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  08 August 2008
Yay! I have decided to dedicate myself to becoming better and have been faithful to it. I have started a noobie thread at concept art ^_^

That thread was really inspiring, and I knew of the site I never took a serious look around. There are tons of ppl who sucked at some point, which to be honest is encouraging lol
This thread was very helpful in me determining exactly what I wanted and a little bit more on how to achieve it. Thank you very much everyone ^_^

I heard twice now that drawing is more fundamentally important than painting. (Like if you can draw well to begin with your paintings will be better)
Even though I want to paint really well should I be focusing on drawing first?

I am currently working out of the book "Anatomy Made Amazingly Easy" : By Christopher Hart.
  08 August 2008
Yay! Starting that thread is a good idea, as people will be tracking your growth and can tailor their feedback based on the rate/direction of your growth.

I would say that drawing is more important than painting. The often misunderstood thing about painting is that it is somehow a separate thing from drawing. It really isn't. Painting is still drawing, since you are still dealing with shapes primarily. If a painting is monochromatic, it is still a painting, no? And if you did a drawing that's completed shaded, it'll look very similar to the monochromatic painting, no? So if you don't consider color for a moment, you'll see drawing and painting aren't that different. And with drawing, you can use colored pencil, pastel, markers...etc, so with a full colored drawing, how different is it from a painting?

With painting, if you get the shapes wrong, then no amount of brushwork can save a painting, but if you get the shapes right, even if your brushwork isn't impressive like John singer Sargent or Richard Schmid, it at least wouldn't look wrong.

So yeah, make sure you can draw well, and the rest will come easier than if you didn't. Just keep in mind that while you are practicing painting, you are still practicing drawing at the same time--you cannot separate the two and you should never make the mistake of separating the two in your mind.

My advice is to make sure your drawing skills are at least average before you attempt painting--meaning get your drawings to look like the average quality of an average art school student, which usually translates into not stunning, but no glaring technical mistakes in proportion, perspective, and lighting. The average drawing may not portray the volume and values as correctly as should, but at least it suggests them and has no glaring mistakes like depicting a white cylinder having darker form shadows than a medium grey cylinder.

Last edited by Lunatique : 08 August 2008 at 06:36 AM.
  08 August 2008
Robert i don't suppose you could give us a run-down of how you practice / what you drew etc.. before you turned pro?

Obviously you've already recommended Loomis books, (Did you use those? stupid question).

I'm currently reading Drawing Heads and Hands but theres a section i don't quiet understand which is the planes topic where he showed everything in blocky pictures but i'm not sure how i'm suppose to draw those so i did a plain copy.

Also did you do a lot of wacom drawings or just plain pencil?
I only believe in hardwork!, genius don't exists in my world!!!
  08 August 2008
Well, even after you turn pro you should still continue to learn and grow--it really is a life-long journey. I doubt any masters when dying of old age felt like they had mastered it all, and for most creative types, a lifetime is not nearly enough to do all that we want to do.

Important stages of growth don't necessarily happen before one made a living as an artist. Whether you make money with your talent/skill is not really a watermark in your artistic journey--plenty of people who make a living as artists are very limited in their skill and even their level of talent--to the point of being dubbed as incompetent or a hack, yet they can still enjoy a career doing it. Which industry you become a pro in does make a difference though--for example, if you want to be a concept artist for film and games, then the accepted skill/talent level would generally be higher than some of the other industries. There's also style and intent. An artist who does abstract or very simple cute greeting card illustration may not have the goal of mastering photorealism, and it would be unreasonable to expect that from such an artist. So one question every aspiring artist needs to answer for himself is "What career path do I want to take?"

For me, I got serious about drawing around 13 or 14, and I knew I wanted to be a storyteller first and foremost, and my artwork is there to serve my storytelling. That has never changed, and I'm always happier illustrating my own intellectual property than playing with someone else's toys. Well, fan art can be a lot of fun I guess, since you're emotionally attached to works you are a big fan of.

My sketchbooks were typically filled with anatomy studies, life drawing (of family and friends and classmates), storyboards, concept art...etc. As I got older, my sketchbook became more like project planning/research, where I'd design stuff for an upcoming painting, or working out a problematic composition I'm dealing with on a new painting, or concept art for my screenplays and treatments. I'd still practice some of the other stuff, but not nearly as much. My growth at the later stages were mostly project based. For example, if I was working on a painting that had an infant in it, I'd do research into what makes infants look the way they do, and I'd do sketches to figure out the core qualities of an infant's proportions, skin tone...etc.

