About Kim

Hi, I'm Kim. I built these drawing tools to keep myself in practice after I graduated from college. Over time, they've become more popular than I had ever imagined. During the day, I'm a web developer, and create websites for businesses & non-profits.

A sneak peek at the new site

As you’ve probably heard by now, this site will be relaunching under the name Line Of Action on November 24th. With the new name comes an all new look and totally rebuilt drawing tools that incorporate many of the features you’ve been hoping for for years.

Last week, we took a look at what’s in store for the drawing tools themselves. This week, I wanted to offer a peek at the new look of the site.

Much of the redesign inspiration came from our beautiful new logo:

Line of Action logo

While the layout remains very similar to what you’re used to, the overall aesthetic is cleaner, more modern, and easier to read.

Special attention has been paid to making it easier to find and update information about your own account — while logged in, links to your account and profile information will be visible both in the side bar, and in a new menu in the top navigation.

The forums especially have a totally new look. No more tiny, cramped type (click image for full size)–

forumview

And a greater emphasis has been placed on featuring recent forum posts throughout the rest of the site, to make sure you get the feedback you’re looking for faster.

We’ve also added a new forum called Support & Suggestions, which should help to keep the Shop Talk forum clear for friendly chit chat. Plus, it will be easier for us to immediately see and address any problems you’re experiencing or ideas that you have.

The entire site will now (finally) fit on mobile. We’ve added some quick icons at the top that will let you quickly navigate to the drawing tools and to the forum without even having to click to open the full site menu:

loa-mobile

 

I’m so excited to be able to share the new site with you. Just 14 days left until relaunch!

A sneak peek at the new drawing tools

I know that you’re dying to know more about the new drawing tools that are scheduled for release on November 24th along with the move to the new site, line-of-action.com. Here’s a taste of what they’ll have at launch:

  • Redesigned, cleaner user interface
  • The new tools are more mobile friendly so you can use them more effectively from your phone or tablet.
  • You can choose a custom length of time for each photo to be shown to you, whether you’d like to do a super fast 5 second gesture line practice or 15 minute sketches.
  • On screen countdown timer so you can see at a glance how much longer you have to wrap up sketching each pose
  • Clicking or tapping the screen will hide the toolbar, so you can enjoy full screen drawing bliss. Just click or tap again to bring it back!
  • During class mode, you’ll be informed how many more poses are left in each duration, before the timing will change on you. (For example “4 more poses of this length,” might show in front of the timer)
  • All “class mode” times have been updated. Previously, the timing that you picked was a little approximate — break time wasn’t taken into account very well, for example. So the number of various pose durations has been tweaked to be more exact, and suggested lengths (complete with timers!) for each break time have been implemented so you know how long you have to do hand stretches before it’s time to get under way again if you want to stay on schedule. In longer classes that actually include a lunch break, a mini warm up has been added after the lunch break to help you get back into the swing of things.
  • A confirmation window has been added when quitting a class early or stopping a standard gesture drawing session, to prevent accidentally losing your place.

The new code-base that we have will make many more wonderful features much more possible for the future, like the ability to construct a custom class, or perhaps even using your own collection of photos.

In standard mode (click for full size):standardmode

In class mode, with the toolbar hidden (click for full size):

classmode

A look at one of the retooled class sessions:

classlength

An all new site, entirely rebuilt tools

Dear gesture drawing friends,

You’ve been waiting oh so patiently for updates, and I’m so glad to be able to announce one of the biggest updates in the history of these drawing tools is on the horizon.

As many of you know, back when I originally put these tools together, I had just made them for my own practice without realizing anyone else would ever use them, so I neglected to give them a name. But the time has long since come and gone that it made sense to just continue referring to the site as “my gesture drawing tools.” Many of you have taken to referring to them as pixelovely because of the domain name, when in actuality, that’s the name I use for my freelance web development business.

On November 24th, this site will re-launch under the name Line of Action. It will get its own domain, its own brand, and a much better defined plan for updates, improvements, and photo shoots. But it won’t just be a fresh coat of paint and some new documents; when we relaunch, it will be with a whole new set of drawing tools.

