Drawing really isn't hard. See for yourself.

  • pianotm
  • 03/24/2016 11:12 AM
Materials:If you're drawing on paper, you'll just need the paper, a pencil, a pencil sharpener, and a good eraser. I like shape-able putty erasers. They're excellent for smudging, shading, and precision erasing. Or, if you've joined the computer age, you can use a drawing a tablet and a drawing program. The tablet I made this lesson on is a Wacom Intuos Draw. Now, Adobe Photoshop, Gimp, and IDraw ARE NOT DRAWING PROGRAMS, and they are absolute garbage for drawing. There are specialized drawing programs that optimized for tablets. One of these is what you need. Some people like Krita. I've also been recommended to Serif DrawPlus. I personally think they're crap. Unintuitive design. Krita is particularly obnoxious. Every time you lift the pen and put it back on the tablet, it opens a popup menu that you can't disable and gets in the way of what you're doing. My personal favorite is Autodesk SketchBook. It's a brilliant design with menus that don't get in the way and are specifically meant to work with the tablet pen. All of the drawing programs I mentioned are free. I mention them all because you may find that you prefer Krita or DrawPlus. SketchBook is my favorite because I swear, it feels as natural as actually drawing on paper.

On with the Show:

So, I was working on an animation for one of my projects. Do I usually make animations? No. I just want to see if I can do it, and it's coming along very nicely. Tonight, I started a new picture, and decided to save each step as individual files because it occurred to me that a lot of people on RMN ask about how to draw. There are a lot of people that feel like they just can't do it. You go to buy an art book, and you think you're going to finally learn how to draw, and then you open the art book and you see this:

This artist could have just stopped at the first figure. It was already a work of art.

This is a problem. What's wrong with it, you ask? It looks fantastic, you say? Of course it does. The problem is that first line drawing. People open drawing books and what do you see? Every single line is beautiful. There isn't one eraser burn to be seen, not one line is out of place, there are no ragged lines. Every single line looks like it was done by Botticelli. This is not reality. This is marketing. When you draw the basic frame for your face, it's not going to look like figure 1. It didn't even look like that for the person that drew it. That is an image that has been carefully cleaned and manicured. Significant work has already been done to make that frame look like that. This has been cleaned up.

So when you open an art book and see this, there's something that clicks in your head that your very first lines have to look like this damned pre-Raphaelite work of art and if it doesn't, you may as well start over. Some people can do that. They've made videos. Reality: most artists can't. In fact, for the majority of artists, whatever you're drawing is going to look like a dog's ass end for a good portion of the time you're drawing it. That's why those drawing books haven't been working for you: perception. They're presented in a very pretty way that creates false expectations in the majority of readers. You look at the first page and say, "Oh my God, I can't even do that," and on the shelf it goes, never to be looked at again.

Now, with this very first article, and hopefully not last, we're going to be learning how to draw faces. Now, if you are an absolute newbie, I should probably start you off on basic shapes like triangles and squares to help you understand basic geometry, but you know what, I figured that you don't want to take a whole freaking course from the elementary level. The fact is, you probably already learned all about drawing shapes in grade school art class, and now computers can make triangles, cubes, and spheres for us. We've got triangles, cubes, and spheres coming out the ass. No, if you're searching for art courses on Google, you may be interested in drawing basic shapes. If you're searching for art lessons on RMN, you want to draw facechips, and tilesets, and charsets. Who gives a damn about triangles?

So, if you think you can draw everything perfect, you can use the above image, but if you're the basic newbie, or arthritic, like me, you can start with the next figure.

Yeah, I know. Ucken fugly. This is your basic frame for the face. Start by drawing the oval. Don't worry, we're going to clean it up. Then draw the circle as shown. If you have basic comparison abilities, you'll realize that you're making the basic shape of the human skull. See that line that kind of makes it look like the frame is wearing a mask? Start from the center top of the oval and curving toward the edge of the face, away from the back of the skull, curve it away and back to the center bottom. Now, we need to give our face it's basic shape.

