A Sketch A Day (updated 20th Aug)

Edit - Latest sketches in post 23 http://blenderartists.org/forum/showpost.php?p=1451320&postcount=23
Edit - Recent picture

16th May:
Also, WIP watchmen pic in post 21


Never really been able to draw, so I’ve not done it much. I’ve decided to get drawing at least one sketch a day, and to try and make myself actually do it, I’m posting them up here.

I’d also really appreciate comments, crits (please be harsh :slight_smile: ) and tips if you’ve got em.

Started today with drawing some eyes (youtube clip I used as a tutorial: http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=GAi7cHiaf-U&feature=related).

Top one was first, then underneath it, bottom one was last (first one facing forwards though).

I’m quite happy with the second one, although the eraser had a slightly different colour that I only noticed after a while :). The bottom one looks lifeless, with a small iris and oddly proportioned eye. I’ll try and improve this tomorrow.

Thanks for looking :slight_smile:



Hey that’s pretty good!

Eye think you are onto a good thing. A sketch a day is what eye do too!

Hey, thanks man.

Sketch 2: a face. I tried an eye from the front again, I prefer it over the last one. I copied it to make 2, and then had a go at a face.

I’m quite happy with this, only a quick piece and the proportions are off, but it’s recognisable as a face :slight_smile:

The eyes are too big & oddly shaped. Next time I’ll try and draw an actual person so I can compare the two.

Thanks for looking,


IanC, good job.

You need to think about light logic. Where is the light supposed to be coming from? How would it fall across the shapes?

For example: in the face, the two eyeballs and surrounding eyelids are surfaces of spheres. So there should be some indication of light and shadow as it falls across a sphere. In addition, the entire head is (for purposes of shading) another sphere, which, since it’s larger, will also affect the shading of the eyeballs. Finally, the sphere of the head is modified by planes and projections – it’s not really spherical, so there will be edge shadows where the planes of the face meet in a corner. The bridge of the nose and the overhanging eyebrow ridge may cast shadows on the face (the nose especially will cast a shadow with almost any light angle except straight on.)

Photographs are often lit with several lights, including soft lights, to try to minimize shadows in the picture. This makes them bad subjects when you are learning this stuff. Try adding a sphere and a sunlamp to a scene (change the background to white or black) and then practice working on the shading. This is also good practice with cones, cylinders and cubes.

Orinoco, thanks for the comments, they’re very useful. I’ve been studying skulls to try to get the underpinnings right, and I feel that’s helped, but not how light falls on a face.

I’ve not really been doing the shading other than to stop it looking quite so flat/empty. I’d shaded the eye, then forgotten about it when duplicating it, so the shadows are on opposite sides as are the reflections :slight_smile: I couldn’t put my finger on what seemed so odd until you pointed it out, it’s glaringly obviously wrong now! So hard to see what you’ve drawn rather than what you intended to draw.

The eyes also are quite crosseyed. The shading hides this, because it’s a larger error, but I’ve just played around with the shading to correct this and the face looks really odd :slight_smile:

I also need to get out of the habit of drawing a line around everything and using shading instead.

I’m going to start studying some real faces/people. More sketches tomorrow :slight_smile:

Good work, I myself am an artist and here’s a useful tip: When you draw something, anything at all you can draw a pre sketch in pale blue pencil and you cand draw or ink over it. Whan you scan and print your picture the pencil won’t be printed as long as you draw lightly

Mr. MoeHawk, thanks. This is all done in GIMP, not on paper :stuck_out_tongue: I do have to get used to drawing in layers though, to separate everything out nicely. I’ll do another later on today, todays aim is to look into light, anatomy and use a real pic.

There’s an old Peanuts comic strip where Lucy offhandedly remarks to Linus, “I’m aware of my tongue.” and it drives Linus crazy all day. :evilgrin:

My first drawing class we spent a few hours on shapes, then the next six classes or so were about light falling on primitive shapes. Fortunately it was a night class, so when the instructor turned off the lights and lit the object with a flashlight it was really obvious what was going on.

One of the tricks to looking for light and shadow is to glance at the model. If you concentrate on the model, your eye adjusts to its light level and smooths out the differences, makes it hard to see where the transition between dark and light takes place. So look away from the model, then glance at it, and use your very first impressions as a guide to where the light is.

Interesting tip, thanks. The visual system does an incredible number of things before we perceive the image, picking out lines, edges, motion, etc. It does make it hard to see what’s actually there.

I’ve not had much time today, so I’ll carry on tomorrow. This is the current state though.

I’ve got the skull drawn underneath, not excellently proportioned. There is an overlay pic, which I’m fairly happy with. Most things are quite close, though the jaw is too long and the eye is waaaay too big.

I’m going to get the outlines better then try and draw this in another layer by drawing shade and light rather than lines.

