Sketchbook: An Inquisition For Improvement

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  1. #1
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    An Inquisition For Improvement

    Hello ConceptArt! I've discovered I've spent too much time lurking these forums and looking at/reading about art that I haven't actually made anything! So I've decided to start a sketchbook. Maybe it'll motivate and encourage me enough to actually improve.

    My ultimate goal is to improve in all areas, but especially in anatomy and color. Mainly why I'm doing this is not only to drastically improve, but to prepare a portfolio for college. I'm really looking for improvement, so I hope you'll all give brutally honest critiques. I don't think my art is where it should be!

    I guess a little info would be helpful: I'm currently in high school, and I hope to pursue animation as a major/career.

    And here's a list of things I hope to accomplish/post:

    • Figure drawings (I'm starting sessions in February-- I've never done this before!)
    • Oil studies and finished paintings
    • Still life drawings/paintings
    • Cartoons
    • Studies/thumbnails of scenes from films
    • Other random stuff

    I hope to update regularly. If I don't, please yell at me.

    Here's some recent work:
    An Inquisition For Improvement

    This is a still life of some shells I'm working on with colored pencils. It's not actually this yellow-- the lights in my house are just yellow.

    An Inquisition For Improvement

    A portrait I made to practice painting looser and to understand color more. I still think I need to push the colors I use a bit more, and my anatomy needs some work. The eyes are censored to maintain privacy, but I accidentally made the right eye severely deformed. P:
    5 hours.

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    Last edited by Splendoodle; June 21st, 2012 at 08:39 PM.
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  3. #2
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    Hey, good work so far! I'm looking forward to seeing more of your pieces.

    The thing I notice in the shell piece is the lack of outlining on the shells. I think some line work would help separate the shell in the foreground (the front left) from the shells that recede into the background. Presently I think the drawing has a bit of a "flat" look to it. Also, would it be possible for you to post a more zoomed in image of this piece? Could you crop it so that the shells take up the picture plane and so that we could get a closer look?

    Your self portrait is pretty good. I do wish I could see the eyes, as they're generally the life of a portrait, but if you feel uncomfortable posting that for privacy reasons, that's totally fine. The thing I'm noticing here is that there is a lack of reflective light in your core shadows. The cheek on the right side of the painting (your left cheek) has a core shadow below the line of the lips. This shadow would be receiving some reflective light from your shirt (even though it's black). Reflective light has a way of making a portrait "pop." I would suggest adding some red to the center of that shadow to give the portrait a stronger sense of depth. You should also do this on the shadow at the top left of your face near the hairline. Let me know if this is confusing, I'll draw a diagram

    Anyway, once again: good work. I've subscribed!

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  5. #3
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    Hey, good work so far! I just wrote a pretty lengthy critique of these two pieces, but unfortunately it got caught in moderation. I'll sum it up here and you can ask me whatever questions come to mind.

    1. The seashell piece could use stronger line work to delineate the shells in the foreground from the shells receding into the background.

    2. The core shadows in your portrait could use some reflective lighting. Red would be ideal. When you make your shadows flat (the shadows on the left side of your face below the edge of your mouth and near your hairline) the whole piece flattens out.

    Let me know anything else you'd like me to comment on!

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  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by blindshot View Post
    Hey, good work so far! I just wrote a pretty lengthy critique of these two pieces, but unfortunately it got caught in moderation. I'll sum it up here and you can ask me whatever questions come to mind.

    1. The seashell piece could use stronger line work to delineate the shells in the foreground from the shells receding into the background.

    2. The core shadows in your portrait could use some reflective lighting. Red would be ideal. When you make your shadows flat (the shadows on the left side of your face below the edge of your mouth and near your hairline) the whole piece flattens out.

    Let me know anything else you'd like me to comment on!
    Aw, I hate that darn moderation. You may have to ask someone to approve all your posts to get them to appear again-- otherwise it might be stuck for all eternity.
    Anyway, thank you! I am having a hard time defining the shells and keeping them from blending with the others. I didn't realize that problem until it was too late in the process, and I hate having to outline things-- it makes it look more superficial. I think it was more about the intensity of the colors; they're all the same value.

    I realized I forgot the reflective lighting in the portrait actually right after I finished it, haha. I just had no idea how to add it in. I might have to look up a tutorial for that. And that line by the jaw bugged me so much, but I left it in because I was lazy. Laziness will be the death of me.

    Thanks for the feedback!

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  7. #5
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    Hey, no problem! I also think the sea shell closest to the viewer should also have a cast shadow. The light appears to be coming from the top left, but no shadow falls to the right of the seashell in the foreground. This would also separate it from the background a little.

    As far as the reflective light on the portrait is concerned, I would just apply thin red washes until the opacity of the washes built up to a level that you deemed appropriate. If you're using oils, I might use a little medium to thin the paint in that area before applying these. If you paint the reflective light on thickly, it'll stick out and look odd in comparison to the shadow that surrounds it.

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  8. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by blindshot View Post
    Hey, no problem! I also think the sea shell closest to the viewer should also have a cast shadow.

    As far as the reflective light on the portrait is concerned, I would just apply thin red washes until the opacity of the washes built up to a level that you deemed appropriate. If you're using oils, I might use a little medium to thin the paint in that area before applying these. If you paint the reflective light on thickly, it'll stick out and look odd in comparison to the shadow that surrounds it.
    There's actually a shell directly to the right of that one that I just haven't drawn in yet. There's actually a lot more shells I haven't drawn in-- I should probably get working on that piece again.

