Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Final Portfolio


Although it was a little difficult to gauge my progress with life drawing throughout the semester, looking at my entire portfolio of drawings from the beginning to the end has really allowed me to see that I have made  quite a bit of progress. One of the first things I noticed was the extreme difference in my gesture drawings. At the beginning of the semester, my gesture drawings only depicted the outlines of the figure rather than the cross contour lines, and they were also very sketchy. The gesture drawings from the end of the semester show the different components that make up the figure, such as the rib cage, spinal column, and pelvis. The lack of sketchiness in these drawings show that I started to draw more from my shoulder and less from my wrist.

Line variation is something that I need to continue to work on in my drawings, but I think I've progressed in that area a bit over the course of the semester. Varying the weight of lines has always been more of an afterthought for me, and it's something that I would usually address after I already had the whole figure drawn. So being able to do a lot of gesture drawing has helped me learn how to think about all of these different aspects of drawing at the same time.

I've learned over the semester that I'm a very slow drawer, and while I first saw it as a weakness, I learned to see it as more of a strength. A successful drawing should not only be dynamic, it should be accurate as well. Because I give myself more time to observe whatever it is I'm drawing, I think my drawings end up looking much more accurate than someone who tends to jump into drawing before closely observing what it is they're drawing. Although I like for my drawings to be accurate, I also really appreciate the character that some of the other student's drawings have despite them not being as accurate. I don't feel as if I've developed my own style of drawing yet, whereas a lot of the other students have a very distinct style that allows for their drawings to stand apart.

I think the only negative thing about being a slow drawer is not being able to complete a drawing within the 2-hour time slot. I had an especially hard time at the end of the semester trying to get a complete drawing of the entire figure. I have one drawing where the entire upper half is complete, and another where the entire bottom half is complete, but they're from two different people. In the end, I feel like I have a good understanding of the entire figure and I so much more confident with my abilities to draw the figure.

I can easily say that I've learned more in Life Drawing than any of my other studio classes. Amy's knowledge of the human body and of drawing as a whole is beyond impressive, and it makes for an incredible learning experience. Although the building of the muscles on the manikens ended up being much more difficult than I had anticipated, it was also extremely helpful in getting a better understanding of the lines and curves of the body. I started to become more confident in showing the different muscles in my long pose drawings towards the end of the semester, and I know it was because of all of the work we did with the manikens.

Even though Life Drawing may seem like it would be more beneficial to an Industrial Design major or a Studio major, I think I will definitely be using what I have learned in this class in my career as Graphic Designer. Today's Graphic Designers aren't just doing print work, they're doing a whole lot of product design as well. Having an understanding of the human body will come in handy when the task is to design a product that is more ergonomical. I long to work in the fashion industry, so I might be working with apparel and accessories some day, and these types of products directly focus on the human body.

I admit that I was really nervous about taking Life Drawing, mainly because I didn't have a lot of experience drawing people. The whole flow of the class ended up being perfect for someone like me who really had a lot to learn. I never felt like I was falling behind or like I wasn't getting enough feedback from the instructor. Amy was always so involved in our work, and she made the whole idea of drawing the figure a lot less intimidating. Bravo to her and I will continue to recommend this course to other students.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Here's to new adventures....

Not only was this the last full week of Life Drawing, but it was my last full week of class EVER! That's right folks, this girl is moving on to the big leagues. It's scary to think that I'm going to actually have to start designing in the real world, and the design industry isn't exactly the easiest place to find success. In the words of Nagesh, "you've got to be in the top 2% to get a good design job", which isn't exactly reassuring news when there's an abundance of amazing designers out there. In my opinion, Minneapolis has been tapped out for design jobs, but I'm going to keep trying until I get where I want to be.

Okay, moving on. So for our last full week of drawing we focused mainly on the head. On Monday and Wednesday, we worked on portraits of the models, where Amy really encouraged us to look closely at the relationships between the cranium and the face. It's surprising how easy it is to mix up the cranium to face ratio, as mostly everyone in the class did. We all seemed to make the face too big and the cranium too small. I think Amy said the ratio is supposed to be 2:3, with the cranium being the larger of the two. I had a profile view of the model for my portrait, and while it was fairly easy to get the overall shape of the head and face, I had a hard time fully developing the facial features. The nose wasn't bad because I feel really comfortable recognizing all of the different planes of the nose, but I found the eye to be really difficult. Getting the eyes to look right is one of the keys to a successful portrait, and my eye just kept looking so flat. When Amy finally came around to look at our drawings, she reminded me how the eye lid wraps around the eyeball, and by making just a tiny cross contour line for the edge of the lid, the eye immediately becomes dimensional. It was like a total ah-ha! moment for me because I just couldn't figure out why it wasn't looking right.

