05 September 2011

Shadow Plotting and "The Law of Parallels"

For Assignment #2, I explain basic shadow plotting, and go over the Parallels concept that so much of Module 2 is about. Here, with the addition of a little jargon (sorry), I try to make clear when Parallels happen and when they don't, and then look at the practical application of the idea from the perspective of an artist as opposed to a viewer of photos.

None of this adds any new insight or concept on top of what's in the modules, but may help those who aren't quite getting on top of the ideas there.


04 July 2011

Sharing the "Wealth"

Here are some materials I did up for one of my directed study students today. She is someone who is already unusually aware of the little offsets and foreshortenings that make a face work in 3/4 view. The points made in these jpegs were offered as refinements upon that foundation.

Longtime friends and students may notice that one of these continues my almost-unhealthy preoccupation with eyebrows as indicators of dimensionality or, conversely, unsophisticated drawing.

(I am all about the sophistication, as you can tell by this grotesque kid in particular.)

These are Copyright 2011 Academy of Art.

05 June 2011

Thanks, Friday Class!

Dax mailed me the colorful and cheerful bag of good wishes you guys sent me. Thanks for the nice card and the clever puzzle, you guys. The latter will be a test of my awareness of the fine points of shape! My recovery continues well, no doubt thanks in part to all the kind thoughts and prayers sent my way. I'm expecting to teach at least one class in summer semester.
Thanks, you guys; you really made me feel cared for.

23 May 2011

My Surgery

My cancer surgery of last week went well. The surgeon, Mark Singer, is a very preeminent, highly skilled guy who also is a very good-humored and reassuring--not that common a combination, I'm told and I believe it.

It's a good thing this is basically happening between  semesters. I look scary now and my voice is shot. But the body, even the post-middle-age body, is an incredible thing.

I want to thank everybody who shook my hand or sent me an encouraging message through email or Facebook.  There's never any need to feel called upon to say something special in such a case; I can tell you every expression of good wishes is gratefully banked and adds to the strength I can bring to bear in the situation.

(But when a friend quoted a line from an old Simpsons episode to me, "Chicks dig scars," that was kind of extra bonus special. :)  )


18 May 2011

Thanks, you guys

Thanks to you guys (and other friends and family), I feel I'm floating into surgery tomorrow on a tide of goodwill.  That has got to help my chances (which I believe are pretty good)! Thanks so much for the words of encouragement, handshakes, prayers and positivity, you guys. I was happily stunned by the origami good-luck token you Tuesday folks made with Keiko. That was deeply touching--I thought I was gonna lose it for a second.


10 May 2011

For the Children's Book Illustrators among You.

Now the mere thought of someone telling me my drawings didn't capture the special magic of her stinky basset hound would make me murderous, so I guess I couldn't be a children's book artist for hire. But you may enjoy this story of the process of making one children's book.

My friend says this woman's site, which is mostly about recipes I guess, has a million dollars in sales a year and she is a bestselling cookbook author... Which may help explain how she got a contract for the book before she'd even written it.


For Final Fisheye Fans

For any of you who might like to incorporate fisheye into your finals, here is a link to my other blog, where you will find the grids you need.

24 April 2011


Here's a slight variation of the method I demo-ed in class.


19 April 2011

Feeling Reflective?

Aside from being boring, and wretchedly "scanned," can you see what's wrong with this C- one?

D. A similar error compounded by wildly incorrect perspective

A! Excellent is as excellence does.


A-, despite terribly unrealistic face and lack of complete BG reflection. Everything else is essentially perfect
ASS #11


    Create an illustration for the story of Snow White. Research and design your characters and locations to fit the country/era in which you decide to set the story.

    Your style must be 100% literal/realistic.

    Illustrate the passage below using the 2-point perspective mirror construction you learned in class. We should see both the Queen and her environment reflected accurately in the mirror.

    She must be shown from head to toe - and at least three other items must be seen in the room as well as reflected in the mirror. Don't forget: this illustration must show as much accurate reflection of objects as possible and will be graded accordingly.

    Don't skip drawing the reflection of the walls of the room. I can't tell you how many drawings I've seen where the queen and the three objects were reflected, but nothing else, as if there were a low-hanging fog in the room.

    Important Tip: Use the whole wall as the mirror until you get your reflections in place, then decide where to place the mirror frame to fit with your reflection.

(Also, rather than placing objects in the “real world” in the hopes that they will appear where you want in “Mirrorworld,” it’s easier to  place them in Mirrorworld first and then use the usual process in the opposite direction to place them into the real world. This tip from Joko.)

    Your line drawing should be 9" x 12" or larger at the same proportion. Keep it neat, clean, realistic and accurate. Your default line should be a single clean line. Contours should be weighted only if you can do it smoothly, without hairiness. Straight edges should be straight. Ensure that this drawing is as professional and precise as you are capable of producing. Add no value at this time.

    INCLUDE A CLEAR OVERLAY SHOWING YOUR CONSTRUCTIONS. Flap it properly, with a long piece of tape across the back.

