Friday, August 17, 2012

Informed Practice

When people give comments like 'wow, I wish I could draw like you!' this is usually what I recommend: informed practice. I think the notion that some people are just born with talent and others are not is mostly false--talent is just liking something enough to not give up on it, and the desire to become better at it no matter how daunting.
So, this is the less glorious side of drawing: the long hours admiring others work is nothing compared to a solid hour copying. Admiring a picture is like waterskiing--you'd never know it if you skiied right over the top of the great barrier reef (I assume). If you scuba dive it though, or even snorkel--you're going to get a whole different experience of the same place.
This is a layover of a one hour pen study of a lion, from Atlas of Animal Anatomy by W. Ellenberger. I do the drawing as best I can, then scan it, and see how close I am. It's a brutally honest way of finding where I'm faking it, and where I'm doing all right.

This trick really highlights stylistic tendencies and preferences too: I like long limbs and graceful necks. I subconsciously raised the head, probably falling back on horse and dog anatomy: areas I'm a bit more familiar with than cats. Major weaknesses in knowledge showed up in the hindquarters more than anything: I beefed up the legs a bit too much, and gave a much more sloped hindquarters than the actual lion, which is probably because I had been looking at saber-tooth cat skeletons; notably, Smilodon populator which had long, strong forequarters (seriously, the thing was built like a tank) and sloping hindquarters.
After finishing the layover, I went back to my sketchbook with red pencil and carefully drew in where the actual silhouette is to mentally reinforce the lesson, and provide hard copy reference to fall back on.
This is more preparation for Quickpaw. I got a reaallly rough scriptish sort of thing worked out last week. The story still needs refining, but when it's ready to go, I want my brain-muscle to be up and running and refreshed.

1 comment:

Jenny De La Torre said...

Haha, neat way to study animal anatomy. I own a bunch of animal books and do the same--though sometimes I find myself skipping hours of grueling practice to fall back on old habits. Sometimes, the heart wants what the heart wants >__<