We finished up our portrait drawings on Wednesday, and I'm fairly happy with how mine turned out. It may not be as developed as some of the other student's drawings, but I'm a really slow drawer so that's to be expected. On Friday, we began our first drawing of the entire figure while Amy checked over our clay models for the last time before we photograph them. I went into the drawing thinking it was going to be relatively easy since we've basically been practicing for this moment the entire semester. I was totally wrong though, and I immediately began feeling overwhelmed after starting to draw. First of all, I didn't know where to start. I know we're supposed to always start with the line of the spine and the egg of the rib cage, but it's so hard to go back to that when we've developed our drawings so much over the course of the semester. I ended up drawing the midline of the model's body first, which helped me to determine the positioning of the legs, which I drew next. I've really been trying to map out the various muscles of the body in this final drawing in order to show Amy that I've progressed. So far it's going well and I'm eager to finish the drawing up on Monday. I got about half of the figure done on Friday, so I still have to do a little bit on the torso, the head, and the arms. I'm most concerned about the arms because that was not an easy study for me. Luckily, we're drawing from a male model, which means more defined muscles.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Eyes and Ears and Mouth and Nose (Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes)

This week, we focused on the different elements that make up the face. We started out with a lecture on the eyes and nose. Amy does such a great job in making the techniques for drawing the different body parts as uncomplicated as possible. We got a really great in-depth lecture on the facial features this week, which were so helpful when it came to drawing from the models. I found the nose to be the hardest of all the facial features because the plane changes didn't seem as obvious to me. I didn't really get a decent nose drawing until we started learning about the mouth on Friday. I found that it's much easier to understand the plane changes if you draw the curve of the upper lip first and use it as a sort of guide for the rest of the nose. I also noticed that it's very easy to make the nose too small, which is something Amy pointed out during her lecture. Like we've been taught through out the semester, it's better to exaggerate the features than to make them too small or flat.

The plane changes with the eye were easier to recognize and I ended up getting a much more complete drawing of an eye than of a nose. As soon as I tried adding the cornea, however, my eye started looking strange, so I just left the eyeball blank with no cornea or retina.

The mouth was somewhere in the middle as far as difficulty. It was nice to have already learned the nose which acted as a started point for drawing the mouth. I had more of a three quarter few of the model's mouth, so I had some difficulty figuring out where the front plane of the lips transitioned to the side plane. One thing I tried to focus on was making sure the lips were of different widths so the drawing would feel more realistic. As always, I'm a really slow drawer so I think I ended up with a fairly complete nose and top lip, and a somewhat rushed bottom lip that still needs some adjustment.

We learned about the ears this week too, but I didn't get to any ear drawings in class. Amy has a way of making everything look really easy because she's obviously very experienced and talented, so my first impressions of the ear were that it wouldn't be too hard. I'm sure I'll think differently about that once I attempt my first ear drawing.

I'm anxious to start putting my final portfolio together, and I'm curious about what Amy wants us to include. I feel like we've rushed through the past few studies due to time constraints, so I'm not sure that all of us have drawings of every single facial feature. I guess I'm hoping that we'll just be able to pick our ten best drawings again, which ever body parts they may be. Ugh...so much work in the next couple weeks!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Skull

It was a short week for drawing because of Easter break, but we managed a brief study of the skull on Wednesday. I wasn't feeling good on Monday, so I didn't make it to class. I guess it just ended up being another day of drawing hands. I feel fairly confident with my hand drawings. I only ended up getting about three or four fingers done on the skeleton hand drawing, but I managed to get two or three drawings from the model's hand. I really enjoyed drawing the hands, and I felt as if it was one of the easier studies for me. The skull, on the other hand, is a whole other story. I found it pretty difficult to draw the skull because there's so many different planes and it's kind of overwhelming trying to figure out where the plane changes are. I ended up getting stuck on the main bulk of the skull for most of the our drawing time, but once Amy came over and pointed out the different planes of the face, I got a much better understanding of how it all worked. I've finally realized that I'm an extremely slow drawer, and it surprises me how many people seem to get a fairly complete drawing after only an hour long session or less. I like for my drawings to be as accurate as possible, which is the main reason why it takes me so long.

I'm hoping to get a nice, in-depth lecture on the skull sometime, but we're nearing the end of the semester and we still have to do some more facial features, so we'll see.

