Learn to Draw from Master Artists


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Instead, these pieces just required some clever computational analysis, planning in Photoshop, and executional patience while glueing and placing each Lego piece. The computer was the real artistic champion here.

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In an attempt to make something that was commercially viable to cover the cost of materials , I decided to paint a portrait of Donald Trump. While the result is artistically interesting, much of the work was done by a projector. I created a paint-by-number blueprint again in Photoshop , projected it onto the canvas, and traced it in pencil. Then, I simply filled in the sketch with paint according to my computer-generated instructions.

Tim Jenison, on the other hand, does have something worth sharing. Without any artistic training, he painted a nearly-exact replica of a Vermeer painting solely using optical techniques. Today, I spent 2. After seeing these, I decided I too would like to be the kind of person that casually paints impressively good portraits on the side.

The first module of the course focuses on mapping out the portrait, which includes determining the shape of the head and locating the features. I started by arbitrarily drawing two lines on the page to indicate the level of the top of the head and the level of the bottom of the head. Then, I arbitrarily marked, on the top level, the highest point of the head, and then used the angle between this point and the bottom of the chin, to locate the bottom of the chin on the page.

I also drew in the level of the notch of the neck. The first time, I drew it too low, so I moved it up. I gauged this distances as a proposition of the head length. With the topmost and bottommost points identified, I then needed to identify the leftmost and rightmost points. To do this, I used a new technique I learned called triangulation. To triangulate a new point, I first sight try to visualize the angles to this new point from two existing points.

Then, I draw lines from the existing points in the direction of the new point based on the sighted angles.


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Finally, I mark the new point where the lines intersect. After checking the angles again, I updated these two new points. With these four outer points drawn, the next step is to draw in the shape of the head. To do this, I continued to triangulate more points, and draw in the necessary curves to connect them. I continued in this way, until I outlined the entire shape of the head. Once it seemed closer, I added in the neck and shoulders. So, I checked more angles and made adjustments as necessary mostly to broaden the jaw.

The head was now looking pretty good, but the neck and shoulders needed a few adjustments. I retriangulated, and adjusted the collar upwards. Getting to this point took me 2. I particularly like the triangulation technique, which makes drawing much more procedural and mathematical a. Yesterday , I started following along with the Vitruvian Studio portrait course, and began drawing a portrait of Derren Brown. Today, I spent another 2. The first thing I did today was add construction lines to my drawing.

These construction lines are designed to act as landmarks and help me eventually place the facial features. First, I drew in the vertical center line, which will help me laterally place the features.

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I followed up with the levels of the brows, nose, and lips. I made a bit of a mistake here. I drew the horizontal construction lines perpendicular to the center line which seemed reasonable , but did not mimic the angle of the features in the actual drawing. So, I sighted the correct angles, and adjusted the construction lines accordingly. With the construction lines as references, I was then ready to start blocking in the facial features. Then, I drew in shapes for the brows. Next, I included the eye sockets and some more detail around the nose.

Finally, I added in shapes for the eyelids and eyes, and finished up for the day. Reaching this point took another 2. Today, for the third day in a row, I spent 2. However, unlike the other days, today, I feel like I made a lot of progress.

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Picking up where I left off, I continued to block in shapes for the features. I added in the center line of the lips and the shadow on the nose. I then finished the lips and added a line for the chin. Lastly, I blocked in the main structures of the ear and added an outline for the beard. With the features in place, I next blocked in shapes for the shadows and highlights.

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With these tonal contours in place, I darkened the shadow areas slightly, giving the portrait some roundness and three-dimensionality. With the features and shadows blocked in, I detailed the features, starting with the eyes. Finally, I finished up for the day with the ear. After 7.

But, in fact, I found just the opposite. Because I spent the past two days meticulously locating and blocking in the features, it was very easy to add the incremental detail. Trying to draw big shapes is much harder than trying to draw little shapes. Little shapes are a lot easier to visually understand and replicate. In fact, I suspect that today was least consequential to the outcome of the portrait. If I mess up the shape of the head and the location of the features, I have very little chance of capturing a likeness.

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If the features are not quite accurately detailed, but in the right place, I still might have something…. Yesterday, after 7. Today, I started adding tonal values a. The human eye is really bad at assessing tonal values in isolation — which is why your brain thinks squares A and B below are very different colors, when, in fact, they are the same. Thus, instead of relying on visual inferences, tonal values can be better approximated through a simple, not-so-interpretative procedure.

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Start by identifying the absolute darkest and absolute lightest areas of the drawing. This establishes the entire tonal range of the drawing, which is called the key of the drawing. Once the key is established, and the lightest and darkest values are in place, the intermediate values need to be introduced. Continuing recursively in this way, the tonal values eventually meet in the middle, and the drawing or the relevant part of the drawing is complete. This sounds obvious, but again, your brain and visual system can play tricks on you.


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Your brain is attempting to see a face via your psychologically skewed, emotions-based mental model of a face , and not just tonal blobs. In fact, this psychological problem of misinterpreting faces is so common, there are entire drawing systems like drawing upside down, drawing the negative space around the face, etc. Basically, you look at the area you want to draw, squint your eyes so the image becomes blurred and your brain no longer sees a face , and identify the tonal shapes you see through your eyelashes. This works super well. With these techniques newly-learned, I began to add tonal values to my Derren Brown portrait.

First, I started with the eye. However, the eye was too small to help effectively establish the key. So, I keyed the drawing more aggressively, starting with the shadow on the nose and the highlights on the forehead and cheek. I continued shading the darkest areas along the right side of the face. Additionally, while doing this, to check the accuracy of my key, I started developing the eye. I finished up my key, by adding shadows to the lower face and the back of the head, and was ready to begin modeling the form finding the intermediate values between the darks and lights.

And then smoothed everything out. This is where I stopped for the day, after another 2. Today, like yesterday , I continued adding tonal values to the portrait. I spent a little less than two hours, and am getting really excited about the results. I proceeded today by first addressing the nose. Then, I addressed the right half of the face — further developing the shadow.

Learn to Draw from Master Artists Learn to Draw from Master Artists
Learn to Draw from Master Artists Learn to Draw from Master Artists
Learn to Draw from Master Artists Learn to Draw from Master Artists
Learn to Draw from Master Artists Learn to Draw from Master Artists
Learn to Draw from Master Artists Learn to Draw from Master Artists
Learn to Draw from Master Artists Learn to Draw from Master Artists
Learn to Draw from Master Artists Learn to Draw from Master Artists
Learn to Draw from Master Artists Learn to Draw from Master Artists

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