Archive | January, 2011

Portrait course, lesson # 19

31 Jan

We had the same model as last time, and I made sure I was on time and had a good spot close to the model and from the front (more or less). Often I’m late and have to make do with a spot in the back, at an angle, and squinting a lot (yeah, I need glasses).

Portrait Course 2011-01-31 # 11
The initial sketch, to get the features at the correct positions and size. The instructor was more sure about this intermediate step than I was. And indeed, I found a couple of ones the instructor hadn’t noticed at a quick glance (look at the “manly” neck).

Portrait Course 2011-01-31 # 22
Shading with Conté pencil and charcoal. Not much correction by the instructor was needed. I wish I had more time for the hairdo, but there wasn’t any.

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Story analysis of He-Man, Day Of The Machines

27 Jan

Here’s the work flow I used to analyze the story of the He-Man episode “Day of the Machines” (Season 2, episode 3).

I first watched the entire video and wrote down what I observed as important events. Sometimes I had to go back to put in events I forgot to mention. I left out as many embellishment as possible, and tried to stick to events that were related to story.


Next I wrote synopses for each part, trying to leave out information that wasn’t absolutely necessary.

I used that to describe the plot in even less words, and write a synopsis on that as well.

I used the latter synopsis to formulate the general story idea (logline or one-liner), stripped of all identity, just the story information, things that make it sound interesting and exciting.

A planet’s trusted main engineer risks his reputation over an essential experiment that an evil alien warlord is determined to secretly sabotage.

The theme of the story was easy to find. It is said at the end by the good guys: “If you do your best, you can never fail.”

The characters weren’t too hard as well. Basically, there is Man-at-Arms as the story lead character, He-Man as his friend and companion, Teela as the mentor, and Skeletor as the scheming evil-doer. The story arc is about Man-at-Arms learning that you can only do your best, and never reach perfection. The rest of the characters are pretty much static.

The conflict was easy to distill as well, it involves Man-at-Arms putting his reputation at risk in pursuit of perfection, and Skeletor trying to take advantage of it.

The point of view is, as usual, omniscient limited, which means it is told in the third person, who doesn’t know everything.

The setting is pretty straightforward too. Planet Eternia, in a world where magic, technology, feudalism and barbarian rites are intermixed. The story start in a happy mood, and returns to that state after the story arc is done.

What follows is what I did with the plot, including the logline as I see it.

—– (first and second round)

Part 1

Man-at-Arms fails at an RC experiment and just want to forget about it. His friends convince him to continue, and he will give it one last try. If he fails, he will resign from his job.

Meanwhile Skeletor has spied on the conversation, and decides to use trickery to make sure the next RC experiment fails and Man-at-Arm has to quit. He plants a miniature monster in the palace computer, so it can wreak havoc on the palace and Man-at-Arms will get the blame.

Synopsis

Man-at-Arms says he will resign if he fails at his next RC computer experiment. Skeletor having overheard this, makes an electronic demon and beams it in the palace computer, so it will wreak havoc and Man-at-Arms will get the blame.

Part 2

The mini-monster has taken over the RC computer, and while Man-at-Arms and his friends are doing another RC test, they get ambushed by machines controlled by the mini-monster. He-Man appears and saves his friends.

They decide to take a look at the computer, to see what’s wrong, however the door is closed. After He-Man breaks it open and enters the computer room, he gets attacked by the machine, put there to defend the mini-monster.

They retreat and decide to do two things. Man-at-Arms will disable the power, so the RC computer becomes powerless, and Teela will visit Skeletor on Battlecat to find out if he is somehow sabotaging.

Man-at-Arms shrinks himself so he can slip by the defences and enter the computer.

Meanwhile Teela has arrived at Skeletor’s place and He-Man is battling the machines gone crazy. After He-Man is done, he goes looking for Man-at-Arms.

Teela slips into Skeletor’s command center and hears one of Skeletor’s goons tell the plan. She quickly leaves unnoticed to tell the others what she has learned.

Man-at-Arms finds the mini-monster, but gets captured by it.
Teela is back at the palace and tells He-Man about Skeletor’s plan to use an electric demon inside the computer to control the palace machines. They need Man-at-Arms for a shrinking ray, but he is nowhere to be found. He-Man decides to go to the Sorceress for help.