That’s right, the gesture drawing tools have been completely rebuilt from the ground up. We did this partially to make it more flexible for future uses, but also to bring you the features you’ve wanted for ages: An on-screen timer for how much longer you have to wrap up the pose you’re drawing before the next one appears. The ability to set a custom time interval. The ability to hide the interface buttons and take your photos full screen. Just a better all around drawing experience!

In the coming weeks I’ll have some more updates for you about what to expect from this transition. I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait!

Is talent a myth?

If you’ve ever felt discouraged that other artists are more “talented” than you, I want to call this article to your attention right away: http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/06/01/479335421/practice-makes-possible-what-we-learn-by-studying-amazing-kids

This is the dark side of believing in innate talent. It can beget a tendency to assume that some people have a talent for something and others don’t and that you can tell the difference early on. If you believe that, you encourage and support the ‘talented’ ones and discourage the rest, creating the self-fulfilling prophecy. … The best way to avoid this is to recognize the potential in all of us — and work to find ways to develop it.

Seriously, go check it out!

An interview about the site

I was recently digitally interviewed by Andrea Pinto, a student at the Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santo in Ecuador, who wanted to learn more about the site as part of a class project. As I was writing my answers, I realized that other people might have some of the same curiosities, and asked Andrea for permission to share the questions and my answers with all of you.

When did you created the website and which was the main reason for its creation?

Right after college. In college, I had lots of access to figure study classes with live models. After I graduated, I did not have the money to hire models on my own, and I would have had to travel a very long way to find a class to join, and I didn’t have a car.

So, I created a little slideshow script for myself that mirrored the format of the figure drawing classes that I had had in school. The first version of it utilized images I had found just by searching the internet. This version was never online.

Later, I was going on vacation with my family, and wanted to be able to practice while on the road with a laptop that was so old and tiny it wouldn’t store all the images that I wanted to practice with locally. At that point, I turned the slideshow script into a website, so I could access it while on the road. Because I was putting it online and I realized there was a possibility that other people might eventually find it, I wrote to a number of photographers I knew or admired (mostly from the website DeviantArt, back then) and asked if they would be interested in donating photos to the tool. That way, I was only making use of images to which I had the rights. This resulted in a very strange patchwork of licensing agreements that to this day limits what I am was allowed to do with the site, but it did get the site up and running very quickly and cheaply.

Once it was online, I shared the URL with a friend or two from college, and told a handful of people on DeviantArt who I also knew were studying figure drawing.

It was very, very ugly back then. I had put almost no effort into styling the website, because it was just for me and a few friends to practice with. I didn’t even name the site; I just called it “Figure and gesture drawing tools” and put it on a subdomain of my company website. As a result, many people think the tool is called PIXELovely, but it isn’t — that’s the name of the web design company I run as my day job. What name should you use for the tools, then? I’m still thinking about that; it’s never been given a name beyond a description of what it is, though I hope to finally change that in 2016.

How long did it took to the site to gain popularity and a greater number of visits?

I wasn’t tracking in the beginning, because I didn’t actually expect anyone to use it. So I’m not completely sure. Some months, maybe even a year after I put the tool online, I got a huge bill from my host for bandwidth. It turned out that from the few people I had told, they had told more people, and then it got to the point that thousands were using it every day. When I realized that, I put a little more effort into making the site nicer to use, and put up a donate button asking people to help me pay for the bandwidth. Once it looked nicer, I felt more comfortable telling more people myself, and made a few posts on various forums telling people about it.

How do you find the models that pose in your videos?

In the early days, I didn’t. Photographers would “loan” us the rights to use their photos. But last year, I saved up some of the donations people have sent to hire a photographer and a studio, and we shot photos for two new tools: hands/feet, and the faces/expressions tool. I chose these as our first forays because after many years of running the site, it was clear that these were some of the most difficult parts of the body for artists to learn to draw, and it would be beneficial for all of us to put in some extra focus on those studies. It also seemed much less difficult, expensive and legally challenging than hiring nude models.

But, back to the original question — the models for the hands/feet and faces/expressions tools were volunteers, most of whom are artists themselves and were excited to help other artists. We posted ads around town and asked anyone we thought might be interested. Scheduling was a big challenge in this process. We ended up with mostly people in their 20s and 30s because people with families tended to be too busy to want to come to the shoot, or bring their children.

