Simple theories and excercises to improve your drawings


Ok, thanks a lot for your great help Kirt. I tried another one but it’s not based exactly on the shapes you suggested. Here it is:


I should have waited until after the holidays to do this. :smiley:

The last 3 submissions are fantastic! Looks like everyone is getting the hang of this idea quickly and I’ll have to move on to another excercise soon.

IronhideNT - This may be a bit centered, but I think it works fine with the diagonals that you’ve included in the composition. Anatomy seems a bit weird in some places (notably the head and limb joints) but we weren’t really focusing on anatomy just yet. I like this one because it has some very lively colors that fit the character’s expression. Letter “H”?

zng-Y - Fantastic improvement over the other submission! Very well done :thumbsup: I’m going to guess “X” or “R” though because the edges of the pool are really dominant in the composition of the image.

bermuda_boy_jimbo - Excellent! I think you got it!

Additional Note - For those unfamiliar with what I’m talking about when I mention “diagonals” you could read my older tutorial A Brief Look at Diagonals that I did last summer. I was going to review this again, but I guess it’s not neccessary since the old thread is still available. Feel free to explore the use of diagonals in your compositions here.


Awesomo! This looks really fun and helpful! Here’s my quick sketch.
I hope I did this right. Please critic when you have time. Thank you!
P is for Pig lol


haha cool sketch you got there :smiley:


thanks n_n I think both of your paintings are awesome.


Thanks!!! :bounce:


Thanks for your comments everybody! I just quickly sketched this one up as well with a golf club but I may have used too much positive space. It’s an interesting study this one isn’t it?

Besides, cropping these images gives me excuse for not drawing hands!


Haha, nuffty trick :beer:

Had to watch for a second, but nice sketch you made there! And i may be not the teacher here, but i think u made it how it was ment to be, cool outcentered :smiley:


Hey guys!
@IronhideNT: I like your drawing style! But there is one thing I want to mention. I’m not a teacher but I think, that the hidden agenda of this exercise is to place the components of your picture I an way, that croping is not necessary. It’s like taking pictures, first you do is finding a good composition.


Besides, cropping these images gives me excuse for not drawing hands!

so i think it was necessary :smiley:


Ironhide - I like the crop and composition!
Kirt - thanks for doing this and I’d like to say thanks for that diagonal tut also, because that has been great, too!

Let us know when you go for another threadless submission…:thumbsup:

Here’s my try: start/tweak/character composition sketch


OK I’m going to have to get to work on the next excercise because you guys are just showing amazing progress on this last one. I really can’t find anything useful to crit on the last 3 submissions. Really nice work everyone! :thumbsup:

Mr. Mu - I just submitted a new one, check my Threadless Submissions post in 2D WIP forum for the latest design. :smiley:


Awesome! …if you were talkin’ about my picture too:rolleyes::D:scream:


Another common problem that I see with many new artists’ illustrations is the lack of depth or distance in their images. Even if the image is a simple character on a monochromatic background, artists should remember the basic ideas behind conveying distance.

Often time, I think illustrators will concentrate on the details of the character and it’s costume (which are very important in communicating it’s purpose). However, as a direct result, we end up with a character that may be very well thought out and conceptualized … but poorly rendered and ultimately appears flat on the page.

I’ll admit, this is an area that I have had difficulties with as well. Here’s an example of one of my characters which seems rather flat to me.

… and coincidently fails the “dead center” principles of the previous lesson :blush:

This is “Poser” a winner of the Hapless Heroes CGChallenge (March 2003). Say, “Hello” Poser …

[Poser grunts]

Why does he appear flat? Well, the pose which is perpendicular to the viewer doesn’t help in the slightest and the color values are pretty consistant through the character with the exception of the rear leg (about the only part of this character which pushes back into the Z-axis).

Let’s break this down into basics and see if we can’t apply some ideas to correct this character. :smiley:

The colored spheres in the picture above are rendered fairly well (which is to say they have a light source applied to them which in turn give us highlights and shadows). I’ve even overlapped them to give the impression of depth. But it’s failing miserably. :argh:

Can you see how each sphere seems to occupy the same space on the X-axis?

Perspective rules tell us that objects further away from us appear smaller while objects closer to us appear larger. We’ve all studied this stuff right? Nothing too surprising here … I scaled the balls furthest and closest to represent the proper rules of perspective.

This is looking better, but still not perfect. This has the appearance of 3 different sized spheres occupying the same space on the X-axis. We need to go further.

Because objects at great distance must reflect their color information through atmospheric interferences, their values appear desaturated and dull when compared to an object with the same color that is placed closer to the viewer. (ugh that was a long sentence!)

Short version … light/color doesn’t travel well through smog. Our spheres are beginning to show more separation and distance between them. However, they can still be interpretted as 3 different sized & different colored spheres (desaturated color is still a color afterall) occupying the same space on the X-axis.

The final element is blur. For the same reasons we desaturated in the previous step we blur the edges more for objects furthest away from us. AND … objects really close to the viewer (extreme close up - out of focal view) will be blurry as well.

Ah … this is a tricky one and I haven’t illustrated it properly in the example above. I focused on the yellow sphere so that it shows crisp and vibrant. But if I were to focus on the red (or place another sphere in the image in front of the yellow) I would apply some blur to the forground sphere(s) as well.

Finally we have depth in our illustration! :bounce:


Your task is to illustrate a character of your own (or use Poser there … he likes to flex and strut his stuff) using the principles discussed here to push depth. Don’t forget the previous excercise also. I’ll be adding my NEW version of Poser to this thread later.

Good Luck!


Sweet exercise, Kirt! :thumbsup:



this thread is becoming absolutely priceless! Thanks so much…

question: do we add objects in the implied distance to make Poser pop out or are we to rely solely on him and feature him in such an ill-twisted position and perspective that we can apply blur and desaturation on his limbs a.s.o.?


Yeah, awesome exercise!


Yeah, great stuff!!!:buttrock:


Mr. Mu - Entirely up to you. You can apply the principles to just the character or add other elements (foreground/background) to work with. Draw whatever you feel like drawing … as long as it has distance. :wip:


… oh and try not to include lines in your exercise (just colors). I will be covering lines in the next lesson and we’ll be using this same illustration in the next one. :smiley: