Tuesday 12 January 2016

021 Workflow of imaginary sketch and shadow explanation

I do lots of sketches from imagination (mostly in pencils) next to doing studies, as they let you apply what you learned. Here is a little step by step workflow of how I do that (description below):

Steps 1-5 are done with an HB pencil, 6 uses a 2B and 7-10 alternates between the two as needed. For final details and dark accents, I also use a 6B pencil sometimes

  1. Establish a horizon and a basic perspective grid
  2. Gesture: Here I either have a concrete image in my mind or I just try out different gesture poses until I find something I can work with or that gives me an idea about a character. In this example I wanted someone jumping and with this pose, I got the idea of somekind of assassin/thief jumping down with a dagger.
  3. Building anatomy: here I correct errors and establish a basic anatomical model with a Loomis head.
  4. Once the anatomy is ok, erase everything slightly, so it is barely visible. Now the fun part begins. I mostly start with the face and try out some basic design ideas. The base clothing is established
  5. Detailing and design step: here I put everything in place designwise. This step uses the visual library in my head that was established through studies (and it is ever growing). Here the clothing is very basic and simple, but anything is possible. In this step your creativity can do whatever it wants, using historical clothing, clothing from movies you have seen, combining them, anything...
  6. Cleanup: the lines are cleaned up and some line weight is incorporated
7. Base value step: here different values for materials are done. I only have 2 values in that example,but it can be more elaborated depending on how detailed and realistic you want the finished drawing. This is not shading, it only shows how light or dark the material is!
8. Basic form shadow is applied
9. Cast shadows are applied
10. Occlusion shadows are applied and some more detailed shading to finish the sketch. A cast shadow below the figure keeps it grounded.

Different forms of shadows:

Shadows are really important in a drawing, in my opinion even more important than the values of the lights. A well placed cast shadow and some occlusion shadows can make a drawing pop and give it a more realistic look.
So what are these different kinds of shadows? Basically there are three different forms of shadow:

1. Form shadow
2. Cast shadow
3. Occlusion shadow

Form Shadow:

This gives a shape the illusion of a 3-dimensional form. Basically all planes of an object that are hit by light are called form light and everything of the object not hit by light is form shadow.
With only one light source it is usually easy to spot, with more it gets more complex...

In the example below (Nr. 3) the cylinder is lit from straight above, so as the surface curves away, it gets darker until the surface and light are parallel to each other (this is called the terminator, the breaking point between light and dark). Here no more light can bounce of the surface and the form shadow starts.
Form shadow is actually only one value, but as light bounces of other surfaces in the environment, some light is reflected back into the form shadow. this is called bounce light and can be seen on the bottom side of the cylinder. The value of bounce light never gets lighter than the darkest value of the form light!

Cast Shadow:

Any object hit by light casts a shadow onto other objects (or even itself). These shadows mostly have a sharp edge and they follow the form of the object they are cast upon. (below in Nr. 4 you can see the shadow cast by the cylinder above following the form of the cylinder below)
To draw them can be tricky. It is possible to construct them ( Scott Robertson How to render is great in explaning that), but mostly I eyeball them in, using my understanding of forms and volumes. The edges of cast shadows get softer the further away from the casting object they get.

Occlusion shadows:

These shadows are the hardest to get and they are often overlooked. But implementing them into your drawings can make them really stand out! Basically, occlusion shadows occur when two surfaces get closer to each other as they block out the ambient light. This is why corners in a room seem to be a bit darker than the walls.
Below in Nr. 1 and Nr. 2 you can see this concept.
These shadows are also called contact shadows. A good example of why would be a person standing on the ground. Where the shoes meet the floor, you always have a darker edge.
Occlusion shadows are always soft! Draw them with a gradient in mind, starting lighter in value and darkening them down  (like in Nr. 2)
They also not only occur in touching surfaces angled like in the examples below, but also on surfaces next to each other that do not touch  (like two legs on a standing figure for example)
If you´re unsure whether or not occlusion occurs, imagine rays coming out of a point on a surface going in all directions. If these rays somewhere hit another surface, occlusion occurs. The closer the other surface is, the darker the shadows are (so there might technically even be occlusion that is not visible at all, because it is so subtle....)

