Saturday, December 31, 2011

Zoo/Museum Sketching with Mike

Went out sketching with the awesome Mike Yates yesterday.  He gave me a lot of food for thought, but the most poignant advice was one of the most simple - that we should always be thinking about making a story when we draw from life (includes people and objects).  Think - really observe, don't just move your arm!

Field Museum

Note to self: do more cafe sketching.  Quick drawings = blocking out movements + proportions + building upon those lines = more loose, storytelling drawing.

Second note to self:  Study more illustrators.  We should study them and take influence like we do with movies.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Poor Walter

Poor Walter couldn't feel the Christmas spirit anymore and didn't know why.  Nothing worked, not even reindeer antlers.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Digital Doodling

Trying to get back on the Photoshop horse as of late.  I'm having difficulty figuring out how to render representatively, but I do like playing with those marker-ish effects from doodling.  I tried doing some more anatomy studies digitally but my progress feels restricted because of my limited knowledge of the software.  Most likely going to go back to traditional mediums for those figure studies until I getter a better grasp of Photoshop.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Problem Solving

Did some quick anatomy studies with the tablet (finally replaced that pen!) in order to isolate some of the bumps I run into during figure drawing.  I started out by sketching the skeleton, which came with a bit of ease since it's been one of my main focuses and I emphasize it as the basis for movement during gesture drawings.

Then I discovered my big problem in the next step: draping muscles over the skeleton.  It came out really awkward and with a lot less fluidity than the skeleton.  Even though I was using reference, it showed that I'm still a big stranger to how muscles weave around the body and hook up to the bones themselves.


Limbo & Paralysis

"Stop reciting theory and hit me!"

That's a bit of a paraphrased quote from the film, Ip Man - relatable because I feel like I've been talking more about drawing rather than actually drawing.  There's quite a few reasons why I've been slacking lately, so what better way for me to lay out my thoughts than to drop by the ol blog?

Firstly, I'm still wrapping up my Ringling application because I'm afraid I might have mis-clicked something or filled out the wrong information in the wrong section.  I think it's been eating an obscene amount of my time because I'm a bit paranoid... but I'm on the brink of turning it in.  But after that, it's just a matter of playing the waiting game.  I'm a bit anxious because this could finally be it - getting that full blown animation and art education I've been waiting years for.  It's been a bit tough relying on drawing independent drawing and artistic research because I've been so hungry for that guidance and push.

Which brings me to my next thought - Character Design & exaggeration.  This kind of goes back to my CalArts portfolio critique where they said "You can draw, but what can you do with it?"  I'm more or less struggling taking my knowledge of anatomy and fine arts and translating it into something more exaggerated and subjective.  I've been designing characters for a story lately and it's been feeling incredibly aimless.  Very little of what I make feels right - I only have a very small handful of people that can help me out, but they're all busy with their own stuff.  This is kind of where that guidance I've been craving comes in - especially in a school environment (pushing that comes not just from teachers, but from creative/artistic peers).  Do I try and figure this stuff out now, or do I wait until school comes around?

Right now I'm leaning on just going with more fine arts-related practices, solidifying as much of the ability as I can.  Then when school comes around, I'll have a bit more guidance to crack the creative side as opposed to doing it right now... it just makes me feel paralyzed and I end up not drawing anything because I don't know where to really begin (no matter how much I study procesess in concept art books, character design blog interviews, etc).

There's so much more of this I want to elaborate, but I'm going to cut myself off for now.  I want to do some skeleton studies tonight before bed.  I also think maybe the written portions of this blog are outweighing the visual portions.  Can't have a visu-blog without the drawings, so it's off I go!

Getting back on the horse: figure drawing today at George's

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Photo A Day

On November 30th, I started the "photo a day" self portrait challenge after being inspired by a video of a girl who has been doing it for the past 4.5 years.  Even though I think enough people are doing it where it's no longer an incredibly original idea, I really wanted to participate because I think it's such a fascinating way to document one's self - to see your physical self literally flash and change before your eyes.

For now I'm aiming to do 3 years, but I might end up doing something similar to what the girl did in the video where she updates it every 6 months.  Aaand there's really no excuse for me not to follow through with this since it's just one photo of yourself a day (which is practically effortless) and having patience - something I think I've already proved with shooting for Ringling.

Day 2

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Application Wrap Ups & Adventuring Into New Lands

Hey blog, haven't been posting as much lately since I was busy wrapping up my CalArts portfolio.  I still can't believe it's already that time of year to submit applications... it was such a big learning experience since this whole year I've been all about the technical side to drawing when I also should've been thinking a lot more creatively and emotionally.  It wasn't until a day or two right before I completed my application that I finally felt like I was grasping their drawing philosophies of keeping loose.  A bit of a shame that the epiphany didn't hit me until then, but I'm proud of what I was able get done and turn in, knowing I've accomplished a lot just to get to this point.

So now with CalArts out of the way, it's one down and one to go - Ringling.  I think I've finally finished creating my Ringling portfolio, so now it's just a matter or organizing and tying up the written portions.  Can't believe I'm really saying this, but I'm actually confident in my body of work... which would (I hope) be normal since I've spent the last 7 months portfolio-building specifically for this school.  I want to get this all done before Christmas so I can kick back and enjoy my holidays.

