Mensajes en el foro por Aunt Herbert

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    I am admittedly treading on a bit of thin ice here, as I myself haven't found the impetus to dedicate myself to drawing from imagination in a structured manner. I have been wanting to get there eventually, but for now I kind of always get stuck on yet another problem I want to overcome in drawing from observation first. I at least bought a mannequin, now.

    But the general plan looks sound.

    For step 1 I think the source numero uno that has to be mentioned is Great introduction to the concept of line quality, short and crisp, and then goes straight into explaining how to solve the most important problems in perpective drawing. I also love the pedagogical approach, as they provide a good experience of how important structured training for art development is, and how fulfilling it is to watch your own fast progress.

    Been there, done that, can recommend, would do it again, 10/10!

    Step 3 I would recommend doing a course first. I personally did the Figure Drawing Fundamentals on Stan Prokopenko offers free courses and paid courses, but the free courses pretty much include all the essential stuff. I think the idea behind his paid courses is rather, that if you found his teachings valuable enough, you can send him some money, and get some extra freebies as a sign of gratitude.

    The human figure course on starts first and foremost by explaining what basically the torso does, "the masses", before he adds a more detailed explanation about the joints and limbs. I found his lessons and assignments convincing, easy to follow, and feel confident in applying what I learned from the course. I am pretty certain the principles taught apply equally to drawing both form observation and imagination, just I personally have been glued to one side so far.

    There are probably other good tutorials on the topic, too, but is at least extremely solid, 9/10, I would say.

    For gesture drawing from observation, you need stuff to observe. You are already on, but I feel also deserves a recommendation. Very similar concept, just without the forum and critique aspect, but a different set of photographers and models, which actually makes more of a difference, than I would have expected.

    The step 2, the mannequin... all I can say, quite a while back I experimented with just trying to draw a model that I could observe from one side also from all the other sides, and the attempt drove me nuts. Which is why I decided to get the mannequin, so I could solve the 99 problems with perspective, that immediately appeared. Now I just need the drive to rate drawing from imagination higher on my to do list, and to find the energy to finish my other projects quicker to get to it.

    A quite popular author for gesture drawing seems to be Mike Matessi, who is associated with the Force method. I personally must say, he is certainly a heck of an artist, his style is amazing, and the results he and people who studied his method produce are top notch. But to be heretical, I personally just don't understand, what he is talking about, when he explains his stuff. Clearly a lot of the words he uses are quite metaphorical, and when I can watch him or an accomplished pupil perform their drawings on video, while rapping Matessi's explanations in an inner monologue style, I kinda start to understand, what the words are meant to convey, but to me, his private language just ain't simple english.


    I finished Stan Prokopenkos "Figure Drawing Fundamental" course, and and also watched some random youtubers on the topic. I strongly recommend watching at least the free courses on the topic, the paid version is more a "go fund me" with some extra content for gratitude, it doesn't reserve any really essential informations.

    If the method you try to follow is supposed to include the ribcage, then I understand even less, why you don't sketch in the ribcage. As I said, it is a rather simple geometric form, and best of all, it is somewhat stiff AND defines pretty much one third of where the spine has to go... right down the curvature in the center back of the ribcage. If you know where the ribcage, the pelvis and the head are, the spine is pretty much already defined. And the exact placement of the ribcage is also pretty easy to spot from the front. If you look at the dip in between the clavicles for the top and draw a short line down to the solar plexus, then you already know its exact orientation.


    Caveat: I personally did not train following Hampton, so I am not familiar with the exact details of his method.

    First observation: You are obviously already applying a lot of thoughts and critiques to your own drawings. This is great. (I should maybe do that a bit more myself)

    Your lines look purposeful and clean, that is always good.

    About your construction method,... I don't know how Hampton does it, but I personally found that my construction of the human form made good progress, once I found a good abstraction of the ribcage and pelvis first, and then the placement of the joints as a next step. I see you are using the pelvis, but so far you don't include an indication of the ribcage. Instead you mention the spine.

