After a break and much debate, I decided to not skip Chapter 2 of Keys to Drawing.
Sometime in the future, I’ll most certainly need to go back and practice copying the other masters to make up for the fact that I’m doing things digitally, but for this pass, I simply tried my hand at the first artist mentioned: Eugène Delacroix.
As you can tell from the date, I started the exercises in this chapter two weeks ago.
- Are your lines and strokes of the same length as the master’s drawing? YES, to the extent that I could do them digitally.
- Do your lens and strokes have a similar weight (thickness)? YES, except in the shadow in the control hand—the Apple Pencil’s tilt function is too abrupt to be able to emulate it.
- Do your lines and strokes have a similar density (blackness)? NO, Because I have a screen protector, the pressure curve doesn’t peak properly with the same density stroke when I have a loose hand. A couple weeks later, I changed the pressure curve in Procreate.
- Were you able, at least some of the lines and strokes, to capture a similar sweep (freedom)? YES, however my lines are more tentative overall. Only a few of the strokes emulated the style since my iPad is much smaller than the A4 paper he used.
- Did the copying ever become somewhat natural and instinctive? NO, possibly because it was done digitally. The only part I actually felt comfortable in was his small study of the lion faces in the bottom left corner.
Emulate a Master’s Handwriting
How hard could this be? Since I was too lazy to go to the zoo, and the water buffalo in Golden Gate Park are too dark and too skittish to be close enough to draw, I just dug up an old photo of some rhinos I snapped at San Diego Wild Animal Park and tried my hand at emulating his hand.
- Were you able to feel, at least at times, that you were working with someone else’s hand? YES, if Delacroix went senile and had Parkinson’s.
- Compare your drawing to the original master drawing do you see in your lines and strokes a similar: Length? NO, SlideOver of a photo reference made things too cramped.
- Weight? YES, but the shading isn’t in the same hand in key places.
- Density? NO, same as above.
- Sweep? NO
- Did working in another hand help relieve you of some of the responsibility for the result? YES, I didn’t bother with a lot of details I normally would. I should have found a live subject though.
Free Hand Drawing
I was dodging this exercise for almost a week.
I waited until Marie was doing her meditation and yoga for the poses. When I thought she’d change her pose, I switched into camera and took a quick snap so I could finish it later. After I got six, I sat down and finished with a different brush for each pose.
Unfortunately, I got this all wrong. I had no idea, from the book, what a gesture drawing is and the instructions seemed to imply it was simply a scribble drawing. Later, I found out that I was drawing contours, not gestures.
I’m definitely going to have to redo this exercise a couple hundred times using a quickpose library.
These were much easier. Again I drew contours, not gestures, and I took much, much longer than two minutes a pose. Some of my future quickpose practice probably should be connected-lines.
I thought I’d change it up with a different app. I didn’t know how to adjust the thickness of the pen I was using, so it really has a free hand style to it since it looks like I was drawing with a very runny Sharpie. According to the screen recording, I spent six minutes, instead of five—close enough.
- Are your gesture sketches loose and scribbly? NO, I totally didn’t understand the instructions. I need to read Kimon Nicolaides’s The Natural Way to Draw. (I’ve been avoiding it because when I flipped through a copy at Green Apple Books, it looked extremely difficult to get through.)
- Do they generally capture the action of the pose? NO, they capture the pose, but not the action.
- Did you keep your pencil on the paper at all times for the connected-line drawing? YES, there were a couple times I redrew or ghosted lines because I didn’t “get” this technique.
- During the five-minute burn, did you draw rapidly and without stopping for the entire time? YES, though I wanted to because the resolution on my pen was ass.
- Did you use the distant grip throughout? NO, I think my iPad is too small to do this naturally. I only relaxed my grip in the five-minute burn part.
Make a tonal bar
I created a 3×8″ custom sheet in Procreate and used quickline and a ruler to split it into 10 sections horizontally and 2 strips vertically in its own layer. I also drew each tonal bar in its own layer so I could erase the parts that bled into the other without messing up the drawing. I stayed in the same brush for the entire bar.
I built each one using hatching strokes, with the sections helping me to evenly space out the cross hatch starting points so that the tones would be built in layers.
Around the 50% mark on the pencil drawing, I started to use the tilt feature of the Apple Pencil instead of just hatching strokes which is why the tones have a slight arc to them. I had to make two complete layered passes to get the tones dark enough.
I did the pen tonal bar during brunch at Blue Fin Sushi. The technical pen stroke width was too thin, and despite taking about twice as long as the pencil one, it is noticeably less toned throughout. Since I was on the third mimosa, I declared it done lest I not be able to make it home.
- Place your drawings and the photo side by side and squint. Are they similar in tone? YES, though the ink one is a little lighter throughout.
- Is the middle-grey tone in the center of the bar? YES, on the pencil one; on the pen one, it’s about 2/3 down.
- Did you eliminate most of the light and dark “spots”? YES, though there is some patching on the dark tones of the pencil drawing such that it looks like it went through a bad copy machine.
- Did you build up the tones slowly and patiently, using both the side and the point of your pencil? YES, maybe not patiently though. 🙂
Match the tones
Trace the Howard Search B&W photograph and try to match its tones.
I stood over the photo in the book, trying as hard as possible to minimize the glare off the page while I snapped a photo with my iPhone. Using Photo Stream, I imported it into Procreate and traced it with a red pen in its own layer. I then deleted the photo and started shading using SlideOver to compare to the reference photo.
I became very frustrated trying to match the tones with the graphite brush I was using so I toned the entire page and put this down for a week. meaning I finished this one last of all.
Then, while watch SNL with Marie, I decided to dive into it again using a regular paint brush and blending/eraser to build up the tones. In a few places, I used the “old brush” brush to get thin whispy lines so blending wouldn’t completely stomp on the details. Since the TV show was over, I called it a day.
- Place your drawing and photo side by side and squint. Are they similar in tone? YES. I can see a lot of places which are off, but I think it’s generally close enough.
- Does your drawing have both hard and soft edges? YES, blending means soft edges are easier than harder ones.
- Did you keep your pencil sharp for the hard edges? NO, I used digital brushes.
- Were you able to create smooth transitions in the graded tones, avoiding spottiness? YES, because I used the blending.
- Did you build the tones gradually? NO, because I’m lazy as fuck.
Alternating Free and Control Hands
When I realized that there was one more exercise in this chapter than I thought, there was a lot of cursing.
Fortunately, Marie had gone to the farmer’s market and gotten some sunflowers one weekend. Unfortunately, by the time I drew the sunflowers, they were already wilted.
While I could sketch in the free hand the completely wilted flowers, I had to use a reference photo taken the previous week for the control hand, unless I wanted to draw shriveled petals. I decided to draw about four of them before I just got bored. I drew the controlled hand on a different layer. At times I had to lightly erase parts of the freehand layer.
- Did you shift from the distant grip to the close grip and back again at least four times? NO I did all one way and then all the other.
- Is there evidence of each grip in your drawing? YES, the vase, stems and some of the flowers were left in freehand.
- Were you able to feel the difference between the free and control hand modes? YES, but only because I watched the Proko video on gesture drawing before attempting this
- Does the drawing contained some focused areas? YES, the rightmost flower.
I’m going to have to take a long break before going to Chapter 3. Maybe I’ll do another zentangle, or try to figure out how to do gesture drawings.