Sketchbook Thread of Narima2k

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  08 August 2012
Sketchbook Thread of Narima2k

Greetings all. I suppose introductions are in order. My name is Teresa. I'm a long time lurker first time member, lol. Long story short, I went to school to study computer animation and didn't get much of it besides 25k in student debt.=( Now after puttering around for two years since I graduated I figured I need to do something or I'll never get out of food service.

My personal goal is to some how learn the skills necessary to apply for an entry level job in the industry by this time next year. A lofty goal I know because I got a lot of ground to cover before I'm anywhere near ready but here's to wishful thinking and beating the odds.

Any who... I was lurking around and stumbled upon Rebecca's Master Copy thread.I thought I would give it a shot. The practice worked for apprentices of antiquity; it might work for me. One of my problem areas is anatomy. I could do a good enough job with just pencil and paper given a reference and maybe a reasonably correct looking realistic human on my own. Whenever it comes to stylize humans of my creation... that's a different story. I suspect I could go a long way if I had an intimate understanding of anatomy or at least not have to rely on references so much. Here, I'll post some master copies done in pencil--only til the end of this month. Next month I try out photoshop or painter because the tablet and stylus is as alien to me as a third arm. In October, I'll dabble with Maya because my modeling skills are downright horrid. November, back to Photoshop/Painter. December--Maya/Mudbox.

The first is the Head of Water by Adam, Lambert-Sigisbert.

Overall, I'm okay with. Couldn't quite figure out how to describe the crown and the hair but it's decent enough.

This is the Bust of Monsignor Antonio Cerri by Algardi, Alessandro

A decent enough effort I suppose. I am not happy that it took me approximately 20 hours just to do this. The face took me 6 hours. I feel that's too much time for a face like this considering everything is so blown out from the flash of the camera. The problem was it took me a while to decide on how to translate what I saw into pencil strokes. Not to mention the actual sketch in my books looks overworked. It's not that noticeable here because the scanner light washed out the light lines. Oh well. More faces come Sunday.

  08 August 2012
Head of a Young Man

Uploaded with

Today's copy is Andrea Del Sarto's "Head of a Young Man". I'll admit I kinda botched it. I think it is because as hard as it is to perfectly copy a masterpiece it's even harder to copy a less polished work. I know I am going to unintentionally add errors of my own so my errors compounding with the existing errors just make things worse. Other than that I think I enjoyed this one. Not so much from drawing it because I don't think I got much out of then the usual one experience point from at least drawing something as oppose to nothing at all. I liked it because the drawing shows that the people of the past weren't all serious business all the time and always use real life model references when they put chisel to stone or brush to canvas--at least not in the same way my art history instructors would have me to believe. The young man here don't look like any real person in particular but someone's idea of a adolescent boy; then again, what do I know of 16 century boys. I think Mr. Del Sarto was just having a little bit of idle fun.

I'll finish out the month with Gian Lorenzo Bernini's "Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius. This one is proving to be the most difficult. I never spent so much erasing and redrawing just the pencil lineart and still get things wrong. I don't know if it is due to poor understanding of spatial relationships, perspective, or anatomy but some areas aren't even a little bit off they are just plain wrong. I was halfway tempted to skip this one but thought it would do me no good to just to do easy things.
  09 September 2012
Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius

I decided to provide a link instead of embedding to save on space as I tear myself a new one with my own self critique.

Where to start with this one... It would be easier to talk about what went right, lol.

Let's begin with the drawing. First of all that right arm on the top guy is completely wrong. It's too long and spaced out. It doesn't even look attached to the body. The left forearm is too long and skinny even for the figure. I definitely should not have bothered with the little people and the cup or pedestal. They are not placed right and detract from the drawing as a whole. In fact all my problems, as far drawing goes, stem from the little people.

Here's how I started the picture. I drew some stick figures to get an overall idea on how to approach the figures. Then I bulled straight ahead painstakingly drawing out the head in minute details then the shoulder of the top guy, I should really learn their names -_-. At first it looked okay, yea the head is tilted a little bit more in the original but what I got is a decent enough approximation.

