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Author Topic: JWK5's Drawing Tips  (Read 31518 times)
jwk5
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« on: December 14, 2010, 08:59:42 AM »

This is a tutorial of sorts covering how I generally go about doing concept art for my games and
comic ideas. Though the characters featured here are all human-like, these methods work for
animals and other non-human characters as well. Anyways, I hope some of you find it useful.

Before you start it is very important that you understand that
the goal of these excercises is not to create detailed concept art!
The goal is to create brief visual descriptions of characters!



STEP ONE: THE FLOUR SACK
Ok, with that being said before you get to concepting there is an important tool you need
to add to your drawing arsenal: the flour sack. These flour sacks have a very malleable
shape and can bend and twist in many directions. They also have a fairly square shape that
is fairly easy to imagine in pseudo-perspective. Take some time to practice drawing them
in many different positions and from many different angles, and be sure to add the little
nubs of cloth at the four corners. Once you've gotten comfortable with drawing them you can
move on to the next step.


STEP TWO: THE FIGURE
Now that you are comfortable with the flour sack this next step should be pretty easy. Attach
some arms to the upper two nubs, legs to the lower two, and a neck and head to the upper
middle of the flour sack. The limbs should follow along with the movements of the flour
sack body. Practice drawing different poses and see what you new poses you can come up
with by bending and twisting the flour sack body. After a while these will come naturally
to you and you will be able to draw tons of them in no time at all.


STEP THREE: THE SILHOUETTE
At this stage of character development I like to throw together a palette of 3 to 5 colors
(ColourLovers.com is a good resource for this) and then choose one (usually the darkest) to
create a silhouette over the flour sack figure framework. Remember, this is not about details
or artistic quality, it is about describing an idea. Don't sweat it if things aren't looking perfect
you're just trying to get a basic idea of the character's form here, that's all. For now just stay
focused on quantity, not quality.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2011, 11:57:59 PM by JWK5 » Logged
jwk5
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« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2010, 09:00:37 AM »


STEP FOUR: COLORS
Once you have your silhouette it is time to start blocking in the other colors. At this stage you
should not be focusing on lighting or little details, your only focus should be creating a
general visual description of the character's costume. Try to look at it more like you are
arranging a pattern of colors rather than actually creating a costume. Patterns that are
pleasing to the eye equal costumes that are pleasing to the eye. The colors and arrangements
can really help describe what a character is all about and you'll find at this stage you'll start
to get a feel for what the character's theme and behavior might be like.


STEP FIVE: ACTIONS
Once you have a general feel for what kind of character you are creating it is time to put them
into action. Again, the goal here is describing the character not creating detailed art. In this
step you really need to relax and just let the ideas flow. Keep the drawings small and quick.
A character's actions say a lot about who they are. A character that fights dirty will feel
very different from a character that fights honorably. Agile characters will jump very differently
than a character who is massive and heavy. The character's actions need to describe the
character.


STEP SIX: POWERS (OPTIONAL)
This step is optional. If your character has some "super power" or other special effect you
should be using it to further describe the character. A hero would use the power to throw
lightning bolts much differently than a villain would, for example. Of the whole process, this is
probably my most favorite step. I usually have a lot of fun with it.


STEP SEVEN: ELABORATION
The last step before actually doing any "real" drawings of the character is to start elaborating
on some of the character's costume details and other important bits of visual information
that describe the character. Even at this stage of development you still don't want to be
focusing on any more details than necessary to describe the idea. Don't worry about perfection,
keep any shading or small details down to a minimum. You want to leave yourself room for
making quick easy changes and you should be rapidly drawing out as many descriptive ideas
you can about the character. Quantity over quality. I can fill up pages of hundreds of little
doodles of different characters in the span of an hour or two.
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DangerMomentum
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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2010, 10:00:36 AM »

I love the flower sack idea. I'm definitely going to try this out. Thanks for the tutorial!
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AaronG
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« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2010, 10:06:25 AM »

This is great.  I always find my ideation sessions devolve into me getting hung up on anatomy and losing all my creative steam.  The flour sack approach sounds like the perfect approach for me; can't wait to try it out.  Thanks for sharing!
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jwk5
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« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2010, 11:41:39 AM »

Quote
I love the flower sack idea. I'm definitely going to try this out. Thanks for the tutorial!
Thank you. Smiley I read a book on cartoon animation where they represented the cartoon characters bodies as flour sacks, erasers, and other square-like objects and it really opened up my mind to the idea that maybe the best way to draw (for me) isn't using the conventional methods. I started toying around with the concept more and more and now I pretty much draw everything by relating what I am drawing to objects I am more familiar with (and can easily visualize).

Quote
This is great.  I always find my ideation sessions devolve into me getting hung up on anatomy and losing all my creative steam.  The flour sack approach sounds like the perfect approach for me; can't wait to try it out.  Thanks for sharing!
That is exactly what had happened to me years back. I got so caught up with the "rules" of "proper drawing" that it really started to make art a source of frustration for me. I had to step back and pretty much unlearn everything so that I could focus on developing methods that were most comfortable for me.


