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Hexmage's Sketchbook

Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
edited January 2016 in Artist's Corner
I've been drawing a decent amount this year, but I don't feel like I'm improving much. It's infrequent that I really feel satisfied with something I've drawn, and it's getting discouraging. I work usually between 50 to 60 hours each week, so I'd like to make sure I'm using my free time spent drawing in the way most conducive to improvement. Below is some of what I've drawn this year; judging from it, what areas do I most urgently need to concentrate on, and what's the best way to go about improving with the limited time I have?

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Posts

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    I recognize those Arins. who is the guy from 2/10/15 supposed to be?

    The good news is you are doing the right things. You're challenging yourself, you are trying to replicate things by observation, and you're trying to keep that up regularly. There's a lot of solid understanding going on here, with the weakest points being in the places where you are clearly working to improve, like facial proportions.

    The bad news is you need to form a healthy relationship with that inadequate feeling. Part of studying is constantly looking at where you want to be and comparing your own work to it. It's a difficult state of mind, but try to compartmentalize the feeling of being at unease with your current work, and recognize it as seeing the path for improving.

    As for improving as the fastest rate, what's your end game? Are you pushing yourself to a particular goal? A certain job or line of work? Is this all for a hobby?

  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    I have several friends who are professional artists and would love to try to be one too, but I'm already 27 and fear it might be too late for that. Even if it just ends up being a hobby I still have lots of various concepts I'd like to better realize.

    As for the uncomfortable feeling, I've actually gotten a lot better with it this year. I stress out easily in general, and even as recently as last year I'd sometimes get very stressed-out if I had trouble trying to draw something. I'd think I'd be a lot better by now if it wasn't for that. I've mostly succeeded in getting rid of the mindset that was making me stress, although I have in the past month found my motivation waning somewhat over my perceived lack of progress.

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  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    "Professional artist" still covers a pretty broad scope - comics? concept art? fine art? illustration? etc. But I think you're on the right track as far as attitude goes - also I wouldn't worry about it being 'too late' to do this as a career, there's no deadline.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    "Professional artist" is very broad. Look into some specific paths, it will really help you make some goals that seem more obtainable.

    Thinking about this a bit more critically now will help you in the long run, as defining improvement can actually be rather difficult. I can tell you to do extremely technical study of master paintings, but that helps more you if your end goal is painting. If you want to do animated cartoons, there's some other things that would probably better to work at.

    I'll probably start up a new resolution thread at the end of the month: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/186005/jan-monthly-enrichment-set-your-resolution/p1

    For your megaman and cartoon drawing, you may want to try some character construction: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/180484/july-monthly-enrichment-character-construction/p1

    For your faces, eventually you'll need to spend more time on one. Finishing things is probably going to be the hardest part when you have little time to dedicate to art in general, but focusing in on a study is how you really get into working out your problems.

  • bombardierbombardier Moderator mod
    Being 27 isn't really too late to become anything. If you're smart about how you will study and are disciplined and driven, then doing what you want isn't impossible. You just won't be an amazing artist until your 30s, and if you're ok being 10 years behind some of the young talent, then what else is there to hold you back? You seem to have some good fundamentals so far which is good. Tell us more about what your specific goals are. Post some examples of works you would like to achieve some day. As nic and Iruka said, "pro artist" is very vague.

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    IrukaNibCrom
  • lyriumlyrium Registered User regular
    Hey there! Honestly, it looks like you're off to a really good start. There is some confident and expressive drawing here. And big props for making the effort to spend time doing studies on top of working so much; that isn't easy.
    Proportions and construction are general drawing fundamentals that are important to focus on for any direction, but yeah, having a better idea of your goals will make it easier to recommend more specific exercises.
    Like Iruka said, the dissatisfied feeling never really goes away. The good thing is it means you're aware of your need to improve and your goals ahead of you. Just try not to get stuck in a bad mood about it, and instead look at each thing you draw as the best you could do at that time, and that you've practiced and learned a bit by doing it that will help the next things you draw to be better. It may not feel like it sometimes, but if you're always trying your best then you will move forward and improve little by little. It's something we all have to deal with.

    Irukatynic
  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    Concept art and character design interest me the most, but I also would like to learn more about how to draw characters in dynamic positions and, eventually, digital painting. As I have friends and acquaintances in the animation, table top gaming and video gaming industries I figure those would be my best bets.

    What would you say is the optimal way to learn surface anatomy? I've been trying to learn how the superficial anatomy of the arm looks in different positions and twists of the forearm, but I'm having a hard time conceiving of the forms of the muscles three dimensionally.

