Drawing for All It's Worth

Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth


The illustrator Andrew Loomis (1892-1959) is revered among artists – including comics superstar Alex Ross – for his mastery of figure drawing and clean, Realist style.His hugely influential series of art instruction books have never been bettered, and Figure Drawing is the first in Titan’s programme of facsimile editions, returning these classic titles to print for the first time in decades.

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Artists of reddit, what is your advice to a guy whom can barely draw stick figures that wants to learn how to draw?(r/AskReddit)

I’m going to copy-pasta the really long response I wrote in a similar askreddit a while back. This is advice gleaned from art classes here and there plus a generous amount of browsing artist forums, but I’m not a professional or even a particularly serious hobbyist, so don’t take it as gospel:

Drawing is hard because you are essentially mapping a 3d world onto a 2d piece of paper. Learn to see “in 3D”. Pay attention to form, volume, space.

A good exercise to get your brain working in this way is to start with extremely simple still lifes. Practice with simple boxes and cylinders. stack up three shoeboxes and draw them. Just draw lines; don’t worry about color or “shading” for now. Your objectives here are to gain rudimentary understanding of

  • Space and formDraw your boxes as if they are see-through. Without moving from your vantage point, try to draw the backs of your boxes too, and the parts that are obscured by others. Think about how they move back in space. Challenge yourself: what would your setup look like if you were sitting a little to the right or left? If you move to the back? What would it look like if you chopped the entire scene in half? Feel your subjects in 3d space.
  • Measuring and sighting – Great, you are starting to “see in 3d.” But here’s the complement to that: we’re working on 2d paper, so in a sense you need to learn how to “flatten” your 3d perception of the world so you can put it down on 2d paper and have it look right. Pay attention to the relative distances between different parts of the boxes. Draw guidelines to help yourself see proportion. You may find it helpful to use a viewfinder if you’re not able to see this at first.
  • Perspective – familiarize yourself with basic 1-point, 2-point, and 3-point perspective. Draw perspective lines as you go to make sure that your perspective makes sense. Using a straight-edge instead of freehanding them is probably helpful.

When you move on to figure drawing (arguably one of the hardest but most rewarding subjects) take a look at Andrew Loomis’ Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth and go look for a class or meetup where you can draw actual models. Real life always trumps photos, because real life forces you to see space.

[Present-day note: the previous thread linked to a video of somebody painting Link] You mentioned that the video you linked to seems systematic– I suspect you are talking about the part where the artist draws in Link’s whole figure before covering up most of it with clothes. The point of that is to make sure that the structure, the real 3d meat, with depth and weight and balance, makes sense before putting on the decoration of clothes or flesh. If you can’t draw a skeleton or wireframe that makes sense, your finished form will never look right.

Something to note. This advice applies to *getting better. Lots of people will tell you to put away your paints and markers and tablet and focus on fundamentals with just a pencil and paper (or charcoal and newsprint.) But if you’re like me and are easily distracted from straight up study and drills and exercises, then by all means *keep your motivation and interest up by taking a break to experiment with crazy colors or expressive doodles or photoshop craziness, even before your skills are mature enough that you can really take those things on with any sophistication. Just make sure to make the distinction** between drawing you do for fun, and drawing you do for practice. Don’t make the mistake of deluding yourself that you’re practicing when actually you’re drawing anime cats from your imagination. There is plenty of fun you can have along the way, and it can be satisfying for a while, but you will stagnate if you don’t push yourself.

And finally, your stuff is going to suck. For a long time. But don’t ever think that you can’t do it because you’re just fundamentally “not good at art.” If art was easy then everyone would do it. Some people are born with a teeny tiny bit more talent than others, but unless you bolster that talent with shitloads of practice to develop skill, it means almost nothing. I’ll leave you with what Ira Glass has to say on getting started in a creative field:

>What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

>But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

>It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

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Book Author

Andrew Loomis

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Facsimile edition

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Titan Books

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Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth

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Artists of reddit, what is your advice to a guy whom can barely draw stick figures that wants to learn how to draw?

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