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  1. #1
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    Is "practice every day" pure B.S.? 300 days and nothing AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

    TL;DR: I'm very bad at drawing (even basic shapes, even the foundation) and I tried for 300 days in a row the first exercises of Peter Han's Dynamic Drawing video (lines, waves, ellipses, cubes) without any improvement. My 3000 sheets (around 10 per day) all look the same without improvement. What should I try then?

    Long story:
    I reached a point in which I think I'm just being a masochist, because I keep trying and nothing changes, so basically just inflicting pain with no return. But I'm not the kind that likes to give up.

    I've always wanted to draw. I just want to be able to sketch some characters, no matter how ugly they look, to sketch copying some buildings I see from life, I want to sketch my dog and my wife, I want to just sketch level design concepts, I want to sketch my office and my computer shapes. My end goal is to create game art. No, I'm not even bothered about creating concept art, painting ultra detailed concepts in Photoshop.

    I just want to be able to sketch characters, levels, whatever and them trace them in Illustrator or Adobe Flash. I want to create stuff like this (not saying about the colors and style, but the characters and the concept of the buildings - sketches then traced in Illustrator):
    Is "practice every day" pure B.S.? 300 days and nothing AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

    So since 2009 I have tried all kinds of courses, books, video tutorials and so on. None sufficed. Because I didn't have the foundations, and every damn freaking course already starts like this: "first we are going to start with a rough sketch". Then the teacher/author in 5 minutes sketches something better than I ever drew in my life and I instantly get frustrated.

    First: even if it took me 10 hours I couldn't sketch the "rough sketch" made in 5 minutes.
    Second: if I couldn't get past the rough sketch phase of the course/video, I couldn't even think about the next steps.

    It has been like that from 2009 to 2013. Until in 2013 someone in this forum showed me "Dynamic Sketching" by Peter Han: http://2d.cgmasteracademy.com/dynamic-sketching.html. While previously I was focusing trying to draw characters, environments, hard surfaces, etc; this course WAS THE THING I needed, because I didn't have the foundations, I couldn't even draw a cube. So Peter Han teaches everything from the very beginning - all I needed. At the first time I was excited again that I could draw.

    But since it was so expensive ($699) and I had already spent at least $2000 in training without no success previously, I decided to first dominate the lessons in the free YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgDNDOKnArk

    Now to present times: it's been almost 1 year since I was presented to Dynamic Sketching and I am still struggling with the first exercises. I'm glad I didn't buy the whole course. And I'm not blaming Peter Han, of course not - Dynamic Sketching looks amazing. I'm blaming myself.

    I spent around 3000 sheet of papers doing lines, waves, zigzags and ellipses. I am also with my 2nd 0.3 Staedtler pen (required by Peter Han) because the first one dried.

    And all these 3000 sheets totally sucked and I didn't see progression or improvement. And I really mean it. The past 300 days I invested at least 2 hours drawing sheets and sheets with lines, waves, zigzags and ellipses as required by Peter Han. And still nothing... I am still the same crap I was before.


    First I always got struck because I was trying to draw anatomy while not having the foundations. Now I'm struck because I can't improve my foundations.

    Funny thing is: I'm an autodidact and self learner. I can learn anything that doesn't require manual ability by myself (I don't have a degree and I'm doing quite well as a programmer and as a programming instructor). So looks like my weakness is really manual stuff? On the other hand I know a LOT of game developers that do everything and quite well (programming, music and art for their games).

    So... what made me post here today? Well, after around 300 days, this week I got tired of not seeing things get better. I had to scream and cry in despair, because after trying so much, WHY THE HECKDIDN'T I IMPROVE? I WANT TO DRAW! I JUST WANT TO DRAW! WHY THE HECK DIDN'T I GET BETTER AT THIS?
    I really enjoy drawing, I really enjoy art. Some days I spend the whole day browsing these forums and getting highly inspired, loving each second.

    But.... HOW? So is the popular "practice every day" just pure bullshit and drawing on the end requires at least a natural inclination for manual/hand abilities? Do I have a mental problem? Or maybe a physical problem?

