Serena Marenco
Serena Marenco
Italy
Born in Italy, graduate of the Jona Ottolenghi State Institute of Art, formerly a letterer and manga graphic adaptor for the Dynit publishing house.
Serena Marenco
Deviant'art is definitely better in this respect, compared to all the other social networks: it doesn't cut the images (like Twitter and Instagram) nor does it add pieces that totally ruin the layout and the impression (like Facebook does. Terrifying!). The point is that most social networks are not made to emphasise images but to provide a homogeneous navigation for the user. In Artstation, one might expect a less lazy construction of the home page, to avoid cutting the images.
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Serena Marenco
Hi Dan! You certainly don't need to finish all the sketches but the level of detail you've achieved in the finished example you've attached I'd say is very good if you feel like spending a bit more time on a subject. It's up to you whether you want to finish a job or not. I've seen others notice that outside of the focal point (head and torso of the insect) you've left the rest too smudgy. So, this would be a problem if your goal is to make a naturalistic drawing, for example for a magazine: in this case you need to abandon the realistic view and try to include as much information as possible, without worrying about depth of field. Maybe you are familiar with the beautiful habitat plates in books or magazines like Nat Geo (oh my God, I don't know if it is still like that, but when I was young these plates were a feature of popular magazines): there are plants and animals all represented with the same level of detail because the aim is to show in an exhaustive way what everything looks like; the eye of the observer must move over the figure looking for all the subjects and then go and read the description in the captions.  It is a learning process, not just passive observation. If, on the other hand, you just want to paint a dragonfly or a bee or whatever, there is no need for every part, including the background, to have the same level of detail, indeed to do so would create distraction in the viewer. The legs in the foreground will necessarily be more detailed than those half-hidden further back. If for you the most important part of the subject, the part you want the viewer to notice first, is the head and torso, there is nothing wrong with paying less attention to the final part of the abdomen.
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Serena Marenco
I honestly don't know what to say except that I like everything you've done. The texture of your brushstrokes has character, the face expresses personality. I really like the way you set the light. In short, very well done!
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Serena Marenco
Hi Jan! I really like the concept! I think you need to adjust the perspective because the figures appear squashed against the back wall, which seems to me to be curved (first figure). Make the perspective homogeneous: it is true that they are three different figures but they are in the same space. I would also say that the horizon line is at the height of the painter's head in the centre. But if the observer is standing, it should be higher. Is the observer sitting behind the three figures? Then the horizon line is fine where it is. We have a nice line of action joining the three figures. Make sure that the figures follow it as well as possible. Now, check the spatial construction of your figures because they seem to be resting on different planes, especially the last one on the left. Enlarge the picture and consider where the ground line and the outer vanishing points are. Place the three figures on the floor and check that they are positioned correctly. Having enlarged the picture and found the ground, it is now obvious that the desk has a different perspective to everything else. In short, you have to arrange the geometric construction so that everything is solid and coherent. It also seems to me that there are too many light sources. I see one on the ground, between the caveman and the renaissance painter, then there's the light coming from the display and these are fine. Finally, however, there is an ambient light coming from the left, and this seems to me to confuse things a bit, making the whole thing inconsistent. In short, leave aside for a moment the final work and put yourself on a sketchpad to solve and simplify the aspects I have listed. Next time, before you start painting, do these various construction steps so that you don't have to make too big of a correction while painting. I hope I didn't confuse you too much and that I was helpful :)
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ghilo89
Hello! These are my first tries of the assignment. I'm having lots of problems. In particular, I often have no idea of the direction the legs cilinders should be facing! It's easy when they're obviously going forwards or backwards, but where it's more subtle I never seem to get it (like the cat leg for example, which is going left and it seems that it is going parallel to my eyes). Advice is much appreciated :D
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Serena Marenco
Hi ghilo! You chose a couple of difficult poses! May I suggest you try using less cylindrical or otherwise curved shapes and try using some boxes and wedges, for example for the shoulders and pelvis? They will make your life a lot easier in determining the pose and the space occupied by the figure. I would also advise you to always start with a gesture, as you would when drawing a figure. The legs, especially of animals such as deer and cows, are often, from the elbow/knee down, just bones and tendons with a minimal amount of muscle and fat, so not very cylindrical. When you draw the head try to imagine first of all the shape of the skull: you will have an arch of the eyebrow, the cheek bones, the arch of the nose, the jaw: none of these shapes is usually curved, but made of planes and the only big "soft" mass is given by the muscles of the jaw (as in horses that have a big curved muscle which is their characteristic). Don't be a slave to shapes, before you start drawing try to understand what is really a curve and what is a flat superdice. Animals and people ultimately have roughly the same structure, just with different proportions and joint configurations :)
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Serena Marenco
Look, consider that even professionals continue all their lives to practice and learn new things. If you have the right motivation there is no such thing as not being good enough to continue. Years ago I met a girl who decided to stop because she didn't think she was good enough. Her drawings at the time were actually quite crude but I convinced her to continue and enrol in a school in her town. After a year of practice her drawings had completely changed and now, after a few years, she is very close to being considered at the level of a professional (in the meantime she has discovered that she likes concept design much more than comics, which was her first option at the time). You have to keep going, absolutely, don't be discouraged by the amount of things you feel you don't know now, and above all don't be influenced too much by how you see others working, as everyone eventually develops their own personal method. We all start from the same point and we all, sooner or later, find ourselves in the position of saying "I'm too far away from the objective, it's better if I stop". The point is that you don't have a deadline by which to reach your goal, so you move forward one step at a time, one day at a time. There will be times when you feel like you haven't made any progress but if you try to compare your drawings with those of a few months earlier you will see that you have made quite a few steps forward. The important thing is that you continue to enjoy drawing and that it does not become an obligation.
