Author Topic: Tutorial: How to Draw from Reference  (Read 41573 times)

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Offline Great Distance

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Tutorial: How to Draw from Reference
« on: June 22, 2009, 12:02:07 pm »
Introduction

Drawing is seeing. Whether you are looking at a real life object, a photograph or a video, everything you need to see is right there in front of you. You can see the perspective, you can see how the object is lit and you can see the form and the colors of the object. Unlike when you are drawing from the imagination, there is no need to guess any of these. In fact, you don't even need to understand any of these to produce a good-looking drawing. Of course, the more you know, the better you'll be able to draw in the future. But you don't need to know anything to start drawing from reference. You only need to be able to look at things the correct way and copy what you see on a piece of paper. That doesn't sound too hard, does it?

But then when you do start drawing, things somehow do not turn out the way they should. That lovely elf maiden you saw in a gaming magazine ends up looking like your old grandma and that cool motorbike looks like an inarticulate mess. Usually the main problem here is that you have messed up the proportions. Maybe you've tried correcting the mistake a million times but you just can't seem to find the source of the problem. Or maybe you've had the drawing sit inside a drawer for a day, and the next time you've looked at it, the greatest drawing you've ever made suddenly looks all wonky and messed up. So this is what we are going to focus on for now. Proportions.

Proportions

Everything you see has proportions. If you mess this part of the image up, the form and perspective of the object will also get more or less screwed up. Wrong proportions can make things too tall, too wide or distorted in any number of ways. Before you start drawing, you might want to check for any outside causes of distortion.

Perspective distortion

Perspective is one of the most common causes of distortion in drawings. For example, if you have the reference photo on the computer screen in front of you and your drawing laid out on the table, the perspective will cause distortion in the final drawing. It will look somewhat like this:


So even if it looks like you have done a perfect job, you might be surprised when you hold the drawing next to the reference picture. The perfect drawing suddenly looks... not so perfect. This is why you should always try to find a way to have the drawing and the reference image on the same level. If you have your reference photo on the computer, it would be ideal to do the drawing on the computer as well. Likewise with real life photographs and pencil drawings. You can put those next to each other on the table.

Of course it isn't always possible for you to draw on the computer when your reference image is there. Fortunately there are some other ways to solve the distortion issue. You can always try holding up your drawing so that it's next to or below the reference image. If you can't find any comfortable ways to do this, you can still put the drawing on the table, but just remember to look straight on at both images. This of course means you'll have to move your head up and down a lot.


By all means don't just sit back and relax in your comfortable chair. That causes the most distortion of all.


Of course if you find a way to have the drawing and the reference picture on the same level, you get the best of the both worlds. Making good drawings doesn't have to make you uncomfortable.

Lense distortion

Lense distortion happens when you have bad eyesight and need strong lenses to make up for that. If you look at something near the edge of the lense, you will see that a normally straight line will appear curved. Likewise the position of an object will look different near the edge than in the middle of the lense or completely without glasses. There aren't many solutions to this, but you can try making sure that the lenses cover as much of your field of vision as possible by pushing them up on the nose and closer to your eyes. This helps to make the undistorted area in your vision as large as possible. If the distortion near the edges really bothers you, you can try moving your head more than your eyes when drawing and therefore keeping your sight in the undistorted area. Smaller reference images and drawings also help to keep the distortion caused by wearing glasses to a minimum.

Drawing the correct proportions

So let's assume you've eliminated all outside causes for wonky proportions. Now you can start concentrating on the drawing part of getting your proportions correct. The first thing you need to know is to trust your eyes. If your drawing looks wrong, it most likely is wrong. The best you can do is try to fix the mistake and not make the same mistake the next time around.

Now how do you spot the mistake? And how can you make sure you don't screw up again the next time? The most important thing is to know how to compare you reference image to your drawing. Keep your eyes moving between the two images and look for differences. That is how you will see where something is going wrong and you'll be able to fix the mistake in time. For if you leave too many mistakes in your drawing, chances are they will only keep building up. I'll explain exactly why this happens later on.

