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  1. #1
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    Creative criticism and advice needed!

    I've been drawing for a little while casually.
    I'm of the opinion that any human skill can be learnt, and can also be taught.



    That being said, I have really no idea how to improve my skills and techniques. People frequently tell me to "practice", when I ask what I should be practicing they tell me to "just draw anything".

    So that's what I've been doing, however when I try and draw something I often can't because I seem lack the skills to do so.



    For example, to practice line work, proportions and body shape I was tracing images and also just copying poses/gestures by eye.




    I still feel after all this that I'm not really improving. I can't draw scenery at all, I can't draw colour, I can't "paint" an image entirely. All I can really do is trace, copy and roughly sketch.




    Any help with improving would be very much appreciated. Any books, videos, lessons, tips and advice is welcome








    Also here is some line art I was copying, though I don't really know what the next stage is. I'd like to colour it, but I don't know how...

    http://imgur.com/C1Seqob

    Thank you!

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  3. #2
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    I never went to school and taught my self a lot of skills(mostly drawing,break dancing, music theory, guitar, now philosophy and writing).. And came to the conclusion that you need to understand what the foundation is while keeping in mind what is the best possible outcome when putting the time and effort in it.
    Make mistakes until you find something that works then repeat this.

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  4. #3
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    Stop trying to draw the human figure and concentrate on spheres, boxes, cylinders for a bit. Then go and do some still lives before returning to the figure.

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  5. #4
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    All I can really do is trace, copy and roughly sketch.
    That's fine. That's how I learned. When I was a little girl I bought a really crappy art book (only one I could afford)because I wanted to learn how to draw realistic things. I copied a few drawings and it just suddenly clicked. I could draw anything I wanted. I began to understand. I wasn't good or anything, but I understood how drawing worked and I understood how I should analyze my drawings so I could improve.

    It might not click right away and it'll only get harder to improve as you progress, but as long as you keep at it you can't help but improve. Copying is the beginning. You could get some books on anatomy to speed things up but as Black Spot said it's better to learn the basics first. I think you really need to understand how drawing works before you go on to work on anatomy and stuff. Things will be so much easier for you if you do. It's like with piano. You could try to compose a song but it'll be really hard if you know nothing about chords and harmony.... unless you're one of those people that just instinctively know how everything works. ha! :-D

    I have no idea what level you're at, but just stick to it. Have fun doing it. You'll get it eventually. I wish I could recommend you a book, but I've never come across a good book for beginners. I learned all the basics by observation. There really isn't any need for books though in the beginning. I'm confident that anyone can learn them on their own. Once you get those down, get a book if you feel you're not improving at all anymore. Get a book about a specific thing that's keeping you back ( maybe perspective or anatomy or rendering.) I'm not a big fan of those general theory books. They only touch on subjects that are way too complex to just touch upon.

    I hope my ramble helped you a bit. Good luck with drawing!

    Oh yeah as for the color... I find that hard too. But the only way I got better was by just doing. I did 10 illustrations with color before they started looking even a little good. Color is something no one can teach you in my experience. You really have to feel it and see it for yourself. Just try coloring that picture on your own. If it looks ugly to you try to see what makes it ugly. Then do it again, but better.

    Last edited by Lost My Marbles; June 15th, 2013 at 01:28 PM.
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  6. #5
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    @Black Spot, that's on of the reasons I am struggling. I've read a bunch of books, watched a ton of videos and i've drawn more basic shapes than I can count. Still, when I try to draw something, say, like this:
    http://fc02.deviantart.net/fs71/f/20...da-d65nkql.jpg

    I can draw the thumbnails and the shapes, get some colours and some shadows down and then I think "What next".


    Same thing with human-like pictures, I can make a line drawing and a plain black and white picture, but I have no idea how to go from, say, something I posted to something like this:
    http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs71/f/20...es-d66xb8l.png



    I guess I just need to keep practicing, then.

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  7. #6
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    That 1st picture is way more advanced than making shapes. There are a lot more things you have to understand before you can create something like that from your head. I think you might want too much too fast. You really need to understand drawing before you can do anything really. It's not enough to just do some shapes and then be done with them forever. You have to understand it fully. You have to get it. It's not enough to just go through the motions. Again, I don't know how you draw and how much effort you put in, so this is just me guessing based on what you are telling us here. I think your biggest problem might be your impatience. Just a guess, but try to think about that. You seem determined though so that's good. You'll go far with that.

    My sketchbook Please drop by. :-)
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  8. #7
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    I know, I might be a little impatient. However it does feel like I'm not really moving in any forward direction, the impatience comes from the fact that I can't "see" what steps I need to take to improve and what I need to practice to "get to that level" so to speak.


