Saturday, February 04, 2012

Exercise 1 - Tone Scale (Transcription)

Welcome everyone to this series of training video on drawing.
We’ll start with basic exercises, increasing difficulties from time to time. Try not to overlook even the most simple ones, because they are absolutely essential!
Of course they relate to my approach to drawing, so please refer to my drawing lessons as well. Keep in mind that other people could do the same things in a totally different way. This is the way I do it.
This first exercise will help you improve your shading ability, as well as getting more confident with the pencil stroke.

We will use a single pencil to get the different shades. I recommend a B pencil or a 2B one; you can choose the brand you prefer the most. Avoid harder pencils, for now, because they would make it quite impossible to get deep blacks, and softer pencils (from 3B up) too. They’re good for very dark tones, but not on the purpose of this exercise.

Start drawing a rectangle (let’s say about 10 inches width per 1 inch height), and divide it into 10 equal squares. Feel free to use a ruler if you like. What we want to do, is a tone scale, as gradual as possible, going from white to black. On this purpose we will use the technique of cross-hatching.
So, how to start? First and foremost, don’t fill each square after another, because you could get to black too quickly, thus having the last two or three squares very similar each other.
You’d rather want to create a first layer of very light gray along the whole strip, leaving the first square untouched. Proceed then with the next steps, starting from the second square, then the third, and so on. Change the direction of the hatch on every pass, trying to maintain a constant pressure and a uniform distance between the various strokes.

It may happen that as soon as you get to the last square, you realize that two of them are too similar each other, or that the last one is not dark enough. It’s not a problem, because it’s very easy to add new passes to darken the boxes, starting from the one that seems most similar to the previous, or even increasing the contrast on all squares - always starting from the first ones. Do it until you are satisfied with the result. Finally, if you like, you can refine your work to make it look a bit better.
Once you have completed the exercise successfully, you can increase the difficulty by increasing the number of squares. This same exercise can also be performed with color pencils, watercolors or oil painting: indeed, it’s very good to get skilled on managing layers and transparencies.

You can also try to apply this technique along with the copy of real objects. The main idea is to work on all shades gradually, getting to black step by step, and, most important: always working on the whole drawing in one time.
Needless to say, repeat this exercise dozens of times. Do not settle for doing it once or two! Increase the difficulty instead! Do it when you will be more experienced as well, it is a useful training also for professional artists.

Have a great time!

Lesson 1 - Before You Start (Transcription)

Welcome everyone to this new series of short tutorials on drawing.
Starting with the very basics and then working into a few advanced topics, I am going to explain my personal approach to drawing.Fortunately, there are so many methods today, so that we can really choose the one that best suits our needs. I hope that what I’m going to say will be somewhat useful for you.
First of all, you’ll never find any classic step-by-step tutorial here. Instead, I’ll try to make you grasp a few basic concepts that will help you improve by yourself and develop your own personal style. In fact, once you’re done with all my tutorials, I’ll be particularly happy if you will end up having a style completely different from mine. In other words, you have to find your own way.
Please don’t feel disappointed, if some of my hints may apparently seem a bit impractical. Nevertheless, they can be even more important than the technique itself.
In this first lesson I want to give you a few simple yet fundamental advices.
First advice: find a few good masters whose works you consider particularly inspiring. They can be very different each other. For instance, I adore Michelangelo, but Kandinsky and Pollock have been essential as well in my education. So you are absolutely free to choose.Try to copy their works. Don’t bother about how they did it, do it your way! But try to guess what they meant to convey, to express.
Second advice: don’t look for your own style. Do not yearn to find a personal way to draw, but let it happen naturally. Basically you only have to worry about finding the best way to express your concepts. And you will have to refine your technique, in order to achieve this goal. Once you succeed in doing it, you will realize that your style has evolved, becoming more and more unique.
Third advice: in my experience practice is absolutely important. It means that you’ll need to spend some time, or rather a long time, on training.
The exercises are intended to be performed regularly. First the basic, then the advanced ones. That’s why I will make sure that each lesson is followed by an exercise video.The first one will be on the basics of shading. Don’t miss it!
Have a lot of fun with drawing: this is my last advice!

Why YouTube needs a 'Visual Arts' category

Why should YouTube add a "Visual Arts" category? The real question is "Why hasn't YouTube ever added such a category?"

Lots of good artists started a good campaign to convince YouTube/Google to change their mind and make this small yet important addition to video categories, and I willigly joined them. This is my contribute, please spread the word! :)

The Cliffs of Moher - Watercolors

Not a tutorial, actually, but I guess that by watching this video you can have a good idea of how I proceed when working with watercolors. I hope you’ll like it!

What about a good book?

imageIf you wish to follow the classical approach, when drawing figures, as well as if you only want to put a few good basis to set up your own style, a good book may help you.
There are actually hundreds of good books, but the best thing, as always, is to copy all great masters’s drawings (and paintings, and sculptures too, of course!). One of my favourite books is a small collection of drawings by Michelangelo Buonarroti (edited by Dover). A very cheap, yet very useful resource.
So copy as much as you can from all masters of Renaissance, from all greek and roman ancient sculptures, from the Pre-raphaelites and so on.
A good knowledge of human anatomy is also essential even if, when you’re drawing, you may want to force proportions or even choose to ignore them, depending on your own style. In order to deep in the study of bones and muscles, the best choice would be a medical book (e.g. I bought “Locomotor System” by Werner Platzer - it’s perfect!) About ‘classical’ art anatomy, I love the Albinus on Anatomy, and also Art Anatomy by William Rimmer and An atlas of anatomy for artists by Fritz Schider. There is another popular (and beautiful) book: Anatomy for the artists by Jeno Barcsay, but the approach is much less classical. It’s on my wishlist, but I still haven’t it. :) If you want to search on Amazon, just put the author’s name on the search box and you will find all books on top of the list (just to have an idea of all prices)
William Rimmer - Art Anatomy

When I was a student I faced with the astonishing works of this talented artist: painter, sculptor, art anatomist, born in Liverpool in 1816 but very soon moved to Boston, so we can consider him a genuine American artist.
Nonethless, his works recall echoes of Michelangelo (particularly anatomy drawings, so incredibly detailed and even exaggerated in their proportions, as if he was looking for a kind of super-human body), William Blake (in his visionary paintings in which heroic characters act dramatically) and also some 18th-century landscape painters (and I must say that I love their lights and colours).

imageWilliam Rimmer’s Art Anatomy is a must have for all those who would like to know how to learn art anatomy and do well in it. When I first read it I felt a bit discouraged: it’s so detailed, even maniacal, sometimes figures look disproportionate (but don’t let it deceive you: it’s just a matter of style), but is one of the best sketchbook I ever saw. I couldn’t do without it.
William Rimmer is one of the many wrongfully ignored artists, born too close to the bursting wave of Impressionists and modern art movements.
But, let me tell you, it’s worth to consider his works a bit more and, if you are american, be proud of him!