For now I will focus on one of the more specific ways to keep your proportions correct.

2D shapes

When looking at any photograph, you'll be able to pick out a number of geometrical shapes in the picture. Finding these shapes is essential to getting your drawing correct, so pay attention. I will use this here photograph as an example.



Most people are be able to find the geometric shapes that have a clearly defined edge in the picture. I will call these existing 2D shapes. They can be circles, triangles, rectangles, pentagons, any number of polygons. These existing 2D shapes are usually objects or parts of an object seen in the picture. In either case, they are something you would consider physical objects if they were in a 3D enviroment.


There is also another type of 2D shapes. These ones I like to call imaginary 2D shapes. They are not defined in any way in the picture, nor do they exist in the form of an object. The purpose of these shapes is to measure the space or distance between objects. The official term for these is negative spaces (thanks Gec). I prefer to use mostly triangles for this, but technically any polygon will do. I do not use round shapes, however.


Both types of 2D shapes are just as important for your drawing. Generally the more shapes you can find in a picture, the better are the chances of your drawing being accurate. This is because you need to be able to find the same shapes that you see in the reference picture in your own drawing as well. If even one of the shapes doesnít match, this means you have made a mistake. More shapes mean you will be able to spot more mistakes and correct them.

First and foremost you need to be able to understand these shapes and all the things that go into getting them right. Only accurately copied shapes will give you accurate results. If you want to spot an incorrect shape in your drawing, you will first have to learn to spot the mistakes within the shape itself.

Triangles

Triangles are something you will use a lot in the future, so we will start with those. One of the advantanges of triangles is that you can use them to form any other polygon. They are the basic geometric building blocks. But first, letís take a look at what a triangle is made of.



Lines
All drawings consist of lines. The lines that you have drawn down are the only ones you'll see in the end result, but during the drawing process you'll also need lines that will not be drawn. I will call these real and imaginary lines. A triangle can consist of both. This could cause your "triangle" to look like two lines connected in one end or one line and one dot.

If a shape consist of one or more imaginary lines, it's an imaginary 2D shape.

length: The length of a line directly affects the shape of the triangle. If you mess up the length of one line, at least two angles and one other line in the triangle will be incorrect.
angle: The angle between two lines directly affects the shape of the triangle. If you mess up one angle, at least two lines will be of the wrong length and another angle will be too big or too small.

Dots
Basically the dots mark the ending point of one line and the starting point of another line. Drawing the dots instead of the lines can be useful for many reasons. It can be because you want to draw the lines later on, but need something to mark the spot for now, so you can use it as a reference point for other lines. It is also very common that there simply isn't any line to be drawn between the dots. In this case the line is an imaginary line. Imaginary lines are useful when you need to measure the distance between two objects that have no existing lines or shapes connecting them.

placement: The placement of the dots is a direct result of the lenghts and angles of the lines in the triangle. The lines can be real or imaginary.

Other polygons

You can divide any polygon into triangles. Let's take a look at a couple of examples.


This is a very basic quadrangle. You can choose to divide it into two or four triangles. Usually you'll only need two triangles at a time. The extra line added by the division can be used to measure the distance between two dots in the quadrangle. In the middle picture you are measuring the length of the line that connects A and C. This can help to make sure that A and C are in correctly placed in relation to each other. You can do the same with D and B.


In this case you can turn the quadrangle into a triangle. This is very useful in simplifying the shape. The more simple the shape is, the less things you can get wrong. You can also add a line between D an B, which helps in measuring the distance between those two points.

The lines, dots and their properties that form a triangle apply with all polygons.

Circles and ovals

The problem with round shapes is that they are, well, round. They have no clear angles nor do they consist of more than one continuous line. There are also no starting or ending points for the line, so there is no correct place for the dot. Basically you could place it anywhere. There are, however, ways to work around some of these issues.


