Observational Drawing Commentaries

With teaching I became more aware of my process and started questioning how I do all of this. So I decided to make some videos of cool vehicles I spotted nearby where I live. While the editing and rendering is quite a lot for how simple the videos are, the result is quite interesting for to look at.

Fundamentals of Design Class

A highlight-real of the work I did for the “fundamentals of design” class by Tyler Edlin on CGMA. I enjoyed the class very much. My drawing seemed and sense for design seemed to be fine. Mainly need to work on my values and rendering.

Digital Color

Color always seemed an unnecessary extra to me. During all of my studies the main focus was to draw objects and spaces fast and effective, to then maybe use some tones to work it up a little. I did do some small experiments and made some coloured drawings for friends, which were fun, but I never really understood what I was doing.

Now that I’m taking the time to study the fundamentals of art, I couldn’t avoid this anymore. When looking for resources and lessons on this subject you mainly bump in all sorts of brush painting methods. I wasn’t comfortable with this because that would have meant that I had to learn even another medium. Instead I wanted it to support what I already could do, which is solid linework. Knowing that I really like comic book art, I ended up studying digital colouring in a more comic book way. The main tool I used for this was my iPad Pro. Which was severely underused until now.

While I could have gone over existing black and white artwork, I started from the ground up. The portraits above show some insight in the process. I usually started from a rough, to refined lines, to flat colours, to shadows and lastly lights. The video underneath shows the entire workflow that goes in to it.

From portraits I went on to figure drawing. For some reason I chose dynamic dancing poses. The main thing that became clear to me with light, shadow and color, is that it isn’t just about picking a color a bit darker or lighter. All Colors are result from a certain type of light bouncing on top of a surface towards our eyes. some elements are warmer, colder or change in saturation. The handy thing about working digital is you iterate and test out many variations.

By going deeper in to procreate I discovered a “liquify” function. With this you can make more abstract marble like textures. Something close to 2 paintings I once did.  I always pondered how I could use this in combination with my figurative work. With some playing around in the app I managed to extract the interesting shadow shapes and use them as a basis for the flow of colors.

Figure Drawing

It was that time again, the urge to explore the figure. While I have some experience with studying this subject from books and live-figure drawing classes, I somehow struggled with drawing it from imagination. I always ended up looking stuff up which started to become a bottleneck in my process. 

So I said enough of this and started researching online resources and how other artists dealt with this. I quickly ‘figured’ out that it mainly comes down to the fundamentals of form and perspective and that the Drawabox program I followed gave me a good foundation to build upon. Following a lot of recommendations, I got in the Proko courses on youtube. While Stan Prokopenko works very traditional, his insights are very applicable across all styles. I quickly got in the extended videos and demonstrations in his (cheap) premium course.    

It is one thing to watch all of his videos and something else to practise it. Systematically I worked my way through his videos over the last several months. Only moving up to the next video when I noticed I somewhat mastered the techniques and insights. It mainly came down to really understanding “gesture”(essence of movement or pose) and mainly thinking of the “bean” (ribcage and pelvis) of the body. Limbs, proportions and rendering shadows all come natural when the basics are down. I included a flip through and some scans of all the exercises I went through.

While following lessons and exercises are great, at the end of the day you also have to make “your art”.  As a test to myself, I wanted to make something inspired by the workflow of Proko. I chose a very dynamic pose of man and woman and reconstructed it on a A0 sized paper. Because of the complexity, size of the work and the amount of detail I couldn’t just copy what I saw. At every step  I had think my way through it all starting with the form, to the muscle, to lightning and finally the texture. 

While I was at it I made a time-lapse recording of the proces. The work took about 64 hours with a lot of breaks and nights of sleep in between. I titled it “Dancers of Rodin” (dance where the reference comes from) and it measures 120×80 cm.  

Dungeons and Dragons

A group of friends of mine likes to come together and engage in “Dungeons and Dragons”. Having seen my work recently, “the dungeon master” came up with the idea that I illustrate their characters. After some preliminary sketches, I decided to go digital with the help of procreate on the Ipad. With the app you get the benefit of having timelapses of your process. I learned to use the app on the fly which meant a lot of iterations and banging head on the wall because of discovering easier methods a long the way. A tougher process but with the benefit that I learned what I needed to know to do what I wanted. The illustrations were revealed as a surprise at a recent house-party and the crew was very happy with the results.

Between Space and Mind

After a semester of figure drawing the focus of a class I was following switched to a more experimental approach towards the perception of space. As someone who strives to draw accurately from life this was quite challenging. With a good teacher pushing me to experiment more I think I found a middle ground between interpretation and craftsmanship.

The first project was about exploring any space you want with 2 mediums and eventually making some form of a map about it. To loosen up my very technical approach I got started in charcoal and made mind-notes along the ways with my trusty gel pen.

The second project was about exploring space against the framing of the canvas. I chose to work around the comic of Frank Miller I once made and started composing the frames on top of each other. This created one big blurry dreamworld and in some ways reminded the jury about the study drawings of the old masters like Michelangelo.

The last project was about creating a sequential booklet about anything you wanted basically. Pondering about it on the train I came to the realisation that I should draw and explore that very space. The space in transition where people ponder. For me this place where I felt I had to suffer through unnecessary became the space to explore and make art.

A0 portait

After several months of self education on heads and faces this the result that came ot of it. Not to say that I’m a master portrait artist now, not even the slightest, but it shows my understanding of it. Like with anything in drawing you never truly master, it just keeps on improving. And that is the fun of the journey that still lies ahead of me.

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Pink Noise

After a very exhausting graduation year I resorted to peace and sleep on our family’s apartment at the Belgian coast. The coming and going of waves on many of my walks reminded me of the phenomenon of pink noise. A restful sound I wanted to capture somehow. I ended up making this duo of paintings for my parents for at the apartment. One morning waking up I realized that the color of the sheets probably influenced this work greatly.

Photo of the coast with my trusty friend Lasse on the right.

Gallery of the process and experiments. I had some canvases and paint lying around and went with that.