Sunday, December 27, 2015

Platypus Parts

This is a final for a class at Concept Design Academy in Pasadena. The project was to pick any animal and do turn-arounds, close ups and gestures. I picked an animal I thought nobody would pick. I chose the Platypus. It moves more like a lizard, than a beaver. does not look like it has a very flexible spine. Helps in my Draw Fantasy Art and Easy Things to Draw Channel.

For Tutorials: Youtube : Easy Things to Draw 101

Monday, December 21, 2015

How Learning Helps Your Art

Croco-Ape= Applied Learning of Animal Anatomy
I’ve always had a hard time learning. When I was younger, my fourth grade teacher told my mom that I was the kind of child that “needed to hear things over and over to understand.”  I always found learning to generally be boring, at least when it came to reading a textbook. I got into art because I felt it was more “hands on” learning. It was something I could excel in by actually doing the activity. When I started doing art, there was minimal textbook-style learning. As I got into it more complex aspects of art, though, I realized that if I wanted to keep growing as an artist, I would have to accept that even art had aspects that I would have to learn the boring, old-fashioned way. Trying to learn things like anatomy, perspective, and other terminologies made me feel like I was back in math class: it was so immensely hard for me to memorize names and properties and make them second nature.

Now, I want to point out the one thing I’ve noticed about nearly EVERY top artist that I’ve met, or seen a video from. The one thing they have all had in common is their addiction to learning. Every one of them has had some fascination with the world, with history, with animals, or the solar system. They are addicted to learning, and not just because they’re all book nerds that don’t get bored as easily as I do – but because the knowledge they gain appears in their projects.
Cymothoa exigu

Here’s what I mean. My teacher one time was telling us about Cymothoa exigu. This isn’t just a boring word to copy down and define - this is a real parasitic louse that goes into a fish through its gills, severs the blood vessels to the tongue until the tongue falls off, and then attaches itself to the stub and becomes the replacement for the fishes tongue. Not only is that interesting, it’s a real, useable factoid that would be great inspiration to use in a comic, video game, or illustration.   

            So if you’re like me and you find it hard to stay interested when learning something, here are 3 things that made all the difference to me personally:

1)      Watch something more than once

When I watch a documentary on YouTube or Netflix that I feel is important, I immediately press the play button again once it’s over. I tend to only retain about 25% of whatever I watched on the first view, if that. If I watch a 2 hour documentary on color, and how it’s used in photography and painting, I’ll watch the entire thing over again – immediately or the day after. The second time seeing it is almost like the first time ever; I’ll catch different details that I didn’t hear the first time. And, if necessary, I’ll watch it a third time while drawing something unrelated. That way I can listen to it, but still get some separate work done. If you don’t know where to start, I suggest podcasts on history and science as great current sources.

2)      Take notes on everything

I take notes on any lectures in my art class and for important art videos. I take them down by hand while hearing them, and then I go home and type them again into my computer and save them in a file that I’m able to find again. I have a folder in my computer labeled “art notes,” and I create sub-folders with more specific topics. Writing by hand and then later transferring those notes manually into my computer makes sure I go over that information 2 times at the very least. Most people never do the second part and never look at the notes again. Actively look back on a random file you saved and skim the information. You will learn sooo much.

3)      Learn to see the “coolness” in the natural world

If you really look at a crocodile, it’s as amazing as most of the dinosaurs in Jurassic park. They have a bite force of 3,700 psi and have slit eyes. Chimps are 5 times stronger than a person. Some mountain ranges were formed from giant plates around the earth that smashed together. Fire tornadoes exist. The list goes on: there are really amazing things in the natural world and in history. Really reminding myself of this has made me love learning about new things. The more you learn, the easier it gets to learn. 

Killer Croc
Really though - you’ll start to find that the more you learn and the more you memorize, the more that you’ll start to like it. It’s like a flicker inside you, that you nurture until it’s a giant flame. Plus with all your new knowledge, you’ll have to coolest party conversations.