The eye is in the middle, so slightly above that, you want to make the ridge for the eyebrow. Remember that you're jaw at this angle tapers to a point and then curves back. For good measure, flare the cheeks slightly at were the lips will be, like I did above. Now, you're going to want to put your initial features in. Let the nose and eyebrow be a guide.

Now, I know the eyebrow looks a little goofy. That's because the character I was making this for isn't entirely human. I re-purposed this project to make this lesson, but that's okay. The strange eyebrow still follows the muscle structure. From the point of the eyebrow ridge, bring your eyebrow slightly up and then come down in a close parenthesis shape. How far that C goes over the middle line of the face depends on how shallow or deep you want the bridge of your nose to be. You can see that mine barely crosses the line. Bare in mind though that it should cross the line at the level you see in the image above. That line just beneath it is to let me know where the nostrils go. Where the center face line meets the bottom of the circle, as shown above, is where you're mouth will go. Just draw a line at the moment. Now, let's place guides for the eyes.

Draw the top guideline straight across at the level where the top of the nose curve meets the center line. Place the second guide between the top and bottom of where the nose curve meets the middle line. Yeah, I know it's a mess. Yours probably is too. Don't worry. It'll look better.

Yeah, I kind of fixed the lines. I eyeballed it (no pun intended). Now, I know what you're thinking. Who the hell keeps their eyes open that wide? Well, try and remember that we're not just drawing the visible eyeball. Those eyes also represent the eyelids. You kind of want to make lemon shapes for your eyes.

Main rule about the ear; the top always lines up with the top of the eye. Always. Your ear is a backwards C that's narrow at the bottom and wide at the top.

Now we can get rid of the basic guidelines. I cleaned up a few lines, changed the shape of the jaw. It's still not correct, but I'll deal with it soon. I cleaned the top of the head slightly, too. It's still a face only a mother could love...barely.

Now, we're going to get to work on the eyes. The iris should be fairly large. This is a little overlarge, but that's okay. Let's draw the irises before the eyelids, so for the moment, we should see the whole circle of the iris. Now, in my example, our face is looking into the middle distance, so the irises should appear in the same spot. One thing that artists mess up all the time is eye focus. Depending on where you are looking, your irises are not always in the same spot as each other. This is important, so let's see this face, at this angle, but looking straight back at you.

Now, her left eye (your right) is centered, but her right eye turns in slightly to the nose so that she appears to have a floating eye. These eyes are correctly focused. If the right eye were also centered, then she would have a floating eye. People think the eyes always point in the same direction. They don't. They never point in the same direction. They point at what you're looking at. Always remember that. You don't want to make sure the eyes match position. You want to make sure they're pointed at what they're looking at.

Now, let's go ahead and put some eyelids on her. How much of the iris shows depends on how much you want the eyes open. Remember that they're usually not open as wide as they are above. For the moment, simple lines over the eyes will do. Bring up the lower lid slightly. That lid barely moves, but it's present, so it needs to be there.

This is kind of a finishing touch, but it won't get in our way, so while we're on the eyes, we may as well do it. You should be able to see the line where the eyelids end, but only a little. Eye lashes will cover the upper eyelid to an extent. Next let's look at the nose.

Oh, man, the nose is a subject all by itself. First though, let's correct the tip of that curve and bring it back in. Feel free to erase some of your initial line. Don't worry; it's only natural to make adjustments to what you've already done. Pencils wouldn't come with erasers otherwise. Very simply, just draw the cleft of the nose and curve back to make the nostril. Add some shading, then draw the outer flair so that it starts above the center of the nostril and curves down just below it. At this angle, you can still see a portion of the far nostril. Try to start the curve of the flairso that it vaguely follows the curve of the nose. Part of the inner nostril should be visible.

Now, let's start on the lips. Positioning of the lips: the far side is going to be a bit smaller than the near side. It's important to maintain perspective. What you might find helpful is using the philtrum as a guide for your lip positioning like I did. Make sure the top of the philtrum lines up with the bottom. Use the curve of the philtrum to help inform the shape of the upper lip.