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  • lyriumlyrium Registered User regular
    Well even though surface anatomy is your goal, the way you'll become comfortable conceiving the three dimensional forms is by studying the underlying musculature. When the arm positions and twists, you won't understand why things bulge or hollow, tense or relax the way they do without some of that knowledge. It makes it much easier to observe figures or pose them well from imagination. Some anatomy books are more dynamic than others; Burne Hogarth is really good, and also animators like Glenn Vilppu have more action based approaches.

    tynic
  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    Small update:

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  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
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  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    You probably want to get to a point where you are a bit cleaner on the lines. You don't have the worst case of feathering I've seen, but some more clarity on your shapes would help, I think.

    Are you drawing these guys super small?

  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    The last two are about 6"x5".

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  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    huh, not too small.

    I was going to say that some small details, like your teeth in that last one for instance, seem to be getting a bit lost. Maybe a sharper pencil or something would remedy that.

  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    edited January 2016
    A few more, including some studies:

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    If you're wondering why I keep drawing bulldog-men it's because I've been thinking about designing some t-shirt illustrations for my co-workers who are into the local high school football teams. I originally intended to draw one being tackled, but didn't have a good reference for how that would look and wasn't sure I could wing-it.

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  • ChicoBlueChicoBlue Registered User regular
    If you're looking to get solidity in your figures and pose them in dynamic ways, I'd recommend checking out Proko's videos. Particularly his earlier ones dealing with simple shapes and mannequinization.

    Try doing a few from reference, and then try doing some of your own, while keeping his examples open so you can reference the basic shapes as needed.

    If you're really interested in figure invention, you might want to check out some Ron Lemen videos. The production quality is much much lower than Proko's and they're less comprehensive, and much more complex, but enlightening all the same.

    He basically takes a photo of someone in an pose, breaks that pose down into simple shapes, and then uses that information to rotate the pose around in any direction he likes for his final illustration.

    There's another example of it here:
    muddycolors.blogspot.ca/2016/01/one-more-take-on-inventing-pose.html

    And some more Lemeny goodness here:
    muddycolors.blogspot.ca/2015/09/perspective-and-elevation-in-figures.html

    Again, that's a lot trickier than Proko's stuff, but it is something to keep in mind and try out once you've got a good handle on building in basic shapes.

    acadiaFlayHexmage-PAtapeslinger
  • SublimusSublimus Registered User regular
    Looks like you already have some good crits in here, so I just want to say it looks like you're on the right track! As Milton Glaser famously said "Art is work". So don't get discouraged if it's difficult. Pain and gain applies to the mental too, if it hurts, that means you're pushing yourself and growing!

    Also, most of the talented concept artists online are much older than you might think.

  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    Kind of a weird question, but what should I be thinking about while drawing? A lot of times I draw on autopilot while thinking of something else (like people often do while driving), and no matter how many times I recognize this and try to get back on task I very quickly find myself thinking of some other random thing again.

    I tried narrating out loud what I was doing as I did it (such as "pull this line from the acromion up the trapezius"), but 1) I'm not certain how helpful that really is and 2) I read recently that talking can interfere with drawing because they use separate hemispheres of the brain.

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  • Well, I'd say the more you can keep focus on the task at hand the better- but realistically, everyone's mind wanders like this, and keeping that level of focus and concentration on such a finicky, demanding task is something that comes naturally to few people.
    All I can suggest is to take some notes from Zen meditation and cognitive-behavioral therapy, making a habit of noticing when your mind wanders, and then gently and without judgment (beating yourself with "augh I SHOULD be able to stay concentrating" kinda of thoughts, which only serves to distract you even further) returning your focus to the drawing. The more you practice, the easier it will be to recognize mind wandering and keep the necessary attention- and trust me, if I have to be 100% focused 100% of the time to be passable at drawing, man would I ever be out of a job. Just notice it for what it is, and continue on.

    It can also help to refocus your attention by walking away from the drawing and viewing it from a distance, or looking at it in a mirror- getting a new angle on the drawing can help you see things you might have been missing when you had your nose to the grindstone. And sometime you just have to take a break in general- lots of times I find myself knowing that something is off, but I can't for the life of me figure out what it is- that's when I have to go get a drink of water or something before returning to it.

    As for talking when drawing, it can't be a defacto terrible thing to do, or else people trying to teach art would find that task impossible. I wouldn't take the left/right brain stuff too exceedingly seriously, simply because a lot of people who want to break things down into simple terms like "oh one is creative, and one is logical" seem to not recognize that a task like drawing requires as much- if not more- logic as it does creative thought, and I doubt there are too many higher functioning tasks that do not require both sides to some degree.