Buut now with things slowing down, I've been taking a bit of a break from drawing and just trying to loosen up and live life a little.  Be a little more adventurous, take some risks, y'know?  Creating my portfolio for CalArts really opened my eyes - the way I draw is intertwined with my personality, so I figure it's tough to draw loose if you can't keep your living loose!  Walt Stachfield encouraged his students to try new things and build new good habits (the other day I took a different route to work, freshen things up).

So today I tried something new - visited my old friends at Columbia's Asian Student Organization for their poetry/spoken word workshop.  We each had 10 minutes to write a short poem about an important event in our lives, so I chose when I discovered a new way to draw via the "sacrum technique" in George's class.

It was dead silent
Just another night with my ink
For the first time taking her to dance
Weaving through motions unexplored
It was new yet old, uncharted but still home
One world I sat
The other I glided
Taking her hand
And left behind the imprint of man

I never understood poetry, but everyone seemed to like what I had to share.  I think it's because I took something personal and didn't water any part of it down.  I was tempted to play down the female personification of the pen, but I just told myself to go for it.  Deep down I really felt this symbolic imagery of dancing with a beautiful girl, but I was worried that people would think it was cheesy.  "C'mon man," I thought.  "Give this thing some personality."

PS- I also uploaded my original writing as a reminder to keep myself loose again.  Usually when I write, I just kind of sit there and wait for the perfect words to come to me.  Instead, I related this to drawing and let the words flow out of me and my emotions, not particularly caring how they came out as long as they got a loose imagery across.  Then I went back and added some stuff here and there, crossed out some other stuff too.  I looked at Rebecca Sugar's original writings for lyrics for her Adventure Time songs and I think she has a similar process based on all the scribblings.  Hm... looking back, this isn't so different from drawing...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Christmas Highs + More Music Epiphanies

Visited Macy's for the first time this season and I immediately got high on the ol Christmas spirit.  Went back home and doodled away with Mariah Carey and the Elf soundtrack destroying my speakers.  Interestingly enough, I started drawing whatever was popping into my mind as I listened to the music, letting it take complete influence over whatever I was envisioning.  Not sure if I'm explaining it clearly enough, but it was almost as if I was letting each song take my drawings for a ride instead of just playing stuff just so that there's noise or something to fill the background.  I might try this more often...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Story Game: Week 5

Trying to keep loose with this week's story game.  Kinda feels like I keep switching on and off between loose and stiff drawing.  As always, here's the image


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Story Game: Week 4

I had limited time with the tablet so these came out pretty rough.  I wanted to try more of a dynamic chase scene.  I need to practice drawing water more too lol...

Link to this week's photo

Left Handed Sacrum Drawing

I was challenged to draw a sacrum with my left hand in class the other day (which is my non-dominant hand).  Even though my pen control was pretty stiff, the results were pretty staggering since I was still able to project my knowledge of the sacrum down on paper and it came out to be one of my better drawings for the day.  It's an incredible reinforcement that drawing isn't so much about hand-eye coordination, but it's about what you already know/intellectually understand about the subject and interpreting it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Story Game: Week 3

I'm a little late with posting these, but losing that Wacom pen was pretty inconvenient.  Anyhoot, I started boarding these last week and finished the last three today.  I've been training myself to stay looser and I can really tell the difference... the first two boards are a bit on the rigid side.  At least we got to keep the Halloween theme =u=

Link to this week's photo

Sunday, October 23, 2011


With Uncharted 3 coming out, I revisited the art book and cutscenes for the second game.  I don't consider myself that much into shooter games, but I really got hooked by the awesome character-driven story mixed with the epic dynamics and set pieces of summer blockbuster/popcorn films (which are my favorite).  I remembered that there was this one cutscene of the genocidal antagonist that really showed how damn intimidating he was.  After watching that scene, I got hooked all over again and watched the game's next 50min+ worth of cutscenes.

What a good bad guy.

As I was watching, I thought back to some of the character sections in the art book and realized that what made them so engaging and fun to watch is that the creators really integrated this incredibly fleshed out history into all the characters - their backstories are hinted at, but are also very dictatived, through what they each say and how they react to certain situations.  The artbook (along with an Eric Goldberg interview on supporting characters) also taught me how some characters essentially act like mirrors to bring out aspects and traits of other characters (more often than not the protagonist).  All of this, combined with the spot on acting, delivered some great chemistry.

When the last cutscene ended... I'm not sure how to describe it, but you know that sweeping feeling you get after finishing an amazing book or an incredible movie?  Whatever it was, I totally had it.  It was just such a great reminder as to why I wanted to do animation and storytelling in the first place - to really take an audience on a ride through performance and give them that exact same feeling.  What made everything in Uncharted so damn engaging is that the characters' history, design, and so forth, were researched and very thought through.  I've been writing more in my sketch book lately and have been more contemplative into everything I draw (more than ever before), so I feel I'm on the right track to getting there one day...

Started experimenting with color in my sketches.  Just bought some new color Copic markers but they're really saturated and I was aiming for more of a harmony between the browns and red.

