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Experiment Part 1: Training Your Eye

Journal Entry: Tue Oct 2, 2012, 8:36 PM

So my buddy karuvan is trying to learn how to draw properly. He's been on a roll as far as progressing. But he's stuck at a standstill. This is an experiment that I've done with him and that he's working on in order to train his eye. I decided to share the conversation and experiment with you guys for you all to apply to your study habits and advancement in drawing and art.

Read on!

Karuvan: I randomly drew over my old pic. Ain't gonna do it over, was just curious on how much I could have done better.
Robaato: Quick question... like... who's work at this point do you really want yours to be close to? I'm tryna gauge what level you're trying to achieve.
K: lol... Joel is becoming a huge influence.
R: Ok. I have a test for you.
K: Ok.
R: I want you to replicate this picture exactly as it is to the best of your ability:

Start off with lines first, and NO TRACING.
K: Colors and all? Or you just wanna see piece by piece?
R: Just the girl and the bars. I wanna see how well you can observe. And I will train you how to observe.
K: Okay. Lezdo diss.
R: When you get done with the lines, just show me.
K: Clean lines or just a sketch?
R: Clean sketch, accurate enough in comparison with that drawing. 

A little later on...

R: How you hangin'?
K: I was tackling it wrong at first, but I got it now.
R: Interesting. Can't wait to see it.
K: Here it goes:

R: Ok, Gimme a sec...
K: Well, I think I need a lot more work...
R: It's a good run, by the way. Let's see how well you did:

R: So now I have a sense of your current skill level with your eye and how much you've observed. You've done well on capturing the overall silhouette, but as you can see... it's a bit distorted. You made her more midget'y in appearance, as Joel drew her with a longer proportion. Also, note your face placement. That shows that you need to work on observation more with the proportions in the face. Your eyes are further apart, as Joel shows a simplified version of actual facial proportion. There's room for the side of her face on his; on yours, her right eye is a bit too close to her ear, showing little evidence of the plane that is the side of the face.

Also, look at the way he drew her right arm deeply and compare it with yours. Yours is missing her elbow, and her upper arm is a bit stunted as well. But that's where anatomy studies will prove valuable for you, and that's why I keep saying, anatomy practice is a must. But when you practice, you have to really look at what you're drawing and studying and observe it deeply; break it down, etc. 'Cuz his style looks simple, but in actuality, it isn't. But it's believable because he has a very well-grounded understanding of how anatomy works, even though it's simplified in some cases, like this pic.

K: So... lots of practice. It was driving me bonkers too. Because I saw some of the problems... noticed some things just didn't look right, but had no idea what the hell to do.
R: LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS, MAN. I think people underestimate how much you should practice. You have to be a madman. Not just a few lil' doodles here and there. But dissecting limbs, muscles, shapes, forms, putting them together, taking them apart, etc. That's why they always say, "learn the human figure first, THEN you can pretty much adjust your style to any kinda style you prefer afterwards".

But for now, you have to work on capturing an accurate silhouette and overall body proportion. 'Cuz it's no point learning anatomy if certain parts are shorter than they actually are and your eye distorts things. You have to get the overall shape down first. 

So now, your next try is to draw this again, BUT only draw the overall shape of her. No details, just different organic shapes that match her in proportion, then let's see how close you get. Try to get it as close as possible to her outline. This is all eye training. When I get done with you, you're going to start seeing things in a whole new light LOL.

K: So again, as a silhouette?
R: Yup, draw it again. But work on her shapes. Make up shapes. Doesn't have to be just an "outline drawing" or contour. The shapes you come up with should match her actual silhouette.
K: Okay, I understand. I'll dive in then. 
R: An no cheating, fam. LOL
K: Hahaha, nah. I'll be only hurting myself. 
R: Good mindset.

Another passage of time.

K: Feel like it went a little better...
R: Let's find out. 

R: Definitely better, as far as the torso is concerned. Check 'dat arm though, hahaha.
K: Arms killin me, lol.
R: The way you did this is more of an outline drawing almost though. It's almost like you're not letting yourself sculpt the form with your pencil; a bit too rigid, even. You're on the right track though, as you can see it's much better in proportion than the first run.
K: Can you give me an example of sorts on how I should be observing and drawing this. I think I understand you but it's still a tad fuzzy.
R: I just did this on the fly to show you: 

R: I never lifted my pen from the page, just lightly molding my figure and scribbling over edges to build confidence. I don't really follow the edges, my hand mainly moves freely about and my mind will subconsciously tell me what to focus and build upon or mold as I go along. 
K: I see. This looks like how you start your roughs. 
R: Yup, exactly. 
K: Well, aight Rob. I'll get into more later today, haha... Thanks and maybe talk to ya tomorrow. 
R: Sure thing dude. 


