In the beginning of last year, one of my new year’s resolution was to make at least one coloured art piece a month. Well, that totally didn’t happen. At first it was just because I didn’t have time, but as the year progressed it was because of an increasing dissatisfaction with my artwork. Even at the sketching stage, I felt increasingly frustrated with my art that I just didn’t bother to colour them in.
In November, I participated in NaNoWriMo so I didn’t have time for art at all. And in December, I finally decided to take some online art lessons to improve. I chose schoolism.com because after shopping around for online courses, this was the only one I found that is a good match for the skill level I’m currently at and want to get to, without passing my budget. I opted for the 1-year subscription instead of the critiqued classes, so I can go at my own pace.
Throughout December, I worked my way through the gesture drawing course taught by Alex Woo. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. I think the best part about the structure of the course is that you can see the critiques for the students who took the critique sessions, so you get to see how other people are doing and have a better idea of how to improve your own skills.
Here are a few samples of my work from the course. Mind you, these are not polished up. The course is typically 7-week long and I breezed through it in December (often forgoing that cafe drawings) for personal reasons. If I had taken the critique sessions, I would definitely polish my drafts up a bit more. So if you think, “Oh these are not that good,” definitely attribute it to my rush and not to the quality of the course. There are student submissions that were awesome. As a matter of fact, I was really surprised to see some amazing works that seemed to be getting only 3-stars from the instructor, so based on that, I’m pretty sure these drafts would be like 1 to 2 stars only.
Lecture 1: Line of Action
The line of action is about distilling a pose into a single line to capture the main idea or the main movement of the body. This sample is probably not gonna make much sense without the actual poses as reference, heh.
Lecture 2: Shape
Like the line of action, shape tries to distill a pose into a single entity that captures its main feeling. It’s great for composition because you know what space your figure is taking up.
Lecture 3: Silhouette
This is probably one of the most important things I learned in the course. Silhouette is about capturing the action of your figure even without details. In good gesture drawing, the action of your figure must still be recognizable even if the figure is completely blacked out. I think one of the problems I had before was that a lot of the poses I put my characters in had terrible silhouettes. I had a lot of fun doing the exercise for this lecture.
Lecture 4: Space
I didn’t do the homework for this lecture, because I was so excited about the upcoming lectures. I know, I’m terrible. But this lecture is about establishing a sense of 3-dimensionality in your figure. So things like… putting your figure’s feet in different altitudes.
Lecture 5: Exaggeration
This was one of my favourite lectures. I probably failed it but it was so informative. Exaggeration is about taking the idea of a pose and exaggerating the figure so that the idea becomes more pronounced. In order for us to do this, we had to assign a story to the poses so that we know how to exaggerate it. Some of these worked out better than others. I wonder if we were supposed to really stick to the 2-minute time frame. I spent about 5 to 10 minutes on the better ones here, but even they don’t look as good as the ones that the other students handed in.
Lecture 6: Extrapolation
Extrapolation is about using the main idea of the model’s pose and applying it to another thing, like an animal. For this lecture we were asked to study the anatomy of an animal and to do all the exercises using this animal. To my everlasting regret, I chose the Philippine tarsier, because it’s an animal that appears in my story and I thought, might as well have a bit of practice. But this ended up being such a poor choice. The tarsier is curled up in itself most of the time; it can’t really stretch its arms, and it rarely stretches its legs (only to jump). So I had a LOT of difficulty applying the stretched out poses. I tried to have the head and eyes capture the main idea, but there’s only so much variability I can do. Either that or I’m just not terribly creative.
Lecture 7: Story
Story is about using a pose in a larger context of a story. For this lecture we were assigned to come up with a story using a series of poses. In the sketch below, you’ll see the poses in the upper left corner. I ended up modifying most of them to fit my story.
And that’s it! What a ride! I learned so much from this course, and even if I rushed it, I will certainly keep the lessons in mind and apply them to my upcoming artwork.