Critique/ Fundamentals Practice
TessaW last edited by TessaW
Hi Leo! I have a few thoughts on studying fundamentals.
First I think it might be good to brush up on some observation techniques that will help you with proportions and relationships when you study from life or from reference. It will help streamline the process of learning other fundamentals. Jake Parker's "How to Draw Everything" and Betty Edward's "Drawing with the Right Side of Your Brain" will help you in this area and here are some free, simple, and short videos that also deals with observation techniques.
I also would recommend learning the basics of perspective almost from the get go. Perspective will not only help you with constructing scenes, but it will also help you with making characters, objects, and implementing light and shadow. Learn 1 point and 2 point perspective and 3 point. Learn about ellipses in perspective. Learn about drawing cubes, cylinders, cones, and spheres in perspective. Learn about sculpting techniques for perspective- additive, subtractive, footprint, curves, and cutting holes. Learn about scaling and spacing. After you've spent some time doing basic perspective, learn how to construct drawings out of larger simple masses, following rules of perspective where applicable, and then adding contours and details on top.
Others have given you great resources. I will also recommend the draw-a-box website and Andrew Loomis' "Successful Drawing" I have a few others that I think are good for starting out with fundamentals.
- How to Draw What You See by Rudy De Reyna
- Perspective Made Easy by Ernest Norling
- https://www.ctrlpaint.com/library/. He has free content and paid content. If you look at the free content, look at the free video library section. Sections 2, 3, and 7 may be good places to start for fundamentals.
- Drawsh.com It has good complements to many fundamental concepts.
When I study fundamentals, I try to do 2 things to get a well rounded approach:
Observe and Copy- From your learning material, life, photographs, and other artwork. This includes many types of exercises. For example, if I'm studying constructive drawing I might: Copy straight from the source material. Look at photographs of different objects, identify their major masses, trace over them and add cross contouring. Look at my couch in real life, sketch it by breaking it down into simple shapes and making sure I'm following the rules of perspective. Taking an illustration I admire, and do a sketch of it, just utilizing simple 3d shapes. The point is to observe and interact with the concepts in many different ways.
Apply: Make your own drawing or artwork using the concepts you have copied and observed in the first step. This does not have to be a finished illustration and can be a sketch, but the point is to make up your own thing. You can do it without reference or you can use reference as a guide if you want, but do not copy it- change the angle or add different forms, details, lighting, etc to it. So if I'm still studying constructive drawing, after I've drawn my couch from observation, I might draw a different couch-mostly from my imagination, drawing it in a different angle and adding different proportions and details to it.
The good news is that many of the resources listed by people here already have exercises that make you do these things anyway. If you come across a learning resource that does not make you observe and apply the principles being taught, you'll have to be proactive and make up your own exercises or seek them out in other places. Start simple and work toward more complex.
I'll show some of my sketchbook studies I did when I was starting on my fundamentals. They show what I was doing to observe and apply. Looking at other people's sketchbooks really helped me, so I hope mine might be helpful to you.
Some with perspective. Copying source material and observing from reference and life.
Applying the knowledge to made up studies
After I started studying perspective I started studying constructive drawing. Some of it was concurrent with my perspective studies as they go hand in hand.
Copying from learning sources, Observing from photo reference and real life. Starting with big shapes, adding details. Paying attention to perspective. Starting with simple objects, going to more complex.
Applying the knowledge from my observational drawings. I constructed the basic shapes without reference, and only looked at reference to help me with aspects of the details.
Working to more complex, I constructed still life arrangements from reference.
I applied the knowledge from the last study and made up a still life with no reference.
Anyway, good luck! It can be hard to know what to study and how study effectively. I hope you find something that works for you!
Thanks for the sketchbook pics. It's interesting to see how others practice. Especially with perspective
@TessaW thanks for the advice you and everyone else provided. It's much appreciated and I hope I'll put it to good use.
I wanted to ask something about the drawing studies you posted here. The first ones and even later ones are done through use of a ruler? Am I correct? This is the way it should be done right? You can't possibly get lines down correct by doing them freehand. Some instructors suggest that so you become accostumed to drawing beautiful, flowy lines but I don't think it's practical especially for a beginner studying perspective. What did you do when studying perspective?