    I guess the logic of focusing on the spine is to make it easier to progress from an initial line of action. I am a big fan of indicating ribcage and pelvis first.

    a) Ribcage isn't a very complex geometrical form to incorporate: more or less a flattened upright egg, with the underside cut off along the lower ribs.

    b) The ribcage pretty much defines the center third of the spine anyways, so finding the ribcage already answers a lot of questions. Add shoulder joints, head, and tissue (muscles, breasts, body fat, as needed), and you are already done with the construction of the upper body.


    Yeah, that came to my mind, too, but then I was already almost done.


    OK, the exact forensics of this thread:

    Step 1: You, Icouldntthinkofaname, started this thread a long time ago for a problem, that you no longer have.

    Step 2: Stupid commercial bot comes along and necros the thread

    Step 3: I see the thread pop up, don't realize the different dates, try to answer to your OG age old question, and report the bot to Sanne

    Step 4: Sanne comes along, deletes the bot entry, reads my answer to you as a new request, and answers to me.

    Step 5: You and me agree, that the OG thread is basically dead, and that stupid spammy bots are stupid and spammy. BUT, me having read Sannes answer to my answer, a seed of a topic is implanted into my mind: "What are the exact problems, that I run into, when I try to extend my drawing times to beyond half an hour.

    Step 6: Seed in my mind develops, and I start to experiment with purposefully overdrawing a piece to see what happens, resulting in this:

    I feel like I made a bunch of observations in the process of doing it, and want a place, where I can put those observations in writing, mostly for myself to structure them clearer, but also with the chance of offering them up for conversation. I decide to use this thread, as it makes sense to me, because the idea originated from here. I AM aware however, that it is technically a breach of netiquette, as I am taking your old thread purposefully completely off topic, i.e. pirating your thread.

    But as you already indicated, that you don't care about the topic any longer, I feel like that is only a veniable sin.

    So, TL;DR: Trying to steal your thread, hope you don't mind.


    I am not an expert on cow anatomy, I can just say, that the hindquarters look perfectly natural to me, while I have some doubts about the physiology of the front side and head.

    I feel like there should be some type of shoulderbones visible, to indicate how the neck, forelegs and torso connect, and the connection between neck and head also lacks definition.

    It depends on your goal for the piece, whether that is actually even a problem. If you go for a children's book depiction, the flatness doesn't even matter so much, but then I would probably stylize the eyes a bit more to look a bit bigger and rounder, and generally try to fuse as many straight lines as possible into smooth curves for maximum cuteness.

    If you aim for naturalism and/or perspective, the lines you chose for the front part do not sufficiently indicate the geometry in 3D. For example, the intersection of leg and head make clear, that the head is above the leg, but I couldn't tell, whether it is resting on the leg, or extended towards the viewer. I believe if the way the neck connects all the other animal parts was made clear, that flatness would be reduced a lot.

    As I said, I am not an expert on bovine anatomy either, I just feel like my eyes keep searching for where the front shoulder would go, where and how the neck curves up to the head, and... shouldn't there be something from a right front leg peeking out somewhere, too? Can cows in that position completely hide that one leg by lying on it?

    The tip of the front hoof also looks a bit off. Too small, or too pointy, maybe?


    Your lines are clean and very deliberate and controlled, and I like your shapes. You seem to be struggling a bit with depicting body fat on overweight models for some reason. Just an observation, I don't exactly have a silver bullet recipe for that, but maybe just keeping an eye on that may help you find a solution.

    The girl on the upper left side of your 5 minute page has an interesting mistake: you focused a lot on drawing her big hair, and as a consequence drew her entire head too big in proportion.

    The 10 minute figure seems to have posed you more of a problem, than the shorter timed stuff. Maybe just bad luck in the random choice of image. Me personally, when on the final draft something shows up, that I don't feel confident with, I tend to use the forward arrow to get a different choice, so the session doesn't end on an anti-climax.

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    OK, this time it isn't a commercial bot necroing the thread, but I have been pondering Sanne's answer to me. Icouldntthinkofaname, I hope you forgive me for basically pirating your old thread.

