Here’s something I drew while watching a TV show about scary films. It was an interesting bit of teamwork between myself and my girlfriend Sian. She’s got a great imagination and ended up suggesting almost everything in this picture. I just drew what she told me to draw. I’m not at all happy with the hands. I should really have used some reference to draw from.
Saturday, 30 January 2010
Thursday, 28 January 2010
I drew a character today at work that I quite liked, so I thought I’d ink and paint him. I ended up giving Illustrator a go as I’ve never really used it for much before. It took quite a lot longer than I anticipated, although I did have to learn the tools along the way.
And here’s the original drawing. The far cheek is a bit weird to be honest, but I couldn’t be bothered changing it!
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
Monday, 25 January 2010
Here’s a few things I’ve drawn today. The pencil doodles on the left were done whilst waiting for things and listening to music at work. The reclining pig was inspired by the Beatles song ‘Piggies’ from the White Album, a fantastic song.
The other drawings were done while watching TV. Not particularly inspiring poses I know, but at least I’m drawing! I thought I’d try giving them a digital paint job too. You wouldn’t know it but the lady in blue is the Queen reading a speech. I was going to do a quick real watercolour job on them, but my little set of watercolours is on a shelf at work.
Oooo in other news, I got ‘Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs’ on Bluray today. I’ve been desperate to see it again after being wowed by it at the cinema. I love the animation in it – such a refreshing break from the usual CG styles of animation. And of course it’s hilarious. I can’t wait to watch it again, but I’ve also got to fit in a trip to see Toy Story 2 on re-release at the cinema. Can anyone explain to me why in America they got both Toy Story films together and we have had to wait for the second one? If any of you across the pond like films and are thinking of emigrating to the UK…..DON’T DO IT!! Six months we had to wait for ‘Up’!
Thursday, 21 January 2010
Google Reader is fantastic. Pure and simple.
My reason for stating that is that it takes a look at the blogs you read and it suggests other ones you might like. Other feed readers may do this for all I know, but I’ve only ever used Google Reader and so it’s got my thumbs up. Today it introduced me to a blog I fell in love with. I found myself leaving it open on my computer, returning to it periodically through the evening to have another look. Rarely does a blog cause this behaviour in me.
The blog I refer to is called ‘Elephant Art’ and is maintained by character designer Andrew Shek, who as the blog name suggests, is partial to the odd elephant. Now I could talk at length about what I like about the images on Andrew’s site, but I think it would be more interesting to mention what I find bewildering. In some of his sketchbook drawings, he uses flat blocks of colour that seem to have no relation to what he has drawn. Take a look at the image above showing his sketches of hippos. I’m baffled by his choice of putting two grey rectangles over his drawings. They don’t frame the hippos, they don’t seem to highlight a particularly nice composition. The reason that I bring this up though is that I really like that those rectangles are there and yet I have no idea why!
On the left is another example. It looks like he has painted the page red and then painted white blocks over the top. What I can’t tell is whether he has done the sketches before or after the painting. I would guess sketching came first as that makes more sense. Anyway, yet again I love the use of these blocks, but I don’t know why. They certainly highlight the three rhinos drawn within them, but why has he left out the remaining animals?
Below is another example that I really like, but this time what he has done makes sense to me. When I first looked at it, I just thought that maybe he had chosen to mess his page up before drawing to get rid of that horrible “blank page syndrome”. However I came to realise that the paint not only suggests the colour of the elephants, but also their skin texture. Brilliant!
The grey blocks against the red background certainly give a feeling of these great beasts standing in the hot African wild. What about the hippos though? Yes they are indeed grey, but they don’t cover enough of the animals for me to believe that their purpose is just that. I find the small grey block on the left page to be particularly intriguing. I would love it if someone could explain this to me. I have written an enquiring email to Andrew in the hope that he can provide me with some clues. Should I get a reply, I’ll be sure to do a follow up post.
Colour in general is a subject that I find extremely interesting, yet I feel it is the part of art that I least understand. Yes I understand that red can mean warmth or danger and blue can mean cold, and I can look at a coloured image and try to analyse why particular colour choices have been made, as I have been attempting to do here. But when it comes to colouring anything myself, I struggle. I can paint in a fairly convincing manner to get colours that look roughly like what is in front of me, but I find it rather difficult to be more creative with it than that.