You can draw a line connecting the widest points of an oval and another one connecting the narrowest points. The lenght of these lines is measurable. The lines do not need to be drawn, they can be imaginary. Basically what this means is measuring the width and length by eye. Angles can also be found if you draw a few more additional lines. You will find that ovals of different shapes will have different angles. But the only information you really need to draw a circle or an oval is the width and length.

Because round shapes are lacking in information, I prefer to use angular shapes when measuring proportions. But sometimes you do need to draw round shapes as well, so you will have to practise on those, too. Round shapes are generally the most useful in the early sketching stages when you only need the rough position of an object.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2009, 01:13:09 am by Great Distance »



Offline Great Distance

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Re: How to Draw from Reference
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2009, 12:02:45 pm »
Drawing with triangles and other polygons

Now we get to the fun part! Drawing! Yayyayyay. Let's hope you were paying attention when I was talking about those triangles.

Note: You do not draw down the blue, red or yellow lines. These colors indicate the things you need to be able to visualize when drawing from a photograph.

Now how to get started. Let's say you want to draw the lovely toucan in this photograph:


First, you'll want to be able find all the shapes you'll need. And since we are using angular shapes, you'll need to find the angular spots in the image. These are the places where you can put the dots in your drawing, if you so choose.


After finding the most angular spots it's kind of like playing connect the dots. You choose which of the dots to connect and what kind of a shape you want it to form. Usually it's best to start with bigger forms. Here we have our first shape. It's a triangle.


Now you can start drawing. Let's take a look at how to copy the triangle.

You choose the place where you start drawing the line. Splendid!


Then you choose the place where you end the line. You can't compare the angles yet, so you will have to put your faith in measuring the length of the line correctly. You can, however, compare the angle between the line and the border of the picture to the corresponding angle in your drawing. This will make sure that the two lines face the same direction. Here the angle seems to be pretty close to 90, so it shouldn't cause too much trouble. The blue line indicates the measurement you have done by eye.


Next, you draw the line. The beak of the toucan is curved upwards on the left side of line, so you put a little curve there. Remember that the triangle is only a guideline that exists in your head. You don't need to draw an actual triangle on the paper.


Then you need to place the third point of the triangle. You now have two other points you can compare it to. You can measure the third point's distance to both of the points. You can also see that if you drew a diagonal line through your third point, it would end up splitting the line you drew earlier roughly in half. These things will help you place the dot.


There's nothing more we can do with the triangle. Let's take another look at the angular spots in the image.


Here's another triangle.


We can use some of the same ways of measuring the distance as before. This time you can also see that the point is about halfway through the vertical line that goes from the previous point to the middle of the line.


Now I finally want to connect some of those dots. This shape here should help with that. I've got three of the needed dots down on my paper. I just need the last two and then I can draw the line.


But first we need another line. The dot here is only a little bit to the right of the middle of the line connecting the two dots. That's all the measurement you need.


The next dot needs a little bit more lines to get it right. Here we have a quadrangle that is divided into two triangles. The dot that is to be placed down is connected to three other dots. You need to get the distance between each dot that it is connected to correct. Visualising the triangles in your mind will help with that.


With all the dots in place, the line can be drawn.


I want to start giving some solid form to this bird. These are the forms that I want to get down next. These shapes are actually something I could have started out the drawing with, but in the end it doesn't really make much of a difference if you do things correctly. There really is no absolutely correct order in which to draw these things. The only general rule is to start out big and then move into details. And that's mostly to avoid the buildup of mistakes. But more about that later.


I suppose this would be a good time to remind you about the importance of getting the angles right. This is something you have to do all the time.


In this case you can skip the part of putting down dots as marks seeing that you could connect them right away, anyway.


This part can be drawn very much the same way.


Before you move onto the head you can conveniently connect the lines you just drew. But because you can never be certain that you've done everything just right, we'll look at another shape here.


