Drawing to communicate concepts

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  1. #1
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    Drawing to communicate concepts

    This might unnerve a few people, but let me confess this: when I draw, I'm not necessarily interested in photorealism. Often what compels me to draw is not a desire to dazzle people with realism so much as a desire to communicate certain concepts (for example, what characters from my stories look like). I think I picked this attitude up from creative writing; competent writers are generally less interested in impressing readers with flowery prose than in clearly getting a point across. Of course some basic drawing skills are needed for any representational artwork to be intelligible, but as long as my viewers know what they're looking at and like the concepts behind my drawings, I'm satisfied.

    Is this the wrong attitude to have about art?

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  3. #2
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    Not at all. That's exactly what a concept artist does! Case in point:

    This is actual production art from the LOTR trilogy from the costume department.
    They don't have a great sense of form or depth but for the purpose of costume design, they did what they needed to. The colours had to be especially accurate, though.

    Drawing to communicate concepts

    Last edited by Beeston; May 7th, 2012 at 02:57 PM.


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  5. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beeston View Post
    Not at all. That's exactly what a concept artist does!
    I thought so, but the impression I get from forums like this is that there's a lot more emphasis on realism and aesthetics than simple functionality. Or have I misunderstood something?

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    Well, as long as you don't use that as a cop-out to avoid studying, I'd say. (Assuming you do want to improve too.) Maybe it's because I wouldn't be satisfied with people just "knowing what they're looking at" (something that can be achieved even with pretty crude drawings) or that the idea is good, I want that people would actually "get into" the concept (you know, kinda like really good art makes you feel or wish you actually were inside the drawing, of course again that depends on the image itself).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Pilcher View Post
    This might unnerve a few people, but let me confess this: when I draw, I'm not necessarily interested in photorealism.
    Newsflash: Most artists that are good concept artists aren't interested in Photorealism either.

    I often use "Photorealism" as a comparison that is used and abused incorrectly.

    Realism != Photo.

    I do know people who make concepts based on something believable though - which a lot of times is something they may need depending on the medium the product is going to present itself.

    Look at Lou Romano's work http://www.slashfilm.com/lou-romanos...s-concept-art/
    http://louromano.blogspot.com/2008/1...credibles.html

    Think about the final product.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TinyBird View Post
    Well, as long as you don't use that as a cop-out to avoid studying, I'd say. (Assuming you do want to improve too.) Maybe it's because I wouldn't be satisfied with people just "knowing what they're looking at" (something that can be achieved even with pretty crude drawings) or that the idea is good, I want that people would actually "get into" the concept (you know, kinda like really good art makes you feel or wish you actually were inside the drawing, of course again that depends on the image itself).
    To be honest, I don't intend to base a whole career off my drawing. For me it's simply an amateurish hobby. If I wanted to sell my art or get into any kind of industry (e.g. comic books), I would definitely strive harder to improve my art's aesthetic qualities. I know beautiful art is what sells well. However, since I don't have any such professional ambitions, I don't have a really strong incentive to improve my drawing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Pilcher View Post
    I know beautiful art is what sells well. However, since I don't have any such professional ambitions, I don't have a really strong incentive to improve my drawing.
    Well, that really wasn't my point... I just want my concepts to look as good as they can and get through them what I feel of them, whether I'm making money out of them or not (usually not actually, I strive to improve them and my art of them because I lov-- lurvh-- I really like my concepts and that's the reason I dedicate my time for them.)

    If you don't want to improve or work in the industry about art, then I think pondering about questions like this is bit silly.

    Last edited by TinyBird; May 7th, 2012 at 04:08 PM. Reason: I can't write today
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Pilcher View Post
    This might unnerve a few people, but let me confess this: when I draw, I'm not necessarily interested in photorealism. Often what compels me to draw is not a desire to dazzle people with realism so much as a desire to communicate certain concepts (for example, what characters from my stories look like). I think I picked this attitude up from creative writing; competent writers are generally less interested in impressing readers with flowery prose than in clearly getting a point across. Of course some basic drawing skills are needed for any representational artwork to be intelligible, but as long as my viewers know what they're looking at and like the concepts behind my drawings, I'm satisfied.

