Forum posts by Aunt Herbert

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    I am not sure, whether 10 minutes is a good time frame for you right now. You are still struggling with proportions quite a bit, and neither you nor your piece gain a lot by spending time on attempting to hatch out a mediocre foundation. The shapes you found for belly, hips and thighs actually look nice, but the upper body, head and arms are oversized. Also, you don't find your lines immediately, and you don't use long lines, instead going more for a trial and error approach with quite short strokes.

    I would recommend practicing one or two minute drawings for now, focusing on simple shapes and clear lines, and consciously reducing the amount of finer details you use for meassuring proportions.

    Hatching properly is quite a science in itself, and it has to start from a good constructional basis, as finding a good orientation for the hatching pattern, that doesn't distract from the pose can't be immediately observed from the reference, and has to be partially deduced from abstract methods. I know that showing volume without halftones is sometimes hard, but for now you should try to keep it to a minimum until you become very confident with basic anatomy and find the excess focus to also take a first look into how lighting works, and what tones indicate which types of shade on a body.


    Can you elaborate on how the S curve is being "antithiesed"?

    The theory behind using (ideally few) simple curves (CSI) is called line economy. Simple curves can be used by the draftsperson in a very controlled way, and reducing the overall complexity of the form leads to very easily readable shapes that look pleasant. There are some minor caveats, like only using single curves ("C"s) on the whole figure, placing them symmetrical and have their ends always match, can lead to snowmansyndrom, where the body appears to be assembled out of a collection of elongated spheres, like a balloon animal.

    I am not aware of specific problems with the S-curve, and use it a lot. The human spine, which is often the basis for the Line of action, naturally follows an S-curve when seen from the side in an upright posture, and S-curves appear all the time on various limbs.

    I am by far not a master draftsman, but I think I can handle line economy decently well, you can check my results on my sketchbook here or on If you have concrete questions about line economy, I will try to answer them to the best of my knowledge.


    Hi, I am a bit worried,... if I flip through the first 5 pages of "student work", literally half of the stuff posted is from me. And, frankly, I AM holding back quite a bit. I mean, it's the 21st century and we all live in an attention economy. I don't want to suck up all the oxygen in the room, so I wonder, how much exposing my own stuff is OK without appearing to attempt to conquer the site?

    I find it quite convenient to be able to post the results of my daily practice here, but, OTOH... Well, a lot of other students seem to do their entire lesson on a single page, which I find questionable from a didactic side, just because only practicing tiny scribbles isn't a very good way to learn good line art. But if I finish even a half-hour lesson, I am holding 18 pages of results. I am usually already only picking the ones I like best, which kind of feels like bragging. Then I have a discussion page in the forum on how to apply the Loomis method to actual photo reference. I finally got a response from someone who seems to have working experience with the method, and I am all giddy and feel the urge to show and discuss all my failed and successful attempts of the last two days, but that would be another 8 page bomb, and I am not even done practicing today.

    So, I would love to have some pointers from the owners of this site and other artists, how much posting max is still on the polite and civil side of things, before I start to annoy the living heck out of everyone else.

    Or would it be better to host all but a few pieces elsewhere and only post links in the forum? If so, which pieces would be most suitable to be hosted here? The best ones? The ones I struggle the most with?


    Aunt Herbert.


    Here is an example of why I find assessing the barebones Loomis construct hard:

    The head obviously has 2 right ears. The outer one is where I expected it to be, merely from following the construct method, only after I indicated the right eye and the outline of the shadows along her right cheek did I realize, that the distance from her cheek to her ear was way too big, and indeed the cut-off of the side of the head on that side should have been way closer to the centre, making the right side of her head too wide.


    Thanks a lot CCC, you truly answered the most important questions, that led me to create this thread.

    You are probably right, that I should temporarily switch back to pencil for a deeper dive. Unfortunately, at the moment it seems like all my graphite pencils have been swallowed up by the creative chaos around my workplace. It's probably time to put tidying up my workplace on the schedule. :(

    You mentioned how on my 1 minute drawings the Loomis construction is barely visible. I noticed that too, but chalked it off as somehow a natural development: When I draw actual brows, the browline will mostly disappear, when I draw nose and chin, the markers for their placement will be usurped by the lines, the only lines that stay visible in my experience are the excess parts, that don't indicate facial features, like the lower front quarter of the original sphere, and the rim of the side planes.

    When I mentioned the lack of individual informations on a Loomis head, that was mostly a reaction to the proposal to quick-sketch them. After 30 secs there just isn't enough visible on a paper to actually critique myself, just the beginnings of a very generic geometric pattern that gives little clues as to whether its proportions or alignments are where they need to be or slightly off.

    I still think spotting such inaccuracies without filling in the features first is hard, but your post just inspired me to give it another try.


    No, plastic is a good thing, I wanted to say it gives a good idea of their volume.

    How to improve,.... well, my house rule, if less than 30% of my practice drawings fail, it's time to raise the stakes. You seem extremely good at what you do, so you should find something more difficult. You got good foundations, now go build a house on them.

