Category: studies

Homework: Concept Art Starter Kit – Design Basics

I’ve recently started up CtrlPaint’s Concept Art Starter Kit with artist, Matt Kohr, as a way to brush up my own character design skills.  While I’m not quite going into Concept Art as a profession (yet?), I still think the basic skills will improve my artist’s eye, overall.  Plus, it’s just tons of fun designing characters for my own personal projects!

Since I’m coming mainly from an illustrator’s background, I felt like I needed to start at level 0.  I’ve read a lot of tutorials on concept design, but almost all of them assumed prior knowledge of industry jargon and familiarity.  It’s been refreshing to see something that starts off very simple with tons of visual examples.  The videos thus far are more lecture with examples than they are technique, but that’s just what I wanted and needed at this point. (Expect a review of the course kit over at The Muse’s Library once I’ve completed it!)

Shape Design covers the fundamentals of interpreting shape language and image recognition.  I tried out the suggested exercise of taking reference photos and not merely copying what I see, but trying to get a better idea about how the subject works via closer study and contouring.  The cat on the bottom right corner was drawn from memory after my studies were complete.

Exercise - Reference Studies

While this method does take longer, I think Kohr’s on to something with this more scientific approach, as I seemed to retain more info this way.  Admittedly, I’m used to copying and pasting references to get my final art done quicker.  Creating more in-depth studies is a good habit I need to get back into!

Next, I tried another suggested exercise where I took what I learned from doing my studies and drew a ‘good’ version and an ‘evil’ version of the same animal from memory using no reference.  Can you tell which one is which?

Exercise - Good vs Bad

If you guessed evil for the cat on the left and good for the cat on the right, I have succeeded!

For the evil cat, I went with the ‘modern’ body style of Siamese cat, which is sleeker and more pointed than the rounded ‘classical’ body style I used for the cat on the right.  I also made intentional choices to give the evil cat claws, pointed ears, pointed eyes, and to be showing his teeth while good cat is softer with rounded eyes and an overlarge head.  Both were drawn from memory based on what I’ve retained from my studies.

I’m looking forward to the next lesson!  Delving into the psychology of shape is utterly fascinating to me.  I think most of us understand this language instinctively, but learning how to purposefully implement it in our art can bring it to a whole other level.

Next Lesson: Design Basics 2

March 2015 – Monthly Update plus HUGE News!

Hey guys! I’ve decided to write this month’s update instead of broadcast it because I’m feeling a bit under the weather (food poisoning, urgh!).  So rather than subject you all to my sick mug, I thought I’d write March’s update instead!

How’s My Month Been?

It’s been great!  I’ve been whirling between my studies with Painting Drama and Proko’s Figure Drawing Fundamentals. Here are some of the studies I’ve been working on!

I’m slowly, but surely working my way up to 25 abstractions for my assignment. They take quite awhile so it has been a slow going process, but I’m learning so much about how compositions are arranged!  The 3D object assignment is building me up for drawing volumetric mannequins, which I’m very much looking forward to.

I’ve also been working on finishing the Rapunzel comic since it’s going to be published in an anthology later this year (more on that later as publication draws closer).  Now with more detail than ever before since I have a longer time to focus on them!


HUGE News!

And finally, saving the BIGGEST announcement for last.  I’ve put a downpayment on entering a mentorship with Dan Luvisi (of Last Man Standing fame) and Anthony Jones (of and Blizzard Entertainment fame) in May and June!  This mentorship is going to focus on IP development and I’ll be using my own novel as the IP I intend to develop for this mentorship!

You can read the syllabus here (starts on page 15).

It’s no small investment, but I’m using the pennies we’ve been pinching for SmartSchool to give it a shot.  I was a little torn, but the fact is, I’ve always felt like more of a writer-artist than purely an artist and this mentorship allows me to give both of those passions the attention they deserve. Plus, there is always next year for SmartSchool, if my pinched pennies can regenerate by then.

By the end of this mentorship, I hope to have the first two chapters written, illustrations of characters and key scenes, a perfected pitch and SO much more!  We’ll be able to talk to knowledgeable parties about their experiences in this field and receive guided instruction.

The instructors are even hoping to bring student work to San Diego Comic Con to pitch what they can to any interested parties.  They obviously can’t guarantee success, but the slim chance to be seen by the right people when I’m at that point definitely can’t hurt!

This could be HUGE, guys!