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Serena Marenco
Hi Dan! First of all I would give the wings a little more 'texture', they are transparent but not invisible. The sections of the veins are not totally flat, they are slightly convex, thicker at the edges and tapering towards the centre, so try to suggest this using the reflected colour of the sky and the colour of the flower, with some glazing (if you look closely at the reference photo I think you'll see what I mean). Another problem is the head, which seems to be cropped against the flower behind it. Try moving the flower upwards so that it protrudes from above the head, to accentuate the overlap. Also, the exoskeleton parts, including the legs, should receive some reflected light from the flowers. Try a little bit of desaturated yellow, a bit warmer, that way you should give it a bit more volume. The shadow of the abdomen seems to be the right shade, while in the other parts of the exoskeleton you have made them much lighter, flattening these parts. Also the end parts of the legs are too flat, especially too similar to the colour of the flower. Maybe in the photo they are partly covered with pollen (it's a type of cactus, I think... they release a lot of pollen, very fine, which sticks to the insects' legs) but it shouldn't be so uniform. Make the legs a slightly more reddish yellow and then cover some places with this pollen colour. Also look carefully at where they rest on the corolla, I think some should be partly sunk between the petals or pistils, to give less of a clipping effect. I hope I have been helpful :)
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Serena Marenco
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Serena Marenco
Hi there, here my entry :) I finally got to use some of the references I've been taking over the last few years. Some had been gathering dust in the archive for more than twelve years. ^^; Most of them were taken in Cagliari, where I have lived for ten years, in the Natural Park of the Molentargius Saltpans or on the Sella del Diavolo, the striking promontory overlooking the Poetto beach. There is also a canal photographed near Manchester and a small waterfall in Varese, Lombardy (the area where my father-in-law was from). Thanks for giving me the opportunity to rummage through my photo archives, I have found a lot of interesting things that I had forgotten over the years! :)
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Serena Marenco
It's been ages since I drew a still life, I'd say since the third year of the Art Institute. I had forgotten how enjoyable it was. Oh my gosh...at the time there was a professor who would enjoin me to hurry up and dismantle my composition after 80 minutes. And I had a nice studio easel. Now I have serious doubts I could sit that long on an uncomfortable stool. Stupid arthritis 😑
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Oskari Niemelä
I've been practicing drawing the structure for a year+, I think I'm pretty comfortable with it at this point, though I must admit that some more longhaired animals/weirder angles are still pretty challenging. Some of the time I only draw the structure of the head, since I actually find it more challenging to draw the structure of the head in more detail than I do drawing the whole body with a more simplified head structure. I'm trying to capture the gesture while also maintaining proper proportions. If you have any tips or critiques they would be much appreciated
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Serena Marenco
Hi! Your drawings are really quite good, a nice clean and precise stroke, but they don't really help you to understand the structure of the bodies and how to simplify them. You use a lot of curves, but rather than helping you to sketch, they just give you an idea of the outline. You have to look carefully at the references and try to identify the different parts of the body so that, with practice, you can identify them easily and quickly. Let's start with a small premise: all vertebrates start from a common base, as the name implies they all have a spinal column, usually by identifying the gesture, the primary line of force, you have an approximation of it. The head is grafted onto it. Now, apart from snakes in which the limbs have disappeared during evolution, you will always have two large sectors in which the fore and lower limbs are inserted (no matter if we are talking about reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals or humans). Identify the shoulders and pelvis by representing them with boxes: this will help you to understand how the torso is oriented and possibly rotated. Now place the front limbs in the shoulders and the lower limbs in the pelvis. The ribcage is an ovoid shape that intersects with the shoulders. Once you have this skeleton, you can begin to build shapes on it, bearing in mind that you will not always have cylinders: the forearms and calves, hands and feet of animals often have very little musculature, presenting almost exclusively skin-covered bones and tendons, and can therefore be represented more effectively with square shapes. All vertebrates have broadly the same number of bones and muscles, just arranged differently (in many animal anatomy books you can see a diagram comparing the human structure with that of a dog or a horse, to highlight the similarities). Also the skull, obviously with different proportions (herbivores have more pronounced chewing muscles, think of the large round muscle on the jaw of horses) but you can always spot the cheek bone, the nasal septum, the arch of the eyebrow, rhythms that will help you to draw even animals that you had never studied before. Don't be distracted by the surface, try to identify the bone structure beneath it. Your drawings are already graphically good, try to break down what you see in a more basic way and you will become very good at drawing animals.
