🙋🏻‍♀️Help needed! Core shadow shape design
6mo
CC Kuang
Hi everyone, I've been practicing anatomy for 2 months, and just finished the torso portion. My goal this week is to tackle core shadow shape design, which Stan uses a lot in his example videos. I really like the highly stylized shapes seen in @Stan Prokopenko and @Lane Brown 's drawings as shown below (Watt's style, I guess?) , but I can't figure out the logic behind it. To be specific, my questions are: 1️⃣ how to balance being loyal to the reference photo and creating dynamic shapes? 2️⃣how to blend sharp lines or soft edges in an interesting way?
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Alec Brubaker
Hi CC, In regards to the logic of this kind of drawing and what makes these drawings look so appealing, it really boils down to shape design, chiefly communicating what is in light vs what is in shadow. To address your other questions: 1) How to balance being loyal to the reference photo and creating dynamic shapes? I took some classes with Jeff Watts and he often described drawing as "part what you see, part what you know, and part what you wish you saw". Personally speaking, I think you should put your tastes and the shapes you 'want to see' ahead of the reference photo. By it's nature what we are doing when we draw is creating an interpretation of reality, so in the end our personal filter is inescapable, and I think it's important to embrace that. That's what makes an artist unique, and why we usually have a lot more fun looking at drawings and paintings over photographs. Reference material is of course extremely useful, and I'm not saying that you shouldn't use it. But simply be aware that it's there for you to refer to, study and get inspiration from, not something you need to 'copy'. When you look at drawings on instagram, or artwork in a museum, i guarantee you're not judging it on how accurate it is to the reference! Your artworks are a series of your decisions, and you can use reference to assist you in making those decisions. Just be cautious of letting the reference end up making all of the decisions for you! 2) How to blend sharp lines or soft edges in an interesting way? In the drawings you posted, there isn't a ton of value information, really only shapes and edges. The artists are using these elements to communicate form by showing a difference between light and shadow. What kind of shapes and edges to use is usually influenced by how the light is hitting the form, and it is very important to think about this aspect before you start drawing shadow shapes. What is the direction of the light? is it a harsh hard light, or a soft ambient light, etc. A rule of thumb is that if a shadow is happening because form is turning in space away from the light source, you're going to get a softer transition from light > shadow. If a shadow is being cast however, you'll typically get a firmer shadow line. ---- I'm also attaching some awesome drawings by Jeff Watts and Steve Huston to communicate those ideas on designing light/shadow shapes. Hope this helps, and keep up the good drawing!
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huston lady
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CC Kuang
Wow, thank you, Alec!! That's a lot of good stuff to digest 😄 It's funny that only after you guys point it out to me that I should put design and personal taste ahead of references, I was like "of course, this makes so much sense! How could I never thought of this before?!" I guess I'm afraid to get away from the reference because when I was a kid, my family and friends always praise my drawing when it actually "look like" the reference. It's a little shocking to discover that my childhood chase for applause still secretly dictates my thinking and behavior now. Anyway, it's really helpful to see through my unconscious habits and work on it. There's a Chinese proverb perfect for this situation "不破不立“(read as "bu puo bu li") , meaning you can't build new things without break some old ones ☀️
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The Asian Sam
here's my drawing of your sketches, I don't have the original reference you have so I had to push and invented the pose a little bit. I would suggest you to push the reference further and break some rules to make a nice flow and shape design. I think it is important to draw correct anatomy but stylizing it gonna be a little unrealistic like lane.draws sketches above. He break the figures to make interesting core shadows and he didn't shade in the shadow part to leave the brain do the rest for us. In my drawing below, I pushed the shoulder and hip further than you and it become unrealistic and even incorrect anatomy, but I think I was able to make the shadow a little bit interesting. I couldn't able to draw the line as forceful as he did. For the second question, sharp lines can be use for contrast and it is useful to guide the viewer eyes, core shadows and outlines are great use for sharp and decisive lines. soft lines and edges are for the less important part like the far side shadow where it get blend into the back ground. sharp lines can blend into soft lines to describe the surface such as the belly. I also attached a portrait study I did awhile ago using the technique, I didn't bother to add detail on the shadow on that study and it looks better.
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CC Kuang
Hey Sam, thank you for your help! You definitely understood what confuses me when studying the drawings of @Lane Brown. I can't say how happy I am when someone finally shed lights on it!! Yes, now look at it, it's clear that he did prioritize shape design over accuracy. I love your portrait study. To be honest, I prefer using less strokes to communicate the information than meticulously shading everything, and that's why I'm so eager to study this technique. As of the second question, @Luigi Manese also answered it in a very interesting way. I think you might be interested to check it out. Again, really appreciate your help!!
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Luigi Manese
Hi @CC Kuang, I think you've got some great figure studies here and you're well on your way to achieving that look that you're seeking. I'll try my best to answer the questions that you've presented. For question 1, I think of it in this way. If I were put in a situation where I can either be A: loyal to the reference or B: stray away from the reference for better design, I will pretty much ALWAYS go with option B. One thing that we tend to forget is that we are artists, and the decisions we make to design our drawings is what makes us artists (and not a camera). For question 2, I don't think the blending technique differs all that much, but what you DO want to consider is having edge variety. You want to consider how quickly a turn forms because a larger turn forming creates a softer edge, and a smaller turn forming will create a bit of a firmer edge. You also want to consider how you can use edges to differentiate between materials. A mistake I see a lot is using a hard edge silhouette for hair, and a quick fix would be to soften the edges around the hair to communicate that softer material. Finally, you also want to use edges to create focal area, and push back less important areas. You can mimic the focusing effect of your eye by making very soft edges in areas that are not the focal area. Leave your highest variety of soft edges and crisp edges for the areas that you want to bring the most attention to. Hope this helps! Feel free to let me know if there is anything that I can clear up for you
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CC Kuang
I can't thank you enough, @Luigi Manese ! I think I can immediately put your advice in use, especially about edge variety. I have a follow-up question for Loyal vs. Design: ✏️When I do choose to design the shape, how do i make sure my designed shapes are still anatomically correct? In other words, I just don't see how the shadows on the reference photos morph into the cool zigzag shapes in Stan and Lane's drawing, yet they are so pretty and convincing🤷🏻‍♀️ Or, maybe I'm pursuing this the wrong way? Maybe artists design the shapes more whimsically and arbitrarily, and there's no formula to transform the real shadow into those shapes?
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