The Sorceress turns He-Man small and delivers him as a falcon at the computer, which he enters.

Synopsis

When the palace machines act hostile, Man-at-Arms, Teela and He-Man decide to do something about it. Man-at-Arms shrinks himself to a small size, enters the computer, but gets capture by the demon. Teela goes spying on Skeletor and finds out his evil plan. He-Man tries to fight the machines to avoid any damage.

When Teela tells He-Man of Skeletor’s plan, he let’s himself shrink by the Scorceress and enters the computer.

Part 3

Inside the computer He-Man tries to find Man-at-Arms and to defeat the electric demon.

After He-Man has freed Man-at-Arms, they go to the demon. He-Man battles it, but it gets away through the wires.

Then it dawns on Man-at-Arms what the demon’s weakness is, and how they capture it. After they’ve done so they send it back to Skeletor, so he can enjoy it presence, and doesn’t use it again.

Using the shrinking ray in reverse, He-Man and Man-at-Arms have returned to normal size. Teela argues that Man-at-Arms wasn’t to blame for the malfunctioning RC computer, and that Skeletor made use of Man-at-Arms discouragement. Man-at-Arms acknowledges his temporary weakness, and that next time he shouldn’t give up so easily, because things aren’t perfect. Teela argues that Man-at-Arms did his best, and that that’s all what can be expected from someone.

The group concludes that if you do your best, you can never be a failure.

Synopsis

Inside the computer He-Man frees Man-at-Arms and together they capture the demon. They send it to Skeletor’s computer, so Skeletor will never use it again.

The group concludes that Man-at-Arms wasn’t to blame after all, because he did his best. They say that if you do your best, you can never be a failure.

—– (third round)

Part 1

Introduction

Man-at-Arms does some RC experiment, which fails miserably. He says he will resign if he fails at his next RC computer experiment, because it has to be perfect; there is no room for error.

Conflict

Skeletor having overheard this, makes an electronic demon and beams it in the palace computer, so it will wreak havoc and Man-at-Arms will get the blame.

[Point of no return, action begins]

Part 2

Rising Action

When the palace machines act hostile, Man-at-Arms, Teela and He-Man decide to do something about it. Man-at-Arms shrinks himself to a small size, enters the computer, but gets capture by the demon. Teela goes spying on Skeletor and finds out his evil plan. He-Man tries to fight the machines to avoid any damage.

When Teela tells He-Man of Skeletor’s plan, he let’s himself shrink by the Scorceress and enters the computer.

[Point of no return, problem has to be solved]

Part 3

Climax

Inside the computer He-Man frees Man-at-Arms and together they capture the demon.

Falling Action

They send it to Skeletor’s computer, so Skeletor will never use it again.

Denouement

The group concludes that Man-at-Arms wasn’t to blame after all, because he did his best. They say that if you do your best, you can never be a failure.

—– (fourth round)

Plot Synopsis

Man-at-Arms wants to be perfect at a computer experiment, but fails. Skeletor wants him to fail utterly and plants a demon in the palace computer.

While battling the machines, Man-at-Arms gets trapped inside the computer, and Teela finds out about Skeletor’s plan and tells it to He-Man, who goes into the computer as well.

Man-at-Arms and He-Man battle the demon, defeat it and send it back to Skeletor’s computer. Man-at-Arms has learned that he can only do his best, not be perfect.

—– (fifth round)

Logline

A planet’s trusted main engineer risks his reputation over an essential experiment that an evil alien warlord is determined to sabotage.

Pencilcast for January 26, 2011

26 Jan

While streaming live on Justin.tv I drew this teenage He-Man, in preparation of an upcoming mini-comic based on an episode of He-Man, but with teens instead of adults.

Teeny He-Man

This means He-Man has to be even younger than in this sketch.

Greeting card

25 Jan

I made this greeting card for my sister. She loves cats, and breeds Bengal cats as a hobby (quite successfully; she has had many show winners).

Greeting card

There was a lot of prep work for this drawing, a lot of sketching and preplanning. I also set myself a serious deadline, and had to make choices in order to make the deadline. It was stressful, but I’m glad I did it.

The card was drawn on a big sheet of paper in Pentel red line pencil, and I inked the letters using a Faber-Castell PITT artists brush pen. I didn’t have time to ink the rest analog, so I decided to do the contour lines in Sketchbook Pro on the Mac. I haven’t done any work with that app, so it was good to experience what it felt like to use.

