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A Logomach and his Arts

LogomachinistLogomachinist Registered User regular
edited September 2009 in Artist's Corner
Hello chaps and gents.

I'm through one year of college, and am taking this next year off. Since I've got all this time on my hands, I figure it'd be pretty cool to develop some arty chops, and would love miscellaneous guidance from our friend the Internet. (Also this seems a nice a place to dump new drawings and whatnot.)

Here's some stuff I've made!
Photos are from my cell phone!
That totally sucks!

Tablet drawings in photoshop:
Took a very long time, quite referenced:
Took even longer, not referenced.
I wish I had a reference for this.
A little clay:
Some pen:
From Michael Jordan on the history channel.
From photo:
Basement art!
After long, slavish hours:

Questions! I'd love advice about how to render imagined things more fully— I always get to a certain point and the drawing still looks flat and bland but I have no idea what to change in it. Maybe that's just about a better sense of contrast&detail gained from much life drawing? Also, I often see people telling the crafters of dull landscapes that they need to study composition, but as a dull landscape artisan, I'm not really sure what that means beyond a vague association with the Fibonacci spiral. How to study composition? Lastly, is there any sort of work missing that you folks think might help determine what I should work on? Given that my goal here is general improvement of artiness, I'd gladly try to produce it for your perusal.

(hello ladies, too.)

Logomachinist on


  • KendeathwalkerKendeathwalker Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Read this and the proceed to do all that is instructed.
    NibCrom asked me a similar question awhile back, so I'll reproduce what I told him here, with some additional exercises you can try.

    That said, a lot of these things require a lot of patience and dedication that can be difficult to muster, and difficult to see if you're getting anything out of them, outside of a classroom environment. It's not that they're not good for you or that they're designed to be demoralizing, merely that slogging through a tough time in your learning process (and there will be many such times) is easier to do when you're doing it with other people, or have a set time and place to be to do these things- while being in an isolated environment won't make them any more or less frustrating, the chance of that frustration turning into defeat and letting yourself shy away from doing the exercises is much higher.

    So while yeah, you should be trying to do these things if you can, Cake is right in that first just getting in the habit of drawing everyday is more important; learning to love that process. So make sure your drawing schedule is balanced between the hard medicine of rigorous exercises, and the more fun stuff that make you love drawing. Neglect one or the other and you'll stagnate.

    So yeah, if you can, take some of these that sound interesting and mark out 3 hours a week to do them for a period of 3 months, then look over your work, reevalutate what you need to be working on, pick a different handful and repeat. And similarly, take 3 hours to do something you just enjoy doing, and see if you can apply that hard learning to that enjoyable task- speedpainting, comic book type figures, etc.

    Just don't get caught in the OH GOD I NEED TO BE GOOD YESTERDAY WHY IS THIS GOING SO SLOW I NEED TO DO ONE MILLION ART HOURS PER WEEK trap, and try to do everything all at once, because you'll burn out real quick, and in the process you'll fail to appreciate that probably the best thing you can develop towards doing art is patience. Don't rush things, but don't slack off either. Keep a steady, balanced pace in your progress if you can. Tortoise and the hare.

    Now to the actual content, I tried to do ones that you can do from photo ref or model, though having a model is obviously preferable:
    Master Copy

    Pretty much what it sounds like- take a drawing, painting, or sculpture from a master-level artist, and try to draw it yourself. The idea is to use the exercise as a way of trying to reverse engineer their work, figuring out how to take qualities from their work and then being able to apply it to your own work.

    Ex: If you wanted to work on smooth line work with flatter color design, you'd want to copy a Mucha. Subtle shading and gradation, a Bouguereau or Prud'hon. Dramatic lighting, Caravaggio or Rembrandt. Heroic proportions, ancient Greek statues. You can learn a lot by taking the time to rigorously scrutinize master artist's work, and training your hand to be able to replicate their qualities.

    Plus, it's something specifically mentioned as far back as Leonardo Da Vinci's notebooks, and he seemed to know what he was on about most of the time. If you spend a lot of time looking at old master drawings, you'll often run into drawings of masters doing their own master copies from other masters.

    It helps if you can find good reference to work from, and not some 300x400 jpeg off google image search. Wikipedia often isn't too terrible for references, but if you can get a good art book or a high-quality xerox from one, that's usually going to be your best bet. If you don't have a library around that carries decent art books, Borders seems to dump a lot of expensive art history-type books full of high quality, full-color reproductions into their bargain area, and you can easily walk out with a $60-70 book for $10-20. The Robert Beverly Hale Anatomy/Drawing Lessons From the Great Masters books in the title are also good sources for reference, with a side benefit that they have a good variety of artists in them, so if you're not totally up on your art history and don't know which artists you should be drawing from, it'll give you a good list of names to choose from.

    Check out Juliette Aristides' Classical Drawing Atelier for a decent rundown of the process (just be wary of the advocating of the sight-size method in the book- as while it does have its merits, it is far less flexible in the long run than other methods of measuring).

    This exercise can be done as a several week long process of meticulously rendering out the chosen piece as much as possible, or quick studies to break down specific aspects of someone's work.

