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Drawing Classes/Course Suggestions?

CelloCello Registered User regular
So, one of the skills I want to start getting better at in quarantine is hand-drawing. I used to sketch a lot in high school, and I have a ton of professional drafting experience, but I haven't taken an actual art class since the mid-2000s and would like to learn technique and build confidence.

Anyone have suggestions for online courses or video tutorial compilations or anything? I don't mind paying for them and prefer something that builds over time versus one-off video tutorials since it's easier to schedule a learning plan around.


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  • DidgeridooDidgeridoo Registered User regular
    I really can't recommend Draw a Box enough, although I can only speak for myself as someone who started trying to draw with basically zero experience other than doodling in high school. It may be below your current ability level, but maybe it's worth checking out!

    There are 7 lessons, and I'm currently going into lesson 6. It's really helped me think more in 3D terms, and learn the 'how to practice' meta I was missing.

  • You might try going through some of the Proko playlists and see how that suits you:

    In a similar vein, Watts Atelier has online classes that offers critiques and stuff for a price.
    Some stuff they have on youtube so you can get a feel for it before spending money:

    Full disclosure: I took in person classes with both Proko and Jeff Watts at their school, so I can vouch for the quality of their instruction. I can't vouch for the online support as far as critiques and such go however. I believe @gavindel has done them and perhaps he could speak to that.

    Another online set of courses that have good artists doing them at least, but I haven't taken any of the classes myself.

    Also, as a general rule before plunking down money/time for a class, I'd look at the teacher's work and ask yourself, "does this teacher seem capable of producing the sort of work I'd like to be making, and therefore be able to teach me that? Or at least, can I see how what they're offering would relate to what I want to do?"

    Lots of people waste a lot of time in drawing classes in high school/college because they think it's as simple as, "this is a drawing class, right? So I'll be able to draw better if I take it". But if you want to draw renaissance style figure drawing and your teacher only cares about abstract expressionism, or vice versa, that's gonna be a couple hundred bucks down the drain.

    If you want to do cartooning, courses on anatomy and perspective will still be helpful even if it's not taught in a cartoon style, because those are still skills you need for cartooning- though aspects not covered like exaggeration and character design you might need to find another course elsewhere for those subjects. So don't be afraid to be choosy about what courses you take, or to mix and match courses to get what you need. (If you do this, also be aware that there is no One True Way of drawing so if one teacher's teaching contradict another's, don't get in a tizzy trying to figure out who is "wrong" and who is "right". Just try to understand the underlying logic of their teaching instead.)

    And if you take a course that turns out to be too advanced for your skillset, don't worry too much about that either- if you have to go back and take that perspective course you didn't know you needed until it became a stumbling block, that's just part of learning these things. Lots of times that's the way it has to go because just trudging through practicing fundamentals for their own sake can be boring, until you go and try something you're really excited to draw, and find you're coming up short- giving some more motivation towards going back and working on those fundamentals, because the ultimate point of the practice has been put back into focus.

    Hope some of that helps!

  • gavindelgavindel The reason all your software is brokenRegistered User regular
    Yep, I'm still with Watts, so I can chat on that. Obviously, this is way more on the traditional illustration side and won't apply if you want to learn cartooning.

    You should be able to get a feel if you like the approach from the Watts atelier from the youtube videos they have. Judging by how fast certain classes fill up, I think a lot of people chase after Jeff Watts' classes. In all honesty, I can't keep up with him and have had more luck with other instructors with slower approach.

    Jeff Watts works like this:

    If you want to see critiques, here's one by Gist. (Fun fact, I'm one of those people. Just pick whichever one you think looks the worst; that's mine)

    A big selling point of the school is "accurate but fast" with stuff like this:

    Proko, by contrast, is more direct. I bought his anatomy course a few years back. He has a very heavy anatomical style, reminding me more of Steve Huston. Most people recognize him from his drawing series:

    Schoolism is self-serve. Its relying on you to entirely judge your own skill level and interests. Buffet style means there's some really interesting stuff, but they'll happily take your money for some super advanced scifi rendering study class by Craig Mullins that may sail right over your head.

    So I'd say:
    * If you want big, heavy, oil painted epics and don't mind a multi-year investment, Watts.
    * Looking for a refresher on anatomy and construction but feel confident in your basic proportional and observational skills, Proko is a relatively quick dip
    * Schoolism is for finger foods/inspiration as you see specific subjects you want to flesh out

    Otherwise, there's New Master's Academy, which I haven't tried.

    I've got a book! Angels, innovations, and the hubris of tiny things: Seraphim
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    You say you have a ton of professional drafting experience, so you might want to consider if you are looking to study the figure intensely, which is a big focus of proko's content (and watts too, I believe?). If you're actually more interested in technical drawing, or environment/vehicles and the like, you might want to look to CGMA and other concept art oriented spaces. Just note that they are priced for people looking to break in the industry, so if you are just looking to be a hobbyist, it might be a little tough on the budget.

    If you end up looking at schoolism, the critiqued courses add structure, but increase the cost quite a bit.

  • CelloCello Registered User regular
    edited November 2020
    A belated thanks to everyone for your suggestions! Right now I'm working through drawabox to get more mechanical basics, and when I graduate from there I'll see which direction I'm feeling like going - it's good to have all these resources on hand so I can try them out and see what feels right!

    Some of the perspective stuff drawabox covers was handled by my drafting courses, but basic stuff like "draw with the shoulder" is new (engineers taught my drafting courses and not artists, whoops), so it's good to start with those basics and tighten up, I think, before I get too ambitious

    Cello on
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