TessaW last edited by
@tianlian Yes, I used a ruler for most, but not all of my studies until I got more comfortable with perspective. My rational for that was that perspective was so overwhelming and at times confusing, that I didn't want to have to deal with freehanding as well. I wanted my mind to just focus in on the concepts.
Additionally, I work digitally a lot and I use a regular old tablet. I find it difficult to freehand longer lines with a tablet, so I'm pressing shift a lot to get straight lines, and I used a straight-line extension for a while as well.
Now that I'm more comfortable with perspective, I rarely use a ruler while sketching in real life, though I wouldn't rule out using one (haha) if the occasion called for it.
@TessaW Oh tell me about it... Heck yeah it is confusing
Do you have any general tips about studying perspective? Or I don't know, things you wish you knew? Because I thought it was just rules I had to memorize, but in reality it's...one big hot mess and I don't know what I'm doing.
TessaW last edited by TessaW
@tianlian Oh man, it's hard remembering exactly how I navigated through all that information. First, I don't claim to be an expert on perspective, it's still a challenging at times, but it's easier to sort through now.
I also think it's important to put things into context. It's common to see someone who you feel is somewhat proficient in a certain area in art, and not fully understand how they got to that point. What helped me a ton was to learn what other people did, and what they went through to get to where they are. So apologies ahead of time. I don't want to sound like I know it all or that I'm narcissistic, but I want to share a little of my experience, as it's helped me when others have done it.
I had previously went to art school about 2003-2007, where I picked up some handy observational skills. I could make pretty good paintings from life, I could make ok paintings if I copied directly from a photo, and I picked up some color and painting skills, but ask me to make my own illustration, even of a very simple scene without perfect reference? I couldn't really do that and didn't know how to get there. I stopped doing art at all until the end of 2013 because of it, until I found some online sketchbooks of people who developed their imaginative skills. I started perspective and constructive drawing in Jan 2014. At this point I was very afraid that I wouldn't be able to understand perspective at all. I didn't think I was smart enough, but I took the leap just started plugging away. Since then, I've been learning when I can. I've done a lot of study, some good, some bad, and I've gone through periods where I don't do art at all. I don't think I did any art for a year's time when I was pregnant with my second kid! And I just recently had a months long break after moving. It wasn't until I started working through the subscription courses here in 2017 that I feel I was able to get more comfortable with applying perspective to my own work. The classes here really give you a good working method and a way to organize your image creation process in a way that helped me harness my perspective knowledge.
In retrospect I think I did some good things and some bad things, during this whole time period starting in 2014.
So with that being said, here is my personal experience with perspective. I'm repeating some of what I said in an earlier post on this thread, but oh well.
You might think about studying constructive drawing at the same time. Constructive drawing goes hand in hand with perspective and I think they enhance each other. In my opinion, constructive drawing can feel a bit more intuitive. I studied both at the same time and I don't regret it.
Use more than one source to learn from. I think I used 3 books, one main online source, and countless youtube videos that I can't remember. I didn't just skim the books, or casually watch my online source, I really dug into those resources. I recommend more than one source, because they tend to explain things a little differently and it covers all your bases, and repeats some of the same information without it feeling too repetitive. You get different types of exercise ideas as well.
If you are a self-studier, think of it like you're taking a class in high school. In a high school course you might first take notes from your teacher's lecture and your textbook. Then you might have a homework assignment. After several lessons and homework assignments, you might have an exam that applies all the knowledge you've learned through lectures and homework assignments. Then you'll continue on with more lessons and homework assignments until another exam. So with studying perspective, start out with notes and copying the examples from your learning resource. Then give yourself a homework assignment(or more than one) that is fairly simple. After doing this for a while and completing several homework assignments, give yourself an exam where you do an image that combines a few different principles you've learned. Rinse and repeat. I wish I would have done this a bit more when I studied it. While I was good at the lesson and homework part, I wish I had given myself more "exams". I didn't really do much of my own work back when I first started, and I wish I did.