    So I could see talking aloud or to yourself helpful in reinforcing matters of procedure- 'check the measurements, check the angles, is this negative space correct, what is this value versus this other value, what is the edge quality here, does this appear in perspective', etc- stuff that can be broken down in pure terms of logic. Maybe it's not so helpful in coming up with the more creative act of generating ideas for pictures, which may be a more intuitive internal process. But once you have that idea, there's a lot of logic that has to come into play to actually execute it. (There's a whole section in Richard Schmid's book Alla Prima that goes over this very thing- how he might have a thought like "the coloring lacks life" or "the drawing seems wonky", and he goes through a whole little checklist of things that he can check through to break down that vague thought- which he can't do anything with as it is- and translating that into a concrete, technical problem that he can then actually do something about.)

    So I might have gotten off on a tangent there, but I guess what I'm saying is- if you feel talking through the drawing is helpful, go on and keep doing it.

    IrukaHexmage-PAMabelma
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2016
    I listen to podcasts while I draw. It's not always a 100% conscious process for me, but I do need to be in my head. Listening is fine, talking to others is hard.

    One of the reasons it really helps to watch time lapse videos sometimes is it's easier to visually understand how something works with art rather than than to try and explain the concepts. That's why so many critiques evolve into paint overs. You eventually go "here, I need to just show you" so you don't have to struggle to abstract a visual into words. I imagine the same applies internally. You don't want to think about the words of the concept you are trying to achieve, you want to mentally picture them, which to me is a different process.

    Personally, I work on picturing things. I think of it as trying to clarify images in my mind. Like looking at a simple object and trying to imagine it turned, looking at my reference and thinking of the angles and detail, trying to analyze the shape and commit it to memory.

    That's pretty anecdotal advice, maybe repeating a mantra will work best for you.

    Iruka on
    Hexmage-PAMabelma
  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    edited March 2016
    Update! I've recently started trying to understand forms better by breaking down objects into simpler pieces and drawing through them.

    Feel free to critique any of them.

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  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    You are starting to get some good structure going. Keep pushing.

    I'm guessing that the "machine at work" was created with the aid of a compass? Work on getting your freehand ellipses that strong. I post this all the time, but its a good explanation:


    Scott robertsons books are worth the price, if you have some cash.

    Hexmage-PA
  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    It's only been a couple of weeks since I stopped concentrating on anatomy to work on understanding 3D forms. I just spent some time trying to draw arms and upper torso muscles and it already feels like I've forgotten some of the things I learned.

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  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    Iruka wrote: »
    You are starting to get some good structure going. Keep pushing.

    I'm guessing that the "machine at work" was created with the aid of a compass? Work on getting your freehand ellipses that strong. I post this all the time, but its a good explanation:


    Scott robertsons books are worth the price, if you have some cash.

    I just spent about two hours on ellipse studies using this training technique. At first I had trouble concentrating on it, but then I started thinking "curve, hook, curve, hook" to myself to help me focus. I think I mainly drew from the elbow; I've always heard that it's best to draw from the shoulder, but I find doing so very uncomfortable and difficulty to maintain. There were a few times that I drew the ellipses mainly using my wrist and fingers; I feel like these ellipses were the best looking, but I've also read that using the wrist and fingers isn't ideal.

    Scans in the spoiler tag:
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  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Nice dude.

    Its mundane work, but scott robertson is one of the few people out there who explain and can help with your actual draftsmanship. Really can't recommend his books enough, even if doing his exercises are a pain. The first time I tried it was a frustrating endeavor, because it's shit that you feel like you've already mastered and its sort of flabbergasting when you try and draw a page of fucking ovals and they all come out shit.

    I'm trying to mix his basic exercises into small warm up sessions before tackling sketching or whatever. It seems like you mentally understand form and just need some dexterity and a bit more patience when it comes to accuracy and putting things down correctly. You'll really have to push yourself to see what's in front of you and translate that to the page truthfully. Concentration is a big part of making that leap, and doing the most basic exercises and trying to get them 100% correct can really help.

  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    Spent two hours on more exercises today.
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    I'll be honest; I'm taking it on faith that this will help me and am a bit concerned that I'm just wasting my time because I'm not concentrating hard enough or something.

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  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    This is the part of art that people super underestimate. I've been personally spending more time with inking and brush pens because I think it makes me more confident when I do back to pencil. There's a physicality to good draftsmanship that requires patience and a steady hand, and you are both going to need to consciously think about it sometimes, and just do the right thing enough that it becomes reflex.

    Watch this dude for instance:


    This is just as much about him understanding lettering as it is about him having a very practiced hand. You could chicken scratch your way up to having the same type, but ultimately this guy has an excellent physical ability. Scott Robertson is the same, though since it's not as much about beautiful singular strokes, it's not as easy to see it working live.

    I suggest, if possible, instead of trying to hammer away at it for two hours, just draw circles weirdly casually all the time. Like on your grocery lists, or a pad of paper in front of the toilet, whatever. People have a tendency to doodle in the margins out of boredom, but that sort of nearly unconscious, constant practice actually can help if you try to utilize it.

