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  1. #1
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    Riven Phoenix: The Structure of Man

    Hi. A long while back, someone here asked about this course. I own this course and want to post some thoughts about it to help others who might be thinking of buying it. I'm not yet finished with it and hopefully, I'll be able to post more when I do.

    I was very hopeful and excited about Structure of Man when I first got it. It seemed like a bargain and I do applaud the creator for making it so affordable. So far I'm about 1/3 of the way, having finished the "skeleton" part of the course and now doing the "muscle" part. Now, I am not as fond of it as I was when I started out.

    About the artist's style. Phoenix teaches what may be called a "viewfinder" or "grid" style method. You know about drawing a grid over a picture when you were a kid, and then making a grid on a blank page and copying the picture that way? You use the grid to place landmarks in your drawing. The top of the dog's ear goes here, the left pupil goes here and so on. It's like that. He tells you to draw a square or a rectangle, draw intersecting lines and put dots here and there as landmarks. Do you like that method? I do. It helps for a beginner because it isn't intimidating. It gives you straight practical advice no matter how visually or artistically challenged you think you are. As someone else said, Phoenix's method is formulaic.

    Now, don't be mistaken. He tells you this is only a guide in the beginning. Later on in the course, he does away with the grid thing little by little. Whether or not you can at that point is another matter. Personally, I've had to resort to the grid more than he does in the later videos.

    So he shows you how to draw the skeleton in this way. Pretty soon you memorize this stuff. The more you repeat the lessons, the better you get at it. And he does a LOT of repetitions.

    Then I discovered my first problem with his course. His skeleton drawings are NOT that good. Sure he gets the proportions right, but it's like he isn't making the effort to show you what a skull REALLY looks like for example. His focus is on teaching proportions. I mean, when I finished drawing the skull front view, I was like, "That's it? This doesn't look like a real skull." But maybe he has a point. After all, we want to be artists, not scientists. Maybe he's only teaching as much as is necessary at this point and removing extra detail.

    The second problem: he likes to draw ALIENS. I mean, okay so I should've gotten a clue. His domain is alienthink.com. But the bigger problem is, his HUMAN drawings aren't that appealing. I don't know, maybe it's just a matter of taste. But I look at his finished work and it just doesn't "wow" me. There is nothing there that makes me say, "Wow, that's beautiful!" He can draw well - for sure, WAY better than I can - but he isn't fantastic. And his favorite subject... if you don't mind weird stuff, you might like it.

    Then to the muscular system part. It's unbearably TEDIOUS. He draws 3 or 4 different views of the head and then adds the same muscle to each head per video. So like, video #90 shows muscle XYZ goes here in front view, in side view, etc. then video #91 shows muscle ABC in front view, side view, etc. I'd have preferred if he drew all the muscles in front view first, then side view, and so on. So we could at least have one finished drawing faster! But that's just me.

    Oh, and there's the narrative. Every video opens with "Hi guys, my name is Riven Phoenix..." Imagine hearing his voice hundreds of times - maybe thousands if you repeat the videos like I do. Really, at some point you're bound to turn off the volume. Cause you know what he's going to say anyway, "This guy goes here and this guy goes over here..."


    So what's my conclusion? At this point, I can say this: It's tedious, it's repetitive, it's not "great" looking. But he really does try to teach a beginner from the ground up. As Phoenix says, "These are small steps, baby steps..."

    I'm not very impressed with the skeleton drawings I can make after getting this far in the course. I feel like I didn't learn a lot. How could it have been different if I spent $12 on a used anatomy drawing book instead? BUT I'm withholding judgment until I've practiced more and I finish the muscle part too. It could be he just doesn't want to torture students by forcing them to master drawing skeletons. His drawings in the later videos actually look nice! It seems in the more advanced stages, he just lightly sketches in the muscles and then draws in the visible form (such as the face, arm, etc.) of the body. He shows you then how knowledge of muscles and bones lets you draw the outside accurately. It's just tedious getting there. I'll finish the course and let you know if I can find the time to do so.

    Hope that helps someone.


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  3. #2
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    I am really late to this party. I am going through the course as we speak I had this a few years ago through download, I did not get a chance to use them as my computer crashed. I started doing them again when I found them on Udemy for like 10.00 dollars. I found them to be a bit of a drag as he took time to explain how to draw the skeleton and such but I stuck in there and got to the muscles of the torso. I stopped for a few months and started over from lesson one again. I found myself getting better and better at drawing the figure from the mind. He does repeat himself a lot and goes over the same stuff over and over but I realized that it started to stick in my head. The courses are good for a start but it is best to also pair them life drawing.

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