pattern recognition and deconstruction/simplification issue.

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Icouldntthinkofaname 1 month ago.

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    Hi, something i discovered about myself is that i do not understand the references because i cannot see them as a simplified composition of shapes but instead as a mush of details that makes no sense. I feel my thoughts see images witht the clarity of an early in developement AI were all information is undefined and bleed into one an other.

    Is there a way to rewire my brain into seeing objects more clearely? thanks

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    Hello again, Idon'tknow. That's a very good question. Nicer job on your articulation of your current situation. I'm not much of a neuroscientist/neuroplasticist, but I can and will try to help you out.

    How about for example, when you try to study and copy your reference, you don't need or want to take the reference too literally, so you gotta ask yourself: What can I get out of my reference? How do I get something out of it?? Is it inside and out???

    The reason why you could go with this simplest approach is because, for example, say you gotta do a gesture drawing of a photo reference of a figure, and you've got 5 minutes of 30 second drawings. Your only one simplest reason is consequently, you don't have to get too much details in one sitting, unless you need to work on your master painting for one hour or more. So, for even most details, kindly pick up a Kindle and physical book of the Ivan Brunetti book, Cartooning, and this video on YouTube:

    Let's hope they've been completely and totally beneficial.


    I think you are actually on the path of "rewiring your brain" already. You observe yourself while drawing, you analyse your problems and break them down into specifics, you feel frustrated about them. You could translate all of this, including the frustration, into physiological functions of neurological plasticity, and you would end up pretty much at a description of how the human brain learns and acquires a new skill.

    Untrained humans are not used to look for big shapes.

    If you look at any childs drawing, they all start from a symbolic, language-based drawing style. Mama is a human. A human has a head, and legs, and hands, and legs and hands attach to a body, and to improve the drawing I need to find more words that describe more details, that I can add to the drawing.

    Then beginning draftspersons discover shapes, and the easiest shapes to immediately observe are usually the smallest shapes, and you can see any number of beginner drawings where people try to accurately draw one detail, then add the next closest detail as accurately as possible next to it, and so on, and so on, but at some point realize, that they slightly mismeasured proportions and relations, and all those slight mismeasurements add up, and at the end, some of those details from the start of the chain just no longer fit together with the details at the end of the chain. That is usually when they either make those details fit by heavily compromising proportions and relations, or break off the drawing in frustration. I know I certainly went through that phase, and I see a lot of beginners in exactly that struggle.

    The idea to start drawing from big and simple shapes is the best way to escape that conundrum, as that way you establish a uniform scale and composition for the entire picture. You will still have slight mismeasurements, but they can no longer combine into huge gaps, as instead of a chain of details, you have a hierarchy of scales, which reduces the range of errors to that of a single mistake, not a combination of mistakes amplifying each other.

    But between understanding the problem on an intellectual level to becoming able to act on it "naturally", without specifically having to focus on it all the time is still a long way to go, and by the time you understood the problem for the first time, you still have no practice with it.

    The way you practice it, is you decide to focus on solving exactly that problem before you start drawing. Then after you are done drawing you look at the result and only think about, whether you solved that specific problem well. If you decide you did it decently, you will get your dopamine shot from that discovery, if you failed, you will feel a bit disappointed. That is basically the rewiring process in action on a neurological level, and how it feels on an emotional level. To make it work efficiently, you have to organise your work such, that you can repeat this experience as often as possible.

    Note that solving that specific problem isn't the same as drawing a more beautiful picture. Beauty is about more than a single problem, and while you focus on one skill, other skills may even deteriorate a bit, and the overall result might look uglier. This may lead to frustration and the feeling, that you did something wrong, but you did not. You focused on a single problem, and once you feel that solving that specific problem becomes more natural you can go back to analysing your overall process and identify other skills that you also need to practice, find other problems to solve.

    A practice that I did at that stage, which I feel helped me personally was "line economy bingo". But I have to add, I wasn't especially focused on figure drawing, as I was mostly into urban sketching. The rules I set for myself: I walk through the streets, until I find an interesting shape. Then I try to draw that shape with as few lines as possible (CSI-rule, one line is either an I for a straight line, a C for a curve or an S for a double-curve) A bingo is achieved, if any observer could recognize that shape without me pointing at it.

    One advantage of the game: as I defined the depiction from that shape, I naturally used the whole size of the paper for the shape, and once I had established it and decided it needed more details for clarification I did not fall into the temptation of expanding to neighboring shapes, thus I automatically kept the hierarchy intact, and all additional details were always in direct relation to that initial shape.

    If I found the shape of a windowsill interesting, the result would always be a draft of a windowsill, with as many details as I thought were necessary, not suddenly a draft of that windowsill, plus the window, plus the next window over, plus the house wall, and the car parked before it, and the roof, the chimney and the clouds above.

    I think the recommended practice in drawing human figures is to stick to an established abstraction of a human body, and strictly and always start each drawing following the "line of action first, then head, ribcage, hip, then joints, then limbs" pattern. Or alternatively you could learn Reilly rhythms and strictly learn following that pattern.

    This will not necessarily make your drawings nicer immediately, but it will make you focus on the big shapes in a human figure. Some people will keep sticking to this abstraction throughout a whole successful career, other artists will do it for a while, and find other, more personal ways to draw, once they no longer struggle with identifying big shapes on a human figure. But for focusing on big shapes in humans, it is pretty much established best practice.


    Haven't posted in a long time, but suggestions:

    1. Practice tracing the references. Can you isolate larger shapes if you're drawing on top of the reference, or at least use that to figure out more specific issues you have? That might be the first step.
    2. Use simpler references. This may depend on your individual goal, but it may be worth looking at other peoples' processes and rough sketches. There are fundamentals, but not everyone has the same base process.
    3. Use larger references / zoom in. Sounds obvious, but if you work digitally, are you always zoomed out? If you work traditionally, how big are your drawings, and how big are your references?
    4. See a doctor if you can. If you can't get it seemingly no matter what you do, it may be worth looking into the possibility of a vision issue (or adjacent - neurological issue, etc), or making sure it's not that. If there is an issue, you may be able to figure out accommodations for it.

    I'm not sure of your experience or individual goals to have an incredibly informed opinion, but I hope something helps.

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