    What you chose is an extremely personal artistic decision. You could go for stylization, try to go the extreme of exagerating movement, or test out how much you can simplify your shapes without losing information. Or start exploring lighting and shading, or add more anatomical details, or both, to go for an extremely naturalistic finish.

    Alternatively you could train to draw a lot quicker or from memory, so you can take passer-bys on the street as reference. Or go drawing from your mind altogether without reference, so you can start storyboarding. Maybe instead of single figures you could go for complete compositions. Or start looking out for different artists, that can really drop your jaw and try how closely you can copy what they do. There is a free pdf of Arthur Guptil's "Rendering with pen and ink" on the net, just browse it, and you'll find a boatload of great artists to be inspired from. Talking about pen and ink, experimenting with different pens, pencils, brushes could be worth a try...


    You seem to meet your goals. I love your lines a lot, your torsos look very plastic, the movement looks natural and dynamic. If those figures would be printed in a drawing tutorial as examples, they wouldn't look out of place.


    Thanks, I think I understand now what you mean with "redlining", and see the advantages. I'll have to spend some time scratching my head to decide how to best integrate it into my daily practice routine, though.


    I somewhat disagree with you on your mistakes. I definitely find your figures very readable, I understood on first glance what poses they are in, and the fact, that the proportions of the body masses and legs seem natural helps that a lot. Incompleteness is kind of a problem of shifting goalposts anyway. If you go with the Atelier style, these guys spend weeks and months on finishing a single draft, while Minamoto Musashi was famous for drawing a bird, a tree or a flower with a single stroke of a brush.

    A better knowledge of anatomy will probably improve how you draw joints, but your already well established sense of proportions takes you 90% of the way to the goal.

    What I think is more of a problem is, that you don't trust your instincts. You use a whole lot of lines, searching for the one line you like. That's somewhat natural, as your brain isn't completely used to adjusting how your pen moves on the paper to what your eyes perceive, but it's also a bad habit, and very hard to shake. I would recommend trying to live with your first stroke and not correcting it after the fact, even if it is off. You have another attempt in just 30 sec time, when the next reference shows up. You will end up at first with 80% images that you really hate, 10% that you can live with, and 10% that really surprise yourself. If you keep doing it daily, that percentage will shift very quickly. And if the percentage of images you hate drops below 30% or so, it's time to up the game and define more challenging goals for yourself.

    Remember, there are at least 5000 bad images inside every artist, and the only way to get them out is by putting them down on paper. :D


    The problem with light hatching, especially if you work with ink, is, that you can't really dodge the decision how to orient your hatching lines. There needs to be a clear graphical separation between additional features, like wrinkles, scars or face hair, and the lines of the hatching pattern.

    In my experiments the best results appeared, when I actually found the constructional underpinning and oriented the hatching lines along them. The hard part is, these are not anything that can really be observed from the reference, they only become painfully visible when I ignore them with my hatching.

    I think I understand what you mean, and it works well if the reference is extremely dramatically lit, just a stark separation of dark shapes on a light background, but if the reference is lighted out somewhat more naturally the image loses a whole lot of information if I just ignore the middle tones.

    The effect, that the edge of the hatched out shapes is pretty much defined by where my hatching lines end doesn't make it any easier. Sometimes I draw in those edges with an extra line, but that is often a heavyhanded solution that impacts the overall style more than I intend. If I want to define those edges in more details OTOH I am forced to put the hatching lines closer together, which I would need to correspond with making the lines even finer, to avoid darkening the tone. Drawing the finest possible lines with a brush without losing contact to the paper and ending the line prematurely is a bit of a pain in the butt, too.

    So my theory is, if I get that "plane thingy" nailed down to a far further extent than where I am currently at, it would free my focus to concentrate more on my brush work.


    I would say the time isn't too short, you use too many lines, as you try to go from details to overall structure. Simply increasing the amount of time might just lead you further down the dead end.

    Eventually you will have to learn to see and use overall structure first, before you worry about details. There are some very basic tips displayed by this site throughout the classes, about line of action and finding the masses of the body. A more complete and useful explanation of the concept, as it refers to the human figure I found on The free courses are totally sufficient, and I would highly recommend them to anyone starting out with tackling the human figure.


    OK, I have been wondering what exactly you mean with "Redlining", and been googling it, but so far my search hasn't turned up conclusive results. Can you elaborate?

    And yes, if I stick to Loomis construction, I am drawing a basic circle, a brow line, a center line, one or two cut-outs for the planes on the side, a marker for the nose and the chin, ears, a chinline, and at least two lines to indicate the neck. That's a lot of lines to draw properly in 30 seconds, and more intricate Loomis heads also include lines for the cheeks, eyesockets and the lip muscles and more. Compare that with a center line, three masses and four limbs in a basic 30 sec figure sketch, it's just a lot. The 30 sec sketches in figure drawing are to encourage the use of fewer, more essential lines to describe the pose, what is gained by hurrying up, when I already stick to a fixed formula for how many lines are deemed essential?

