Saturday, May 10, 2008


It’s one of those frustrating facts of life that it’s much easier to learn something that it is to re-learn something.

Take my first time driving in the USA. I was over here visiting and Sunny asked me if I’d like to drive, so I gave it a go. (because I was visiting, I could still use my British license.)

It did not go well. I was used to driving a stick shift, sitting on the right of the car, driving on the left hand side of the road. There I was in an automatic that felt like a freaking battle-tank (It’s a hell of a step to go from a Ford Fiesta to a Chrysler Lebaron).

So I started off, looked to the left instead of the right looking for the mirror, then braked by mistake while looking for the non-existent clutch and damn near opened the door reaching for the gear shift.

I’m dreading getting my license over here because I can see myself zoning out and finding myself heading south on the northbound lane of the interstate.


Remember a few posts back where I talked about drawing? Well today I finally got my ‘Structure of Man’ DVD’s. A complete figure drawing course which is the same one used by Lucasarts, ILM and a bunch of other big name artists and studios.

I was actually excited. I’ve always wanted to be able to draw and draw really well, but I can’t afford actual lessons and I’ve found practice without instruction just means you do the wrong thing over and over. So I popped the DVD in and decided to just watch a few lessons to see what they were about.


You see, I’ve been drawing on and off for a few years now and looked at my fair share of online tutorials, etc. These DVD’s have a process unlike anything I’ve ever seen. On the one hand this a good thing because it breaks everything down and had a very innovative way of teaching.

It also means that everything I’ve learned so far is now ‘wrong’. Well, wrong isn’t the right word. The techniques I learned to draw with are incompatible with this teaching method. Which means from now on, I’m not just learning to draw…I’m re-learning as well.

Normally, with any drawing course, I can skip the absolute basics because I already know it…with this I’m starting from scratch and while I’m following the instructions, my brain is screaming at me to do something else. Imagine trying to drive when someone’s rigged your steering wheel so turning left actually makes you go right.

All that being said I think this course will actually be useful to me. As well as ‘how to draw’ it points out the psychological tricks that help you progress.

Basically the course teaches you to draw anatomy in a way where you trick your brain into thinking that you’re ‘inventing’ what you’re drawing instead of trying to represent a real world object. Apparently your brain learns much more quickly when it thinks it’s creating rather than copying.

The easiest way to explain this is if you draw an arm as a series of abstract shapes, to a formula your brain has invented…that’s easier than trying to draw an ‘arm’ as a concept. Our brains have already ‘pidgeon-holed’ an arm as basically two connected ‘tubes’, so that’s how we draw them. However, when you look closely and look at the muscles under the skin, just the outside of an arm from shoulder to wrist has no less that seven curves just along that one edge. Forgetting the ‘symbolism’ (“this is an arm”) and instead learning how to draw those abstract shapes, you can then draw them accurately from memory from any angle.

Basically, if I asked everyone out there in blogland to draw a head, it would be hard. If I asked everyone to forget about heads altogether and draw an egg shape, and gave instructions on the shape and position of the features in relation to each other, it would be much easier. ‘Draw a house’ is much harder than ‘draw a square with a triangle on top, a rectangle for the door and two smaller squares for windows’.

Anyway, that’s about it for today. One day I’ll be an artist, just you watch.

1 comment:

delmer said...

I drove for about 100 yards while in the UK. It was a small, very incredibly narrow street, and my friend had a Kenworth Semi she let me drive.

Alright, maybe it was a normal street and a small car.

Anyway, when I took off all the passengers started screaming "watch the curb! watch the curb!" which was puzzling as I was well away from the curb. And yet I hit it ... twice.

I think I managed to shift into second gear.