Week 34: Painting Learning Paradox

Personal Ramble: Late post. I shouldn't consider the vlog and the blog to mirror each other. They should be thought of different mediums. And hence, require a different mindset. Thinking of both as the same this week caused me to have a questionable vlog- and also a lack of blog post.

Lately, I've been understanding painting a little bit more.

From taking Bill Perkin's Composition class at Concept Design Academy, I've become able to read images more fluently. This idea relates and goes back to art as a language. But essentially, when you learn to read images more fluently, you can deconstruct elements of the picture and understand how they are contributing to the overall whole.

With the picture as a language background/foundation in mind: I watched Marco Bucci's Painting Fundamentals video. I had seen this video before, and thought I understood completely. But now with increased painting knowledge I can more fully grasp what he is saying.

The Learning Paradox:
You Must Know An Idea BEFORE You Can Learn It,
but you Only Learn Ideas You Don’t Know

There is a paradox called the learning paradox. It's along the lines of "You must already know an idea before you can learn, but you only learn ideas you don't know".

Essentially when you 'really' know something you are able to fully articulate it. However, there are some things we think we know, but cannot explain it well with words. There is just a vague and ethereal 'knowingness' without complete rational justification.

Matt Moody a social psychologist with a Ph.D. in Social Psychology & Family Sociology, answers this paradox. He writes:

The key to unlocking this conundrum is in distinguishing the difference between Experience-Knowing, Word-Articulation-Knowing, and Whole-Knowing:
— http://www.calldrmatt.com/AskDrMatt-1237_Learning_Paradox_Explained.htm

Moody then explains that if you don't have any experience pertaining to the specific 'Word-Idea', then you cannot have the lightbulb of 'whole-knowing'. I think of it as, if you don't have a fuzzy cloud of experience in your mind, when words of electricity pass by, it has nothing to ignite. Concepts and ideas cannot spark in a vaccum. word-ideas will fly right by you, because you do not have the anchor of experience to ground them.

Whole-Knowing occurs when there is a cycle of words, ideas, and experience, building ones knowledge.

Reflecting back to painting- I could only ever understand what I had an experience of.

Previously, I had not looked at much art, nor understood visual elements. Therefore, without the experience, I did not have much mind haze in the realm of painting. Even though I had previously seen Marco Bucci's video, yesterday's second viewing taught me alot. On first viewing I thought I understood it all. But now I see it again with a cup more of art experience, his ideas spark 'whole-knowing' moments.

**Moody notes that this type of learning heavily reflects a conceptual type of knowing. The type of 'knowing' that involves mechanical learning, happens more directly in the experience of doing.

 Door County Afternoon Gouache 5 1/2" x 11" by Richard Schmid

Door County Afternoon Gouache 5 1/2" x 11" by Richard Schmid

The more you know about something. The more fun it can become.

'Till next time!

-Mark

Week 30: Vlog begins!

I'm so excited!

I had an experiment during the week on monday night. I couldn't sleep and so I thought about making a vlog. It excited me so much I jumped out of bed and begun scrawling ideas on paper.

 

Video 1 is where I try get experience creating videos. Just wanted to try something easy to get the ball rolling. Just wanted to begin.

"Just post something. Get started." etc.

Video 2 is scripted. I know in future I want to explain things. In this video I try do so.

I don't think Video 2 was very successful. But it was a great learning process. I learnt the essentials of after effects while creating it.

Video 3 is a reaction to Video 2. Instead of trying to formalise and create content- I take a back seat. I talk to the camera, and edit my thoughts into a video. I feel it reads much clearer than video 2.

This is today.

A vlog on vlogs.

Looks like these vlogs are being defined as a public learning process on how to vlog :)

Week 29: Wrist Issues begin

Every artist I've met in the last week has their own wrist issues story.

How do I know this?

It's because I've let them know that I'm developing my own wrist troubles.

In response to my wrists issues, I am met with an aged story. They recall the tale of how they've developed their own wrist issues. How they deal with it. How to be ergonomic.

Wrist exercises. Stretch. Frequent breaks. Draw from shoulder. The advice is the same from every person. Ways to reduce symptoms.

End of the day, just 'gotta live with it right?

-Mark

Week 28: Line + Value + Colour ≠ Everything

I thought it'd be an easy, three step process to learn art. When I first started learning art, it seemed so simple.

Line refers to drawing lines in perspective. If you learnt 'line' you could draw any object.

Value refers to the way light reacts to objects. If you learnt 'value' you could greyscale render any object.