    Mmm, yeah, I was considering using a glaze maybe for the reflective light. Your recently out-of-moderation post helped explain where to put it though, which was really helpful. : )

    And now to post a picture that accurately describes where I'm at right now with anatomy/figure drawing:

    An Inquisition For Improvement

    I did these poses a few minutes ago (using one of those online figure drawing tools), and I want to cry. All of my figure drawings turn out like this-- it's so frustrating and makes me realize how little talent I have. I can never visualize the body as a whole, so there's no flow, there's no balance/rhythm/weight, the lines are sketchy, there's no sense of mass, the anatomy is completely wrong-- I just can't do figure drawings! I can render a drawing well, but I have no understanding of what actually makes up a drawing. I desperately need to improve.

    I'll post some more figure drawings later-- It was hard enough posting this one. :/

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  9. #7
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    Don't cry! You have a decent sense of proportion and that's a good thing to have down before starting figures! Don't be afraid to be more loose with these drawings. You'll get a stronger sense of the figure if you just let your hand do the work without worrying whether it's going to turn out okay. Start out loose and light and darken the lines that appear to be in the right place. Leave the light, gestural lines down and develop the lines that are in their correct place.

    Here's a good video on doing gestures: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmiwG...ure=plpp_video

    Also, something I like to remember is that you can't get worse at this! Anything you put down on paper will be a step to further developing your skills. The things you think are awful now will just serve as a frame of reference for the successively better works to come.

    Last edited by blindshot; January 22nd, 2012 at 02:39 PM. Reason: words of encouragement
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  10. #8
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    Eek, it's been a whole month without posting anything! I should really be drawing more.

    Quote Originally Posted by blindshot View Post
    Don't cry! You have a decent sense of proportion and that's a good thing to have down before starting figures! Don't be afraid to be more loose with these drawings. You'll get a stronger sense of the figure if you just let your hand do the work without worrying whether it's going to turn out okay. Start out loose and light and darken the lines that appear to be in the right place. Leave the light, gestural lines down and develop the lines that are in their correct place.

    Here's a good video on doing gestures: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmiwG...ure=plpp_video

    Also, something I like to remember is that you can't get worse at this! Anything you put down on paper will be a step to further developing your skills. The things you think are awful now will just serve as a frame of reference for the successively better works to come.
    This is really great advice, so thank you! About the proportions: I actually feel like proportions and anatomy are my weakest areas right now that desperately need more work. But you're right about needing to be looser; I always stress about how it's going to turn out in the end and forget to just enjoy the process.

    That video was really helpful! I don't know why I didn't think to look up videos on figure drawing-- seeing them done in-action is so much more useful than just looking at finished pieces and wondering how it was possibly done.

    And I actually always tell myself I can't get worse, only better, which is a huge relief, even though sometimes I feel like I'm starting all over again.

    I think another huge issue of mine is I'm jumping right to gesture drawings and ignoring the longer poses. I've discovered that I learn so much more by doing longer poses first and then doing quicker, more gestural figures.

    And now to finally post more artwork!

    Here's my two latest longer poses (about 30 minutes each) done during an actual figure drawing session which I recently started:

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    I might touch this one up a bit later and add in more to the top and background.

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    I tried experimenting with different styles for this one, even though the anatomy is really off.

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    This is an oil painting I'm working on which actually extends a bit farther to the left, but I cropped it just to show what I've done so far. I need to touch up a lot of this still though. This one's due next week, so expect more updates!

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  11. #9
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    Whew, it's been a while since I updated. I'm hoping to make this more of a regular thing. I've been focusing more on understanding anatomy, color, and gesture, so I've mainly been doing figure drawings and paintings. Hopefully I'll post some more of this stuff soon.

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    A 2 hour pose drawn completely with vine charcoal... I hate vine charcoal.

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    A super quick gesture drawing to experiment with brush pens.

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    An experimental figure drawing... the anatomy is horribly off. Gotta work on that.

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    A digital drawing of my backyard that I made while looking at it. So it's sorta kinda a still life I guess?

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    And finally, some super quick ideas for a possible film.

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  12. #10
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    An Inquisition For Improvement

    Another figure drawing from today! I'm going to start getting more gestural soon.
    My hands and feet really need some work

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  13. #11
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    Did some more figure drawing today... I have a lot to work on still

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    Incomplete, but I'll hopefully finish this later from memory

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    Gestures.. I'm so bad at gestures, gotta get better!

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    More gestures, yuck

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  14. #12
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    Much more figure drawing, and a little bit of experimentation with it

    An Inquisition For Improvement

    An Inquisition For Improvement

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    gestures! they look slightly better than the last

    An Inquisition For Improvement

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    My favorite so far

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    anatomy's a bit wonky

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  15. #13
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    Haven't updated in a while! Here's what I've been up to:

    An Inquisition For Improvement

    An Inquisition For Improvement

    An Inquisition For Improvement

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    Gestures! Getting better I think.

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    2 minute poses

    An Inquisition For Improvement

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    1 hour pose

    An Inquisition For Improvement
    1 hour pose

    I've pretty much just been figure drawing lately. Gotta get back into the habit of painting

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