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  1. #1
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    How am I supposed to get to the next level?

    Hello everyone. First things first, I'm new here and quite frankly I was rather intimidated about joining this site since I've seen a lot of amazing stuff here. But I've really started to struggle with drawing lately and I don't think places like DA or WetCanvas will give me the advice that I'm seeking...

    First some background: I started drawing again in December 2012 after not having drawn actively for nearly 10 years. Up till this year I've been jumping between mediums and styles like a headless monkey. Now that I've managed to settle with my desired mediums and the style I want to stick with (cartoony, Disnyish style) I've suddenly hit a wall with the drawing itself.

    Today I went out for a bike ride with my sketch book. I can draw stuff like flowers, trees and stuff relatively easy. Even my very quick landscape sketches look at least a little what they're supposed to...but whenever I try to draw animals, the thing I actually want to learn how to draw better, I suddenly feel like I lose my ability to draw. Animals and monsters are something I've drawn since I'm a kid but suddenly they're the things I can't draw.

    Most of the early stuff in my DA profile was drawn without reference. That was nearly 2 years ago. But now, suddenly, I feel like I can't even draw worth that anymore.

    I look at a blank sheet on my sketch book and come up with nothing. I've been doing some "master studies" lately from animation production sheets. I do really well with them. And you'd think it would teach me something about construction drawing but then when I try to draw a cute kitten from my head I suddenly get nothing.

    So I really don't know what I should do...use photo references more? Keep on copying the model sheets for animated movies (not sure if this is helping at all since copying in general is kinda bad, this is what I've been told at least)? Art classes and art education aren't really an option. This is a hobby for me and not a job nor will it ever be my job. I don't have the time.

    I've tried 1 minute gesture drawing but frankly I find it very distressing. I have a hard time accepting messy, shit looking sketches and I fail to realize what good do I get out of them. I also have a hard time figuring out how I should start a drawing. With a stick figure? With the basic shapes?

    It's like I just don't know anymore...

    Here's my DA if it will help: http://sarosna.deviantart.com/

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  3. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarosna View Post
    First some background: I started drawing again in December 2012 after not having drawn actively for nearly 10 years. Up till this year I've been jumping between mediums and styles like a headless monkey. Now that I've managed to settle with my desired mediums and the style I want to stick with (cartoony, Disnyish style) I've suddenly hit a wall with the drawing itself.

    Today I went out for a bike ride with my sketch book. I can draw stuff like flowers, trees and stuff relatively easy. Even my very quick landscape sketches look at least a little what they're supposed to...but whenever I try to draw animals, the thing I actually want to learn how to draw better, I suddenly feel like I lose my ability to draw. Animals and monsters are something I've drawn since I'm a kid but suddenly they're the things I can't draw.
    Looks like you learnt to see, which means you know enough to spot your shortcomings. That is fine.

    If you have been drawing since December 2012, you are an absolute beginner, who should not even think about settling with mediums and styles. Forget about Disney style right now: it is really sophisticated.
    You seem to believe you can draw flowers, trees and stuff, so I suggest you show some of your work. Understand that these seemingly simple things are quite complicated, and not a good start for beginners. You just discovered that animals are even more complicated: they make you realise you cannot draw.

    I look at a blank sheet on my sketch book and come up with nothing. I've been doing some "master studies" lately from animation production sheets. I do really well with them. And you'd think it would teach me something about construction drawing but then when I try to draw a cute kitten from my head I suddenly get nothing.
    Copying a master without knowing what you are doing will teach you nothing. It is really not automagically making you understand construction. If you want to learn construction, study construction.

    So I really don't know what I should do...use photo references more? Keep on copying the model sheets for animated movies (not sure if this is helping at all since copying in general is kinda bad, this is what I've been told at least)? Art classes and art education aren't really an option. This is a hobby for me and not a job nor will it ever be my job. I don't have the time.
    This is going to take time. Take a step back, draw an apple and post the results here.

    I've tried 1 minute gesture drawing but frankly I find it very distressing. I have a hard time accepting messy, shit looking sketches and I fail to realize what good do I get out of them. I also have a hard time figuring out how I should start a drawing. With a stick figure? With the basic shapes?
    Gestures are not necessarily good looking drawings, they are hard to do and take a lot of practice.