    And all those lines won't give me much individual information about a head, except its orientation in space. Mimical expressions or individual features certainly won't be visible by then, and heads don't have a lot of joints for complex poses. I can certainly try to include some first informations about neck and shoulders, but they are not really at the core of the Loomis method, unless I misunderstood something on a very basic level. 30 seconds is about the earliest, when I am almost done with sketching out basic proportions. And they are pretty much identical on most heads, so "unspecific" in relation to the reference, whether done well or badly. After 30 secs I can see whether my circles are smooth and my lines are straight, but not whether they properly relate to the reference. Especially not without the reference.


    Hmm, I certainly didn't reach new heights today, but OTOH, drawing from different reference clearly threw me out of my comfort zone, which is always a good thing.


    Mhm, I have just gone away from using 30 sec and 1 minute for heads, as I feel, like I am not self-critical enough to learn much from it. Thing is, all the results look "good enough" to me, and I don't even realize what mistakes I made until minutes later, when I try to fill in the gaps. Evaluating them after the lesson, without access to the original reference is also a bit hard. I can see on a 30 sec full body figure if my lines convey a convincing pose or not, but after 30 sec of Loomis construction, there is always the same very unspecific arrangement of circles and lines on the page, and little to judge quality from.

    Practicing circles and lines is certainly good in itself, but I would rather rate that as line quality training than as portrait training, and I seem to miss the crucial difference to benefit of it. Is actually looking at photo reference even a benefit in such an endeavour, or would it be more "methodical" to just look at examples of Loomis construction instead, and maybe use a 20-sided dice to randomize perspectives?

    You are certainly right, that I am not really sticking to a method here. I was always just talented enough to cut the corners and get decent results while dodging the hard work, and it kind of bites my in the ass, when I want more than decent.

    Using full figure poses as reference for portraits is actually a good idea. At least it gets a bit around the problem, that 90% of this pages portrait library seem to be taken from the same 4 or 5 people. On the other hand, when I judge my own full figure drawings, the relationship between head, neck and shoulders doesn't strike me as my central weakness, but maybe that's my bad old nemesis of "good enough" again.

    Talking about my character flaws, I wanted to be drawing for hours now, instead of debating in online forums.... GET .... TO ..... WORK, lazy bum!

    See yas,



    I have drawn a number of portraits over time, and when I initially encountered Mr. Loomis methods it certainly gave me a major boost in finding the proportions of the face and a decent placement of its features. Especially his use of browline, centerline and chinline helped me a lot, then I improvised along and muddled the method with my practical experience into a satisfactory result, especially in quick sketches. Getting more confident and with the goal of finishing my sketches quicker I started to leave Mr. Loomis' method more to the wayside. Instead of finding the browline, I just started drawing with the brows and tip of ears, etc. Shortcuts that worked well at the level where I was.

    Now I want to improve my shading, which means first, that I need a way more detailed understanding of all the darn planes and angles on a human face, a real proper constructional foundation. I have seen some drawings of people, who obviously stick way, way stricter to Loomis than I ever did, and was gripped by constructive envy. I want to be able to do that, too.

    So, back to grinding foundations, I am currently working mostly at drawing from reference, timeframe 10 minutes+, and with the goal of starting each and every draft with a complete and detailed Loomis construction. The results look OK until around 5 minutes, when I am done with the initial construction and begin to add details. Adding details reveals all the minor deviations from the reference, that would have been largely unproblematic in a rough sketch. Also, I can see those details on a reference, but I would have a hard time drawing them all from memory.

    My biggest hurdle atm seems to be the side planes of the head. With Mr. Loomis and most of his epigones it all sounds so easy: "The human head isn't a perfect sphere, so let's cut off a bit on both sides, approximately 2/3 of the size of the initial sphere. The ear is in the lower backward quarter of this circle". When trying to apply that to a reference, I feel like I am totally guessing. Are there some landmarks on the skulls, where to actually place that cut-off? The tip of the cheek bones, outer edge of the brow and the area where the flat of the forehead turns to the temples might fit. They are often lighted very prominently and make excellent marks on the face, but they are not really aligned in a half-circle (or only very, very roughly). Also the way they correspond to the ear seems way off in comparison to Loomis templates.

    In many drawings that I've seen the ear almost fills the lower hind quarter of the cut-off, but if that cut-off extends forward until the cheek-bones, with the ear in the centre, that would only happen with semi-elephants. Without any landmarks on the other hand, when I judge the size of the cut-off from the size of the ear, I feel like I am just drawing a random circle, that doesn't really help me later on with placing details, and seems quite arbitrary and useless.

    I'll probably upload a few attempts later on today to illustrate my points, but I know there are some people on this site, who are extremely proficient with Loomis construction and hope someone can answer me one of these questions from my description of the problem so far: Either, where to place that cut-off exactly when drawing from reference, or, what parts of the face/head the rim of that cut-off actually is supposed to correspond to.

    I would be very grateful for some instructions, as I feel like I am turning my wheels without really getting off the spot. Reference literature, that explores the subject in detail would be appreciated, too, but a straight answer, if possible, would obviously be a quicker, more immediate help.

    Thanks for everyone's attention

    Aunt Herbert