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I wanted to create a thread where people who go to an art school can share the knowledge they've learned and the exercises and techniques which has helped them to learn with people who don't have the chance to go to a school. You don't necessarily have to be an art student at a school, if you have a great exercise please share it with everyone.
As a self studier I feel it is extremely hard to figure out what kind of exercises would help me improve. School's have so much knowledge to help you become better.
I believe the right exercises and techniques can make you learn faster. I'm not looking for the quick way to become a great artist but having the knowledge can improve your learn greatly when you know what to learn, HOW to learn it and have the right recourses.
If you make sure your "exercise/technique" submission is as clear as possible it will make it a bit easier to find the subject you are looking for when this thread grows bigger.
Here's an example(feel free to correct me if something here sounds odd):
Exercise: When you study anatomy recourses are absolutely necessary. Real life size skeleton isn't necessary but is the best option to learn by observing and drawing all the bones.
Books are a great resource as well. Start by learning the human bone structure. You can copy this from the books if you don't have a skeleton in your closet. Might be a good idea to learn the proportions of the human body at the same time. Start from top to bottom and when you think you know how to draw the bone continue to the next bone. You can also start by simplifying all the bones into contour drawings(by leaving the shading out at first and drawing only the outline) and keep the shapes simple.
Human is a machine that works certain way, learn how everything works.
After you know the skeletal structure move to learning muscles. Obviously if you have a chance to go to see and draw at an autopsy that's great but most of us don't have the chance. So books are great for this as well. Learn the range of motion for the human body and learn what happens if one muscle contracts etc.
Find photos online or take some of your self in different positions. Then print the image and put two layers of tracing paper on top of it. Draw the skeletal structure on the first tracing paper and muscles on the second. Start with simple front view and as you get better go to more complicated poses.
Figure drawing classes and workshops are great and the better understanding of the human proportion and anatomy the more you can get out of the life drawing classes.
If you have a chance find an "Ecorché" class where you sculpt the human with oil clay half skeleton and half muscles. Sculpting in general is a great way to feel and understand the form.
You can find variety of good books http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=82706.
Last edited by Jussi Tarvainen; July 21st, 2008 at 11:26 AM.
I'd suggest going through Nicolaides book, "The Natural Way To Draw," and dealing with anatomy when you come to it in his program. This book was written for people who couldn't go to school and includes schedules. You will, however, need to find some other people who want to do the same thing so that you can share a model.
Another great resource for the indpendent learner is Robert Beverly Hale's book, "Drawing Lessons From the Great Masters." It's absolutely packed with suggestions, information and great masterr drawings to copy.
What a GREAT idea for a thread!
Books that have helped me a lot:
Illusion of Life- Disney Animation, by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas. Whether or not you give a lick about disney, this is an excellent guide for both animators and illustrators. Not only does it give you a fascinating timeline of the birth of animation, but it details how working methods were created, and explains how and why they evolved. Of course topics like squash and stretch, etc. are covered, and the artwork is extremely inspiring and truly full of life. Buy it on Amazon for the best value- the book is huge, oversized and over 500 pages in length.
When I was younger in my self education, I devoured "how to draw" books. Anything by Hart I immediately scooped up, and at one time I think I had over 40 different books. As I matured, however, and began drawing from life, I found that it was difficult for me to shake the 'bad habits' I had developed from just copying other peoples drawings. I had learned to draw an Elephant like HE drew an elephant- I didn't know what an elephant really looked like. So, my suggestion to everyone is to not waste your time buying how to draw books (with of course, great exceptions, like the Anatomy Lessons from the Great Masters, pespective books, etc- I mean avoid books like "how to draw puppies"). Instead, buy books with excellent photographs of people, animals, plants, structures, etc. I routinely check the Bargain Books section of my local Borders- I have found tons and tons of excellent photo reference books there for pennies on the dollars.
That said, also make sure that you do collect books from artists who inspire you. I have the collection of Beatrix Potter books, and a few other personal favorites as all. Copying artwork from your admired artists can help you figure out how they created their character or environment- but I must stress again, that this shouldn't be your only means of study.
