character design / creating the human figure from imagination

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  1. #1
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    Question character design / creating the human figure from imagination

    This question is probably asked a million times...
    I'm drawing for about 2 years now. I tried to learn things like measuring and block-in, basics about light&shadow, perspective etc. Mostly I did sketches from life or photo references.

    I'm very interested in concept art and character design. First I tried to find photo references for every sketch I wanted to do... or I took my own photos. But that didn't work out too well, because I never got the result that I wanted to have. So I assumed that I have to learn how to draw the human figure from mind. Currently I read the "Die Gestalt des Menschen" by Gottfried Bammes, which is great, but I think that I probably have to study this book for years before I can draw humans from mind.

    So I want you to ask what you prefer or would advice. Taking photo references? Learning Anatomy? Or using books by comic artists like Christopher Hart? Or...?

    I'm thankful for every tip

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  4. #2
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    Bammes is very good. And yes, anatomy can take years to learn. When copying the drawings try to not just copy, but really understand the forms of what you are drawing. Then afterwards draw the same studies from imagination. Bridgman is also very good for this sort of constructive anatomy that is good for drawing from imagination.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spinoza View Post
    So I want you to ask what you prefer or would advice. Taking photo references?
    Yes.
    Quote Originally Posted by spinoza View Post
    Learning Anatomy?
    Yes.
    Quote Originally Posted by spinoza View Post
    Or using books by comic artists
    Yes.
    Quote Originally Posted by spinoza View Post
    like Christopher Hart?
    OH GOD NO!!!!!!


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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post

    OH GOD NO!!!!!!

    I was waiting for that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Yes.

    OH GOD NO!!!!!!
    I unfortunately don't know any other books about 'comic-style' than this one I didn't find it that bad, but I think I can understand why you don't like it. Can you recommend a better one?

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    To preempt everyone else, pick up and beef up on your real world anatomy before doing comics. Stylization comes after an understanding of the basics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Sonea View Post
    Then afterwards draw the same studies from imagination. Bridgman is also very good for this sort of constructive anatomy that is good for drawing from imagination.
    That's exactly what I try to do,... but I personally find it pretty tricky. And thanks for the Bridgman tip, his books seem to be fantastic (even if bammes hates him )

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    What? Bammes hates him? I can't understand the German in his books, but I did notice that he has pictures from other anatomy books in there (from Loomis and Hogarth and stuff). Anyways, Bridgman is amazing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spinoza View Post
    I unfortunately don't know any other books about 'comic-style' than this one I didn't find it that bad, but I think I can understand why you don't like it. Can you recommend a better one?
    How To Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Lee and Buscema
    Draw the Looney Tunes by Romanelli (cartoony, but very applicable)
    Perspective For Comic Book Artists by Chelsea
    Constructive Anatomy by Bridgeman (has a lot you can apply to a comic style)
    Creating Characters With Personality by Bancroft (more about design for comics than an actual drawing manual)
    Action Cartooning by Caldwell

    And on the concepts behind comics themselves:

    Understanding Comics and Making Comics by McCloud
    Comics and Sequential Art by Eisner (the classic!)
    Drawing Words and Writing Pictures by Abel and Madden

    That's a good start, at least.

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    Thank you for the list, Nezumi! I just ordered some of them & bammes constructive anatomy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Sonea View Post
    What? Bammes hates him? I can't understand the German in his books, but I did notice that he has pictures from other anatomy books in there (from Loomis and Hogarth and stuff). Anyways, Bridgman is amazing.
    As I understand it, Bammes don't like Bridgman's books. He writes, that his basic idea was right, but the tools that he offers are not very helpful because they are more about subjective simplification than construction. He doesn't like Andrew Loomis at all, but thinks that Burne Hogarth's books are very good (page 36/37)

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    Interesting to hear Bammes' views. I personally haven't found Loomis to be all that helpful. I started off drawing from his books, but ended up getting really stiff figures and really frustrated, so I bought some Bridgman books, and haven't looked back.

    Anyways, I ended up with sketchbooks full of copies of Bridgman, and knew my anatomy pretty well (I also learned from Peck's book), but then couldn't really apply it. I should have done more from my imagination when studying him. But then one day I started thinking more in terms of very simple forms first (cylinder for limbs sort of thing), and it all clicked and I was able to apply everything I learned from Bridgman.

    And I have Dynamic Anatomy by Hogarth, but haven't really studied it much. It seems decent for some things, but various parts of it bother me. All his figures for instance are a bit too comic booky for me, and the lighting on the forms is really bad. Plus all the figures are flayed--he doesn't really show any figures as you would see them with actual skin and fat on top of the muscles.

    Anyhow, here are some figures I did from my imagination last night just so you can see sort of how I am doing from the books I have used (life drawing also helps). They still aren't that good, and I have been studying this for a couple years now, so yes, this takes a while to master.

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  20. #12
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    Actually I remember someone mentioning the complete opposite about Hogarth (re Bammes views upon him - calling him something like "rubberman")

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    Quote Originally Posted by spinoza View Post
    I unfortunately don't know any other books about 'comic-style' than this one I didn't find it that bad, but I think I can understand why you don't like it. Can you recommend a better one?
    Try the sticky thread on recommended reading. Saying you don't know other comic artists is kind of funny considering Hart doesn't even draw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Sonea View Post

    But then one day I started thinking more in terms of very simple forms first (cylinder for limbs sort of thing), and it all clicked and I was able to apply everything I learned from Bridgman.

    [...]

    Anyhow, here are some figures I did from my imagination last night just so you can see sort of how I am doing from the books I have used (life drawing also helps).
    Your studies from imagination are fantastic, I'm really impressed. I like the idea to reduce complex forms to simple geometrical forms and apply anatomy later, I will definitely try it out.

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    In my experience Bridgman isn't to be taken literally. All of his gestures and drawings are stylized. I know it seems like they aren't but they're filtered them using his own visual language. His sketches and drawings are only examples of a level of understanding you should be trying to achieve through life drawing, they are not the goal themselves. Honestly, some of his sketches are too stylized and hard to read if you have no previous knowledge of the underlying anatomy. It really helps to have multiple sources for learning anatomy and figure drawing.

    Ideally, you could grab some Sculpy or a copy of Zbrush and start rendering the human form in actual 3D space. This kind of understanding is more difficult to pick up on paper, at least for me it is. If you can model an accurate torso from memory then drawing it takes little effort.

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    I'm still a big fan of Hogarth, myself. The poses don't seem to make much sense, but after drawing them a few times, it starts to click as to whey he put them that way; after just a few studies, you'll have drawn each part of the human anatomy at about every angle imaginable.

    However, it's probably safe to say that Hogarth is more just a place to start. The presentation makes it easy to pick up and memorize simplified forms of anatomy in ways that give a real sense of depth, but for more detail, you'll have to go elsewhere (a medical text on anatomy with detailed illustrations/images is a good supplement). Also, Hogarth's figures seem to lack any sort of weight, floating around in space. There's really only one place to reliably get a sense of how muscle, fat, tissue, and drapery hang off the frame: Life. It usually isn't fun, but it serves a purpose to always be drawing from live references (not just photos... real things get budged and moved, so you'll be forced to dedicate what you're seeing to memory that much more).

    I definitely like CaW_'s suggestion to experiment with sculpting and 3D modeling. It's one thing to draw something you can see, but there's something to be said about manipulating an object in your hands or in a virtual space. You get a real feel for the entire form of an object when you're holding it or rotating it at all angles. When I personally started messing around with Lightwave and (blech) Poser, I found a lot of things that used to give me trouble suddenly weren't as much a challenge anymore.

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