Monday, May 09, 2005


Andrew Loomis wrote some essential books on drawing. I actually think that these book are much better than the Burne Hogarth books but, to each his own... These books really do break down the daunting task of drawing believable figures into simple components. I highly reccomend that the books on heads and hands be among the first that you study.

Heads and hands (and feet) give me hell. I spend a lot of time trying to work out how to make hands and heads look natural--as they do in life. When I took a life drawing class a couple of years ago, I was amazed that I was still struggling with the hands! After working as an illustrator and artist for the past twelve years I still have a hard time drawing hands! It was incredibly frustrating. I had the same problems as I delved into drawing the heads and feet. Getting the eyes, mouth and nose looking as they should... It was really frustrating--more than I thought.

Of course, if these elements are off the whole drawing falls apart. One axiom that I have come to believe (however reluctantly) is that a drawing/portfolio/painting/sculpture is only as strong as its weakest part. Most viewer's eyes are unconciously trained to notice weaknesses in draftsmanship. Eyes that don't sit well in the face. Feet that don't grip the ground in a believeble way. Hands that are either intentionally hidden or are self counciously rendered looking overly stiff or not in perspective... These are things that can just cause a composition to collapse. An anology that I like to use is that it is the same as listening to a muscial composition and hearing a few off notes. You just notice it and it sticks in your craw.

I have noticed, looking at some portfolios of young illustrators, that the current craze in commercial art is the gaming/entertainment industry. Many young illustrators are fighting to do design work for video games. Their portfolios reflect this desire loud and clear. Many of them are either drawing these bizarre male figures with huge muscles and toting giant machine guns, OR they are stuck in Goth-land creating these Clive Barker-esque women in S and M garb--who ALSO happen to be toting giant machine guns. Looking at some of these images I notice that these young artists are suffering from deficiencies in drawing believable anatomy. Many of the figures--the ones not clad in layers of post-apocalyptic armor, were very shaky anatomically. The draftsmanship, the line quality and some of the graphic elements were right on, but as before, those wrong notes kept me distracted. I usually tell artists who want to improve their skills to go to an art store and buy a sketchbook, buy several sketchbooks, and just fill every inch of white space with drawings of dogs, cars, lightposts, tadpoles hands, feet, etc... The most original ideas come from the daily, mundane stuff that we ignore every day.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Y'all check out Andrew Loomis's books online. They are amazing!

1 comment:

Jared Chapman said...

Wonderful insight and advice for the new comers like myself. I agree about what you said about a lot of portfolios from young artists. I try and look at my work with a critical eye to catch flaws and improve the work overall... but that is easier said than done. I still have a ways to go before I'm comfortable with my stuff (if any artist ever is comfortable with his/her work!), but though great critiques and advice from top notch folks like yourself and Ward, I hope to get to that point sooner. Thanks for it!