STEP BY STEP:
If you are at a very beginner level it's good to divide your learning into steps. If you jump into everything at once the learning will become overwhelming and frustrating and the more like you are to give up. So dive it into steps. You could start by learning to draw from life with contour lines. This is simple and it will teach your eye when you don't have to worry about shadows, colors, values, etc. Next you could go into rendering light. And when you are good at that you can take up on the color. Of course you can divide everything in to smaller steps inside those three category but this will give you the idea. When you set up smaller goals which are easier to get you will be successful more often which will help you not getting frustrated.
This is just an e-mail I sent recently to someone asking me about drawing and his art. Maybe it will help, I'll try and post actual images next time when I have more time:
"Look up a few artists and really examine their stuff:
Edwin Austin Abbey
John Singer Sargent
Gottfried Bammes http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho....php?p=1665584
Richard Williams (gesture)
Also George Pratt, look at the energy in his drawings/paintings
Wes Burt (GREAT for decision making in his drawings, also good to reference shading techniques)
Shading is used to explain form, obviously. A lot of rules you read online sometimes you can't realize until you actually go and paint/draw something from life. There are plenty of optical illusions artists use to their advantage.. maybe you can google that. Anyways, in your works aside from that random line figure drawing I was impressed with, your EDGES do not explain your form well. Use straighter lines to draw instead of curvy lines. Curvy lines tend to let others know you're not sure what you're talking about. Make the decision, use 1 or 2 lines, straighter than curvy, to explain something. If it is wrong, now you know.
Take drawing at coffee shops for example. People move around so much and one gets super frustrated they won't sit still. Instead of getting frustrated, train yourself to make quick observational decisions. Just draw the damn line... and pine about how ugly it is later, or just draw over that line (drawing in pen has trained me to just make the line... or else piddling with it loses time and makes the study ugly at the same time..)
For slower shading, start off squinting to see 2 or at most 3 shapes on a figure/object, and shade those in flatly. If you immediately go to one area and start rendering it, you already lose. Whittle the shapes down to detail, but go slowly, it is kind of a good way to learn. All this is frustrating though if you've no idea what you're drawing in the figure... it is a good idea to pair this with learning the actual major bones and muscles as landmarks and keystones in your mind of what to look for. When I had long pose figure drawing classes, I brought an anatomy book with me if I didn't understand an area I was looking at. DO IT it does help. ALWAYS if you don't understand something, go research it, don't try to make it up.
Gesture is VERY important, more important than anything you will do with shading. It's like you try to put a bunch of sugar on moldy bread to try and make it better. At the core, it's still bad, the sugar doesn't help. Same with gesture. If the gesture is stiff, anything you put on top of it still makes people go.. ? Like Hyung Tae Kim, love his work, but it angers me.
Anyways get a friend and have them do 5-10 second poses, and try to draw the WHOLE figure (contour or middle line), don't freak out about details it is impossible. BUT if you read the gesture quick enough and draw it, maybe you can get feet or something in. Be serious... don't look for masterpieces... the exercise will help. Also anything you do don't feel pressure to post it online. Sometimes you need uninhibited ugly drawing for yourself, your own learning.
I guess that's it unless you have any questions. Don't freak out so much, make a small list of things if you have to. I'm a freak out type, and I have to make lists. When I was done with college (I quit actually..) I thought it'd be difficult to find a job, but it's that worrying that led me to push myself harder. Don't push too hard though because you need other time to look at life itself, which you can use that as an excuse to lead into art.
Anyways, it's kind of broad-brush I guess... but that is how I think about a few topics. Enjoy ~
Thanks for everyone who's posted, it would be awesome if more people could contribute and grow this thread.
LIFE DRAWING - SELF PORTRAIT
Life drawing is a great tool to learn. If you aren't going to draw abstract most of what you end up drawing is stuff that you've seen. Trees, buildings, human, clothing, vehicles, how light works etc. So if you don't have a memory bank in your mind developed based on life drawings it's a lot harder to come up with real life looking stuff because almost everything has a resemblance to real life.
That said I suggest you jump on the life drawing wagon and draw everything you see.
As for self portrait they are a great and easy way to teach you how to render humans. Take a mirror to draw yourself through and use some lamp to light your face. It's good if there aren't any natural hitting your face because it will make the job easier if you are a beginner. No model needed just pen, paper, mirror and a light.
This has helped me a ton! It is good though to read some head anatomy at the same time to help you understand the form. Maybe even keep a model skull in handy.
