View Full Version : Robert Chang's Survivors Club Sketches

05 May 2010, 08:52 AM
Hey everyone

This here thread is for the survivors of Robert Chang's Becoming a Better Artist workshop.

If you're interested in taking his course then pop over to this thread to find out more -

Basically it's a 9 week course on art, running from everything to do with line art, colouring, lighting, and brush work, to more advanced topics like composition, narrative and style.

There is something for everyone, if you participate with Robert and the other students, and take an interest in the lecture notes and videos, then you are guaranteed to learn and improve your art.

This thread shows what work we produced whilst on Robert's course, as well as sketches and paintings we may do now that his workshop has finished.

We are of course very upset that Robert's workshop has finished for this part of the year, but we hope to keep in touch with one another through the forums.

To start off these sketches, here's my final assignment piece from Robert's workshop.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us Robert.

05 May 2010, 04:50 PM
Hi Edward!

I think you need to show your first attempt at the Lucy Liu photo study to show the progress you made in the last few weeks. ;) It was quite amazing to witness.

05 May 2010, 04:58 PM
Hey Wes

Yeah, it was the best... sure thing, here are the process steps, see the images below.

The exercise was to replicate the photo as accurately as possible..
Started with a simple pencil sketch, trying to find basic shapes and then painted digitally.

The basic process is to use the sketch as a guide and paint in the big shapes first, with big brushes (preferably hard ones, but soft ones can sometimes do the trick). Keep refining the shapes of the face, gradually reducing your brush size, adding more and more detail to the face.

05 May 2010, 04:48 AM
I should clarify that this particular assignment Edward did was sort of an extra credit assigned just to him, as he was having trouble with technical accuracy. It was not officially part of the workshop, but I felt he really needed to up his game in that area since it was affecting everything he did as an artist.

Early on in week one of the workshop, I pounded in the fact that before students even start to think about imagination, creativity, expressiveness, stylization, and all that other fun stuff, they need to first attain technical skills, and the technical skills are actually not nearly as hard as most beginners think, and take very little time to acquire, if you follow my guidelines on how to assess proportions, compare shapes, distances, sizes, angles, curves...etc.

I could literally take any person off the street who has never drawn a picture before in his life and then teach them to be able to do impressive looking copies of photo reference and probably still life too. It's purely a technical exercise and its only purpose is to train someone's observational and analytical skills, as well as learning how to use the the various brush settings appropriately. It is not artistic, not creative, and not something you could ever show in your portfolio because it has no reason for being other than as practice and training (well, still life is definitely harder than photo reference, so that you might want to show in your portfolio). Once you learn these technical skills, you no longer need to do these kinds of copies--you move on to harder challenges, such as working from real life--portraits, figures, landscapes, artistic and expressive executions and interpretations as opposed to just realism, or using your imagination.

Edward, do you mind if I showed the kind of drawings you were doing before you tackled this image? I think it would be much more meaningful if people could see what you were doing before, and how much you improved in such a short amount of time.

05 May 2010, 07:42 AM
Hey Robert

Sure thing, I don't mind, you may show them my drawings. Apart from learning how to draw accurately, the week on lighting was such a revelation. Honestly, the course as a whole was well worth it. Thank you very much Robert.

05 May 2010, 08:23 AM
Attached below are a few drawings that Edward showed at the beginning of the workshop, and as you guys can see, what he was doing by the end of the workshop (image he posted above) is night and day different in terms accuracy, attention to detail, aesthetics, and rendering technique. Those were the things I drilled him hard on and he really worked hard at it. And all of that weren't even the main focus of the workshop--it was just extra credit work.

05 May 2010, 08:53 AM
Interesting. Quite a progress - congratulations. :thumbsup:

I'd love to see more of these - it gives some hope. :)

05 May 2010, 11:28 AM
The progress is amazing, massive improvement. What sort of thing's have you done since?


05 May 2010, 05:51 PM
Really great progress!

Lunatique will there be this same workshop in the future?


05 May 2010, 05:59 PM
Yep, June 14th:

05 May 2010, 08:13 AM
Mostly working in 2D for the moment, here's Michelangelo's Study for Christ.

05 May 2010, 06:09 AM
That looks like it's coming along well Edward, I like how you seem to do quite a lot of anatomy studies; I'm hoping to start learning anatomy on my summer holiday in June.

I'll start a sketchbook thread soon as well, as Robert has given me a technical assignment not unlike the one you did during the workshop.


05 May 2010, 01:26 PM
I'd be interested to see some more works/progress images you did at the workshop. Or was Edward the sole survivor of the workshop? :D

05 May 2010, 03:55 PM
The other survivors have posted in the official announcement thread, so you can find them there.

The assignments given in the workshop are not designed to "show" a student's progression of learning. They are specific challenging exercises that focus on each week's main topic, and forces the students to experiment and push their artistic thinking to solve different creative problems. A student might do well on one specific assignment but get his ass kicked hard by another assignment. It's not the kind of workshop where you "graduate" with some final image that "proves" you've improved--it's more like you meet a variety of different challenges and from each of them you learn valuable lessons, and they all add up to new knowledge and techniques in your creative arsenal.

