Drawing from life is hard?
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    Drawing from life is hard?

    When I try drawing from life I always find it difficult, where as when I draw from a picture I find it a lot easier. I cant say that I have drawn much from life at all though, so I was wondering it is actually harder? Or if its just because I haven't done it as much as drawing from a picture?

    I mean I cant say I'm good at drawing from a picture, because... well i'm pretty bad at drawing at the moment... but I'm relatively better at it in comparison to drawing from life.

    I'm basically just interested in what makes drawing from life different from drawing from a picture, I can't figure out why there is a difference just that there is one.

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    Life = you use two eyes, things move, light conditions change, your head moves, your eyes take in a wider range of values, etc etc.
    Picture = static, taken with only 1 lens, pre-fixed range of values, the only light you have to worry about is having enough to see the picture and your canvas by

    In short: drawing from life is harder and is much better for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Medelo View Post
    Life = you use two eyes, things move, light conditions change, your head moves, your eyes take in a wider range of values, etc etc.
    Picture = static, taken with only 1 lens, pre-fixed range of values, the only light you have to worry about is having enough to see the picture and your canvas by

    In short: drawing from life is harder and is much better for you.
    Ah I see, Two eyes of course! I feel like an idiot now, yeah I figured it was better, so yeah I really need to get into the habit of doing it a lot more.

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    It has to do with seeing things in 3 dimensions and getting proportions correct. Seeing from life allows you to see more details, yet it's harder to decipher what it is you are seeing and transfer it into an image. A picture is already an image. It's sort of how drawing from a drawing (depending on the skill of the artist you are copying), is often much easier than drawing from a photograph- the closer the image is to what you are trying to create the easier it would be. As well when drawing from life you are seeing every detail, angles are regularly changing (if you tilt your head the image is different), and the lighting and atmosphere are also constantly changing, so after a period of time all of your shadows and light sources will be completely different.
    but If good art were easy everyone would do it.

    Some techniques you can use use when drawing from life is to:

    1. close one eye and look at you subject. It flattens the image.

    2. squint when you are trying to figure out tones, it diminishes the details of a subject and makes lights and darks more apparent.

    3. Keep drawing; if you are unused to drawing from life, remind yourself it will get better and just keep doing it.

    Drawing what you see will get easier, and realistically that's all art is: being able to see (of course with a little bit of hand eye coordination thrown in). Since you've done more drawing from pictures of course thats going to be easier, but if you keep it up, observational work will become just as easy.

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    Yep, because you use two eyes you are really looking AROUND an object. Not to mention all sorts of distortions take place when you look at something with your own eyes that you may not even be aware of, because your actual cone of vision is quite limited, so we're used to moving our heads around to fully take in the whole scene. But that doesn't work when translating that to a static image. So drawing from life requires you to understand more about perspective to make a better show of it, especially when drawing a whole scene from life.

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    And, you are probably copying, not building the drawing. Copying doesn't help when you draw from life; you need to see and recreate the structure, not a picture.

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    It's harder but it's not THAT much harder. You get used to the eye thing fairly quickly. The biggest thing about drawing from life is that it's messy and it changes. So you have to learn how to select detail, sometimes under less than ideal conditions. Life drawing is about leaving stuff out as much as it is about putting stuff in.

    The thing is, though, that once you get used to having to do that, drawing from life becomes way more interesting than sitting in front of computer copying photos. It's challenging, and it's also personal. Life drawing means that you had to be there, maybe you have stains from the coffee or someone signed your sketchbook or you just remember what it was like, sitting there and drawing that thing. Even looking at a still life you drew you remember putting that stuff together and why you chose it.

    Plus there was a point when I was carefully doing one of my first digital paintings and after a few hours of work I thought "Why the fuck am I duplicating this photo? At the end of this exercise I am going to have two photos. What is the point of that?" At least with life drawing, when that moment is gone it's gone. The person has moved. The apple was eaten. You might draw that dish again but it won't be the same.

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    Keep in mind that Color Slide and Digital can only record about 5 stops (roughly 5 values) from lightest light to darkest dark. That is about 1/3 of what the human eye can actually see under most lighting conditions.

    There are also some wacky perspective things that cameras do, and actually the only kind that can photograph a tall building in perspective is a view camera because of the Scheimpflug principle. Google some "tilt shift" photography to see people screwing around with this for fun.

    I've heard several good teachers say though that it is better to draw from a really good photograph than not draw that subject. You just have to be aware of what you are getting. Be selective of lighting too, side light/form light is really the easiest to draw I find.

    Last edited by Kolbenito; November 16th, 2012 at 09:45 PM.
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    Its harder, but its much more fun and rewarding.
    Drawing from photos is boring as shit. At least to me it is. But they do have their merits.

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    the problem with copying a photo is that the major decissions that go into picture making are already made. composition, cropping, viewpoint, valuemassing (and if not its pretty unlikely to be done successfully based on 1 photo), lighting, color relationships, emphasis vs unimportance, etc. even if they are badly done, the photo itself most likely doesnt provide you with enough information to deviate from them.

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