Forum posts by Torrilin

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  • #27369

    If you're new to drawing, or if you've never had formal life drawing classes before, start with the 30m class mode. This will run you through a perfectly serviceable 30m warm up session suitable for both new artists and working professional artists. It is a small enough chunk of time that most people can complete it and not be utterly worn out after. And it's a mode that professionals will often use as a warm up! It's something that offers a lot to artists of all levels.

    As a new artist, the 30s and 1m drawings can be super duper uncomfortable. They might feel like you're not learning anything, or you're doing pointless scribbles. For the first 5-10 sessions, do your best to work past that feeling of discomfort. Sometimes we make bad drawings. Sometimes it can be really uncomfortable to make drawings that aren't finished. Or your brain may come up with other excuses for why short scribbles are bad. Brains are very good at putting the brakes on learning! Try to focus on the fun of the 5 and 10m drawings, and the way drawing after a good warmup feels better and goes more smoothly.

    As you become more advanced, there may be times where it's worth doing other kinds of practice sessions. But always be super suspicious of any goal that encourages a mindset of longer classes here is better, without a concrete reason WHY you want to go longer. You want to save the long and complex drawings for your fun drawing time, not for your homework drawing time, BECAUSE drawing should be fun.

    #27348 Is an image where you might be tempted to do an S curve. An S curve isn't wrong. Is two different takes (by me) from that same reference. So yes, you can use an S curve. But for me, it's harder to continue with the sketch I started with the S curve. It's tougher to judge whether I got the curves right, and it's hard to add on straight lines where they should go.

    The goal with the tutorial is not to give hard and fast rules. It's to point you to areas where it's worth exploring. So focusing on simple curves and straights, maybe trying a sketch that's all straights even if it feels like an S curve would be easier... that will teach you things. Or on an image where it feels like it's full of straight body shapes, try doing it with all simple curves, see where that gets you.

    There's no objective wrong answers in gesture drawings. But there's answers that are wrong for you.


    Redlining is exactly what it sounds like. These days, most people do it digitally, but if you strongly prefer physical media you can work that way too using clear plastic or tracing paper. You take a piece that you think has problems, and you go over your work marking up the good spots and trying out ideas to improve the strong areas, usually using a reddish color. Mine usually end up as more of a pinkline, and I've met artists who wind up editing in blue or green. The exact color doesn't much matter, what matters is you're taking some time to mark up your work and write yourself notes or try ideas. If I take a piece to a high level of finish (totally not the focus here but!) I might end up with 2-3 layers in my digital file that are redlines.

    If you have a smartphone even a simple free app like Autodesk Sketchbook has plenty of features to allow you to redline.

    I usually don't focus on the weak areas when I'm redlining. Obviously you can sketch out fixes for mistakes this way! But a lot of editing art is focusing on making it do the good parts more, so too much focus on "mistakes" can obscure your ability to see the things you got right.

    For most Line of Action classes, redlining would be beside the point. But it's a really useful tool for evaluating longer drawings in the context of your practice goals. I'll also use my editing pencil to mark up which 30s and 1m sketches are the ones that I judge as best meeting my goals.


    Redlining is an invaluable tool for self criticism. Even if you mostly do physical art, if you have a smart phone you have something that will let you do a redline on your own work without destroying the original. When I'm working on something challenging, I'll often wind up doing several redlines at various stages, marking up the good parts, checking that my proportions are right, testing out fixes for weaker areas, making notes to myself...

    And honestly, it doesn't sound at all like you think your short drawings are good enough since you're describing them as unspecific. That means whatever you're putting down isn't enough that you can come back to the sketch later and figure out a way to continue. That's a really brutal, unforgiving memory exercise, and it will teach you a lot about what bits you actually need in an initial sketch to keep going. You don't need to match the reference if you're continuing a sketch from memory... but it will really challenge your understanding of proportions and anatomy. It's also a great way to push your creativity!


