Having trouble deciding what to draw today? Be your own art director: give yourself an assignment! This exercise might seem contrived, but it's a fantastic way to break the paralyzing grip of a blank canvas. As the video shows, sometimes all you need to do is to give yourself a few limitations - and then the creativity naturally starts flowing. After all, artists are natural problem solvers --- they just need a problem to solve!
When you start a painting, how often are you using a white canvas? This video offers an alternative. There are a number of reasons for using a toned canvas, though the easiest explanation is time savings. If you're looking to create a rendered image featuring a full value scale, you might as well start in the middle. In the video I use a warm tan color, though it's worth noting that gray works just as well.
We'd all like more of it, but how should we spend our free time? It's a deceptively simple question, but I find myself asking it nearly every day. Should I spend an hour doing X or would it be better to do Y instead? What if all I want to do is Z? Though this video doesn't offer concrete answers, it will get you thinking about the bigger picture and how to stay vigilant about your goals. Blogs like www.lifehacker.com often talk about planning the hours of your workday, but I rarely see anyone discussing a longer (1,2,5 year) plans. These sort of 'big questions' are not easy to think about, but ignoring them completely can be a dangerous strategy. What is your strategy? Since I clearly don't offer a perfect solution, we'll all benefit from the discussion.
What's your relationship with still life drawing? Love it? Cherish it? Most likely, you avoid it. In this video I provide my reasons for practicing still life painting, including how it makes me a better artist overall. Many artists, especially beginners, avoid them because of their association with homework. When I was in Drawing 1 class in art school I daydreamed of painting dragons and space marines. Now that I'm out of college, I often look back with regret: those still life drawings were forming a foundation and all I wanted to do was skip past them. As you teach yourself to paint, it's easy to skip past assignments that seem boring but I encourage you to give still life drawing a chance.
Want to be better at painting but don't know where to start? You're not alone in this feeling. The truth is that art is inseparable from confidence, and you will not be able to create until you believe that you can. It's a tough catch-22. Hopefully this video will help!
Like anatomy? That's a start, but character comes from a deeper place than mathematical precision. The real story comes from expression. Whether it's body language or facial expressions, people are constantly communicating. If you neglect this aspect of personality when learning to draw people and characters, you might end up with 'lifeless' or 'plastic' results. This video introduces some good examples for study including my favorite: Glen Keane. Glen does not seem to have a personal website I can promote, though a quick google search will lead you to fan-collected images.
The importance of gesture drawing goes deeper than simply 'studying anatomy' or 'warming up'. In truth, it taps into a very important type of repetitive practice that improves artists of every skill level. In previous videos I've talked about the technique of gesture drawing, and in this video I'll discuss why it's worth doing in the first place.
In a previous video we talked about the simple stick figure for gesture drawing. If you want to capture a little more information about the pose, my next step is usually to include a simplified head, torso, and pelvis. When abstracting the body into simple shapes, there are many methods. This one stands out, to me, because it emphasizes the twisting motion that captures heart of every pose. In the past I said that the "S-curve" of the spine is essential, and the 3 major masses are simply an extension of that idea.
Capturing human anatomy is a lifelong pursuit. A great first step in that journey, as well as a fun daily warm-up, is gesture sketching. There are many different approaches to quick-pose sketching, and this video explains a 'constructive anatomy' technique. Based largely on the methods of Andrew Loomis, this technique combines observational sketching with memorized anatomy to capture poses in less than one minute.
To give this exercise a try, grab your sketchbook and open up www.posemaniacs.com. Though the default time interval is 30 seconds, I'd recommend selecting 60 seconds. Remember: the goal is learning, not creating beautiful drawings. Good luck!
So you're off on the art-learning journey, but do you have a destination in mind? If you haven't thought that far yet, you might want to. I say this because drawing and painting can be learned in different ways, and each way supports a different end goal. This video explores the idea of intentionally learning: making sure to stay on target and immerse yourself in the appropriate resources.
The bad news: Ctrl+Paint isn’t going to be your source for learning anatomy. I only want to teach subjects that I feel totally comfortable with, and frankly... anatomy isn’t one of them. The good news: anatomy is already very well documented! This post is going to become a ‘living document’ about anatomy instruction. I’m starting it out with a few of my favorites, and I’ll add additional sources as I learn about them. Do you have a favorite? Send me an email or add it to the comments!
Of the two major approaches to figure drawing, this is the technique designed for drawing from your imagination. In short, you break the body down into geometric forms in order to envision them from any possible camera angle. Illustrators, comic artists, and concept artists often work in this way because it is versatile and does not require exact reference. This type of drawing absolutely requires perspective drawing, so make sure you’re comfy with that before you dive into the human form.
Why it’s useful: It’s versatile. If you’re working with deadlines, you might not have the ability to find a model or shoot your own reference photos. It’s also a great building block for stylized drawings and designing creatures, monsters, and dinosaurs. If you’re able to simplify a human body, the same exact skills help you envision anatomy that doesn’t exist in real life. Additionally, this skill helps in designing human-like creatures such as robots and some vehicles.