Colour refers to the colour objects and scenes are. If you learnt 'colour' you could light any object.

I thought with these three things you could theoretically paint anything in the world. Draw an object, and light it. You'd easily then become an amazing concept artist.

The idea was along the lines of this:
Step 1: Line
Step 2: Value
Step 3: Colour
Finish.

However reality hit.

Experience and new knowledge has been acquired since those beginner days.

Line is related to value, and value is related to colour. The image as a whole is a combination of all these things. You can draw with value. Paint with lines. And describe 'value' shifts with colour.

Art is not as fundamentally straight forward or fragmented as the outlined 3 step process.

It is obvious now, but it appears as though everything is connected in ways that I did not previously understand.

While the 3 step method outlined above does make sense- it completely negates how to learn line/value/colour.

For example, 'value' mastery is gained when you control it in a composition. It is not knowing how to render every object in greyscale.

An image is a picture making process. Therefore the whole picture must be considered. Composition and structure become important. There needs to be a simplification of the scene. Knowing how to fully render all materials is only a skillset. The structure of the full image will fall apart without an overall value structure. I now believe that knowing greyscale is not just being able to render any object to completion. It's how to indicate forms/mass within a decided structure. The larger total image is the first and foremost priority.

Till next time'
Mark

Week 27: Willpower as a muscle

download.jpg
How does a mechanic solve the problem? He begins by trying to identify the specific conditions that trigger the noise. Is there a screech when the car is accelerating, or when it’s shifting gears, or turning at slow speeds? Unless the mechanic can give the screech a context, he’ll never find the broken part.
— One of Walter Mischel's favourite Metaphors

The last week I had been feeling a bit demotivated and unsure on work to be completed. While there had been work to do, unconsciously I perhaps realised that it didn't completely align with my goals. Instead of doing art work, I would instead begin learning trumpet and guitar. I would look into rap. I would be doing things that did not move me forward in my immediate career path (Something I currently value for financial reasons).

To remedy this I have re-evaluated my one year goals, and hence been able to narrow my short term goals.

Furthermore, I had noticed my willpower had also been declining. Something that needs to remain high.

To hone my willpower I've been training through exercise.

Something as simple as setting a goal of 100 situps in a row is challenging. Even though my body would like to give up at 20, I push through, I struggle. After the session I can be satisfied with the strife. The next day, body soreness acts as confirmation of struggle and success.

The willpower and satisfaction then transfer to my work. I become more motivated when doing tasks. The previous exercise literally tells my body through soreness "You are growing". It's reassuring and motivating. There's a feeling of growth and improvement carried into the work I do. It makes the challenge of work more appetising to conquer.

I've been understanding for myself the idea of "Willpower as a muscle". I've known this idea for awhile, but these last few days I've been putting it into action. So far it's worked out well.

'Till next time!
-Mark

[1]: Walter Mischel Quote: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/05/18/dont-2

A good read on willpower: Don’t! The secret of self-control. Jonah Lehrer http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/05/18/dont-2

Week 26: Architecture and Games

Skybridge, by Daniel Dociu

...if Dociu’s buildings and landscapes are spaces that tens of thousands of people have experienced – far more than will ever experience whatever new home is featured in starchitects’ renderings cut and pasted from blog to blog this week – then surely they, too, should be subject to architectural discussion?
— Geoff Manaugh, 2008

One reason I've begun studying concept art is due to its effect on me growing up.

Living in suburbia, I was never much exposed to the city life. The grand buildings in architecture magazines were irrelevant. The way the city functions was a mystery I had no desire to understand.

Instead, the more important gesture was the spaces in which people can interact.

I grew up playing video games. In an MMORPG, thousands routinely witness the same space. They interact within the game, playing, and enjoying themselves. The greatest space for interaction was not in the realities of architecture- it was online.

Therefore it makes sense that I want to contribute to the interactions of the virtual realm.

 

Geoffrey Ernault made this VR environment last night. Damn. I would like to do that too.

Someday...

Anyway- 'till next time!

-Mark

Week 25: Simplification

Lately I've been thinking that good picture making is about being simple.

Perhaps it is due to the way we perceive the world.

The Big Picture writes:
"Let’s start with a simple yet somewhat counterintuitive truth: we don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as it is useful for us (from an evolutionary perspective).

Our brain works like a filter lens. It filters reality in such a way that makes us aware of certain elements around us that are useful to us (for our survival generally or in a particular situation) and unaware of other elements that are less useful.