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
I had a quick go at drawing it tonight. As I expected, the result could be better really, but I suppose it’s not bad for a first attempt. The jaw is a bit of a mess though! The model is a “budget model”, meaning it’s not perfectly accurate, but it should suffice for now. I can always supplement my study with more detailed images in anatomy books.
I plan to watch some videos I have by Glenn Vilppu on the subject of anatomy in the hope that I can learn better ways to approach the subject. I’d give anything to attend classes by that guy. Well actually I wish I just lived somewhere with some decent drawing classes nearby! My girlfriend is also looking for good dance classes, so far without luck. Why oh why is Manchester so educationally lacking?
Monday, 18 January 2010
Sunday, 17 January 2010
One thing I intend to try doing more of is doing copies of the work of other artists. I’ve already mentioned a couple of famous artists here and here, but rather than just appreciating their work, I’d like to attempt copies of them in the hope that it will teach me something. It’s something that I’d like to apply to images I find on the blogs of current artists, both professional and otherwise. If an image has something that I like, I will copy it, not to learn how to emulate that artist, but to open myself up to other ways of doing things. At the age of 27 I’m quite set in my ways when it comes to drawing and I want to make an effort to break my habits. Copying the work of others is something I was encouraged to do in art class at school when I was 16 years old, but I hated doing it, feeling it to be a waste of time. Only now am I starting to understand why I should have done it.
For the past year or so I’ve been saving any images I’ve seen on the net that I’ve particularly liked, but I have never got round to putting them to use until now. I wondered if anyone else would like to browse through them, and so I zipped up what I have collected so far and was about to upload the file to my website when I thought that doing so was probably not right. Art that appeals to me might well not appeal to someone else as the subject is….well….subjective. So instead I’d just encourage people to do what I’m doing in collecting artwork they like. Well actually since I haven’t yet learned anything from it yet, I shouldn’t really be encouraging people to do it, but it seems to me like a good thing to do!
This particular image is from Nate Wragg, who has done some fantastic artwork. The flat style in this example is something that is far away from anything I draw myself, yet I love it. I therefore want to try to learn from it.
Saturday, 16 January 2010
I just spent a little while learning a little bit about drawing wrinkles on clothes after my study period earlier. My source of learning on this subject is Burne Hogarth’s ‘Dynamic Wrinkles and Drapery’
It’s a really nice book. What I particularly like is the sheer amount of examples in there to illustrate what the author is talking about. This drawing is a copy I did of one of the drawings in the book.
One thing I have constant trouble with is drawing clothing. And it’s a subject that I never actually spend any time sitting down to study, so I thought I might try tonight. I concentrated on my girlfriend who was wearing jeans whilst watching TV.
I also had a go at simplifying a couple of drawings to give me an idea of how to approach trousers in a quick gestural drawing when I’m out in public.
Then a dancing show came on TV, so I had a bash at some really loose gestures. I found them a bit harder than the last time I tried them, so I tried mixing things up with different pens and pencils. I found that I loved using a black brush pen, but holding it nearly parallel to the paper rather than how I would hold a pen to write.
Friday, 15 January 2010
Man I’m tired. I also just noticed that I use words when I type that I never use in speech….like “man”. Is that weird? Anyway, drawing was minimal tonight. I’m ultra busy at work as Lego Harry Potter comes into it’s final couple of weeks, and I’m not feeling too well at the moment which doesn’t help. So only three drawings leaked from my pen.
Ray Winston is a bit out of proportion, but given that it was drawn very quickly I was kinda pleased with it. I wish I hadn’t used a felt pen to shade it though as I think I ruined it.
Thursday, 14 January 2010
I meant to do some more anatomy studies tonight but I was way too tired after a long day at work. So instead I doodled this, adding a lick of paint in Photoshop. Actually it’s the first time I’ve painted in Photoshop I think. I usually use other software like ArtRage or Autodesk Sketchbook.
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
I was doodling at work while waiting for a cutscene to export, and drew this from imagination:
The more I looked at it, the more I realised how little I know of the anatomy of the head and neck. So tonight I spent about an hour and a half with an anatomy book to try to learn something.