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Matt Sanford
Greetings! I'm pretty new to gesture drawing, and wanted to get some feedback to see if I'm on the right track so far, or if there's some aspect of gesture drawing I should focus on more. All of these were 60s drawings based on references in the video above. Any feedback is appreciated!
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Serena Marenco
Hi Matt, for now don't worry about the contours but concentrate on mastering the gesture. Take a few moments to look at the reference and locate the main line of action, which is often the spine but in some cases can also include a leg or arm. In most cases you will be able to represent it as a single curved, flowing C or S shaped line. Once you have identified this line, look for the points where the pelvis and shoulders intersect with it and mark them with a line to define the inclination of these two portions. At this point you will already have a fairly clear idea of how the torso is positioned and how it is oriented in space. Arms and legs connect to shoulders and pelvis. Observe them well, you will notice that they follow a sinuous path, they are not straight lines, and you will be able to represent them with more or less pronounced curves (depending on whether they are stretched or bent). Sometimes you will notice that you can represent both arms in a single line, perhaps in a dance step. Always remember that no part of the body is separate, what you are trying to represent is a whole that moves organically: the movement of one part influences and balances that of another, the neck follows the main line and the head fits into it. For now, concentrate on this, make short poses, don't worry too much about shape or proportion, which you will perfect later in the lessons. For now try to understand the movement and learn to spot and mark it quickly. Don't consider these exercises as drawings to be finished, they are notes that you may need for a more complete work in the future. A bit like listening to a lecture at school and taking notes on the most important passages. I would also advise you to use a pencil for the time being instead of a pen, perhaps one with a soft lead, so that you can manage your stroke more easily and with less worry: the stroke of a pen is something that, also psychologically, appears definitive, so try to give yourself a little more freedom. :)
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Serena Marenco
Hi Becca, for now, don't worry about volume but focus on shape and construction of the face and proportions. As with figure drawing, it's best to take one step at a time, and you'll see that when you manage to build the face correctly, with proportions and planes, your drawings will no longer appear flat, even if you don't apply shadows. :)
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Serena Marenco
This is one of the big problems of the social world, in the past we didn't care so much about what other people were doing but everyone followed their own path. I understand you when you say your favourite part is research and concept, I love the research phase too, it's so inspiring! My suggestion is not to look too much at what others are doing but to proceed at your own pace and follow your own path, developing what you like to do, because at the end of the day we don't live off likes and followers but off the small percentage who are willing to pay for our work. Find what you like to do, what gives you satisfaction, because there is nothing worse than spending days, weeks at your desk or in the studio doing something you don't like to please others. Believe me, I've had the misfortune of being stuck in a graphic design job that I didn't like and that ruined my health (and self-esteem) through stress. Was it worth it for a few paychecks? (very low, by the way. I earned more as a dishwasher, with less stress!). I like nature drawing. It's not stuff that attracts a lot of likes or followers, but doing it gives me satisfaction and at the end of the day I'm happy with what I've done. I get requests where I get paid what I ask for, instead of the unrealistic prices many people ask on Instagram, Deviant Art or twitter (seriously. Why should I work a day on a drawing for $20 when I can earn €50 working 4 hours as a cleaner while listening to an audiobook)? In short, do what you like to do, get good at it, develop a recognisable style and you won't have to scramble through hundreds of people doing the same thing because the people who will be looking for your work will be for their differences
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Josh mcgrath
Hi I've got more 30 second gestures to show please critc my work so I can improve
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Serena Marenco
Really clean and dynamic!
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stub
Here are some snippets of my structure practice, any feedback is appreciated.
