Drawing Dog

This week is movie week! This means this post had to have to movie attached to it. But what would my blog show, as it is all about learning to draw. I decided to learn two things this week: I would learn how to draw a dog, and would learn how to film myself doing it, and then edit it, convert it, and upload it to YouTube so I could embed it here in my blog, for your viewing pleasure!

 
 

The dog was tricky, because the first thing I had to do was pick a breed of dog, and since each breed is different and presented a different drawing challenge, the choice became a challenge in itself. Knowing that whatever likely drawn would only ever be a rough approximation of the dog - due to a lack of experience - and that it is more important that I get basic proportions correct, I settled on an English Pointer (seen below), which seemed like a dog with relatively simple lines.

Pointer_2_18546.jpg

Still bad at drawing ovals and circles by eye, I would suggest anyone to use geometry tools if they're not innately gifted at drawing (I also found this sometime after I drew this). I used these as guides for creating the basic shapes of the dog and its stance. It was a struggle to get  the perspective on the far legs of the dog; I spent a few minutes just trying to line them up. I then erased the guide ovals and drew in the basics of the dog's form: nose, ears, eyes, toes. You can try to express things like fur ruffs, but this would probably be easier if you were going to draw a dog in colour and could better express shading. I managed to do a decent job of this - the Pointer's ears could be bigger, but it looked okay anyway I had also made an attempt with charcoal, and although it was less messy than before, one thing that became apparent was that I had pressed too hard with the pencil in the guide ovals - they can be seen as white impressions after the dog is filled in with black. This also made any expression of shading a little difficult, although you can make out that I had intended to keep the the lower 'sleeves' of the dog and its belly lighter than the rest of the dog. Perhaps I would steer clear of the charcoal. It seems like a good idea, but it seems I either overuse it or use it in ways that make it difficult to express a larger variation in shading. I had a lot of fun drawing this, and felt, perhaps for the first time, that I could actually have a lot of fun trying to draw different breeds and sizes of dogs.

 

Wheat and Other Things

Have you ever wondered how artists are able to capture all the important details in a landscape? When we look at a field, or a forest, or a city, we see thousands of details, and for the untrained eye, it is staggering to think of how one could be able to draw all these things into their own work. However, while you could attempt to draw in extremely fine detail, often the best results are had from drawing just enough detail to be able to capture the feel of a landscape. So this week, I undertook an attempt at drawing a landscape of my own.

With limited experience and time, I tried to find a very simple landscape. As my aide this time, I used a few extremely helpful pages from the website, How Stuff Works, which has an extensive list of different how-to-draw lessons. I settled on a wheat field, something that in reality has a huge amount of detail, but which I learned was perhaps one of the easier landscapes to draw.


First, I took a ruler and drew a horizon at the top third of the page. Drawing wheat involves drawing a lot of ovals: first the general shape of the heads of wheat are drawn, then the kernels are made of smaller ovals within those. After that, which took most of the drawing time, it was simply a matter of using lines to represent the seed fibres and more stalks of wheat that stretch off toward the horizon, then more ovals for clouds, and finally my best attempt at a circle for the sun.

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I found this kind of drawing much different from what I started with with drawing faces. The goal is not to capture a realistic image of the world, but capture realistic details of the landscape, while at the same time simplifying those details that are out of focus. In this case, most of my detail focus is on capturing the details of the few stalks of wheat in the near-ground, while simply representing the rest of the field and the sky using simple lines and shapes. This technique is strikingly similar to what is done in photography, something I am much more familiar with, called limiting focus. It required a certain change in the way I understand different kinds of drawing, much as I had to for drawing cartoons.


SPINE Photo.jpg

Andrew Monro

Andrew Monro is an editor with an enduring reputation as an impeccably well-dressed individual, and a surprisingly pleasant person to have a beer with. He is an aficionado of web forums, fine wine, modern poetry, and petrichor. He is a native British Columbian, but now lives in Ottawa.

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Drawing Kermit

This week, I decided I would try a kind of drawing that is almost the opposite of my last attempt at human faces: a cartoon. Cartoons are different from other kinds of drawings primarily because they are not meant to be realistic. Instead, they usually present warped conceptions of reality by emphasizing certain elements of reality while suppressing others, usually for caricature or humour.

My first task was to pick a cartoon character. One of my favourite characters is Kermit the Frog, perhaps because of his acceptance of difficulties in life and an appreciation of how difficult it is being green.

