Hey man, you are really working hard on this sketchbook and I am seeing improvements. However, you do seem to be hitting a level of frustration with both your linework and your faces.
I'm a beginner myself, so keep that in mind as I try to help here. I would suggest a few basic approaches:
1) If you go back and read about the masters, they break everything down into simple forms and planes. Spheres, cubes, cylinders, pyramids, cones, ovoids (eggs), and the like. The combine those forms and merge them together to create the simple masses of their subject. They use lines to merge those objects together and wrap around them to provide contour and shadow.
2) Try constructing all of your objects using simple masses of the above, in very light pencil. After, refine those simplified objects further to match the overall mass and shape of the object. And write behind. When you are performing basic construction, draw through your object. If you had a sphere and are drawing the brow line, make an ellipse that wraps all the around a sphere. That gives you a better feeling for form.
3) Light interacts with planes. Planes are the simplified, 'flat' angles that light reflects off. For example, a sphere has six planes. A face has numerous planes, though they can be simplified using things like the Loomis model or simplified busts.
4) For faces, take a look at proportions. The head is, on average, five eye widths wide, and is vertically broken into three main segments (chin to bottom of nose, bottom of nose to brow line, brow line to hair line - all three being equal in length). You'll notice that both Loomis and Bridgman construct their objects using these simplified planes and further down by simplified objects, like a sphere for the top of the head down to the bottom of the nose.
5) Definitely don't pet the lines. Use a line that runs the length of the curve or straight area on which you are working. If the curve changes direction, or the line angles hard somewhere else, then stop and create a line to represent that changes. Otherwise, try to keep it to as few lines as possible, or if you are restating lines to slightly adjust the angle, do it again for the entire length of the curve or angle.
You might consider starting with simple objects, like cones, spheres, and cubes, using objects around your house. Go into a darker room and light the objects with a single light source. Make a ton of thumbnail sketches of the basic objects and their shadows. Study the objects and analyze how light plays off the object and the surface the object is resting. Create larger drawings of them and carefully render them in their entirety. Next, combine the objects and see how lights places off one another and make a bunch of drawings of those.
Now, combine this with some basic head construction. Though it's better to do from life, a photo can do in a pinch, and for fun construct the head of somebody you know or an actor/actress from the basic pieces using very light lines. Then overlay their features on the planes and slowly render that in.
In essence, everything can be built from simple pieces and faint construction lines. These pieces are then adjusted and refined further to capture the nuances of the form you are modeling. You then render the shadows, halftones, and lights across the planes of these objects.
I hope the above information helps. It's what I've been using, and have been noticing slow but steady improvements.
I still call myself a beginner in art, so I know what you are going through right now. Here is a tip to help you correct facial proportions. Look at the inner corner of the eye and see how that relates to the nostrils. Even though it's not 100% vertical line, it's pretty darn close. This applies to many angles if the nose is the right width. Look at the attached picture and see how a simple rotation could really help the proportions.
The second picture I like to point out is the 3/4 view. The eyes look flat, especially the one farther away from the viewer. Remember, these eyes are spherical.
I noticed one thing about your facial studies - they're all so light, and you apply strokes so sparingly, barely defining shapes. Be brave! Make your strokes bolder, use the side of your pencil or stick to block in shadows more widely, and use a whole tonal range to form the features.
These are studies, they don't have to be super neat, what you learn by doing them is more important. And all the studies here look rather unfinished, like you can't summon the patience to go all the way through. I suggest you draw the human skull in 3 angles (frontal, profile and 3/4) and finish it. Then draw a dozen more angles more quicker. Then do the same with faces. Alternate between quick studies and more elaborate ones.
And if you're ever stuck on something, observe your own face in a mirror, pay attention to the whole 3D thing
Kaylel Thanks for the tips I'll keep it in mind. My main troubles right now are eyes and their positioning as well as lips.
nelchee I tend to erase some lines I'm not happy with. I want to avoid making too many lines also , by you saying that the studies look unfinished you probably just mean the part of the eyes and nose and nothing else I presume. I just kinda like practicing that part since I never get it right.
Isn't it a weird feeling training yourself to actually draw what's in front of your rather than symbols that we've used out entire lives? Your face studies look great! Now just apply those to your portraits and you'll be set Just remember that all facial features exist on a curve...our faces aren't flat blocks, but are cylinders. It's tough, but keep practicing and it'll become more and more natural and you'll end up wondering why you ever saw the world any other way.
Crown Lullaby Thanks and those links you gave me are superb , really helpful I'll look into it tonight and do more sketchy sketchies.
LukeStarkiller I don't consider it a weird feeling, I've been told when I started drawing last year that everything consists of squares and circles. Though that wasn't really about organic studies or things similar.I do try to apply the knowledge gained from the Bridgemann studies to the portraits but yeah, doesn't always work or look that way
Hi Frank, I am really enjoying your sketchbook so far. It's always great to see a
dedicated person putting the time in to improve. I like your value studies and
I must say that for someone who just started drawing in September, I think
you are doing quite well.
I have noticed, and a few people have mentioned the flatness in some of the
facial features you draw, particularly the eyes. I've attached an image that should
(hopefully) help. When drawing eyes, I always like to remind myself that an eye
is essentially a ball with folds of skin wrapped around it. You may benefit from
sketching the spherical form of the eyeball before adding the eyelids and iris on top.
Here is a video that illustrates the concept. Hope this helps you, and keep
Last edited by Viconia; May 28th, 2012 at 08:09 AM.
I was browsing CA in my break today and I just got really inspired to do more than I am currently doing. So I got myself some paper and practiced head proportions and hands a bit. Sorry about the brightness , I didn't really use a hard pencil...
It is okay, Frank. Please don't beat yourself up over not posting. Art can be very frustrating at times and I don't blame you for not wanting to post stuff that you are unhappy with.
Good to see you are doing more studies! I really admire the fact that you are practicing hands. Most people tend to shy away from practicing them, so I like that you are jumping right into it. The only crits I have at the moment are that you may want to watch out with the spacing of fingers and placement of joints on your hands, because they don't quite seem to be lining up.