Hey guys, I haven't logged in for FOREVER but just wanted to update and say not only did I finally get a job in the animation world, but I'm an art director so. Yeah. Exciting times, working at a start up!
Capilano University Commercial Animation Graduate
Visual Development, Art Direction
August 2012- Present Art Director at Rival Games
May-July 2012, August-September 2012 Freelance Character Designer at Ghostbot
2004-- Bardel Animation Inc, Story Apprentice
2008-present -- Freelance art commissions
Storyboard artist for Viva Pinata: Party Animals Trailer
I am an Art Director at a social games start up company, working on a comic anthology and starting up production of my own comic. Man life is really good right now wow.
I could critique each of these individually, but what I think warrants more attention in this lifedrawing post is that I don't know what kind of artist you are by looking at these. From being on this site for a number of years, it's been a very common theme for people to ask others to "push" their work, which is a very difficult thing to accomplish if you don't know what they mean. "Colour!" they cry, "exaggeration!" they yell from the rafters, but what is honestly most important from an animation life drawing portfolio perspective is showing yourself to them through a very precise artistic medium that is Lifedrawing. For example, look at any of Glen Keane's lifedrawings-- especially the ones where everyone looks like pocahantus-- because you can clearly see A) that these are by Glen Keane and B) that he is using lifedrawing as a medium to push his understanding of form and pose, and to help him work out how he wants Pocahantus to look.
Or he just really enjoys turning all girls in to Pocahantus, who knows.
What I'm trying to say here is that lifedrawing needs to be full of LIFE and the easiest way to do it is to look at what you enjoy drawing and try to apply it to your work. EVEN WHEN you're just starting to learn. I know there is a lot of pressure to come up with portfolio worthy pieces, but it is too much pressure to look at a model for ten minutes, psyching yourself out because you desperately need portfolio pieces.
Relax, think about what you want to show, and just do it.
Animation, from storyboarding to character design to animation itself, is all about facilitating the desire to tell a story in 2D that evokes an emotion with your audience, even if what they are looking at is just simply pencil on paper. Lifedrawing for animation is not just simply about how well you can look at life and plunk it down on paper, but also about how to take someone's essence and make it live on paper. I know, it sounds kind of ridiculously lofty, and I'm sure you were probably just looking for some pointers, but a lot of the time I find people who are just beginning to grasp lifedrawing spend a lot of time fiddling with line quality and trying to get the form down correct, when more time should be spent trying to get life down. Next time you're in a lifedrawing class, take a moment to really look at your model, and try to work out their story by the lines on the faces, how they pose, what sort of expessions they tend to use, if there is something about them that lends itself to characature. Then, hold on to the thing that makes this lifedrawing model not just a moving sack of flesh, and put it on your paper. Even if you continue to just try to get them correctly on paper, really looking at them and trying to understand them should help you when drawing, because you're not just drawing "old man hunched over" but a silly old man, or a really decrepit old man, or a old wizard or something.
What I can see with your pieces right now is that you're leaping in to colour because people have probably told you to include colour, or you've read it so many times. I can honestly say that the colour is not helping you out here, because you're focusing a lot on the shape of the contour and depending on lines, which makes the orange and green look like construction lines, rather than playing with colour. Wait to use colour until you can get the whole person in the amount of time you have for lifedrawing. That means feet and hands, and MOST ESPECIALLY, faces; faces are your best way to convey emotion from lifedrawing, and adding them in is huge EVEN IF they are stylized/just a happy face/ a shadow on their nose, etc. I'm not here to say you're using colour incorrectly because that would be douchey, just that it's difficult to work on too many things at once, and I think that if you don't include colour in a calarts portfolio you are probably fine if the black and white or sepia toned, etc, pictures you are sending evoke something in them. Colour is one of those things that EASILY evokes a reaction, but plain old lifedrawing can do the same as well.
The moral of this excessively long story is to relax, and try to find a way to make lifedrawing fun for you every day. Feel like doing clothed lifedrawing? Draw some clothes on the naked model-- teaches you to critically examine a form, and where clothing would fall on their frame, characature a face; when I had lifedrawing in school, all of the models we had had their own quirks and way of modeling-- we had a big barrel chested guy that always did strong man poses, a guy who looked like superman knew he looked like superman, so he usually posed like he was a superhero (that was hilarious); one girl often smirked and did a lot of sassy poses, another girl tended to do a lot of fighting poses or really sultry poses-- each of these people, even when doing generic poses, had something to bring to the table. We just had to see it for ourselves, and try to get it on paper.
