Drawing from photo's vs Drawing form Life

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  1. #1
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    Drawing from photo's vs Drawing form Life

    Ok, I've heard alot of people say that drawing from photo's or other drawings is not good, and will not help you, but I've also heard people say that it's ok.
    What do yall think? What are the arguments?
    When drawing people especally, I have a big lack of people that sit still to draw, so...

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  3. #2
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    Nothing wrong, in my view, in practicing how to draw the figure from a photo, another artist's drawing, or a video freeze frame. Especially if you want to analyze a dynamic, in-motion pose. Or learn dramatic camera angles or shadow/light effects. Wanna learn how to draw a head up close? Lots of head shots in mag ads and newspaper photos to study. Same thing with hands. You can practice with these anytime of the day.

    With life drawing, you can analyze the human body by moving around the figure (if you wish). You can see first hand bony landmarks and muscle details that might be obscured by tiny photos. You'll find out how there are so many body types that defy the formulaic 8 heads proportion. And you're observing first hand with your own eyes as opposed to a mechanical filter (camera lens, digital editing, etc.).

    No rule why you can't practice both approaches.

    Don't be limited by debates. Do WHATEVER it takes to learn

    :thumbsup:

    Last edited by FlipMcgee; March 4th, 2004 at 08:42 PM.
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  4. #3
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    Well if you mean reference, and that it ain't good, then that someone lied to you. Either way, nobody has ever learnt to draw, without looking at life itself, besides if you learn from other drawings, thats great! It's all in the techniques... so, just learn and don't listen to everybody, follow your heart.

    Change
    Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way - Edward De Bono
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  5. #4
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    always remember that magazine pics are ALWAYS heavyly photoretouched. If I can find that darn link to show you the differences... it's flabbergasting.
    IMO, it's best to understand how shapes work. And this is easyer to achieve when looking at a model. The trap with pictures is that you learn where to place your lines and the surface of things, not how things mesh together on the inside.

    For photo retouching in mags, check this out
    * this one is pretty interesting
    * as well as this one
    I've seen more hardcore stuff when it comes to take body parts from different models and patching them together, or elongating the legs dramatically. Changes the proportions altogether, but eh... Sex sells, right ?

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  7. #5
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    there is never a wrong way to produce art... i like to remember that on all those lonely, lonely nights... (tear)

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    Reference is a fine way to keep up practice, just as real-life drawing BUT there's those differences in benefits (as explained in past posts). For instance as pointed out...you want to practice on a figure doing something fairly dynamic, using his body in a pose such as mid-air jumping, maybe a high-kick; it'd be difficult to keep your eye on the specific details having your model jumping (poor thing'll get tired too), and same goes for a model's leg in the air (unless she's resting her foot on something, I bet she won't last long).
    So while life drawing gives you the benefits of getting the FEEL of your objects in pure 3D space in person, a (photo) ref' gives you...other things.

    One of the past posts mentioned about practicing from other artists. That's good if you're using this method to learn from another artist's point of view. Analyzing the form, concept and flow of the piece (You're practicing other artists works not to copy them or their styles but to gather and pickup alternate and varying elements to blend in your own concepts). There's handful of practicing artists who try and improve themselved through tracing (tracing what? Other works, of course) and I, myself do NOT encourage that. I have a distaste for the whole idea. All you're doing then is just practicing copying specific line-patterns of another art piece, an artist's style etc. and that can limit you in the long run later on.

    I feel like I've given more than should-be enough of an opinion here, but I felt it was worth it.

    Quo'

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  9. #7
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    Everyone starts out using referencing and only in time do you get good enough to draw with a reference and even then when you get stuck a lot of artists will go find an image to help them, practice makes perfect and you can't practice without something to reference picture or real life it's still referencing.

    so i see no problem with it, it helps you learn shapes etc.

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  10. #8
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    Ok. My first post.
    I have drawn from life in college. I use alot of photos these days because I also find it hard to find people to sit still.
    There are a few issues. If you are drawing just the shape of the body and not trying to get the values correct then photos will work. I have heard alot about the photos being retouched, no core shadows (Jason repeated this in the color theory class), and a few other things I can't remember at this time.
    However, if you have never drawn from life it will be hard to "feel" the shapes that you are drawing and hard to understand why certain things look the way they do. When I draw i try to envision it in real life. Not just as a flat shape.
    As for tracing, I don't recommend it. I was introduced to the all powerful artograph in college, and it has set me back a long way. It is a useful tool when you have your fundamentals down, but if you practice enough you don't need it.
    You could also try plaster casts at a museum, draw yourself, get a mirror (still a bit of distortion), practice sketching quick at the mall or park.
    Just my opinion, but it's from some experience.

    Just found another post with lots of info. Also gets into copyright stuff, but some info if you dig.
    Here

    Last edited by Rilez75; August 29th, 2009 at 01:47 AM. Reason: more info
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  11. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by stejahen View Post
    Ok, I've heard alot of people say that drawing from photo's or other drawings is not good, and will not help you, but I've also heard people say that it's ok.
    What do yall think? What are the arguments?
    When drawing people especally, I have a big lack of people that sit still to draw, so...
    A few problems with photos off the top of my head...

    1. Lens distortion. Your drawings may start to look less like the subject and more like a photo of the subject.

    2. Fabrication. Odd lighting, photo retouching, et cetera. You're not drawing the subject of the photo, you're drawing the retoucher's interpretation of the subject.

    3. Pre-chosen composition. Similar to #2, the photographer chose the composition for you so you're drawing the photographer's interpretation of the subject instead.

    4. Too easy to merely copy. When drawing from life either your subject or you will move, forcing you to think about the subject in three dimensions rather than just copying a single viewpoint. A photograph, on the other hand, never challenges you in that way.

    That said, if you're conscious of the problems of working with a photograph then you can do just fine. You can force yourself to work out the planes of the subject even if you don't have to, you can crop the composition, you can account for lens distortion, and so on.

    Really though, there's no reason you can't do both. I prefer to draw and paint in the sanctuary of my own home which can really cut down on access to models or ability to work 'en plein air', but that doesn't stop me from doing a still-life or a self portrait. Doing work from life will help you overcome the issues that come with photographs, even if the subjects are unrelated.

    -My work can be found at my local directory thread.
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  12. #10
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  13. #11
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    Ok, I find nothing wrong in drawing from photo's. If you're trying to hone technique - such as train your eye to detect value structures, changes in values, etc., I don't see a problem.

    Doctors heal you, Artists immortalize you.

    "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach" - bullshit.

    The usual staples for anatomy:
    George Bridgman
    Joseph Sheppard
    Andrew Loomis
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