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
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.
Kelen
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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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Kayla Chu
Heres my attempt for this lessons assignment (drawing simple objects and applying structure to animals). Feedback appreciated!
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Serena Marenco
Hi Kayla, When drawing animals, take into account that their bodies are divided into the same segments as the human body. All animals, including us (since we have evolved from the same ptimitive species over millennia) have a similar structure that differs only in proportion and posture. Our ribcage is wider than that of a quadruped because they have their forelimbs and shoulders pointing downwards, unlike us. So, when you draw the torso you won't have three segments, as you have often drawn, but three: shoulders, ribcage, pelvis. I see that you have often drawn the torso as two circles or ovals, but the shoulders and pelvis look more like boxes. don't be confused by the fur, you have to try to imagine the skeleton and muscles otherwise you will always have pompoms instead of plausible shapes. I would also advise you not to use a pen but a pencil, so you can make corrections if you have any doubts. Even if you have a lot of experience, the pen is a tool that requires a lot of confidence. Keep practising, you have an interesting trait. :)
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Alex Galeri
Great work! Love the atmosphere and the rhythm!
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Serena Marenco
Thanks Alex! :)
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Yiming Wu
Oh man... Yeah, art along isn't really viable for most of us I think... I'm currently in school and doing some programming on the side, which helps reduce the cost of living and food, but once I'm done with that the situation could become a lot harder :(. I'm probably gonna have an art "job" but I do like making art for myself so there's my justification. Not chasing social media trend has me think more about what kind of things I want to create rather than following a specific trend. Although I would say if not for the trend I could not have know as much art people from the Internet. So I guess there's some upsides. That's also the main problem of the internet trend that is they do not really promote individual viewpoint and variety. It's really hard to find different stuff in the algorithm. There are certainly some, but I believe a lot more are not discovered by people. I'm not sure why people call those "sketches", and at the moment I would think a lot of them are quite accurate by calling sketches, because they really do not cost as much time for them or an artist in a similar fluency to do. Although for us it will take a lot more time simply because we are not as experienced. Some are a bit stretched... I think a lot of people in middle/high school now post art because they really have time to draw and don't need to worry about food etc so it's perfect for them to call a finished drawing "sketch" (especially for those ones that are more towards graphic design), because they don't care about the time cost. I'm mostly over it now because I don't need to get paid, but not every one is in the same position... In Chinese online art community we have a different problem (or not really that different), that is we don't really have many visible original art. We mass produce production artists but no one is original. Alongside those manga girls and stuff, you can also see those beautifully drawn characters, scenes, story boards, mastery skills, but they almost all labelled "Practice". Like literally they don't even bother to make a name for them... After a while I find those pretty vapid. They don't care about their creation, just making a product :( There are nice ones, but take time to find. I think we should use the internet for making better art but not for a show room that doesn't make any meaningful impact on one's life
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Serena Marenco
I've always found Chinese artists extremely skilled, but it's true, unless they are made for a specific product everything looks very similar (the same happens with Korean designers at the moment, you often can't tell one from the other because they homologate to meet certain standards. I adapted some Manwa for the Italian market about fifteen years ago and there was much more variety). Also yes, it is quite frustrating that the algorithms always show very similar art. Instagram and Pinterest, until 3 years ago, were not like that, you could find landscape artists, avant-garde artists, sculptors, illustrators, some with very characteristic and interesting styles: they were two fantastic social networks to meet new artists and find inspiration (in the sense of wanting to produce something). Now everything has been standardised and it is definitely very frustrating to navigate the various platforms. Recently there is a new platform for mobile phones, Artfol, which is very nice but almost impossible to find anything other than fanart or children's illustration. If there used to be some focus on variety, now everything is getting flattened and standardised. A real shame. Fortunately Deviant Art has recovered from its ten-year hibernation and is now again a platform where you can find a bit of everything (Just stay away from groups where you can only find bad porn -_-; )
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Dan B
That's globalisation for you. Competing with the cheapest labour from places where decent conditions and/or pay are a pipe-dream. What the internet has done is (along with making all 'voices' equal) provide a shiny veneer for it all so you don't have to stop and think, or care :/ To your last point, I agree and it can be hard to see your actual customers through the noise, and you don't want to convince yourself that the noise is your customer. If you find cheapskates around a lot, add something to your presence online that makes it clear you're producing quality, which comes with a price that represents that value. I think sellers get seduced by 'Instagram exposure' and feel the need to compete with the trash. I have many, many grievances with online platforms, but sometimes it's worth stepping back to evaluate expectations and reset, rather than getting frustrated with a changed world.