    Noob to Pro Epic Sketchbooks. Inspiration or depression?
    Seeing this: http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...ss-sketchbooks made me even more pissed with myself, because the "noob" level of these sketchbooks are already in a standard that I never reached.

    For instance, this: http://www.conceptart.org/forums/att...4&d=1373007565 - if I try to draw even the bottle on the left it will be pure disappointment. Well, if I couldn't even Peter Han's exercises with basic cubes, it is impossible for me to draw a complete composition of shapes.

    Well... I didn't want to give up, but I don't know where to go anymore, I don't which resources should I look at or what should I refocus my practice.

    I see everyone drawing so easily around, even beginners alike. Well, Peter Han's classes are always all sold out, then you search on Google the amazing creations people done during the class for 3 months.

    With that in mind drawing is still this very mysterious and magic thing for me, which requires some kind of sorcery that I'm not able to attain. I NEVER managed to create not even ONE character (even if bery bad). I NEVER managed to create not even a piece of prop/object (sword, chest, door, etc).

    This is what all my 3000 sheets look like:
    Is "practice every day" pure B.S.? 300 days and nothing AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH


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  3. #2
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    Those look like rushed sketches. Take your time, watch the tip of your pencil and think of what you are doing. It's not, draw this quickly and you'll improve, you have to involve your brain in the process. Take those circles - give them space, make them perfect, slowly; speed comes with practice. Then try drawing some simple objects from life.

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  5. #3
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    That stuff isn't foundations - it's just accuracy drills. I've done those too, and found I got better when I really pay attention to a few things - for instance, exactly how my hand arm and head are positioned, how fast I move, making sure the pen is completely vertical, and whether or not my hand is in contact with the surface. I noticed he always positions himself in a weird way when drawing on either the chalkboard or the paper so that his head is high enough to see ahead of his drawing hand. I improved when I did that. I improved again when I placed the edge of my hand against the paper (I don't remember if he did that or not?). Basically I'm still drawing from the shoulder using the entire arm rather than just fingers and wrist - I keep the fingers and wrist locked. But the edge of my hand is lightly against the paper and I slide it. This braces you and makes a big difference in accuracy.

    But foundations consist of different stuff - how to draw basic forms and shade them for instance. Have you tried that? You know, spheres, cubes, pyramids and all that, core shadow, reflected light? Here's something dealing with that - with links to several good tutorials and videos - all free. There's no need to pay, especially hundreds of dollars - if you search around a little you can find all kinds of amazing free tutorials and demos all over - a lot of them on YouTube. Some of the links in that thread go to a channel called Proko, he's got a lot of excellent tutorials. Also check out Sycra onYouTube. Oh, and on that thread I linked to - I didn't intend for you to delve into all the figure drawing stuff, that's more advanced - just look at the 2nd post, the one on drawing basic forms.

    It's also important to be drawing stuff you like - you can't just do drills and exercises all the time or you'll burn out. You need to draw some stuff that keeps your interest up.
    Last edited by Darkstrider; May 23rd, 2014 at 02:33 AM. Reason: Derp forgot link...
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  7. #4
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    first off how can you do 300 days and not improve, you must be doing something seriously wrong, by the look of your practice sheet it looks like your just drilling in the same mistakes over and over, whats the point in that, and yes I've done the Han exercises and like Darkstrider said you have to adjust how you do these exercises.
    Don't just use your wrist use your whole arm, your lines are all over the place Han says to go over the same line 8x with no flailing at the ends and to try and look ahead as you draw your line, but if you aint even going to attempt to fix your mistakes thats what your going to learn...
    some of the best advice I got on here was to draw large on a easel using your whole arm with the wand type pencil grip, could be what you need to break away from that pen grip your been doing...

    sorry for being harsh, we've all been there, maybe not 300days worth but I use to draw small for ages and as I mentioned bout drawing large with your whole arm helped me immensely so did the Peter Han exercises so just try different avenues... keep it up mate

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  9. #5
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    Hey Halfdolla - do you really get accuracy that way? I tried it and I get nice smooth flowing lines, but it kills my accuracy. It's been a while since I saw that video, but it seems like Han was using the writing grip, wasn't he? Or am I remembering that wrong? Anyway, I kept trying different ways, and what worked best was to use the whole arm but as I said, with my hand pressed lightly against the paper and slide it (using a writing grip).