Compare your shapes to keep things in check. The lenghts of the lines and the angles between them and all that jazz. That's what you have to keep in mind when doing this.


You can do the same with the following line.


Before moving onto the head, let's take a look at some ways to spot a mistake. You can choose to compare the lines you've done to one single point in the drawing. Usually when you're drawing, you'll only compare the lines you're drawing to other nearby lines. Choose something that's further away from the lines you've just drawn.


I spot some minor mistakes. You can probably find a lot more mistakes if you form other, new shapes that you haven't checked for yet. The more shapes you bother to form, the more mistakes you'll be able to eliminate. But I'm not in the mood right now. I'll touch the subject of making and correcting mistakes later on.


You should know how to use this shape as a guideline by now.


And so we do the beak as well. Here we have the outlines of the toucan. If you've managed to get everything right so far, you're in a good way. With proportions the biggest shapes are always the most important to look just right.


Here's the finished sketch. From here on you could continue by giving it nice, artistic lineart, shading it or coloring it.


Common mistakes

In the last section we mostly touched the subject of how not to make mistakes while drawing. But what do you do when you eventually do make a mistake? First, letís take a look at what causes most of the mistakes.

Incorrect measurements
Remember the You can measure the lenght of a line, the angle between two lines or the place of a dot incorrectly. Making a mistake with one of these is what most of the errors in proportions emerge from.


The mistakes will result in several parts of the shape to be incorrect. The kinds of inaccuracies that occur depends slightly on where you make the mistake. For example, misplacing a dot can cause two lines and all angles to be incorrect. One incorrect angle, on the other hand, could only cause one other angle and two lines to be incorrect. The incorrect areas are marked in red.


Make the correct measurements the first time around and you won't have to spend time finding and correcting those mistakes.

Mixing up your marks
You can put down dots in your drawing to mark a specific place in your reference photo. Now what can happen is that you'll eventually forget which dot marks which spot. The dots are usually placed on angular spots, because those are easy to remember and easy to see. Mistakes happen especially when the angular spot isn't very clear or you place the dot on a curvy line.



Making this mistake can cause various erros in your drawing. Because you connect the dots to form shapes, the shapes formed with a shifted dot will be incorrect. This is why you should avoid putting down dots to mark curvy or unclear spots.

The build-up of mistakes
So you have made a mistake and you haven't fixed it in time. This can cause your mistakes to build up until it's very difficult to find the source of all the errors. Let's take a look at how this happens.



The way the mistakes tend to build up is one of the reasons you should be checking your drawing for mistakes at all times. The proportions will stretch, rotate and distort in many ways if you donít fix your mistakes. If you catch your mistakes early, you have a chance to correct them before they do more damage.

How to spot your mistakes
Finding and correcting your mistakes is one of the most important things you can learn. You can and you should learn how to make less mistakes, but you will never be completely free of errors. This is why you should know how to find those errors and correct them.

More shapes
Earlier on I talked about ďexisting and imaginary shapesĒ. If you want your drawing to be as accurate as possible, youíll want to find a lot of both shapes. Now why is this?

Visualizing shapes help you to place down new lines on the paper. Sometimes when you do not get a shape right you arenít able to see that it isnít correct. This is when itís helpful to form multiple new shapes that contain the line youíve drawn. The mistake should be more noticable in some shapes than others.



Bigger shapes
In some cases bigger shapes will help you find mistakes. Bigger shapes are especially useful when your mistakes have piled up because youíve used too many smaller shapes. If you only draw one detail after another, you are guaranteed to make some mistakes. A lot of small shapes that are only connected to each other will cause even the tiniest of mistakes to be fatal as the mistake multiplies with every shape. This why you should, every once in a while, look for the bigger, more unifying shapes in your drawing.