    "Perhaps what you're missing is pushing past this fear you experience and taking a drawing as it turns out, even if you hate the end result? If you hate it, figure out why. What's not right about it? What do you dislike? And how could you have drawn it differently? This is not only useful to help you learn to 'let go', it also helps you push past your own time limit for drawing."

    I mean, that is a reasonable theory from Sanne, so I decided to put it to the test a bit, to find out, what problems DO actually lie ahead.

    I extended the drawing time by just continuing to work on the same piece, until I reached a point, where I could confidently and somewhat objectively state: "Now it starts to look actually cra--y, and I have no idea how to turn it around and start improving the quality again."

    Trying to put some of my observations into words:

    a) I probably need a different approach to the constructional underdrawing, as the weight this construction has to hold up seems to increase while I base more and more detailed work onto it.

    So far, my approach to a new piece, while it benefits from my familiarity with some technical methods, like Loomis, Reilly, Asaro or Matessi still springs mostly from a naive spontaneous affirmation: Uhh, I like THAT line. uhhh, I like THIS shape, wow, I can see the bones underneath really clearly in that picture, wow, that is a cool shadow... knowledge of the technical stuff helps me to measure a bit better, as I know where to look and what proportions to compare, but I am also eyeballing a lot. Which isn't a problem at all, while I stick to throwing a few lines on the paper and then already grabbing for the next piece of paper to prepare for the next quick sketch. The draft is basically enough to convey to the observer which idea pleased me, and to tell their own visual processor to fill in the blanks, that I couldn't be bothered to work out for them. I can also grab concepts from different techniques, and happily compromise between them, never being called out for it.

    But spending more time working on a piece, pretty much means filling in the blanks and calling myself out on all the weaknesses of the foundation. Those marks for the eyes looked really good and already carried a lot of the emotions I felt from the OG, while they consisted of barely a circle for the pupil and one or two lines indicating the lids, but when I keep working on them, in the process of basically pondering every skin pore and its specific darkness value between them, it may become more and more apparent, that they just aren't symmetric to each other. Nothing a casual glance on the initial sketch would indicate, but while continuing to chisel out more and more details, the motif starts to gradually transform from regular healthy human anatomy to mutant alien space monster anatomy.

    And yes, I am always willing and prepared to cheat in my art, and to start filling in a piece that looks like a study from observation with more and more inventions to patch up the weaknesses, but even my ability to cheat has it limits, and at some point the piece just turns into an ugly piece of patchwork junk.

    b) A better construction alone doesn't do the trick in regards of shading.

    I prefer to draw with an ink brush, with no simple way to remove or redo mistakes. So, when I keep working on a single piece of paper by consistently adding ink to it, the logical outcome is, that more and more ink is added. The logical end result of theoretically putting infinite amounts of time and dedication into a single piece would always be a uniformly black piece of paper.

    And, yeah, I could switch to graphite or coal, to have the ability to erase former mistakes with a piece of rubber, but at some point, I will just start tearing holes into the paper.

    On a more serious level, different degrees of shading just don't progress continuously from each other. The simplest level of shading is just the old comic book approach of indicating shapes by outlining them with solid black ink lines. Now in the natural world, solid black lines just don't exist. Planes, that are almost perpendicular to the eye barely reflect any light towards it and therefor appear dark, that is why the comic book abstraction mostly works for a lot of geometrical bodies, but the more and more I keep working towards photorealism, the more problems I run into, when dealing with the traces of my own outlines, while lighting conditions become interesting, or if the line wasn't meant to outline a perpendicular plane of a body, but just a texture detail in a mostly orthagonal plane.

    Also, deciding whether to block an object into two, four, or more values of darkness leads to very different shapes, so I can't just raise the tonal detail, after deciding I want to spend more time on a given drawing. If I really want to go the full yardstick of highlight, center light, halftone, terminator, form shadow, core shadow, cast shadow, reflected light, occlusion light by just improvising my way up from my comic book style initial sketch, it feels like trying to program a CNC machine from a nintendo game boy. And I am not even crazy enough to mention colors!

    c) It seems I can only hold a visual idea for a limited amount of time. Especially making a break and continuing the same piece later on seems scary.