Snow White Text

        News of Snow White's death sent the Queen rushing to consult her magic mirror. She fled to the top of the tallest tower and entered the secret chamber where all her terrible spells were boiled and bred.

        Lighting a candle she locked the chamber door and turned to question the mirror that watched her silently from the far wall.

        'Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?'

        There was a long silence as her reflection scowled back at her from within the glass.

        Then, finally, the mirror spoke...

    Here is a schematic that covers the main reflection schemes. For simplicity, not every point has its reflection plotted. This is made to demonstrate the appropriate use of the subdivision method in various situations. Note please that in cases such as points E, F and G, where the object is not using the same VPs as the mirror, each corner must be plotted independently.
    And here is a way of checking your work as you go to eliminate the little inaccuracies that the above methods amplify. You may prefer the animated version, here. (Wait for a second--the animation gives you a chance to study the setup.) The key insight here is the projection lines meeting their own reflections at the foot of the mirror plane. That will help you draw the reflection more accurately. You can go beyond that in some cases and find a Mirrorworld VP or two, which will really make your drawing hang together.


12 April 2011

Assignment #10

Contact me anytime for an update on your grade.

Environments for Your Clothed Figure 

Homework #10
Continue with your line drawing from last week by putting your characters into a convincing, non-fantastic man-made environment that fits both thematically and perceptively.
Use the methods discussed in class to ensure that all elements stay in proportion and in perspective with each other. Be sure the horizon coincides with that used to draw your characters. 
Remember that receding planes should appear shorter than those that face you, much shorter close to VP.
Make your environment realistic, interesting, and detailed. Observe the finer points of doors, windows, furniture - whatever you choose to include in our piece. If you are unsure of the exactly design of an object feel free to gain reference and use it, however it is not permitted to copy/trace an environment.

INCLUDE A FLOOR, CEILING OR WALL THAT'S TILED IN SQUARE TILES, so that I can see you know how to use a DVP, or measuring points.
Try to have a foreground and middle ground and background to your scene. Consider introducing elements that overlap your fighting characters to involve them more in their environment. Include organic and geometric shapes, which will add variety and hopefully avoid the 'perspective drawing' look. Use more than one form of perspective (one - and two-point for example). This will make your environment appear less deliberate.
Your drawing should be neat, clean and accurate. Your default line for edges should be a single line--not a hairy, back-and-forth one; though you may add weight to contour lines, which I don't feel harms the realism. Straight edges should be straight. Ensure that this drawing is as professional and precise as you are capable of producing. 


08 April 2011


Chuck Pyle sent this one along. Could be a nice opportunity...


03 April 2011

Homework #9

Thanks to the affable and prodigiously talented Mark Simmons for subbing for me this Tuesday.
Your assignment is to read the rest of the text and to follow the instructions set forth here.
Don't forget that everyone in the department would love to see your B+ or better work in the Spring show (entry forms now available in the first floor hallway) and likewise remember the Comic Book Club meetings at 6:30 pm Wednesdays on the first floor! See you soon--I've got a big freelance job this week.

Homework 9
Read the rest of the text and...
Clothe the fighting figures from last week. You may use tracing paper to draw over last week's drawing, then photocopy the finished result, or better yet composite in Photoshop. This drawing should be roughly 10" x 10", neat, with strong simple contour lines.
Visualize where the compression (bunching/crushing) and extension (stretching) of fabric will take place due to a body position/movement. Look for compressions on the reverse side of extensions and folds that follow the direction of movement.
Compressions at elbows, hips, knees etc. should wrap around the form of the joint, not appear to run straight.
Imagine the quantity of fabric that will bunch in a certain situation remembering the tightness and weight of the material. (Thick material has heavier, larger and softer folds than thin. Supple fabric such as satin hangs heavier, more vertically.)
Use the hems of sleeves, pants, necklines, belts etc. to act as ellipses. These will help describe the angle of the body-parts they enclose. (narrow ellipses are seen more from the side than open ones)
Loose fabric (scarves, skirts, shawls etc.) may be used to show movement: flying out behind the moving object. The weight and quantity of the fabric, combined with the force of the movement, will decide the extent of such a incident.
Each character should be wearing a regularly patterned shirt, skirt, dress or pants: stripes, checks, polka dots etc. Make sure this pattern wraps convincingly around the form of the body, foreshortening as the surface turns away from our eye.        

Timeless material on hands, feet, dress shoes here.
Plus more relevant stuff below.


29 March 2011

Past examples of Assignment 8




Assignment #8

Ideal ;)

Clothing the figure

IN-CLASS EXERCISE: Drawing folds from magazine ads

Homework #8 -- Combat! Part 1

    •    Read all or most of the Text
    •    Complete 1 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 weapons involved. Poses should feel authentic and have movement. Identify the general thrust/direction line to your attacking and defensive poses.
Your characters should be drawn without clothes.
You may use reference as inspiration for the pose you choose but make your drawing in different perspective from your source.

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.

More pix and detail in this earlier version of this post. But getting your own additional ref is highly recommended.

