28 February 2011

Drafting tips

If you have had a tough time making your drawings as neat as you would like, here are some excellent drafting tips a former student provided us. ("Drafting" is the general term for the precise drawing that uses rules and other drafting aids such as ellipses template. And yes, this class really is, partly, a drafting class.)


Drafting Tips

Here are some tips to help you draw more accurately, and avoid frustration.  Most of them I gleaned from my architect-brother.
  • Keep your drafting tools clean.  Graphite dust can be removed with soap and water from plastic tools.  While you can use a cloth to get the graphite dust off your newly-sharpened lead, if you poke the tip of the lead into a kneaded eraser it will keep everything cleaner.
  • Use a hard lead (at least 4H) for drawing construction lines, perspective grids, etc.  It keeps a point longer and thus is more controllable.  Be sure to re-sharpen the lead often.
  • Another tip for keeping a sharp point is to rotate the pencil or lead-holder when you draw to use a different side of the lead.  This will extend the sharpness of the point and keep the line width constant, but it takes some practice.
  • When drawing a line, keep the angle of the pencil or lead-holder constant to ensure a straight line, Angle the pencil a bit in the direction of the stroke.
  • Keep checking the alignment of the straightedge or triangle before you draw the line.  Put the pencil tip on the point you wish to start (or end) on and bring the straight edge up to it (you will notice it is a bit to the side of the point due to the taper of the lead).  Now put the point of the pencil on the other end of the line you wish to draw and carefully bring the straight edge to it.  Go back to the first point to ensure that the straight edge has not moved when you adjusted it for the second point. 
  • One trick I found is to use the parallel rule (much better than a t-square!) to support a corner of the triangle (the corner which is not on the line) when you are lining it up to draw the line as discussed above.  It helps keep it in position so it won't move when you check the second point.
  • Never, never, never brush eraser crumbs or graphite dust off your drawing with your hand!  It will leave oil which will make it difficult to draw a line.  Instead ALWAYS use a horse-hair drafting brush.  It will clean the surface better
  • You can purchase a cleaner-bag which has some kind of granules in it to clean off graphite dust from your drawing (it might work on your tools also).  A good investment, and not expensive at all.
  • While tool choice is personal, drafting lead holders ("clutch pencils") were developed, and are used, for a reason.  Their leads are thinner and so as they wear down they do not change the distance between the point and the edge of the straight edge as much.  If you haven't tried them I highly recommend you do.  They also are faster to sharpen.
  • Some people prefer to use one of the micro-lead pencils instead of a lead holder.  (For example the 0.03" click-advance pencils every pencil manufacturer has.  They also come in a variety of lead diameters.) A big advantage they have is they do not need to be sharpened, and the super-thin leads have almost no offset to the straight edge when drawing lines.
  • If you are inking your drawing, make sure your t-square or parallel rule and all straight edges and triangles or curves you use have an "inking edge" which is an edge which does not contact the paper and draw ink under the instrument by capillary action.  If you cannot get the instrument you want with an inking edge, you can tape  pennies or other thin coins along the edges, back a little bit from the edges to raise it up off the paper.  Be careful when drawing lines with these, they can be a bit more difficult to use.
I hope these tips help you make your drawing more precise and with greater speed.  Feel free to add your own ideas and share.

24 February 2011

Local Light Plotting Exercise

Promised you guys I'd post these...


The Basics of Local Light

And here are a couple I did up today. These again are all adapted from the book Creative Layout by Joko, Leandro Ng, Thomas Denmark, et al.
In this last example, you would need to use the left VP to make the left Elevation of Light, and the right VP to make the other. In other words, you'd be taking the height of the light source (the central vertical dotted line) and pushing it toward each respective VP. It would automatically shorten a bit by being moved farther away in both cases. (That is not the case in this drawing, because it is isometric, like our recent in-class shadow plotting exercise, and lives in a world without VPs.)

Note that the shadow of the leftmost red stick (or baton rouge in French) obeys the Law of Parallels when it falls on the floor.


How to Do Assignment #4--and how not to.

Look what I found to help you guys! A step-by-step animated GIF to demo this assignment. I did it two years ago, and naturally forgot all about it, naturally. Check it out. The first move you'll see is with the sideways red line in the upper right: it's used to find the Elevation of Light. Which will drive the one edge of the shadow of the counter that falls onto the right wall. A more recent post above also shows how the Elevation of Light is found and how it's used.

Click on it to see it animate. I think if you watch this through a few times, you'll get the sense of it, without having to do a lot of reading or remembering terminology.

After you watch it a few times, take a look at the next his one and see if you can see what's wrong with it. Answers are below in small print. Come on, really do this! Please! Don't outsmart yourself. A little non-laziness right now can save a lot of struggling later.


1) Shadow of table top is seen passing through air and never landing, because the student thought that a-lines could form the edges of shadows.  D-lines were not used.
2) Shadows of chair backs (on tabletop) are likewise delineated by a-lines. D-lines were again not used. 
3) Shadow of lower right corner of picture frame connects to the forward corner of the frame, rather than its contact point with the wall, creating yet another incidence of a shadow being at least partly outlined by a-lines.  
4) Comically, the lamp's shadow is based on the assumption --conscious or not-- that the lamp is a flat object. Here the Find-the-Plan Method could save the day: Using a slightly greater quantity of reference points around the top and bottom of the lamp shade, and finding their plans on the floor, would show how the shadow of the circular structure of the shade really behaves. 
5) Uprights in shelf unit don't cast their shadows to the right.  They should.
6) Shadow of top edge of shelf unit ignores the Law of Parallels and creates a fourth instance of an a-line being mistaken for the edge of the shadow.  
7) The flower pots at the lower right are casting shadows that not only have a-lines defining their top edges, but exhibit shapes totally unrelated to flower pots. It's like having a cinder block cast the shadow of a Irish Setter. To compound the idiocy, the left pot casts a shadow on the wall that we can somehow see through the right pot, as if the pot were either not there, or painted flat on wall and floor. Yet here the student's questing young mind, perhaps justifiably unsure whether his methodology had served him well to this point, introduces a startling innovation: d-lines. Yes, the very same lines his sage instructor had told him were always needed, now sheepishly make their tardy appearance, adding--if not correctness--variety.
8) No overlay.