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Serena Marenco
Hi stub! When you draw solid shapes (I'm referring to the cup for example, but it's a general guideline), when sketching, draw the part you can't see, in a light way. It will be easier to verify the correctness of the construction. When drawing animals, don't use only curved figures, such as circles and cylinders. Curves are certainly good for measurements and geometric construction of shapes, but in some cases it would be more convenient to use boxes, such as for the shoulders and pelvis, so you have a better idea of the rotation of various parts of the body. Some animals, for example, such as cattle, can be recognized precisely by their square shape (if you draw a cow or a buffalo you will notice that they are very square). Also the heads often, especially in horses and reptiles, are more wedges than cones. Also never forget the gesture and to consider each body part as a piece of a whole, not separate forms. :)
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Serena Marenco
A little personal work (finally I had a couple of days off!), the portrait of the character I use in the test team of the role-playing game Warcall. I tried to apply the directions from the Painting and Skintones Bundle (I actually like the result much better than those obtained in the past using other methods). Obviously I need to practice more because it doesn't come naturally to me yet but I really think that from now on I will always apply this method, which allows to obtain a result much more similar to what I was used to with traditional media.
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Serena Marenco
Thank you for this class. I had been studying other methods and you really helped me fill in some gaps! You cleared up a lot of doubts I had, it was really very helpful to watch your videos. :)
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Serena Marenco
What I recommend is to create a nice library where you can look for inspiration and elements you can use in your concepts. If you want to make a profession out of it, you will be required to create characters and creatures of many different types, with particular cultural backgrounds, that tell something about themselves at a glance. If you have the chance, visit costume or ethnographic museums, but also learn to observe how people dress in the street, what you can guess about a person by looking at how he/she dresses. For things like this, Pinterest is very useful, where you can follow a lot of galleries dedicated to this theme (but also others about natural elements that you could put in a costume or a character, I don't know, a dress that reminds of a particular animal, or maybe an underground civilisation that learned to make fabrics from mushroom cultures - there is a kind of artificial skin made from mushrooms! The ideas are endless!) You can also go to Art station and follow some professional cartoonists to see how they organise the presentation of their characters or how they develop their ideas. In short, let yourself be inspired by everything that already exists, both in nature and in existing costumes, jewellery, various cultures, etc.). Recently, for example, a client gave me a collection of files on ethnic jewellery that she had bought in the 1990s. She was very nice, she found it when she was tidying up her bookcase and thought I might need it, so she sent it to me. When I was a kid, I used to empty out the attics and cellars of people who wanted to get rid of old stuff, to collect picture books and encyclopaedias. Fortunately, now with the Internet, everything is much easier and more convenient. Also watch films and TV series with interesting costumes and make notes on what catches your eye and what you think would be a good solution to adopt. I for example loved the costumes of the TV series The Musketeers: the TV series was not too much up my alley but the costumes (not historically accurate, very fantasy) were beautiful with some very interesting and original details. Also get some video game art books with interesting designs (a very nice one is Orizon Zero Dawn, in my opinion).
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Serena Marenco
You worry too much Mariana and this only worsens your blockage. When I really don't feel like doing anything, I do a gesture session for half an hour and see if I feel like doing something more serious. Another thing that helps me is to go on pinterest and look at pictures, to see if I can find something that makes me want to draw. Don't think about style, you don't necessarily have to have something to show off (and even that having to think about having to meet some standards only makes you more stuck). Also, it doesn't really matter WHAT you draw. Sometimes I'll just watch live videos of animals around the world. A couple of weeks ago I got out of a block drawing bears swimming to catch salmon - I'd never drawn a bear in my life before, it hadn't even crossed my mind. But seeing the footage from under the water of these swimming bears made me want to sketch them. At other times I might see someone in a particular outfit and want to draw them, just for me. So, when you're stuck, instead of thinking obsessively about what to draw or how, you stop thinking about it and do something else. Look at pictures, watch TV, play a video game, read a book, go for a walk, flip through a magazine, look at clothing catalogues online. It doesn't really matter what you do, just distract yourself and look for stimulation. Eventually you will see something and think "I want to try to draw that" and then you start with a sketch, or more than one, without worrying too much about the look or style. Maybe you'll feel like finishing it, maybe you won't, but that's fine. It is not humanly possible to produce masterpieces constantly, 365 days a year. Most of the things we draw are sketches that we would never want to show to anyone, and that's fine, they are notes for ourselves, to make something better in the future. I'm now taking a course by Aaron Blaise on drawing clothed figures, just doing the exercises in the course makes me want to de-generate sometimes. (Sometimes I just want to sleep on the couch because it's too hot!) So, don't think about it too much: you don't feel like drawing? It happens to everyone, stop trying and do something else until you feel like drawing something, without thinking about it too much. The more you obsess the worse it gets, so take a break and let your mind wander until its attention is drawn to something!sketch
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