Where it falls short: Specific details. It’s easy to fall into a “Barbie and Ken” trap in which you always draw your figures the same way. In order for this process to work you’ll be simplifying the characters in your mind - creating a visual ‘shorthand’. When rushing, this often leads to your characters looking repetitive. It’s important to use photo reference for specific details like interesting haircuts, clothing styles, and faces.
Figure Drawing Design and Invention by Michael Hampton - This book is fantastic. I’ve read a lot of books which help simplify anatomy into geometric pieces, but this is by far my favorite. Get it in print, not as a .PDF -- you’re going to want this one on your desk at all times.
Andrew Loomis - I’ve mentioned him in previous videos, but he’s worth mentioning again. This classic commercial illustrator amazing at simplifying the body into a formula. If you’ve ever read a “How to draw ____ characters” book, it’s a bit like that.... but 1000 times more useful. Truly a master.
The Vilppu Drawing Manual by Glen Vilppu - He’s a modern master following in the tradition of Andrew Loomis. I had the pleasure of attending a lesson with Glen and he’s an amazing instructor. Not to be missed.
The term "classical figure drawing", or observed anatomy, involves using a using a live model or photo as reference. If you go to art school, this is how you’ll be introduced to anatomy. Artists have been working in this way for centuries, and it’s a fantastic challenge for any skill level. This sort of classical painting and drawing are often used for fine art.
Why it’s useful: Learning to see a person in front of you and transfer their likeness onto a page is priceless. There’s a reason artists have been painting portraits in this manner for most of recorded history. Even if you don’t use this for your commercial work, it’s a fantastic way to practice and learn about the body.
Where it falls short: It’s not nearly as versatile as constructive anatomy. If a comic artist needed to pose a live model for each panel of her comic page, she’d never finish the book. Used for more academic pursuits, drawing from life is generally a slower and less commercial process. Especially if you are working with larger than life settings like fantasy and Sci-Fi, observed anatomy can be impractical.
The Artist’s Complete Guide To Drawing the Head by William Maughan - This book is the best resource I’ve ever read on portraiture. He focuses on the shapes of shadows to achieve likeness... and... it works! Certainly a must read.
Do you have more resources to add? Let's hear about them in the comments! I'll be updating the post as time goes on.
We're trained as children to think in terms of 'shape'. This is one of the things you have to overcome when learning to be an artist. Seeing shape is fine for some things, but observed drawing is best done in terms of form instead of shape. Shape is a 2D abstraction, form is seeing in 3d - with depth and volume. To finish out perspective week this video provides an exercise to help you envision form. All you need to do is go find some cool pictures of bugs!
And if you like this video, please remember to click the "Like" button at the bottom of the post! The only advertising for Ctrl+Paint is word of mouth, so I'm counting on you guys to spread the word. Thanks!
Assignment: Overlay form lines onto photos of interesting bugs.
Things to consider: Draw through the object, envision the structure.
Are you good at drawing straight lines? How about freehand straight lines? This video explores the art of drawing straight lines in Photoshop. There are a few different ways to approach it within the software - each having pros and cons. Ultimately, the best method will always be 'freehand', which takes a lot of practice. In a way, this assignment is just like a musician practicing scales or an athlete running drills. There's no trick to drawing a straight line freehand - it's simply a mechanical motion that you hone with practice. If you can't do it right away, that's normal. Good luck drawing straight lines! And if you like this video, please remember to click the "Like" button at the bottom of the post! The only advertising for Ctrl+Paint is word of mouth, so I'm counting on you guys to spread the word. Thanks!
Assignment: Draw Straight Lines. Lots of them.
Things to consider: Draw from the elbow and shoulder, keep your wrist rigid, have patience (this takes a lot of practice)
The first video (targeted learning pt. 1) gives a look into the future of ctrl+Paint's future with a sample assignment. This video explores what you bring to the table, and how you might enhance the value of each and every art assignment you have.
this video is a taste of what's to come in the near future. Targeted learning. As I mention in the video, here are the recommended videos to watch before attempting the assignment:
Whether you post your results in the DA group or not is up to you - but have fun with the assignment!
[update:] Make sure to draw each vidwpoint from observation -- not imagination. Don't be afraid to get up close to your jug!
Exaggeration is not only for cartoonists and caricature artists. This video explores some of the practical benefits of exaggeration in your sketching and research drawings. Also, it's fun!
It's hard to be a beginner. This video aims to give a bit of perspective and encouragement. Additionally, it will help you avoid some mistakes in the kitchen.
Drawing on a USB tablet can be challenging. Especially if you're used to drawing on paper, it's likely that your sketched lines are less confident than you'd like. This video offers a solution!
The Ctrl+Paint unplugged series is here to help you improve your basic drawing skills, and this video will show you what to expect in upcoming entries. Basic drawing doesn't seem as exciting as digital painting, so it's often skipped by beginners. Don't make this mistake!
In order to draw complicated shapes from your imagination, you'll first need to simplify. Constructive form is a mindset that allows artists to make big challenges much smaller by thinking first of basic primitives: cube, cone, sphere, and so on. Any object can be envisioned as a collection of these basic primitives. This video shows the process by which I can draw a character from World of Warcraft utilizing constructive form. Make sure to catch the other parts of the constructive form miniseries!