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Serena Marenco
The fact is that I'm 43 years old, I've been through the world of exhibitions and gallery owners, I've worked with publishers and I have an idea of the value of my work. What worries me are the young people who don't have any yardstick and convince themselves that they can't ask for a higher price than what they see asked by people who are just hobbyists and draw/draw as a pastime, not as a value. People who think it's unfair to ask a fair price for what they see as fun, without realising that in this way they are ruining the market for everyone. You don't know how many people, because of my work as a graphic designer (I do this too, even though I hate it. Apparently I'm good at it and people look me up to layout things -_- ) because I ask them for a more than fair price. I was once called arrogant because I asked a BIG client to put clauses in the contract (like they should pay me extra for urgent night work and changes to approved work, NORMAL things). It was a big job but I turned it down because the premise spoke of exploitation and ulcers. I see more and more young artists going into burnout trying to keep up with the expectations of an audience that has no understanding whatsoever of how hard it is to do creative work. I have seen people lamenting the death of an author because then they would never read the ending of his work. How did he allow himself to die (from too much work, by the way)? So disrespectful of his fans! And unfortunately, you can't ignore these dynamics entirely either because there's no other way to get known and find work anymore. I tried at trade shows, with my portfolio under my arm, but I left crying because what I got were sexist remarks and obscene proposals. -_-
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Mariana Santos
I agree with everything you said, that's why I hate social media, because people there always devalue the artist! (In the last paragraph I felt a hint of indirection by my latest sketches -u-)~
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Serena Marenco
Well, yes, the rant started after talking to you but it's something that's been bothering me for a long time. You look on social media and it's all sketches! I call a sketch something I've done quickly as an exercise, in 30 minutes at the most, whereas I often see finished works called sketches. Someone may have spent hours on it and instead of being defined for what it is, a painting, pencils, inks, an illustration, it is 'just a sketch'. It's a taking away of value, it's not fair :(
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Serena Marenco
Very often (too often!) I see young artists obsessed with the canons demanded by social networks such as Instagram: having to produce a new original drawing EVERY DAY, calling anything that hasn't taken a month of work "a sketch " (as if there is time left for articulated projects having to, for example, meet the crazy parameters imposed by Instagram's algorithm!) and being subjected to prices that are insane to say the least. It was quite shocking a couple of months ago to see a very good painter being insulted because, in a private message asking her how much she wanted for a portrait, she replied $400.  This artist paints in oils in a realistic style reminiscent of the Flemish masters, yet recognisable and very original. A portrait of her would not be out of place in any museum, but for this "client" it was not worth more than 20 dollars, because these are the prices people have become accustomed to on social networks. If you ask for a fair price, you will be insulted, pilloried on social media, accused of being greedy and having no talent, shouting "Even the poor have a right to beautiful things!". Absolutely true, so much so that the net is full of free content that EVERYONE can enjoy but, or you can easily buy cheap prints. The point is that when you ask someone for a custom painting or drawing what you are asking for is a luxury. A tailor-made suit definitely costs more than the T-shirt bought on the market stall. People have convinced themselves that everyone is entitled to free or very cheap art (because young people are convinced that this is the case and sell out their work) without realising that often the artists they are insulting have a lower annual income than they do (and in many cases a crazy student loan to pay back). In the past few months a creative collective in my country (Italy) has finally done a survey on the annual income of comic book artists. 95% of them earn LESS than 5000 euros gross per year (on which you have to pay taxes even if in other cases under 5000 euros per year you don't fall into the taxable income bracket). That was my income in 2020, this year was much worse, I think at the end of the year I'll be lucky if I get to 1000 euros (our category is also excluded from state aid, not being recognized as a profession. Exactly, in the country of the great Renaissance masters, creative people are not recognised as workers. But they do pay taxes) In short, when people talk about poor people deserving to have our jobs for 20 dollars they ignore the fact that WE struggle to pay our bills and rent (I'm lucky that my husband, a journalist, has been very busy covering the news of the pandemic, otherwise I couldn't even afford to buy food) Everyone deserves nice things but we deserve to be able to support ourselves with our work, which takes years of study and practice. So please stop devaluing your work and calling sketches what are actually finished drawings that took you hours to complete! On social media they call them sketches just so they can be paid cheaply!
Serena Marenco
Hi Miguel, I like your somewhat expressionist style, I don't know what you mean by your request, the head seems a bit small in relation to the torso, if you want to increase the drama (my guess), you could try exacerbating the torso twist.
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Sketcher Ameya
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Serena Marenco
Thank you! :)
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squeen
I just noticed almost of your figures are looking to the right!
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Serena Marenco
Yes, it is required in the script.
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