    Is this the wrong attitude to have about art?
    No, not at all. The only thing is that whatever one draws, one always gets a point across. If one doesn't have a lot of knowledge, one often ends up getting points across that one never intended to. Points like "this character is unattractive", "this character is clumsy and stiff", "this character is deformed", "I can't be bothered to look things up", and so on. Everything works together to produce an impression.

    You don't have to be a photorealist but you're still not off the hook when it comes to getting things right. A writer can't say they're competent if they misuse words and punctuation and can't spell to save their life. You might be able to figure out their message regardless, but they are always sending out additional messages of carelessness and incompetence with everything they write.

    In art it's a lot more difficult to figure out what's right, though, and what will get your message across without garbling and additional baggage. There's lots of things that work, and even more things that don't.

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  13. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by TinyBird View Post
    If you don't want to improve or work in the industry about art, then I think pondering about questions like this is bit silly.
    The topic popped into my head after I read this DA journal entry by Tom Preston, in which he says something vaguely similar, namely that not every artist is interested in improving their technical skill when drawing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Pilcher View Post
    namely that not every artist is interested in improving their technical skill when drawing.
    And that's okay. But some people are interested in it, and if this site is more into it than you feel comfortable, no one is forcing you to be in here (and very good points have been made by Vineris and Arshes).
    And, for an arguments sake, let say that not wanting to improve technical skills is the wrong attitude to have. How does that affect you? I'd say it doesn't, so it's kinda useless to get hung over it.

    Last edited by TinyBird; May 7th, 2012 at 04:54 PM. Reason: because I can't write again
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Pilcher View Post
    The topic popped into my head after I read this DA journal entry by Tom Preston, in which he says something vaguely similar, namely that not every artist is interested in improving their technical skill when drawing.
    Can I put it to you another way then?

    "I want to eat pizza for the rest of my life" While we can make comparisons about it being unhealthy and the person can make certain kinds of pizza that is a bit healthier (because there IS more than one kind of pizza that we know of).

    Do you really want to eat pizza for the rest of your life? At some point in time your tastes will eventually change. So it may be not so much a bad thing to learn other things so that if your own tastes change you can have things that "sustain you".

    Nothing worse than these stupid posts that come here from time to time complaining how they need to "Go back to basics" and "unlearn anime style" Great, go expand your horizons and quit bitching when people tell you to learn some art history or practice your basics which means drawing from life a lot of the time. I'm pretty sure most of those people bitching about unlearning stuff realized "well oh shit, there may be something to this observational drawing that I poo pooed earlier".

    Also, what makes Da Vinci's work interesting isn't just "ooh realistic painting of a woman" and seem as close minded ironically as what he's saying about people are thinking of his art. It is a strawman in that sense. I don't think people were telling him to be Da Vinci anyways.

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  17. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by TinyBird View Post
    But some people are interested in it, and if this site is more into it than you feel comfortable, no one is forcing you to be in here (and very good points have been made by Vineris and Arshes).
    Which is why I don't visit this place regularly anymore.

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  18. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Pilcher View Post
    Which is why I don't visit this place regularly anymore.
    But this was also worth making a thread about?

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    What I cant figure out is why drawing skills would be equated with photorealism? I'm always working on improving my drawing skills and learning what I don't know, which is a lot, but I'm no photorealist. Thats a particular finish on a painting thats trying to emulate photographs.

    And getting a concept across within the context of a working project on a film/game/comic etc seems to be to be about getting the ideas across quickly and clearly, not about perfect polish. I could well be wrong about that because I'm no expert, but it makes sense to me. I think there's a difference between that and finished pieces of art to be displayed after the fact.

    And even if a person isn't interested in working professionally, what about pride in your art? Don't you want to be able to produce art that you feel proud of? If you don't think good drawing skills are important, it kind of makes me wonder about what else in your art you think isn't important. Good use of colour or light, or maybe design or composition? Where does it stop?

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