I’m a Dallas Cowboy’s fan. Sean Lee and Dez Bryant are two of my favorite players. And of course, I’m a Nadal and Djokovic fan. But the sports I enjoy most are the unique ones and the ones that showcase strength.
Some of my favorites are shot put, discus throw, power lifting, etc.
Warm Up Sketches
I’m sure he wouldn’t be happy about the weight cutting I gave him 😂.
This was harder to draw than I expected.
The One-Hand Reach
While searching for poses to draw, I discovered the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics. Have you ever heard of Knucking Hopping? Or Indian Stick Pull? They have all kinds of sports that showcase skill sets for survival and endurance. It’s cool stuff. Check it out. I chose this pose because I liked the overall triangular shape:
I have a lot of mistakes . . . but progress is being made. Yay!
Some Tips to Remember
Figure drawing doesn’t have to be too intimidating.
Warm up with gesture sketches.
Break your image down into basic shapes.
Pay attention to your negative space.
Stand up periodically and look at your drawing from a distance.
And don’t get discouraged when you make mistakes, just pay attention to your problem areas and try again. For more tips.
Proko has a ton of free content on youTube that you should check out too. I found the Bean Method to be very helpful.
I love the feeling I get when I’m ready to make some art. I gather all my colorful supplies and make sure I’ve got plenty of light. Then, I look down at my clean, stark white canvas and suddenly I go blank. Blanker than the empty canvas. Fear suddenly enters into my heart. Like a lil’ wimp, I let that fear take me away from the art to go snack, rake the leaves, or (seriously?) clean the toilet.
Writers do it too. Staring at the blinking cursor against the bright white background of the empty document, has the power to traumatize more effectively than a terrorist in war. Before you know it you’ll be laying in a fetal position hugging your stuffed animal and wondering how you ever thought you could be an artist.
How to Develop Artistic Bravery
Artists like Bob Ross make it look easy. He fearlessly slops some paint down and creates a beautiful work of art. Below are some helpful tips to overcome fear:
1. Sketch -Before you start the finished piece, grab some cheap scratch paper, do some sketches and work out your ideas. It’d be awesome to create the masterpiece on your first try but that’s also a lot of pressure, and not always realistic. (It’s not impossible though.)
Constantly sketching and drawing will help you improve, which will build your confidence and you’ll be saying, “Goodbye Fear.”
2. It’s NOT permanent – Some art supplies can’t be erased like graphite pencil. So it feels like your marks will be permanent and if you make a mistake, what do you do? First, relax. Start out with a lighter touch and build gradually. Oil takes forever to dry so if you make a mark you’re not happy with just wipe the paint away and cover it up with more paint. Remember that many art mediums are forgiving and workable.
Or, like Bob Ross, you might get a “happy accident.”
3. Act Brave – Being an artist requires bravery because you’re doing something that cost you. Your art comes from inside of you. And what if people don’t like it? What if they put it down? Just be brave. And if you don’t feel brave, then PRETEND.
Do the opinions of other people strike terror in your heart? If so, be inspired by the war hero. Look fear in the eye, be strong and stand up for your artwork. Allow the reactions from people to be constructive criticism to help you improve.
The Tortured Artist
Artists are sensitive and have to develop a thick skin. It may seem like I’m being a drama queen but I think fear is a common problem for everyone . . . not just the creative souls. Remember . . . feeling these raw emotions is a big part of art. And for me, overcoming fear makes me feel like a BOSS, and gives me the power to overcome whatever obstacles I might face.
Being Your Own “Worst” Critic
Do you like your art? Are you conveying your message? Are you giving it your all? Maybe bravery in art, is really in facing yourself.
Shadows, midtones, and highlights which are caused by our trusty light source the Sun, make all the awesome stuff we see everyday visible. To create a believable and interesting 3D image on a 2D surface you must become BFF’s with these three things that make up the design element: Value or Tone.
As an 18-21 year old student in my early art classes I really struggled to comfortably discern between the three and determine what I needed to adjust to make everything look right.
What Exactly Are Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights?
Basically, Highlights are the really bright spots that get the most direct amount of light. The Shadows are the dark spots created by something that is blocking the light. The Midtones are everything in between the two extremes.
I like to start with my darkest darks and my lightest lights. I mark where the white parts and the bright highlights are so that I make sure to keep them clean. It’s a lot harder to remove than to add. And I like adding the darks early on because they help me to adjust and refine placement and they’ll eventually disappear a little bit as the drawing develops. They’re also really easy to see.
After filling in the darks and lights, I start filling in the midtones almost everywhere, following the shapes of the muscles and folds in her coat. I also add a light layer of pencil in the background so that Dynamite has a place to live in.
The last step is to continue adding the variety of values (tones) until the drawing can be called finished. After drawing for a while, I noticed that her belly and her back leg area needed to be moved down some. Both were easy fixes.
Practice working gradually in a balanced pattern throughout the image being careful not to focus on just one part of the image for too long. If you do work on one single detail you run the risk of making irreversible mistakes.
So that’s Value in a nutshell.
I’ve noticed that at first, the people I’ve taught art to really struggle to discern Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights . . . and it’s easy to get a little discouraged. Just Remember it will eventually become second nature. I can barely remember a time when my brain didn’t notice these three and all the other elements of design. If you diligently practice seeing these details you’ll get to the point where you can’t NOT see them.
I always think of that crazy guy from Burn Notice in S3 E5 who said, “Once you see a pattern, you can’t un-see it.” That’s what we’re going for, minus the crazy part. Then again, if crazy works for you . . .
Quick Tip Before you Go:
When you’re working with graphite, you can cover the entire page with a graphite powder if you like to speed up the process. It’s such a light layer of graphite, that you’ll be able to draw in details with your graphite pencils and your kneaded eraser. Read the label carefully! It’s pretty dangerous stuff to breathe in.
Ideally, if you’re going to be drawing from a photo you should try to get a good photo with good lighting, etc. If that’s not an option you might be able to make some adjustments in Lightroom, or whatever editing program you like to use.
I zoomed in a little and I adjusted settings in Lightroom to make it a little easier to see the details. If you’re not sure what to adjust, start by just playing around and comparing to the original until you get the desired effect.
What I adjusted for this image:
Increased Clarity (+33)
Increased White Clipping (+22)
Increased Sharpening (+22)
Decreased Black Clipping (-69)
Decreased Shadows (-24)
Decreased Highlights (-22)
I played around with Exposure, Saturation, and Contrast but those changes didn’t help any. It’s probably hard to see the differences, but the picture on the right has details showing that the picture on the left does not. These adjustments didn’t make a huge improvement, but it’s good enough to help me out.
I also had the 4×6 print to measure and double check things. I admit . . . I guess I got a tad bit dramatic about the difficulty of this drawing. Turned out not to be that hard once I finally put in a little effort.
I started with a page of thumbnail sketches to warm up and work out some quick mistakes. Then I started a larger HB pencil sketch . . . It’s not too bad . . . my proportions look pretty good and it actually resembles Dynamite. *sigh of relief* The details in her feet and eyes are pretty much indistinguishable in the photo, so I still have a lot of work to do before I’m happy and ready to start the finished piece.
I’m not sure what medium the finished piece will be done in. Maybe Prismacolor pencils . . . maybe something else. Dynamite actually died a couple of years ago and her owner has been missing her a lot lately so I was thinking of giving it an ethereal quality to indicate that she isn’t with us anymore but that she’s loved and missed. I still have some time to decide. Better get to work.