    Grinnikend door het leven...
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  4. #3
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    Is there a place nearby where livestock are behind a fence? Drawing from life works with animals too. Horses tend to shy away from strangers and go to the other side of the field, but bulls just go where they go without much concern. I got to draw a lot of bulls when I lived in Arizona.

    Cats are either asleep or won't sit still long enough for detailed studies in my experience.

    If you have binoculars then maybe you can get a chance at some perched birds if you keep your eyes open. Maybe try duck ponds.

    Last edited by arttorney; July 22nd, 2014 at 04:45 PM.
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    Thank you for the answers

    eezacque: I'm not exactly an absolute beginner. I didn't draw actively for 10 years but I've always drawn, since I was a kid. I only just started doing it on a daily basis at December 2012. I didn't start for the very first time, I got back on a very old horse so to speak.

    That is why I'm so stunned by these sudden struggles. I haven't considered drawing to be that hard up until now. Either my standards have suddenly risen far higher than my skill or then I'm having some sort of negative thought pattern going on.

    Although I posted my DA gallery link, I do plan to make a sketchbook here as well.

    arttorney: I know exactly what you mean about cats. They're like the most unhelpful pets ever. There are some cows on a nearby field. I was about to go see them today but it was so hot today that they had been taken inside.

    I'm starting to feel like my attitude is the thing that needs the most work right now. Getting back to art was simple cos' I could simply smile and shrug and say "Hey, I'm rusty!". But now that I've got most of the rust off, I need to start to really work with improvement. I've started to notice that when people compliment me, I start this whole "Nah I dunno, it's just this quick sketch..." or "Nah, it's not really my work. I copied it.". Whenever I'm supposed to draw I also tend to think "Meh, I guess I need to draw but it'll probably end up being horribly frustrating."

    I wouldn't call myself a negative person but I do have this "Miranda from Sex in the City" - thing going on. Life has kicked me around a little so I tend to just take things as they are. Without any kind of sugar coating. I tend to be pretty sarcastic too. So I guess I should start to think of ways to bring the fun to drawing again and stress a little less...

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    Art is hard, the reason it's easier as a kid is because we're big fish in a little pond. We draw because we're bored and we feel good about it, and because it's an exciting new hobby, you don't worry about the end game. When we grow up, we realize just how many things we have to work on,and we worry.
    My advice to you, what does it matter that you're rusty or not?Will this dramaticly impact your ife if you can't draw a cow?No one but you is judging you. Take some deep breaths, stare at a cow, doesn't that cow look cool? what if that cow breathes fire? Have fun,draw more.


    P.S : Make something I call a "Goal Picture" That thing you can't draw? Draw it, don't like it? Draw it again tommorow and compare the progress side by side to reassure youself progress is happeneing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mraukat View Post
    snip
    Thank you, that's what I needed to hear. Thing were indeed easier as a kid...I wasn't so troubled back then. Although I've dealt with the changes in my life and accepted them, they still haunt my general attitude towards life and also art it seems. Both me and my mum tend to have this semi-negative attitude and a somewhat bad self esteem. I usually notice when I'm in a slump and try to improve my mood but the resent stress about my work place make things harder than usual.

    I also tend to get very competitive in certain things. Art, sadly, seems to be one of those things.

    I've been watching Will Terrell's videos on YouTube. He always seems to be in a very good and jolly mood. I also started to re-read Drawn to Life by Walt Stanchfield.

    I think I need to draw a cow tomorrow. Or a kitten

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    Cow

    We all have our problems and you don't need to explain yourself to anyone. Remember why you drew as a kid in the first place.

    I was one bit of a negative stressed out nancy too, until I realized how it only made me,my art, and the people around me suffer. Tried the opposite and It certainly works out better.

    Draw that cow, Then draw it again and again until it is the most dashing bouvine you've ever seen. Moo!

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    You've watched Will Terell - then you're probably also familiar with Sycra? He did a video dealing with exactly what you're going through - basically the way you develop as an artist is by your hand and eye sort of leap-frogging over each other by turns. Developing your hand means the ability to draw well - your eye means the ability to see and to critique what you've drawn. Each time you learn something new from tutorials or whatever, your hand improves and you'll be happy with your art, but then a little down the road your eye improves and suddenly what you've been drawing doesn't look good anymore. You just need to hang in there - keep working and pushing until your hand improves again, and know that shortly again your eye will leapfrog past it once more. This is just the way it goes.