I did the digital drawing on the morning of my sister’s birthday, so there was no time to do any coloring.

Even for self-assignments there are three things to choose from: quality, time and price. You can only pick two. Here that was time and price. Quality had to suffer a bit.

Good to know for a next time.

Portrait course, lesson # 18

24 Jan

We had the same model as in lesson # 5. You see, models are hard to get, so we take what we get.

Portrait Course 2011-01-24 # 11
1. Initial sketch, which was pretty much spot on.

Portrait Course 2011-01-24 # 22
2. After doing the outline in Conté pencil, the shading was done using charcoal.

After 13 lessons I clearly made a huge leap in drawing skill, and still I don’t think I could earn my living from it. This simply means I have to work even harder to get to the next level.

How to draw anything – break it down!

23 Jan

I often wondered about those instructional drawing books, and how they claim to teach us how to draw. The best they seem to be able to do is to change our perspective on drawing, hoping to unlock some of the talent that is hidden in (most of) us. The authors are playing mind tricks on you, and those may or may not work. Most art instructional books are more like art inspirational books, books of faith, with dogmas and all.

I’m sure I can’t escape this just-believe-the-expert mentality, but I will try to avoid it as much as I can. I am merely human, though, prone to fall into the trap of self-importance. Luckily, I’m still relatively unknown and have little claim to fame, making me feel like one of you, rather than being above the masses. This means what I say still matters more than who I am.

Problems of drawing

What are the problems one encounters if one tries to draw something representational (something that represents an object or a person)?

  1. What is it I’m trying to draw?
  2. Build the drawing.
  3. How do I make it seem “believable”?

These are essential questions to ask yourself as a visual artist. They involve previsualization, drawing mechanics and critique. You try to reason what you want to draw, then draw it, and consequently judge the result in a constructive manner, so you will do better next time.

In fact, we could take this a little further and say that each step consists of three similar steps, which can be abstracted as follows:

  1. [think] define the task
  2. [do] perform the task
  3. [think] prepare for the next task

Let us apply this to our previous 3-step list.

  1. What is it I’m trying to draw?
    1. What are the shapes that best describes the object?
    2. Organize the shapes (big shapes into little shapes).
    3. What is the best order to draw the shapes?
  2. Build the drawing.
    1. Plan where to put the shapes and how big they are in a rough sketch.
    2. Elaborate the shapes with the precision you want.
    3. Judge the balance of the whole drawing, by seeing the whole (rotate, take a step back, etc.)
  3. How do I make it seem “believable”?
    1. What are the parts of the drawing?
    2. Compare those parts with a reference that most closely resembles your object.
    3. State what parts need improvement and what parts are “good enough” for now.

Of course, the exact workflow depends on your subject, your skill level, your personal preferences and the required quality of the end result. If the quality is not good enough, you may need to correct parts of your drawing or start a new drawing.

The point I want to get across is that you need to break down your steps into smaller steps, and to pay close attention to what you are doing during each step. It is this attention to detail which determines if you are an accomplished artist or you are someone who just likes to draw (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but never gets any better.

Breaking your process down into steps, bringing order into the chaos that is your creativity, is the first step towards becoming a successful artists.

I think this is how you will be able to draw anything.

Addendum

This method of breaking your process apart may or may not work for you, depending on how easily you are taking out of your creative flow (I guess). If this analytical approach does nothing for you, don’t use it.

Pencilcast for January 19, 2011

19 Jan

I was trying to draw a cartoon version of a Siamese cat, based on a more realistic version, which isn’t really that easy, as it turned out. I needed more sketches than I show here below, as you can see in the video.

Sketches

Pencilcast 2011-01-19 - Siamese cat # 1
⬆ First attempt at drawing a Siamese cat in a pose from a reference photo.

Pencilcast 2011-01-19 - Siamese cat # 2
⬆ A somewhat more stylized version of a Siamese cat.

Pencilcast 2011-01-19 - Siamese cat # 3
⬆ Pushing the stylization even more, making it less realistic looking, but still recognizable as a Siamese cat.

Pencilcast 2011-01-19 - Siamese cat # 4
⬆ After doing the stylized version, I dialed it a bit back to realism. It is still a rough sketch, which needs a lot of development and drawing.