So the next post about this will be a continued guide as Karuvan learns to observe what he's drawing. I hope you guys got something out of this post, as I know a lot of people are wondering what they're missing when they're drawing or when they're stuck not knowing where to go next in drawing. Please feel free to ask me any questions here on my Tumblr.

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Add a Comment:
StreetKnights901 Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2012   General Artist
Thanks for the share! Looks helpful!
KidD0n Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2012   Traditional Artist
awesome & thank you will try this
darkspeeds Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Great stuff, thank you so kindly for sharing this. I'm going to try this approach and see how effectively I can improve on my drawing of anatomy Robaato! *thumbs up*
Leonidas666 Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I've tried to draw women for ages, but I never can. I think it's a mental block... I've been dumped and rejected toooooo many times. That must be why all I can draw is monters and angry guys.
AstroPulse Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2012  Student Digital Artist
You make so many good points! I dislike it when people say anatomy isn't important if you have style, but it is! Once you know how everything fits together it's far more believable and looks a whole lot better when you stylize it or simplify it. Each time I draw, it's one of the first things I try to work out. (And I know I have a lot more to learn)
But, I keep at it. Plus, drawing near naked people all day isn't a bad way to practice. ;)
AtomicF0x Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't think any of my watched have gone these sort of lengths in order to teach and enrich their fans. Its like you really care about other people and artists.
REFLEX76 Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012
Good shit man.
Tsukuart Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012  Student Filmographer
What is your tumblr?
Robaato Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
The link is right beneath the journal's title. :)
Tsukuart Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2012  Student Filmographer
I feel blind.
Almy-Nol Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012
I'll definitely use this for future reference. I also have trouble, particularly with neck and chest areas.
The-Paxman Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Brilliant! Finally a new kind of tut. I grasp this so much more then a "step 1: pick up your pencil step2: done! now you're a master" type.
It's Real Talk with your host Robaato!!
fightingleaf Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I remember trying to introduce the concept of eye-training to a curious observer too. Good work.
Vertigo-Gal Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Student Digital Artist
wow. the thing that really impressed me here is the intensity of the practice and technique you are instituting. Despite taking pre-college classes and consecutive art classes, i've never really felt that level of intensity in technique-sharpening. it really sets a new dimension for me.

(that doesn't mean that i'm lazy in my practice. in fact, drawing is the only thing i'm NOT lazy in. maybe i didn't feel that tension or frustration because I enjoyed learning about it too much. :meow: Plus, the human body takes up the majority of my drawing. it's rarely anything else if it's a focused piece. the human figure is the most interesting subject matter for me...)
galactron22 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
haven't put pencil to paper in a loooooong time this makes me want to test myself and start again.
Shun-one Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is an excellent exercise. It actually helps a ton to have a sketch pad handy while watching/reading cartoons/anime/manga/comics or just browsing art so you can quickly replicate what you see, then compare it. I've been slowly over-coming my improvement block using this method.
Jesska-Jesska Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Gesture drawing on the bottom! I learned about this earlier this semester. I got a question for ya, Rob.

I enjoy drawing. A lot. I almost don't want to do schooling, I just want to draw. But my parents will go cray cray. So, I wanted to ask - how do you get yourself out there and where do you start? I want to draw and I am dedicated to getting better, but if you wanna make it anywhere, even to just get commissions, where do you start? I haven't gotten a lick of commission work and I want to! I want my art to be worth buying. I can't understand coloring tutorials and I don't have a serious art mentor. What do I do?
REcon36 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
macprodukshunz Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Student General Artist
When I was in my figure drawing class, every class we started off with just contours and gesture drawing, because without a solid foundation the drawing will fail.
EymBee Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Student General Artist
defiantly helped me out,thanks for this
Sktchman Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Student Digital Artist
sir, you are possibly the most helpful deviant on dA. i learn so much from the art and journals you post. many thanx
Robaato Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Hey, it's no problem. Just sharing the little that I know. :)
Koizumi6456 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012
Interesting. Thanks for sharing this :D
Airukan Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Student General Artist
Certainly I'll practice according to your experiment :XD: Useful tips =D
Kocho-chan Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Student General Artist
you need to start a learning to draw blog or something. Using your friend as an example :D (heck find another friend just to make sure it works!)
tisinrei Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Student Digital Artist
This are a good indeed and I will sure try use it on my future drawings:#1: ( Despite I dont know if am in the same level of your friend).

However For me this just make more question to happens:

¹ You said about training the outside shapes of a determined reference.... But how the inner structure of the character and other style details ( realistic, cartoon, comic,chibi) can change or interfere on this process?

I dont has any fixed style currently ( despite know the base of all) but I dont know if learning shaping on A style cannot be productive on "B" style as example.