    This seems to be the most fundamental problem of just extending the time spent on a single piece, yet I feel like it is the hardest to put exactly into words. It harkens back to what I mentioned initially, about the spontaneous affirmative core of every piece I am working on. The joy of discovery of that initial line or shape or anatomical or technical detail can carry me a good way towards focusing on the task at hand. I can come up with some solution, that still serves the purpose, and experience from all the mistakes I made so far on my art journey can even steer me away from the worst pitfalls (a lot of times at least). On a good day, under ideal circumstances, in a comfortable and cozy environment, wide awake and fed just enough I can so far keep being enthusiastic about the same idea for, by now, up to 25 minutes or so.

    Maybe I could just possibly grind and train that period of time up to the amount more accomplished artist are able to invest into a masterpiece. After all, while an average person can hold his breath only a minute, professional pearl divers can train to easily hold it for a quarter of an hour. So it could be anatomically possible. Yet this kind of training sounds a bit too psychedelic for a shaded old sap like me, and the more conventional method of getting used to making breaks while working is probably a better approach to the problem.

    But to me, returning to working on a piece after a break often feels really, really wrong. It can feel like drawing over another artist's work, and the result often looks uncomfortably muddled, compromised and unsatisfactory, until I really succeed into catching that initial enthusiasm again. Also, all the shortcomings I mentioned above seem incredibly highlighted, when I start to analyze the piece enough to continue. "What idiot drew this line, and what the heck where those scrabbles supposed to indicate?" is what a quote from my inner monologue would typically sound like.

    OK, Sanne, thank you for your question of exploring the actual problems, that keep me currently from extending my timing on a piece. I love complaining and whining about stuff as much as the next person, and exploding my aches and pains into something of a lengthy rant on your forum somehow really helped me into understanding these specific borders of my artistic means a bit. I kind of feel a bit embarrassed about possibly exaggerating stuff for dramatic effect now, and feel the urge to delete all of it before hitting the post button, but on the other hand, there is also a feeling of pride for the authorship, and the possibility, that someone else may find this rant inspiring or interesting, or want to add to it, or express empathy or even mention possible solutions, that I just missed, so I will keep it as is, and just hit the post button. NOW!


    OK, got 3 more.

    Bingo 4 is almost cheating. If that doesn't work I will have to reconsider some life choices:

    13 lines, and there probably could have been fewer:

    Bingo 5 should be clear, I think,... 21 lines

    Bingo 6 I saw on the way to work, but only drew it on the way home. It looked a lot simpler, than it turned out to be. I pondered the old problem of when there is enough detail added, and whether more was necessary to clear up the context at around line 30, then I lost concentration on line placement and orientation and added a bit of a mess on the very left side. 35-ish lines total:


    Some general observations about finding simple shapes/pattern in urban environments: The simplest ones all seem to be either technical or architectural.

    There are ofc also people and some animals in cities, but they usually aren't willing or able to hold interesting poses long enough to make good motifs for a stylized drawing. Unless you catch someone sleeping in a public transport or in a park, it is less a question of drawing from observation, and more a challenge of drawing from memory, which seems to be the next harder task after mastering the drawing from observation task.

    With warmer weather the chances to actually find someone in a relaxed pose outside is better, but at -1 degrees Celsius with light snowfall, there is no chance at all.

    And then there are plants, usually trees or brushes, and they pose a special problem: Being essentially fractal structures, it is very hard to find good shortcuts to actually draw them as individual entities. The usual solution is to jump to some level of symbolism to depict them, starting from the old classic child drawing of a brown vertical line for the stem, with a green circle for the crown on top. Architectural schematics usually don't go beyond that level of detail either, and the question of how deep to explore and depict their fractal nature seems completely arbitrary, and therefor not really well suited to go competitive in regards of line economy.

