New Drawing Demo on Youtube!


The first 8 of 20 videos in a new ART PROF drawing demo are now available on our Youtube channel!  The first 8 videos cover lighting, composition, thumbnail sketches, toning the paper, from sketch to drawing, and drawing pressure.

The next 12 videos will be released very soon!

We shot the demo on 3 iPhones, using laptop software and OBS studio. Each phone runs IPCamera software, and broadcasts its video stream across the local network (LAN) and OBS captures the streams via a browser plugin.

No script, I ad libbed the entire demo the way that I teach my classes. See behind-the-scenes photos of our shoot below. If our Kickstarter campaign is successful, we’ll be able to produce 1, maybe even 2 of these demos every month and bring them to you for free! And remember, Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing format.  If we don’t reach our goal, we won’t receive any funding. Make a donation before our campaign ends on July 19!

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ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

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New Drawing Demo this Week

Coming this week! 23 videos, about 1-3 min. each showing a drawing demo from start to finish of how to draw with cross-hatching using charcoal. We’ll cover topics like how to pose and light the model, create compositions through thumbnail sketches, cross-hatching techniques, specific charcoal tools, and more. This demo is a tiny appetizer for you to see what kind of free content we can offer if our ART PROF Kickstarter campaign is successful.  We hope this will be the first of many more videos to come!

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My partner Thomas Lerra and I were really excited about this demo, despite the fact that the shoot was extremely challenging and we both probably lost a year of our lives that day. We shot the demo using 3 iPhones, which allowed for three different points of view on the demo, as you can see in the photo below. We had no cameraman:  just us, Art Prof Intern Olivia Hunter as the production assistant, and Marianna our artist model. The shoot was very challenging, but we saw this experience as a blessing in disguise. Afterwards, we both realized in retrospect that although the shoot itself was tough, we realized that our gigantic experiment had opened up ways that we could potentially stretch our budget further and still produce high quality content.

We want ART PROF to be free for all as long as possible!  In addition to our Kickstarter campaign, Tom and I are looking into sponsors, and alternative ways like this one, that will allow us to continue to generate content on as small a budget as possible.

Don’t miss this tutorial, subscribe to the ART PROF Youtube channel today!

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ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Help us make ART PROF free and accessible for all! Donate to our Kickstarter campaign before July 19!

Ask the Art Prof Live #2: Aches While Drawing, Professional Artwork vs. Student Artwork

 

00:00
Aches while drawing

08:33
The artist’s run

10:52
What distinguishes professional artwork from student artwork?

17:43
Archival art materials


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Ask the Art Prof Live is a weekly live video broadcast on my Facebook page where I provide professional advice for art students and professional artists. Ask the Art Prof began as a written column in 2013 and was featured in the Huffington Post from 2013-2015.  See the full archive of columns here. Ask me your questions by commenting on the live video post as the video streams, and I’ll answer right away. I’ll discuss being an artist today, art technique & materials, work strategies for artists, career advice, teaching art, and more. Like my Facebook page and you’ll receive a notification when each live video begins.


Related Live Videos
#8: Should I do the Starving Artist Phase in New York City?
#7: How do I Improve My Art?  How do I Find My Artistic Style?
#6: Teaching High School Art, Teaching Color
#5:  Starting Art School, Avoiding Cliches
#4:  Oversaturation, Brainstorming, Beginning a Series
#3:  Personal Themes, Never Too Late to Start Drawing
#1:  Graduate MFA Programs

Ask the Art Prof: The Importance of Drawing From Direct Observation

Portrait Drawing

“I know how to draw, but I can only draw things that I can see. I draw from photographs that I find on the Internet. However, I have difficulty drawing from my imagination, and this bothers me because I want to be able to create images on my own. How can I learn to draw from my imagination?”

To successfully draw from your imagination, you have to be skilled in drawing from direct observation. I am appalled that so few art students draw from life nowadays. Many young artists don’t draw from life because drawing from photographs is extremely convenient, doesn’t require a lot of thought, and gets quicker results. By comparison, drawing from life is much more challenging and time-consuming, but ultimately it is the approach that will provide the necessary skills to draw from any reference.

Skeleton Drawing Assignment

For an art student, drawing exclusively from photographs is the worst approach to take. As a college professor, I invest a lot of time getting first year students to unlearn bad drawing habits they developed because they only drew from photographs. Frequently, the students who have a lot of drawing experience, but who have bad habits, have a much tougher time than the students who have no drawing background. Drawing exclusively from photographs encourages these poor habits:


1) Obsessively laboring one drawing for several weeks.
Consequently, students become accustomed to working at a very slow pace. For anyone who aspires to be a professional artist, this approach is inefficient and unsustainable. Students become precious about every drawing they make, which sets up an impossible expectation that every drawing must be successful. They are so afraid of making a bad drawing that they refuse to try anything new. This severely limits growth and keeps them from expanding their abilities.

