November 17, 2011

Class demo sketch

.
.Here's a demo sketch I did for my head drawing class, I thought I'd pass along a few pointers to those of you interested.


First, simple but accurate construction drawing then massing the light and shadow, this should be as simple as asking yourself what's in direct light and whats in shadow. Then addressing the turning forms within the light and shadow and designing hard and soft edges.


This overlay shows how a simple construction drawing lays the foundation. Though it may seem a bit abstract, it helps place the larger masses of anatomy within the whole, it maintains the symmetry of the head and helps convey the simple three dimensional nature of the head (like longitude and latitude on a sphere).



Always look for the simple statement as shown in this photoshop paint-over. If you put anything (and I mean anything) in your drawing that varies from it's simplest shapes and values you'd better have a darn good reason. Variations in shape and value that don't convey form to the viewer (even if you believe you're really seeing them) are the first and fastest step to drawings that don't hold together. Remember that your eyes want to find as much information as possible and tend to notice variations and contrasts more than they notice the overall value and shape relationships. squinting your eyes down to cut out all the surface details to see the simple massing of shape and value isn't just a good idea, it's a necessity.
Let me repeat it because this "simple statement" paint-over describes the most important thing I know about drawing. So few people ever master drawing because they don't know or are not willing to find the simple masses and relationships underneath all the complexity they can see. Everyone notices how the parts contrast from the whole, but you have to forcibly train yourself to do the opposite, to notice how the parts most simply relate the the whole as described in this final image.

Good luck!

25 comments:

David said...

Thanks Nathan, this is a very useful post! :) And the outcome is great, really!

Logan Pearsall said...

This is what we're working on currently in class. Well put.

Lydie said...

Thanks so much to share this.

Tim Shirey said...

Simple and clear explanation of basic principles and process that's so often missing.
Good demo and example!

Masles Roy said...

This is cool of you, thanks!

Sally said...

thank you very much! this is really helping me. :)

Kim said...

Wow. What a drawing Nathan. Thanks for stating it like that. It's what my life drawing teacher always tried to pound into us. I can still hear Anne saying (in between sips of coffee): Feel the masses!

Geoff Wheeler said...

Thanks for the Post, Nathan...I got a lot out of taking your quicksketch class this past summer...and posts like this are a great reminder.

Eric Haddad said...

This is a great post! Thank you for sharing it. I think I might write that last statement on my drawing board so I have a constant reminder.

Dylan said...

Great post, lovely picture too I really like the hair in the second stage pic.

chris said...

Thanks so much for these! Step-by-step WIPs are one of my favorite things to look at.

Jason Cheng said...

Bravo, Nathan. I always get a kick out of seeing your step-by-steps.
One thing that has resonated with me strongly is how much one has to resist drawing the superficial and the obvious, and how much art is a selective filtering process. Thanks for the reminder!

stefan marjoram said...

Thanks for the advice - I think I understand what you're getting at - though sometimes, when the lighting isn't very well defined, i think it can be very hard to put into practise.

stefan marjoram said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z├ępa said...

You work is amazing! I ever take a look, congratulations!!

Rose said...

Nice features

Deborah Elmquist said...

May I quote you? My students don't get it no matter how I try to explain it. You have done a masterful job.

Daniel said...

When discussing seeing the larger shapes and conforming everything to those, would you say you considered the larger mass of the head to be an egg shape and applied the tones to the entire head accordingly? A smaller detail, eg, the nose being considered a square column but still adhering to the tones of the larger egg form? I am just trying to gain some understanding of your process.

Thanks for the demonstration. It was very helpful.

estevaolucas said...

Very good Nathan, thanks for share this. Can you explain more about what you mean saying "then addressing turning forms"? Thanks fro your attention, very good.

Kendra said...

Hello! (: My mom found you online and suggested I check you out, and I'm so glad I did! These step by step posts are wonderful.. so great of you to share tips with your viewers! I often find myself squinting to look at my own work (especially my most recent portrait, I'm hoping to have it finished and posted soon) and now I see why! (:
If you have some free time, perhaps you could check out my own work..? I'm currently experimenting, perfecting techniques as well as trying new ones, and working on improving. I'm young, so I have plenty of time to learn everything I can. You can find me at http://kendrakruse.blogspot.com/.
Thanks!
-Kendra

fredpalacio said...

its so seems so simple and there it is the little daemon in our head that want to take over !

The class demo was amazing ! Was nice to be part of it !

Steve said...

Excellent help in your post, I really need to practice more on this very subject, thank you for sharing!

M.R. Anand said...

lovely portrait and photoshop painting! thanks for the tips!

Rickie said...

This is key, keep shapes as simple as possible, and values matching.

adebanji said...

Amazing, just can't get enough of this!