This means that our brain does not work like a camcorder – it does not passively receive sensory information. Rather, it dynamically shapes what we perceive with our senses through the lens of evolutionary biology – for our survival, generally – and through the lens of cognition (memories, emotions, judgements, intentions) contextually." [source]

We understand the world through a lens. We don't take in all sensory information. Instead we only track what is important.

If we try show everything within a visual medium- will the viewer be able to understand? It would not reflect the way we view our everyday lives. The artist wishes to convey a visual idea to the viewer. Therefore when presenting work, or image making, should we not be as focused as possible? When image making, should we not simplify reality for the user to easily digest what we are saying?

If the artist wants others to understand their vision, they must be able to simplify the idea so others can understand.

Till next time!

-Mark

Week 24: Learning in non-accredited schools versus university

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Learning is nicer when you choose to learn.

I currently attend two 'trade schools'. Brainstorm School, and Concept Design Academy. Both of which teach art. I define them as 'trade schools' as you go to learn a trade. Unlike regular colleges or other institutions, there are no certificates for completion. At both Brainstorm and CDA, there are no degrees or diplomas. The reward is expertise in the student's skill.

At a university there is always pressure to finish an assignment. There's a task to be completed. And it must be completed to receive a passing grade. You are enrolled to pass exams and receive a certificate. The greater the grade, the shinier the certificate.

At Brainstorm and CDA, there are no penalties for not completing an assignment. There are no formal exams. in these trade schools I am in, learning is the fundamental goal. If the student does not complete their work- nobody cares. It's the student's choice entirely to do homework.

I feel that this mentality is better than academia. Within academia the grade comes first, and learning is an afterthought. Would you rather score 90, learn little, or 49 and learn alot? From my experience, it's a no brainer within academia. Take the 90.

I always work towards my future learning and benefit. Therefore I am learning much more in the trade school. With the removal of grades or expectations, I feel freer in my learning process. There is no pressure to complete 'busy work'. Instead I choose my own assignments that I think will give me greatest value for time. Time can be customised per situation.

I study at any institution I think I will learn the most. I choose the amount of work that I do. There are no guidelines for my curriculum. Gosh. I hope my Frankensteined education will work out. We'll find out for sure by Week 100!

Till' then, one week at a time.

-Mark

Week 23: The entitled complaints: 'The Hardest Part of Travelling'

 is this 'travel' yet?

is this 'travel' yet?

This is the stereotype I think is rapidly shaping our generation: (20-30).

"The Hardest Part of Travelling that No One Talks About" discusses that the hardest part about travelling is getting back home and being different. It highlights how nobody understands you. Once you have travelled, you learn to let go of previous inhibitions. However, when you return you're distraught to find yourself not wanting the same things that you did before. You've changed. And nobody can understand that.

Nobody at home can understand you after you've travelled. You've grown. Now you are so very very special.

Everyone tries to be themselves. However, I feel as though many entitled middle class kids are blaming the wrong target. If society doesn't conform to their ideals, the topic of individuality is brought up. Society doesn't understand. The trendy 'character' of all 'unique' 16-30 year olds have been unjustified manifestos. However, more frequently these days it feels as though there is a new 'god-source' cited for any self-important character. 'Travel'.

Bragging with travel has become a new form of currency.


The article seems to have an air of elitism. It ostracises those who have not travelled and frames those who have as beyond the commoners understanding.

The following are excerpts and responses from the article:

You’re glad everyone is happy and healthy and yes, people have gotten new jobs, boyfriends, engagements, etc., but part of you is screaming don’t you understand how much I have changed?
— KD

The author compares new jobs, boyfriends, and engagements to travelling. Travel is great, yeah. But author KD screams at everyone how much they have been changed by travel. A tantrum guided by misunderstandings.

You want everyone to recognize this and you want to share and discuss it, but there’s no way to describe the way your spirit evolves when you leave everything you know behind and force yourself to use your brain in a real capacity, not on a written test in school.
— KD

This last sentence can be extrapolated to say:
"Travelling made me use my brain in a real capacity. I have escaped. I am awake. But I cannot explain it to you".
Thanks KD.

It’s like learning a foreign language that no one around you speaks so there is no way to communicate to them how you really feel.
— KD

When you learn a foreign language and return back to a 'home city', it is very likely you are not the only person who speaks the language in the city. I think it's an issue of knowing where to branch out and look for new friends. Find people who can understand your newfound 'travel language.' Just because your 5 closest friends don't speak Spanish, doesn't mean there aren't 37 million in your country who do.

