It's one of those weeks without any new discoveries or breakthroughs, just steady progress and consolidating what I learned last week.
Drawabox Lesson 5 proceeds apace. It's a challenging lesson. I've drawn animals using construction before, but DaB's requirements are quite strict.
The two major challenges I've been facing were (a) the strong focus on construction while ignoring gesture and movement/flow, (b) the tension between construction by observation vs. bypassing any teaching on anatomy. I found (b) the more difficult challenge. This kind of drawing-by-construction that DaB teaches is dependent on understanding a bit of animal anatomy, but the lesson doesn't go into this at all, nor asks the student to go look for references by themselves. This compels the student to fall back on drawing by observation while deciphering the three-dimensionality of external form -- which is challenging in itself.
That said, this Drawabox lesson isn't a bad overview on learn how to draw animals, which can be a launching pad into other comprehensive animal drawing courses. I'm about halfway through the lesson and learning a few things -- although most of it involves trying to keep all the drawing requirements in mind while doing the drawing.
Ferret and donkey. Photo references were obtained from web search.
The ferret still has a long neck, but I got some feedback that I had been neglecting to draw the animal's ribcage. I included that in the donkey drawing, and its proportions are better now.
This Dispatch is a bit late as I've been AFK for a lot of this weekend. (Amongst other things, I spent all Sunday bouldering with a friend - it was a great deal of fun, but I am a great deal unfit. I'm still feeling the post-workout ache!)
Not as much art this week as I've been trying to juggle Drawabox homework with traditional drawing with digital art... but I made an important breakthrough.
I resumed Lesson 5 of Drawabox this week - it's about drawing animals using dynamic sketching/construction methods. A long time ago I learned to draw animals using construction**, so it was a matter of dusting off some very old skills, while building on drawing principles taught by Drawabox's earlier lessons.
A scrub turkey and a ferret. The ferret has a long neck! It's a lot harder to establish proportions through strict construction, instead of more gestural approaches which I'd otherwise use.
**Aside: As a kid, I learned how to draw using several children's how-to-draw books published by Disney, which showed how Disney's animators drew characters from The Lion King and Pocahontas for the films. Little did I know then that I was learning constructional drawing and techniques that are actually used by professional artists. Now I'm grateful for how those Disney how-to-draw books gave me pretty strong drawing foundations, which I'm still building on today.
It's the end of April, my first month of learning digital art. How did I do?
I did more two-value studies this week; these are proving very worthwhile. These studies compel me to think about art in terms of shapes instead of lines, and train my eye to see a visual hierarchy of shapes from large to small. I've drawn what is essentially "line art" for many, many years, so thinking and visualizing shapes in an image is a big paradigm shift.
These studies are tough -- I often found myself reverting back to thinking in lines and forgetting the hierarchy of shapes I was trying to paint. But I'm enjoying it and it's a technique that I want to master, so I'll keep doing them!
Two-value study of Ruthton Valley, Washington state. Source: © Greg Martin.
Two-value study of "Old Mill", painting by Vasily Polenov. Source: James Gurney's blog.
Most of my art time this week was taken up by a drawing prompt I discovered on Twitter (via an art Discord server):
It's basically a small environment painting in a cube form. The cube shape is a contained structure and the original artist's style is cute and simple to colour. This seemed like a great way to start painting a simple environment, and learn something about image composition and developing colour palette and values. So far all my digital paintings have been copying photo and painting references, so now I get to make my own environment!
This week's art output was a bit haphazard as I tried to figure out a balance between learning digital art, while still creating "fun art" with my usual traditional sketches.
I continued to practice making clean linework on a drawing tablet. I'd been playing the video game Bayonetta, so the eponymous heroine made a good subject matter. This drawing is much cleaner than my previous sketches, and I stumbled onto some shading methods too. But clean digital linework sure takes a long time!
This second week of digital art was more challenging than last week. I finished a great pencil drawing and made some mediocre digital drawings; started thinking of turning professional and was encouraged not to think too much about it yet; and tried to come to terms with all of it.
Digital painting went relatively well. My aim was to copy existing photos to get familiar with a basic painting method and learn how to manipulate colours and brushes. In this second painting study of still life, I started exploring the powers of painting on layers (handy) and using clipping masks (even more handy). I'm definitely more comfortable with using digital tools now.
My painting (left); photo reference (right) from Flickr, ©2017 Serena Tan.
I'm still moving through Ctrl+Paint's free video library. Also watched several great videos by Sinix Design: his introduction to digital painting for beginners, and this YouTube playlist about design theory. Amongst other things, he addresses image composition and values in an accessible, practical way that I can apply immediately.
Sinix recommended doing two-value studies on artwork by good artists, as a way to train one's eye to recognize what good composition looks like. I plan to tackle this study in the coming week.