Artist Tips and Advice: How to Draw from Life

Monday, February 21, 2011

I have received a few e-mails from amateur artists asking me for tips and advice on how to improve their drawing skills. Being a self-taught artist without academic art education I might be not that good in giving tips and explanations as I would like to be. However, I managed to acquire rich experience throughout years of practicing in creating custom illustrations and portraits of various complexities. I have read quite a few books written by extremely talented artists; I tried to imitate styles of world famous masters of the art of drawing and I faced all those difficulties each aspiring artist faces daily. My experience allowed me to develop my own drawing tactics, methods to overcome difficulties and meet challenges as well as to adapt some classic drawing principles brought to us by most respected artists in the world. It would not be right to keep the information I can offer to young artists seeking for help unrevealed. Therefore I’ve made a decision to share my experience here on my blog to help those who just begin learning to draw. I’ll try to give you the most practical information and explain, as best as I can, what to you can do in order to draw better.

Drawing from Life Tips

In order to create continuous-tone drawings from life I follow three main principles in my work as an artist:

  1. The Relativity Principle:
    • Do not try to convey real tone intensity, but rather the ratio between different tones intensity, i.e. follow the tones scale;
    • Draw separate parts of a model evaluating their size and shape in relation with other parts, i.e. draw in proportion;
    • Follow basic perspective principles.
  2. The Sequence Principle:
    • Draw "from general to particular", i.e. begin with general outlines and then proceed to smaller elements of the drawing;
    • Begin shading in the most dark places of your drawing, gradually make shadings more intensive while adding tone to less shaded areas;
  3. The Selectivity Principle:
    • When drawing a model, focus on the most compositionally important details while omitting and/or smoothing out some minor details;
    • Do not try to convey the whole tone palette on paper. It's better to select a few shape-generating tones and interpret shapes of the model by means of this chosen set of values (shades which, in relation with each other, create shade and highlight effect in an artwork).


Bison Drawing

Thursday, February 17, 2011

This is another good example of how my artworks shown in previous posts can lead new clients to me. This time I am talking about a bison drawing in the post dedicated to the series of North American wildlife illustrations created by me for Buffalo and Company. The bison illustration had been found by people who also needed original buffalo art to create a cool-looking bison engraving for custom wood urns. Thus they commissioned me to create a new bison drawing for this engraving purpose.

The bison image will be engraved on wooden urns in quite a peculiar and sophisticated way. The engraving company uses a low power industrial laser to “burn” images and wording into soft materials (such as wood & plastic). For the best results with the laser a black and white picture is needed with almost no gray in it. The laser does not interpret gray very well. That is why my style of cross-hatching is ideal for engraving the American buffalo image on urns. The process also requires high resolution pictures with clean edges which can be enlarged without getting pixilated. That’s why I’ve made a rather big drawing to ensure high quality engraving.

After I had created the first bison drawing, a few people asked me which pen I used to draw the animal. Well, I had tried a lot of pens to make pen and ink drawings, but eventually I set my choice on an Axent Autographe 0.5 gel pen. This pen has a convenient design and the diameter of the tip which perfectly suits my drawing requirements. It allows easily control line boldness. This Axent pen along with a few fountain pens is my favorite drawing instrument when it comes to cross-hatching technique.

Drawing a Bison

bison drawing, buffalo art
This is my second bison drawing

Related posts:
Bison tattoo
Bison Drawing for Buffalo Jackson Trading Co.
Another wildlife drawings
Hunting and fishing illustrations
Lion drawing


Personalized Pin-Up Art with a Car

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I am happy to announce that my personalized pin-up art keeps on growing in popularity. Within two last weeks I had several e-mails from people asking for information about my custom pin-up drawings. For the time being I observe that mostly women are interested in having personalized pin-up portraits made for them from their photographs as they are planning ahead to give original, unique and intimate gifts to their boyfriends and husbands on the occasion of future celebration of such special events as birthdays and wedding anniversaries. Well, no doubt, a hand-made traditionally-looking pin-up style portrait of the wife or the girlfriend is definitely an "out of the box" gift idea.