Hope this is useful!

Wednesday 11 November 2015

020 Traditional art skills - are they even important nowadays?

I love digital art. The vast possibilities of it are what make them my favorite painting medium. But I also love pencils. They are a constant companion and I draw with them daily.
But are other media like oils, watercolor, acrylics etc. even worth their while to delve into as a digital artist?
The answer would be a big, fat YES!

Recently, I started to incorporate more different media into my sketch routine and I started to experiment more with ink and watercolor.

The reason why traditional media are important (in my humble opinion) is, because they make you think differently about how you approach a drawing or painting.

With drawing media like inks, you have to plan ahead, you have to know where to put your marks. Once they are on the paper, there is no going back. It is kind of an unforgiving medium, but they are great to learn drawing! They force you to add more discipline and care to your linework and think constantly of what it is you are about to do.

The same applies for any painting medium. When I started out with watercolors, I really needed to adjust to the from light to dark approach. You need to know where your lightest lights are right from the beginning, again forcing you to plan ahead.

The second thing traditional painting media do, they really teach you color theory in a practical way. In photoshop or painter, you have every color imaginable at your disposal. Apply them opaque or in layers to automatically multiply. When you are color mixing, you have to know what you are doing. It´s one of the most important steps in painting. To know how pigments behave when mixed with other pigments on the palette or on the canvas is crucial and teaches you much more than digital painting alone could. Learning how to dull your saturated colors, how complimentary colors behave and generally how to mix any color from your three primaries is a huge leap in understanding color theory.

With the last couple of paintings I did, I learned more about color than in all the years I painted digitally. I can highly recommend to any digital student of art to try out any traditional medium! It won´t be pretty at first, but you really learn so much that is easily transfered into the digital world. (And don´t forget the fun factor! Nothing beats sitting out there in nature on a warm autumn day, painting the scenery)

Here are some first examples of watercolor and pen sketches/studies. Not all that great, but I´m learning a lot from them:

I´m also starting to paint with gouache and plan to turn to oils soon. Wonder how these will turn out :)

Sunday 2 November 2014

019 Study schedule without time constraints

It´s been a long time since my last post and a lot of stuff happened. I changed my study schedule, participated in an online art school and focused generally more on practicing my base skills.

I kind of divided the way I learn into a simple approach where you build upon the foundation of these basic themes:

Lineart – Values – Color

Without good lineart (by that, I mostly mean proportion, shape, perspective) a painting will fail, even if values and color is done right. This is the foundation and starting point for all paintings. 

Values are the next important step, as a well done lineart with well done values can be a finished painting on its own.

Color is the cherry on top of every painting. It conveys mood and atmosphere and lets a painting really shine when well done

For most of the time this year, I practiced my basic drawing skill in lineart, although you should never separately study one subject on its own entirely. You can put your focus to one aspect to intensify studying.

I also found that I had troubles to follow any practice schedule with a set amount of time for any one subject. After trying out various schedules, I found what works best for me is basing my schedule  on workload. With a set time to study a certain subject, I drifted off and started to draw against time rather than concentrate on studying. And a 1 hour study isn´t any good when you are not focused on what you do, but only on how much time has past. 

By workload I mean, I set an amount of work I want finished by the end of the day and stick to these mini deadlines.

At the moment, I work with this amount to be done daily:

 One page of gesture drawings from reference

One page of gesture drawings from imagination

One page of studies of various subjects (at the moment mostly anatomy and some design studies)

    2-3 quick value studies

A double page in my sketchbook (A5 Moleskin) with studies and/or sketches from imagination (any subject I want, currently focusing on figures)

-          Part of a more detailed Master study (old masters and painters still alive, I consider masters) in color (about ¼ to 1/3, meaning I finish one every 3-4 days)

The advantage of this study schedule is that I don´t need to constantly watch the time and I don´t have to stick to one subject only for a set amount of time. So I could start with gestures and go to some sketchbook sketches and back to gestures again followed by a master study and doing some more gestures after that spread out across the day until the workload is fullfilled. 

Another advantage of this method : it trains one to stick to deadlines!

The funny thing is, I manage to practice more in hours per day at a higher level of motivation than I did with a timed schedule.