Having learned from my last drawing, I went to the closest arts store before I embarked on this, to get a wide array of drawing pencils, some charcoal, and proper drawing paper (I had learned that the ideal paper isn’t the same kind you might like to write or print on). While I was there being helped by the staff guy, I was unwittingly accosted by an arts teacher, who, overhearing my discussion, proceeded to give a 10-minute talk about what you really need to draw. I ended up purchasing the small pack of pencils, charcoals, erasers, and sharpeners she suggested, along with a sketchbook.

Taking advice from on-line sources, the first thing I had to do was create an outline for the basic shapes of Kermit – many cartoons are composed using geometric shapes – for instance, Mickey Mouse is almost entirely made up of circles and ovals. Here again, I knew the outcome was not going to be perfect, as I have no geometry kit (and this is not something I’m going to buy). For the most part, the shapes help figure out proportion. This was surprisingly difficult – more so than drawing a human face. The result looked like this:

 

Now I had a framework with which to compose Kermit. I began at the top with his eyes and worked my way down. The first thing I ended up learning is that charcoal is incredibly messy, no matter what grade it is. As you can see, there are black smudges everywhere. I had chosen to draw all the finished lines over in charcoal so that it would have a cartoonish look. I also found, despite having better paper and erasers, that it was much harder to erase some mistakes I had made. It does however unmistakably look like Kermit, and would probably have been even better with some geometric tools. In the end, I thought I did a pretty reasonable rendering of Jim Henson's most famous creation.

Andrew Monro Andrew Monro is an editor with an enduring reputation as an impeccably well-dressed individual, and a surprisingly pleasant person to have a beer with. He is an aficionado of web forums, fine wine, modern poetry, and petrichor. He is a native British Columbian, but now lives in Ottawa. Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn



SPINE Photo.jpg

Andrew Monro

Andrew Monro is an editor with an enduring reputation as an impeccably well-dressed individual, and a surprisingly pleasant person to have a beer with. He is an aficionado of web forums, fine wine, modern poetry, and petrichor. He is a native British Columbian, but now lives in Ottawa.

Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Drawing John Malkovich

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with simple tasks of having to render -- using my pen, pencil, or paint -- depictions of the world around me. My hand-eye coordination has generally been poor (baseball and golf have been comedies of giving me a heavy object to swing at round objects).

So when I was asked to make a blog of something that would be challenging, I thought of what I am not good at: drawing came almost immediately to mind (after singing and being able to do that folding trick with my socks that my mother always seemed to manage effortlessly). This blog is about my efforts to draw, even though I lack innate talent or capability.

When I told my girlfriend (who is doing her doctorate on the relationship between art and technology), she shoved a book into my hands: Secrets to Drawing Realistic Faces by Carrie Stuart Parks. So this first blog post is about how to depict the human face, with this book as my guide.

On Parks’ advice, I began with doing a pre-instructional drawing: depict a face, without a model, and with no guidance from the book. The effort looked like this:

Pre-Instructional Drawing

Parks says that for many people, the main barrier in learning to draw is perception; the brain categorizes and makes patterns of everything we take in through our senses. The main task then is to break and change people's perceptions so that they have a more realistic concept of the key parts of the human face.

The book stresses the need for a model to work with when learning to draw. After going through a few options, I settled on a facial portrait of John Malkovich. I picked Malkovich primarily for his legendarily distinct facial features. This, I reasoned, would make it easier to capture the proportion and shape of the face.

Drawing John Malkovich

It took me two days to draw. I managed to get the major features done on the first day, but I found the focus to do this tiring, and had to put down the pencil. The next day I came back and did the shading. This was difficult. Part of the problem was my equipment; I had not gone out and bought a dozen drawing pencils or charcoal (there are in fact a large range of different pencil grades, which I was not aware of). This lack of proper equipment made it difficult to capture the range of shades of the face. I will be getting these tools for future drawings.

At the end, I was a little stunned by how much more realistic it looked, how much more correct the proportions. I hope that if Malkovich were ever to see this, he would not be horrified by the result.


Andrew Monro

Andrew Monro is an editor with an enduring reputation as an impeccably well-dressed individual, and a surprisingly pleasant person to have a beer with. He is an aficionado of web forums, fine wine, modern poetry, and petrichor. He is a native British Columbian, but now lives in Ottawa.

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