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Drawings for critique

SinbinnerSinbinner Registered User regular
Here are a some of my most recent drawings. As you can tell I've been concentrating on portraits of late. As you can tell no color, because right now I just don't understand how to do color. I have considered colored pencil, but haven't gotten any instruction books on the techniques yet. I've only been able to go so far with my pencil shading and then I feel lost. When I have pushed farther and tried to do more shading the end result is usually more cartoon looking than realistic. My shading technique needs a lot of practice. You asked for sample of my work in my post in the help forums so here it is.


  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    edited July 2015
    Hey there! These aren't bad - I can tell who you were drawing in each. I was wondering if you try to lay out any kind of structural base before drawing and shading all of the details? I think some underlying structure would help out a lot. For example, Bruce Willis' eyes seem like they're a bit lopsided, and Brad Pitt's head and face seem a bit squished (even though it looks like the reference you used has his head tilted upwards).

    Are there any long-term goals that you have that you'd like to develop? Either for your work, or as an artist in general?

    NightDragon on
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    These are all from photo reference rather than from memory right?

  • SinbinnerSinbinner Registered User regular
    Thank you for the responses. Yes these were drawn from photo reference. I've never been able to draw from memory with any detail at all. One of my biggest problems is I rush the process and push myself to get to the point you can see who the drawing is supposed to be and once I get it to that point then I'm afraid to push any farther for fear of destroying everything I've worked for up to that point. I know part of the art and learning is failure. By underlying structure do you mean use like a pencil grid to layout the image?

    I've watched video's and read books on how to shade, but I haven't been able to use the techniques correctly. I use smooth Bristol board and I've tried using a set of graphite drawing pencils on some and then tried just a mechanical pencil with 2B like Lee Hammond uses on others. I've tried layering the graphite, but after one or two layers the paper feels like your pencil strokes aren't doing anything, just gliding along the top leaving no marks. If I put any pressure on the pencil to get a darker value then my pencil strokes are visible. Trying to shade large areas are a nightmare.

  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    I imagine by underlying structure ND means structure of the head - feature placement, etc.

    If you stay within your comfort zone always, you will get nowhere - you really will need to become ok with 'ruining' a drawing if you want to progress. But that's something that will come naturally once you're drawing enough - it's hard to be precious about studies when you do dozens or hundreds of them. Get some cheap butchers paper and get used to the idea that your art is disposable.

    Are these pictures representative of all your output, or have you worked in other mediums/done other things besides photo portraits? Especially, have you ever done any figure drawing or gesture drawing? If not, I think that's something you should embark on immediately, for a whole bunch of reasons.

  • tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    Mechanical pencils are generally suboptimal for shading; I'd look at softer wooden pencils or graphite sticks to dig deeper into the value scale.

    These show a good eye for general detail transfer but a deeper understanding of the construction, like NightDragon is suggesting, would help, because right now these are basically just transferring visual info without necessarily understanding what is underneath. (that's not a bad thing! Just a good area of study to look at next since you're already developing good basic representative skills.)

  • SinbinnerSinbinner Registered User regular
    I have tried to do figure and gesture drawing a couple of times. I haven't been able to find books or videos about figure/gesture drawing that I understand, so I've never gone very far with it. My whole history of drawing comes from photo's as reference. Unless the instruction material goes step by step beginning to end explaining everything I usually can't seem to grasp what they trying to teach me and end up moving on. It's so frustrating knowing that I can draw and what I could possibly be capable of with instruction I understand and experience. To me at least, it seems like most instruction videos or books have gaps between the lessons that I fall into and get lost.

  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    edited July 2015
    First of all, I'd say ditch the bristol board and the mechanical pencils. Those materials aren't the best for what you're trying to accomplish in my opinion, unless I'm really misremembering what bristol is like -- I never really bothered with the stuff. Go pick up a decent sketchbook with a tiny bit of texture to the paper and use your drawing pencils.

