Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Little Reference Helps

Reference seems to be one of those buggy issues that crops up in art. For a lot of people, the ultimate goal seems to be being able to draw an image without using reference. It's a holy grail, an unattainable goal that artists and outsiders seems to think is the epitome of being able to create art. But if you hang out around enough art boards like ConceptArt.org, you find that a lot of artists, professional artists, telling you to study and use reference.

The important element is using it as reference and outright copying the image. The latter can be useful for studying purposes, but not when it comes to actual creative art, and can be stifling if you adhere too much to the information in the source material. Fanart is often a victim of this, especially when it's a recognizable piece of artwork that's being copied. Using it as reference, on the other hand, is taking the model (if you're lucky enough to have one) or the photo(s) to fill in the information you need to draw a believable image. Artists have been doing this to some degree for ages. Even Norman Rockwell used photographic reference for his paintings, but he wasn't slavishly tied to them. He often knew when to exaggerate features or what to eliminate. For one of many articles available on this topic, check out this post by James Gurney (and check out the rest of Gurney's blog and the related book for more information about this), and this recent NPR Slideshow about Rockwell's work.

Getting to the point, I've been a little random lately about using reference. I need to do it more. I recently did an exercise with a mentor over at CA.org about just this. I drew the below image of a grande jete from imagination and vague memory. There are issues with the rear leg, tangents of the near hand and body, line of action, etc.

I was then to follow-up with a drawing based on the original but with some reference applied. I opted to use a mix of images from books I had (surprisingly very little grande jetes), online videos, and images found online. Below are the quick sketches I did based on them.

And lastly, I used a mix of reference and the sketches to work out the final image. Made some changes to the pose, such as how the leading leg is usually away from the audience and fiddling with the arms. Much better, but couldn't quite avoid tangents (they kinda meet at shoulder-neck-shoulder). Still, the line of action is a little better, and the legs are stronger.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Box Adventures

Just a bit of fun, a mental exercise based on childhood playtime. How many things can you come up with to do with a large cardboard box? I was finished getting my hair done, so I'm sure I could have come up with some more things.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another PT fanart progress

Another walkthrough of my process. This was a pinch hit image for a community gift exchange, so I didn't fret too much over the process. It's a kinda quickie image. It's again the characters Lilie and Femio, and this image kinda gets the two across well.

The original planning sketch (was drawn with an H pencil, and adjusted to make the sketch easier to see).

The "cleaned up pencils;" really nothing more than using a softer lead pencil and putting in the more finished lines.

The inks.

The final image, colored in Photoshop CS3.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

April Drawing in October and Eyes

Yes, the title is right. It seems to be a recurring activity: community events that take place in one month will sometimes have an encore event later in the months, usually about six months away. So the April Drawing community is having an encore going on right now. This has been pretty successful for me; I've only missed one day so far. Here is a sampling of drawings I've done so far this month, not counting the ones I did that related to the PT exchange image that I discussed last entry.

Firstly, I have started doing something that I haven't really been doing lately, which is drawing from reference. A number of my pictures this month have been relatively brief studies from magazine pictures or ads. Hopefully, things will get better as I do more from them. Working on drawing clothes a bit more, how they hang on the body.

Next is a pic of my steampunk fairy tale character, mostly post events that I had playing in my head for Dragon*Con 2009, as well as a couple of challenges I decided to act on. The first is to draw an anthro or furry, something I rarely ever do. That one turned out okay, in my opinion. It's a sorta self-portrait as a caracal. The second challenge was to draw it only with pencils; no erasing anything. She's supposed to be a Victorian woman sitting. I think it's very eh.

Lastly, a series of eye studies, copied from instructional material by Bridgman, Leveille, Peck, and Barrett. I was simply in the mood to draw eyes after I saw that my attempt at a siren design was rather pitiful.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Catching up on the last month

It's been a while since I last updated, so here's a sampling of the stuff I've been drawing since the last update, with a bit of random process for one piece I did. Very messy course of events.