I know this is really basic stuff, and it’s even stuff I thought I knew, but it turns out I didn’t. For instance I feel like I’ve learned from somewhere that half-way between the eyeline and the chin lies the tip of the nose, but it’s actually higher than that. In the above image you can see that the drawing on the upper left was done before my acquisition of this knowledge and the one on the bottom right is afterwards. I’ve have also had to study how the neck joins the head and chest together. Anyway to cut a longish story short, here’s what I did with a bit more knowledge:
It still shows a lack of knowledge, but it’s a start!
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
The thing is that it has only just occurred to me that getting a bit of inspiration from somewhere might have helped me be a little more productive. As it’s time for bed now, this thought has come a bit late, but it’s one I should remember in future!
I know from experience that the border between depression and euphoria can require just one inspiring image to cross.
Monday, 11 January 2010
What do you put on a blog when the drawings you do aren’t supposed to be shown off? I did 75 gesture drawings this evening, along with a couple of contour drawings. I’m going through paper at a ridiculous rate! In both types of drawing the end result is not important, so posting an image here is really irrelevant.
To that end, I’m not even sure why I’m writing anything about the evening! I guess I’d like to document the fact that I feel like these drawing exercises are helping me already. I’ve derived more enjoyment from drawing in the past couple of days than I have in a long time. It’s usually quite a chore. Well okay, the contour drawings are a bit of a drag, but the gestures are great fun.
The key development I can feel within myself is that I’m becoming more and more able to ‘photograph’ a subject mentally, meaning getting them down on paper is left a lot less to chance. All the gestures I did tonight were from the TV. In fact it was a particularly useful show about British families through the last 50 years, with loads of great archive footage of people doing all kinds of things. I must remember to watch and draw again next week!
One part of my renewed dedication to becoming a better artist is to become more aware of artists around me of both the past and the present. The other day I talked about a picture by Heinrich Kley for example. I’m not going to be studying their life stories, but I’d like to spend a bit more time studying their work instead of just thinking “wow”.
A colleague at work introduced me to Al Hirschfeld, who was the inspiration for the Genie in Aladdin and the ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ section in Fantasia 2000. I spotted this image by him a few days ago and loved it enough to stick it on here.
I just love the simplicity of it. In a minimum of line work, Al has not only got a visual likeness of Liza Minnelli, but has captured her stage attitude.
Of course it’s all the more impressive to have captured the gesture of an entire body without actually drawing any of it!
Sunday, 10 January 2010
It’s bloody freezing out today….and where did I choose to go to draw people? A ski slope! Brrrrrr. I think there’s probably more snow out on the roads than there was on the slope! To be honest most of my drawing was done of people in a nice warm log cabin bar as I just couldn’t hold a pencil for very long out in the ice.
After completing my first three hours of study from ‘The Natural Way to Draw’, I got onto the subject of gesture drawing. The way of doing it described in the book is probably the most raw way I have come across. There is absolutely no attempt made to draw body parts and the pencil never leaves the paper. I thoroughly enjoyed drawing these (and the reams of other drawings that I didn’t scan)….
One benefit of a blog like this is that I can easily compare my current work with what I have done in the past. I recall my first attempts at gesture work, almost three years ago to the day (where does the time go?). I thought I had some kind of grasp on what I was trying to achieve back then. Comparing those first attempts with these makes me realise how much I did not understand though. It also begs the question of whether I understand now!
On the subject of it being three years since my first gesture drawing, I should by now really be a hell of a lot better at drawing in general than I am. It shows how little dedication I’ve shown over the years. By hook or by crook, that’s going to change now!
I wanted to spend this evening drawing too as I have a new three hour schedule to get through, but of course I now have a cold and all the sneezing is knocking my concentration somewhat! Hopefully it might pass enough for me to look down at a piece of paper soon!
Saturday, 9 January 2010
Unsurprisingly for an animator, I love still images that feel like they are moving. They fascinate me much more than any other kind of picture. For Christmas my parents bought me two great books, one of which is called ‘Once Upon a Time – Walt Disney: The Disney Studio’s Artistic Sources’. I’ve only read a couple of chapters from it so far, but one image by Heinrich Kley really stuck out to me, so I thought I’d scan it.
Just look at the flow of it. The characters really feel like they are flying along. It’s not just a linear motion either, as they feel like their paths are entwined in a great tussle. The woman and animal at the bottom right particularly feel like this.
