Of perspective hacks.

So, I’ve recently finished reading Betty Edwards’ excellent Drawing on the right side of the brain. Here’re my before and after sketches .. and these were within a week or so of each other.

Before:

Image

After:Image

Hey, don’t judge!

Anyways, was doing a bit of research on where to go from here, and ended up reaching the following conclusions about sketching:

1. There are no lines.

2. The lines you think you see are just changes in contrast.

3. When sketching, ignore / look past color. Imagine a HSB scale and varying brightness values with the same hue / sat. Imagine a red scarf half in bright light and half in shadow. Even though your brain adapts and recognizes the scarf as one single object with just one color due to a bunch of cool hacks, the raw color values you perceive are different.

4. Drawing what you see is relatively easy (Judging by my improvement over the past week). Drawing what you imagine is hard. This is even more complicated because we think we can imagine landscapes and faces in detail, but in reality they are incredibly fuzzy and impossible to recall with any amount of detail. This applies even to your most recent / strongest memories. And by recent, I mean even something you saw a couple of seconds ago. You look up at your subject. You think you see the shape of a shadow. You look down to draw it from memory. Look up, and what do you know, you screwed it up.

5. Following #4, since drawing from imagination was so hard, how did people do it? Well .. they’ve developed a bunch of hacks or frameworks if you prefer on how light / shadows work, perspectives and compositions.

(Note: Approaching a territory where my knowledge is spotty at best. Don’t take this to be true. I shall update this post as I learn more.)

6. Lets start with lights / shadows: You start with the idea that all of reality can be depicted using basic shapes: Spheres, cylinders, cones and cubes. You study each of these objects with one light source and then multiple light sources to figure out how shadows are cast. Then you look to nature for inspiration. One rule which is kinda cool: “If the object casting the shadow be of the same color as the subject upon which the shadow falls, the the shadow itself is darker than the shaded side of the object casting it, and it is still darker than if it falls on an object darker than itself. When an object casts its shadow on another object of a lighter color then the shadow is lighter than the shaded side of the object casting the shadow”. Here’s a lot more info: http://www.drawinghowtodraw.com/drawing-lessons/improve-drawing/articles/jsa-drawing-lights-shadows.html
7. perspective, I haven’t explored too much. But this seems to be a reasonably good article from the youtube vids I’ve explored. http://drawsketch.about.com/od/perspectivetechdrawing/tp/perspectiveindex.htm
8. Most people are atleast already vaguely familiar with rules of composition. Rule of thirds, golden ratio and such. No point jumping into another complicated topic right now.
Additional notes: To draw humans well, you’d also need a working knowledge of human anatomy along with an intuitive understand of how the body will look like in various poses. To aid this there are again a bunch of ways you can practice starting with drawing everything from an anatomy text book to doing quick 30 second sketches of the human body in a dynamic pose.
All in all, it’s a lot of work / fun. Get sketching!
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