² considering the shape, How you build your picture? with the same "head" standard to the size of body, a inner skeleton to body articulations or a free way?

Some times I think I am rigid on the inner structure and body proportions and dont know how correct it...

³ How much perspective affect this:-? I still learning this and I don't know the true effect in this process.

other things and questions I already know the answer: only time and pratice will made me better... but I sure dont know how much time I have to spare now, I start it too much old.^^;

on any case good tips.
QuesoGr7 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the post Robaato-sensei
Wildcarp Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012
Thank you for sharing this. I'll have to give all this a go.
Oderaa Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012 soooo motivating Rob!! Awesomeness!!! and K, keep up the good work!! I'm learning also ^^
JDMagee Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
great lesson. i'm gonna have to try this as well
Lightning-Powered Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Professional General Artist
I needed your help 5 years ago dude. I'm old now, and I can draw worth a dollar lol

great lesson. Have you ever considered teaching art as a part-time career? I think you're really good at explaining things and making them as simple as possible even for beginners to understand.
Kocho-chan Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Student General Artist
I agree, he is a great teacher. Most artists just go "This is how I do it, just copy-pasta!" and don't go any further than that.
Randommode Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
If it's Joel tell him the one secret that Joel knows every time he draws any woman. Once he except THAT truth, and let's it sink in. He will become a better artist over night.

It's the techniques that make an artist, it's their state of mind. Once you crack who they are...
All their treasures are laid to bare.
But how dangerous the minds of other people.
Fox-Light713 Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Student
I remember my first true figure drawing class, the teacher used to work at Disney and the book for the class was by Glen Vilppu it was like night and day from when I started the class and ended.
NixieSeal Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
This. I will do this eye training exercise as soon as I can.
nfergason Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012
this is really helpful thanks for the heads up. I feel like I do the same thing where i begin strong and then worry about it and just do the simple outline instead of molding the whole thing. THanks
BeckyDIllustrations Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
This is fantastic! thanks for the journal!
FizzPuff Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's how sculptures do things :) I'll have to try that method out sometime.
Soriyns-Knight Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Student General Artist
I should do some stuff like this sometime.

I actually did something similar to this where I drew a horse's head twice, the first time from memory and the second time i used a reference. The second one looked like a horse, the first one looked like what I can only call an "Aligator-Donkey"
mastertoon4 Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Student General Artist
This terrifies me a bit. I know that in a class I plan on taking upcoming semester I'm going to have to link my hand and eye, and just stay focused on the model. I've done a ton of sketching as of late, quick drawings ranging from .5 to 5 minutes, but I always have to check myself a certain number of times.

But eye training is definitely the stage I'm at. I set up an alternate account with nothing but practice sketches for stuff like this.
swordsmith86 Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012
this is fantastic man. really great tips and advice for improvement. i always tell people to draw a lot too. i don't think people realize how much pro's draw to get to their level of skill. when i tell people that i just draw a lot and observe and analyze everything. they look at me like.. "that's not the answer i was looking for." as if i know some secret that will help them improve leaps and bounds in the matter of 1 day. it's a LONG process... but when you start seeing improvement, it's so satisfying. and the best part is that you can only get better. again great advice man... great journal.
ShootingStar03 Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This is amazing! This is sorta how my prof trained us to do anatomy. I hope you could train me too, some time!
Robaato Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Haha,thanks! Well this is kinda the purpose of me sharing this with you, so you guys can try these out for yourselves with your own desires. I wish I could do hands-on with everyone though! ^^;
ShootingStar03 Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Welcome man!
Thank you for sharing anyways! Maybe you could pick a random watcher every month you could train hands-on or something but yeah it's time-consuming too. Anyway, it's just a suggestion. I hope you don't stop posting your tutorials :D
DxRhym Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012   Digital Artist
Good exercise!
WingMcCallister Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
As an experimentalist, I like experiments. :P
Kanokawa Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Your friend has amazing understanding and is really good with the directions you give. These are really good exercises, and I like how you made it a serious point that practice isn't a little doodle here and there, it's a LOT of sketches one after another. I'm gonna try some of these exercises too!
JunBowman Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Student General Artist
Good read. I've noticed Karuvan has been making great improvements in his work.

When I was a kid I used to try to mimic what I saw in the 'How to Draw' books dealing with anatomy. I never understood how to apply or understood the significance of building with basic shapes until years later. They really do help out a lot. I can remember a few years ago when my lil cousin wanted me to draw something so she could watch. I started off drawing the shapes and she says "Draw foreal!" I said "I am." and she says "No you aint, you just drawing shapes" lol Everything I draw I build from shapes.

Awaiting the next post!
ffenix-nova Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
I'm definitly giving this a try, I'm sure is going to help tons
RubyDrache Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
wonderful! great advice here
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