I, for once, have followed a similar path to yours. I was initially a B&W photographer (film photographer, dare I add!). Whereas that has trained my eye and thus, perception, it has also swallowed my ability to take attention to what I see. For the most part, my focus was on how to interpret reality, as opposed to seeing reality as realisty is.

    This might have only happened with me, though.

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    Depends slightly on what part of the year it is - holiday and summer time is in Suffolk whilst term time (uni) is up in Cumbria.

    On the book front I do agree and I know from learning my photography (a digital only shooter here) that a lot of the info is about on the net for free - however I also prefer the somewhat more constructed approach that a book tends to give more than the internet which I find better for more select and specific method/skills and enhancement upon the basic. That and I like collecting and reading books overall.
    I also find your viewpoint on attention to detail and upon how you view the world interesting, I honestly don't think I've yet really settled enough into the artistic and photographic world to really have made my own choice (and if I have I've not had enough time to realise it). I would say I do sometimes have to stop and take a step back from the detail (from the 100%view) and take into view the effect of the whole and its presentation.

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    You've gotten a ton of good advice in this thread.
    I just want to add MindCandyMan's sketchbook (http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=870) if you haven't already found it. It's a huge inspiration especially if you're just starting out, it shows that ANYONE can learn to draw, and it'll give you an idea of a path

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sacari View Post
    You've gotten a ton of good advice in this thread.
    I just want to add MindCandyMan's sketchbook (http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=870) if you haven't already found it. It's a huge inspiration especially if you're just starting out, it shows that ANYONE can learn to draw, and it'll give you an idea of a path
    I have seen his sketchbook before, but I have never been able to work out just exactly how he did what he did. His work is pretty mediocre, for page after page, and then suddenly it's virtually professional. It's not clear to me what happened in between, though it is noteworthy that he did get, if memory serves, a year or three of full time atelier-style training. Perhaps that made all the difference.

    My own work also looked pretty much like his, and stayed that way, for years and years and years, and no amount of "hard work" made any difference. One also has to know HOW to work, otherwise you never get anywhere.

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    As a beginner, I would like to butt in and ask just one question. When you suggest drawing from life, what does it mean exactly? Is it what it says on the label (observing things around you) or is it the drawing with a nude model?

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    When you suggest drawing from life, what does it mean exactly? Is it what it says on the label (observing things around you) or is it the drawing with a nude model?
    Anything thats tangible/3d, people, cats, dogs, shoes. Anything thats not 2d/image.
    But yes figure drawing also helps understand, as we can relate easily to human figures it makes it easier for us to learn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arvinsim View Post
    As a beginner, I would like to butt in and ask just one question. When you suggest drawing from life, what does it mean exactly? Is it what it says on the label (observing things around you) or is it the drawing with a nude model?
    Varies depending on context, but usually, the meaning is something like...

    "Drawing from life" = drawing real things around you (i.e., anything, as long as it's real and not a photo or other image.)

    "Life Drawing" = drawing people from life, usually nude.

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    some inspiration, Walton Ford











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    Quote Originally Posted by zwarrior View Post
    some inspiration, Walton Ford
    Cool stuff!

    For a more conventional treatment, do a Google image search for Wilhelm Kuhnert:

    http://www.google.co.za/images?q=wil...w=1024&bih=651

    Hmm, not sure that huge link is going to work. He also has a page on Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Wilhelm_Kuhnert

    Neatly illustrates what can be done without the benefit of reference photos (of course in his day wildlife artists did have one advantage, namely that they could shoot uncooperative models!).

    And of course, the present-day god of wildlife art is Robert Bateman:

    http://www.robertbateman.ca/

    The prospective wildlife artist will greatly benefit from studying the work of such artists as the above.

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    Looking for a place to start? try http://barnstonestudios.com/learn-to-draw-videos

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