Not only did people ask for information about my personalized pin-up art, I had also got a couple of custom pin-up commissions. In this post I want to show you the result of one of these commissions.

The custom pin-up drawing shown below was created for a lady named Brittany. The woman was looking for a pinup related gift idea for her boyfriend when she stumbled upon my blog to see my custom pin-up pictures which she considered to be the perfect Valentines Day gift. I've got two pictures of her face and two full length pictures because, as Brittany explained, she was curvier than most pinups but she would like that to be seen in the drawing. She wanted her custom pin-up picture to be something with a car, because her boyfriend loved old cars. As a reference she had chosen a classic pin-up of a girl changing the tire of her automobile (you can see this picture here). Since she wanted her legs to be less covered with clothing in the final drawing than on the example she had showed me, I decided to draw her as a pin-up girl wearing a kind of a bathing suit. Below you can see the final pin-up artwork made for Brittany and the work progress video. As you can see I hone my custom pin-up drawing skills and techniques with every new commission. This time I used brush pens from Pentel along with regular lead and color pencils. But the most important is that Brittany absolutely loved her custom pin-up picture.

Custom pin-up art for Brittany

personalized pin-up art with a car
Custom pin-up art created by me from client's photos

If you are after a personalized pin-up art created for you or your special ones I would be happy to help you in bringing your ideas to life. Just let me know.

Click here to see all my custom pin-ups on this blog
All my pin-up videos

Related posts:
Custom pin-up with three cars
Pin-up with a 1956 Chevrolet car
Rat rod pin-up
Custom Pin-Up for an Australian Woman
Custom pin-up picture for Cindy
Custom pin-up drawing for Susie


Panda Tattoo

Friday, February 11, 2011

I am really enjoying the fact that my previous commissions, which results I showed in my blog, continue bringing new customers my way. Thus a week ago I was contacted by a lady from Romania whose good friend had found my panda drawings in the Interenet and referred her to me. The woman was about to have a panda bear tattoo done for her and she wanted me to create a cute panda tattoo design. She said pandas were one of her favorite animals and that’s why she had chosen a tattoo depicting this beautiful Chinese bear as her birthday present. She also said that the panda bears looked kind of sad all the time, because of the black spots from the eyes area, but she wanted her panda tattoo to be cute and happy, with an interesting smile. One of her requirements for the drawing stated that the bear’s body position should be unusual and interesting; it could be a playing animal offering a flower. So the picture was supposed to be extremely cute and touching.

I am not a big fan of tattoos as I thing that there is nothing more beautiful than a clean skin. But I could not help drawing such a cute and kind tattoo design. Why not? If this picture makes someone happier, I don’t mind drawing it even if it is a tattoo. I had created a few sketches for the Romanian lady to choose from and I drew the panda she liked most. Traditionally I used Pentel brush pens to make the drawing. Below you can see the final picture.

Drawing a panda tattoo design

panda tattoo
Panda tattoo

cute panda tattoo on skin
This is how the panda tattoo looks on skin

Related posts:
Bison tattoo
Cute stuffed animals



Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cylia, aka Prescillia, is a contemporary French female singer who performs Pop, Soul and R'n'b music. Her songs are influenced by Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin. I have recently drawn a portrait for her and I would like to show you the result here. You can also watch the video below demonstrating how I create the realistic pencil portrait. The portrait is also interesting because it depicts a person with a dark skin. I used music by Cylia in the video background. By the way, you can learn more about the singer on Cylia’s Myspace page.