I moved on to the little people on the pedestal because they take up a big chunk of right side of the top figure. Things went downhill from there as I unwittingly related the right arm to the pedestal and not the body and I stretched over the forearm so the hand could meet the cup. In the back of my mind I saw myself doing it and I reproached myself but went ahead anyway because there wasn't much I could do about it without doing a lot of erasing or starting over. Even if I did start over, there wasn't a guarantee the second time would be a marked improvement.

After the drawing was done, I started reading Anthony Ryder's The Artist Complete Guide To Figure Drawing and it offer an alternative way to start the drawing, the "Envelope, Block-In" method. I've heard of these concepts before from one or two teachers in passing and from other people on the net through tutorials. But nobody ever bothered to explain it so I just put it out of mind. After reading about it, I definitely going to try it next time around. Especially after Ryder mentions a certain common student mistake regarding figure drawing. I sincerely hope I'm not breaking copyright laws but I really think this would be helpful for all the newbies out there struggling with drawing:

"...Many students unconsciously project the stick figure into their drawings as a kind of inner armature.According to this mode or thought the human figure is built upon a simplified skeleton of straight lines. These lines are subsequently padded with "muscles," like hot-water pipes wrapped with thick, spongy insulation....The problem here is what the drawing is derived from incorrect assumptions. Stick figures are all right as symbols of human beings, but they can be misleading when used as the basis of figure drawing."
Dude, that's me right there! Though it's more of a deliberate action because I didn't have any other technique to employ other than mentally tracing the contours but I find this method highly frustrating and the technique yields often dismal results. Not that there's anything wrong with stick figures. They have a place as a shortcut, I think, after one has mastered proportion, anatomy, etc but for now they are hindrance. Plus I think the envelope method is useful to place other things besides figures. It is something worth investigating.

Enough of the drawing part, onto the shading. Oh dear, oh dear, I definitely need a new technique in regards to shading. I didn't intend for the shading to get so dark so fast it just happened that way. While is true that the original is a little on the dark side because of the way the light is angled but my picture is maybe a shade or two darker than what it should be. I also don't like the fuzziness of the shading or how the blacks or dark grays "sits" there on the page refusing to blend with the lighter shades.

Seriously, that right arm looks like it belongs to a burn victim or a zombie because of how patchy it looks. The problem is how I go about shading. Like most people I begin with the darker shades because the darker tones are more fun to do and people are naturally attracted to darkness. The trouble is that I start with the darkest shade possible and work my way up to light. I'm not saying that it can't be done but in my case starting with a puddle of black isn't working for me. I haven't gotten to the shading part of Ryders' book but I believe he starts with a medium value and have all other values relate to it by going up and down the gradation steps. I tried it out with the bottom guy and the modesty wreath, or whatever that thing is that covers the top guy's privates, and I think those parts came out marginally better.

The idea makes a lot of sense, when I think about it. Black and dark-almost-black-gray aren't specific to any color, they are there due to absent or near obscurement of light. Of course these "colors" are not going to relate to anything.

Moving along... I definitely shouldn't have bothered with the little people. They are too small for me to resolve properly with shade. That area looks too much like a mess of graphite than anything in particular and it interferes with everything else around bringing the drawing down as a whole. Andrew Loomis warned against mindlessly copying stuff just because it's there. I should've heeded his advice and drawn in the rest of the guy's face and torso. Sure, it's not there in the original, but the meat of the exercise is in the big figures not the little ones.

That's enough rambling for one evening. Next week starts a new adventure with painting in color using Photoshop. Yay!
  09 September 2012
Judith with the Head of Holofernes

I meant to post last Sunday but didn't get around to doing any practice because of work. Not too happy about missing out on 7 days training but it is what it is. Tonight's image is Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Cristofano Allori.

It's nowhere near finish. Although I don't like leaving work undone, I wanted to stick to a schedule of one master copy per week.