    The straight answer is you're just plain not doing the Loomis method, which is easy to see if you do a redline on any of your recent-ish portrait drawings. If you sketch in the initial "ball" of a Loomis head, with the eye line/horizontal center line and the nose/vertical center line... it winds up that you don't wind up with a correct cross shape. Maybe the nose is off center. Maybe the "cross" of your original drawing isn't even on the circle.

    What you're doing is not wrong in artistic terms. I really like several of your pieces, and I recognize the reference on a couple! So you're getting likeness and you're thinking about execution in a good way. But it's definitely wrong if you're trying to use Loomis's method.

    Using class mode (I'd suggest sticking to 30 minute classes unless you have a really strong pedagogical reason to go longer) will force you to do 30s and 1m drawings so that you're getting a lot of drill on how you move from the ball with a cross to roughing in the chin, jaw line, neck muscles etc.

    If I were trying to polish up Loomis in your position (I wouldn't be exactly, because Loomis makes me stabby), I'd focus on classes with full length figures. Trying to get an accurate head shape that works with the whole figure is challenging, and forces you to think about how the overall pose affects the head. Also it gets you a lot more variety in the kinds of heads you have to draw. I'd "grade" my class work afterwards by marking up the 1-2 sketches for each time interval that come closest to having an accurate "cross" for the pose. If you skip the part where you mark up your best work, you skip out on a lot of the learning process.

    Also you don't HAVE to work on a full figure, just I've done enough life drawing to know that for me I will get better results with full length figure classes vs focused ones if I'm having a problem with a smaller part of a figure. Understanding how I simplify on a full figure and really focusing on the very short poses and how to get that detail in... that teaches me more than a focused class can by itself. The focused classes (again FOR ME) are helpful once I've done some solid ground work on full figure.


    (This is overall for all 3 sets of critique images posted)

    Your 5 and 10 minute drawings don't look like they were drawn by the same artist as your 30s and 1m drawings. The short poses have strong gestures and are quite complete for the time allowed.

    The 5 and 10 minute poses are much stiffer and they don't seem to have the same sense of movement or space. They also have really heavy outlines, and the anatomical details don't flow from the gesture. The gestures of the hands and feet in the long poses are also not very accurate compared to when you get them into the short poses.

    Remember a gesture drawing is describing what moves. So you can draw an overall gesture, then place the major masses, and then do gestures to describe muscle groups, working from the biggest muscles down to the smallest. Yes, faces have muscles! So you can work that same trick on faces! If you're trying to work for more accuracy, this method can feel exaggerated, but if you're trying for good proportions, it can actually be a lot easier.


    The long poses of 5 and 10 minutes serve a whole bunch of purposes. They're your reward for your hard work. When most of us start out with figure drawing, a 5 or 10 minute drawing for a whole person feels short but doable. You know how you'd tackle it and what you'd do. And it's pretty common after a few classes of gesture drawing to find your old method feels stiff and lifeless... so then you have the challenge of how do you keep the lively effect of your gesture drawings, while achieving the good parts of your old method. And of course there's the question of what exactly is good with your old method...

    This is also the part of a class where you can get really experimental in how you learn. Try a single line contour drawing in ink for 5 minutes. Try watercolor. Try a negative drawing. Break a person down into geometric forms. Draw the shadows rather than the person. Try all kinds of ideas and just go nuts with them. Take it to extremes that feel ridiculous. No one will care or grade you on it, so it's space to play.

    It's also the section of class where you can strengthen your observation skills. You've got time to think. Maybe you can get a better gesture by giving yourself indications of where the head and feet go. Maybe you feel like the hands have a more important gesture than the body. Maybe a particular muscle movement feels as important as the spine.

    As you keep going, you'll develop a range of methods for getting drawings you like and that feel lively in the 5 and 10 minute poses but the proportions, rhythm and sense of symmetry are better.

    I'll also sometimes just... blow off the long poses. You're not cheating by doing 2 or 3 quick sketches and not pushing any farther if you have no idea where to go next. It doesn't mean you failed. You're allowed to be frustrated and confused.


