Friday, January 11, 2008

Core shadow exercises

In the comments under my last post I mentioned Core Shadow exercises, which have greatly strengthened my drawing/painting skillz. So I thought I'd post some of them. This was the result of a training exercise I participated in maybe a year ago on (fantastic site). There's an instructor named Ron Lemen who was kind enough to devote a lot of unpaid time there doing these workshop type things, where he'd give assignments and then grade the results. He really stresses the importance of learning to see and depict the "core shadow", giving solidity and form to an object... something a lot of students miss. Rather than try to repeat what he said, I'll just link to a Core Shadow Tutorial he put up at, which explains it very nicely. Here's a brief excerpt: "The problem most everyone seems to have with painting the human head is they paint colors that they see them in a photograph, but they don't paint a guy, a 3-dimensional man. The construction is substituted by fancy colors that matched the photo, with a lack of understanding as to why these colors were being painted in the first place."

The pic above is the beginning of my attempt. He recommended finding pictures from Getty Images, a free image resource.

Here's a later stage. This is actually just about my first attempt to draw in photoshop. A mouse is not a very good drawing implement!! Anyway, the point is to depict the forms of the head, ignoring the details like eyes, mouth etc. Just the basic forms. I'm not sure I really understood cpmpletely... I don't think I was supposed to depict the nose so realistically. And I probably shouldn't have put so much detail in the hair and clothes etc, but I couldn't help myself. Oh, the little patches of value alongside the image was what I used for my palette.... I'd just dip in with the eyedropper tool when it was time to select the next value. Works beautifully.

Coming along. Here you can really see the jaw area was getting lopsided. and I was sort of making it into more of a caricature than an actual portrait. I was doing that a lot at that time.

Here is the final result. I was pretty darn proud of it! Like I said, not sure I did it exactly right, but it still helped me immensely. Now when I draw or paint a face this exercise is always in the back of my mind, and my rendering of form is much stronger because of it.

Here's one I tried in pencil. Wow, it's a lot harder in pencil than digitally!! Again, it's more like a caricature (I don't have the original reference pic anymore, sorry). But still the form comes through powerfully.

I always find every time my skill develops dramatically it's after a period of intense study like this. sometimes it's a serious study of anatomy, sometimes techniques like this designed to strengthen drawing/visualizing skills.


Mysterious Ron said...

Beautiful stuff! I started my career as an illustrator. I taught myself to draw by doing many studies of various kinds of objects in different lighting situations to learn how reflective and dull surfaces worked. People are the single hardest subject of all, bar none. You have captured these people (and others I've seen) wonderfully.

Get yourself a Wacom Tablet for digital art, I love, love, love mine!

Anonymous said...

When I draw people for class, I would never do the face for fear of not representing the person or essence of the person correctly, but I LOVE to draw bodies.

Most definately - Wacom Tablets are beyond compare for any digital work at all. One of my friends bought one and her work improved drastically as far as digital coloring and drawing went.


Darkstrider said...

Hey Jazz!!! My niece makes her debut on my blog!!!

I never worry about "capturing" a likeness. I'm not a portrait artist, and I'm really not interested in making it look recognizable or anything....

I think of it not as 'copying' a picture, but "drawing from" one.... and by that I mean I draw information and ideas from it. But I don't care if it ends up looking like the picture or not. In fact I usually put the pic away after a certain point when the drawing starts to take on a life of its own and make it's own demands.

Oh, and generally speaking, I won't show people the picture I used as reference, because as soon as you do that they fixate on nothing but how close the likeness is. To me that has nothing to do with what I've created.

Mysterious Ron said...

Many moons ago, I with photo-realism in painting and attempted it as a goal, came pretty close (I think). That concept just got boring, though it takes talent, it lacks creativity and style. I totally agree, put the photo aside once you've gotten what you need from it and then create ART.

I might add, my thinking about animation and special EFX in film has followed that same exact path :)

Darkstrider said...

Yes... exactly!!! I'm not a fan of photorealism AT ALL!!! Though when I was learning to draw of course I tried as much as possible to copy pics faithfully. That's an important stage I think, and I wouldn't have learned the subtlety and control if I didn't do it.

There's this whole, extremely disturbing trend toward absolute realism to the detriment of any artistry in so many fields these days.... there are 'ATELIERS' where they teach nothing but how to sit with infinite patience and copy what's in front of you precisely, with no variation whatsoever. Funnily enough, what they copy are plaster casts of powerfully stylized sculptures done by REAL artists - ones who knew how to simplify and condense, exaggerate and distort for maximum effect.

Shelley Noble said...

Important issues raised, great technique demo'd. Thanks for posting it.