Just because your current circle of friends appear to not understand travel the way you do- doesn't mean everyone in the world doesn't.

This is why once you’ve travelled for the first time all you want to do is leave again. They call it the travel bug, but really it’s the effort to return to a place where you are surrounded by people who speak the same language as you.
— KD

There is a mystique/romanticism to foreign cities. Does this mean that home doesn't have anyone else who has travelled? Yet,  other cities do?


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In saying this rant, I know plenty of amazing people who 'travel' around and aren't shoving dogma down other's throats. They are absolutely lovely people.

But I feel like the whole 'travel' idea is moving to the extremities of an elitist cult.

The travel cult motto blasts at everyone "Those who have travelled are enlightened. Those who have not, will never understand."

But the sad part is once you’ve done your obligatory visits for being away for a year; you’re sitting in your childhood bedroom and realize nothing has changed.
— KD

That's one thing they got right. Nothing changed. You're still like the rest of us.

Human.

Thanks for reading ya'll! Peace!

-Mark

(P.S. If you're in the travel cult and believe everyone needs to be enlightened, perhaps check out plato's cave. You'll feel good about yourself :))

Week 22: Huion 680S Review concept art

 if you request i'll take my own photo.. Sorry ya'll.

if you request i'll take my own photo.. Sorry ya'll.

I lied. This isn't a review. However there's a lack of information online for this subject, so I thought I'd write a small contribution for the internet.

The Huion 8 x 6 Inches Digital Graphic Drawing Tablet.

This is my first Huion product. Overall I think it's amazing. I've had it for one week and have used it twice. I currently main a 13HD Cintiq as my go to. I've bought the HUION 680S as a 'portable tablet' as the Cintiq is a pain to bring around (The Cintiq requires me to bring power cables).

Originally I would like to do a video walkthrough of the tablet, however I will probably never get around to it. Therefore I may aswell post something small and get it done now.

Quick thoughts on the Huion 680S:

  1. It's amazing.
  2. Never going to buy a intuos again. Intuos is a waste of cash. (This is an exaggeration)
  3. Drivers were a pain in the arse.

I primarily use the HUION 680S for concept art.

I think the Huion 680s is amazing. The feel of the pen is great. The pen nib it comes with actually compresses into the shaft. Therefore when drawing you can feel a difference with different pen sensitivities.

(Note that the pen uses a AAA battery. There is an on and off button [where the eraser on a wacom pen would be])

I prefer it more to my old wacom intuos 4. This may be huge bias from price. With the intuos i'm careful. WIth the huion I can slap it around and be happy.

End. 4/5 stars. (Minus 1 star for driver issues. Pain in the arse to setup and troubleshoot.)

If you have any questions about the Huion 680S you can comment or send me an email at hi@markdt.design

'Till next time!

[edit 22nd July: Huion is still amazing. However, sometimes pen pressure doesn't work. So heads up!]

Week 21: Standing desk.

 makeshift standing desk

makeshift standing desk

Two days ago I decided I wanted to try a standing table. Instead of 'investing' $1,000 I thought it'd be a better idea to use old furniture lying around.

The result is me using a dresser, cardboard box, and giant drawing clipper, to create a working standing table.

So far it feels pretty good! I'm changing my posture often. I'm stretching left and right. I'm curling in my spine inwards and out. Protruding and contracting my chest. etc.

The biggest benefit however, feels like its on my trapezius.

 location of trapezius [ source ]

location of trapezius [source]

I usually have tight traps, but standing all day feels like it's bringing it down and relaxing it.

This may be placebo. We'll see how I go in the coming weeks/months.

P.S. I also updated last week's post. Week 20: Ideas on Writing and Drawing

'Till next time!

-Mark.

[edit: The standing table lasted less than a week. My feet hurt and I was getting discouraged/distracted from drawing due to being uncomfortable.]

Week 20: Ideas on Writing and Drawing

First posted May 23rd, 2016
Edited May 30th, 2016
 

Firstly, I could be totally wrong on this idea. I am not the greatest drawer. In fact I'm not very good at all. However, I am confident in drawing ideas for myself to understand.

I am also confident in scrawling writing for myself to understand. Sometimes in a lecture, I need to write fast to get my notes down. What results is messy handwriting. I can read the scrawled words. But nobody else can.

 generic image of non-rigid 'messy' handwriting  [source]

generic image of non-rigid 'messy' handwriting [source]

Drawing is a skill that follows the language of 3d space. It can be learnt by understanding objects in 3d space, and knowing how to represent them graphically in 2d space. Drawing as a language is a huge topic and will not be further discussed in this post.