    Alternatively, 10-20 minutes before drawing something else is probably fine. I would also slow down and try to get some of them right, and then speed up to work on the reflex

  • ChicoBlueChicoBlue Registered User regular
    I have a big stack of cheapo printer paper that I use to do warm ups like these on. Almost every day, I do a couple of sheets of ellipses and point to point lines to warm up, and then another page or two of drawing ellipses and trying to place them into perspective.

    Regarding your ellipses, they all seem to range from 20 to 25 degrees. I'd recommend trying for more variation.

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    More than just making pretty, clean lines, being able to identify and reproduce ellipses of different degrees will help in a lot of different areas. Drawing vehicles, doing still-lifes that involve tea cups or determining where the camera/viewer's eyes in a scene are based on the two ellipses of a cylinder and then plotting lighting and reflections based on that information.

    Also, don't fret over making them absolutely perfect every time. That's only possible if you have a robot arm. In some of his videos Robertson will get sketchy as all get out and then just go in and clean up the ellipses with templates.

    IrukaProspicience
  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    A question on holding implements: should I be primarily using the overhand grip, or is it okay to switch between it and the tripod grip? A Proko video I saw made it seem like you should try to use the overhand grip as much as possible except for very short lines, while a couple of my friends who are professional artists act like they only use the overhand grip for gesture and straight lines, using the tripod grip for curves.

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  • ChicoBlueChicoBlue Registered User regular
    It depends on the medium, scenario and preference. The overhand, especially when the paper is more upright allows for greater swooshiness with the arm, and ease of laying down a nice bit of tone with the side of the pencil. Holding it tripod allows for greater control and a finer point on the line.

    Jeff Watts holds his overhand when he's doing these quick figures, but switches occasionally when he needs a sharper line or tigher curve.


    When he's inking he goes tripod because that requires a lot of precision.

    Iruka
  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    edited March 2016
    Update. I've been using pen more. The posts under the spoiler might possibly be considered NSFW.

    I'm trying to find good forms to use in human figure construction, and I'm not so sure I've found them yet.

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  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Despite feeling like you aren't making much progress, that page of ellipses is a much stronger showing, and I think the next studies are benefiting from a bit less uncertainty in your strokes. Keep pushing forward on it!

    tynictapeslingerProspicience
  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    I did this at work during break a month ago. Figured I might as well post it.

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  • Angel_of_BaconAngel_of_Bacon Moderator mod
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    Update. I've been using pen more. The posts under the spoiler might possibly be considered NSFW.

    I'm trying to find good forms to use in human figure construction, and I'm not so sure I've found them yet.
    eympod9ezhlg.jpg
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    On these ones, I'd keep in mind that the bottom of the crotch is generally located halfway between the top of the head and the bottom of the feet- you've extended it down a bit on these, making them look a bit stumpy in the leg department.

    I'd also note that when the arms are lifted overhead like that, a good deal of the rotation comes from the clavicle/scaupla being rotated upwards, so the whole arm socket is lifted and brought inward a bit. In the drawing the clavicle seems to remain straight across, with all the rotation happening at the shoulder- as might be the case with an action figure or one of those wooden art dolls. While simplifying that arm socket area down to a ball may be useful in many cases, understanding how that whole shoulder girdle area moves around to achieve the movement of the arms is essential to avoid a stiff or unnatural look.

  • lyriumlyrium Registered User regular
    Great progress! Just also keep an eye on making sure those heads don't get too small.

  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    On these ones, I'd keep in mind that the bottom of the crotch is generally located halfway between the top of the head and the bottom of the feet- you've extended it down a bit on these, making them look a bit stumpy in the leg department.

    These were actually based on references from a book of poses I got recently (it's part of a Japanese series called "New Pose Catalogue"). I thought the legs looked stumpy at first, but her legs really were that short.

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  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    I spent some of my downtime at work today trying to think of an intuitive way for me to understand the forms of the arm (particularly the forearm). Aside from a few glances at coworkers' arms, most of this was done without reference. I normally wouldn't bother posting something like this, but I think it helps demonstrate where I am right now.

    I'm a bit frustrated with how poor my arms are; I spent a few months last year studying the arm muscles, and I'd think I'd be better at depicting them by now. However, I also wasn't as concerned with form as I am now, so I guess it's not that surprising. I was mostly just copying the arm in different positions from the side, rather than looking at different vantage points.

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  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    I've been studying arm muscles again. I'm trying to memorize what they look like individually and their forms. I took a number of pictures of my own arm in various positions today. My goal is to be able to recognize what muscles are where and what they look like from given perspectives.

    Here's my first attempt.

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    tapeslinger
  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    I used the same photo as in my last post for this study. I hope I got more accurate.

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  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    I drew this during downtime at work a while ago, but I finally scanned it and took a second to try coloring it.

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