Anyway, onto the self critique starting with the drawing or draftsmanship.

I tried out the envelope method described in Anthony Rider's book, "The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing." Of course, it wasn't a complete success because I'm just trying it out. Judith right arm is way too long. I kept trying to lessen the angle of the envelope to reduce the negative space between the arm and the head until I decided I just needed to move on. Judith's body is a little on the heftier side than as depicted in the original. I didn't break up the space enough for her and the maid (I guess).

Again, the subtleties of the head tilts elude me. I completely goofed up the maid's head.

I've been using the envelope technique on the daily 15 minute drawings I do. It's a good idea. It helps me put the figure on the page faster than the stick figure approach. I'll keep at it for a while and see where it goes.

On to the shading. After, restarting three times I finally got somewhere. I'm going to have to try something else in regards to doing flesh but I do like the eyes. They actually look like they could be IN somebody's face instead of ON it like the other figures. The hair came out nice when it is set in a black background. I left it gray because the picture would look weird with everything washed out in black. That little pendant thingy...I don't like so much.

If the robe is any indication, I'm making some progress with making a smooth blend of colors. I started off on the left side of her chest and ended on the cuff of her right sleeve.

Next week is Antonello da Messina's Protrait of a Man.
  09 September 2012
Portrait of a Man

I will be out all day tomorrow so Iím posting a day earlier. Todayís master copy is Portrait of a Man by Antonello da Messina. Itís a different subject from the one suggested by Rebeccak. I chose this guy because I liked the curls.

Again, I wasnít able to finish but I think I did enough to get out whatever lesson thatís in this practice. Anyway onto to the critique.


There is way to much space between the left eye and the jaw line. Granted it is like that in the original but itís a little worse here. Then thereís the none existent forehead. Again itís rather low in the original but my copy is way to low it makes the man look a little prehistoric. Lol.


Definitely an improvement from last week but still much to do. I especially like the eyes, well the blue. The brown eye didnít come out right. I was mindlessly copying the original again instead of doing what I think is right. Sigh. The lips are pretty good too. Much better than the last lips I did. The execution on Judithís lips left much to be desired. The only qualm I have is that the lips are little too short. In the lineart, I had extended the length to the corner of the blue eye but I got a little too carried when I colored it.

The painting is still a little too mushy for my taste and the blends could be smoother and follow the underlying shape of the masses better. I just need to work on that. Another thing, I donít like is how sharp the edges are. Itís like an amateur cut him out of something and pasted him onto a black background. Iíve been trying to soften the edges but the approaches Iíve tried hasnít worked out too well.

Thatís all for this week. Next weekís copy is Giovanni Belliniís Head of the Baptist.
  10 October 2012
Head of the Baptist

Tonight's master copy is Head of the Baptist by Giovanni Bellini.


Perspective is one of those things I constantly have to work on. The nose came out longer than I would have liked because I'm terrible at foreshortening. The original seem to have some problems as well with the the top of the head going back in space. I tried to fix this in my own drawing but I can't shake the feeling that at least a little bit is missing. I also decided to make the head a little more narrow now I wonder if it is a little too narrow, lol.


A word on color. I've noticed the colors I'm picking are not matching the references. For Judith, it was okay because she seem to glow in the original. "Portrait of a Man" however was way too bright. Even here I had my misgivings especially in the beginning during the color block in as the guy was looking radioactive. Thankfully things sort of worked out. Hopefully color picking will become less of a problem as time goes on but it will be something I'll be monitoring.

I don't care for the eyes in this one. The iris on the left is not even a circle and is off-looking. I didn't want to slave over it so I left the problems where they were hoping to fix it if I had time left. The bags under the eyes are just terrible.

On the plus side, I do like the skin on this one. It actually look somewhat like flesh unlike the Portrait of a Man whose skin texture looks more like burnished sheet metal. Not that it's a bad thing but it was not what I looking for.