Places to start learning for the Multi-tasker: Podcasts, audio books on YouTube, documentaries on Netflix. Easy Things to Draw.

Monday, December 14, 2015

3 Things that Helped Me Learn to Draw Animals

So drawing animals from imagination has never been my strength. It’s always something I've avoided. This is strange because I really liked to draw monsters, but completely shunned learning animal anatomy because I considered it boring and hard.

When you’re drawing, you have the habit to stay in your current lane – you stick to what you’re good at and continuously hammer it in. The issue with that is that it’s not helping you in any way. All you’re doing is going through the same motions you've done before and you aren't really learning anything new.  A concept artist, Carlo Arellano, once told me it’s basically masturbation when you do that – it feels good drawing something you know you’re already good at.

When you’re learning to draw anything new, it’s necessary to go through a phase of boring learning. It’s just a necessary phase. Its a big part on how to draw fantasy art. If you’re good at drawing a particular thing, your ego tells you that you are "past" doing the boring stuff – that you already did your time.  But if you listen to your ego here, you’re going to end up with an imbalance of skill. This is a situation where, for example, someone’s human subjects look amazing, but their backgrounds are terrible, or vice versa. Ultimately, you don’t want this to be you – you want to be a well-rounded artist.

Studies done for Joe Weatherly Construction Sketches

So, in this post, I wanted to talk about my personal progression into being a more well-rounded artist. Five months ago, my animals were at a beginner’s level, but as of right now, they are “decent.” And that, to me, is incredibly exciting! I haven't learned to draw anything new in five years or more. I was stuck in a rut.
I used to draw animals from a picture the same way I drew a vase. I could copy, but I could never invent.  I had no understanding of what was going on underneath the fur, and I couldn't understand their skeletal structures, even by just glancing at an anatomy chart. I couldn't wrap my head around what was going on, ESPECIALLY when they started moving.
I got some decent images in the past from my method of copying, but my invention was terrrrrrrrible. I knew it was a gap in my knowledge that I needed to at least try to fill.

This is a drawing I did five months ago.

It’s an attempt at a creature invention. Looks like crapola. I can't draw hooves to save my life. The bumps in the back are just wild guesses as to what they are. The leg is way too coiled up, more so resembling a human leg than a horse’s. The nostril is just a hole in his face.

This is a drawing 4 months later. It’s another invention. It’s a much improved creature invention. I still have a ways to go, but the difference in understanding is monumental.

Let me go over the three things I felt made the most difference for me:

1) On a horse or big cat, the scapula is on the side. This should be an obvious, but it was something I wasn’t paying enough attention to. Humans and primates have their scapulae on their back, attached to the clavicle. Having the scapulae be on an animal’s sides allows for fast mobility.

2) Learning Basic Pivot Points: I learned the bare, basic structure of a prey animal and a predatory big cat. Basically, I learned where the pivot points were on these forms and committed those to memory. Once I did that, I tried finding those pivot points on real images of big cats and prey animals like deer, giraffes, lamas, horses, donkeys, etc.  Tracing these pivot points over pictures of the real animals made the BIGGEST difference. I did it 30 times, and still do it for warm up. It helps you really internalize proportions from real life.

These are a Few Images I traced over, to find and practice construction and pivot points.

3) Comparing anatomy: I already had a decent understanding of human anatomy coming into this. Animal pivot points were the hardest part for me, and once I felt decently comfortable with them, the anatomy seemed simpler to compare to the human anatomy I was already familiar with. From an artistic standpoint, horses and tigers have pretty much most of the same muscles we have. They have triceps, a gluteus maximus, phalanges, humerus, ect. These muscles and bones are just in completely different proportions based on how they were evolved to be used. 

Sketches I did recently from live animals at the San Diego Zoo

So there you have it. Those are the three biggest things that helped me out in drawing outside my comfort zone. I'm still a novice, but I really feel like I'm on a moving path to getting better now.
-Stay Creative!

ps, for more on animals or video tutorials, check out Enzyme Art on Youtube