    20 minute figure drawings

    This is a term probably without any sort of standard definition, but I'm just going off of what the definition is at Watts. Basically the lay-in is the first stage of any drawing, focusing on getting the basic proportions, gesture, and forms to read. The classes here to practice it are run by having a model take 20 minute poses, which is enough to figure out some initial linework and some basic indications of form, but not enough to get into detail or full rendering. The drawings are done so each on fill up a full page, to practice composition.

    It's not a fully realized drawing, it's just practicing getting your initial observations accurate- so when you do go to do a full drawing, you don't end up spending 3 hours rendering a head that's 3/4 the size it should be or something (I actually did that last week, and my God did it piss me off when I realized what I'd done).

    Not very good examples, but these are some of mine from last term:

    I wish I had some in progress shots from an instructor demo for you to look at, because I'm getting too into contour and shading in these examples to really show you what the important bits of the exercise are.

    I guess these finished ones from Erik's blog should help, but again there's shading on it that you probably stop yourself from getting into if you're just starting out- he can get away with it because he's been doing them for 12 years:

    EDIT: fixed these links

    These look pretty complicated, but if you look at the outlines, they're much simpler than any real contour would be. The body is defined in big, sweeping lines, which all are either C-curves, S-curves or straight lines (CSI for easy remembering). Keeping things defined simply lets you focus more on the proportions without wasting time trying to define fingers or individual abdominal muscles or whatever.

    If you don't have access to a model, you can do the same exercise using (preferably nude) photo or master-drawn reference. Not as good, but it still will help.

    Cast drawing

    If you can find one for cheap or have regular access to a museum with good sculptures to draw from. Again, Classical Drawing Atelier has a decent process description. Good for practicing measurement, and working on form and shade. NightDragon did a really nice one awhile back:
    Spend your time on this, ND's took 21.5 hours to complete.

    Figure Drawing
    Self-explainatory (sort of). 3 hours+ per pose.

    Bridgman copies

    Figure invention exercises
    -Maniqueinnizing figures (Loomis or How to Draw the Marvel Way block and cones method)
    -Drawing reffed poses from different perspectives
    -Examine figure for one minute of time, then put the ref out of sight and reach. Then spend the next 5-9 min. attempting to draw what you remember of that pose.

    Long Anatomy Study
    -Copy a full figure master drawing or photo, lightly
    -With tracing paper, draw in where the skeleton would be using reference.
    -Then with another piece of tracing paper, draw in the musculature using reference.
    -Armed with the knowledge gained by putting in the skeleton and muscles, go back to the original drawing and, work on it with the intention of designing to highlight the anatomy- taking what may be an underwhelming or ambiguous area in the reference and creating a clearer read to it.

    Or go familiarize yourself with the questions discussions tutorails thread here. And do all of that.

    You have a long road ahead of you. Good luck.

    Kendeathwalker on
  • NotASenatorNotASenator Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    After long, slavish hours:

    This is wonderful.

    NotASenator on
  • PetalmunkPetalmunk Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I have to agree with NaC
    I think you did an amazing job sculpting that figure from such a rough concept sketch.
    I'm excited to see what else you can create.

    Petalmunk on
  • LogomachinistLogomachinist Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Many thanks to Angel_of_Bacon and his prophet Ken, that's a great guide. Let's see about those exercises...
    Heh, thanks Crook&Petalmunk. It was a lot of fun to make. I'd advise anyone with a cluttered garage to see what's hiding in the scraps.

    Some 15 minutes figure drawings from photos, and a doodle because all work and no play etcetera.
    Am I still pretending my cell phone camera is acceptable? Yes I am.


    (Should I resize these guys? I don't want to be starting no bandwidth issues all up ins.)

    Logomachinist on
  • Angel_of_BaconAngel_of_Bacon Moderator mod
    edited September 2009
    Also, I often see people telling the crafters of dull landscapes that they need to study composition, but as a dull landscape artisan, I'm not really sure what that means beyond a vague association with the Fibonacci spiral. How to study composition?

    Woo boy, is this ever a broad topic. Where to even start...

    (Spoilered for OMFG HUGE)

    Ok, first thing to know. Rule of Thirds. Split the image into thirds, and align the main points of interest upon the intersections of those lines. This is an easy rule of thumb to prevent the often dull result of simply centering a subject, the disconcerting effect of having a subject too close to an edge, nor making it seem the subject is attempting to be on an edge or centered, but the artist has not planned things out carefully enough (or worse, not at all) and ending up with the appearance of randomness.


    That said, this is only a general rule- one that may apply in many, but certainly not all situations. Same thing for golden ratio or Fibonnacci spiral-based composition (I never bother with either of those personally because I'm too lazy to figure out the math on shit.)