A pencil portrait for Cylia:

Cylia (a French singer)


The Best Tool to Outline Drawings

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Outlining my pencil sketches has been a real pain in the rear lately as I had to use different ballpoint and gel pens in order to trace drawings (I am talking about manual, non-Photoshop outline process, also known as inking). I noticed that line drawings traced with regular, uniform lines have much less expressive and aesthetic-looking outlines than those outlined by means of calligraphic techniques. Using ballpoint pens did not allow me to quickly and effectively create that peculiar calligraphic pressure effect for my outlines. I had to apply a number of strokes or use a few different pens where I wanted lines to vary thickness. However those lines would came out not as clean as I wished them to be and the work would take more time and efforts. Obviously, regular ball pens are not the best tools to create expressive outlines.

The calligraphic pens seemed to be a good way out since they are specially designed to smoothly create thin, bold and angled lines. However calligraphic pens proved to be often unable to provide a necessary line thickness which may be required for certain drawings and I had to employ multiple strokes to make lines bolder which could affect the look of a drawing. Another problem with a calligraphic pen is the difficulty to control pen positions necessary to create lines of various boldness. Mastering a calligraphic pen comprehends a lot of practice. Therefore I began looking for a drawing tool which would allow playing with pressure on paper in order to easily create ultra fine and extra broad lines as well as to vary boldness of the same stroke with a single move. Well, there is only one drawing tool with which such performance can be achieved – a brush. However, when working with a traditional fine brush, one has to constantly dip the brush tip into paint which is not quite convenient for applying long, smooth strokes.

I decided to try how ink brushes used in Chinese calligraphy and painting would work for me in tracing my pencil sketches and creating drawings and illustrations with expressive outlines. Eventually I set my choice on a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. This brush pen has an efficient design and high quality materials; it is very convenient to work with and, what is also important, Japan's Pentel Corporation has a comparatively large number of dealers all over the world selling brush pens and other art supplies from Pentel. For European artists who are looking for purchasing Pentel Pocket Brush Pens is the on-line store to check out for this product (actually this is where I’ve got my brush pens). Pentel brush pens are equipped with cartridges filled with permanent pigment ink which allows the brush pen to combine the best qualities of a traditional brush and a fountain pen (another my favorite must-have drawing tool).

pentel pocket brush pen
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen

I used to experience a lot of difficulties in regard to outlining initial pencil sketches when creating fashion drawings where I draw a lot of small details for clothing and figurines’ bodies. When tracing my fashion sketches I create quite a number of lines of varying boldness and length. In order to create smooth and aesthetic outlines for my fashion illustrations all I need is a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. I have been recently commissioned to create a series of line drawings for vintage fashion inspired luggage tags. Each drawing made for this series was traced by a brush pen from Pentel to obtain an expressive outlines and to make the picture look more attractive. Below you can see the results of this work and watch the video showing how I use my Pentel Pocket Brush Pen to outline drawings.

Fashion Drawings Outlined with a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen

fashion outline, outlines
These vintage fashion inspired drawings were outlined with a Pentel brush pen

how I draw fashion with a Pentel brush pen
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen allows creating expressive outlines

Related posts:
Drawing panda bears with a Pentel brush pen
Wacom Inkling review


Reviving a Pencil Sketch with Photoshop Coloring

Friday, February 4, 2011

Yesterday I spent an hour of my time giving a new life to my pencil sketch of a trout once created for a series of hunting and fishing drawings for The Daily Hush company. The sketch was revived by means of coloring with Adobe Photoshop software. Well, coloring with graphic editing software is not 100% manual work which I respect most of all, but sometimes when you need to color a sketch quickly and effectively applying some vivid colors, there is nothing better than Photoshop. Look at the result below. Isn’t it impressive how Adobe Photoshop can make the artist’s life easier and help in creating some stunning images which, if colored manually, would require quite a few hours of work rather than an hour or two of applying digital strokes which you can redo, erase or modify?

Sketch of a Trout Colored with Photoshop

trout art, fish sketch drawing
Pencil drawing of a trout

color trout fish, drawing
The same drawing colored with Adobe Photoshop

Related posts:
American wildlife illustrations
Drawing of a lion head

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