Ruzkin's Precious Little Art Thread [NSFW]



  • ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    I have an 8*6 inch Wacom, and I usually work at a max res of 1000*1000. Any larger with these studies and I get too wrapped up in the look of brush strokes instead of general forms. Do you recommend I bump my canvas size?

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    If your computer can handle it, yeah. Zoom out so you aren't obsessing over brush strokes, but my canvases can be anywhere from 5k-6k pixels across. It helps if when you zoom in it isn't all pixelated. Give it a try. Use larger brushes when you are blocking your forms.

  • ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    Will do, thanks for the advice :)

  • ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    Finished this portrait of Chuck Wendig, who is an all-round awesome dude. 3.5 hours in Photoshop.


  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    The unsure lid structure is still really hurting you, here. Can you post the reference?

  • tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    fwiw, I recognized the likeness instantly, so that's a plus.
    In addition to the eye shape, the jaw is also a little undefined on his right/our left, imo.

  • ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    Sure! Ref is:

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Its not a great reference, its so small, its not really surprising you are having trouble seeing the forms. Looking up the dude provides some insight as to what maybe happening in those shadows:


    I would do a paint over, but the reference is kinda bad AND I'm pretty terrible at portraits, so you wouldn't be any better off. Maybe @Lamp is up to the challenge?

  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    edited July 2015
    Well don't mind if I do! Whipped together a really quick paintover, but I don't know how much that will really help, so I'll go ahead and just type at you for a while.


    I'll just hit the BIG important points and then direct you to some good resources for learning.

    1. Iruka wasn't kidding when she said that the reference you picked is terrible. It is TERRIBLE, truly a prime example of what to avoid in portrait drawing reference. The problem is simple: you have multiple conflicting light sources that are creating confusing shapes and shadows. What in the world is causing that long reddish shadow down the side of his cheek? Who knows.

    There's a really good reason that when you read introductory drawing texts you see stuff like this:


    It's because that's the anatomy of light and shadow, and more to the point, THOSE elements are what is going to give you a sense of three-dimensional form in your drawings and paintings. Those are the No. 1 tool in your toolbox for creating 3-dimensional forms on your canvas.

    That sphere is EXACTLY what you should look for in portrait or figure drawing reference: one single dominant light source with a CLEAR light and shadow patterns. Not because other kinds of more complex lighting are off-limits -- but rather because drawing and painting is really hard, even with the best reference in the world! That's why reference images like the one you chose are almost useless for learning.

    Please take a minute and read this article by the great Chris Legaspi, which I promise will help you choose better reference in the future:

    For that matter, I can't recommend Chris' YouTube channel enough, there is just SO MUCH good (and free!!) information on there about portrait drawing. Take the time and watch some (or all!) of his videos:

    2. Your values relationships are way off. You failed to come close to capturing the contrast between the light and shadow patterns. Stop trying to capture every single little highlight and wrinkle and paint the light and shadow patterns in one or two values each. SQUINT hard at the reference and see how the shadow masses such as the eye sockets blend into one big mass. Make a SIMPLE STATEMENT with your values, and then design the edges to model the form. I could go on and on but Nathan Fawkes can say it much better than I ever could, so read this article, particularly the part at the bottom where he talks about making a simple value statement, it's critically important:

    3. Learn to construct the head from simple shapes for accurate placement and a better sense of 3-dimensional form:

    Proko's channel is great by the way, watch as many of his videos as you have time for!!!

    4. Planes. Study the Asaro head and other planar abstractions like the one in Andrew Loomis' book Figure Drawing for All it's Worth. Learn the major planes of the head and paint them with the rule of thumb: different value, different plane.


    If you go back to the paintover I did, see how I painted the beard by simplifying it into it's major planar surfaces, as if were a simple low-poly 3-D model with a top, bottom and sides? You can paint all the scratchy hair marks you want, but it's not going to work until you get the major planes down first. THEN you can go in and suggest some detail.

    5. I won't even really get into color, it's just too complicated and you really just need to muscle your way through this one. But suffice it to say that your colors aren't close at all to the reference. The orange tones you picked are MUCH warmer than the cooler pinks and reds from the reference. It's good to start thinking of color in terms of temperature rather than hue -- select your color, put it down, and ask if it's warmer or cooler than the reference, and correct by moving your hue slider as needed. This is especially true for relatively low-saturation colors like common skin tones, where everything exists in an ambiguous range of peaches, tans and browns. It can be tough to visually identify if a tone is "redder" or "yellower," so I find that it helps to think "is it cooler or warmer?" Of course, identifying color temperature (and colors in general) is something that just takes practice.

    Hope that helps, good luck and study hard!

    Lamp on
  • ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    @Iruka, @Lamp, you're both amazing. Thank you so much for the time you've taken to help me with my work. I'm going to take my portraiture back to planar basics, as you've recommended, and spend the next few weeks busting out studies based on the tutes you've provided. I think I've learned more from your assistance over the past year than I learned in the previous ten.

  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    edited July 2015
    Nice!!! Looking forward to see the your practice studies.

    I know I already overloaded you with information, but I thought that I would go ahead and share this step-by-step I posted to Frank's thread a few weeks back to show my process. I'll go ahead and spoiler tag it so it's not taking up so much space.

    Whether or not you use an under drawing or not is up to you, I typically do, but in this case I just went straight to paint. Regardless, start painting with a rough block in of the face, with a slight gradient to show the light falling off the egg form of the head. . Mass in the shadows as a flat graphic shape. Squint your eyes down to make it easy to help decide the border between light and shadow, and just approximate it. After that, use big, hard brushes to start modeling and rounding out the the form. Don't worry about specifics of the features like eyes and mouth yet -- focus on modeling the underlying volumes that the features will sit on top of. Don't ever try to just copy tones from your reference. Instead, use tone to deliberately model form. There's pretty much no reason to put down a single brush stroke at this point that isn't intended to describe a plane change on your subject. And definitely don't worry about blending or smoothing anything at this point.

    At some point you'll have to start getting into the nitty gritty of the features, but again, use hard brushes that are as large as possible and block the features in. Finally, once you're getting to close to the end of the study, use a hard, medium opacity brush to start smoothing the transitions BETWEEN planes.


    I was in a hurry so I cheated and didn't do an under drawing that time,and somehow it worked out okay. Normally it wouldn't though, so make sure to properly construct the head with a clear drawing first!

    I pretty much plagiarized that process from Chris Legaspi, here's Part 1 of my favorite overall demo that he's posted online if you can stomach me posting one more video :) There are so many different aspects to painting the head that I broke down in the previous post, this one actually does a great job of putting it all together, from construction, to light and shadow, to edge control, to color. Although I wouldn't go quite that loose and rough with the construction when you're starting out, I'd do something closer to Loomis or the Reilly head abstraction personally but everyone does things a little differently.

    Also, here's another paintover that I did in Frank's thread that talks about the importance of construction, not only for drawing and feature placement but also for laying in value, I'll just copy and paste it :)

    To add onto that, I would say that one of the things about drawing the head is that it's really hard. That's because very small placement errors are going to stand out like a sore thumb. With that in mind, Frank, have you ever tried to incorporate any abstraction into your head construction? Specifically, do you know about the Frank Reilly abstraction, which breaks the head down into specific rhythms like so:



    Now, I have seen a lot of people falling into the trap of trying to project every rhythm painstakingly onto every head drawing they do, just for its own sake, instead of using the abstraction as a tool as needed to place features as needed. Regardless, this personally helped me a LOT because let's be honest, placing features and nailing the proportions can be really, really tough if you're just winging it. One good way to practice is to just take photos of real people and trying to draw the abstraction over top of them, to get a feeling for how it lines up in varying angles and perspectives.

    I use it really roughly, for example here's my underdrawing for a Cersei study I just started (Thanks for the idea ND!) At this point I'm comfortable jumping to paint.


    Additionally, the abstraction can help you understand how to paint the head by breaking it down into shapes that you actually understand. Here, I whipped together a little demonstration on how this helps me paint the mouth and chin.

    1. First, I locate the ball of the muzzle and the ball of the chin (both of those forms are more or less like the overlapping surfaces of two spheres or domes.)

    2. Next, I block in the values on the muzzle by painting it like a sphere, with stair stepping value from the light (right) side of the sphere to the darker (left) side of the sphere. After all, I don't have any idea how to paint a human mandible, but I do roughly know how to paint a sphere. Remember, squinting your eyes down at your reference will help you see the big forms!

    3. Now I do the same thing with the ball chin.

    4. Now I use a kick my same brush down to 50 percent opacity and blend between planes, and add in the shadow of the nose over top of the ball of the mouth.

    This all goes back to the idea of actively describing the form through value, not just copying tones and hoping it comes out right; that method is just too hard for us mere mortals (or at least it is for me.)


    Grinding away with studies is good, but try to consume at least a little bit of information each day before you start drawing, whether it's watching a good video or checking out a couple pages of a good drawing book.

    Lamp on
  • ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    Have had shit-all time for art over the past months, but I did get some book cover designs done! This is a rebrand for one of my self-pub series. Zero budget, so I had to use CC-licensed stock. Pretty happy with the outcomes.


  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Seems like your name getting a bit crowded by texture in all three of those. I think everything else is pretty functional, for what they are.

    To be honest, I'm shit at type placement, so I can't really give you a proper pointer as to how to fix it. Maybe @MagicToaster?

  • lyriumlyrium Registered User regular
    Maybe if you let it the image fade to be much softer and darker at the bottom, it would be easier to read the name?

  • ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    @lyrium Yeah, that'd work. I'll play around with some subtle fades at the bottom and see if I can pop the names a bit more.

  • ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    edited February 2016
    Back to drawing after a long time away. Two warm-up sketches and a longer piece, about 5-6 hours. Working on beginning from larger value studies before approaching details - it's bloody hard to get out of the mindset of going straight for the tiny brushes.

    gex786wxmarf.jpg ar14s51fadm7m.jpg

    ruzkin on
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    do you have a tiny computer/monitor/tablet? Something I really take for granted is having a larger workspace.

    The last figure is pretty nice though! Pretty good for such a long break, though.

  • ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    Cheers! My workspace is kinda small: I'm using a 15inch laptop with my 8x6 tablet. I'm also really nearsighted and wear coke bottle glasses, so when I try to squint at my refs to get broader impressions of values all I get is double-vision.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    I'll be honest, I've never strained my eyes when looking at pictures. Shit gives me headaches. You can use your digital tools to do some of the work for you though. Posterize it, at different levels, and look at the effects. The algorithm won't be perfect, but it's better than nothing

    15 inches is a pretty small display, though. If you are in the position to drop some money on a monitor, I suggest getting a display to at least hook up to your laptop. Even a cheap one might help, though be careful of super shitty colors. I have one that I only use for web surfing. It was amazingly cheap (under 100) but its so blown out that now I'm considering replacing it because its hard to read text on.

    I just say that because we often tell artists that their tools dont matter at all, but there are some ease of workflow things that improve process. I recently went into some old work that I did on my old laptop, and zooming in I was like "Either I didn't know what edges were, or I literally couldn't see at this level of detail with my setup". I think it was a combination of both.

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