Sunday, June 17, 2007

Episode Reboot...

I came back from Italy with a very different outlook on drawing, and I suddenly feel that all of the current episodes are outdated and overcomplicated. I won't bore you with stories of my internal struggles but I'll share my points of view with you so that you can view the information from the existing videos in a new light.

*Takes a deep breath*

Every blank sheet of paper contains an alternate universe. These universes are empty, and waiting for us to fill them. Although it's only a mere layer of paper, the barrier is enough to stop any physical object from penetrating into the alternate universe. However the mind, aided with the eyes is capable of passing through the barrier and living in the imaginary universe contained within the paper.

The purpose of Drawing (or many other visual mediums like television and movies and video games) is:

To make the audience forget about themselves and what's going on around them in mundane reality.


To immerse them in the alternate reality that we create.

At least, that's my ultimate goal, and what the series is here to help you achieve.

Drawing itself is:

The act of selecting and structuring situational information according to a specific point of view.


Presenting that structured information to others via optical illusions on flat visual mediums.

Oo. Heavy. Let's have that in ENGLISH!

Right now I'm sitting in my studio in front of my computer with my shirt off and the air conditioner roaring at full blast on a hot summer's day. I'm fully aware of my current situation in mundane reality, but only because of information gathered from my senses of sight and sound and touch, etc. etc. I can't possibly know EVERYTHING that's going on around me because my senses only tell me so much -- so if I want to recreate my experience for another person, I must select and convey ONLY the information gathered from my perspective and NO MORE!

When you start TELLING people bits of information that can't possibly be experienced from the point of view that you've chosen, then something will feel off and people will fall out of the existence you create and land unceremoniously back in their own mundane existence. This is what happens when you try and draw both eyes on a head when the head is turned at an angle where only one eye is visible. Sorry Picasso. That's one of the reasons Neo-Cubism and the way children draw is less than convincing.

Now you also have to structure (or arrange) that information according to how it will be perceived from that same point of view. This is what we call Drawing Things In Perspective, and it's where we take into consideration the spatial position of things relative to one another AND include our own spatial position in the equation! Everything MUST be drawn in perspective. We MUST be aware of where things sit in space relative to us or things will look out of place and break the illusion and our imaginary universes will collapse into a totally bogus un-magical flap of paper with pigment smeared on it. Painting and shading and rendering are all ways to reinforce that illusion, but if you do a bad job, they can serve as ways to break that illusion.

When it comes to figuring out just where to place things relative to you, you can act on your internal sense of placement. You have this sense and use it all the time (well if not, you'd be ramming into obstacles all the time and we might as well give up all hope of drawing if such is the case). You can shut your eyes and sense how far away the walls are from your head. You can probably hear things going on around you and sense where they are, relative to you. You can sense mosquitoes buzzing right past your ear and sense where cars are passing you on the street.

So when you must imagine where something is placed on the page, you have to invoke this same sense and try to imagine where this object is sitting relative to something else in paperverse and where everything is sitting relative to you. You have to be situationally aware at all times when drawing, and that means aware of what's going on around you in the paperverse.

Every time you draw, you're creating an optical illusion for the purpose of engaging the viewer in a transaction of sorts. You're feeding information into one of the senses so that that person will forget about their own situation and get sucked into yours, but if you do something unexpected and disobey the rules of the transaction, bam. Bogus paper. Try not to tax the good-will of the audience by arbitrarily introducing flaws into your work.

And the final thing I want to say about drawing is that it should never be arbitrary or random. I see people doing this all the time (and I keep catching myself from bad old ingrained habits) and that's making forced strokes. That's like throwing handfuls of darts at a dartboard to try and get a bulls-eye. Even if one dart hits the mark, the hundreds of other darts peppering the outer parts of the board and the wall and floor and innocent bystanders are not going to generate the impression that you are a marksman. If you don't know what you should be doing, look at the rest of the drawing to see what needs to be added and WHERE it needs to be added. I try and make it a point not to stare into blank voids on the paper, instead focusing my eyes on something else I've already drawn and then using my peripheral vision to sense where the pen is in relation to that one object.