12 February 2011

More Help with Shadow Plotting

Here are some excepts from the book Creative Layout, by AAU's de-facto Dean of Perspective, Joko Budiono, et al. The black and white ones are from a book by Gwen White called Perspective: A Guide for Artists, Architects and Designers


11 February 2011

Special Note to my Friday Class

You guys,
I forgot to tell you why I gave you all an extra copy of that handout. PLEASE, PLEASE, ASAP, before you forget what we did in class today, plot the shadows on that last handout as it's set up: Sunlight from Behind. Use the SVP and STP that exist on that handout, over toward the right. Same set-up as the first one we did in class today.

Doing this pronto will make a huge difference in your ability to complete the homework. The older post below may help too.


09 February 2011

HELP for Assignment 2: Adding shadow to the 1-pt Street.

Here is one of the examples I showed last week, but now with tone added in Photoshop. I think you'll agree the overall effect is strong. I think the student, Linh Vu, generally did an outstanding job following his light scheme and particularly in varying the value of the shadow areas to make the scene more real. I think I gave him at least an A- on this phase of it.

So which light scheme is this example? If you look at the way the shadows fall or even the overlay of colored lines, you'll soon figure out whether the sun is in front or behind.

There are some errors. Notice that the cast shadow of the awning at the lower left gets wider and wider. In the language of the class, the Law of Parallels never comes into effect as it should. This might be partly because Mr. Vu put the sun pretty close to the VP horizontally. That makes the cast shadows tend to run very long on the receding faces of the building.

For this and other reasons, I recommend to YOU making the sun (or moon) farther to one side of the VP--more to the right in this example. Don't have the sun so nearly above the VP, in other words.

I want to use this nice drawing to show you a couple helpful ideas. One is the "Elevation of Sunlight." So far we've only used d-lines on horizontal surfaces. But the fact is, light doesn't care which way is up. So if we want to use d-lines on vertical surfaces to simplify our work, it's just a matter of correctly picking the point that these special d-lines originate from. That point is the Elevation of Sunlight, which we find directly above the VP, at the height of the sun.

Using it, we can do a lot less of that move where the d-line runs into a wall and goes straight up or down; instead we just keep our attention on the wall. (Remember that d stands for "direction of light." A-lines stand for "angle of light" and always exist in 3D space, not on surfaces.)

Good luck, you guys. I know this is tough.


08 February 2011

One of the Best How-Tos Ever

Good news from the world of publishing. Great news, really: Andrew Loomis' Figure Drawing for All It's Worth is coming back into print at the end of May! Too late to help us in this semester, but still huge.

This book is as good as it gets for a pure illustrator's guide to the figure -- as opposed to the figure-drawing-form-life discipline, which is of course related, but there are many good books on that. Loomis was an illustrator, meaning that he could work out of his head, but would use photos or models as needed  to assure a convincing result. In keeping with the aims of this class, his book stressed the principles and the feel of figure drawing so that one could learn it at a deep level, and thus work from the imagination. It is a wonderful book, as all of Loomis' were. He was without equal as an illustrator's how-to author--the perfect combination of scholarship and virtuosity.

This book has been out of print, in its original form, for many, many years. Surviving copies tend to go for about $300 or more. You can preorder it from Amazon, save a giant 42% and get Poor Old Teacher a little kickback from Amazon by clicking on the link at right!


05 February 2011

Direct Reference: ILLEGAL!!!

Hey, Imaginative Draw-ers,

Here's what I wanted to include in that first handout: an explanation of the difference between direct reference (unacceptable) and indirect (very strongly encouraged).

Bear in mind that I reserve the right to ask you to show me the picture you worked from, if I think your homework is too directly referenced.


02 February 2011

Help with the First Assignment and Class Email Lists

Hi, you all. Something important I forgot to say:

Be sure the DVP is outside your drawing by about half the width of the drawing or more. You should be able to run a line at a 45 degree angle from the DVP to your Station Point. Reminder: Center of vision (CV) and VP must be the same point, but your drawing will be more interesting if the CV is placed off-center within the final borders of the drawing and/or the "camera" is placed closer to one side of the street than the other. Be sure to use the AAA and/or ABA methods wherever appropriate.

Looking at photos of real street scenes may help you to see how foreshortening is extreme near the VP. Far buildings' receding faces will appear very narrow in the distance.

Above and below are some examples of past students' work on this assignment.

In the one above, which earned a B+, there are some problems: not enough care as to line weight, the fact that the shops on the right are too tiny for the people, and the lack of any cross street or street lighting. Also, note that the window washer's left foot is pressed against the wall, so that his left arm and the bucket would have to be somewhere inside the wall! (The same mistake is made in the truly awful, D-level example below with the surf shop: the palm tree is wider than the space available to it. Also notice that the windows are just flat rectangles, flush with the outer wall. Completely unrealistic and unacceptable.)
Please make sure that your buildings are as interesting, detailed, and convincing as the better examples here. That will require some attention to real buildings and photos of same!

Here is a pdf of the class email list for Tuesday's Section 2.
And here is one for the class email list for Friday's Section 3.