Now, we don't need the philtrum any more. You can go ahead erase it. You may want to keep some of it, though. Even though the philtrum isn't so completely visible, it is still somewhat visible. A straight line from corner to corner will complete the upper lip, and the lower lip will curve beneath and will be slightly too short to meet the corners of the upper lip. At this point, our face is starting to look legitimately like a halfway decent drawing, but we're actually still a little ways from that.

The next hard part is the ear, so let's take it step by step. Draw the ridge of the ear first. It starts just under where the ear meets the head and follows the curve of the ear back to a bit above the lobe.

Now, there's another ridge inside the ear. It's roughly the same shape as the the rest of the ear. At the bottom is the canal. Bring the outer ridge in and loop it back into itself, going back to where the ear meets the head. If you have a problem with shading, don't forget that your eraser can also help you lighten the shading. The eraser is for much more than correcting mistakes. When you're done with ear, fix the eyebrows. You see I got rid of the devil points and made them a little bushier. Now, our image looks respectable.

Now for a bit of clean up. I made my lines nicer. I corrected the jaw. Where's it supposed to be? Put your fingers in front of your ears, you know, the way you do when you're only pretending to plug your ears. Now open your mouth. Do you feel that? That spot right in front of your ears is where your jaw hinges. So your jaw needs to line up with the front of the ears. I also brought the left eye in slightly. It wasn't incorrect, but it was wider than I like. Finally, I added a little bit of shading to highlight the chin right under the lip. There are plenty of things you can do. Age your face by adding crows feet, lines across the forehead and lines at the corner of the mouth. Add shading to the area between the eyes and eyebrow for makeup effects. Then there's the pupils. Remember that the pupils change size for lighting conditions. The pupils in our final image are the size they would normally be outdoors once adjusted to the brightness. You want them to be large if your subject is in low light (or stoned).

Hair. I should talk about hair. It really needs it's own topic as it's just as complicated as drawing the face, so I'll only tell you a little here. Now, there is no one way to draw hair. You can draw the shape of the style and shade it. That's what the RTP facechips do. I use a method that a lot of artists use; simply drawing individual lines to indicate the flow of the hair. It has kind of a frizzy, scribbly look to it, but it has an appeal that I like. If you use this method, simply maintain consistent strokes all moving in the same direction, otherwise, you'll end up with the choppy patterns you see in the pony tail.

Now tell me? You saw how crappy my images looked in the beginning. Does the final image look like that? No. It doesn't. It's actually a pretty good looking woman. It still needs a bit of clean up, but now we have a presentable image, and the very first lines of our project didn't need to be perfect. This was also a very nice demonstration of tablets and drawing programs. The beauty of this is that it's still hand drawn, and not only can you see that, but it looks like it was drawn by pencil on paper.

I hope you took something useful away from this, and most importantly, I hope you've learned that in order to make good art, not all or not even the majority of your lines need to look perfect. They don't have to look good. They don't even have to look vaguely okay. It's unrealistic to expect your initial lines to look good. Don't be afraid to erase. That's what the eraser is for. In fact, you really can't art without it. So do yourself a favor and stop thinking that because everything looks beautiful in a 20 dollar textbook, that everything you do has to be beautiful in order to make beautiful art. That's the same as expecting instant gratification. Art is work, and work is never pretty. Only the finished product is pretty.


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A lot of truths and good advice for beginners here.
Making clean black outlines is the most tedious part of any drawing, I think, and those How to Draw books and tutorials can really kill one's motivation when you're a newbie. And when you zoom in on many top-level artists' works, you often see how rushed or messy some areas and lines are.

If I may add one of the best advice I ever followed was to "draw from life".
In other words, use real persons and scenes as reference (or at least photos).
Don't draw from other artists' works (unless you're doing fanart or want to replicate a given style, of course) because they might not know how to replicate the human body or a landscape or whatever 100% faithfully.
When can we expect part 4/4?
The TM is for Totally Magical.
And when you zoom in on many top-level artists' works, you often see how rushed or messy some areas and lines are.

Exactly. And I've talked to people who have looked at nothing but the frame and said, "I can't do that." And I've told them that the person who wrote the book didn't even do it. It was cleaned up with a computer.

When can we expect part 4/4?

I guess this means I have to write 1/4 and 2/4, too.
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