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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Thanked 11 Times in 11 Posts

    Observing proportions from life

    I've been trying to develop a better way of looking for proportions from life.

    Generally people use a unit of measurement or a series of shapes to solve for proportion problems.

    Ultimately, if you want to draw something from imagination, you really need to have a robust understanding of it.

    I'm wondering if spending my time looking at "shapes" when out and about is really going to help me in the log run when it comes to constructing poses that are unrelated to the ones that the shapes represent.

    I understand everyone is different and there are lots of ways to know this stuff, but as someone who wants to INVENT and CONSTRUCT drawings in a very realistic way.

    I'm just wondering if there are any thoughts or considerations you would recommend when out and about and looking at the sizes of things, or if proportions are something that is much better left to more detailed studies from photographs not done fro life.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Northern California
    Thanked 4,921 Times in 2,548 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by Jocose View Post
    I've been trying to develop a better way of looking for proportions from life.
    Problem the first. That would be awesome though. Let us know. :

    Quote Originally Posted by Jocose View Post
    ...but as someone who wants to INVENT and CONSTRUCT drawings in a very realistic way.
    Problem the second. Depending on what you mean by "a very realistic way". "Realism" is the result of accuracy in all the fundamentals; anatomy, sense of life, sense of light and space, value, color, edges all coming together in a well tuned composition. Each of these components changes every time, and even moment to moment under natural light. So artists realize the best approach is to learn to carefully observe and translate what they see through direct observation (working from life).

    If by "a very realistic way" you mean so the subject looks like a character, creature, environment, building, vehicle, etc. and you are willing to trade "realism" for "formula" then that is different. You will still find the best approach is to work from life enough to understand the fundamentals, but begin to use a formula or recipe that works for you to achieve the results you're after.

    Syd Mead is a good example of someone who makes incredible images, but they would never be confused with "realism".

    You really should pick up James Gurney's "Imaginitive Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist",I mean, he wrote it just for you!
    What would Caravaggio do?

    Plein Air
    Still Life
    Sight Measuring

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  5. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Thanked 11 Times in 11 Posts
    Yes, realism was a terrible word to use as it is a traditional school of art. Syd Mead, and James Gurney are probably my two biggest inspirations, so yes you hit the nail on the head.

    Lol, I just got that book at the library. I realized after making this post it was kind of an odd question. Really there is not write or wrong way of doing any of this. I was just trying to get a grasp of what others were doing, but really I need to just be drawing and finding what works for me.

    By "better" I mean better than what I'm currently doing. Not better than traditional tried and true methods. It was a very poorly worded statement. I meant I'm trying to better understand how study in an effective way. So I don't spend all my time aimlessly sketching.

    There is value in classical realism, simple abstract drawings, and highly believable completely constructed figures.

    Its just such a long journey it can be hard to for me to see the interrelatedness at times, and it helps to understand how others have and are aprouching these problems.

    Posting this was kind of a shot in the dark, and probably misguided. I'll just keep drawing lol.

    And Jeff, your relentless efforts to answer all of my posts with rational straightforward advice is VERY APPRECIATED.


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  7. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    san francisco
    Thanked 8 Times in 8 Posts
    try sculpting. this helps you understand dimensions LOOADS for me its even better than drawing. i dont know why but after sculpting i have a much better understanding than i do after i draw.

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  9. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Thanked 490 Times in 312 Posts
    Looking at things in life in an analytic way, comparing sizes is a good way to become more aware of what they look like.
    Just today, in class we had a chat about how we should develop skills to be able to see on the fly that object A may be 6 times smaller then object B... heights, widths, directions and proportionate relationships.
    Usually, observational drawing from life tends to force that kind of analytical study of things we see.

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