  Donít use only the latest lines youíve drawn as the basis for a new shape
If you never stop to look at what youíve drawn, itíll be very hard to notice the build-up of mistakes. When you draw a new line on the paper, try to see shapes between that line and everything youíve drawn previously. This forces you to look at what youíve already drawn. Itís important that everything you draw is correct in relation to everything else youíve already drawn.  If even one of the shapes doesnít match, that means youíve either made some mistake previously or that youíve made a mistake with the latest line youíve drawn. Stop and find the source of the mistake to prevent them from accumulating.

Make no compromises
Itís either right or it isnít. Sometimes when youíve drawn a shape on the paper, it just isnít correct. When you then draw another shape that is somehow connected to that bad shape, you might be fooled into thinking that the new shape is the one that is faulty. Donít. If youíre sure that the new shape is correct, draw it correctly on the paper, even if that means the two shapes end up not looking correct together. Maybe youíll have to make them overlap when they shouldnít or they seem to be too far apart from each other. After you draw the new shape, correct the old shape, too.



Note that you have to be sure that the new shape is more correct than the older one(s). Check it and check it again before you draw it down and change the old shape. Being sure, thatís the most difficult part. You can use all the other methods you learned previously to help you with that.


And now some other tips and tricks that may help you to see where youíve made a mistake.

Hold the pictures side by side or one below the other one
Some people tend to make their drawings too wide or too tall. Assuming that youíve made your drawing the same size as the reference picture, you should be able to eliminate these issues by holding them next to each other. When the pictures are side by side, you should be able to make your proportions correct vertically. When one of the pictures is above the other one, you should be able to get it right horizontally.

Side by side:


One below the other:


Be careful with this method, because if the two pictures arenít exactly in the right places, you could end up making more mistakes than correcting them.

Flip the pictures around
You can do this in Photoshop or with a mirror. Looking at your drawing in a new way will help you to notice things you didnít see before.

Take a break and take another look at your drawing later on
Sometimes you get too caught up in the drawing process to see what mistakes youíve made. Take a break and come back later to see if your drawing looks any different. Sometimes it could help to look at it a few days later after youíve finished drawing.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2009, 01:03:48 am by Great Distance »

Offline Great Distance

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Re: How to Draw from Reference
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2009, 12:03:22 pm »
3D shapes

Photographs are basically 2D projections of 3D objects and environments. When youíre drawing youíll want your drawings to represent some sort of a 3D reality as well. Whether youíre drawing from real life or a photograph or even another drawing, you should be able to form an image of what the object looks like in a 3D enviroment. The basic 3D shapes and numerous variations of them can be used to build the 3D form of an object.

How can 3D shapes help me with proportions?
Generally drawing with 3D shapes doesnít have the highest accuracy in terms of proportions Ė especially if you are trying to only use the most basic shapes in the drawing. Most of the time itís also very difficult to try and use 3D shapes to measure the distance between objects. For maximum accuracy youíll want to use 2D shapes in unison with 3D shapes.

3D shapes do also have certain advantages. Personally Iíve found 3D shapes more useful when drawing from real life. When youíre looking at a real life object, even the tiniest change in the position of your head can cause the object to look different because youíre looking at it from a different angle. Now when youíre drawing with 2D shapes, this can sometimes cause significant errors that make the image look just wonky and wrong. With the basic 3D shapes drawn out the drawing might still not be completely accurate, but at least the perspective and the overall form of the object should look correct.

Partly this applies to drawing from photographs as well. 3D shapes are all about form and perspective. If you have trouble with those not looking correct in your drawings, you should look for the 3D shapes first and the 2D shapes later. As long as you get the basic 3D shapes right, your drawing will look somewhat correct even if it doesnít look exactly like the reference image. Which is often enough to make it good, as long as youíre not drawing a portrait or the like.

Iíve also found that it is much easier to make your drawing bigger or smaller than the reference when you are using 3D shapes. This is particularly useful when youíre drawing from real life, because some things are simply too big to fit on paper in the same size as you see them, so youíll have to shrink them. And since you canít use photoshop to do that, you have to do it yourself.