    A centered composition may be desired for the purpose of creating the impression of a static, unmovable subject:,_Napoleon_on_his_Imperial_throne.jpg

    One of the biggest problems for many people starting off doing landscapes, especially from imagination, is not paying enough attention to creating a feeling of depth with their composition. What is typical is something along the lines of the image on the left- evenly spaced features, and while some perspective may be considered, there isn't a great presence of overlapping features to create the illusion of the landscape receding. Compare the left image to the one on the right- the mountains are not just a straight-on line, but are shown going back in space. The river is obscured in places by rises- one thing is overlapped by another thing, and by another, creating that sense of space...something that doesn't exist in the left image, despite being of the same subject.


    Example of me attempting to spice up a composition by modifying a few things:

    Beyond that, your best bet on learning composition is simply to look at picutres and try to figure out why the artist has composed the picture as he has. Probably the easiest place to start is with screenshots of films by all-time great directors: Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Welles, Leone, Kubrick, Coppola, Ridley Scott, Speilberg, etc. When you strip out all the details, usually it becomes very clear where your eye is supposed to go. In the Shining and the Yojimbo shots down there, it's as simple as just basically putting an arrow towards what's important. The hallway makes an arrow towards the girls, the opposing mobs create an arrow towards the lookout post where the main character is observing from.


    A good book that explains in a little more detail shot composition is this:

    Now, once you have a good grasp on how film composition works, you'll probably want to start looking at paintings and still photographs and anylizing them in the same way. Unlike film, where the audience needs to be presented with a very simple and obvious composition because any given shot will usually only be on screen for a few seconds, and their attention will usually in that time be focused primarily on whoever's talking or whatever's moving- a painting or photograph can afford a more complex composition, given that the audience will be looking at it for a longer period of time. You'd rarely see a film with a shot like Raft of the Medusa where there's so many elements that all are designed to be interesting, yet still fit into a simple framework. Most filmmakers would cut away to show each figure or interaction in seperate shots, not all at once like this. Not that one is better than the other, but it should be considered how you want the picture to be read- immediately, or leisurely?

    Another big thing is designing for a static composition versus a dynamic one. Either can be effective, depending on the desired effect. Take horror movies, for instance: most horror movies are full of close-in shots and a lot of dynamic staging and movement, to create a sense of claustrophobia and panic. But then you look at The Shining, and Kubrick takes a much different approach through much of it, creating a sense of isolation and dread through very wide shots, which are often centrally composed to the rooms or elements of the hotel, rather than the characters- the effect is the hotel effectively visually overwhelms the characters, which is part of what makes the film so creepy to watch.


    A couple more things on composition from John K. (Ren and Stimpy guy). Though this is mostly geared towards cartoons, the nonetheless apply to all art.

    I may have gone off of the subject of purely landscape composition here to a more broad discussion but I hope it helps anyway.

    Angel_of_Bacon on
  • D-RobeD-Robe Registered User regular
    edited September 2009

    D-Robe on
  • rtsrts Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Yeah what the hell Bacon.

    rts on
    skype: rtschutter
  • FlayFlay Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Bacon just likes to outdo himself. *copies to his harddrive*

    I'm liking those figures, and the birds too. There seems to be something going on with the legs of the top right guy, though - his thighs seem unnaturally beefy.

    Flay on
  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Bacon, you are delicious!

    MagicToaster on
  • LogomachinistLogomachinist Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Holy sweet mongoose, Bacon. That is wonderful, thanks so much. Tomorrow I think I'll reread through that and Loomis' perspective chapter and see what I can't try and figure out...

    But first for some portrait-from-photo attempts. In the first one, his bits are blatantly in the wrong places, while in later ones it gets too sloppy to tell where his bits even ought to be. But hey, at least I'm trying.

    So doing these, I realized that my approach is totally dumb. Basically what I do is draw a feature (chin, nose, maybe hairline) and then draw another one with its distance referenced from that first feature. Then I draw a third one based on those two, and erase most or all of the first one because now it's clearly in the wrong place. And so on until I can't change things anymore because I'd have to move too much in order to fix what's wrong now. At a certain stage of this I realize it doesn't look anything like the subject so I start shading it in to make noses and cheeks and stuff look more appropriate. This almost sort of works out, but it seems like there must be a better way. Is that just about learning to get feature #2 right on the first try?

    too poorly written; didn't read: I draw faces by trial and error with much erasing, and then shade not because I want to render it more fully, but because the features just don't read. How to win?

    PS: I keep posting large, not very interesting images. Is it important that I make them smaller or fewer?
    PPS: Sorry about the politically incorrect jokery...

    Logomachinist on
  • MustangMustang Arbiter of Unpopular Opinions Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Feature placement is tricky as hell, I still have problems with it, especially drawing eyes unreffed at 3 quarter perspective.

    I could write out a long winded bit, but instead I'll offer up something a 1000 times better and more informative with the awesomness of Erik Gist (Lecturer of such notables as Bacon, Cakemikz and Loomer (or eventually Loomer))

    Head Part 1
    Part 1.5
    Part 2

    Mustang on
  • LogomachinistLogomachinist Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Woah, hey, thank you! You guys are going to info me out about fifty thousand times faster than I can keep up. This is excellent.

    EDIT: just a sketchy sketch of a landscapish thing. Haven't arted quite so much as maybe I oughta.

    Logomachinist on
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