Next week will be a model of Bellini's Sacred Conversation.
The journey from noob to pro continues every Sunday. =)
  10 October 2012
Sacred Conversation

Yeah. It's pretty bad. No point in going blow by blow with this one as I could easily fill two pages commenting on errors. I'll just post them and try to do better next time around.

Next week is the Bust of Monsignor Pedro.
The journey from noob to pro continues every Sunday. =)
  10 October 2012
Bust of Monsignor Pedro

This week's copy is Bernini's Bust of Monsignor Pedro. It's certainly better than last week's attempt. That's my goal, to do at least a little better than the week prior. Instead of having a really long post picking it a part I'll just keep my critiques on a word document to keep things short.

I did do a mustache but it was laughably bad. So Pedro is sans a cookie duster.

Next week is Bernini's David with Goliath's Head. I guess I'll be finishing out the month with this artist.

The journey from noob to pro continues every Sunday. =)
  10 October 2012
Interesting work. Keep posting. Continue studies.

Anatomy SB
Deviant Art
  10 October 2012
Thanks, Vic, for the comment. I thought I was going crazy talking to myself.

I had a look see at the links posted in your signature. It's a pity they're all closed. I saw a lot of potential in a number of your works and the progress you've made in your anatomy thread is really good. I hope you're still doing art. More importantly, I hope you're seeing your projects to completion. I know how depressing it is to have a heap of incomplete artworks. Sure it may not look good in the beginning but some times you got to keep trucking and stick out to the end.

I completely understand your angst. I'm there too. I have so many ideas I want to do but I can't pull it off the way I am now. There's always something wrong with it. If it's not anatomy, is perspective, or composition of lighting or whatever. It just got to a point where I said to myself, I need to take a step back to learn stuff before I can move forward. You can't pull things out of your mind if you don't put anything in it, you know.

That's why I am doing the the master copy thing as a way to study technique but I know the copies can only do so much. It's no substitute for learning proper anatomy, color theory, perspective and composition. So I'm doing a bunch of other studies on the side. For instance, for this month, every day I try to draw a skull in different angles.

So yeah, slowly put surely wins the race. =D
The journey from noob to pro continues every Sunday. =)
  10 October 2012
David with the head of Goliath

Suffered a bit of burnout two weeks ago so I didn't get around to practice until this week.

I did not enjoy doing this copy at all. And it's not in the sense that "Oh this looks like garbage and I want to give up now." I made my peace with the realization that the things I do will look pretty bad for a while. The cascade of problems was overwhelming. Who knew modeling a pose would be so flipping difficult.

At the very least, I tried some things and it didn't work out. Next time around I won't bother doing everything I did here.

This is the fourth Sunday of the month so I going to switch over to Photoshop for November. Having said that, I will still continue my studies with Maya just that it won't be a master copy and the length of time per model will be extended to two weeks. I also plan to get a hobbyist subscription to so I have some access to orthogonal views of the subject I'm trying to model.

In addition to that, I plan to take a gander at some rigging tutorials so I can just pose the model instead dealing with the frustration of pushing and pulling vertices around.

Anyway, next week's copy will be Bernini's Francesco I d'Este. It'll be a interesting adventure as I've never done anything black and white in Photoshop.
The journey from noob to pro continues every Sunday. =)
  11 November 2012
Francesco I d'Este

This copy was a little more interesting than the others I've done in Photoshop. Initially, I thought black/white and color were pretty much the same thing just that I'll be restricted to only using grays. I tried the same technique I used for the colored copies and was in for a rude awakening.

Here's my method thus far in handling paintings:

1. First I fill the area with what I think would be a good base color then mark a dot of the color off to the side to keep track of it.

2. I look for a color that's about two shades darker or lighter then make a splotch of each off to the side to keep track of them. Using the stylus I hastily mark of areas that are light and dark with the colors.

3. I lightly smudge the edges then set about pushing the values darker or lighter.

Unfortunately the resulting color maps look rather horrible and are hardly worth the effort other than just doing "something." When I was dealing with color it was okay because the different areas created color zones which serve as a boundary making it easier to see what's happening. For the previous copies, after the mapping was done I went about finalizing things moving between area to area (ex. Eyes first, because of the contrast, than the orbital ring around the eye, then the nose, then mouth and so on.) During this phase, I turn off the visibility for the pencil layer for better clarity.