Both drawing and writing create marks on paper to be understood. They both have their own frameworks in which they exist. There are rules one must follow to lay within the realms of the skill.

For example, in the case of english, 'messy doctor's handwriting' still attempts to be readable within our language. Although marks such as 'B' may look rushed and scrawled- they are still the doctor's way of writing 'B's.

 example of awesome non-rigid drawings  [source]

example of awesome non-rigid drawings [source]

Likewise, in the realm of drawing, there are some who drew messy, and some who draw neatly.

Depending on who you are, you may enjoy non-rigid drawings. Or you may dislike the 'messy' quality. It is personal taste. Both neat and non-neat drawings articulate the same language.

 neat handwriting example  [source]

neat handwriting example [source]

The above example of neat writing was used when the author wanted to write their CV by hand. It seems to have taken much time constructing. I can only imagine how much faster it is to jot down thoughts quickly, rather than painstakenly craft each letter to be neat. Is there a tradeoff between being 'neat' and writing fast?

In Alla Prima, Richard Schimid writes: (As pointed out by Jeff Fan)

I can certainly work in a splendidly loose and simple way and still be exact. Why? Because exactness is about where I put my brushstroke, how large or small it is and what its shape is. Looseness or tightness is how I place that on my canvas — what my ‘touch’ is.
— Richard Schimid, 1998
 Extract from alla prima [ source ]

Extract from alla prima [source]

In this statement Schimid denotes two ideas in painting. Looseness/Tightness and Exactness.

It is my understanding that looseness refers to how a painting can be imbued with life and energy. That tightness refers to completely accuracy. And exactness refers to how intentional each mark is.

When I use the terms 'neat' and 'messy' in handwriting, perhaps I am referring to Schimid's 'exactness'.

When you're writing fast there is less time to be exact. You pen is moving as fast as your arm can pull it through. You're thinking about the words, rather than the individual letterings. You rely solely on muscle memory in order to get the correct letters down.

 alphabet practice [ source ]

alphabet practice [source]

Perhaps the reason why writing at very fast speeds retains any sense of legibility, is due to hours spent training the motor skill.

For sure, in primary school or kindergarten (for those academically trained) we have meticulously copied our individual letters. We have then practiced these letters in writing words. And only after much experience have we decided to try write as fast as possible.

Have you ever seen a kinder-gardener write legible words? They do so very slowly.

 kid writing [ source ]

kid writing [source]

Perhaps we could do the same for drawing.

Are there exercises for drawing?

Yes! I think there are!

Perspective Grids. Master copies. Boxes in perspective. Colour studies from life. Value studies. Material studies. The list goes on...

 drawing lines over each other 8 times. [dynamic sketching exercises from my own sketchbook.]

drawing lines over each other 8 times. [dynamic sketching exercises from my own sketchbook.]

In fact, one of Art Center College of Design's most famous courses is 'Viscom 4' (Visual Communication 4) [Now also known as Dynamic Sketching]. Originally developed by Norman Schureman, this course breaks down drawing into basics. Students are given homework such as drawing individual straight lines, curved lines, and circles. They practice the 'alphabets' of drawing.

Perhaps drawing legibly and fast is the same as writing. First we must practice the fundamentals individually until they are instantaneous muscle memory. Then we strand together different fundamentals together. And only then can we draw fast and well in a legible manner.

 muscle memory [ source ]

muscle memory [source]

 Generic image of a 'tight' line drawing made in computer graphics program rhino.  [source]

Generic image of a 'tight' line drawing made in computer graphics program rhino. [source]

There is a purpose when one writes. And there should be a purpose when one draws.

Some write for the beauty of writing. Calligraphy. Some draw for the beauty of drawing. 'Art'.

 chinese calligraphy [ source ]

chinese calligraphy [source]

 

However, some write as fast as they can to get a message down. They are tipping the dynamics of neatness/speed balance, 45 degrees along the slope of the speed axis. They are hitting breaking point on being legible for the sake of writing quickly.

And that's okay for it's purpose.

This post wants to acknowledge 'messy' and non-exact drawings to be legitimate in their own manner. They are not trying to be neat or pretty. They are a quick sketch and scrawled attempt to get an idea down hastily. In turn, this combination of speed and neatness is unique to each individual. It creates everyone's unique 'style' for each individual moment and purpose.

And that's okay too.


Thanks! If you have any thoughts, disagreeing or agreeing, I'd love to know!