Monday, April 18, 2011


We focused completely on the hands this week, starting with a very in-depth lecture on all of the different components of the hand. I'm not sure that it felt easier to draw the hands after already having drawn the feet, but it wasn't as difficult as I expected. With the feet, I found it easiest to map out the four different planes first, and then go back in to add all of the detail of the ankle and toes. With the hands, I found it easiest to figure out all of the angles of each finger, which was basically a series of lines, and then going back in to draw each finger in detail. So my process for drawing the hands was similar to my process for drawing the feet, I just didn't focus so much on the different planes of the hand, but rather the angles. In the end, I found that I had a much easier time drawing hands than feet.

One of the things that we did different this week, was we were able to draw directly from a skeleton hand. I ended up drawing from the skeleton before I drew from the model, and I think it was actually quite beneficial to do it in this order. Since I had a better understanding of the inner structure of the hand, I was able to better understand the different planes of the outer surface of the hand.

I never ended up getting a complete drawing of either the skeleton hand or the model's hand, but I think the partial drawings I have show my understanding of the overall structure.

Amy also had us bring in our clay models this week so she could check our forearm muscles. It seemed like everyone had some difficulty making the muscles thin enough so that the forearm wouldn't look completely disproportionate to the upper arm. Overall, the clay muscle building ended up being much more difficult than I expected. The book is extremely confusing and unless you're someone who has the patience and time to spend  hours upon hours building muscles, they're just never going to look 100% perfect.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Oh my gosh, it's not snowing.

So this week we worked more on the arms, but tried to focus mostly on the forearm. It was a short week due to Mid-Program Review, but we managed to get a couple long drawings in. One thing that was different about this week was that we didn't get the usual feedback from Amy during the long poses because she was inspecting our clay models. I didn't mind this at all because we rarely get a chance to get feedback on our muscles that we've been building throughout the semester, so it was really nice to get some help in making sure everything looked correct. I think I've been doing fairly well with my manikin, but I still seem to have some trouble giving the muscles enough mass. Francois does have a relatively impressive calf, however, but it makes him look a little bottom-heavy in comparison to his thigh.

Back to the drawings...
I definitely struggled with the arms for the past two weeks, but I think I'm slowly improving. I'm so used to including the entire figure in my drawings, so it's been a little difficult trying to zero in and focus solely on the arms. Unless the model has really defined arm muscles, the whole arm just feels like a cylindrical mass, So it would have been awesome to have been able to draw from a male model this week because they usually have more defined arms.

I'm not sure if I'm just getting used to building the muscles on the manikin, or if it's because I have a better understanding of the arm muscles, but I've really enjoyed the past few muscle assignments. Maybe it's because they were easier to build? I don't know, but it's okay with me. I can honestly say though, that I'm anxious to be done with the manikins. As much as I've gotten to know and love Francois, at least when his muscles aren't falling off in the back seat of my car, I'm ready to adopt him out to a new parent.

As of now, this post is technically 6 minutes late, but that's the affect that Senior Show seems to have on one's life....there's little, and I mean little, time for anything else.  

Monday, April 4, 2011


We focused mainly on the shoulders again this past week, but by Wednesday, we were doing some long poses where we were supposed to focus specifically on the arms.

For our long pose on Wednesday, I decided to use a drawing horse rather than an easel. This allowed me to get much closer to the model than I've been able to thus far. It took me a while, however, to get used to the new perspective, and I ended up starting my drawing over again a few times before I got the figure scaled correctly on the page. I've been used to focusing on the legs and seeing the entire figure in my drawing, so I kept drawing the figure too big, which then ended up cutting off most of the arm. It's times like this when it would be nice to have three hours to draw, and one thing I've learned this semester so far is that I'm a relatively slow drawer. By the time I got the figure scaled correctly, I found another challenge in seeing the different muscles that make up the arm. I'm sure part of it was because of the perspective I was viewing the arm at, with the elbow pointed out towards me. It was great when Amy came over to look at my drawing, because she was able to basically map out the muscles, which immediately gave me a better understanding of the arm.

We also had a few lectures on the arm this week, along with a couple of muscle assignments. Our muscle assignments were a bit larger than they've been with past assignments, but all of the muscles were pretty small so they didn't take too long to construct. I've probably enjoyed these past couple of muscle assignments for the arms and shoulders the most out of all of our muscle assignments so far. I'm not exactly sure why, but perhaps it's because it's much easier to see how they relate to one another, as opposed to the leg muscles which seemed to intertwine and overlap all over the place.

We're getting closer and closer to being finished learning about the different parts of the figure, and I'm anxious to see what we're going to be doing next!