One of the most important aspect of practicing and studying smart is to not merely copy, but read between the lines and understand what are the core ideas in a lesson. This is precisely why the most useful tutorials aren't necessarily ones where the artist just documents all the steps--the best tutorials are the ones where the artist explains the ideas and philosophies behind his working method. He'll explain why he chose a particular composition, why he used a particular color scheme, or why he lit the scene a certain way to achieve a particular mood, or why he prefers to draw female noses a certain way.

When practicing--let's say a life drawing of your girlfriend sitting on the couch playing your Xbox360. Assuming she's not naked, you'd have to draw the folds in her clothing. Instead of merely copying what you see, you should take note of where the compression points are, how the wrinkles will go from the compression points to the stress points (for example, the armpit is a compression point, and the shoulder is a stress point). When you understand the core ideas behind how and why nature works the way it does, you're well on your way to learning and practicing in a smart manner instead of just going through the motions and spinning your wheel.

The most drastic improvement phase for me happened during the time when Craig Mullins was still active on the internet (at Sijun Forums). Many of the members there didn't go to a high profile art school like he did, and he was very nurturing to us pups. He taught us the core ideas behind why things look the way they do, the higher concepts of visual construction and structure, such as the relationship between textures and values and colors, how form and colors contribute to an image and which is more important, and also taught us how to deconstruct an image and figure out why it can convey the mood or style that it does. I had already been a professional artist for about 10 years before I wandered into the Sijun forums, and of course I had some idea of all that stuff, but many links were missing and some concepts were hazy in my mind. It wasn't until being part of the Sijun community and learning from Craig did everything eventually come into focus. He spelled it out in ways I had never thought of before. It's a shame he's no longer active. I miss him like hell. Craig essentially influenced a large portion of the current generation of young concept/matte artists.

In any lesson about visual art, you should always remember that the core ideas are always the same, and they are the most importan and also the most basic foundations in any image. I personally break it down into something like:


-Color theory

Depending on subject matter:

-Figure drawing/Anatomy
-Design (biological, mechanical, architectural, decorative pattens/colors...etc)

Depending on medium/style:

-Line quality

Depending on intent:

-Idea behind the image (storytelling, atmosphere, socio-political statement, emotional expression, intellectual exploration...etc)

To answer your other questions, I didn't discover Loomis until I'd already turned pro, and most of the stuff he taught I'd had already picked up from other sources (Jack Hamm, for example) or through experience. What I did find more helpful to me at that stage was Creative Illustration, as that is the most advanced book of his IMO. It deals with the higher concepts like those Craig taught us at Sijun.

The whole planes thing is really about helping you understand how to simplify the complex curved surfaces that exist all around us. A good analogy is if you took a color photo and ran it through Photoshop's "posterize" filter, and you'll see how it simplifies millions of colors into just a handful, but retains the overall color scheme. Visualizing complex curves in planes is just like that, except it deals with shapes instead of color. To be able to draw in planes effectively, you must first do some time in perspective lessons, to at least understand how basic perspective is constructed, otherwise you'd struggle with drawing in planes.

For drawing, I didn't start using the computer/tablet until about 1998, and by 2001 I pretty much converted to digital for everything except personal enjoyment (I love traditional oil painting). Prior to 1998 it was all traditional mediums. Is doesn't matter what you use though--just please don't use a mouse.

Last edited by Lunatique : 08 August 2008 at 01:14 PM.
  08 August 2008
As always i really appreciate you taking the time to answer questions us noobies have. Thank you.

It was very insightful (not what i expected) thank you for sharing. I bought "Perspective Made Easy by Ernest Norling" which Loomis recommended in his book .

Do you think it's better to finish that first and then continue with the planes section or just read them side by side?

Thanks again ;D
I only believe in hardwork!, genius don't exists in my world!!!
  08 August 2008
For myself, I tend to first get an overview of all aspects of what I'd need to learn--reading the intros to each chapter of a book, or doing some research on each discipline, and read up on how they relate to each other so I know why something plays an important role, or why I should become knowledgeable in one area first before moving on. So, if I were you, I'd read whatever chapters once first to get a feel for what's involved and how they might relate to each other, and then proceed to dig deeper into one particular chapter that has been pointed out as the one that should be mastered first, or use your educated guess on what you've read and pick one thing that you think you need to know well--something that will give you the confidence to move forward.

I think in this particular case, as soon as you're able to draw various primitive shapes from any angle accurately in perspective, you can start on the planes. You shouldn't need to master everything about advanced perspective before moving on.
  08 August 2008
I have sat in lots of different art classes, One thing I have heard from art teachers over and over is...