    This is gonna sound unhelpful, but... what do you think?

    See, in addition to helping you warm up, figure drawing teaches a whole rainbow of skills. It helps you learn how to thumbnail. It helps you practice the process of going from a very rough drawing to a more polished one. It helps you learn to fit your drawing into the space you want. It helps you be more creative, imagining costumes for a character, imagining ways to turn one pose into a different pose, or pushing a pose to be less anatomically correct but give the right feeling. It builds up your visual library so when you imagine a pose, it's easier to draw it. Plus many more.

    If you're new at this, I'd try hard to be disciplined about using 30m classes (NOT longer, longer is not better) and about marking up your work after each class with which drawings you think are best. Pick one or two best from each batch, don't worry about the 5 and 10 minute drawings, those are your cookies for working so hard.

    After 5 or 10 classes of doing that, you'll probably see some patterns in what you like. Maybe some specific features you are super happy with every time. THAT will guide you to some goals if you don't already have ideas for goals coming out your ears. This can also be a way to calm down about "bad" drawings or goals that are too big for you right now. If you see that you have a hard time with hands and feet and you avoid drawing them, a goal of "work on figure drawing so I can draw my own superhero comic" is perhaps not so attainable. But 5 classes focusing on getting hands and feet into every drawing you can... that's a lot more attainable. Or maybe you decide to do 5 classes of hands and feet instead. There's no right answer in how you tackle a goal.

    But one really solid thing is it's almost impossible to get better at art if you don't like things about your own art. So sitting down after every class and practicing liking your own stuff is very helpful. Finding the good parts gives you a way to move forward.


    You're very definitely focusing more on the outer contour than on the line of action and unfortunately it is not helping you :(.

    It's ok if a 1m drawing is messy and incomplete. It's fine to have a line of action and that's it. Seriously!

    I'd really suggest doing a 30 minute class with the tutorial turned on. Just do the tutorial. Accept that your drawings will be a mess and ugly. And see how your drawing feels the rest of the day. Usually it feels subtly, magically better and you can't say why it's better. That's what got me addicted to doing figure drawing.

    (The reason why it works is a 30m class is designed to work as a warm up exercise, and warming up really does help)


    My feeling looking at this batch is that you really like contour lines. This is not bad or wrong! The goal in all short figure drawings is not draw something complete and perfect, but draw something that YOU understand and can use to flesh out a more detailed drawing.

    So if contour line drawing works best for you, great. If linear block in turns out to be your method of choice, fine. If gesture works best, do that. But trying to actually get a single class to stay all in one method can be pretty challenging! And figuring out what you need to continue a drawing can also be a real challenge.

    I do feel like this batch has a much stronger sense of gesture than your first set. I can't really judge whether these are good drawings for you to keep pushing with... only you can know that. I know for me, it's very hard to continue with a sketch that is missing the head, hands and feet, no matter how objectively good the rest is. So I tend to fall back on that as a goal quite often. I don't usually get all the key points in a 30s pose, but trying is worth it.

    I generally find proportion to be more valuable than anatomy, and a sense of how symmetry works for humans to be more valuable than proportion. Not each pose must be symmetrical, just the overall sense that yes humans usually have bilateral symmetry, and knowing where that hits the model can help me structure my drawing better. Proportion helps me get the drawing to fit on the page, and helps me get the various bits to be the right relative sizes.


    The basic thing with gesture drawing is it's not supposed to be pretty or very accurate. It's you and a subject for maybe as much as 5 minutes, and you're scribbling down notes to yourself so you can remember what moves.

    You can actually do a gesture drawing of a skull. To do it, you're asking yourself what is moving. For a skull, mostly that's going to be the light on the skull is moving, and you have to figure out how to communicate that. Not easy. But each time you try, you'll come up with something a little different.