    So, back to technical and architectural motifs, and one pecularity thereoff, that does have an impact on line economy, and that is repetition. There are tons of repetitions in both types of motifs, identical rows of windows or bricks, columns in a roster, etcetera, and while they cetrainly drive up the line count like crazy, (and make the draft process extremely hard, as you have to be extremely disciplined to echo the identical repetition, without inserting noise) on the reception side they do not make the motif look a lot more complex. To a viewer 3 columns of 4 files of identical window frames look hardly more complex than a single window. Don't know exactly, why I find this thought intriguing, but for some reasons it bothered me today.

    A very related thought: If you zoom in just at the centre of the upper part of a modern glass window, complete with its integration into the stone wall of a house, you basically see nothing but almost a dozen of perfectly parallel lines, with only the shades, textures, colours and angles (the angles of the planes in between, relative to the point of view) between those lines varying.


    You do have a good grasp of proportions of the human figure, and on the simpler poses the static construction makes intuitive sense. They look like people standing comfortably and secure.

    The line work on the other hand looks searching and sketchy, a bit trial and error, until one of the lines looks right.

    If you want to develop cleaner lines and grow towards a more finished look, you should probably spend time doing some courses on drawing the human form. I think figuring out tricks like working from an anatomical foundation all from just practice and your own invention would be a way longer and harsher path to follow, and with uncertain results.

    There are free courses and cheap courses. I can recommend, even the free version, but it certainly isn't the only available course.


    Aaargh. 2 and 3 would have needed more lines for clarification. 2 is actually a car tire, and 3 is one of the historical window frames in Hamburg, so no actual bingos, there. But now, that you mentioned it, I see, why they aren't as clear, as I thought. Getting actual feedback IS better than playing solitair and just guessing, what is enough to define the visual idea, and what needs more information.

    I'll post some new attempts tomorrow.


    OK, here are my first 3 bingo entries: (i hope the link works)

    bingo 1: 15 lines

    bingo 2: 8 lines

    bingo 3: 13 lines

    So, the # of lines are noted on the drawings, I would say those are bingo 1, bingo 2, and bingo 3, for everyone who is willing to take a guess at what is depicted, and the next person posting a bingo here, for us to guess, should therefore name its artwork bingo 4, etc.

    Polyvios, I don't even exactly know, what a study group is. Is that a forum feature, that could be useful for this type of exchange?

    From doing it again this morning, and from past experience, one of the challenges after having found a good motif and the right lines, is stepping on the break. A good bingo, i.e. an interesting shape or pattern that conveys a lot of information with sparse means, is also always a great center piece for a drawing, and begs to be expanded. So telling myself, "Nope, that is enough to convey the information, stop it with the embellishing" is really hard.

    On the other hand, the actual drawing portion is done really fast, with about a dozen lines or a few more or less, so it is good to keep the motivation for drawing started on a low energy day.


    OK, here is a little challenge, that I mostly developed for myself to keep urban sketching interesting. I always dreamt about playing it in a kind of friendly competition with other people and compare results, but I never got a group of people organized to play it with, so I mostly did it kind of solitairy game mode.

    Here are the rules:

    #1: Chose any simple object or point of view around you, but don't tell anyone which it is.

    #2: Draw it with as few lines as possible. Count the lines you use.

    #2a: For purpose of this game one line only counts as a single line, if it follows the CSI rule: It has to be either a straight line (I), a simple curve (c), or a bent curve (S) with no more than one change of direction. If a line changes curvature more than once and starts to squiggle around a lot, it counts as a series of lines, which have to be counted separately.

    #3: When all are done, everybody compares drafts. Each object, that can be identified by all participants counts as a "bingo". The person, who's "bingo" was drawn from the least amount of lines can feel themselves as the winner and celebrate/be celebrated appropriately.

    #4: In new rounds of the game, all objects, that have achieved a bingo are excluded from further rounds (at least for the day or session), to keep everybody on their toes. I found it necessary to include this, from my experience of urban sketching. Roads are part of every city, roads are always marked with traffic signs, and sketching a traffic sign is a cheeky way to make sure you win the first round, which is totally within the rules of the game. But if everyone just kept sketching traffic signs on further rounds, the game would become boring quickly.