I would like to repeat this process to get more photos for all the tools, and include a wider variety of people.

How long does it take to film one session of life modeling?

When we did hands/feet and figures/faces, we were taking photos from early morning to late evening. The photographer and I didn’t even get a lunch break! It took between 45 minutes to more than an hour to shoot each model. Some of them were very confident and creative about coming up with poses, and others needed much more direction or reassurance.

Is there any particular reason for using always a structure of 1, 2 and 5 minutes videos?

If you put the tool into “class mode”, it will start you off with 30 second drawings, and gradually increase the length of the poses up to 2 hours! Of course, it depends on the length of the class that you choose. Clearly, if you only set it up to give you a 30 minute class, it limits how many poses and for how long it can show you.

What I was taught when I was in school was that it was crucially important to start your practice with very short “warm up” drawings, even – or perhaps especially – if the time seemed so short you felt it was “impossible” to get a drawing done in the length of time that they gave you.

This is because one of the most common traps that artists fall into is focusing on details too early. For example, you might look at a model and think that their expression is so beautiful that you want to draw it right away, and only when you’ve got a lot of detail done on the face do you start drawing other parts of her body. Then, you might think that the way she is holding her hands is gorgeous, and get overly focused there. The end result is a lot of pieces that look good individually, but when taken as a whole, they somehow don’t seem to fit together. They might be too big or too small when compared to one another, or they might be too far apart or too close together. This method of “piecemeal” drawing also tends to lose the energy and direction of a pose. But if you know you have only 30 seconds to capture the entire image in front of you, you change your priorities to capturing the entire pose in as simple and quick a way as possible. In the beginning, this might mean putting down a single line on your paper, that describes the way the energy is moving in the pose you see.

If you can make a habit of capturing the whole before you focus on the details, you can infuse your drawings with a wonderful life and energy, as well as solve many common issues of proportion and placement.

Starting with short poses and then increasing the length worked wonders for me in getting into this habit, and seems to work for many others as well. I’m told it’s very traditional and has been used since the renaissance to train artists. So I kept that format.

That said, custom class structures and custom pose lengths has been a popular request for years, and just started to be worked on. So this may change in the relatively near future!

By the way, when I was in school, we called those super short poses “gesture drawing”, because often you only had time to make one gesture with your hand before the pose changed. You just tried to make that one gesture count!

Do you have some kind of requirements(physical features) that you ask your models to have or don’t have? Which are they?

No. I would personally like to get a MUCH wider range of body types, ages and ethnicities into all of the tools. I think it is important to learn about different body structures, how fat settles on the body, where lines appear on the skin when it has seen a lot of use, and more.

Right now, especially in the figure study tool, our models are primarily young, white, female and skinny. Since most of the images were provided by generous photographers, I didn’t have much control over what images were given to the site. Young, skinny, white females made up a huge portion of the images that I was offered, and so that’s what we have. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this set of attributes at all, I just think there’s more out there, and variety is beautiful and educational!

I do plan to do more photoshoots with our own models to try and correct this, and I hope it’s some day soon. I am considering running a kickstarter or similar to try and speed up this process.

Do you have a contract between you and the model before shooting the session?

Of course.

How do you maintain the website and pay the models If your [tools] are free?

People from all over the world send in small donations to help support the site. Nearly all of this money goes toward bandwidth, but some gets saved for photo shoots. So far, the models (that we have shot ourselves — I don’t know about the models that the other donating photographers worked with) have all been volunteers. I’m certain that this will have to change when we start to take nude photos of our own.

The site is not really commercial in any way. I’ve considered adding a few more paid features to the site so that we can bring in the funds to do more photoshoots, update with more tutorials, and create extra tools like apps and other goodies, but I don’t anticipate it will ever be a real “money maker” beyond supporting itself. It’s important to me to make sure that even those who do not have a penny to their name have access to the tools they need to practice their art.

Do your consider that people need to have bases(from books or magazines) about human anatomy drawing before doing live drawing?

Is the question about needing to practice drawing from photographs before doing live drawing? If so, I don’t think it’s true at all; live models are always the best way to learn. But if all you have access to is photos, then you make do.

