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There seems to me to be two distinct ways of either capturing life or copying from reference or doing master studies etc. One is the traditional way of spending a long time measuring angles and getting one to one copies and capturing value as it is seen (and of course amplifying or simplifying to taste). It can be learned by doing Bargue plates and cast drawing and long pose figure drawing etc.
The other is getting the essence of what you are looking at with gesture and flow. If its a figure, you capture what the figure is doing rather than the figure itself but it doesn't just apply to figures. A quick look at the drawings of the Disney animators after their trip to the zoo or even plant drawings and you can see a very different methodology and way of thinking towards capturing life. Unlike the first one none of the lines drawn need necessarily be ones that are seen.
So to the question: I currently struggle to do a decent copy of a drawing I like. I am [very] slowly getting better at gesture drawing but I wonder if the people who are good in that discipline did not start out doing 30sec and 1min gestures or anything like that. They did disciplined copies first, or maybe at the same time, (maybe even as kids copying their favourite cartoon characters) so as to learn how to patiently measure and observe angles and shapes and this then becomes internalised so that the magic happens when doing gestures and drawing for animation or caricature. Is this correct or are the disciplines really more separate than that.
I in no way want it to seem like I asking you to advocate one or the other since why on earth would you limit yourself! I just want to know what peoples thoughts are on how studying one can help with the other.
Note these are the observations of a beginner, I don't mean to sound as If I think I have any authority on the matter, please feel more than free to shoot me down.
The two distinctions, I know, are probably far less black and white than I have laid them out here but it was the easiest way to try and make my questions succinct.
... oh god what a hideous wall of text and over thinking! Best get back to drawing!
Learning technical craft, and one's approach/style of expression is unique to each individual. With the two distinctions you've made one focuses on copying or replication and one focuses on interpretation and capturing the character or essence of the subject.
You'll never get an animator to copy a Bargue...hell, they can't even stand five minute poses!
I know what you mean Jeff, At life drawing although I'm very new to it I'm used to watching Vilppu et al so when we did a 40 min pose I was 'finished' lost after 15 mins
" With the two distinctions you've made one focuses on copying or replication and one focuses on interpretation and capturing the character or essence of the subject. " ... And so the question would be would an beginner see improvements in his gestures if he spent some time doing a few slavish copies of his/her favorite works (and life). The theory being that one would aquire a better eye for angles and proportions and general observational skills? Im not suggesting a month on a cast or anything like that.
Thanks for the sugestion of Rembrandt gestures, eezacque. I have just checked them out and they are beautiful as are his paintings! What a wonderful artist, I should pay more attention to him!
Something else has occurred to me that the first method really hones your observational skills while the second hones your communication skills. I know over thinking again but I find that really interesting!
I'm just trying to make the point that there are many ways to study and develop. You can't do ALL of them...you study the approach that takes you in the direction you want to go. That's as different for Syd Mead as it is for Clyde Aspevig as it is for animators.
Gesture is not about measuring for sure...it is about capturing the action or life of the subject. Anyway, yeah...just get in there and do a variety of things and see what you like.
I really don't think it has to be a strictly either-or situation, especially not if you're still in the early stages of learning...
For what it's worth, when I was in school, we had different classes with different teachers focusing on different approaches. So one class might be very gesture-oriented with mostly fast poses, another might be focused on structure and anatomy with mostly medium length poses, and another might be more about values and composition with mostly long poses... I think between them all we got a balanced diet. Plus it gave us a chance to figure out what approaches worked for us.
In junior and senior year, people might choose electives that steered more towards one approach or another, or they could do a mix, but by then they'd tried enough different things so they could choose wisely.
Personally I think I started with a more slow and meticulous approach before veering towards an animation-oriented approach later, but now I guess I alternate between approaches depending on what I'm doing or what I'm in the mood for... Sometimes I want to do quickies, sometimes I want to linger over a drawing. So I don't think you need to permanently pick one approach over another (especially not if you're still in an early phase of learning,) though over time you might find yourself leaning more in one direction than the other...
Nicolaides puts his notion of gesture to extremes, in that he totally emphasises being responsive. I had a teacher who urged me to gesture blindly, and fasterfasterfaster, which really hampered my ability to assess proportions correctly. Vilppu is more at the constructive side of the spectrum.
Thanks QueenGwenevere, its good to hear perspective from people who have actually done it!
Thanks everyone for your input!
my two cents..
As a beginner, I've been struggling over the same doubts as well, and after spending a long time (way too long) reading books and watching videos I realized that the very basic skill needed to draw is being able to "see" proportions, distances, angles, plumb lines and so on. Even when you do a gesture, you need to put your gestural lines (or squiggly lines..) in the right places, with the right basic proportions, and the right orientation. Even when you build the construct with sphere and boxes, you need to orient those solid forms in the right direction, and, in order to do that, you need to "nail" the angle between body parts. Even Vilppu says that when he does gestures, he takes care of placing his lines in the right places, and he can do that because his eye is accustomed do judging proportions and angles by decades of drawing; I remember him saying that after you do the gesture and you build the solid form with boxes and spheres, you actually need to draw what the actual shape, and you have to avoid drawing just "bumps", but you have to really look at the model to study the quality of the curves that compose the contour; moreover, he also advocates the use of traditional academic tools, such as measuring with your pencil, checking vertical, horizontals and angles.
I think any great artist that advocates the use of gesture and construct has internalized the ability to judge proportions, distances and angles, after years of copying. They probably started drawing at a very young age, and the first thing kids do is to copy their favorite cartoon character or comic book. On one of his videos Viluppu says he started drawing and painting when he was very young, by copying pictures from National Geographic. Probably every great artist started copying at a very young age, and when they started their formal art training, their eyes were already used to judging proportion and distances.
I think a total beginner should start his training by copying what he sees. After his artist eye gets better, he'll move on.
I didn't really experience that learning to measure helps in gestures, it is more a skill that builds upon gestures.
Also, there is a gestural way of measuring which is very natural for animators: flip your eyes between your drawing and your model, and whatever moves is wrong. It takes a little training of the eye, but is a valuable addition to your skill set.
Giant thread with more discussion on this issue than you probably ever wanted:
**Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial
Crash Course for Artists, Illustrators, and Cartoonists, NYC, the 2013 Edition!
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Hi Ewell yeah I have read through that thread at least until it starts to go a little over my head
It fantastic at showing how things have evolved in the fine arts tradition I would love to see something similar in how things have evolved in the animation and concept art industry in a similar fashion. Its interesting to see how the level from which you are 'creating' rather than simply 'observing' increases as you get into this industry, even in a life drawing session.