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Concept Art – visual diary – entry 2

Tweet So you’ve seen those amazing images in my previous diary entry from some of the industry giants and you might have thought as I did, “how on Earth do I learn to produce artwork like that?” The answer wasn’t written in the sky for me nor handed on a silver platter, I had to [...]

So you’ve seen those amazing images in my previous diary entry from some of the industry giants and you might have thought as I did, “how on Earth do I learn to produce artwork like that?” The answer wasn’t written in the sky for me nor handed on a silver platter, I had to go find out for myself. To be honest it’s the sort of question I’ll never fully answer, as I’ll always be adding to my knowledge and redefining what makes a successful concept artist. But you have to start somewhere…

Now I’m not a complete newbie to art, drawing, painting and so on. I studied art at High School (except final year), and also while doing my teaching degree at university. I’ve always drawn, loved drawing and have held a fascination for that funky 70′s sci-fi imagery found on the cover of old Alan Dean Foster novels and Asimov novels etc. Check out these retro novel covers of Isaac Asimov’s novels to see what I mean:

Isaac asimov novel coverIsaac asimov novel cover 2

Don’t ask me what in the world (or off it!) that guy on the left is wearing, but you get the idea!

I decided to do some research to get an idea of what was required. I reviewed information from the following areas:

  • Publications – Imagine FX, D’artiste & Advanced Photoshop which both had interviews with current concept artists asking them how they got into the industry and what was required to become a good one.
  • DVDs – mainly from the Gnomon workshop catalogue, which will be reviewed in later diary entries.
  • Online forums – www.conceptart.org, as well as the forums from the above magazines

As you’d expect, each artist had slightly different advice for the reader, but there was a definite common thread in every answer. They all said you must

DRAW, DRAW, DRAW!!!

Each and every artists couldn’t stress the importance of gaining traditional media skills enough, in particular, good ol’ pencil and paper drawing from observation or imagination. Each artist also recommended a well rounded traditional skill set including:

  • drawing – in particular, the human figure
  • sculpting
  • painting
  • photography

So with that direction in mind, I decided to tackle drawing first. Even though I have drawn a lot before, there is a huge difference between drawing what you think you see, and what is actually there. The problem is our brains tend to try and symbolise everything we see to make it easier to remember what we saw, at the expense of accuracy. To eradicate this, I have to retrain my brain to draw what is in front of me (or in my imagination) and not revert to its old symbolism.

The Structure of Man

The problem with trying to draw the human figure is that a willing model isn’t always available. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a website in my online search efforts called: the-structure-of-man.blogspot.com On this site I found a six DVD set of videos on how to accurately draw the human figure from your mind. I must admit, I was a little skeptical at first, but for $60 I felt it was worth a shot!

I had also bought my first Wacom pen tablet last year so I decided to team that up with a drawing program to allow me to practice using the tablet pen. The drawing program I decided upon was ‘Art Rage 2.5′ from Ambient Design, an intuitive, easy and simple but powerful digital painting and drawing program with all the tools, but none of the gimmicks. Here’s a sneek peek at the program, I’ll review it fully in a later entry.

screen image of Art Rage 2

I have to say, in only the first 20 lessons from the DVD (disk 1) I was already unlocking the secrets of the human structure. Our dimensions are incredibly mathematical and precise. As I write this post I’m up to lesson 44 (image above) on disk 2.

Here are some of the amazing facts I’ve already discovered:

  • the average human body is 7.5 head heights tall. A tall person is about 8 head heights, a small person is about 7 head heights.
  • The skull is twice as high as it is wide, as is the chest cavity/rib cage area.
  • The legs are half the height of the body, the knee bone is 1/2 way down the length of the leg
  • The human skull is actually made up of no less than 24 bones!
  • Males have 12 ribs up each side, females have one extra (theives). See the book of Genesis in the bible for the reason why…
  • The spine is almost as wide as the jaw bone (about 2/3)
  • The human eyes are actually 1/2 way down the skull, not up near the top where most people draw them!

So that’s it for today’s diary entry. What can you expect in the next one?

  • I’ll display my very first attempts at drawing the simplified skeleton using the wacom tablet for a good chuckle
  • I’ll review Art Rage 2.5 fully
  • I’ll link you to an optical illusion site to show you just how symbolised our brain actually is!! Be prepared to be tripped out…

See you then.

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One Response

03.05.08

awesome .. can’t wait for part 3