If the question is that people need some training before they start doing gesture drawing, I’m not sure I agree with that either — some of the greatest artists in history were self taught, just by studying the human form and drawing as much as possible. But I do know that training can be an amazing “short cut” and give some insights in weeks that you’d otherwise need years to realize on your own, so I definitely encourage everyone to take advantage of every class, book and article they can get their hands on! I’ve tried to pen a few articles on the site to answer some of the most common questions I get asked, but I don’t always know the answers to some of the questions people I ask! For this, I hope the forum helps, where a wider array of people can chime in.

Is there any process or steps to do a figure drawing?

This depends a great deal on the artist, and what they are attempting to learn more about, or what they want to express in their finished work. I’m not sure there’s any “wrong way.”

However, since many people struggle to get started, I’ve written some blog articles with a suggestion about one way to start practicing.

Gesture basics #1: Line of action
Gesture basics #2: Torso and hips
Gesture basics #3: Joints

What do your think about the thought that life drawing is an “indecent act”?

I think it’s misguided – studying the human figure is essential to improving as an artist, if you intend to produce images of humans at any point in time.

Much like you would not want a doctor caring for you that had never studied the human body, you also would not want an artist (who draws humans) that did not understand how musculature and the skeletal structure works. That is just basic knowledge to get the job done, and there is no better way to gain this understanding than to actually study the unclothed body in many poses and in motion.

Even if you have, or plan to have, a personal style that is very “cartoony” or stylized (à la Picasso for one example), it is important to have a strong grasp of the basics before you start to “break the rules”. This lets you “break the rules” on purpose, in deliberate, chosen ways, instead of letting your art fall to accident.

Being able to make deliberate decisions about what you will exaggerate, downplay or omit in your drawing helps you to control the message you are sending, or the feeling you are creating.

What would you say to someone that doesn’t agree with life drawing because he/she thinks it is obscene?

I might point out that many of the greatest works of art in history are nudes. I might also point out that knowledge of the body is critical to drawing a person, even if they are clothed in the image!

I know that some people have personal or religious objections against looking at nude imagery, and in an effort to be respectful to them, I have an option in the figure study tool to only be shown models whose state of dress is “decent”. I think that is perfectly fine, if that is how someone wishes to practice. I think they are making learning anatomy more challenging on themselves, but if they are willing to deal with that, then why not? That is okay if it is their choice.

But that is a personal choice; it is when people try to force their personal choice on others by saying that NO artist anywhere should study the nude figure that I start to lose patience.

Honestly, I don’t talk to a lot of these people. It is like arguing with someone who thinks that plumbers should not learn about toilets, because toilets are gross. They are welcome to personally find toilets gross, but I bet they could not tell you how any plumber could do their job without learning this piece of information!

Some people have very extreme views about preventing others from seeing nude imagery, and even resort to terrorism to try and force others to comply. Over the years, this site has received threats, suffered denial of service attacks, and even a number of hacking attempts by people with intense ideological disagreements about nude figure study. If someone feels this strongly, there is really no reasoning with them.

I have also heard from people in countries around the world who have said that attending a nude figure drawing class could mean imprisonment or worse, so using this site is the only way that they can learn. I am stunned by their bravery in finding other ways to learn even if it means risk to their persons or reputations! It is humbling to think I have helped people like this, even in a small way. It never occurred to me back when I first put the tool together. But I feel terrible that they have all these added challenges to learning. It’s hard enough to learn even without added fear!

What advice would you give to someone who does life drawing for the first time?

Keep at it! It takes a long time to master, but it’s very possible with regular study. Do not be too hard on yourself at first. Set small, achievable goals for practice. Don’t compare yourself to other people, just to yourself from yesterday.

Figure study is one of the hardest types of art to learn, not just because the human body is complex (so are animal bodies!) but because human brains are typically better at identifying and recognizing other humans and all the details about them than they are at noticing details about anything else in the world! It’s a survival skill to be able to tell how other people are feeling by looking at them, so large portions of our brain are devoted to it.

But for the same reasons it’s very challenging, it’s also very powerful for creating art and story telling.

We’re still here, and we’re not going anywhere

This has been a harrowing few weeks for me and everyone who loves this site.