I tried the above this time around and was confronted with mishmash patches of grays. Now I realize the importance of a proper map and not to be in too much of a hurry to just finish something. That being said, I'm still on the mapping phase of this drawing. I figured, if I can't turn off the pencil layer without getting confused then I'm not done with this stage. Though, if I were to continue, I probably would have finish off the headdress and the collar before making one last pass of over the head and hair to finalize what I have. Alas, time has run out for this week. Speaking of time, I've taken to using a timer when doing these things so I don't spend all day in one area going in circles. Nothing like a ticking clock to make one decisive.

That's it for this week. Next week is Jacques Blanchard's St. Jerome.
The journey from noob to pro continues every Sunday. =)
  11 November 2012
St Jerome

Another week has gone by, time for another upload. Tonight's copy is St. Jerome by Jacques Blanchard. The wrinkles gave me some trouble. That just mean I need to do more wrinkly faces.

I've been looking over what I done so for the past two months and not a single one of the copies I've done are finished. Granted, I only work on the copies for about 12-15 hours a week and I haven't been making a push for speed just yet. Still, I would like to finish one of them in order to make a more informed evaluation. I think I might just pick one to focus on for a month or however long it takes to finish--hopefully it won't take more than maybe 40 hours or so-- and just try to get it as close to an exact copy as possible. This month is already half way over so this will be something I will be doing in December on top of the weekly copies and other studies. It'll probably be a Caravaggio piece as he has a strong presence in the list of 50 heads.

I going to be skipping over the Botticelli examples. Not to say that any of them are bad. I actually do like how this artist handles cloth but I don't think I have much to gain from copying the faces. Next week's copy is going to Bracci's Bust of Pope Benedict XIII (1724) it has some deterioration going on thus making it more challenging so I'm going to try it.
The journey from noob to pro continues every Sunday. =)
  11 November 2012
Bust of Pope Benedict

Tonight's master copy is Pietro Bracci's Bust of Pope Benedict XIII. I couldn't even finish the face this time around. Sigh. I don't have three days off like I used to due to the holidays and people getting fired or quitting. I hope I can get that extra day back in January when things cool down.

I tried a new brush this week. Actually it was by accident. I decided to make the blender brush that was featured in the Digital Tutors: Getting Started with Digital Painting in Photoshop. I didn't have any intention on using any custom brush but stuck with it. This blender brush takes some getting used to in less capable hands, i.e. mine, it's easy to up with soupy gradation inside of a smooth blend.

I plan to get around to brush customization, blending modes, layer styles and all that neat stuff next year. I also plan to expand my studies outside the human body to animals, plants, bugs, materials, buildings and all kinds of stuff. As for now, I been using just a pressure sensitive-opacity hard edge brush and a pressure sensitive-strength smudge brush to get through the paintings. Things like hair are rather difficult to achieve with one stroke at a time, lol.

The user nebezial digital anatomy painting tutorial has given me some food for thought. I definitely want to try out his methods. I've been looking over the web and notice that many people use his method of coloring by doing a gray scale version first and switch the brush mode to color. It certainly make sense because it simplifies the process by first focusing on the values and once you get that right that frees you up to focus on color theory. Plus you can't bs black and white. There isn't a lot of latitude with grayscale. If it doesn't look right you'll know instantly.

Moving on to next week. I won't be doing a master copy for the week of Nov 19th. I only have Thanksgiving and Sunday off. I can see Thanksgiving being a bust as far as getting things done and Sunday is the last day of the week. Instead, I'll be posting up the other side studies and projects I do just to keep the trend of at least putting something up every week. I think that's only reason I been able keep up the practice it is because I made the commitment to post. Until next week... Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
The journey from noob to pro continues every Sunday. =)
  11 November 2012
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