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  • Focus and Direction

    I grew up drawing comics with a guy that went off and became a freelance working for Marvel and DC. It made me feel all kinds of awkwards about my art. I was always told I was good, but...

    I'm just starting a program at my local community college called Adobe Master Design Program. I've taken Illustrator, Photoshop and I'm in Advanced Photoshop and Premiere. I've side-stepped into Lynda.com for some After Effects and additional Illustrator and Photoshop knowledge.

    I've done pencil (some pen) work at almost every point in my life.

    But I can't get over something that seems to be crippling me.

    Copying.

    I stopped drawing because my comic characters would have misformed hands, or arms, or legs... and not always at the same time. I would get it mostly right in one drawing but be 5-year-old-with-a-crayon-off on one piece of the character.

    I'm not making sense. Forgive me. lol

    If I use a reference for any piece of art that I create... I can't enjoy that art. It feels copied.

    And by reference I mean looking at a picture while I draw all the way through tracing something.

    It feels like I cheated.

    And now I am in classes where they are teaching this.

    I mean, is this how art is made? Does everyone use a reference? All the time? Just sometimes? Mainly? Rarely? ARGH!

    I cannot explain to you the mental block on my art that I have with 'copying.'

    I never want to 'cheat' at my art... but then, I've been told that short of duplicating someones work with little to no effort on my part (photocopier) and claiming it as mine... you can't 'cheat.'

    So here I am. Is there an opinion out there? Anyone got anything for me?
    Ugh.

    I feel like a teen-angst-character from a bad cartoon.

  • #2
    The skill of drawing what you see is difficult and a learned skill. It takes practice. It's even more difficult to render proportionately from memory without a reference. Most professional illustrators use reference. There's nothing shameful about it.

    If you want your proportions to be perfect without using a reference, you are just going to have to practice a lot. Maybe a lifetime.
    Last edited by designzombie; 03-21-2013, 04:24 PM.

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    • #3
      Just buy a Bendable Bob and or Bendable Becky for your desk. You'll always have a subject to reference.
      Design is not decoration.

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      • #4
        Thank you both.
        It seriously bugs me... especially since the main artist I look at and am amazed by uses references... so I don't know where my glitch comes from.

        I'm here to grow.
        I joined up after watching a Lynda.com video on Marian Bantjes... blew my mind.
        Her font work is stunning...
        Last edited by randomblink; 03-21-2013, 05:13 PM. Reason: forgot minor pieces

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        • #5
          Do as much life drawing as possible. Keep drawing something until you "know it".

          Depending your area, you may have a Dr Sketchy group near you. I highly reccemend them as a fun out of school drawing session. I've drawn models dressed up as comic book, movie, fairytale and tv characters.

          In your own time, draw in front of a mirror, or take photos of your own body. We have 2 hands and we only need one to draw. I used to sketch my left hand in different poses and from different angles. Once you draw a position a couple of times, it's done and sealed. You know that angle.
          It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" – Winnie the Pooh

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          • #6
            Thanks Buda. I've recently fallen in love with a new app on my phone called ToonPAINT that gives me a GREAT comic book style look of any picture I take. I've started doing what I used to do when I was a kid and drawing these toonPaints. Mimicing them. I drew a pic of my daughter last night and was kinda impressed with it. Not awesomely, but it was good looking and (of course) the wife and kids thought it was amazing... lol. (great cheering squad at my pad)

            I'll start doing that... I want to get rid of this block.
            I want to start playing with color.
            I want to watercolor... and acrylic... and textures... and... and...

            need like 3 more lives.

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            • #7
              Visual references are never cheating.
              Even Michelangelo used live models for reference when creating his art.
              There are many reference books out there that show the human body in foreshortened views.
              The Muybridge camera stills books are invaluable for things other than humans.
              Most of the Hogarth drawing series books are also invaluable for dynamic human form and things other than musculature.
              There's even one where they painted the model with muscles to show how muscles interact in foreshortened views, a great reference for doing comic superhero work (though the thing about superheros is their aspect ration is about 1 head taller than the normal human-get Marvel's drawing book to learn more.)