2) Being unable to do 2-5 minute gesture drawings.
Gesture drawing is a key principle in all aspects of drawing, it teaches you how to quickly capture the essential spirit of your subject with energy and movement. Drawing from photographs trains people to draw in a very tight manner, which results in drawings that lack vitality.

3) Ignoring fundamental structures and focusing only on details.
The details of a drawing are usually what impress viewers the most; they are the glamorous part of a drawing that seduce and dazzle. However, no amount of detail will compensate for poor compositions and structures. Drawings that invest too much time on details will appear flat and superficial.


Drawing is about much more than copying an accurate representation of what you see. Throughout history, the most pivotal drawings have been images that a photograph could never make. When an artist draws, they are offering an artistic interpretation of what they have experienced. A drawing copied verbatim from a photograph provides no individual opinion; the process just mechanically replicates what the photograph already said. At that point, there’s no point to making the drawing, you’re just making a bad xerox of the photograph.

Drawing from life is wonderful because you get to fully experience your subject. Compare the difference between drawing from a photograph of a person and drawing that person in real life. If you draw from direct observation, you would get to talk to the person, hear their voice, and learn about their personality. All of these aspects of the person that you experience will vastly influence your drawing process.

DW3b

Many students aspire to create the illusion of depth within the two-dimensional format of a drawing. It’s counterproductive to try to achieve a convincing three-dimensional illusion in your drawing if your reference is a two-dimensional photograph. You have to directly experience three-dimensional space and form in person. As a student, I studied Gothic cathedrals and looked at slides in class and photographs in textbooks. I eventually traveled to France to see the cathedrals, and was astonished by the vast depth of space. Being physically immersed in the cathedral, I was able to capture the mood of the space in my on site drawings.

Amiens_Cathedral

Amiens Cathedral


You have complete creative control when drawing from direct observation. If you’re drawing a still life, you can arrange the objects any way you want and create a specific lighting situation. With a portrait, you can choose from multiple perspectives or ask the model to sit in a specific position. This allows for much more flexibility and significantly increases all of the visual possibilities.

This is not to say that you should never ever draw from a photograph, as there are instances where using a reference photograph is necessary. In those circumstances, I always shoot my own photographs so that I can control every factor. If I need an image of a gorilla, it means a trip to the zoo. I see all reference photographs as raw material that I will manipulate and transform through my drawing process. The only time I would draw from someone else’s photograph is if I really need an image that is literally impossible for me to photograph on my own. Even then, I only use fragments of the photograph and I mix it in with other references. I would never take someone’s photograph and draw a precise copy of it.

AM3

Drawing from life involves a lot of work and patience, but eventually it will reap many rewards. You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the mechanics of light and shadow, see how structures are organized, understand how forms interact within a space, learn how to articulate textures, and much more. This knowledge will equip you with the skills you need in order to draw from your imagination. From there, it’s a matter of extensive experimentation and practice to see what works for you.

This charcoal drawing tutorial I did on the Art Prof Youtube channel shows the entire process of creating a portrait drawing in charcoal from direct observation (see below) I wrote this article which provides detailed explanations of the numerous tools needed to make charcoal drawings.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


Related Videos
Youtube Playlist: Video Critiques on Art School Admissions Portfolios
Youtube Playlist:  How to Draw a Portrait with Charcoal and Cross-Hatching
Youtube Playlist:  Crit Quickies, 1 min. critiques on artworks


Related articles
“What is a gesture drawing?”
“Is drawing considered an innate talent or a craft, which can be learned by anyone?”
“How can I learn to shade objects in my drawings?”
“How can I draw what I see in my head?”
“What is the best way to practice my drawing skills?”
“How do you get yourself to practice drawing?”
“What is the most important mindset a student needs to have in order to create a successful drawing?”

Ask the Art Prof: How Would I Go About Studying the Human Figure to Improve My Drawing Skills?


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“How would I go about studying the human body in order to improve my figure drawings? I am attempting to get a better idea of how to draw poses and I think I need to learn the body from the inside out. I’m just not sure how to go about doing this.”

