Friday, August 10, 2012

Lesson 3 - About realism

Hello everyone. Let’s face with a sort of classic in the world of YouTube how-to videos: drawing a realistic eye.
This time I started by following the classical approach that I explained in one of my first tutorials. I used no reference picture at all, but of course you can’t do without having well observed live models before. Only after that you can proceed by memory. You’d better study also a bit of anatomy, because once you know how the human body works inside, you can better represent it on its outside.
As you can see, I use cross hatching for my shading, even if I plan to smooth it after, because I like to have a rough idea of how my drawing will look like in the end. Moreover, it's easier to correctly balance shadows and lights, and it's useful to avoid ending up with a too dark drawing.
I suggest you to choose what to blend and which parts and shades you want to make sharper. Don't smudge everything if you don't want your drawing to look somewhat rubbery and unrealistic, even if very detailed.
Remember that there are two types of shadows: the object’s own shadows and those ones cast by surrounding elements (or by extruded parts of the same object). Every surface also reflects on the nearest ones, so you have an additional gradation of shading: highlight - light – mid tone – shadow – reflection.
I already said that realism is a matter of correctly balancing shadows and lights. After all, even when using a very rough technique, good shading can give your work a great realistic look. Furthermore, this depends a lot on the distance of the observer. Is perfectly useless to thoroughly blend a painting or a drawing, if you'll put it on a high ceiling or you'll be looking at it from a great distance, because the eye will ignore all tiny details, and perceive your hatching as a smooth surface, but of course, you have to pay great attention to all tone gradations, shadows and lights intensity, reflections, deep blacks and bright highlights.
If you are working on a small drawing or painting and you’re still aiming to photorealistic results, you have to smooth your shadows in order to make all lines and strokes disappear. You can do it using your fingers, but be careful because if you have oily skin you can stain your work irreparably. For large areas you can use a piece of fabric, while for smaller ones and for details you can use a blending stump.
In this video, you see how I draw a quite realistic eye. As it may seem strange – and after all, this is not a how-to video – my advice is: if you want to do the same, don’t copy what I’m doing but look in the mirror and try to do it by yourself! Drawing self-portraits is a great way of training, never underestimate it, because it helps to achieve high observation ability, and you can work for hours with a definitely inexpensive model!
A few more words about details: when we look at a drawings made by a child we often think that it’s wrong or unrealistic. Indeed it is just incomplete. The more our mental idea of something lacks in details, the more we tend to draw it in a simplified way. The best example is the stick figure we use to represent the human body. Just think about it, a stick figure is already correct: it has arms, legs, body, head, and sometimes even elbows and knees. The more details we add (thickness, muscles, face features, hands, fingers), the more or figure will look realistic. So, it’s all about adding details, but adding details needs observation. And this is the key for better drawings: observation. Better doesn’t mean realistic, better means complete, correct, close to the idea we want to represent. And this is another central point of my approach. If you need any further info, please feel free to contact me here, through my website or on my Facebook page. I hope my tutorials can be somewhat useful for you.
Have fun with drawing! And thanks for watching!

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