22 March 2011

Assignment #7

Keiko reminded me that I had promised to post examples of past work on this assignment --here are some good ones. They could perhaps have been improved by projecting the width of the head down to the floors of the boxes to check that the feet weren't too big. Also in the walking ones, the feet could have been placed under the center of gravity a tad better.


16 March 2011

Assignment #7 Figures in boxes

The Figure in Perspective

     "The Three Masters":
          Flow, Volume, Silhouette
1. FLOW, aka
    "Energetic ghost"
    Line of Action
2. VOLUME, aka

Reviewing contrapposto, line of action,
importance of “drawing through,” of using reference without copying.
Banishing “ideas from nowhere”: Purge the things you “know for sure that just ain’t so” (Mark Twain), e.g. symmetrically pinched-off “sausage” limbs, bow-tie feet, Chiclet toes, etc.

Homework #7

Complete 3 nude figure drawings in good proportion using...

2 point perspective - reclining figure,
2 point vertical - walking figure.
3 point perspective - (EDIT) SEATED 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. This does not that you should omit all detail inside the outline: please draw people as if you enjoy people, are interested in them, and are generally in favor of their existence.

Same standards of perspective apply (especially regarding vanishing point placement). Use subdivision to divide the Box or “card.” Use projection toward the VP to check scale of head in relation to feet, for instance.

Keeping the VPs well outside the drawing, where possible (i.e., not in one-point) can make this assignment much easier.

I suggest:

1) Thumbnailing a few alternate poses, each with the Box and VPs, for each of the four drawings--less than a minute each.

2) Sitting down with plenty of figure reference and looking through it aimlessly for 10 minutes or so, observing things you already have observed about the figure, giving yourself credit for knowing them, while letting yourself be surprised by new facts too. Sketch some isolated body parts that happen to be about in the positions you want for your drawing.

3) Draw your made-up people as people, not mannequins. Include toes, nails, nipples, genitals, wrinkles and folds in the skin--even hair and body hair if you like.

MILLION-DOLLAR TIP: In all your figure drawing, always--in every drawing, from every angle, every body type--find the collar bones and the “t-shirt collar” and always find the cylinder of the neck (this attachment area is too important to abandon to chance.)

$500,000 TIP: Rough in full shape and position of limbs (even bent ones),  each as a unit, in earliest stages--don’t feel your way down them, losing your sense of direction as you go. Plan.

FUN FACT: Most muscle are fattest in the middle, rather than near one end. (exceptions are the biceps, vastus medialis, which are bulbous close to the joint). Almost all begin and end on different bones, usually across a joint.

    •    Full figures, obviously
    •    Submit copies of your ref, stapled, for at least two of the drawings. 
    •    Put box on overlay, subdivided at least once.
    •    Image area of each drawing is at least 9 x12 in.
    •    Present drawings neatly, with box or card on an overlay. Use space of paper well (no tiny figures on big sheets). VPs need not be on final art or overlay. 
    •    Include horizon in overlay for 2pt reclining drawings. Boxes and cards must be subdivided at least once and all edges indicated (not just the ones on the near side). Halfway line must be indicated on all four planes.
    •    Horizon must not cross or pass near figure in 2ptV and 3pt. VPs should be well outside drawing in these two drawings
    •    No big, obstructive hair
    •    Vary the body types. Nice exmples by Gustav Klimt and in photos, below

Include convincing form shadow and properly plotted cast shadows

REMEMBER: One of the drawings may be left at the layout stage to save time.
Best of Luck, you guys!



(Note the weight distribution in different phases of the walk cycle in these walking poses.)

and below, a guide to childrens' proportions from the Famous Artists' course.

11 March 2011

Setup for the 2PtV and 3pt Heads-in-Boxes

Here is animated GIF that shows how to setup for the Sophie drawing. Because a baby's head is closer to a cube proportionally than an adult's, this method yields a cube, which is a lot easier to get to than the 2x3x3 box. If you add a little extra height and depth to her cranium, above and at the back of the cube, while keeping her eyes at the level of the original halfway line, you will be correcting both the head shape and proportions to that of a baby. That's how I've got it figured out anyway.

Either the top red line or the bottom could be the horizon.

Your cube will be more useful if you make it smaller than mine and keep it fairly near the center of the red square. Thanks to Keiko for asking the question that spurred me to do this.

And here is an animation that goes through the steps we learned for 3pt. Use the same procedure for upshots and downshots. Just turn the paper upside down at the end of the procedure to do an upshot.
Click on  the images to see them animate bigger. Both loop indefinitely.

Thanks to Luis Deliz for his contribution to this method of constructing a 2x3x3 box.

Here is an example of a head shape carefully put inside the 3pt box.  Making the box occupy a larger portion of your equilateral triangle than I demonstrated risks greater distortion than this. You'll note that this head already appears a bit top-heavy. You can reduce the area of your head box within the equilateral a lot without losing that 3pt feel.

The above box exists fully in downshot, that is, below the horizon. It is essential that you not allow the head to cross or even very closely approach the horizon in either the 2ptV (Sophie) or 3pt (Francis) drawings! These drawings must be upshot or downshot.