The human figure is likely the most complex form studied by visual artists. One of the reasons why it’s so challenging to study is because the human figure is essentially a single form that can be continually subdivided into many smaller forms, making for an extraordinarily complex system.  Depending on the person, the variations in form are infinite even though the basic structure is the same from person to person. Studying the human figure is one of the ultimate challenges of being an artist, and is an undertaking that lasts for many years.

Be sure that when you decide to study the human figure that you don’t mistake anatomical information for artistic application.  I know artists who studied anatomy down to the absolute tiniest detail, but whose figure drawings were awful because they didn’t know how to apply their knowledge to their drawings.  You could possess all of the information in the world about anatomy and still not know a thing about how to apply that knowledge in an artistic context.  Understand that it’s the combination of knowledge and application together that will lead to an artistic comprehension of the human figure.

Since the skeleton is the most deeply embedded structure of the human figure, it makes sense to start there. The most ideal situation is to have a life size, plastic skeleton model that you can directly observe.  However, if that is not an option, I recommend buying Dr. Paul Richer’s “Artistic Anatomy” book, which has good, simple drawings of the skeleton that you can draw from. There are many anatomy books out there for artists, but I have found that most of them make things more complicated than necessary and therefore make many artists overwhelmed with unnecessary information.

Artistic Anatomy, by Dr. Paul Richer

Start out by doing very simple, basic drawings that approximate the major forms of the skeleton.  Don’t let yourself fuss over every single rib or vertebrae, the larger concern is that you develop a thorough understanding of how all of the forms in the skeleton relate to each other. By doing many drawing studies of the skeleton, you’ll start to understand how all of the forms work together.

Once you have a grasp of the skeleton, it’s time to move onto other key concepts, working from a live model the whole time.  I break this up into three steps:


1) Major Masses
Major masses are essentially the largest forms on the human figure.  I recommend beginning a figure drawing by first addressing the torso, by far the largest form. The torso is where all of the limbs and the head intersect, so it’s critical to knock in the torso immediately when starting a figure drawing. The torso can then be subdivided into a rib cage and pelvis, which provides a sense of structure within the torso itself. From there, the head and thighs can be quickly added to provide more mass to the form. The limbs and the hands and feet should come in last.

2) Center line
There is an imaginary center line down the front of the torso and down the back of the torso.  On the back of the torso, the center line is easy to spot because it is basically the spine.  On the front of the torso, the center line starts at the pit of the neck, (the point in between the collarbones, aka clavicles) moves down the center of the rib cage, through the belly button down to the pubic bone on the pelvis. A center line is highly descriptive of the type of pose that is being struck by a figure.  Look at the center line when a model is posing and ask yourself what the center line is doing:  is the center line perfectly straight?  Is it twisted, is it leaning to the right or left?  If you quickly establish how the center line is behaving in your figure drawing, you’ve won half the battle.

3) Bony Landmarks
Bony landmarks are areas on the human figure where the bone is directly under the surface of the skin. These landmarks are significant because they are consistent with every single person, regardless of how large or thin they may be. When you’re looking at a model, search for these bony landmarks and indicate them in your drawing. Some bony landmarks include:  collar bones, elbows, kneecaps, ankle bones, shoulder blades, etc. Bony landmarks are considered to be details, so they should not be drawn in until the major masses and center line are well established.

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Drawing by Michelangelo depicting muscles in the shoulder area


The final stage is to seek out key muscles on the human figure that are visible on the surface.  Many muscles are hidden under other muscles, so it’s not necessary to learn every single muscle that there is on the human figure. Some examples of muscles that are visible on the surface would be the deltoids, the trapezius, the pectoralis major, the sartorius, and more. These muscles can all be seen in Dr. Paul Richer’s “Artistic Anatomy” book.  Like the skeletons, do drawings of these major muscle groups from Richer’s book to get a sense for the forms.

Between the major masses, the center line, the bony landmarks, the skeleton, and the muscles, you should be able to develop a comprehensive understanding of the human figure and it’s various forms and structures. You should be able to discern between muscle, bones, and skin in any area of the figure.

Remember, drawing the human figure is not a skill that will happen overnight. It takes years and years of disciplined practice, tons of bad drawings, and rigorous focus.  In this way, you will be able to accomplish a masterful understanding of the human figure.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


Related Videos
Youtube Playlist: Video Critiques on Art School Admissions Portfolios
Youtube Playlist:  How to Draw a Portrait with Charcoal and Cross-Hatching
Youtube Playlist:  Crit Quickies, 1 min. critiques on artworks


Related articles
“How do you draw the human face?”
“How can I learn to draw noses?”
“What is the best way to simplify the human figure?”
“How can you learn to draw hair?”