    Anyway, yeah - you gotta try lots of different approaches - keep messing with your technique until you find ways that start to work better. And I realize, I Might have linked you to a somewhat advanced thread before - hopefully somebody else can point you to some more appropriate beginner foundation stuff.
    "Figure drawing prepares you for painting at a high level" - Jeff Watts

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  11. #6
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    hey yea Darkstrider he does use a pen and he says to have it straight up an down, I did his exercises bout over a year ago and did it about 20mins a day for about a month or so before I slackened off and now just randomly do it just to warm up. but my line quality definitely improved as did my ellipses and spheres but I've also done other hand exercise tutorials like Scott Robertson and Marks drawing tuts TMDT and Sycra as you mentioned, it all helps in the end and keeps you fresh and motivated, well it does for me.

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  13. #7
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    You can hold the pen in a writing grip but not actually use your wrist, just keep it locked and use your shoulder to draw. I think you're doing that already though.

    Couple tips you might already have picked up from the video, but which maybe pointing out to you will help:

    1) You can try 'ghosting' your circle. Hover the pen above the paper and pretend to draw the circle in the air, the way Peter does it is to ghost a little bit and then when he's 'ready' he'll just depress the tip onto the paper. Also, don't be afraid of 'overlapping' the end of the circle to the beginning of it. Draw two circles on top of each other if you have to. Draw fast and without hesitation.

    2) Print out an actual correct circle and stick it on your paper. If you don't know your goal, you can't hit it. Having an accurate circle there let's you know where you're fucking up. Have the perfect circle in your 'mind's eye' before you draw. You are kind of projecting that perfect circle in your mind through your shoulder and arm onto the paper.

    3) Draw the circles in the divided squares like he shows on the chalkboard. The point of doing that is to instill in your mind what the perfect circle is.

    Stuff like this is really hard to learn on your own if you don't observe the instructor's body mechanics. It really is a physical skill that you're training here, it took me 5-6 months to learn how to hold a brush properly and steadily enough to draw with, and that was me observing my teachers in person. You pick these little things up that can be hard to know what to look for in an online video.

    It sounds like you're struggling with how to learn. It's in itself something you need to learn; to learn how to learn. If you see no progress after 10 pages, STOP and figure out what's wrong. It could be your mechanical skill is REALLY that bad. However, my guess is you have not made that internal connection between that perfect circle or line in your mind's eye and your actual drawing. That's really what drawing is. You need to have 'drawn' it in your mind already. That's why so many starting exercises involve drawing from life. That's because before you can do anything else you need to train your mind to have an extremely visual memory, like a photograph in there. And then you use your hand and mechanical skills to 'trace' it out onto canvas or paper, but I can tell you the mechanical part is the easy part. More often than not being able to visualize it first is the hardest part. Draw more things from life. Do bargue studies (the whole point of them is to train this particular skill).

    Lastly, Peter Han draws circles every. single. day and has been doing so for years. I can tell you not all professional artists even do that. So don't think you have to 'master' one lesson before moving on; it might actually benefit you to expand your drills and things to draw. It's not like a video game. Don't be so OCD and have some fun. Draw some characters from your lopsided circles. At the end of the day it's your ideas that matter the most.
    Last edited by Cadaure; May 23rd, 2014 at 04:34 AM.

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  15. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cadaure View Post
    So don't think you have to 'master' one lesson before moving on.
    Most important thing to take from this thread. Its not a straight line where you do this then do that then do that, its a squiggly mess of a lines where you do one thing then another then go back to the first then study the second thing again then do some bad characters then study the second thing again etc
    etc.
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  17. #9
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    This is really turning into an informative thread! I did the exercises for a while and got somewhat better at them, but eventually I just stopped, don't even remember why (Ok I remember now- it's because I decided it was equally good warmup to just do a few rapid sketches). One thing I learned - I can definitely make better circles going one direction than the other. For me counterclockwise works much better than clockwise. Also, speed is important, for lines and circles. I need to make sure I'm not just convulsively jerking the pen (like the way I used to think artists did quick sketches - how wrong I was!)

