What would you suggest as a learning path for an absolute beginner?
I'm 38 with no drawing skill at all, but like lots of other people I'm blown away by the pro and amateur concept art I see here and other websites. I have a vivid imagination and 30 years of fantasy/sci-fi inspiration & visual library to help, but I need to get the fundamentals first.
I have tried to start sketching various things but I'm getting sick of drawing crap apples and would like to lay out a progression path of things I need to learn before I should start looking at buying a tablet and learning digital painting. I understand that drawing lots is the only way to learn but I'd like to target my learning on specific areas that will allow me to progress as fast as possible i.e. do I really need to learn to draw the human body from memory if I want to put my ideas of environments & moody lighting down on paper/pixel? It's something I will definitely do eventually but I want to tailor learning to my specific interests to keep myself interested.
I feel there's no point in starting a sketchbook thread as I need to get my head around the basics first.
So, what would you suggest as a progression path of fundamentals from zero to buying a tablet & learning to paint digitally? Should I jump straight into environments or keep to crap apples for now?!
I'd do a bit of both.
I've just started taking drawing seriously over the past 3-5 years, before that drawing doodles, and some comics, but not really learning appropriately nor rapidly, so maybe there are those who know more, or better ways, but me, if I were you, I"d just draw draw draw.
Draw the studies of what you've been doing, get those crap apples to look like apples. then draw studides on something else. trees, tree bark, stones, rocks. study everything. you can never know too much.
but all studies and no play will make you a dull boy (or girl). So draw what you want. You should have a sketchbook if you don't and you should be drawing everything in that. think of a sketchbook as a visual journal. If you enjoy people watching, the next time you are doing that, draw the people you are looking at. draw scenery, draw from your imagination. if you don't on occasion draw what you want to, why get into art in the first place?
now there is no quick way, but I'd say good books can always help you see things you haven't seen. Go into your local library and just read every book on art they have. I"d stay a little bit away from the books made for elementary students (how to draw! insert what ever!) those tend to teach you the formula on how to draw their exact item, not how to see the world, and understand the laws of tone, light, color, perspective and so on.
as far as the tablet and learning to paint digitally, I wouldn't know too much, but I"d think like learning any medium, you just need to get in there and use it. even now at your weak state. I'd say use it for studies for the time being. try and draw the crap apples using photoshop. get used to finding and mixing colors. think of your monitor as an easel and draw observationally.
you want to draw primarily observationally, as that is how you learn what you are seeing. As I said draw a few imaginary items to keep you fresh, and remember why you are working so hard; also as a bit of fun, but draw mostly what you are seeing.
I hope I've been some help.
Fudge this AWESOME place!!!
My SKETCHBOOK: please critique! i can take it!
To limit one's maximum knowledge is to maximize one's limits.
Sanity is wasted on the boring.
Uhm this thread is quite interesting... how come you would like to draw and you've never done it before? I'm just curious.
Anyway i think i've already made a list of what do you need to learn in order to be able do draw freely but i've wrote so much in here and i'm not able (i don't have the time) to find it so i will do it again in a second.
First thing, you should know your medium. You're drawing with a pencil? You're drawing with a pen? Fine whatever you're using don't fall in the mechanics of correcting stuff over and over. Learn how to draw straight lines, curve lines and the next thing after that is to learn how to draw 3d shapes ( so first form exercises then perspective drawing on the same day for some months ).
This is how you'll learn basic drawing but you won't be able to do it. I know it because i know the attitude you have and it's a very frustrating one, unless you get rid of the "i want to be good and i want to be good now" you will never enjoy what you're doing and if you don't enjoy something you wont be able to learn it and apply it.
Anyway i'm already giving some exercises to learn drawing to other people around this forum, if there are enough people interested i can start a weekly activity, it won't be a problem.
Hi Guys, thanks for the advice.
I really needed to get something written as I've had this post swirling in my head for a few weeks and I was getting lost under all the little bits of information I've been gathering. I need to get my head straight and forget about the top end of digital art and concentrate on the basics (like you mentioned).
The reason I've never drawn before is because I always thought you could either draw or you couldn't, as in people are creative or they aren't. I've always been very practical & logical and have never explored the right-brained stuff (apart from playing guitar in a band when I was younger). I thought you needed some in-built talent at first and then go to school & university to hone those skills. I know it sounds stupid but that's what I grew up thinking and I never revisited and re-evaluated the subject until my recent "awakening" 3 weeks ago ...
I think I'm still in the "can I really do this" stage, because like I said, I'm an absolute and utter beginner, when I say my apples are crap I really mean it. I've seen other similar threads where people say they are beginners but they are drawing great stuff already. I'm not joking when I say my 6 year old daughter can draw better than me...
I understand it won't be quick, I just wanted the quickest, most efficient way to approach it. I've read a little about values, light, perspective, composition, some people saying leave light & shadow until later in the learning process, don't start on a tablet, learn the traditional way first, just draw draw draw etc. etc. and I wanted opinions on what steps are the most efficient way to go from crap to a point where I can start to seriously improve by concentrating on particular areas once I have the fundamentals down.