Ask the Art Prof: What Does it Take to Get a Job at an Animation Studio?

pixar-logo

I’m a beginning art student studying graphic design, and I’ve always wanted to work in a cartoon studio setting. Places like Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network that are not your normal work places per say. All my life, my family has always said that it was impossible to get a job like that, and to not even try.

Well, here I am going into graphic design, but I want to know: What exactly does it take to land that kind of job, what should my art portfolio have, and is it even worth trying???”

Animation studio jobs are insanely competitive, as there are thousands and thousands of people out there who desperately want to be working in that field. You would be competing with people who have completed professional degrees in animation and illustration, and many others who not only have degrees, but who have been working professionally in the field for some time.

Getting a job would require an enormous commitment on your part, and would require years of hard work and rigorous training. I have a number of acquaintances from RISD who went on to work at studios like Pixar, Disney, and Nickelodeon.  My memories of them during my undergraduate years at RISD is that they obsessively did gesture drawings around the clock like there was no tomorrow, and were both highly disciplined and incredibly industrious workers. You have to be prepared to devote every part of your life to this initiative, it’s that competitive.

Gesture Drawing

Gesture drawing from a life model


If all of the above sounds intimidating to you, then I would say that it’s not worth trying.  If hearing that makes you feel enthusiastic, motivated, and revved up to go, then I think it’s totally worth trying.  Do your research in advance and make sure that you know what you would be getting yourself into. This is not a job that you can work towards occasionally, it practically has to be in your blood.

One basic requirement of an animation studio position is a solid grounding in traditional art. That means having really strong drawing skills, especially in gesture drawings of the human figure and of animals. The expectation is that all of the drawings are executed from direct observation, which means multiple trips to the zoo to draw animals in person, and countless hours drawing from a live nude model. Most animation degree programs require that students take courses in all areas of animation, to build a basic grounding of the overall process of making animation.

Inside Out by Pixar

Inside Out by Pixar

Jobs in animation studios are often times very specialized, so you would apply for a position in a specific area, like storyboards, character design, backgrounds, animation, etc. Technically speaking a portfolio would generally consist of artwork that highlights that area of specialization, as well as a reel of a number of your animated works. I’m not in the field, so I’m not able to provide accurate specifics, but that’s a fairly good approximation of what would be expected in an application.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


Related Videos
Youtube Playlist: Video Critiques on Art School Admissions Portfolios
Youtube Playlist:  How to Draw a Portrait with Charcoal and Cross-Hatching
Youtube Playlist:  Crit Quickies, 1 min. critiques on artworks


Related articles
“How do I become a children’s book illustrator?”
“Can I make a respectable income on freelance illustration?”
“Where is a good place to start with graphic novels?”

Ask the Art Prof: How Can a Visual Artist Regain Satisfaction with Their Artwork?

Final Crit

“Ever since I started studying graphic design, I feel like I exchanged a bit of creativity for professionalism. Nowadays, I feel unsatisfied with my work all the time.   I still love drawing but I used to feel a lot more satisfied when I was younger.  I feel like something seems to lack in my art now.  How can one regain lost satisfaction with their work?”

I know that the majority of the time, I don’t allow myself to indulge creatively. Usually I’m experimenting with some new method or subject.  I challenge myself to do something unfamiliar and uncomfortable because I know that it’s good for me to be doing new things.  I try hard not to sit around polishing my strengths because I want to target my weaknesses in order to build a well-rounded skill set.

I’m going to advise that you do the opposite of what I just described: give yourself the license to artistically indulge. Fully immerse yourself in your greatest strengths, working only with subjects that you feel very excited about. Pick an art medium that you are very experienced with, and can work with fluidly.  If it feels good, then do it. Don’t worry about improving, experimenting, what other people think, etc. just focus on what will bring that sense of satisfaction back. Keep this up for several months and I am confident that you will be enjoying yourself again in no time. I had a professor as an undergraduate student who used to say all the time “if you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.”

Another strategy that you can employ is to think back to all of the artistic experiences that you’ve had in your past.  Try to home in on the experiences that brought you the greatest satisfaction, and attempt to create those circumstances for yourself again.  For me, drawing from a live model has always automatically brought me satisfaction.  At all stages of my life, life drawing is one specific activity that brings me a sense of stability and freedom at the same time. Life drawing reminds me of being an art student, and with that I associate the wonderful excitement and rigor of the learning process. Any time I sit down to draw the figure I know that I am always guaranteed to enjoy myself.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


Related articles
“Am I actually an artist?”
“How do you gain confidence in your artwork?”
“Do professional artists doubt their abilities?”