As you may know, over the last several months we’ve been experiencing what I would describe as a shocking number of hacking attempts. We fought them off and fought them off and finally, one made it through and covered the site in scary black screens and threatening sounds for a few days. When I managed to clean that up and keep them out, someone else resorted to a denial of service attack that brought down the site and drove my hosting costs through the roof at the same time. To avoid going into debt, I had to take the site down briefly while I moved to a new server and worked, once again, to bolster security.

Many of you have written to express concern over the site’s future, and also gratitude for the service ever being provided even if it were fated not to come back. I can’t tell you how comforting that has been during these struggles. No one has been rude, pushy or demanding. It’s refreshing to see that despite some nasty people, there are more who are good, decent and caring. Thank you, truly.

I know many of you have been eager to know what the fate of the site will be, and I want to reiterate: I am still committed to providing and improving these tools for the long haul, even if we’re having a brief period of difficulty right now. In the grand scheme of things, this is a hiccup, and I know we’ll all persevere together. I’m very sorry for the inconvenience in the meanwhile!

Overview of Life Drawing Techniques and Methods

Paintingdemos.com just published an article that gives a bird’s eye view of many different common life drawing techniques. Their overviews link to more in-depth explanations of each technique, so if one appeals to you, you can quickly find more information. They even mentioned this site and referenced one of our articles!

Check it out at http://paintingdemos.com/life-drawing-techniques-and-methods/

Loish just published a tutorial on digitally painting female faces

tutorial___drawing_a_female_face_by_loish-d8k5pzn

The super talented artist Loish just put out a very thorough tutorial on how she goes about digitally painting female faces in her particular style. She is known for a slightly cartoony style and rounded female figures with large, expressive eyes, and gorgeous command of color. I know many of you reading this blog are admirers of her work!

So if you want to see Loish’s process for female faces, check out her tutorial here: http://loish.deviantart.com/art/tutorial-drawing-a-female-face-517588691

 

 

International politics and us

A lot of things have happened since I last posted here.

When last I gave you an update, I was preparing for a second photo shoot to generate more original images for our tools — this time, we were lining up models over 60 and under 15 to round out our collections of hands, feet and faces. Unfortunately, a few weeks before the day of the shoot, the photographer I had been working with had a family crisis and needed to step out. At that point, I was paralyzed by uncertainty, and lost a lot of time just trying to figure out what to do next. It had taken long enough to find a photographer I loved in the first place. There had been some false starts with others, who had disappointed in various ways for various reasons, so I was overjoyed when this one stepped in and made the first photo shoot so successful.

I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t know how long she would be tied up with family matters, so I didn’t know whether it was worth going through the process of searching for and vetting a new photographer. By the time it became crystal clear that no, I should not wait on her, a few months had passed and I became busy with my own work and life. So I put the money for the shoot back into the bank and have been holding onto it until the next opportunity presented itself.

Time passed. I answered emails and gathered photos for an environment study tool, but at first was too overwhelmed with work to keep up with making blog posts, and then a little embarrassed to make blog posts after such a long gap. I kept saying, when I finally get the shoot together, then I’ll have something really great to post!

Then last night a group calling itself “The Islamic State” attempted to hack this site and post all manner of threatening things. Their attempts were thwarted, and I am spending today hardening the site even further in case they try again with new tactics. I’m furious; I can only assume they object to the site because it’s possible to see nude or semi-nude human bodies.

Well, guess what, jerks? We won, and I’m adding a handful of new nude photos to the figure study tool today to celebrate.

Also, if you happen to know a good photographer in the Beaverton/Portland/Tigard Oregon area, send ’em my way! I want to schedule another hands/feet/faces photo shoot for this summer.

Inspiring animal photos

The Annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards just announced their 50 finalist photos. They were so breathtaking, I had to share the link with all of you as inspiration. I know many of you are devoted animal-artists!

cb07843fdfc6bf6ed02178615484640f_970x

http://news.distractify.com/culture/wildlife-photos-of-the-year/?v=1

Remember, we do not own the rights for these, so while you can always practice from copyrighted photos from the privacy of your own home without anyone’s permission, they aren’t good reference sources for any work you intend to profit off of or display. But do drink deep of their beauty and feel your brain tingle with related ideas!