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So a couple of days ago I started a new (physical) sketchbook for just studies and "stuff that's meant to make your art better".. You know the stuff.
First thing I did was a skull study because I want to improve my ability to draw faces without reference. I used refs for the skull and that study went pretty well aside from a couple things (still got the 3/4 view to do though!).
So next up I thought, hey, doing some studies of Loomis and his head/face construction stuff will probably be pretty useful here. So I read through the method, I find it pretty genius, and then I go to construct some heads/faces in my sketchbook using his method and my drawing ability seems to disappear entirely. I've had similar experiences with other construction-based methods of drawing things without ref.. I just can't seem to do them right and it's kinda annoying because I feel like I have a massive gap between my referenced and non-referenced work, at least when it comes to drawing people.
It's like when I'm trying to use step by step "methods" I end up with my head in a totally non-artistic mode where I can barely draw right because I'm thinking about the method instead of being in my drawing mindset.
So I was wondering, has anyone else had any experience like this and does anybody have any advice on how to improve at drawing people and faces at least semi-realistically and to a decent standard without reference?
How many heads have you drawn from life or in the mirror?
Construction methods nice but you still need to study the source to grasp it properly.
(Which you can't say you have no access, everyone has a mirror)
Anatomy and steps to construct are more supplemental.
To properly use construction, you HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO include working from life in your training. Working from life teaches you how to conceive of things in three dimensions and translate them to two. When you use construction to draw from your imagination, you're doing the same thing. If you can't think in 3D, you'll never be able to do it.
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Oh I guess I got my answer then. I didn't even consider that to be honest, I've only drawn a person from life once actually and that was in high school art class (a self portrait). Guess I'd better get the mirror out. Thanks guys.
You have to switch your way of thinking to get anywhere. Forget copying; forget using photos; forget little details; learn to think of the drawing as a 3-D scene in 3-D space that you have to construct.
I suppose you could start with learning to build formal perspective of a cube.
I'm willing to be where things fall down is the inability to make simple actions on geometric solids, like drawing a line around them on a certain axis, or chopping parts off and understanding what results and being able to draw that. Loomis's method assumes you can do this with relative ease, when these days most people can't.
Disclaimer: this is not about putting a zillion vanishing points on everything. It's just understanding things in a 3D way and, like Elwell said, how that translates to 2D if you rotate them around in space. Without balancing this with life drawing, it will end up stiff and terrible.
I can agree to the above, simply because I mess around with comics and there's the obvious issue of having to do a lot from memory and twisting things and the angle around in space is the hardest obstacle for me. Drawing a face from memory and experience is fine. Twisting that in space is where you really test your knowledge of perspective. Need much more experience of life drawing and things in space to know how things look at all angles and to manipulate it in your head.