My quick critique is to try to be a little more bold!
All the pieces seem a bit timid, some with a timid try at shadows, some with a timid try at curved shading, some with a timid try at colour! (though the last one, on the black paper, is a colour one that is the only one in your portfolio that uses colour to your advantage)
Honestly, really really try to finish lifedrawings from 3 min poses onwards-- and by finish, I don't mean to have a complete work of art, but I do mean to have finished what you have started. So if you began shading, have the shading complete. If you began to do some contours, make sure you're contours are complete! The best way to do this is to break things down and do a single thing over the ENTIRE piece, rather than starting from one area and extending outwards. You should be looking at the piece as a whole, not just one area; it's the same as drawing a face starting with the eyes and then realizing that you've run out of paper. Planning is everything, even if your plan is only "must draw all extremities!" or "must state the light source".
You are also free to take lifedrawings that you started and complete them-- this isn't cheating. I know, I know-- it feels wrong, like you're copying someone's answers, but I know my lifedrawing teacher wanted us to do it, and it's a great training exercise to be able to continue shading a piece without anything in front of you.
One thing I would definitely recommend is thinking about who YOU are, as an artist, and embrace that part of you, and let it show in your work. If you love drawing bright and colourful pieces? Lifedrawing should be no different! If you draw with a lot of lines or with no lines, if you prefer to draw things a bit abstractly, or super cartoony, don't be afraid of letting that show in your pieces. Look at Glen Keane-- you can ALWAYS tell a Glen Keane lifedrawing, because it's obviously his. And for better or worse, that, to me, is what lifedrawing to animators is all about. Drawing the soul of something, and putting a bit of your own in.
From what I understand about Calarts, it's just as much about being interesting as it is about having great lifedrawing skills. Since you're in a class with long poses, embrace it! Only take 15 mins or less for each, and try something new while everyone else is trying to do a fine art lifedrawing. Suggestions I can think of are colour, most definitely, drawing only the shadows (no lines!), contours, drawing him like he is a 3D mesh (this helps a lot in understanding muscles and how they exist in 3D), take in an anatomy book and draw the skeleton, the muscles, etc, to learn.
My lifedrawing teacher (and this was lifedrawing for animation) took us through each of those exercises, and more (some I can't remember!) It's all about being a quick draw, someone who can sit down and rock out 15 second poses and always get the hands, the head, the feet, etc in-- all the extremities. Be LESS worried about drawing the figure exactly as it is, and embrace the terrible looking drawings that you will surely produce at first when concentrating on these sort of odd concepts, because the more you try to expand your knowledge on shadow, on tone, on muscles and skeleton, and on colour, the better you become and the easier it is to get a human to look great, every time.
We used the Villpu method in class, and as I understand, the book is QUITE expensive (but worth it! Fantastic book) and I really enjoy how lifedrawing is broken down and it works MARVELOUSLY for animation lifedrawing. The most important tool that you can use for understanding how bodies work is boxes. We did this longer than any other method, because it really really teaches you how the chest and pelvis work, which are hard! All you do is draw a 3d rectangular cube for the chest-- same dimensions as the ribcage, so long and wide but narrow between the front and the back. This rectangle can bend and move and this is where you begin-- if you get the torso right, it's a lot easier to get the rest of the picture right. The pelvis IS the hard part, and it might be a hard explain, but i will try! The pelvis is drawn as a square cube but NOT on the same plane as the chest. If you're drawing someone straight on, the chest will be straight on to you, but you'll see about half of the top of the cube. It is important to remember that your pelvis isn't perpindicular, but at a 45 degree or so angle-- if you take a look at someone from the side, you can see how just standing we make an S shape (also a really brilliant tool for getting things drawn fast-- draw the S shape the model is doing (works best for standup poses) then draw the rectangles, and then the other extremities.)
A planar lifedrawing, showing both cubes.
I did a quick search and found some student lifedrawing showing the principle, but they were done wrong rofl-- that's unhelpful! They draw the pelvic box as if it's flat when it has an ANGLE-- and it's one of the simplest ways of really understanding how a body moves in space.
The HARDEST task my lifedrawing teacher set was to draw the model like we were sitting 90 degrees to our left-- and then after 5 minutes, i think, we had to move to that position and see how we did. I was really good at that (self props here) but I had a headache after class because you're using your spatial awareness and knowledge of how the body works to draw a finished lifedrawing, not just a sketch, of something you can't see with your eyes.
Hopefully some of this helps and I'm not confusing the heck out of you!