    As I said, since I invented the game, I only played it in solitairy mode, but I do feel it helped my development as a artist quite a bit.

    a)Drawing with few and simple lines helps focusing on drawing clean lines.

    b)To find stuff to identify with few lines, you have to start watching your surroundings for simple and expressive shapes. This helps overcome the tendency to get lost in unnecessary details when sketching, and also develops clearer, more stylized results.

    c)The goal of the game is not to achieve photorealism or any other specific artistic goal, like mastering perspective (although skills in drawing from perspective defintely help) but to communicate clearly with visual means. This does open the possibility of inventive ways to "cheat the system" without breaking rules, (I never forbid symbolism for example, although written letters should probably be excluded, or the game might divulge into an assembly of four-letter words) and bending rules can be an excellent way of overcoming monotony in daily practice.

    Noooow, the most obvious way to start a forum game would be for me to take the first step and post a few examples. Here are the true reasons, why I don't do it for now: a) It's getting dark outside in Hamburg right now, the thermometer shows -2° Celsius and it occassionally snows, and I don't feel the drive to put on warm clothes to go do a round of urban sketching right now. Not even a short one. b) I could probably start searching through some of my old sketchbooks and scan some examples from there, but I don't want to get lost in memories right now. Also, the spirit of the game is to produce new art, not re-upload old stuff.

    Maybe I will post some still life sketches of furniture or household objects in a bit later this evening. Tomorrow I got an early shift, and I will take pen and paper with me and at least draw a few bingos on my way home and post them here.

    Sadly, the activity in this forum seems to have died down quite a bit, since I was here regularly in march, so I don't expect a lot of responses in a short amount of time. But if someone reads this and has a first go, before I post again, it would make me extremely happy.


    LOL, topic got picked up by a commercial bot and elevated to the top. Bot entry has been deleted by Sanne, but it seems the thread has been necro'ed. Well, someone else could find this useful.


    What somehow worked for me was switching from the "class mode" feature to the "all the same length" option. Doing a lot of short sketches is fun and helpful and all, but it feels like a totally different mode of drawing. In the 30 minute class, you get 2 5 minute and 1 10 minute sketch after the shorties, that is nowhere enough for me to switch mode.

    I prefer now to do some "all the same length" shorties for a time, and then "all the same length" 5 or 10 minutes,... or even set the timer to 3600 seconds and switch the image manually, when I feel I achieved my best. It takes me usually a few attempts to readjust from fast sketching mode to slow deliberate mode.

    The timed class modes are a toy after all, a game to illustrate yet another perspective towards drawing. It's not a law, or a strict teacher. They are great to offer a new experience and show you some additional skills, that you can also work on, but like all learning tools and games, they are best, once you broken them into pieces and found out how ro reassemble them, to accomodate your exact goals and needs.

    But, talking about different modes of drawing. To my chagrin I discovered, that while I got used to do well with times from half a minute to up to 10 minutes or maybe 15 minutes, I so have no clue at all how to invest actually long time into a piece of art.

    I mean, just from watching big art youtubers like Proko or Jazza or James Guerney, when they do really impressive pieces, they spend 15 to 16 hours on a single piece, and I don't have a hint of a clue, how that is humanly possible. Even when I am away from the computer and do urban sketching in the wild, with no timer anywhere near me, after working on a single piece of paper for about a quarter of an hour, I am done, finished, I can't add anything more to it without messing up the OG concept, and I even feel like there is an alarm bell going off inside me, telling me to stop, before I ruin my work. I can take a short break and start a new piece, so it doesn't seem to be a lack of endurance or concentration per se, just some weird aspect of how I conceptualize my pieces.

    I guess I will have to find the right games to ease me beyond THAT border, and get comfortable with it. The amount of pain and frustration I feel, when pushing myself towards that indicates to me, that there are very likely some very valuable shinies to plunder from that dungeon, but so far the level boss kills me every ... frecking .... time.