Cheers for looking,


If I may, I have seen so many people try to start drawing like this, with the shapes and circles and stuff…

I know there are books that tell you to do that, but it’s really not that great for someone who’s just getting into the drawing thing. If you don’t know what shape it is you want to draw, you will tend to put a circle or a cube or whatever, and then conform the drawing to that shape. (note that when I say “you” i mean “all people” not just you you… I’m just generalizing here :P)

I’d say that the best things for people new to drawing to work on are control and sight. Contour Drawings, Blind Contour Drawings and just general still-life - simple subjects (I guess people work fine as a subject, but they are trickier to draw because you see people all the time, and your brain is telling you that something is in the right spot or is the right size and shape when it’s actually not the right saze / shape / right spot / etc.). In the overlay you’ve shown there are a few spots that are off by a lot. You mentioned the eye and the jaw.

Most people draw eyes too big, and the reason is because the eyes are something that most people pay attention to and know rather well. I’ll bet that that bigger eye was one of the fastest things to draw. You were probably pretty confident about it, yeah? The ear, tho, you were probably less sure about, so you were really looking at it and trying to make sure it was all sized up and lined up and correct-looking. And look at the outcome: The thing you were more sure of is off, the thing you were less confident about ended up pretty close to the image.

And that’s really the whole trick to drawing from reference. The trick is to look at everything as though you had never seen it before. There’s a lot of ways you can go about working on that aspect, but there one that I think would help you to not only learn the whole ‘seeing’ thing, but also will help your drawings in general. When you draw, try not to make little scratchy lines. Instead, try to make the exact line you want with one stroke. If it’s way off, then try that stroke again. Try not to erase mistakes and just try to make the drawing with longer strokes that describe the shapes you want.

The little chicken scratch lines are a pretty bad habit to get into. The thing is, ususally people do that when they’re REALLY trying to hit that line they want. Ironically, they could just do it with one bigger stroke and it would look 10x better - even if it’s not the exact line they wanted. It will look more alive. The more you work like that the more confident you will get, and teh more control you will gain over the brush or pencil or stylus or whatever other tool you might use. You don’t have to be fast about it tho. The important thing is that you try your hardest to make that one stroke count as much as it possibly can. Being just a little bit off is not so bad if you get a nice-looking line out of it.

Keep sketching and posting, man. I love to watch people start in on drawing. It makes me happy. I really wish more people took the time to start learning.

Sorry, no time today for another sketch, tomorrow will have one (deadline coming up == lots of work).

If I may,

Of course you may :slight_smile: I really appreciate the responses I’ve gotten from this thread, particularly from yourself and Orinoco, who I’ve followed closely & respect.

I’ve really taken in what you’ve said. I drew the eye such that it looked right, not so it looked like the picture. The ear, on the other hand … well I don’t know how to draw ears really, so I had to draw what was in front of me.

The little chicken scratch lines are a pretty bad habit to get into.

It’s hard to break though, because with a single line I can’t compare them. My thought processes go something like no no no no no yes LINE. They also enable me to draw much faster, and I find it incredibly hard to move my hands slowly and accurately. I don’t know if I’m setting myself up for more problems later though.

You don’t have to be fast about it tho.

Fast == smooth for me. Slow == jerky and jagged. I have very unsteady hands.

I do know what you mean though, and things being hard is really no excuse not to learn them. My brother is an excellent artist, and when he was taught he had to draw a person in front of him in 10 seconds. After a little while he was drawing the most amazing sketches, not accurate or complex, simple lines that together just screamed out person.

Maybe it would help if I couldn’t draw the detail, say with a larger pen (calligraphy pen probably)? That way I can’t focus on things that aren’t really important. I found this helped with my 3d sculpting (thanks go out to endi for that simple piece of advice).

Keep sketching and posting, man. I love to watch people start in on drawing. It makes me happy. I really wish more people took the time to start learning.

Will do, learning makes me happy too. If you have the time, I’d appreciate it if you could drop in on this thread in the future, I’ll update the title on the days I post new sketches. In a couple of weeks this will get a lot simpler, as my deadlines will have passed.

Don’t worry about the linelets. If you’re just beginning your hands will have very little confidence or practice with drawing, the important thing is to keep trying to draw the long lines as much as possible.

Also, the circles/shapes thing is not a very good idea to start with, much as Squiggly_P said. Artists who use these base shapes the most successfully are artists who already know what they’re drawing. Refining the complex 3d structures in their heads down to simple shortcuts that can be detailed once the over-all structure and balance looks right. Shortcuts only work if you know what they’re a short-cut to, however.

Don’t think I’m just talking, though. :stuck_out_tongue: If you want, very much, I will show you a couple old drawings I tried to make from shapes, back when I couldn’t draw. They are appalling, and drawing circles under them didn’t help me any more than it’ll help you, though you are in fairness slightly better than I was.

