Art, process and design blog of an aspiring industrial designer.

Drawing/Life Lesson

So, the most useful, obvious thing I know about drawing is this:
Draw from general to specific.  Start vague, then move to details as time allows for them.

Again, this is SO OBVIOUS but has proven insanely useful (in all aspects of my life), since I have been told this again and again by my teachers and mentors this summer. It applies to everything.  Seriously, to work and life and art.

1) You are life drawing: Since its hard to judge time in life drawing poses, first get a feel for the entire pose. Sketch it out and draw gesture drawing (in whichever way you want to – scribbles, swirls, wide volumetric shapes, etc.), generally giving yourself and your viewer an idea of intention and overall action or lack-of-action.  This is so important its insane. Not only will this create for yourself a drawing anchor on which to draw more detailed aspects, but can be used to help with proportions and will give the viewer an overall feel of the pose.  Also, if you do not finish doing some of the details, you still have a legible, useful drawing with information.  You do not just have one random arm floating. Your odds of getting a better overall drawing increase with this method as well, because everything consecutively gets more detailed, instead of having just a vague portrait or figure with one really detailed eye, the entire body or face is done on a equal level of precision.

2) You are doing life-work tasks: I am a perfectionist, but also (perhaps, as such?) I am an extremely slow worker.  I have always been like this and have accepted this about myself.  But unfortunately, in life you will often never be able to finish something to your level of perfection.  There is usually NEVER enough physical time to possibly get to that level.  And really, it doesn’t matter.  That level of perfection does not usually matter.  Often times, you learn much more by approaching many more problems, rather than solving one problem really, really well.

If you find you are like me, you will also find that, if you continue to work on that level of detail, sometimes you just won’t be able to finish a task – believe me, I’ve been there. And it super sucks.  So, how do we get around this? What is a strategy to use? This is such an important issue because when in the workforce, you will not just get marks off for being late.  It is crazy unprofessional not to be able to meet deadlines, and in some industries that literally makes or breaks whether you have a future with a company.  Moral: When working, ALWAYS, ALWAYS work from general to more specific.  I know it sucks to say this, but I have concluded (with all of my limited experience, and with my listening and watching and learning from others greater than me) that it is better to submit something that is complete, but rough or a bit crappier, than to submit something that is amazing but totally incomplete.  Really, something incomplete is worth almost nothing.

No reader can do anything with a half finished short story, even if that first half is amazing.  They won’t know what happens, and it’ll plague them for the rest of their lives, until they finally kill themselves or write the end of the story.  A half-finished design is no design, which is worse than a crappy design (because usually a crappy design can be edited).  Also, often if something is late, it just won’t be accepted at all, so it literally is nothing.  Work from general to specific!  Therefore, even if shit hits the fan, you will have something! And, after you finish the first draft, you can still spend all of the rest of your time editing and iterating, and I promise you will get the whole thing closer to perfect so much faster!

This is something I’m working everyday to get more directly into my life.

Anyway, here are some life drawings of me working from general to more specific! I hope you enjoy them, and have a great week, of one of the hottest where I am…

Here are some really quick (~1 minute) poses and some gesture drawings I started out with. They are not perfect, but even in these quick drawings you totally get a sense of the pose and its intention.

Here (for some 5 minute poses), I’ve done my quick gesture drawing, and then started with the more specific contours afterward. The gesture drawing helps a lot to give me a general sense of proportion on the page.

Here, instead of starting with a gesture drawing, I used the side of my chalk to show density and mass by the concentration of color in the overall shapes of the larger mass areas in the body.

After, I edged around those masses with conte crayon doing a contour drawing to add detail to the shape.

Although these aren’t necessarily really good, they have a good technique behind them, so I know that if I just keep doing a few more, they will rapidly get better.

Anyway, have a swell day! Cheers,

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