    There's a right speed, and I don't remember now if it's different for circles and for lines. Oh, and on the lines, it's vitally important to not watch the pen, instead your eyes need to be ahead of it, just like they say for tightrope walkers, don't look anywhere except the far end of the rope! Where you look is where you'll go. On long lines I found I needed to move my eyes several times, to a point a few inches ahead of the pen, and make sure I keep the pen moving steadily the whole time - takes some getting used to. But when I do it right and I'm not having one of those crappy days I can do some pretty decent long lines (I usually end up screwing up a little though - maybe one or two lines of the 8 end up wavering a little). For the short lines I could just look at the end point and usually all 8 lines would be right on target with no wavering. Key word being usually.

    I never did get any good at the curves though. Anybody got any tips for those? Can't figure out where my eyes are supposed to be going.
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  19. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Spot View Post
    Those look like rushed sketches. Take your time, watch the tip of your pencil and think of what you are doing. It's not, draw this quickly and you'll improve, you have to involve your brain in the process. Take those circles - give them space, make them perfect, slowly; speed comes with practice. Then try drawing some simple objects from life.
    But the fact is that those are not rushed, believe me. I was just trying to mimic exactly what Peter Han asked. Tried to draw 8 lines, one on top of another, circles. Even slowly, those are the final results. For the circles, when I was about to close them, I got that mess.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkstrider View Post
    Exactly how my hand arm and head are positioned, how fast I move, making sure the pen is completely vertical, and whether or not my hand is in contact with the surface. I noticed he always positions himself in a weird way when drawing on either the chalkboard or the paper so that his head is high enough to see ahead of his drawing hand.
    I tried to follow even his position too, which as you noticed, it is in a weird way, practically inclided and all above the paper. Also I'm not using the write, I'm using the whole arm.

    But foundations consist of different stuff - how to draw basic forms and shade them for instance. Have you tried that? You know, spheres, cubes, pyramids and all that, core shadow, reflected light? Here's something dealing with that
    As I said in the topic, if I try to go deeper with spheres/cubes and the additional foundation, I get a pure mess. The fact is:if I don't see improvement or if I'm not getting better, something is wrong.

    Unfortunately this time for Peter's exercises I thought it would be just a matter of time, because even in the video he says "do pages and pages of these". But then it didn't work out. So that's why now I'm lost. If I can't get past the warmups... how to move next?


    It's also important to be drawing stuff you like - you can't just do drills and exercises all the time or you'll burn out. You need to draw some stuff that keeps your interest up.
    From time to time I try to draw my characters, environments, etc. But they suck REALLY bad. It's TOTAL frustration and despair, since I except to do something really good to the point of being something to be used in a game, used professionally. But then I get these kid's drawings that I do and that makes me depressed.

    I'm afraid if I repeat my kids drawing I may be stuck there forever. And then drawing will still be this unattaible magic thing forever.

    Quote Originally Posted by halfdolla View Post
    Don't just use your wrist use your whole arm, your lines are all over the place Han says to go over the same line 8x with no flailing at the ends and to try and look ahead as you draw your line, but if you aint even going to attempt to fix your mistakes thats what your going to learn...
    I do use the arm. And my lines are all over the place, but believe I tried to follow exact Han's instructions of doing 8 lines one on top of another. That scan is exatly my slow attempt to do 8 lines on top of another, when I reach the middle of a perfect line I start trembling and then that is the result.

    Please, believe I could sit for hours just trying to do the 8 lines thing... And I always end up like that mess.

    some of the best advice I got on here was to draw large on a easel using your whole arm with the wand type pencil grip, could be what you need to break away from that pen grip your been doing...

    maybe not 300days worth
    As I said I decided to embark on a long journey: "maybe with a lot of time and a lot of repetition things will get better eventually". Patience didn't pay off this time.

    drawing large with your whole arm helped me immensely so did the Peter Han exercises so just try different avenues... keep it up mate
    I'll try that, thanks! Looks like a good route.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cadaure View Post
    You can hold the pen in a writing grip but not actually use your wrist, just keep it locked and use your shoulder to draw. I think you're doing that already though.
    Yes, that's exactly what I was doing. Han's do that too.

