29 July 2009

Scientists Explain Swinging of Arms--Moseying and Sashaying Still Elude Human Understanding

Thought this news item(LINK EXPIRED) was interesting. I had probably told you guys that the swinging of arms had to do with keeping one's equilibrium by providing a dynamic counterbalancing to leg motion. Evidently it has more to do with conserving bodily energy and providing a redirection of mechanical energy away from our vertical axis--to keep us from stressing our legs by bouncing up and down so much. Wait. I think I just explained that better than the article. I am awesome. Just as I suspected.

If you don't believe me when I say that paying attention to this sort of stuff (contrapposto, opposing motion, etc.) is essential for making your characters look alive and normal, consider how mysterious and impossible my late contemporary Michael Jackson's moonwalk looked. Just by raising a heel, the moonwalk confounds our expectations about how it looks when someone shifts their weight from one foot to the other.

We can grasp the idea of a foot sliding back, sole pressed to the floor, until a King of, say, Pop throws in the apparent shift of weight to the sliding foot, by lifting the opposite heel! This triggers what scientists call the whatthefuck centers of our brains. Looking at that clip, BTW, I am utterly convinced that MJ's loafers were artificially stiffened--like a pretty ballerina's shoe--to further the illusion. How could the stationary foot possibly be the one his weight is on, our brains tell us--only the toe is touching and the shoe isn't even flexing! Ergo, it's clear Michael's on an invisible backwards treadmill. It's the only reasonable explanation.

All of which goes to show how deeply held are these unconscious expectations of human movement. Not so very different from the way we can precisely read an emotion from an expression passing over someone's face even if we have no articulatable awareness of the specific changes in the face that signaled it.

Incidentally, the moonwalk has been around since at least '20s icon Cab Calloway.


24 July 2009

Schedule for the wrap-up of the Semester

Hi, kids.
Monday 27 July: Reflection Assignment
Thursday 30 July: 2pt and 2PtV value studies for final, laid-out at-size drawing based on one. Pencil does not need to be finished, but the layout must be visible (i.e., the forms and the overall composition)
Monday 3 August: Finished Final assignment with tone. Color optional.

THIS APPLIES ONLY to the in-person section.


21 July 2009

You CAN see it till it's finished

I'm trying Assignment 11, the reflection assignment. This is definitely a WIP.
What I'm doing that's probably stupid:
  • I didn't do a bunch of thumbnails to start, so I don't really know if I have a workable composition.
  • As a result I've tentatively jammed the rough with diverse junk.
  • I've decided to make the room round, necessitating multiple VPs.
  • Stealing ideas for props from the Art of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Yes, the Disney version.
What I'm doing that's possibly smart:
  • Got out a big red-tag-table book on the Gothic Cathedral for ref.
  • I will put some big stuff in the foreground or die trying.
  • I'm doing 2-point mirror, 2-point object (basically) to keep it relatively simple.
  • I placed the horizon, VPs, her figure and reflection first, in that order. Everything else will complement them, with luck.
  • Subdivided the space between Queenie and her reflection to find the foot of the mirror, in effect letting them place the mirror instead of starting with her and the mirror and getting bossed around by them as to where to put the reflection. (Naturally, I did have to make sure she and her double lined up with my right MVP.)
  • Contrapposto: Having the weight-bearing hip be the near leg makes the leg appear longer, at maximum length and height. This will possibly minimize the unlegginess resulting from my using very ordinary proportions for her (I think they are a little more regal in her reflection). It also means, since the opposite shoulder rises, I can play down the height of the near shoulder, softening the dictates of the strong upshot, possibly avoiding a degree of hitch-shouldered gawkiness in her pose.


Sing it, Brother Loomis!

For my money, the best books on perspective are by Andrew Loomis. All out of print, as far as I know. Here's some material relevant to the Combat assignment, as well as just about any job you're likely to have in the future.
Hope you like my ADHD-friendly sherbet coloration.


14 July 2009

The Combat assignment!

