Archive | 7:00 pm

Beardus Maximus fan art, day 32

6 Nov

The whole day I have been slaving, seemingly in vain, on drawing this kangaroo. It was prompted by a slip of the tongue of Steve Gibson in Security Now 221 (The Elephant in Your Browser), who said Rooboot instead of Reboot. I thought it was funny enough to use in fan art for Beardus Maximus.

Beardus Maximus fan art, day 32

I made this drawing in an effort to support the sale of the trade paper back comic book of the web comic PC Weenies. The comic book is called Rebootus Maximus (or should I write Roobootus Maximus?). The comic is about the former systems administrator, then Windows Guru at Bogus Buy (pun on Best Buy) and now employee at Footle (pun on Google) Bob Weiner and his family.

The hard part about drawing the kangaroo from instruction was understanding the text in the book The Art of Animal Drawing by Ken Hultgren, that described what to pay attention to when drawing kangaroos.


The rib cage is small, and the forelegs hang, rodent-like. Head and ears are similar to that of the deer. The tail is long and pointed and quite full at the base where it is attached to the body. The tail is very important to kangaroos, since they use it as rudder and to help support their weight. Because of its prominence, it will give you a strong line of action, and add sweep to your drawing.

The term “line of action” made no sense to me. What in blazes is that? I tried Googling it, reading in the same book about it. Nothing made ring a bell in me. I’ve spend hours, doodling, sketching, pondering, and still nothing.

Frustrated, and knowing that I had at least try to draw a kangaroo, I tried, and … bam, there it was. Apparently I had understood the concept of action lines. But… I still can’t explain it to you.

Maybe that is the whole point. It is some mysterious term, which is meant to keep you thinking about how to draw your subject, without grasping the meaning of the term you’re supposed to use while drawing. It is the effort of trying to understand which is important, not that you actually understand it, or think you do.

Because you can’t, it’s magic.

In my opinion it does not exist, but it still has an effect on you. If that isn’t a good definition of magic, I don’t know what is. There are more things that don’t exist, but have an effect on us. How about the number zero? If zero things of something exist, it does not exist. Magic!

That is all.


Two modes of looking

6 Nov

While trying to find a productive way to draw a circle freehand, I found these two modes of looking at an object, which may be handy to know about if you are a visual artist.

The human eye has many properties, but two of those are particularly important to artists who tries to do a sketch from memory or use imagination to change an existing image into something else (so when you’re not drawing from life and are mainly looking at your artwork). Those are focus and peripheral vision. Focus is mainly concerned with detail and has no real concept of an overall look. Peripheral vision is all about overall look and has a blurry concept of detail, at best.

Now, an experienced artist will quickly switch between these modes while sketching, and will probably not be aware of them. However, if you don’t yet have years of experience under your belt, knowing that these two modes exist and that you can train them separately, might be a tremendous shortcut in improving the quality of your artwork, or at least, make your sketch have better proportions and look more like what you had in mind (during the previsualization).

Mind you, I’m not an expert on perception and the human visual system by any means. I’m just sharing what I have found to be useful.

Try this experiment:
Draw a spiral in one go, keeping your pencil or marker on the paper, and…
1) only concentrate on the gap between the concentric lines (the whitespace)
2) only concentrate on the outer borders of the shape your drawing

For (2) you probably will need to relax your focus (as if you were looking at a distance object), so your peripheral vision takes over. The idea is to let go of detail in favor of overall shape.

Two modes of looking

Note: I’ve tried to do this in the image above, and used a drawing program and Wacom tablet. The lag between my hand movement and when it appeared as pixels on the screen was too long to feel comfortable. It was perhaps only a few tenths of a second, but long enough to spoil my concentration. This is one of the reasons I don’t feel comfortable using a computer in the sketching phase, when I’m still exploring a shape.

Mind you, if you doing life drawing, your eyes should be mainly on the subject and only be on the drawing to make sure your pencil, marker or piece of charcoal is still where you imagined it was on the drawing surface. In that drawing mode, your drawing utensil is just registering what your eyes receive.

For some people, this is the only drawing mode they know of and will ever find enjoyable. However, there is also a drawing mode in which the object of your attention is solely in your imagination, and where you only use photos, drawings and even life individuals as a remote image to spark your imagination, and not as an icon you should copy literally (or resembling as closely as your drawing skills are allowing you).

It is this latter group of draftspersons my advice could be useful for.

That is all.