-Mark.

Week 19: Gamification of life. Art as a game.

On Tuesday I bought watercolours for the first time. I paid $70. Some video games are $70.

Buying paints reminded me of buying a new video game.

Except, unlike the usual video game that is completed/exhausted under 100 hours- painting would last forever.

Life as a giant game

Picking up a new profession or skill can be like playing a new video game.

The benefit about these skills, are that they never expire.

In World of Warcraft it was once cool to be the maximum level of 60, lead guilds through giant dungeons, and slaughter your foes. You would be feared in the allied lands, be famous in your hometown, and have a community of friends to back you up.

However, lets fast forward time.

Sometimes, the skill and dedication put into WoW doesn't translate to life as well as a non-gaming skill.

Don't get me wrong though, I LOVE gaming. I think it's very valuable for many people.

People scoff about gaming being a useless skill, and I'm not one of those. Owning a guild in WoW and managing your clan teaches you much about relationships and politics. e.g. "Who do I appoint admin?" "James is a good player, but he cannot lead teams and welcome newcomers..." "If I appoint someone newer to the guild, James will be pissed at me that his rank was 'overtaken'". "I'll have to talk to him about it.". There's a lot of invaluable communication skills that can be learnt in game.

Another example would be buying and selling merchandise in a market where prices are known by word of mouth (Runescape). In game you can sell 'rune essence' for 30 gold pieces rather than 15gp. But how long will you have to wait for a buyer? At 30gp it would take awhile to sell, but 15gp would sell instantly. Would the time spent trying to sell at a higher price undermine your total time spent in general? Would it be more efficient use of time to sell lower and just manually acquire more resource? There's much to learn about bargaining and time management.

The skills learnt in gaming are important. But at the end of the day the actual game will expire. It's sad but a undeniable truth. Games are rapidly developing. Most were never made to be played forever.

However, what about a skill like 'art'? Or dance?

These are more tangible skills to real life. If you become a master painter in art- not only does the game never 'expire', you can get paid!

You can play the art game with friends and gain experience within the craft. You move from beginner to pro. There's different skill levels and different geographical levels. It's an unending game with limitless possibilities. How exciting!

In fact when you become good at a few different games, you can create games within games. For example if you become good at the programming and art game, you can make a virtual game.

Perhaps virtual games, i.e. video games, are simply a sub-game of real life?

Video games are cheaper to invest in, and easier to progress. However they cap easily. When you've played GTA V for 10 hours, you're getting to an intermediate level. When you've been painting for 10 hours, you're probably still at level 1. Contrastingly, when you've played GTA for 200 hours, you've by and large finished the game in it's entirety. But, when you've painted for 200 hours, you're still a long way to finishing. GTA V is a large game. But painting is a larger game that never ends.

Yay.

Till next time homiesz!

Week 18: Efficient Art Learning

 

Edit 22/05/16: I have just reread this. Later, I will get back to this post and fix it up. Both content and writing are incredibly bad. Read at own risk.

 

The fastest way to learn art*:

I will build upon this post/idea later when I have 'gotten good'. However, for now it wouldn't hurt to write what I currently think my biggest 'breakthroughs' in art* are.

I feel as though this list could be applicable to many as I started from 0 knowledge in art.

I did not draw lots as a kid. In fact- I did not draw at all! "What a waste of time" I thought. Instead, I just played video games and rode BMX. 

Therefore I started from 0. Perhaps milestones in my path would be a good reference for others. Maybe someone will learn something from my journey.

When I started art I tried to find the most efficient way to learn.

Yes, we're all different and we all learn differently.

But this is data and information for yourself to analyse. It's always your choice to determine what you think is important. Never 'do' or 'copy' a process blindly. Understanding is 99999x faster for building long term skills. Always understand when you learn.

*Definition: In the context of this article 'art' means concept art. Or specifically "how to draw and paint cool things out of imagination so it's understandable".

Level 0: Perspective

Line Drawing in perspective by disney for 101 dalmations

History: It took awhile for us as a race to understand perspective. The most accepted idea of when we learnt perspective was in 1413. Filippo Brunelleschi traced outlines of Florentine buildings on a mirror. He noticed convergence. After other artists saw this, "nearly every artist in Florence and in Italy used geometrical perspective in their paintings". (Source: Watch more on this subject). Perspective became exponentially more used. Before that images didn't really understand perspective. That's why old paintings sometimes look 'weird' to the 'average person'.