    You can try 'ghosting' your circle. Hover the pen above the paper and pretend to draw the circle in the air, the way Peter does it is to ghost a little bit and then when he's 'ready' he'll just depress the tip onto the paper. Also, don't be afraid of 'overlapping' the end of the circle to the beginning of it. Draw two circles on top of each other if you have to. Draw fast and without hesitation.
    I actually printed page with all sizes of lines and circles and tried to ghost all of them. I printed like 100 of those and did them all. But still no success.

    Draw the circles in the divided squares like he shows on the chalkboard. The point of doing that is to instill in your mind what the perfect circle is.
    Did that too as you can see in the scan, but right before closing the circles I start trembling/"flickering" and get those shitty results.

    Stuff like this is really hard to learn on your own if you don't observe the instructor's body mechanics.
    Actually I was even a paranoid. I took screenshots of each position in the video, annotated, watched further YouTube videos on drawing mechanics, books (I got a dozen here), etc. I really don't know what is wrong then.

    It really is a physical skill that you're training here, it took me 5-6 months to learn how to hold a brush properly and steadily enough to draw with, and that was me observing my teachers in person.
    Yeah that may be a point... Going to an in person course. Unfortunately I tried to in person's classes (1 month one and 3 months the other), the all started quite deeply and those teachers didn't know how to guide me. They gave me some anatomy exercises and since I was having such a pain in the ass time. Anyway I don't think there are any good foundations course in my city.

    It sounds like you're struggling with how to learn. It's in itself something you need to learn; to learn how to learn. If you see no progress after 10 pages, STOP and figure out what's wrong.
    That's the point. That's why after trying lots of resources, I don't know what to look anymore or HOW to look.

    It could be your mechanical skill is REALLY that bad. However, my guess is you have not made that internal connection between that perfect circle or line in your mind's eye and your actual drawing. That's really what drawing is. You need to have 'drawn' it in your mind already. That's why so many starting exercises involve drawing from life. That's because before you can do anything else you need to train your mind to have an extremely visual memory, like a photograph in there. And then you use your hand and mechanical skills to 'trace' it out onto canvas or paper, but I can tell you the mechanical part is the easy part. More often than not being able to visualize it first is the hardest part. Draw more things from life.
    Good advices, the point of "having to need it drawn in the mind already". Gotta try connecting the mind with the hand, not just expecting the figure on the papter.

    Do bargue studies (the whole point of them is to train this particular skill).
    I think I tried them back in 2011 and I felt like killing myself because I couldn't draw not even 10% close to what they looked like.

    So don't think you have to 'master' one lesson before moving on; it might actually benefit you to expand your drills and things to draw. It's not like a video game. Don't be so OCD and have some fun. Draw some characters from your lopsided circles. At the end of the day it's your ideas that matter the most.
    Interesting point of view I never thought of. When I start doing the thing, I want to finish it somewhat "better than the teacher/writer/author" and if I don't conquer it I think I did it all wrong or that I just simply suck, even if it takes me 300 days. Something like "master now or die, it is your last chance".

  20. #11
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    300 days on dexterity drills. Wow. Who told you that was a good idea?!

    Spend 300 days drawing and painting things from life, learning the actual foundations (perspective, composition, anatomy etc.) and re-evaluate. Dexterity will come with time.

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    Are you pushing your pen over the paper? Try pulling the point across the paper instead.

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    It seems like all you are practicing is drawing shapes, when you really want to improve on drawing THINGS and CHARACTERS. Lets say I want to get really, really good at riding horses. I'm not going to spend months "practicing" by brushing my horse, thinking that brushing the horse is somehow going to make me a better rider. I need to get up on that horse and actually practice riding it.

