Archive | February, 2011

Using the TV Guide as your guide (part 1)

23 Feb

I’ve been drawing a few famous people from my local TV guide (print version). I’m doing this to improve my portrait drawing skills. The low quality of the print ensures that I’m not copying the photo, but, instead, that I need to add some of my own interpretation for the larger version.

You see, the portrait class at my local community college has a 2-week break and I want to blow my instructor’s socks off with a jump in quality. Well, that’s what I’m telling myself, because what I really want is to improve radically. Trying to do so by pretending I’ll impress the instructor is as good a method as any.

Here is what I’ve done so far.

Charlize Theron1
1. (Feb 20) While this sketch of Charlize Theron seems solid enough in quick passing, there are some things that could be better (as there always are). That is a good thing, because it means I’m still progressing.

The way I set up the sketch was different from what I did previously. I find tried to visualize the head as a block in perspective and tried to see it without the hairdo. Next, I set up the proportions of the features (where I made a mistake, by making the nose slightly too long), and corrected the initial outline of the head and neck accordingly. Finally, I added the hairdo and the shading on the face and neck, and made the background darker.

2. (Feb 21) Used another photo from the TV guide, showing a photo of the character Krystle from the TV series “Dynasty”, played by Linda Evans. The photo was tiny, so I had to do a lot of guessing.

Notice that her left eye is drawn too high, because I had the angle of her head guessed wrong. Now I come to think of it, if you see so much of the top of the head, the model must be tilting her head forward, with her chin closer to her chest.

So it all comes down to visualizing what the character is doing before you even put a pencil on paper.

Even so, I used this sketch to practice my rendering, especially of the hair. Because the eye is placed wrong this will not be put in any portfolio. I guess it is an important piece for study, because it teaches me (and hopefully some of you), that you really need to think about your subject, and reason about it internally.

So why does she look up to the camera, tilting her head down? Well, it gives a cuter look, or at least a more youthful look. Children are much smaller than adults, and always have to look up to adults to have eye contact. If an adult tilts his or her head forward (even if it is a slight tilt) to another adult, and looks up, it signals: “I’m no threat to you!” Conversely, if an adult tilts tilts his or her head back and looks down upon another adult, he or she signals: “I’m so much more than you.” It would be a threatening pose.

3. (Feb 22) While drawing the character Blake of the tv series “Dynasty” (played by John Forsythe), I realized that the drawing class at community college is perhaps a bit demanding, and I need at least a day to recover from the experience. I guess it’s the combination of being in a strange place, having peer pressure and a live model that is tiring the part of my brain that does art.

Nonetheless, I kept trying to do more sketches that day, to get it out of my system.

Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp)4
4. (Feb 22) I love the character of Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp), although I have only seen one of the movies of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. He is quite over the top and instantly lovable.

As you can see, there are a lot of things wrong with this sketch, which I was not able to correct (yet).

True Grit - Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges)5
5. (Feb 23) Although I’m more a John Wayne fan for Westerns, I guess Jeff Bridges does a nice Rooster Cogburn in this remake of the 1969 movie “True Grit”, at least on the posters. The pose in the sketch is based on a photo in my TV guide.

Nicolas Cage6
6. (Feb 24) I used a movie poster in my TV Guide to draw this approximation of Nicolas Cage. I know his likeness is kinda wonky, but it is still a strong portrait. I wished we had people like this in our portrait class at my local community college. That would certainly rock, big time.

I will continue mining the tv guide and whatever I come across to practice my portrait drawing skills. See you in part 2.

Portrait Course, lesson # 22

21 Feb

Portrait Course 2011-02-21 # 11
1. I didn’t have my glasses with me, so this part was not too accurate. Luckily, during the break I was able to get back home to get my glasses.

Portrait Course 2011-02-21 # 22
2. As usually happens, my fellow artists get chatty and I loose concentration. That’s why there are some things I would do differently next time.

I don’t go to portrait course for pretty pictures, but to learn how to draw portraits better. Mistakes and being distracted (what also may happen if you have a model for yourself) is all part of the game.


19 Feb


Based on this tweet:

A grumpy cat walks and a jolly mouse hops into a bar. The cats ask: “What will it be? If you say CHEESE I will eat you!” #areyouamanoramouse

I know it’s rough, but that is the fun of it.

Developing a cute pink dinosaur

18 Feb

Based on a sketch of a cartoony dinosaur I put on my Deviant Art page yesterday and which in turn was based on someone else’s sketch made in 2007, I made a new digital sketch.

I’m trying to find out how to draw something consistently, because that is what I’m having problems with right now. When I try to “improve” my sketch, I’m getting too scientific about it, which spoils the whole appeal of what I drew originally as a fun sketch. What seems to work much better for me right now is to tweak the original rough sketch, rather than trying to redraw from scratch with each new drawing. I’m sure once I’ve drawn this guy enough times, I can draw him from scratch without tracing from an original.

Dinosaur original sketch1
1. I draw the sketch with pencil on paper, scanned it in and turned it into a pure black and white drawing. I basically put a piece of paper on top of the old sketch, copied some of the features and then drew a new sketch, with some improvements.

Dinosaur blue line version2
2. Before drawing in Sketchbook Pro on top of the scanned image, I cleaned the sketch somewhat and turned it into a blue line sketch. Actually, it is more like cyan line sketch. It is meant to be distinct from black, so when I draw over it, I can clearly see where I put my black outline.

Dinosaur final version3
3. The final version was drawn in Sketchbook Pro with a Wacom Intuos 3 tablet. I had to rotate the canvas, because for certain lines this worked much better. I’m still not satisfied with the roundness of the belly. It looks too “wobbly” to my eyes. I’m sure it’s a matter of practice.

Once I’ve more or less mastered drawing this pink dinosaur, I want to turn him into a cartoon character for a mini-comic based on the episode of He-Man, which I deconstructed a while ago.

Some ideas about Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing From Life

15 Feb

I have owned a copy of George Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing From Life for some years now, but only now it’s starting to dawn on me what I’m supposed to do. I did a short monolog on Twitter in several tweets and decided to save it for a later date. I therefore copied the contents of the tweets below.

Some insight is starting to build about Bridgman. His drawings are about structure, not likeness. It are annotations of a thought process. What he is drawing is just the surface of an involved mental process in your mind. The drawings in themselves say little unless you know the code, how to reproduce the structure in your mind’s eye. Those Bridgman scribbles are shorthand for complex thoughts.

All this means if you expect a step-by-step guide from Bridgman, you’re missing the point. He wants to wean you from those guides. Instead, Bridgman wants you to think about what you are seeing, not in words, but visually thinking. It is a big switch for most.

It means that you don’t follow some guide, where someone else has done the thinking, but instead, you have to think for yourself.

I will try to draw some examples of what I think Bridgman’s ideas are about drawing from life, not to impress you, but to use this blog to think about anatomy for artists. It is the thought process that counts, not the annotations on paper or in bits.

Once I’m sort of happy with those drawings, I will share them on this blog, with some words to explain what I’ve drawn and why.