What other reasons do I have to draw with 3D shapes?

Besides proportions, there are numerous other reasons to use 3D shapes when you are drawing. You can learn which shapes you need to compose a certain object. Later on you can then draw the object from memory as long as you remember the 3D shapes. If youíre feeling very courageous, you can even attempt to draw the shape from different directions. If you only ever use 2D shapes to help your drawing process, it cab be more difficult to learn such things.

When you observe the things you draw from reference as 3D shapes, itís also possible to learn such things as lighting and shadows. You can observe how shadows form depending on the shape of the object. If you already know how shadows form on the basic 3D shapes, even better. Anything you learn when drawing with 3D shapes you can apply to the drawings you make from imagination. Basic anatomy, shadows, perspective, all those will be easier to learn with 3D shapes.

What 3D shapes are there?

The basic shapes are the cone, the cylinder, the sphere and the cube.


You can form new shapes by adding or reducing other shapes from your shapes. You can split your shapes in half or cut them into any number of pieces. You can form pretty much any shape this way. The details may prove to be more difficult, but letís not get there yet, right?


Drawing the basic 3D shapes

Now you know what they look like, but how to draw them correctly? You need to know some basic 2-point perspective to do this. Note that when youíre drawing from reference you may not actually need to understand this to make the objects look similar, but it will certainly help you to make it look correct as far as perspective goes. Meaning that even if you make a mistake, the people looking at your drawing might never notice it if they donít see the original picture. Of course this wonít cover up your anatomical errors and such, but whatever youíve drawn should look like it can exist in 3D space if you do it right. So letís take a look at how to draw these shapes in perspective.

Cube

First, you need the horizon line and two vanishing points.


You draw a line from the two vanishing points to one point of your choosing.


You select two more points and draw the lines to the vanishing points. Now you have a flat square laid onto the ground.


Next, you draw a vertical line starting at one of the points you chose. In the place where you end the line, you draw a line from both vanishing points.


You can do the same with the rest of the points.


Erase the unnecessary lines and you have your cube.


Cone and Pyramid

First, draw a flat square in perspective.


Draw lines through the pointy ends. Where those lines cross is the middle point. Draw a vertical line there.


If you connect the other end of the vertical line and the angles of the square, you get a pyramid.


Now to get a cone, you need to go a step back. Draw two more lines through the middle point. They should both end at the vanishing points.


Draw lines that connect the ends of the previous lines. Then draw a mark midway through... that line over there. You know what I mean. You can see the marks in the picture.


The marks help you to draw an oval in perspective.


Draw lines from the horizontally widest points of the oval to the end of the vertical line. There you have a cone.


Cylinder

You should know by now how to draw an oval correctly in perspective.


Draw vertical lines.


Draw the square and the oval inside it.


Connect the ovals with vertical lines.


Erase and you have a cylinder. As you can see, the ovals get thinner towards the horizon line. You should remember this as a general rule. It can help you out in some situations.


Sphere

 The sphere is basically a thousand circles with a similar central point. You could draw 2, 3 or more of the circles to represent the 3D qualities of a sphere. Here, we will draw two ovals in perspective for that purpose.


To draw the oval accurately, start with a rectangle in perspective.


Youíll need two rectangles. They have to cut each other at some point. I choose the central point of the rectangle for that purpose.


By drawing a line through the central point to the other vanishing point, you can draw the second rectangle so that their width is similar in one side. In this case we are drawing an asymmetrical spheroid.


Draw all the lines that you need in order to draw the ovals correctly. Iíll skip a few steps ahead here.


When youíve drawn the ovals, you can draw your spheroid around them.


The ovals act as guidelines on the spheroid. You might need these to place some features or just to grasp what the shape looks like in 3D.


Looking at the earlier steps, you can find some other helpful guidelines. The dot in the bottom shows the place where the spheroid touches the ground. The lines show the widest points of the spheroid in those directions.