In Edward's case, his technical skill was quite behind so I had him do this extra credit assignment to pull him up in his technical ability in the shortest amount of time possible, and once he understands how to gauge what "accuracy" and "correct proportions/values/edges...etc" really means and how to achieve it, he'll then be able to apply what he learned to everything else he does from that point on.

In general, it would be unrealistic to expect him to all of a sudden improve and grow at light speed--he's still going to have to learn the basic stuff like anatomy, figure, perspective...etc one step at a time just like every other beginner, and it'll take him some time to become competent at it; however, all the stuff he learned from the workshop will shave off years of confusion and wasted time/effort in everything else he'll encounter as an artist.

05 May 2010, 04:28 PM
^ Thank you. Totally understand that and didn't expect complete "before-after" gallery. :D Just got an impression about the subject and orginal post of this thread that it would have some work done during the workshop. It would also be interestin to see the variety of participants and exactly those different stregths and weaknesses, something that could be done in that time while learning a lot.

05 May 2010, 04:50 PM
^ Thank you. Totally understand that and didn't expect complete "before-after" gallery. :D Just got an impression about the subject and orginal post of this thread that it would have some work done during the workshop. It would also be interestin to see the variety of participants and exactly those different stregths and weaknesses, something that could be done in that time while learning a lot.

I think that would be up to the survivors if they want to post the stuff they did during the workshop, but at the same time, many of the assignments are highly specific to different focuses of each week, and if you don't know the context of the assignments, you might not "get" why they were done the way they were, and if we're to explain the context, then it become a matter of giving away part of the course material I spent over a year and a half creating. Since this is something run by CGSociety, I can't just give it away like that. Even if I could, explaining the context of the assignments could take pages of text and images, as the assignments were designed to really challenge the students to apply all that they have learned in that week's course material, which often contains pages and pages of text and images and well over a dozen video tutorials too. If I tried to simplify the explanation of the context, then it would be grossly undermining the essential and critical creative knowledge and skills the assignments were designed to challenge. Sort of a lose-lose situation overall unfortunately.

What Edward posted was an extra credit assignment and is not officially part of the workshop, but even then, I felt I had to step in and explain the context of the assignment, otherwise there would be misunderstanding of what the workshop is all about. :)

05 May 2010, 05:03 PM
Of cource (posting is up to participants and cource material should stay at the cource). It doesn't hurt asking though. :p

Even that Edward's case is still usefull.

05 May 2010, 10:20 AM
I would say without any regret that Robert's course has definitely helped me. Although I would suggest that you take part, and be a part of the discussions and you'll get a lot more out of it.

Also push yourself beyond your comfort zone, it's the only way to improve really, and don't be afraid to post up your fails.

Face drawing from mind, and a drawing from life..

05 May 2010, 04:43 PM
Edward - Are you lightly sketching in the structure of what you're about to draw before you start detailing and shading? If not, you need to make sure the underlying structure is sound before you take the drawing any further. It's important to not leave mistakes on the page even if it's during the earlier stages--get things right at every stage. This is particularly important when you are working analog, because if your layout/sketch is all over the place, you're going to get a drawing that's got wildly differing sketch lines on the page that's nowhere near where all the shapes are supposed to be, and then it becomes a matter of sorting out all the inaccuracies and finding the right proportions and shapes among them. Measure twice (or three, four, five times), draw once. If you're not confident that you can get it right on first try, then draw very lightly. If it's wrong, you don't necessarily have to erase--just draw other light lines that are ideally more correct than the previous. Only when you have the overall structure done to to satisfaction should you start detailing.

The more advanced you become, the more confident you'll become, and there might even come a time when you don't have to sketch out the structure lightly and can just start doing a finished drawing from the first stroke--many street portrait artists are capable of this because they have honed their life drawing skills to a very accomplished level. They do all the measuring in their head and simply project the structure onto the blank page from their mind's eye.

When you draw from life, ask yourself what you are trying to learn from the particular angle you have chosen to draw the life model. Is it the muscle tone? Is it the proportions? Is it a study of values and lighting? Is it the pose or the emotions conveyed by the gesture? Is it a particular part of the body? Each drawing you do from life must have a main artistic purpose it serves--there has to be a challenge somewhere that is worthwhile--just like how a good story must have a main theme. Ask yourself what the theme of each drawing is.

As a beginner, when you draw out of your head, always check the result against how people really look later, because chances are, what you drew out of your head will be wrong in more ways than one--proportions, details, planes of the face, modeling of the facial structure...etc. Any mistakes you notice, you need to make a mental note and fix them, so you wouldn't repeat the same mistakes again. If you are repeating the same mistakes over and over, then you are not being smart about the way you learn. For example, if one particular feature you drew is totally off, then you refer to an accurate source and correct the mistake until it looks right. After that, you should NOT make the same kind of mistake when you draw that same feature again in the future, because ideally you have learned what that feature really looks like (at least from that angle, in that lighting).