First, I did this image in PS to practice working digitally, something I don't do all that much and definitely not from scratch, no scanned art work. It was timed at about 45 minutes. I give it an okay.

Below are various Overhill related images. Beginning with some fox studies to get an idea of how to draw Fionn for the upcoming pages; then some very off model sketches of Mullein and Tsuba and a larger version of a doodle that just worked; a more polished sketch of the two.

Lastly, I was working on a gift for Princess Tutu LJ community's gift exchange for the 7th anniversary of Princess Tutu. My giftee wanted fanart, and I initially latched onto her very clear fondness for evil!Mytho with pretty much anyone, specifically with Rue. I was going for an emotional piece, trying to get across evil!Mytho's malice and Rue's growing regret and conflict about what is happening. Also, how no matter what relationship evil!Mytho is involved in, it was not going to be healthy one. The approach was partially inspired by "Dangerous Game" from Jekyll and Hyde. Only I couldn't quite get it to work.

I began with this sketch, done at Dragon*Con, and I pretty much stayed with it for most of my attempts.

I followed up with some sketches of Rue and moved quickly to attempting some more compositions, tests of facial expressions. These led to the image of Rue below. She turned out well, but I could not for the life of me get Mytho to work in the piece. I realized I was focusing so much on Rue's expression that she had pretty much taken over the piece. That, and Mytho is a pain to draw. I tried a few more sketches based off of the videos on YouTube and attempted a few more tries, but nothing was working.

Since the initial idea was not going to work; time to change approach. Thankfully, my giftee also wanted a pic of Femio and Lilie, a crack pairing that has grown in popularity over the last year. I kept the idea very simple, and came up with the images below. Final version colored in Copic markers.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dragon*Con 2009 art

The previous weekend was Dragon*Con, and it was an opportunity to do a little bit of art. Most prominent opportunity was a ConceptArt.org meet-up at one of the artist's studio-loft. It was a lovely place and the atmosphere was so warm. I slowly warmed up to the people there, though I was a little awkward because I was probably the only one there who's not a professional artist. We were very luck in that one person, Emma, was able to get a model to come in. It's been forever since the last time I'd done any life drawing from a model, making it awkward for me to get the drawings done but very enjoyable to use the opportunity.

In addition to the life drawing at the meet up, I got a little sketching done towards a Princess Tutu exchange drawing. I have some changes to make to the sketch below in order to get it to work, but the overall idea is there.

And lastly, I entered the quick sketch contest held on Monday before heading out. I went in with the intention of doing a sequential piece, but I couldn't focus on any one story moment and simply went with the little mechanic girl image. I didn't win, but one of the judges did commend me on creating an image with a story behind it, which is a plus in book. Maybe next year.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Girl

Below are some ink sketches I did of the little girl I've drawn a couple of times. I'd like to do more with her and her companion giant robot, so I did some sketches to try and peg her design a little. Need to work on her a little more. She also needs a name.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bridgman studies

I haven't had much to post the last couple months because I have mostly been doing studies, specifically studies off of George Bridgman's book, Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing from Life. To be honest, the book isn't really by Bridgman so much as a compilation of drawings and lessons from his earlier books, including Constructive Anatomy and Bridgman's Life Drawings, which you can actually find as either PDFs or print books (thank the gods for Dober Books), and may be more clear about drawing things like hands. Bridgman, along with Loomis, tends to be one of those artist-teachers whose works are referred to and suggested over and over at ConceptArt.org for learning to draw anatomy. Yes, it is exaggerated, but this exaggeration helps to identify things for later studies on your own. I personally like when he breaks it down into planes and masses.

You can see below a selection of the studies I've done. I started at the front of the book, where he discusses things like rhythm, balance, body planes and light/shadow, and body masses. I then skipped ahead to work on hands, which I've always had a problem. I'm still working on hands, but I am now moving back in the book a little to work on the torso as well.

Hopefully, I'll get back to more imaginative drawings and paintings, as well as some studies, soon.