On the other hand, if you donít need these guidelines for anything ,you could just draw a circle and call that a sphere. Certainly faster and a lot cleaner, especially if youíre drawing in pencil.

There are a lot more 3D shapes you can draw that are not mentioned here. You should experiment with drawing the steps differently to see how the shapes can change.



Drawing with 3D shapes

When youíre drawing from reference, you can see what the final shape looks like, but the steps that go into making it are up to you. You donít even have to complete all of those steps. Most of the time youíll want to get things done fast, so you wonít bother to do all the steps Thatís why you should do some separate studies on 3D shapes where you do all the steps right. This is so youíd understand what things are supposed to look like in 3D. It should help you to notice when things arenít going right when youíve skipped a step or two. After that you should also be able to go back and use the things youíve learned to correct those mistakes. So, before you start drawing from reference, you should try drawing some 3D shapes from imagination for practise.

Basically when you are using 3D shapes to help you draw from reference, youíll be looking for some clearly distinguishable 3D shapes. 3D shapes are only helpful when you are drawing objects -they wonít help you with the distance between the objects. For the placement of the 3D shapes youíll have to use 2D shapes, lines and dots to help you. What matters here is what 3D shapes you decide to use and in which order you draw them. You will also need to have some sort of an idea about where the horizon line is based on the clues on the image. If you are drawing a box, for example, you can determine the horizon pretty accurately, but with all shapes an accurate reading isnít always possible.

There are many ways you can go about drawing with 3D shapes. These are some objects Iíve drawn from real life using 3D shapes. I havenít drawn the horizon or all the guidelines, but you can see which basic shapes Iíve used to construct these objects.



Cons and pros of the two different methods

Iíve covered some of these already, but hereís a comprehensive list to help you decide which of the two methods will be the most helpful for you.

2D shapes

Pros
-This method is all about the way you look at things. When you learn it, you can get your proportions right very fast.
-This is the most basic method anyone will use. You will need it even if you are using some other methods to help you.
-Angular shapes are the easiest shapes to get right with this method.
-It can be useful for memorizing details for the times when you are drawing for imagination.
-You can memorize what something looks like from one direction.

Cons
-This method allows no mistakes. You need to search for them, hunt them and take them down. If you donít, your drawing will look wonky one way or the other. You need precision, you need perfection. One mistake can ruin the whole drawing.

3D Shapes

Pros
-This method allows you to understand the things you draw. You can memorize what 3D shapes go into drawing a specific thing. This allows you to attempt drawing that thing from directions that youíve never seen it in before.
-Your drawing can look right concerning form and perspective even if it isnít completely accurate.
-You can understand the lighting and shadows better.
-It can be useful when youíre drawing from real life.
-3D shapes are great when you want to learn to draw from imagination.
-3D shapes are best for drawing manmade objects.

Cons
-You need 2D shapes as well to get the most accurate results.
-If you complete all the steps, itíll get messy. Youíll need to use the eraser a lot.
-You canít figure out the 3D shapes completely accurately. At least, not the portions that are hidden from the view.
-You need to understand some perspective.

Final words
After, and only after, you have gotten the proportions right, you can start coloring or shading your picture. It's very important to get the proportions before you do anything else, because later on it can be very difficult to fix. Especially if you're using traditional mediums, corrections in the later phases can result in a lot of mess. This doesn't mean that corrections can't be made, just that it's important to get things right the first time around.

And finally, if you have any questions, you can ask them here. If you don't understand something or think that anything at all could be explained better, please do point it out. I haven't had this proofread, so there might be some other mistakes. You are free to complain about those. That way I will be able to fix them.

Also, if you want my advice on a particular drawing you've made, I'd be happy to help you out. If you can give me both the reference picture and your drawing, it's a done deal. I could also give out some advice concerning specific techniques on either Photoshop or in pencil.