05 May 2010, 10:41 PM
Hey Robert

Yip, sketching quite lightly to begin, although in some parts I became tired and it goes darker, it's a habit which I would like to break. Also some of the lines aren't meant to be there, I think you're referring to some lines which shouldn't necessarily be there, they look misplaced. I mean to put in the construction much lighter in future, along with measuring and double checking before drawing.

Interesting that you mention graffitti artists because I was just looking at some videos and wondered how they were able to project their drawings from mind.
Awesome, thank you for the advice.. I think I was lacking some direction this past week, wondering how to approach my life studies, it's difficult to know where to start honestly..
This last life drawing was an exercise in trying to understand the shape of a pregnant woman's belly.

Sure, yeah, I think that's sound advice there, to check back from (for example photos) and see where the errors come in.. Thank you very much for the advice, it's helping muchly. I leave you with another piece, Brea.

Thank you and keep well Robert.

05 May 2010, 05:12 PM
Here's Brea painted.

05 May 2010, 05:26 PM
Are you checking your proportions by flipping both your drawing and the reference? I can see some obvious problems even without having seen the original reference.

05 May 2010, 11:16 PM
Hey Robert

Yes, but yeah, probably not checking carefully enough, I notice a few things now too. I'll fix them and post again soon.

Made this new drawing, Sarge, it is a bit loose though, still learning about clothing details..

Thank you very much for the advice Robert.

05 May 2010, 06:07 AM
When you do drawings like these, you should think about where the main focus is, and how you want to execute the piece so that there are "hooks" (like I talked about in week 7 of the workshop). For this piece specifically, ask yourself--does the image have enough contrast in the focal points? Is there selective detail? Are inorganic shapes drawn with proper accuracy and definition? Is the modeling of the forms vague and everything is a blurry mess with no definition? Are your values coherent?

05 May 2010, 08:29 AM
Hey Robert

I think this started off as a study for a face, but then I wanted to do some clothing/body too. The face should receive more contrast, and less on the gun and clothes, because I'm a bit weaker on those. The inorganic stuff I need to draw straighter lines for sure.. Values could be worked in a lot stronger too, I think that was also part of the exercise.

Awesome, thank you for the help Robert!

05 May 2010, 10:53 AM
Hey Robert

I started to fix Brea's face, here's the progress at the moment.. just finding the things I'm unhappy with and which you pointed out, and then lightly sketching them into place.

Thank you for all the help so far..

05 May 2010, 01:53 PM
Sorcerer, trying to improve value and studying clothing folds..

05 May 2010, 10:07 PM
I'm just curious, are we going to use this thread as our organized place for posting sketches, critiques, and assignments?

I was re-reading one of Robert's final comments, and I think we should do some planning and organization (email or instant-messaging?). I'm not exactly very good (yet), but I want to help get everyone together again, we can't just do nothing.. :sad:

Er, team strategy?

05 May 2010, 08:48 AM
I think there were different ideas on where to go afterward, but you're welcome to post here or perhaps in your own thread.

05 May 2010, 09:32 AM
In case you guys didn't know, cgtalk recently reopened its focused critiques forum, which is for people who really wanting serious critiques from other members:

I think that would be a good place if you are after honest and no B.S. critiques. The Art T&T forum is more for discussions and questions.

05 May 2010, 03:19 PM
Okay cool, thanks Robert.

06 June 2010, 01:28 AM
Been meaning to finish that painting, will get around to it tomorrow for sure.

06 June 2010, 01:14 PM
Repainted her.. feels a bit muddy.. proportions aren't quite perfect.. anyway..

What do you think?

06 June 2010, 01:45 PM
My question to you would be, if you can already see the problems, why didn't you fix them? You should always make sure you've already done all you possibly could first, and once you have done that and it's still unsatisfactory, and you have no idea what else you could do to improve it--THEN you post and ask for critiques. Did you use the self-troubleshooting list from week seven of the workshop to try and troubleshoot this image first? Do you have a list of things you know is wrong with this image and how you would fix them?

06 June 2010, 04:33 PM
Good question.. it needs more work on the value and colour.. although I was wondering how far I should push the contrast.

One of the things which I did do before posting was to push the contrast, but then I was unhappy with the whole painting..

However, I didn't think to go through your checklist.. sorry about this, I should've gone through that first.

I'm hesistant to add more detail because it kind of kills the piece for me.. I'll post again after going through your list and see how I can improve the painting in general. Thank you for the help Robert, naughty me for not check the list..

06 June 2010, 05:05 PM
Okay.. the list has brought some direction to things. One of the first things which I can relate to is the composition could be a lot better. The other thing is I think I need to experiment with some variations. This should help me to decide which contrast best represents my idea.. So.. some work ahead but I know how to approach fixing things.

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