For freehand perspective drawing, I use a simple exercise:
Place 2 dots on a piece of paper, the distance between them can vary but start small. We want to connect the 2 dots with as straight a line as possible. To do this, you want to use your entire arm. Lock your elbow and move your arm from your shoulder. Now, before you make a line, hold the pencil slightly above the page and practice the movement that you intend to make. Repeat it a few times until it feels like a mechanical movement. When you feel confident, place the pencil down on the page and repeat that movement again, quickly and without second guessing yourself.
It's an exercise in confidence and control. I found it to be really useful when drawing anything mechanical.
But remember, schools can only help you go so far. Most learning comes from self-discovery and being around other artists. You'd be surprised how much you can learn from watching someone draw. Always observe..anything, everything. Observation is the most fundamental of skills for an artist. It's even more fundamental than being able to draw. You can't draw something before first knowing and analyzing what you're drawing.
"So now we have modeled something that will get us nowhere in life"
To continue sula_nebouxis exercise...
FREEHAND LINES AND OVALS
Read what sula_nobouxi above said. To that exercise you can add by doing different length of lines, the longer the harder. You can turn your sketchbook around to make it easier for you or you can also do the hard way to train your hand even more and try doing the lines not turning your sketchbook. It is super hard at the beginning though so first you should turn your sketchbook to do the most natural hand movement. Remember to draw with your whole arm.
Ovals. Place to dots, do shadow tracing on top of the paper without actually touching the paper yet and do a few ovals between the dots on the air before actually doing it. Same for circles.
Professionals use guides too but when they are free sketching they use their arm. So train that arm because it is one of your most valuable tools
yousa - thanks for adding that, I totally forgot about it haha. So, yeah you definitely want to draw those straight lines in a certain way over and over in order to build muscle memory. Since I'm right handed, I draw horizontally from left to right as it's most comfortable for me. And like yousa said, rotate the page in order to draw those lines with a side to side motion. You should never have to draw a straight line away from you or towards you. You don't need to make it harder on yourself (unless you're painting on an easel or something...in which case I'd get one of those nifty arm rest thingies. It's a rod that sits on the easel or canvas while being held with your hand. You rest your hand on the rod and use it to steady your strokes.)
Here's another tip I picked up. It's something I usually do when I draw with a wooden pencil. When I hold it, I hold it as if I were picking it up. Holding it down low like that enables you to get a wider range in widths of your pencil strokes. In essence it's sorta like treating it like a paintbrush. It's only useful in certain instances and I wouldn't recommend its use all the time. Sometimes you need that fine line of a normal pencil grip
Last edited by sula_nebouxi; July 27th, 2008 at 07:20 PM.
"So now we have modeled something that will get us nowhere in life"
STORY BOARDS & CHARACTER DESIGN
If you are having trouble designing characters and story boards I highly suggest you grab a book of your style whether it's scifi or cowboys and indians and read while drawing. There are great writers who are able to describe characters to the details so all is left for you to draw. Same thing with storyboards/scenes. Just draw how it looks in you imagination when reading a book. This will also develop your skills to start making your own scenes and characters from imagination.
I just wanted to say thanks for all those exercises =)
i'm gonna work through them later.. it would be a little tough working through all of them at once xD
i think many of you know the site http://www.posemaniacs.com.
if you don't, then you really should have a look at it.
It has a great amount of poses to draw and work with and other things like the "30 seconds scetching ". It also has many other interesting things..
just work through the page =3
I'm practicing with those poses as well.. and i'm thinking about getting a book about anatomy.
- Buy a sketchbook and make a sketch a day. This includes weekends and holidays. Keep up with this exercise for at least a year. Sounds easy but in my art class everyone was a few days behind after a few weeks. It helped me a LOT though. If you want critiques on your work you can start a sketchbook on this forum and post the best sketch of the week each week. Draw a lot of different subjects.
- Give ALL art supplies a fair try. I started out in Photoshop, switched to traditional watercolors, then to acrylic and now I'm working in the program Illustrator. For computer programs you can always download a free 30-day trial. Make sure you also read a book or some tutorials about the program. For traditional supplies it's handy if you know another artist where you cna borrow some stuff from. If not, DO spend some money on art supplies, even if it's just to try out. Also make sure you find some tutorials about the art supplies or borrow a book from the library about it.
- Draw things from real life instead of photos. Photos sometimes already have a nice composition, lighting, etc., in real you have to make these decisions yourself. Photos also sometimes have distracting anatomy because of the lens. May look normal on a photo, but not with a drawing. It also helps you to get out more And if other people stop by and look at what you're drawing, don't be shy and just continue.
My art teacher made us hold our pencil that way ALL the time when sketching. It only made my drawings look bad After a while I got used to it, but now I don't go to school anymore I hold my pencil the usual way again lol!Holding it down low like that enables you to get a wider range in widths of your pencil strokes. In essence it's sorta like treating it like a paintbrush. It's only useful in certain instances and I wouldn't recommend its use all the time.
- illustrations, animations & games -
Draw from life as much as possible. NO, REALLY. I doesnt matter what you want to do, if all
your drawings are from imagination or photos, they quickly start looking wooden and fake. Most
cities have a nude modeling group that has weekly poses from a live model. If not, start your
Stickmen at the ready! Draw little stick figures. Draw them running, dancing, fencing, holding
on for dear life to the edge of sentances and a stickmen rescue team arriving with a ladder.
Fill up pages of stickmen, doodle when youre at a coffee shop or want something to fidget
1. Memorize a simplified figure using proportions: draw 5 equidistant lines across the page
using a ruler. These are your 4 head meauremeants. Draw a simplified head and torso. Reapeat
for the side and back (on the back, place scapula correctly).
2. Optional: repeat for hips and legs.
3. Measure a 7.5 head figure, with lines marking off each head measuremeant. Draw a simplified
figure from the front, side, and back.
4. Repeat, drawing figure with simplified muscle shapes. (you can get this from artist anatomy
books, or i can give you a drawing of simplified muscle shapes.)
Pick 5 stickmen, draw them in that pose with correct (as reasonably possible) anatomy. Turn
them 90 degrees and draw them in the same pose, turn them 90 degrees again.
(Tip: once you've figured out where things go in one pose in one view, draw verticle lines
across the page for major points like bottom of the jaw, left knee, right nee, etc.)
Distort the figure: Draw a 10 head figure and a 4 head figure (front side and back), and
stretch or squish all body parts accordingly. Draw them again, and move the crotch up, then
down from the middle of the figure.
Take an irregularly shaped object. Do a longer, carefully observed (using a stick or something
to measure angles and proportions) study. Turn it 45 degrees. Repeat, until you've drawn your
way all round the object. Turn it so that you're looking at it from above, and do a birds eye
view study. Turn it 45 degrees and repeat, drawing your way around it. Repeat for a worm's eye
view (looking at from below).
Do this a lot, for any random thing. You will be able to whip out a quick, fairly accurate
sketch of that thing from any perspective for the rest of your life.
Alternate measured & oberved persective exercizes.
1. Measured perspective (the kind you do with a ruler and horizon line and view points. You
have some good perspective books, do exercizes out of them.)
2. Observed perspective
Draw the interiors of rooms, with furniture, floor and ceiling. If there are people there,
dont do any detail of them, just show how big they are compared to objects around them.
(People are always smaller than you think they are.)
Repeat for buildings and street views.
Take one of your observational drawings. Redraw it, this time with measured perspective.
Pick 5 fictional characters from any media (NOT YOUR OWN.) Pick 5
illustrators you like with distinctive styles. Draw a turnaround view
(front, side, back) of a character in the style of an illustrator.
Draw 5 facial expressions (doesn't have to be complicated):
Unique to character (Ex. a villain mastermind, show him scheming or maniacal)
Repeat with a different character with a different illustrator.
Do some sketches of the creature until you have an idea of what you
want it to look like, and what kind of feeling you want it to have.
Ignoring details, pick the real-life animal that its body most
resembles, and that it would probably move like. (ex. a unicorn -
would it be strong and proud like a horse, or thin and graceful like a
gazelle? A hellhound - would it be strong and fast like a doberman or
stocky like a bulldog?)
Find some anatomy info for that animal, and use it to create a basic
skeleton and muscle structure for your imaginary beast. Attach any
head as long as it is proportional to the body.
Look up other animals to add details - different kinds of horns, head
shapes, coloring, fish fins, etc etc.
Uh. You're your own with this one.
That's some good advice Saret.