"Draw what you see, not what you know"

I feel this is one of the biggest fallacies ever when it comes to drawing. What they should really be saying is...

"Draw what you know... Just make sure you really know it"

There are two sides to every skill, a physical side and a mental side. Practice only really improves the physical side, helping you to become stronger and more consistent.

Golf is a very physical skill... to achieve a good and consistent golf swing requires years of continuous practice, to reinforce that ideal movement.

Drawing on the other hand is nearly all mental, it's about knowledge and the way to improve your knowledge is by learning (probably reading).

An analogy might be if I asked you to accurately draw my house. You haven't seen my house, you don't know how many floors or windows it has, the likelihood of you managing to accurately draw it is close to zero (and practice won't help).

The same is true of drawing a face. If you don't know how to correctly proportion a face, or the underlying structure of muscles and bones which give it its shape, then how can you ever expect to draw a believable face? (practice? Reading about anatomy is faster).
My latest work...
Rag Doll Scars (nudity)

  08 August 2008
Originally Posted by smackcakes: I have sat in lots of different art classes, One thing I have heard from art teachers over and over is...

"Draw what you see, not what you know"

I feel this is one of the biggest fallacies ever when it comes to drawing. What they should really be saying is...

"Draw what you know... Just make sure you really know it"

Well, I think they only say that when you're drawing something that is in front of you. When drawing from observation you probably shouldn't be drawing what you "know". You can't, for instance, draw an accurate portrait of somebody in front of you just having knowledge on human facial features (no knowledge will help you drawing a portrait of Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man). The same goes with any other type of observational drawing/painting..

You should probably only draw what you know if you're composing a painting out of nothing. Then you need some knowledge to work as a mold..

Last edited by Drag-N : 08 August 2008 at 10:09 PM.
  08 August 2008
Originally Posted by Drag-N: When drawing from observation you probably shouldn't be drawing what you "know". You can't, for instance, draw an accurate portrait of somebody in front of you just having knowledge on human facial features...

Sorry but I disagree, trying to throw together some circus act of a drawing based purely on what you can see from where you are sitting, will always be inferior to actually knowing and understanding what you are looking at.

Caricature artists need to have a very good working knowledge of facial anatomy. Even though they will be drawing new faces, which they have never seen or drawn before. That knowledge of anatomy is what helps them break the persons face down quickly and achieve a good likeness first time.

Drawing what you see is not guaranteed to give you a good likeness, because people move around. Even cameras often fail to really capture the essence of a person and they draw what they see pixel perfect.

On top of that if you don't fully understand what you are looking at then you are much more likely to make a mistake through an error in judgement.

Even with perfect judgement you cannot always trust your eyes, there are optical illusions around to throw you off. Sometimes your vision is obscured and one thing looks like another. Things can look strange from certain angles, and important details regarding shape can be lost in shadows.

This is why I say that you should not just draw what you see. You should know what you are looking at, look at it from different angles, work out the shapes that it is composed of, look at the light sources and where they really are, how they are striking the object.

Then get back in you chair and look at your perspective of all these things. Know what you are looking at and then 'draw what you know'.
My latest work...
Rag Doll Scars (nudity)

  08 August 2008
Originally Posted by smackcakes: This is why I say that you should not just draw what you see. You should know what you are looking at, look at it from different angles, work out the shapes that it is composed of, look at the light sources and where they really are, how they are striking the object.

Then get back in you chair and look at your perspective of all these things. Know what you are looking at and then 'draw what you know'.

Well, this is something I can agree with (if you do line drawings..)..

Last edited by Drag-N : 09 September 2008 at 12:43 PM.
  08 August 2008
The reason why they tell you to just draw what you see and not what you know is simply because they are trying to demystify drawing for people who feel like it's some kind of supernatural skill. People who haven't reached a certain level of competence in drawing will put that skill up on a pedestal and think you need to have some kind of special intuition in order to draw well, and they don't understand that when dealing with depicting likeness in a realistic manner from a defined source (still life, life model, landscape, photo...etc), there's actually a lot of visual calculation and measuring going on, and often it's not about "artistic thinking" at all, but very mathematical and calculated. When you draw what you see, you will think along the lines of:

(These are just made-up examples, not rules.)

"The corners of the mouth ends at the center of the pupil if you draw a vertical line to measure."

"The forehead on that profile is slanting at roughly 25 degrees"

"That spot of highlight is completely white, although the local color is actually purple"

"The distance between the inner elbow and the wrist on that girl is exactly the length of her hand."

"The value of that cast shadow towards the edge is exactly the same as the value at the terminating spot of the object."