That's the problem with these drawing videos. When you watch me draw, I'm pretty much in the dark as you guys are as to what the final image will look like except only I know what I'm trying to accomplish. I have to explain the reasons for my actions or they'll seem arbitrary. After all, you can see what I'm doing, so there's no need to explain THAT. How many times have I seen drawing videos where the guy draws a head and says: "I draw the head" then he draws a torso and says: "then I draw the torso" etc.... graaghhhh it makes my blood boil just a little.

Anyways I really want to get started with the new series soon so thanks everyone for all your input... I have a lot of people I have to get back to so maybe tonight I can do that. Until next time!


bill g. said...

Thank you, you are really redefining the way you perceive your skills and the way you convey your knowledge to us.

It must be your new job, or the travels, but whatever it is, it has refreshed you. I am looking forward to the next lesson!

Torisuke said...

Thank you for a wonderful alternative methodology on learning to drawing. Your concise yet enjoyable tutorials formed a missing link between the conventional teaching method and getting ideas.

I am also very encouraged by the fact you also are evolving in your own method.I do hope, however that you add back in at least some humor and rambling in your future tutorials.

Most Importantly, however, thank you for giving us these heap piles of shear awesomeness free of charge on the all-powerful internet ;)

Ruakuu said...

Domo Arigato.

I just found your lessons by accident on youtube yesterday, it was late and I was kinda tired but still I managed to see the firts five.

I was just amazed about the way you explain things and make it look so simple, by this time I have readed a lot of books and tons of tutorias online, but non helped me as much as yours.

Studied lot of techniques, but most of them didn't work for me for some reason, and it was hard to correct things like proportions stuff, specially when drawing figures.

I didn't just want to say stuff like "Oh great tutorials, and very usefull" in my comments, because you deserve more than that.

So I want to thank you for the time and effort on doing this lessons, and most important, to share this kwnoledge with the world, because I have known a lot of artists that keep all their methods in extreme secret, just barking around their talent to get praised and feed their ego.

I haven't applied any of your techniques in my work yet, since I just finished watching them, but even so, I feel that things are going to be different.

I'm sending the link to your videos to every artist friend I have because I'm sure they can improve a lot with them.

Once again thank you.

One more thing, can I suggest you to make a drawing lesson were you teach how to put shapes in a sphere, and to atach other figures to spheres, that will help on drawing faces.

I do anime style, you know, big expresive eyes, and I still have a lot of problems positioning the eyes correctly,or moving the eye and looking to a certain direction.

The problems is that one eye squashes more than the other, I kinda do them by feeling but can't seem to get them how I want them to look, thats why I think a sphere lessons will be usefull.

Thats all I have to say for now, and thanks again.

sylverone said...

In these videos, you have been giving a perfect example of what I consider to be the ultimate teaching method. That is...

If you teach someone a set of exact steps to go through when doing something, they may be able to do that thing, but once something is slightly different, or their situation calls for them to do something else, they will freeze up and go running off to find another step-by-step instruction. But if they are taught HOW TO THINK or HOW TO APPROACH THE PROCESS, then they will be able to do so much more, with so many less tools required. This is the primary reason that nobody seems to understand math, and why there is so much difficulty for most people trying to learn it. They are taught many many steps to do different things, but they are never taught to think for themselves.

In short, you explain why you do something, and how you approach it mentally. That is the key to really teaching something. If a student knows how to approach something mentally, they will be able to figure out how to do things on their own so much easier. It opens the gateway to future understanding.

Knowing how to do something means nothing if you don't know why it should be done that way.

Aaron said...

You are the best art teacher I've ever had! I am a 3D Animator and have been for about 2 years now. (I'm in high school) and I've always seen drawing as something so completely different from 3d animating and modeling. But you have shown me a new and more understandable way of the idea of drawing.

The way you explain it, I can relate so much to 3d and I can finally see how to "draw in perspective."

I'm very glad to have watched your lessons and they have probably been the most informative drawing techniques I have heard so far. You can do so much with them!

Anyway, thank you so much for making and sharing these great lessons and I can't wait for more! :D