    Your figures look like they're pretty long sketches, probably a lot more than 5 minutes. It's very hard to judge the quality of someone's gestures in a nice clean outline drawing. If you're trying to get critique on the quality of your gestures, the best thing is to go through the tutorial and do a 30m class, then show us your 30s sketches. Those will be messy and look awful. But they'll show your thought process a lot more clearly.

    My entire first year of figure drawing as an adult, my 30s figures looked like sperm with a squiggle and sometimes a head. That's ok. That's normal. We all start there.


    ...I'm coming up with something like 50+ drawings just for day one. No. Just... no. Stoppit. There is no possible way you are cranking out that many drawings in a day while getting enough fun drawing time in and while using a good structured class design.

    Also honestly NO ONE is going to have the time to critique 50 times 7 times 3 drawings for you. That's... a lot. I also know there's no way you were sustaining that kind of grind but just... nope.

    So my first and most important critique here is class mode. Learn to use it. Learn to love it. Figuary is a Croquis Cafe and Love Life Drawing project that uses Croquis Cafe classes to help you progress so it is also class mode. ONE class a day. I don't care if 15-30 minutes feels short and you still want to work. It is time to go have fun. That can still be drawing! Just it needs to be fun. Then you need a good night's sleep. There can be more class tomorrow.

    Sleep is when you learn. You cannot learn without it. No you can't do more classes if you take a nap.

    To go with class mode, after you finish a class, pick out what you think is the best drawing for each time slot. You don't care about why the bad ones are bad. You care about the good ones. Yes, that means you need to know which drawings were for what time length so you have to do some kind of setup. (I do see that by week 3 you have figured out it is good to keep track of time.)

    The short drawings are where you do most of your learning. The long drawings are your cookie for doing the hard part. I unfortunately see no evidence that you have figured out class mode by week 3 as there's no sign of long drawings. Marking up your work afterwards is a key part of the learning process. If you don't think about what good is for yourself, you have nothing to work towards. And if you don't like anything you do at all, there's nowhere to go. Liking stuff is fundamental to improving. That means you need to learn to like your own stuff, where you are right now. Even the unfinished stuff that looks really bad.

    Next time when you ask for a pile of critique like this, go a step further. Either pick a class where you think you did a particularly good job or pick a starting class and and ending class out of a series. Whichever you think is better for showing your learning process.

    Lastly, from the teachers you are mentioning... Look there is no shortcut to making art that looks good. You need practice time. You need sleep. And it needs to be focused practice. There's a reason the tutorial method here is so basic, and why the recommendations for first things to try are focused on basic and classic techniques. Working through a couple classes of the tutorial and couple classes for each of the standard methods will take you over a month of daily classes. You will make a giant pile of ugly drawings. There will be so many, they will look so bad. And in your fun drawing, you will find that everything somehow magically looks better. Maybe you picked up a good way to show what way someone is looking very fast. Or maybe you figured out something about hands, or you steal a pose from class that makes sense. Or you get a wiggle that you like for calf muscles.

    The life drawings aren't the goal, and they don't have to be pretty for you to learn from them. Usually I learn more from drawings that might seem ugly.


    I was always taught to never ever trace.

    As an adult I know that professional artists do sometimes trace, for a WIDE variety of reasons. I also don't know any professional artist who would tell a beginner to trace over doing their best with their own stick figures first. The workflow they use is they make a series of small sketches (often thumbnail size) without using reference, to see what ideas they can come up with on their own (this is only possible due to the sheer amount of life drawing they've already done). Then they pick the best couple, they shoot photo reference. They do some more polished work based on the reference they shot. The art director picks one to continue with towards a final. There's often notes back and forth on the final design. Fine art work with a gallery and agents is often quite similar in method to art that might seem more commercial.

    Most of the work we do here is the life drawing part of the process, so the practice before the sketches. No tracing there, just you, your drawing surface and whatever tool you are wrestling with. If you look at a pro artist's life drawings, yes, they're better than yours. But you'll also see that if they haven't regularly been doing life drawing, they get better when they set up a regular studio time with friends and start practicing. So not fair. But also, I see in my own art that I have gotten loads better as I have practiced over the last 5 years. Practice is available to us all.