When you break what you see down to "exactly" what you see, then you start to think with mathematical precision, which will lead to technically accurate likeness. It is possible to draw exactly what's in front of you even if you never learned your foundations but have honed your ability to capture just what's in front of you, but then you become just a human copy machine. No artistic interpretation, no creativity, just technical skill.

So I agree that the saying of "Draw what you see and not what you know" mostly apply to situations where you are doing an exact likeness of a source in front of you. While it's great that you hone your ability to do that, you should also apply the foundation knowledge you have learned and make creative decisions, such as composition (there is no viewfinder in nature, you have to frame the imagery yourself), what details to focus on and what details to leave out, emphasis on specific colors for artistic effect, simplifying of details (you never draw every single strand of hair--you do an approximation of clumps, strands, layers...etc), deployment of creative brushwork, and so on. But before you get all Picasso on the world, you really should first become proficient at simply drawing what you see. Once you ace that, you can go and get crazy. Not that there's anything wrong with artists who can't draw likeness or any kind of decent representational work, and only do abstract or highly stylized work, but knowing the general interests of the cgtalk members, it's safe to assume most have interests beyond abstract and very stylized works.

And if you want to be able to draw any kind of representational imagery out of your head at all, then you absolutely must be able to draw what you know. Learning the foundations is the most effective way to get you there.

Last edited by Lunatique : 08 August 2008 at 05:31 AM.
  08 August 2008
I understand why they say it, and that there is a need to break peoples assumptions about what things look like and get them to look harder.

But I think the statement actually makes drawing seem harder and more mystical, like you are somehow supposed to use your hand like some kind of pantograph to trace what your eye is seeing.

It also doesn't directly teach the person 'how to draw'... it's just a vague clue about how to observe. "draw what you see and not what you know" roughly translates to...

"What you think you know is wrong... now work it out yourself"

If you go into a science lesson then you expect to learn some science. You don't expect the teacher to say...

"The world is not flat... good luck!"

I don't think these kind of lessons are helpful to people like Ranc0r who want to improve their drawing, but don't want to spend 10 years working it out themselves like those of us that started as children.

Ranc0r... since you seem determined to improve your drawing (and have even started a thread on concept art about it) let me give you a little bit of advice, which I think will help you.

Your drawing skills aren't as bad as you think. What I believe is really letting you down at the moment is 'laying out' or planning.

Drawing a picture is like building a house. You can't just rush into it and start laying bricks, because soon you will find that the roof won't fit, the walls aren't straight and you forgot to leave room for the pluming. Just like a house, a drawing needs to be planned out first so you know where everything is going to go, how big it is, what shape it is and how it will fit.

Planning is probably one of the most important and most overlooked aspects of drawing. I dread to think how many times I have seen pictures where the artist has obviously spent hours doing loads of beautiful shading and details. But the picture is spoiled because one of the eyes is wonky, or one arm is longer than the other. Why waste all that time shading a picture, that was flawed from the start? Better to spend your time planning and making sure everything is spot on, before you put in all that hard work.

Next time you think about taking part in the daily sketch Ranc0r (I believe the time limit is normally 30 mins). Spend the first 15-20 mins not drawing, just laying out, drawing faint lines and boxes, planning curves, and shadows, marking in where everything is going to go so that it all looks perfect (not just okay, actually perfect). You should have more than enough time left over to define and finish things, any you should notice a big improvement in the quality of your proportions and perspective.
My latest work...
Rag Doll Scars (nudity)

  09 September 2008
Thanks to all who have commented on this post, especially 'Lunatique' I am also a complete beginner who would like to get into the 3D world. I have come to realise that I need to build a good foundation of drawing to understand the shapes of things.

I have been feeling a little lost on how to get started on this journey and found this post very interesting, many thanks
  09 September 2008
woah! very inspiring thread!!
especially Lunatique...i didnt have any art background and basically m doing my computer engineering...but i am so much into arts,i keep drawing in my class...and my note book is my sketchbook ...but i always thought tht just but drawing a lot i would master i had to change my opinion.
i just downloaded andrew's ebook on anatomy and ll research on that..
if someone could rate look at my resent work.

(Image removed by moderator to keep this thread less cluttered.)

maybe this is not the proper thread for posting image...forgive me.

Last edited by Lunatique : 09 September 2008 at 12:44 PM. Reason: To split the posted image off to its own thread
  09 September 2008
Originally Posted by hidus: maybe this is not the proper thread for posting image...forgive me.

I removed the image to keep this thread more streamlined. Can you go ahead and post your image in a separate thread by itself so we can help you in that thread? Thanks.
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