Anyway, sorry if I'm rambling, but it's helping to piece together many random thoughts and snippets of info.
Ok first, order the book "The Element" by Sir Ken Robinson it will be the 15$ best spent of your life, i'll give you back the money if i'm not right.
Then take whatever you have, paper, digital, doesn't matter (if you want to start with digital you can, the problem is that you have to learn how the software works, it takes more time, time that you might want to use by training your muscle to the gestures of drawing and your brain to proportions) and start doing it. You don't have to care if the others can do better than you even if they claim they are starters, brain takes time to adapt to new things, it will become more used and respond better by day to day training and repeating (yeah i'm a little advanced in those stuff). So you have to be sure that you're not repeating every day the same wrong thing (i'm making an example.. if you draw manga characters from the early stages of your learning then your brain will associate those shapes to the right thing and it will A PAIN in the ass to get rid of that bad habits).
So the next question is, what do you want to learn?
PS: I serious, buy that book.
That book looks great!
What do I want to learn - well here's a selection from my DA favorites: -
I want to learn the best thing to give me the skills I need. I'd love to say castles & spacecraft or misty mountains & ancient underground cities but I probably need to start at the beginning (not apples though, please!!).
That weekly activity you mentioned sounds brilliant!
My earlier reply seems to have disappeared.
I want to learn the most helpful thing, I really like environments, but it seems easier to paint them rather than draw with a pencil. I've been drawing circles ellipses, lines and curves today and I'm now looking for more exercises to practice.
So is there a Loomis/Bridgeman/Vilppu-type book for people into environments/structures or does everyone start with anatomy?
I just want to correct one quick thing here. Specifically your use of the phrase "learning path." For a long time during the beginning of your learning process you will try and squeeze and process and twist and grapple with what exactly is the "right path" or the right sequence, the right order etc ... Its far more accurate to think of it terms of a tree or a web or even more like a game of whack-a-mole. You will constantly be jumping back fourth, revisiting things over and over again going from advanced to complicated and your skills branch out to different hierarchies of different subjects.
The way to deal with this in my opinion is to treat it like problem solving. To do this I am going to need to understand perspective, to do this I'm going to need to understand figure construction (to do that I'm going to need to be able to do decent gesture lay-ins), to do this I am going to need to know how to do environment thumbnails etc etc.
Start with the fundamentals, for examples sake perspective and go from there. You start with perspective using Scott Robertson's Gnomon DVDs and Feng Zhu's environment DVD. Try to apply it to life drawing and drawing from reference. This is be really really hard at first but keep trying. www.ctrlpaint.com is a great resource for starting out especially with digital.
Just pick a fundamental, study it along with other things that you find fun like painting photo studies or drawing dancing kittens ,whatever keeps things fun.
Start a sketchbook here and we will push you along as best we can.
I appreciate that Whirly. I guess there is no other way other than to draw, draw, draw - draw everything and gradually find your niche. I wanted to slimline it and only learn the relevant skills but I guess they're all relevant in the end.
I won't start a sketchbook until I have something legible to submit as no one will comment on a wonky circle or crap apple, so I think i'll practice anatomy as the information is readily available and everyone else seems to do it.
Thanks again everyone for your time.
BTW Whirly, what CGMW course are you doing?
Last edited by Liquidsun; November 21st, 2012 at 02:32 PM.
Hey dude try and balance the boring stuff that all artists have to do with the cool stuff that you just cant wait to get stuck into if you spend the whole day drawing skulls or handsor apples might get a little boring but if you throw in a mech warrior or a spaceship or even a sexy hot chick or a guy if thats how you role its all good , the most important thing is not to get bored so find a healthy balance
Hey luquidsun no problem. I have taken the perspective one and I am working my way through Dynamic Sketching 1.
I work a full time job and have been busy the past month helping family with stuff so I am little behind but I cant recommend CGMW enough. In fact if you are considering it I would do Dynamic Sketching before tackling anatomy since anatomy is much easier to learn when you can actually construct and think in 3d. If you want to ask any question about it I am happy to help as I am planning to write a review at the end of it.
Just a quick extra for your anatomy study, set a goal for what it is exactly you want to achieve from your study time and check to see what's going in rather than just copying a load of arm abstractions from what ever book.
Goal - To be able to draw an arm from any angle with the major muscles layed in
So what you could do is use Michael Hampton's method (for example's sake) of establishing the gesture of the arm using only a few lines and then placing correctly proportioned cylinders and construct boxes on top of them for the main masses.
You could break this down by just doing the cylinders over and over from life, ref and imagination. Use the imagination part to check to see if you have learned the proportion correctly. And so on.
Big goal broken up into mini goals that you can test along the way until you really can draw a decent arm on your own.
(BTW I wouldnt start with an arm I would start with a simple lay in of the figure in front view with emphasis on proportions for example like Loomis shows)
From my arm example alone you can see you can run into problems straight away if you cant even draw half decent cylinders in perspective. Its a long fun road Don't take anything I say as gospel as I have only taken one or two steps past the starting pistol.