A couple references worth looking at, if you’re serious. ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ helps you practice drawing what the visual side of your brain sees as opposed to what the literal side of your brain understands to be there, and there are a bunch of books by a man named Andrew Loomis, available at several sites online now, that give some terrific instructions on drawing process and technique past the contour stage.

I once spent hours doing an exercise which consisted of nothing but drawing lines from one landmark to another – chin to knee, left knee to right knee, elbow to tip of nose, etc, etc, etc. Didn’t draw a single contour line, just location lines. In the end, after an incredibly tedious drawing session, we wound up with a negative image of the model, in a cage of surrounding hen scratch lines.

I too recommend Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, if you’re not taking life drawing classes. The book has some great exercises.

Ok, after an insane set of deadlines I’ve finally got some time to spare again. What I’d like to do is ask for some advice on things/styles to draw. Instead of just randomly drawing things (well, as well as randomly drawing things) I’m thinking of trying to set up a series of things to do.

Blind contour drawings? Do you mean draw things without looking at the drawing?

I’m interested in drawing & painting, so my plan is to take some simple shapes/basic objects and draw them repeatedly in different ways. Contour drawings are one, the other is trying to draw without doing an outline, just putting colours where they need to be (get myself out of the habit of thinking the world is outlined with black marker :slight_smile: ).

If people have any suggestions or advice it would be very much appreciated.

ZombieJohn, Orinoco, thanks I’ll look into getting that book (edit - £9 delivered? Done!) and have a good search around on the ol’ intertubes.

Thanks again all!

As far as subject matter goes, I say draw whatever interests you. In my opinion, if you can master the figure you can pretty much draw anything.
I have always had an interest in drawing, but what really took it to another level was the use of a “stick” (or crutch as I used to call it) to measure proportions and angles, this really trains your eye to see the relationships between parts, especially when there is foreshortening. You really have to fight your brain sometimes, because it wants to fool you.
Line quality is important, and when you are more advanced you can vary the weight of it to emphasize tension or weight. It is good to get away from sketchiness.
If you want to get away from drawing lines use a bigger brush and just start blocking in areas of value, maybe 5 values from darkest to lightest, and work the entire surface using progressively smaller brushes and more values, as if sculpting.
Also, don’t be afraid to work a piece. If you really love that eye or mouth but its wrong, it can’t be precious. Fix it.

Sausages, thanks :slight_smile: I had a look at your thread and it made me want to have a go at painting, so here it is.

Same reference pic, tried to work from large to small brushes, then used the smudge tool to sharpen & smooth areas. The face size is wrong, in an odd way. I’ve pushed everything away from the centre (not just scaled wrong), like a fisheye lens. I’ve corrected this slightly in one of the pictures to highlight the error :).

Oh, and the hand was completely wrong so I’ve erased it, I’ll have a go at re-doing this tomorrow.

It’s a bad painting, but I’m quite happy again since this is the first time I’ve really tried to paint something. I’ll do other things, then come back and paint it again, to see how far I’ve come (hopefully it’ll be better!).

Again, crits and advice really appreciated (it’s been great so far :slight_smile: )



I like the shading - it’s appearing like you are on the right track. And the most important of all - you have captured the atmosphere of the original brooding image with the nice play of shadow.

Ok, so I’m about 150 pictures behind on my sketch a day! I’d had a bit of a long stretch feeling crap and getting nothing done (also leading up to exam time, yet a-sodding-gain) so I thought I’d crack out the ol’ tablet.

Today, predator :slight_smile: After thinking about what to draw, I decided on something that would 1) look cool and 2) wasn’t a normal face. Due to my earlier failure to properly look at a face, I wanted to do something a bit different. Also, it means if I’m off it doesn’t look as bad (our facial recognition is amazing, and cries out when there are small problems).

This is a WIP, but I’m quite happy with it at the moment. The shape of the head is slightly different (more contours) which was kinda chosen as an alternative to spots, since I felt I’d probably make it too busy. I might still add those.

I’m quite happy with proportions, the shading needs some work, but mainly I’m thinking of working on detail now. I don’t think there’s anything severely wrong with it atm, though when it’s not 1am I might think differently!

I’ve uploaded my painting and an overlay of the original for a comparison, done by lining them up and doing an even scaling up of the image to be the right size. This is the first time I’ve overlapped them, they’ve been at different scales while I was working on it, so I’m really quite happy with the lineup. The scale is wrong on one of the ‘fangs’, which explains why I thought it looked a bit weak.

As always, comments and criticisms are extremely welcome. Please tear into this!

Thanks for looking,


(small) Update, improved head shape slightly, added detail and highlights.

New pic. Working on a human this time, trying to recreate a scene from watchmen. I’m currently learning that CLOTH IS HARD!

Attached is pic and reference picture. The colour is all off, and the head a little squat but so far I’m reasonably happy. C&C very weclome :slight_smile: