Monday, August 14, 2017

Figure Drawing: Repeating What You Should Already Know

Figure Drawing: Repeating What You Should Already Know
// Muddy Colors

-By Arnie Fenner

I think a simple truism about being an artist is that, regardless of stature or status, regardless of the number of years spent sitting at the table, easel, or monitor, regardless of degrees from universities or from the School of Hard're always something of a student. And always will be.

As an artist, you're never (or should never be) entirely satisfied with "where you're at" and, essentially, are always practicing—striving—to get better at the craft. Every doodle, every scribble or sketch is part of the process, part of being an artist. It doesn't stop: you're always experimenting and exploring and observing and thinking. You're always trying to learn or master techniques; you're always studying color and composition and light and gestures and character and, above all, anatomy. Regardless of personal style or career direction, the ability to draw a convincing human figure is truly the core of being an artist. Continuing to practice at it helps artists maintain their visual and spatial abilities: it's almost a form of calisthenics of skills. Every time the model moves their arm or tilts their head, every time they change their pose, there is something new to see, to understand, and to learn.

And, because drawing the figure is fundamental, successfully communicating with and connecting to an audience as a creator—whether the approach is realistic, distorted, cartoonish, or abstract, whether the subjects are people or animals or monsters or landscapes—rests firmly on that foundation. It is the beginning for anything you want to do artistically. As Donato said in his post last year on MC, "I find that life drawing is an important way to reconnect with the main subject in much of my work, that of the human figure. The varied forms of expression and the enlightened discovers which occur while drawing helps to fuel my imagination and inform my eye as to what is possible for shape design within characters."

Above: A figure drawing by Andrew Loomis.

Above left: A late-1950s drawing by Frank Frazetta. Above right: Drawing by Willy Pogany.

A highlight of Spectrum Fantastic Art Live has been the late-night figure drawing party (with several nude models) generously sponsored by Kansas City's The Illustration Academy. Even with pizza (graciously provided by the Aladdin Hotel) and a cash bar, it is a surprisingly serious party; there's relatively little chatter and what there is tends to be in whispers. The focus is on drawing, on getting the most out of the opportunity. I've heard that some have been somewhat intimidated by the intensity of the room, but I've also heard that others were absolutely giddy to be sitting and sketching next to—and getting feedback from—Justin Sweet or Donato or Iain McCaig or Android Jones or Mark English.

Above: John English conducting a figure drawing class during The
Illustration Academy's 2017 Summer Workshop. Photo by Timmy Trabon.

Starting clockwise above left: George Pratt, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mark English, Jeffrey Alan Love.
Figure drawing classes, led and critiqued by the teachers, are an important part of
The Illustration Academy's annual workshops. At the conclusion, the instructors' originals
(like the samples shown above) are given to the students via a raffle. 

Drawing from life whenever possible should be high on any artist's list—and, of course, the knowledge obtained through the process is applicable to everything you do, whether you work digitally or in traditional media. I talk often about The Illustration Academy because I know them well (they're local, after all), respect the hell out of what they do, have had the opportunity to sit in on their workshops, and have spent time with their instructors over the years. They're devoted to not only helping artists improve their skills but also in helping them achieve their professional goals. Besides actively emphasizing figure drawing in their curriculum—and hosting drawing events as they have at SFAL as a part of their outreach mission—the Academy hires models and sponsors semi-regular sessions open to all artists at the Interurban Art House (in one of KC's suburbs) throughout the year. Watching IA's Facebook page is a good way for people to stay abreast of dates. Naturally, there are similar gatherings all over (like the Sketch Nights at the Society of Illustrators in New York every Tuesday and Thursday) and it shouldn't be a surprise that I encourage everyone to take advantage of these opportunities whenever and wherever they're offered. (The social and networking aspects of such gatherings are extremely important to career growth as well.)

Above: George Pratt (on the right) oversees the give-away of the instructors'
figure drawings to students. As an aside, let me talk about George for a moment:
A renowned comics artist, illustrator, and Fine Artist, his graphic novel
Enemy Ace: War Idyl has been translated into nine languages and for a time was
required reading at West Point. Besides teaching at the Illustration Academy,
George has taught at Pratt and the SVA and is currently an instructor at the Ringling College
of Art and Design. The IA's Summer Workshop lasts five weeks (students can sign up for
one or all) and features a different group of instructors each week: George and John English
teach during all five. And, yes, there are on-line classes available, too. Anyway, readers
can learn a bit more about The Illustration Academy and other great workshop
opportunities in my "Summer School" post some weeks back.

Depending on location, finances, or other circumstances, I know it can be difficult-to-impossible for some to take part in a figure drawing get-together...but that doesn't mean you can't still practice. Use family members or friends as models and if even that doesn't work out, you might recall that I've previously pointed out various video resources via YouTube that you can use at your own time, pace, and convenience. Like this:

Jon Foster says, "Students will ask me, 'When do I know it all? When does it get easier?' And I tell them: Never. It never gets easier. You have to work to make a career and work to maintain it."

So the Word of the Day is...well, the same as it is everyday: Draw! Or better, the three Words of the Day are: Draw The Figure!


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luffik: Some practice drawings of cartoony lady mouths c: More...

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

How to Draw Facial Expressions: A Quick Guide

How to Draw Facial Expressions: A Quick Guide
// Artist's Network

One of the many challenging aspects of drawing is that if you want to learn how to draw a face, it's not really just one subject you need to learn, it's many. This is because faces showing different emotions hardly look the same.

How to Draw Facial Expressions | 6 Facial Expressions to Draw | A Quick Guide for Artists

A happy face looks very different than a sad face, or a surprised face. And on top of this, of course, no two people's faces are the same to begin with. (No one said drawing would be easy!) To help, we're here with advice about how to draw facial expressions that will "wow" your viewer.

In this article, you'll discover how the face changes when it takes on six of the most universally recognized emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, surprise, anger and disgust.

For a much more in-depth lesson on this topic — including a breakdown of the all-important muscles that create these expressions — check out the Summer issue of Drawing magazine. This issue includes an article by veteran instructor Jon deMartin, titled "Expressions of the Face."

Drawing Facial Expressions: Six Essential Emotions

How to Draw Facial Expressions | Jon deMartin | Artist's Network

Neutral Expression, by Jon deMartin, 2017, red and white chalk on toned paper, 14 x 11. **Information in this post was adapted from an article by Jon deMartin, featured in Drawing magazine.


The facial muscles can produce an almost infinite number of expressions as they contract or relax. Some expressions are emphatic, others subtle. True expressions are involuntary and convey the emotions a person is feeling. False expressions do not; they can be used as a mask or cover.

You can become familiar with facial expressions by using a mirror to look for the action of the muscles on your own face. Many cartoonists keep a mirror handy so they can assume any expression they want when illustrating their characters.

To illustrate the most common facial expressions, I created several drawings of Christophe, a model who has a unique ability to transform his face.

I first drew Christophe in a neutral state, with no facial muscle contractions or discernible expression (see above). We can compare this neutral face to the subsequent expressive faces to determine what actions and movements have taken place.


How to Draw Facial Expressions | Jon deMartin | Artist's Network

Happiness, by Jon deMartin, 2017, red and white chalk on toned paper, 14 x 11.


When we express happiness, the corners of the mouth are pulled up, out and back. Additionally, the nasolabial furrow — the furrow of skin that passes from the top of the wing of the nose down to the corner of the mouth — is pulled in the same direction as the mouth and is deepened.

The fronts of the cheeks are raised and puffed, producing wrinkles under the lower eyelid. The eyes narrow, and the lower face is widened and lifted.


How to Draw Facial Expressions | Jon deMartin | Artist's Network

Sadness, by Jon deMartin, 2017, red and white chalk on toned paper, 14 x 11.


When we express sadness, the inner ends of the eyebrows are raised and drawn together, which usually inclines the eyebrow. Horizontal skin wrinkles develop on the center of the forehead only.

The medial ends of the folds covering the eye — that is, the ends nearer to the middle of the face — are pulled up. The lateral parts of those folds, closer to the edges of the face, are pulled down. The angles of the mouth are pulled down at the corners, lengthening the "long face" of sadness.


How to Draw Facial Expressions | Jon deMartin | Artist's Network

Surprise, by Jon deMartin, 2017, red and white chalk on toned paper, 14 x 11.


When our faces show surprise, the brows are raised straight up and arched. The upper eyelids are raised in more intense versions of surprise, and the white above the iris shows.

The lower jaw drops with the mouth open, the lips relax, and the face lengthens.


How to Draw Facial Expressions | Jon deMartin | Artist's Network

Fear, by Jon deMartin, 2017, red and white chalk on toned paper, 14 x 11.


In fear, the brows are raised and drawn together; they become straight and horizontal, with a kink at the medial ends near the center of the face.

Wrinkles develop across the entire forehead. The mouth is usually open. The entire lower face widens and flattens, producing high, rigid folds on the front and sides of the neck.


How to Draw Facial Expressions | Jon deMartin | Artist's Network

Anger, by Jon deMartin, 2017, red and white chalk on toned paper, 14 x 11.


When our muscles express anger, the medial ends of the eyebrows are pulled down and drawn together. The nostrils flare; the mouth squares, exposing the teeth; the lips tense; and the neck becomes engorged.


How to Draw Facial Expressions | Jon deMartin | Artist's Network

Disgust, by Jon deMartin, 2017, red and white chalk on toned paper, 14 x 11.


The last emotion we'll study here is disgust. In this expression, the middle portion of each side of the upper lip is pulled up, and the skin on the bridge of the nose becomes wrinkled.The front of the cheeks rise and bulge, and wrinkles develop below the lower eyelid.

Because the lower eyelid is pushed upward by the rising cheek, the eye opening becomes narrower. Extreme contraction of these muscles will part the lips, exposing the upper teeth.

Facial expressions, like figure gestures, are fleeting. But with knowledge of the underlying muscles and plenty of thoughtful practice, we can draw them with conviction, widen our creative horizons and convey the entire spectrum of human emotion.

The post How to Draw Facial Expressions: A Quick Guide appeared first on Artist's Network.


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// How to Art


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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Tweet by G. Willow Wilson on Twitter

G. Willow Wilson (@GWillowWilson)
Every artist I've worked with cites horses as the most painfully difficult thing to draw. (I've removed them from scripts!) This is cool.…

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