Perspective is important because it helps you understand the world in 3D on a 2D surface. For learning to represent objects, you need to understand the rules of perspective. I personally think it's the most important thing to learn, as without perspective you can never truly and accurately represent objects in 3d space. Without learning the understanding you could always guess how things work. However, why guess? Perspective doesn't take that long to learn lol. You'll better understand how the world works with spacing and form. It truly is an invaluable skill.

You can learn perspective in many ways. Here are two resources that I like/used:

In addition, Scott Robertson has also done a Gnomon video and a book "How to Draw". I have only heard good things about both resources.

I personally read the Perspective Drawing Handbook first. I skimmed through and tried understanding the subject. It made sense to me at a superficial level. However, it took some time for the idea of perspective to harden in my mind. What really helped me was the CGMA course. After being 'forced' to do the exercises over two months, the ideals became more solid.

However, even after the CGMA course I still didn't have as well of a grasp on perspective as I do now. The reason for this is because it's simply a matter of 'practice'. I didn't 'practice' perspective by itself per se, but I did use perspective afterwards whenever I were to draw an object. The constant 'passive' use of it in all my drawings helped me further understand.

You should learn all about 1 points, 2 points, 3 points, Fisheye, Horizon Lines, Plotting Shadows for any Shape, Drawing Any Shape in 3D in perspective, and How to section/cut any shape. When you're done with that... Yay. Level up!

Level 1: Viscom. Dynamic Sketching.

drawings showing the 3 step viscom approach

For people who previously never knew how to draw, I've heard many say "This course changed my life".

So this guy called Norm Schureman used to teach a class called Dynamic Sketching/Viscom at Art Center. Art Center is like the Harvard of art in the concept art world.

In this course you'll go around drawing many objects from life. It's an extremely foundational course. By the end of the program you'll be confident in drawing any object from life. (Perhaps except people :P People are a whole new category of drawing).

The class is taught in real life at:

  • Concept Design Academy (CDA), [CA,USA]
  • Art Center (Obviously) [CA, USA]
  • Online at CGMA.
  • It is possible to self learn for free. I've heard there are videos online.

After this course I became confident drawing. I knew I could get a small resemblance to any object I wanted to draw. Organic object or hard surface. It didn't matter. The course is about the simplification of all objects. When you've learnt some principles about simplification, it then translates to every object you can think of.

Level 2: Shading. Rendering. Black and White. Scott Robertson.

Now is probably a good time to get into value.

https://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/tutorials/how-to-render-matte-surfaces-1

Lets hit the gnomon dvds with Scott Robertson's Matte Painting series. A series of 3 videos that goes from shading planar shapes, to curved, and finally complex shapes.

The main principle to take away is Form change = Value change. And Value change = Form change.

I know a guy who spent half a year practicing and learning from these videos/concepts. Afterwards he could realistically render in black and white, any object in existence and from imagination. Because he had done dynamic sketching and understood perspective, he could also draw and object too. It created a feisty skill set!

(?)Level 3: Shape/Graphic Read/Composition

 Robh Roppel. Graphic LA.

Robh Roppel. Graphic LA.

This is probably where I'm at with the learning process. I don't want to comment on it prematurely. I'll further write up more when "I've gotten good". But to progress so far I understand it to be along the lines of "Drawing from Life", "Creating focal points in compositions", "Simplification of Shape", and "Graphic Read".

(???)Level 4: Colour and Light

Nathan Fowkes

I'm not really up to this level yet so I can't comment. However here is a list of resources I have found so far to be amazing:

  • Schoolism: Fundamentals of Lighting with Sam Nielson
  • Schoolism: Designing with Color and Light with Nathan Fowkes
  • Schoolism: Painting with Light and Color with Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo
  • Book: Color and Light. A Guide for the Realist Painter by James Gurney
  • Book: How to Render by Scott Robertson

Theoretically after these 4 levels you can understand 3d objects on a 2d plane (level 0), draw any object (level 1), render in black and white (level 2), create a pleasing image (level 3), finish with emotional appeal using colour and light (level 4). Now you can take over the world.

Other levels:

Sketching for environment.
Looking at course curriculums.
Figure Drawing
Character Design
Form language/design
B&W Value studies
Colour Relativity
Colour Relationships
Breaking down each category.


That's all I got for now!

Till next time!

P.S. Somewhere along the journey (perhaps around level 3) you'll probably decide to 'specialise' or choose what you like to draw/paint. The main categories I've encountered are environments, props, and characters.
 