Complete one line drawing in good proportion. Your drawing must show two people in hand to hand combat. Your characters may be engaged in a fist fight, a play fight, brawl or wrestling match. There should be no guns or remote weapons involved. Knives, bludgeons etc. are okay as they still involve physical interaction between the two characters. Poses should feel authentic and have movement. Identify the general thrust/direction line to your attacking and defensive poses.

Your characters should be drawn in proportion with each other and without clothes. You may use reference as inspiration for the pose you choose but make your drawing in different perspective from your source. This will lead to a finished illustration with costume and environment so now is the time to decide on your theme and the angle from which you want to view it for the maximum dramatic effect. Figures should NOT be cropped by the edge of the image.

This drawing should be roughly 10" x 10", neat with, strong simple contour lines. Take the time you need to perfect the anatomy, proportion and foreshortening of various body parts. When finished set your drawing aside and reassess it the next day.


Analyze the photos provided. You can see the lingerie smackdown is posed and fake, but how? What about the martial arts pix is different, and how can you get that in your homework? A lot of it has to do with how much the fighters lean into the action, and put their attention on what they are doing. And how much their opponents are lifted off the ground, how they lose control over what their bodies are doing. If you were drawing the two shaven posers really arm wrestling, what aspects could you borrow from the pic of the little boys to make it real?


06 July 2009

Assignment 6

Here's the assignment for next week:
Complete 4 nude figure drawings in good proportion using

1 point perspective – seated figure,
2 point perspective - reclining figure,
2 point vertical - walking figure.
3 point perspective - standing figure,

They should be a variety of ages and body types. Give your figures natural - not wooden – poses. Make your drawings as clear and neat as possible using one line for contours.

To handle the different body types, you'll need to gather some reference for inspiration and observation of consistent patterns in people's structure--never for copying of course.

Good luck, y'all,

01 July 2009

Drawing a Head in Two-Point Perspective

Hey, Everybody,
I made this animated GIF today to help with the next assignment. The first part of it should look very familiar! Click on it to see it animate.
Let me point out some things about the idea of the head in the box:
* The point is to regulate proportion and perspective.
* The head is inside the box except the ears.
* The front panel is touched only by the tip of the nose!
* I put the ears a little bit back of the vertical center line of the side of the box. This conforms with what I've observed.
* Remember that you are putting an egg-shaped object in a rectangular box. Visualize that. The biggest egg you could put in a box will not contact any corner or edge of the box, 'cause eggs ain't square. Not close.
* The proportions of the box are 2x3x3.
* Note that the centerline of the face follows the changes of plane in the face. It falls back from the centerline on the box, except at the very tip of the nose. But if you looked at the face exactly from the front, both centerlines would visually coincide to a single line.

I think this face is off--I'm sure you're agree. The mouth is too pushed-in and overly girly for what I meant to be a dude. But it's the lesson that counts, right? Right!

Here's the assignment:

Homework #6

Read/reread Ch. 9

Draw a human head in 1 point, 2 point, 2 point vertical and 3 point perspective. Make each head as realistic as possible. Use the methods you have learned so far to show the relationship between various features. Be aware that the face works on different planes and depths, the eyes and mouth are not on the same vertical plane for instance. This homework is a test of your knowledge of perspective and head proportion and anatomy.

Each head should be shown in a transparent box that shows the accurate use of the type of perspective used. Choose varying angles from below, above and the side, that show the details of the face as clearly as possible. Do NOT include hair, beards, hats, spectacles etc.

Each of your 4 line drawings should be 9" x 12" or larger.

It is strongly suggested you use photo reference to create a "mug-shot" of someone you find attractive: precise profile and front views, with boxes around each so you can see the proportions of the landmarks of the face and where they fall on the box. Use this to determine what is a head width to depth ratio that works for you.

Please do not just draw a head and then throw a box around it. I'm not that dumb, and you will learn less.



Your grade will depend on your understanding of the principles and constructions involved in the assignment as well as the complexity, accuracy and detail of your drawing. Composition, line quality, clarity and cleanliness will also be factors. Going beyond the call of duty is strongly encouraged as long as you remain true to the brief. Show what you are capable of.