    Ok, maybe that was a bad example

    You have 3000 pages of practicing shapes and scribbles, now practice drawing things. You want to draw characters? Pick up your sketchbook and pencil and draw people. Make it a goal to understand proportions, how the body moves and works, etc. Loomis books work great for this.

    Want to get better at drawing cartoony things? You're going to have to get out of your comfort zone and actually start drawing them.

    I have a great idea for you. Get a new sketchbook. Fill it with characters. Imitate your favorite artists, draw from life, do fanart, do anything. Just don't do any more line exercises. Remember, sucking at something is the first step to becoming sorta good at something : )

    Let me continue my terrible metaphor. Stop brushing that darn horse and get on it and ride. You're gonna fall off a lot, but that is part of getting better.
    Last edited by 100Chihuahuas; May 23rd, 2014 at 07:22 PM.
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    • I do a daily post that featured 15-20 of my favorite digital/concept/character art from across the web. Check out the "Daily Digital" : )

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  26. #14
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    Well, I wouldn't recommend to just flat out stop the accuracy drills - now that he's seen how to improve at them he should definitely continue to do them, though maybe after a break. It's not so much brushing the horse but more like practicing ways to sit in the saddle, hold the reigns, how to lean into turns or grip the horse's body with your legs as it leaps over an obstacle etc. - it is vitally important, as Han said, to be able to put a mark down precisely where you want, starting and stopping at exactly the right places, every time. Otherwise your art will be sloppy. But I don't think this is something a person should do first, not at all! Just do a page or 2 a day as a warmup, then get on to drawing stuff. Or if you're burned out on it then stop and maybe try it again in a few months or something.

    But aside from that I agree with everything else you said.
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    Well, let me offer my two cents. In any exercise that you do--whether they are drills, accuracy, forms, or whatever--you have to think about what you are doing and pay attention. I have also done hundreds of circles and squares, lines and stuff. Actually, I am still doing them sometimes, but I am always doing them and thinking to myself: what am I doing? Why is this circle so good and why is that one not?

    I note things: ah, if I put pressure down on the paper, then I get a straighter line. If I start my circle at the bottom and loop left to right, I get a much better circle than if I start at the top or sides.

    I also make a note of the surface I am working on, the paper texture and type, and the tool I am using because these will all affect (effect? grrrr) line quality and results.

    Next up, I don't start just randomly doing them. For the circles, the first thing I did was grab something as a stencil (this was years ago) and just practiced moving my arm around and getting the feel for the proper movement. I did the same for lines with a ruler. Then I removed the tools and started doing free hand, remembering what I learned. I figured out that for lines, I need to put my eye only so far ahead. If I have a short line, I look at my destination point. If I have a long line, I break it down.

    You don't just do exercises. You think about what you are doing, mentally correct and adjust and change if it isn't working.

    As for form--I struggle with that now. I am finding that abstract exercises are really REALLY helpful. Check out what is going on here

    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...ract-Exercises

    You can do a lot of the exercises on your own. It really is eye opening.

    The hardest thing is applying what you learn to still life drawings. That is what brings everything together. It took me such a long time to finally get over my prejudices. Yes, the first many many times you will have crappy still lifes. That is fine. Keep doing them, and apply what you learn. Take your time, construct what you are doing. Check out sight-size exercises, they are very helpful with accuracy and helping you learn to judge distances and sizes.

    I don't know if many people will agree with this, but one thing that did help me was taking a picture of the still life, then of my drawing and using photoshop to do an overlay. This was to allow me to check shape and dimension. It showed me what lines were wrong so I could note that I am making things too far apart, over-exaggerating size, etc. It doesn't help with form and values, but at least it helps you see what you are doing wrong.

    Don't give up and don't get discouraged. The thing that takes the most time is breaking bad habits and learning new, good ones. It is frustrating sometimes, and there will be periods that feels like nothing is changing---but eventually, you will hit a "ah ha!" moment, something will change, and you will go to the next step. Everyone's pacing is different, but you will pick up speed if you do your exercises and practices with an analytical and critical eye rather than robotically.
    My full range of work: http://anjyil.deviantart.com/gallery/

    My weird sketchbook here (it`s best to just skip to the end haha): http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...06#post2430006

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