Week 17: Traditional Skills for a Digital Life

 Proun 19D -  El Lissitzky  1920

Proun 19D - El Lissitzky 1920

SInce last week I have dabbled within traditional media for the first time. I was inspired by Nathan Fowkes' Paintings to try watercolours. Wanting to try watercolours for myself, I invited a friend over so I could use her palette. It was disastrous. I had neatly sketched out a perspective of my room- only to have it completely fuzzed by lack of any skill or understanding with the brush.

I hated the medium. I detested it. It showed me that I was not suited for the painting lifestyle.

While I'm clearly exaggerating my bitterness towards painting, my feelings did indeed lie on that spectrum. The disaster that occurred with my image reminded me of previous 'failures' in my childhood days.

Like many others in primary school, I also had a time where I had access to paint and was allowed to splash colour on paper. But the paintings never represented what I had in my mind. I couldn't even fathom how one would be able to paint dragons with these 'painting' utilities. In my mind I knew it wasn't impossible. People could indeed paint great things with what my former 6 year old had infront of himself. Except I couldn't. I was the 'bad' variable. Other people could do it. I couldn't. I didn't like painting. Painting sucked.

 You gave me this as a kid with no real instruction. I was put-off by the non objectiveness. Therefore I went back to my corner and wrote algebra equations for myself to solve. Math had real solutions.

You gave me this as a kid with no real instruction. I was put-off by the non objectiveness. Therefore I went back to my corner and wrote algebra equations for myself to solve. Math had real solutions.

After my recent traumatic experience with watercolours, I had a different friend come over. I completely forgot I had invited him to paint with me. If I had remembered I might have cancelled. I definitely wouldn't want another bad painting experience!

But this friend was a real painting guy! Jeff Fan Artist! He understood how painting worked!

We went to a grocery store carpark and he showed me the ropes of watercolour. 'The wash'. 'the bead'. 'amount of moisture on paper vs palette'. Many foundational painting concepts that I had no idea about.

That day my painting still sucked. But I was happy with it! I had learnt! I had progressed!

Since that day the concepts of traditional art have been exponentially growing in my mind.

I'm beginning to really understand what 'shape' means.

From my understanding shape is so important within traditional mediums because you must be careful of every stroke. A human does not have to be anatomically correct in a distance. It's 'shape' just has to read. Shape is about creating shorthand for reality.

The shape idea is such a simple concept- but I never understood it before as much as I understand it now.

In addition, the grouping of values becomes more important. I've always known this since day 1. In the digital land there are 0-100 values. Whereas in the traditional world I only had access to 3 different markers. I was forced to group values and objects.

By grouping my values the images turned out better. Instead of things looking worse by a limited marker range, the simplicity of information made the picture read better. Image making follows a 'graphic' read.

Summary:

I had heard many times about digital artists trying traditional mediums. Their reviews were always positive. Their feedback was always along the lines of "It just helped my digital painting." But artists never really tangibly broke down what aspects helped them. Here I briefly mention that I learnt more about shape and value. I would love to write more but I like shorter blogs. If I am to touch upon this subject again it would be focused and with intent.

'Till next time!

Week 16: I got sick! But still happy!

 The world a lil' blurry right now

The world a lil' blurry right now

Hey I got sick!

Usually I'd be pretty sad because I have so much 'work' to do. But I feel good anyway!

It's the end of term. I have no commitments. I can do as I please! :)

Life's pretty good at the moment for me actually. I'm learning skills. I'm going at a fast pace. And I'm going completely at my own pace.  I have enough time to learn. I have enough time to 'play' (Learn breakdance, or music). There's balance. Life is good.

On art:

I'm currently doing Jama's narrative/storytelling course on learnsquared. It's great. I'm learning to design and see in 'shape' rather than 'line'/perspective. By doing so I feel as though my drawings are becoming more confident.

In addition I'm also taking Sam Neilson's lighting for concept art course on Schoolism. It's tangible and awesome.

Till next week!

Week 15: Being involved

 Life's getting cosy

Life's getting cosy

I usually post weekly on a Sunday. Today is Thursday. I'm 60% overdue!

But it's because I've been so entangled in life hey!

Concept art is just movin'

Tutorials are just grovin'

Life is 'a winning.

Here are some works that I've done recently:

A schematic drawing of a story building. The octopus and the snail in the bottom right corner are the characters. The octopus is part of the underwater mafia and is bringing the snail to the top of the building to play mahjong.

Self Critique: Make section lines thicker

A train blimp moves through the desert.

Self Critique: Graphically clean up some elements. Many things left unclear.