Oh No, I'm Lost: General critique on multiple drawings

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by Gesture P 11 months ago.

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  • #29656

    Good day!

    I have been trying to seriously improve my art for a handful of years now, but I feel like I have hit a plateau where my muscle memory is ingrained with bad habits that I'm not really sure how to shake.

    What can I do? What practices should I get into more? Whenever I try to draw, my lines, structure, angles, planes, and perspective feels off... I struggle with planes and constructing elements in a way that makes them feel volumetric and solid. I would appreciate some pointers and resources (and how to take advantage of them!) so I can finally be on the right path; I'm very lost on where to go next, and it sure feels like I've been beating around the bush for a while!

    Thank you very, very much in advance!


    • Voelpes edited this post on May 7, 2023 6:12pm. Reason: added something that crossed my mind -- specifying struggles, so to speak
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    Hi Voelpes, first id like to say your style looks very geometric and energetic. Its clear youve spent a long time developing it. I specifically really like the way you exagerate faces and capture expressions!

    Im your junior in terms of art, but one thing i tend to do to force myself to innovate with my art is style studies. I'll find an artist I like and pick a piece of their art, first tracing over it and then trying to mimic it with just a reference, and finally trying to do an original piece mimicking the chosen artists style. Its an excersize that takes a long time, and is frustrating at times, but i always come away from it with new tricks and ways of thinking of things. I find it forces me not only to think of how I would do the shapes at hand, but also forces me to try and dissect how the other artist was approaching it, as well as forces me to give up my usual muscle memory in the tracing phase. Maybe finding an artist that you think thrives in your weak spots(angles and perspective) and dissecting how they do, or even a few and analyzing different approaches to the same problem.

    I hope it ends up being a useful exersize! good luck out there!

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    Love how much of the loosest and liveliest caricatures and colors and tones of your faces and expressions, but I think and feel that your abstractions and exaggerations could use the most intensity and insanity yet this morning, so how would you like to do 30 more minutes of 29 second quickest faces and expressions? As a result, your faces and expressions will be the most loosest and liveliest in your master studies, without fear of toning down the guts of the studies naturally.

    Good luck practicing and remember, HAVE FUN with it!

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    Thank you for your responses, Polyvios and Sci Girl! I will try them and report back once I've done a few studies along with practices!

    One thing I have trouble with during the 30-second face practices is constructing the face -- I'm rather lacking in anchors to build the entire expression with, and they oft end up rather lopsided. If anyone could point me to some resources that really help in strengthening how to build the face (or tips!) I would highly appreciate it. Thank you in advance!


    Some advice Ive been working on lately for my own faces has been the advice of getting a real feel for the skull. Ive been reading the "artists complete guide to facial expressions" by Gary Faigin and he advises that before drawing any face to break down the skull into its component parts--a rounded box and a wedge. On these two components the rest of the skull is sculpted and the face is overlaid. Maybe instead of focusing on expressions with just thirty seconds, you should focus on the overall shape of the head. Try to especially mark the chin and center of the head, and either the thirds you want to divide the head into, or the eyeline you want to mark, as well as where the neck connects relative to the chin and ears. Trying to draw some just plain skulls may also help you get a sense for the overal geometry of the face and skull.


    Hello, and thanks for your inputs!

    First of all I'm trying out the 30-second (and some 3-minute/5-minute) face practices, and my weakness in building faces have reared it's head! I am rather lost as to how to construct the face itself, even with skulls. Any pointers would be appreciated, thank you!


    If you are having trouble with the skull, then I reccomend just practicing the skull. Or maybe a more detailed mannquein head. Take one and just pracice drawing its shape over and over at different angles. Then practice squashing and stretching it while you do you 30 second drawings. DOn't focus so much on the little details. Form is very important for realistic faces. When you add the details without a solid foundation, they can be placed slightly off model and you get that melted face kind of look.

    Practice drawing that basic skull form or mannequin head and you'll be surprised how quickly you can access it when you decide to add the other details. You'll get to the point where you can do those small details without even putting them down. I have a feeling that since you practiced it before, they will come back to you faster than you think.

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    Hi Voelepes, I hope you are having a good day! Something to keep in mind with this critique I'm about to give is that you should still explore your personal style and stylization in general. With that in mind, I see a big opportunity for you to grow in your fundamentals. You mentioned struggling with fundamentals like perspective, lines, and form. In particular you mentioned having issues with making your artwork feell vollumetric and solid. In your paintings and drawings, there is alot of business and complexity. There are folds, many loose brush strokes, and even on the faces and hair there are many colors presented next to one another. Although realism conveys nuance and complexity in color and value, it can also make it difficult to see the big picture. I would recommend doing some studies that focus on simplicity. Here are some ideas for drawing/painting excersices.

    1.) Geometric mannequins

    Take an object or person you can physically see rather than a picture. I would only use a photograph in specific situations. I'd recommend starting with a simple object with hard and soft edges like a household appliance or game controller. If you need a bigger challenge, try using people and animals as reference. Your goal should be to understand the dimensions of a person. You will need a good and simple light set up to do this. Dont position your light in such a way that it flushes out the shapes and shadows cast on the face. Shadows and highlites communicate the form of anything. If you are still having difficulty in this excercise, copy anatomically accurate and simplified designs that are pre-made.

    2.) Value study.

    Take a black and white movie or photograph and create a thumbnail of the image using only black, white, medium gray, and a medium dark gray. The goal isn't to make the most accurate or beautiful image, but to map out general areas of value in an image and to understand the relationship of the values. Make your thumbnails simple and small.

    Its also a good idea to continue experimenting with the style you already have. I would hate to see you loose your style to accomodate for strict realism.


    Personally I'd avoid using a circle as a base, instead going for the overall shape of the head. I've always found that the circle can cause problems when done wrong and adding the jaw in makes it look longer than it is. Of course this is my own opinion and you don't need to listen to me.

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    Thank you for all the responses! Life and college has been getting in the way of practicing, but I feel like I've made a bit of progress. Here's my latest piece:

    I think it's still missing something, but I'm not sure what. Planes? Better lighting? I would appreciate it if anyone can point me to a resource to help paint better, thank you in advance!


    Build from the ground up, you don't have the knowledge yet to go from rough sketch -> final painting. Do your rough sketch then make a clean sketch then cell shade and then you can apply your advance painting techniques.


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