I’ve drawn over the image to show some of the gestural flows in it (click the image to enlarge). In blue I have shown the main gestures I can see in terms of the overall motion of the characters. In red I have shown what I see as the smaller gestures. Notice how all the lines work together to produce an energetic ‘firework’ pattern.
I could look at pictures like this all day. If it’s possible to get this much movement into a still image, imagine what is possible with animation!
Wednesday, 6 January 2010
The elephant is from a toy I have standing on my desk, which I have christened Mavis. The pirate is just a doodle that I thought looked like a Clive.
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
I tried my hand at contour drawing tonight, following the instruction of “The Natural Way to Draw”. The book tells you to convince yourself that the tip of your pencil is resting on the outlines of the model rather than on the paper, but in practice this is a pretty tough thing to do. I found I could convince myself of this for about 30 seconds at a time before coming out of “the zone” as my mind wandered.
The book has a timetable to follow, which said I should spend three hours doing these drawings. I didn’t quite get to three hours – more like two. I just couldn’t concentrate after that. I’m kind of annoyed at myself, but I had started to just go through the motions, so it couldn’t have benefitted me too much to keep going.
The book also said that each drawing should be 30minutes long. How one can spend 30 minutes on a contour drawing is beyond me. I simply ran out of contours to draw! I guess maybe I was going too fast. I really hope I can do better on my next attempt. I may spend tomorrow night doing the hour I missed tonight.
If the book is to believed, this exercise will improve the coordination between my eyes and my hand. I hope so because it’s a pretty dull way to draw if you ask me, and I want it to be benefitting me somehow!
I just realised that I tried making my way through this book a long time ago, back in August 2007. Let’s hope I get a bit further this time!
Monday, 4 January 2010
Sunday, 3 January 2010
I’m not usually one for New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve lost count of how many I’ve made for 2010. I’m sure I’ve even forgotten what some of them are! One of them relates to drawing though, so it’s worthy of note here.
By the end of 2010 I will have significantly improved my drawing ability.
I’m currently a CG animator, but there’s a 2D one in me somewhere. The only way I’m going to be able to release him though is to put everything else aside and push my drawing ability forward. There are a number of ways I plan to do this.
Firstly, I need to do a hell of a lot of life drawing. Since sessions are few and far between in the area, I actually managed to start some on Tuesday evenings at work, with an attendance of about 8 to about 20 people, which is great. The downside is that I have to largely run the sessions myself and hence don’t get to fully concentrate on my own drawings. They are also untutored so I’m only really learning what I can figure out for myself. I’m wondering if I can hire a teacher to turn the sessions into classes. There are wonderful artists who attend the sessions, but understandably they want to be able to devote their efforts to their own drawings. I’m also aware that even once a week is really not enough, so maybe I could hold more sessions, or complement them with classes elsewhere somehow.
Secondly I’m going to try working my way through the book ‘The Natural Way to Draw’ by Kimon Nicolaides. It’s one of those books that I have heard endless people talk about, but have never picked up myself. The introduction says it should be thought of as a year-long course and has 15 hours of work to do in each section. While it won’t teach me the techniques that I have concentrated on thus far in my career, it will try to teach me how to learn to draw. I thought the change of approach would benefit me.
Thirdly I’m going to do my best to draw simply as much as I can. I do carry a sketchbook around with me, but it only comes out a couple of times a week. It needs to be making an appearance whenever I’m not engaged in something else, or even if I am and I’m able to draw at the same time, such as when watching TV. This is likely to be the hardest part of my resolution to keep as it’s a promise I’ve made to myself on numerous occasions and have failed to keep. I just need to get to a point where it becomes habit.
Fourthly I intend to halt my efforts in every other aspect of my career outside work. I’m going to really push myself at work so that I’m learning things animation-wise there more than I have been recently, freeing myself up in the evenings and on weekends to just draw. I usually have so many things to do that I cannot do any of them to a good level, so I’m narrowing my range of focus to simplify things for myself. What this means for my short film, entitled ‘Doll’, is that I will continue development from the point of view of drawing, but I will not be dedicating any time to working out the story. I can pick up on it again in 2011 when I’ll hopefully be in a better place to get cracking.