    I do not recommend using tracing just because it looks better, and DEFINTELY not for life drawing. As you learn more about art, you'll learn there's spots where pros use tracing or transfer methods, and it is good to try those methods for yourself in the appropriate context. Out of context tho, you don't learn much, if anything.


    I find it really helpful to mark up the different drawing groups with the one drawing I think is best. It maybe doesn't matter much for the 5 and 10 minute drawings, but it matters a lot for the short poses.

    From your first session, it looks like you're focusing on long lines and exaggerated gesture. Around session 5 it looks like you got bored with long lines and exaggerated gesture and you started shifting to a more constructive form approach. Looks like you largely stuck with constructive form through the rest of the series. This isn't a right thing or a wrong thing, but swapping methods around randomly doesn't help if you're not looking back at what you did right.

    All throughout your sessions, your 5 minute poses stay pretty minimally detailed, fairly close to the 1m poses really and the 10 minute poses are quite elaborate. And all throughout the 30s and 1m poses stay pretty consistent in the detail you have. This says to me you aren't pushing yourself very hard in the short poses and you are wasting a lot of time on the 5 minute poses. There should be more changes from session 1 to session 15 in your short poses.

    Also, I always think I can remember what time was for what drawing, but a year on? Who knows? Not me! So the more classes I do the more careful I get about taking notes and labeling what I did and marking up my work.

    Overall it feels like you are very uncomfortable with unfinished drawings. That's a natural thing to be uncomfortable with. I'd suggest carefully working through to try a bunch of methods you will probably hate. Try your hardest to do a full class sticking with just one method, even on the pose lengths where it feels horrible and unnatural. The slower and more measured methods will feel evil on the short poses, things like a contour line drawing will feel like torture on a 10m pose. But all of the methods will have bits that feel useful after class, and you'll have more variety in your results and what works. If you can work your way through even one or two alternate methods, you should have a lot of ideas about what you should do next and places you can challenge yourself to do better.

    Another option if you find the different work methods too horrible for words is try working through Alphonso Dunn's 7 Ls of Gesture drawing

    Again, focus on one class per idea, see what you get out of it and what you like. The parts you like are important, they give you something to work towards.

    For either set, the goal is not keep torturing yourself with the stuff that isn't fun or that you hate doing. It's to try new things and if you find something particularly fun... you should do more of that one. See what you learn trying to push that idea through a full 10 minute pose. What questions do you ask yourself? What does that method make easy? The more ideas you try that sound terrible, the easier it is to tell which terrible ideas are ones you should grab with both hands and really work at.

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    Do a 30m class, preferably with the tutorial on. It will walk you through from 30s figures to 10m. It will be very challenging and you might feel very distressed afterwards. Make a point of going through your pictures, especially the very short poses and finding at least one thing you did well or picking one where you feel you did the best job.

    Now put those drawings away and do your best to forget about them. Go draw, have fun. Your fun drawings will probably feel subtly easier. Do your best to make sure you're spending at least 30 minutes on fun drawing for every class you do, and more is better.

    The next 30m class you do will probably feel pretty bad too. Make a point of picking out the drawings you like and then forgetting about it to go have fun.

    When you hit 6 classes, you will have drawn over 100 people. You should feel like you are getting a lot better tho you may not understand how. You probably will have new and different questions about drawing people than you do right now. It might even be worth going through the tutorial again for class 7 to help you think more clearly about what you understand and what you think the problems are.

    A lot of people want to rush into 1h, or even 4h classes. DO NOT DO THIS. Figure drawing is exhausting. Even most working artists do not do a figures class of 4h and they draw all the damn time it can seem like. Class is different from drawing for fun or drawing for a work brief. It works your brain differently.

    If you're tempted by longer classes because a regular figures class is feeling easy, instead try one of the other class modes like hands or landscapes or faces. You'll immediately feel like you don't know anything again and like you have a million questions.