              Links:

              http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_no...Ck%3Amuybridge

              http://www.amazon.com/Atlas-Foreshor...foreshortening

              http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_no...ogarth+dynamic

              http://www.amazon.com/How-Draw-Comic...foreshortening

              http://www.amazon.com/Visualizing-Mu...muscle+drawing

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              • #8
                One of my best friends is an editorial cartoonist for a newspaper. He's won all kinds of national awards for his work, has published books full of his cartoons, and has done very well. He can draw most anything right out of his head. He rarely uses any references other than seeing something, then being able to draw it days or weeks later. It's really sort of amazing to me.

                On the other hand, he can't seem to draw anything but cartoons. When he tries to draw something serious, it looks like a cartoon. He occasionally tries to design something, and it's always awful, garish and cartoony.

                I guess what I'm getting at is that different people have different talents and weaknesses. People who draw for Marvel or DC have one set of skills. People who paint portraits have another. As PrintDriver said, Michelangelo used references and models, as has nearly every painter and illustrator who has ever lived.

                Plagiarizing other people's work is a very bad habit, but I see nothing wrong whatsoever in using references, models, photos, etc., to draw from. Norman Rockwell, for example, would pretty much begin many of his illustrations as completely set up and carefully composed studio photographs before using the photos to draw directly from.

                It's really the end product that's important. The various possible routes it takes to get there are mostly matters of choosing which approaches work best. Insisting that legitimate drawings can only be the product of drawing directly from one's memory of how things look seems a bit OCD or, at the very least, mistaken.

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                • #9
                  Measured drawings and grid-overlays are useful to use in conjunction with and from your references. It comes down to all your methodologies, if you only use copying / tracing from photos without life drawings and plien-art sketching then yes you can truly consider it "un-ethical"
                  Just start drawing and sketching the build-up of experience in all forms of this important.
                  "After all is said and done, more is said than done."
                  Aesop

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                  • #10
                    Here is an example of a measured drawing using a grid system to "transfer" the image from a photograph on which I placed a mylar grid on top. Using the grid allows you to scale up the sketch to the finished dimensions on your canvas. Use that as a final cartoon to transfer a concise scaled composition.

                    Last edited by MikeHun; 03-22-2013, 02:01 PM.
                    "After all is said and done, more is said than done."
                    Aesop

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                    • #11
                      I don't know where I got this in my head. Maybe my buddy would do this occasionally, where he would read a comic and then draw the characters dead on? I don't know... but it stopped me dead from continuing my art until now. So... at 41(-ish) I'm starting to draw again and I'm excited about it.

                      BTW those links are amazing man. I'll be looking into those for sure. Much appreciated.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by <b> View Post
                        Plagiarizing other people's work is a very bad habit, but I see nothing wrong whatsoever in using references, models, photos, etc., to draw from. Norman Rockwell, for example, would pretty much begin many of his illustrations as completely set up and carefully composed studio photographs before using the photos to draw directly from.
                        I think that if I had gone to school for art I might have learned these pieces of wisdom you all are tossing my direction. I just never felt like I could. So... now I've finally given myself permission.

                        But you summed it up. Plagiarizing is my worst fear. I want to feel like my idea came from within me... and wasn't cloned from someone else.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MikeHun View Post
                          Here is an example of a measured drawing using a grid system to "transfer" the image from a photograph on which I placed a mylar grid on top. Using the grid allows you to scale up the sketch to the finished dimensions on your canvas. Use that as a final cartoon to transfer a concise scaled composition.
                          I got into Mobile development and had an app I never finished that would grid out a drawing just for this reason. I keep forgetting that just because my phone can't 'do it' natively that I can still do it manually... ugh.

                          Great point and art.
                          Last edited by randomblink; 03-22-2013, 04:29 PM. Reason: filled in missing piece

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                          • #14
                            You could just go Rob Liefeld and hide the hands and feet in all your drawings lol
                            Some advice is profound, some is clever. The above post is a good example of both.
                            http://www.pedrospracticaljokes.blogspot.com/

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MD View Post
                              You could just go Rob Liefeld and hide the hands and feet in all your drawings lol
                              Don't do the muscles and proportions though. Fairly sure most of his drawings have people with broken backs.

                              One thing I would suggest you try is the Shrimp Method - it starts off using tracing and referencing, but shows you how to get past that. It's basically how you should approach something you're not good at drawing and using tracing and references in order to fully understand the shape. With that understanding of the form of the object, you can translate that into recreating it in your mind and putting that down on paper.
                              Portfolio // Behance

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