I hope you found something that helps you. Thank you for reading.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2009, 01:07:55 am by Great Distance »

Offline martyk

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Re: Tutorial: How to Draw from Reference
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2009, 12:46:21 pm »
Awesome, awesome tutorial.  Incredibly useful, incredibly easy to follow, I give it the Martyk award of awesome tutorial excellence.
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Offline Dass

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Re: Tutorial: How to Draw from Reference
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2009, 01:14:47 pm »
Wow, just wow!  :o
Awesome tutorial, great help! Thanks!!
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Offline Andrew Ryan

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Re: Tutorial: How to Draw from Reference
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2009, 01:15:04 pm »
Thanks...

Now if I only had a tablet...
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Offline emmet

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Re: Tutorial: How to Draw from Reference
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2009, 02:04:22 pm »
Wow.

That's gonna be really helpful GD! Thanks!
No way dude, you're trolling me.

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Re: Tutorial: How to Draw from Reference
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2009, 05:09:22 pm »
Thanks...

Now if I only had a tablet...

Well then go get one. Mow lawns and sell lemonade and all that jazz.

Offline Veraal

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Re: Tutorial: How to Draw from Reference
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2009, 07:18:39 pm »
Sticky this.

From a glance, I think you draw by using forumulae and rules, I don't, but whatever.
I'll read through it.

Offline Flisch

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Re: Tutorial: How to Draw from Reference
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2009, 01:02:13 pm »
First off: Awesome tutorial, GD. Seriously great work. :D

Second, I don't think it's a good idea to sticky this thread. Does nobody remember what happened to the Spore General section? Stickies are either threads that should be read by new members first (like rules threads and guidelines) or summaries with links to several important threads. I think it would be a better idea to make a new sticky with links to different tutorials. This would make much more sense and keeps this section organized.
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Offline Veraal

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Re: Tutorial: How to Draw from Reference
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2009, 05:47:44 pm »
I've only seen two "how to" threads about drawing, this one and that dinosaur thing.

Offline Great Distance

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Re: Tutorial: How to Draw from Reference
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2009, 03:37:09 am »
Thanks...

Now if I only had a tablet...
You can do a fine job with traditional mediums. All you need is a pen and paper.

If you're going to go that way, I'd suggest oil pastels for coloring. Those have worked out really well for me.

From a glance, I think you draw by using forumulae and rules, I don't, but whatever.
I'll read through it.
Actually most of the 2D section is based on observations on how I personally tend draw. Over half a year ago I decided to really pay attention to what I do when I'm drawing from reference. I realised that I was always comparing the shapes I draw and the ones I see on the photo, and when there weren't any shapes, I looked for the angular spots and formed triangles, and compared those. Most of the time I don't even realise I'm doing it. But I've noticed thinking about it helps when I get into a tight spot.

I'm sure you have some way you've learned to look at pictures, whether you realise it or not. Everyone has to measure the distances between shapes and lines to make a good drawing. Everyone has to pay attention to getting the angles right. And everyone has to develop a way to get those things as accurate as possible.

The 3D shapes, well, I read about that stuff somewhere. I've been trying it out every now and then, but it's not my main method. I like to do things my way because it's faster and cleaner. I've been meaning to draw more stuff from reference with 3D shapes, though, because I tend to use 3D shapes when I'm drawing from imagination. I figure it would help me to draw better stuff from imagination if I drew stuff from my head and stuff from reference basically the same way. You know, unifying those two a bit. When you're drawing from imagination, you see, you need to know how the things you draw are constructed. This is why you should know 3D shapes and anatomy and such. If you can get a better understanding of those when you're drawing from reference, then you should be well off. Proper anatomy is pretty difficult to learn with just photos, though. You might need a book on anatomy to really grasp it.

Offline Flisch

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Re: Tutorial: How to Draw from Reference
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2009, 05:27:07 am »
I've only seen two "how to" threads about drawing, this one and that dinosaur thing.
I'm not only talking about tutorials about drawing but about tutorials in general. Also we will likely have more tutorials in the future.
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