    Do you want to do celebrity portraits specifically, or are you just using those celebrity photos as a means to study portraits in general? Because most celebrity shots are TERRIBLE as learning resources, because celebrities are usually shot with flat, ambient light coming from a dozen different directions. It's totally confusing, so much so as to be almost useless for beginners. You need to use reference with a CLEAR light source and clear light and shadow patterns. Here's a good link with some good information on the subject:

    I'm curious what books or videos you've tried to use? Honestly, you're not going to get a step by step tutorial that's going to answer every single question you have about figure drawing. It's just too complicated. Sometimes you just need to study the resources you find and take a leap of faith as you try to apply that information to your own studies. With that said, my personal favorite books for beginners are Andrew Loomis' classic "Figure Drawing for All it's Worth," and Michael Hampton's newer "Figure Drawing Design and Invention," which is more accessible than most popular figure drawing books in my opinion. Pick up those books, read them and try to absorb the information, and copy the drawings in them as best you can. The idea of both books is to take a constructive approach to figure drawing, instead of just copying outlines and applying superficial shading. And both break down the major planes of the face, which will help you place the features correctly, as NightDragon was pointing out. Use that information and apply it to your drawings as best as you can, then seek feedback online. It's a long hard road, but it's the only way. Good luck and I hope to see you post here more!

    Lamp on
  • SinbinnerSinbinner Registered User regular
    I found Andrew Loomis' "Figure Drawing for All it's Worth" online in pdf form last week and am currently reading that as well as several other books by him in pdf form. I used the celebrity photos because, well they were there. Yes I would love to be able to one day do portraits that could be sold, but that's not the end I'm looking for. If my art one day reaches the point it could be sold that's great, but bottom line I want to learn. I want to understand shading, I want to learn how color works and how to use it properly. I'd like to move up to colored pencil eventually and then maybe on to pastels or even try painting. There is so much I don't know about art I can't tell people this is exactly what I'm shooting for since every time I learn something knew the path changes. Thank you for the advice. I'll see if I can find "Figure Drawing Design and Invention" and read that as well and at some point post and look for more feed back on it. Any suggestions on sketchbooks then? I'll be in the city this weekend and would love to hit an art supply store and pick up any new items you all think I need to start with.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    You should probably also pick up scott robertsons "How to Draw" and "How to Render". You may also want to check out this post:

    I'd personally be interested in seeing your technical drawings. If employment is your goal, you should keep your strengths in mind. It may take you years to get to a level where you could sell portraits, and if money is going to be a concern before then, it is probably worthwhile to look at where you found previous employment and try to build on those skills first.

  • SinbinnerSinbinner Registered User regular
    So when you talk about learning the construction of underlying structure in drawing is this what gesture drawing and figure drawing teaches you or is that something else entirely? Any books suggestions besides the above mention ones would be helpful.

  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    edited July 2015
    Construction means building your forms (whether it's a head, a figure, a tree, a tank, whatever) out of simpler geometric forms like boxes, spheres and cylinders, drawn ***in perspective***. There are a thousand ways to approach this, there is no single "correct" way to construct the human figure. Ultimately all methods for constructing the figure this way are abstractions -- the arm isn't really exactly a cylinder, but you can construct it that way in order to place it properly in space (again, in perspective) and correctly light it in accordance with the direction of the light source. Similarly, the rib cage or the pelvic girdle are incredibly complex forms -- who wants to try to invent those forms out of whole cloth, from every conceivable angle? Nobody. The better way is to represent them as boxy forms initially, and then get more specific as you continue to refine your drawing.

    Think about making a stone carving. You aren't going to go to the specific details right away. First you have to chip away the stone to get to the basic shape of your desired sculpture, then you will continue to make passes as you make your forms more and more specific.

    Additionally, construction gives your drawings volume, in a way that contour drawing (basically, drawing the outlines of a figure) generally can't. You don't have to come up with these on your own, by the way -- there are many many many abstractions that have already been invented that you can find in the figure drawing books that have been recommended.

    Of course, this skill relies on your ability to draw those simple box forms in perspective to begin with, which is a whole set of skills unto itself.

    Anyway, here are some examples I pulled off Google image search real quick.





    Lamp on
  • SinbinnerSinbinner Registered User regular
    So basically it's like building a house. You lay the foundation then start framing in the walls and then cover the frame. So no matter if you are drawing from memory or using a reference you should always use these foundation techniques then start adding the details on top of that? So then rather than drawing the above pieces the way they appear in the photos I should of laid out an underlying structure of where the features go in relation to the photos and then started adding in the visual details I see in the photos or am I totally misunderstanding this?

  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    edited July 2015
    You pretty much got it. Check out this video for an example of constructing the head as an example. This technique applies whether you are drawing from imagination or copying a photo.

    (I highly recommend digging into those videos on Proko's Youtube channel, by the way, it's a great resource, especially for beginners.)

    Lamp on
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