    All I can really find are guides that either tell me how to draw a specific picture, or a guide that is too vast (e.g "Ok now we start with some colours, now we lay down some texture", as opposed to explaining how to do so).


    It's hard to judge what I need to work on, and how to improve if I can't really see what is "right" and "wrong", so to speak. For example, if I'm trying to improve at a game or a sport I can watch the professionals, take notes on what times they are doing things and use them as a mental checklist so to speak. The closer I come to matching them then the closer I am to playing like them. (Open ended example, I know.. hopefully you get the idea)





    I'll defiantly be re-vising Loomins books, but any resources you could link me to for improving my skills would be very much appreciated.


    Thank you, Marbles

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  9. #8
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    Everything in representational art comes back to real life. That fantasy landscape was the culmination of lots of landscape studies from real life. You can't draw clouds if you never go outside to study clouds. You can't get rock textures right if you never study rocks. You don't know where to go next because you haven't done enough studies of the real world, so you have guess at everything. You can't learn what the world looks like from books.

    Start a sketchbook here and fill it with studies from life. Break complex shapes like people into more simple 3D shapes. Pay attention to what the light is doing. Use your brain to formulate your own rules based on what you see, and later when you see some rule in a book it will make more sense to you because it's backed by real-world experience.

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  10. #9
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    Draw from life. A lot. And please ditch this silly videogame-ish notions of "reaching the next stage" or "leveling-up".

    In my experience, there are two fundamental skills you'll want to practice/improve in perpetuity. When you feel stuck, just do more of them:

    1) Seeing and transferring proportion (from 3d world to a 2d drawing)
    2) Seeing and transferring value (from broad light/shade range of the 3d world to limited black-white range of a drawing)

    All other skills are built using these two. Without some solid proficiency here, trying to internalize any additional knowledge, like anatomy or perspective, will tend to frustrate.

    To practice proportion, draw motifs that have comprehensible proportion structure, like arrangements of immovable objects or a street view. Simpler compositions will let you easily self-evaluate a success rate in transferring proportions. A proportion drawing should be considered finished when you nab down the "global" structure. Adding anything else into drawing is wasting time. Stay away from detailing or "shading". Learn to appreciate simple drawings focused on well established proportion structure. Use drawing tools that get in the way the least. In my experience, nothing can beat the pencil here.

    Analogously, to practice value, draw real life scenes that have simple yet pronounced light-dark structure. Use tools that let you quickly add/erase/move large areas of tone. Charcoal is ideal for this. Drawing should be considered finished when the global value structure is laid in. Again, no wasting time on detailing.

    Working like this can improve your fundamental skills quickly. And you can get a significant sense of accomplishment after each drawing session, as you're able to produce dozens of successful compositions in an hour or two.

    Last edited by LaCan; June 16th, 2013 at 06:44 PM.
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  11. #10
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    "when I ask what I should be practicing they tell me to "just draw anything".So that's what I've been doing, however when I try and draw something I often can't because I seem lack the skills to do so."

    Toasty, you can't hope to gain improvement overnight by simply reading books and following tutorials. You have to practice daily and realize that significant progress does not occur in a day's worth of work. Don't judge yourself and stop drawing because you feel you lack the skills, how can you build skills without even putting forth the time and effort. It takes years to see significant progress. In terms of studying the figure, my best advice would be to buy a copy of Michael Hampton's design and invention, that book taught me so much when I was just starting out and I feel is the best book out when learning the figure for the first time, then you should progress to Loomis if that is your choice.

    Last edited by TNiznet; June 16th, 2013 at 06:49 PM.
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  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toastyzeus View Post
    I can draw the thumbnails and the shapes, get some colours and some shadows down and then I think "What next".
    http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs71/f/20...es-d66xb8l.png

    Hmmm... Maybe you need to expand your visual library? You don't know what to do next because no matter how much you think about your piece, it is still blurry in your head.(?)
    So observe things in real life. I mean scrutinize every detail on them.

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  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toastyzeus View Post
    Same thing with human-like pictures, I can make a line drawing and a plain black and white picture, but I have no idea how to go from, say, something I posted to something like this:
    http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs71/f/20...es-d66xb8l.png
    I know this is totally unrelated, but my god does anyone want to slap the artist who made that? Who the hell thinks it's acceptable to push a piece all the way to colour and sparkly details, and then scrawl HANDS in ugly handwriting because they were too lazy to get it right in the sketch?

    Check out my sketchbook! Socially acceptable opportunity to yell at a teenage girl!
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  14. #13
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    maybe it's a WIP?

    Anyway, best resource I can give you has no words and no pages. It is.... *drumroll* the real world. Study it, draw it, love it, be intimate with it and then buy it dinner. Life is the best teacher you'll ever have. Might sound lazy and corny, but it's the damn truth. :-P

    My sketchbook Please drop by. :-)
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