For your homework assignments, do studies from your imagination, do studies from life, and do studies from photographic or art reference. You'll ideally be using imagination, real life, and reference as you make more finished work, so it makes sense that you'd use all three to study as well.
- Doing exercises based on imagination is obviously good for developing your imagination skills and getting the theory down without worrying too much about other factors. This would be like drawing simple shapes, objects, or scenes in perspective with out using any reference, and later moving on to more complex things.
- Drawing from life helps you take the theories you're learning and observe them in action. You can see how proportion, placement and overlap works. The theories will also help you organize the things you see in real life, making them easier and faster to draw (eventually). It can also make the theories make more sense and you can get a better sense of an object's 3d forms, because you can easily change your point of view and see an object or a scene from different angles. As a side note, I remember learning all these perspective theories and then I'd draw something from real life, and my art buddies would bust me because I wasn't applying those theories. I'd learn about vanishing points and then for some reason, I wouldn't make my lines recede to a vanishing point in my real life drawing studies.
- Drawing from photographic and art reference really helps with filling in details. It also helps with how placement, proportion, and overlapping works in perspective on scenes that aren't easily accessible in real life. It can also help you figure out how to translate scenes withing a 2d format and play with different point of views and exaggeration of perspective that's different from what we see with our eyes.
You can take a break after you've gotten the hang of a few principles. For me personally I studied perspective and constructive form for the first time over a 3 month period and in retrospect I did a lot of pointless master studies in that time period as well that wasn't related to any theory I was learning. After those 3 months I couldn't stomach it anymore. I moved on to light and shadow- which actually was the perfect transition from perspective. It utilized and enhanced perspective knowledge and it made more sense because of the perspective knowledge I gained. Then after about 10 months or so, I went back and did another round of perspective and constructive form studies. I probably shouldn't have waited so long, but I didn't have much art time as it was, and I didn't know exactly what I should be doing anyway and was doing some other random helpful and not so helpful studies in that time.
It won't feel intuitive or easy when you start applying it to your finished illustrations. I remember learning so much theory and it was so painstaking to apply it to my own pieces. There was a lot of confusion and going back to review perspective principles and searching for reference of what I was trying to achieve. It's still hard and confusing sometimes, but it's getting easier and easier the more I plan out pieces with many thumbnails and then execute my own illustrations. A lot if it is more intuitive now, and even when I still have to plot things out and use perspective grids, it feels more like part of a natural process, instead of being very tedious.
Anyway, sorry for the wall of text. Knowing what to study and how to study is so confusing! I don't know if those are the kinds of tips you were looking for, but I hoped I offered something that might help you.
@TessaW oh gosh that is one long reply, let me get through that. Thank you immensely for taking the time to write that!!! Okay let's see here...
I think my biggest roadblock is wanting to know exactly what I'm doing, how I'm doing it and where it'll take me. I'm a control freak and art doesn't work that way. I remember a Bobby Chiu interview and I think it was Jonathan Hardesty who said that you gotta get over yourself and change what stands in your way if you wanna get somewhere and that we all go through that. Resistance you might call it. So there's not perfect tip. Every tidbit of advice someone is willing to offer is welcome though.
I know what you mean about learning something but then not applying it. It's difficult to make that connection.
Oh wow, three months? I don't think I could have focused for so much time on something. That's actually one big old problem of mine: time management.
That phrase is my life right now:"Knowing what to study and how to study is so confusing!" I'll get through that though. Even though most of the time I end up cowering in a corner.
All in all thank you very much. You confirmed some ideas I had in my head and gave me a whole lot of new ones. Also seeing someone else with the same issues as you is one of the most encouraging things ever. Truly, thank you!
TessaW last edited by
@tianlian For the 3 months thing- I think it took that long because I just didn't have the time. I could do art most days, but not all. I could typically get 1 hour in a day, but sometimes I could manage 3-5 hours depending on the day. If you have more time to devote to art, you might be able to get it done sooner. I guess it depends on different circumstances.
@TessaW my biggest issue is my mindset right now.
@tessaw Amazing! You are an inspiration!
Strong work, thank you for sharing. Great tips from everyone above. Be sure and share your progress!