    Here's that vid:



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  11. #9
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    Thanks for that video! I've watched some Sycra's vids but never dug in deep enough. I'll have to watch that.

    Also, my sketchbook is up now

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarosna View Post
    eezacque: I'm not exactly an absolute beginner. I didn't draw actively for 10 years but I've always drawn, since I was a kid.
    Most people do, but most kids don't study construction, line quality, gesture, perspective, anatomy. They do develop their fine muscles, which is valuable, but it is only a tiny little slice from the pie...

    Grinnikend door het leven...
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  13. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarosna View Post
    eezacque: I'm not exactly an absolute beginner. I didn't draw actively for 10 years but I've always drawn, since I was a kid.
    How much time you spend on something is irrelevant - people will look at the end result. This is true for your artistic skill as well as a single picture. I know a person who had been cartooning for 25 years and still has not improved a single bit from when he started doodling.

    What separates an amateur from a master is not the amount of experience. It is their working method and their attitude. An amateur relies on happy accidents, a master develops a constantly honed well-rounded skill. An amateur goes with what's easy, a master pushes himself to improve.

    That is why I'm so stunned by these sudden struggles. I haven't considered drawing to be that hard up until now. Either my standards have suddenly risen far higher than my skill or then I'm having some sort of negative thought pattern going on.
    Your struggles show that you had this little change in the attitude that can put you on the way to mastering a skill. It's admitting that you do not know something which enables you to learn - someone who thinks he is already perfect never has a chance. So the struggle is valuable; it shows you where you must work harder to improve.

    This should not be allowed to feed an insecurity. If you are complimented, accept the compliment graciously, thank the person, but do not depreciate yourself loudly or say degrading things about your work. But in private, be your own cruelest but constructive critic. If you spot a flaw, get into a habit of seeking a way to improve the flawed part, otherwise it will be useless self-depreciation. Develop a critical skill, so you can spot flaws better and grade them from forgivable (good enough in context) to major (must be corrected without proceeding further.)

    What you need to do to progress is build a working method. Your years of automatic drawing only mean that you have a set of ingrained habits which will be getting in your way all the time. There is nothing to be done about it except build a new set of habits which will allow you to grow - then the old bad ones will gradually fade. But you have to practice with conscious awareness of what you are doing at every moment, otherwise you will slip back.

    So learn constructive drawing, to begin with. Use life drawing to guide you (not as a magical end to itself, but as means to develop your eye for structure, form and anatomy.) Learn to draw form in space instead of shape on page, learn perspective, learn anatomy. That will occupy you for a while.

    Most importantly, learn to go from general to detail, learn to use sketches as tools for figuring out things, learn to spot and correct your mistakes early - the later in the process you spot it, the more costly it will be to correct. Sketches are cheap and expendable, paintings are expensive and hard to fix.


    Required reading at this stage: "Perspective Made Easy" by Norling, "Cartoon Animation" by Blair, "Successful Drawing" by Loomis.

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  14. #12
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    Thanks for the book suggestions. I actually have this huge, short version of Preston Blair's book. It's one of the Walter Foster's series of instructional "pamphlets". I also have Loomis' "Figure Drawing" book. I also have this "Perpective for Comics" book which I've barely touched. I'm kind of afraid of perspective. I need to kick myself on the butt.

    I know I didn't study the necessary fundamentals as a kid. When I was in my horse girl - phase I read a horse drawing guide by Lena Furberg. I drew horses a LOT. I can still draw a horse head from the side rather well. Lena taught you to start with a circle then draw some guidelines for measurement and for full body shots, she taught you to draw a stick figure with joints.

    I still do this. It's almost as if it's infused in my brain. It works great for profile shots but...whenever I try to draw something from an angle, things get crazy frustrating. Especially when I try to draw things from the front or behind. I don't seem to understand how body masses overlap each other. I know the principle of overlapping but I can't execute it.

    Also, the whole construction drawing works very well when I'm doing something I'm not so used to. Like the flowers I mentioned before. I can recognize and draw the basic shape of a flower rather easily but when I try to do the same thing with animals, I struggle.

    So I guess the old habits thing is exactly what has happened to me. Profile shots are so warm and cozy.

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  15. #13
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    you need tp work a lot, i repeat, a lot more with reference. from life if possible, from photos if need be. you can waste your days just drawing from imagination without ever improving. in order to make realistic things up, you need to understand them first. that can only be done by studying the real thing.

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