I am so excited (and a little intimidated) by what this could mean for my future!  And of course, I’ll be sharing some of my exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ work related to my novel during this intense project with my fine Patrons over at my Patreon because you guys have been amazing.  Thanks for your constant support and encouragement!

I did have a question I wanted to answer about study sources for this month’s update, but it really deserves it’s own blog post.  So, for now, I’m going to go sleep.  I have too much to do for a stomach bug to defeat me now!

See you next month where we’ll hopefully be back to a broadcast format!

Studies for April 2012

I spoke of studies in a previous entry and now here they are!  April was a very productive month to get off my bum and really make good on all those promises I’ve made to myself to get better at anatomy by drawing and drawing until I can draw no more.  I’ve realized if I want to get to the point of making a living at what I’m doing, I’m going to have to get better and keep up the push!

This month’s studies were accomplished through a number of life drawing sessions I attended live or using the Pixelovely tool when I didn’t have the time to leave the house.  Pixelovely draws from a wonderful pool of well-lit stock photos and lets you choose the state of undress and gender of your models, as well as how long you want a session to be (with automated breaks!). I highly recommended it if you don’t have access to live models.

These are just some of the studies. Had to leave some out for post length sake.
Studies ranging between 30 seconds and
5 minutes. View high-res version.
Studies ranging from 11 to 20 minutes.
View high-res version.
Various studies from a live session at Bohemian Circus Night. at the
Apache here in Atlanta.

What did I learn?
Mainly, I’m learning to loosen up and not be so obsessed with detail.  Sketching mainly in pen without the ability to erase or with a brush pen allowed me to focus on shadows and forms instead of getting caught up in all the technical side of things.  I find if we get caught up in details, we miss the energy of the model and what makes a pose interesting in the first place (something that would serve me well in depicting characters, I think!).

I learned a lot about the trouble areas of the face, such as the juncture of the nose and lips and how light falls there (especially in the Bohemian Circus Night sketches).  Reflected light from the floor and one’s own skin also caught my eye this month.  I noticed also the most successful studies are the ones that paid attention to peak highlights, or where the light is strongest on the elements which protrude outwards (elbows, tips of noses, etc) while highlights are more soft shifts across smoother areas, like cheeks, foreheads, and the subtle muscles of the back.

Next Month’s Challenge to Myself:
Tackling hands, feet, man-crotches, and facial expressions.  Basically getting into those very specific areas of anatomy trouble for me. Going to try and do 100 sketches of each!

It’s funny how we pick up little tidbits of knowledge from staring at the same figure in a different situation or from a different angle. Some things just ‘click’, but you’ll never get that click unless you’re always looking at the same thing and thinking about how it works constantly because the human form is just so complex.  I’ve had life drawing classes in the past, but that knowledge tends to fade if you aren’t practicing all the time.  Here’s hoping keeping the knowledge fresh will link up to all of the other art I’m making right now! I trust it will in that way that knowledge sticks in the back of your mind informing you in ways you aren’t even aware of.

So what are you all working on?  How are you challenging yourselves and keeping your art form going strong?  Share in comments!

My Anatomy Improvement Wishlist

In an effort to improve problem areas of anatomy, I present to you My Anatomy Improvement Wishlist, or exercises I intend to do involving the following:

  • Hands – I still have problems with fingers at foreshortened angles and the joint of the thumb to hand/wrist.
  • Feet – Less troublesome than hands, but still alien to me in their funkiness.
  • Faces – Specifically various facial expressions and different facial types.  To help me draw people who look diverse instead of like myself. Also concentrating on the planes of the face for better understanding of how varying light defines facial features.
  • Arms – Mostly the construction of the bicep/tricep area. The way these muscles interact baffles me.
  • Man crotches – Don’t laugh!  The way pants and clothing drape over this…complex…area of anatomy always looks too tight or just plain flat and weird the way I draw it currently.
  • Man Waists – To help battle my bad habit of drawing men with feminine waists.

How will I fight these difficult areas of anatomy?  With practice…and chocolate (and coffee)!  I’d like to do the 100 drawings of each exercise and will probably shift my studies of life drawing towards planar breakdowns and contour exercises instead of the usual gesture and shaded drawings I’ve been doing with the Pixelovely tool.  They say you have to draw something, 10,000 times to know it completely by memory. I think I’ll just try 100, for starters.

Once this month is up, I’ll probably dump the best picks from my studies here for you all to see.  In the meanwhile, what areas of anatomy do you all have problems with?  How do you plan on combating your problem anatomy areas?

Stay creative!