EXTRA STEP: PLAYING WITH YOUR SACK
There is a lot more you can do with your flour sack and it is not the only object that can be used to visualize a body in motion. You can attach weights to it for swinging limbs, poles to it for rigid limbs, cords to it for limbs making whip-like motions (with speed trails), etc. Any means you can use to make sense of the world is a tool in your drawing arsenal (and these are just a few of mine).
« Last Edit: December 14, 2010, 02:36:44 PM by jwk5 » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2010, 06:48:21 PM »

This thread is pretty fuckin' awesome.  Gentleman
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lasttea999
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« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2010, 10:00:49 PM »

This is so awesome! Makes me want to see a video game with a flour sack as the main character...
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« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2010, 04:02:23 PM »

Wow I suck making art, but this method makes it seem so much simpler. It probably won't come close to what you can draw, but the method looks pretty cool. Thanks! :D
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jwk5
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« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2010, 04:53:33 PM »

BEHOLD! THE M OF POWER!!

So a year or two back I read this book on drawing movement in the body, and in it it stated that all biological motion in life happens in a skiing-like manner. One side of the body shifts in the opposite of another to carry the weight of another side that shifts to counter that weight and so on. There is a lot to it but I've broken it down for myself in a sort of quick-to-grasp notion that some of you may find useful as well when it comes to getting very natural-looking poses.

The idea is that you lay the body out across a side-ways M (which can face left or right) and at each convex of the M the body bulges outward to counter the weight of the parts of the body above it (to maintain balance). Hopefully this will make more sense in the following image. You can see that virtually any pose follows this natural rhythm, whether the character is sitting, standing, jumping, or otherwise moving around (or not). It is how we, as human beings, defy gravity.
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Destral
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« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2010, 05:59:25 PM »

I Tears of Joy this thread. I look forward to trying this at home.
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jwk5
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« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2010, 07:26:37 PM »

Animating is a bitch-and-a-half but like most artistic processes I've found an easy way to dumb it down so that I can make sense of it. I am not sure this method is technically correct as it is one I came up with on my own (i.e. I didn't learn it anywhere), but it works (at least for me). Hopefully it can helps some of you out when it comes to animating your sacks. Er... flour sacks, that is.

Anyways, the basic idea is to start with a "leading arc" that rotates on a centerline. All biological motion happens in arcs (look at the arms and legs in a walk cycle, for example). The arc should be propelled by a coiling motion, like a spring, that spins the arc. I usually represent the coil as a triangle that stretches as the arc moves forward and flattens as the arc is pulled back downward. Hopefully you can see what I mean in the following image:



EDIT: Sometimes I will use two triangles or two arcs depending on the exact nature of the motion. Triangles tend to be better for movements happening side-to-side while arcs are better for movements happening in perspective or circular rotation. I whipped up a quick example of a common motion to give you an idea of what I mean:



A few more examples done in MSPaint:



P.S. These methods works nicely for laying out sprite animations.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2010, 09:13:26 PM by jwk5 » Logged
Paul Jeffries
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« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2010, 04:20:54 PM »

I've not come across any of these techniques before but they look really cool.  I'm definitely going to try them out next time I have a pen in my hand.
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« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2010, 12:56:38 AM »

cool stuff here, I haven't heard of alot of these methods, gotta try 'em sometime.
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LilMonsta
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« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2010, 01:39:16 PM »

 My Word!

This is like drawing Kung Fu!
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2010, 02:16:43 AM »

You make it look so EASY!
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« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2011, 05:36:03 PM »

ooh i've found some good thread here!! watch watch watch  Blink
Thanks a lot, it's true we often forget the essentials of a movement and get lost in the details. I'll definitively try the exercises!
I'm an animation student, so every one of these exercise should be very helpful.
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jwk5
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« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2011, 03:41:37 PM »

A few more things worth keeping in mind...


P.S. Thanks for all the kind words, everyone. I hope that I am able to help some of you out with these (and I'd love to see what you have created using these techniques). I will post more as they come to mind (a lot of methods I use I don't generally think about because I've been doing them for so long they are just an automated process for me).
« Last Edit: January 06, 2011, 04:31:15 PM by jwk5 » Logged
mirosurabu
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« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2011, 06:54:21 PM »

This is awesome!  Kiss
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jwk5
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« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2011, 05:45:19 PM »

Thanks a lot! Smiley

As I was doing concepts for my game I just realized the technique I picked up for visualizing muscle composition might be useful to some of you out there struggling with anatomy. Previously in this topic I discussed how I'd learned the body has a skiing motion to its movements, well this is largely due to how the muscle systems in most living creatures operate. Muscles do not push and pull, they only contract (bunch up) which pulls other muscles and the muscles themselves are tied into each other (and into our bones) which means when one series of muscles contract and pull neighboring muscles it moves our bones and whatnot too, which is why we can move our limbs in the first place.

When muscle groups bunch and pull you get a series of D shapes happening, where the curve of the D is the muscles bunching and the line of the D is muscles being pulled due to the bunching of their neighboring muscles. There are a lot more specifics to it that I am still pretty fuzzy on but the gist of it is very useful for getting good looking figures. Here are a few quick (and pretty exaggerated) doodles I did to give you an idea of what I am talking about (I hope).

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Nugsy
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« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2011, 05:53:49 PM »

This is some great information. The analogy of a human form as a sack of flour is genius, especially the part about attaching weights.

Bravo! Gentleman
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