Digital idealization(?) - the problem could be solved by either decreasing the shirt's saturation or increasing the saturation on her skin, but it looses that popping contrast

PS- I think I had to generalize a lot of these thoughts I wrote down here... I want to go into so much more detail (character design , specific lines of dialogue that really reflect the aforementioned history/personalities, reactions, etc) but I'm such a bad/slow writer that I don't think I can string it all together... I'm much more verbal.  I suppose this will have to do for now.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Story Game: Week 2

For some very odd reason, I lost my wacom pen right after I did my last story game... I was just moving stuff back into my room from the living room and it randomly disappeared, so now I have to rent one out.

But that still doesn't stop me from doing another story game!  I think we'll do a few more halloween-inspired boards.  These took longer than I hoped, but they came out a bit nicer than I thought they would since I needed to go the extra mile to add more value/contrast to emphasize the nighttime and glow of the tv.  I've also been trying to do a good chunk of pre-planning for these, thinking a bit more about character design, composition, and staging to get appealing images from simpler board drawings.  The kid was originally supposed to be a lot chubbier too, but I that kind of got thrown out the window since I decided to have him hiding underneath a blanket at the last minute to help emphasize his fright.  Here's the link to this weeks photo.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Approaches, ego, fear, and misc thoughts

I think one of the things that really frustrated me throughout the past couple of years is that I had never found a work technique/method that clicked with me.  Even though I felt that I had this killer ambition to draw, I could never grasp why I was struggling so damn much just to get an idea down on paper with stuff like figure drawing (especially when I was already practicing it fairly often).  I believe in part it had to do not just with training my hand/eye coordination, but also that I was approaching drawing in a manner that doesn't work for me... but I believe now I know why.

I needed to realize that when I draw, I am projecting my understanding of the subject down onto paper.  Drawing is an incredible mental activity that my mind needs to mellow into, so whenever I would try to draw for a really limited amount of time under pressure (e.g. on a break at work, a really short train ride, etc), it would be increasingly frustrating - not just because I would get cut off right when I'm in the process of reaching my creative groove, but also because I would leave with yet another an ugly drawing.

In addition, I learned that I cannot learn anatomy by just figure drawing;  I needed (and still need) to study bones & muscles and study them enough so that I will have an intellectualized idea of their shape and placement when I go figure drawing.  Long story short: figure drawing should be a test of my knowledge of the human body since the model's interior will be invisible to me (at least without those intellectualized ideas)

Studying the sacrum 3-dimensionally... these drawings are actually from a very unique approach that I want to elaborate on a separate post later on....
Result of the implementation of very basic ideas in the heat of figure drawing

By applying all of the above, drawing has become not just a lot more enjoyable, but also a lot more natural than it has been before.  As a result, I feel myself becoming a lot more satisfied with what I've been sketching out.  Then again, I feel like there's too much content-ness going on here, and I've been more and more hesitant to draw in my sketchbooks for fear that might I fuck up one of the best drawing streaks I've had, since... maybe ever.  In addition, I'm also going to apply to CalArts where turning in a sketchbook is part of the application, so I have this really bad habit of trying to make my sketchbook drawings look perfect.  I keep forgetting sketchbooks are our domains to fuck up...

Even though it's not perfect by any means, I think all the basic ingredients to depict a "storytelling" drawing are here by having a decent composition (rule of thirds), and implementing a bit of a dynamic foreground, mid-ground, and background (well, dynamic for a sketchbook, anyway).

Aaand I just want to leave with one more thought.  I've still been reading Walt Stanchfield's Drawn to Life and I really love the analogy of comparing the rhythm in playing music to drawing.  When playing music, you have to think of a few notes ahead of ones you are already playing.  If you focus on each individual note as you are playing them, your rhythm will become jarred.  I usually keep this in mind when I go figure/gesture drawing by not trying to perfect the shape of something (e.g. the head - I just try to get down an idea of it's shape and position and how it correlates to the rest of the body in terms of movement and basic connectivity).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Story Game: Week 1

Another neat exercise I picked up from Ringling where we take a random photo and make a storyboard of the next 5 shots as if it were paused film.  I introduced the idea to the animation workshop I help run, so it'll be interesting to see what everyone comes up with.  Here's the link to the photo we chose:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Figurative Illustration Workshop

Had the chance to do a neat costumed-figure drawing workshop run by Mr. Aaron Miller.  It was especially challenging with the large volume of clothing and I didn't finish the long pose drawing (definitely not perfect), but it was still a ton of fun.  Next month is zombie-themed!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Figure Drawing - Gesture Dump

Some gesture drawings done over the past week.  I opt not to ramble today and let the drawings speak for themselves (I should probably do that more often).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Self Portrait Emotion Chart

I was brainstorming some ideas to take a different approach to self-portraits and came up with doing a mini-emotions chart of myself.  It's been much more challenging than I initially thought... not just because I'm trying to make each drawing consistently look like me, but also because I'm dealing with raw facial expression.  Even if I were to nail each drawing with perfect form and proportion, I feel the slightest hitch from the expression within the brow, lips, eyes, etc can cause a drastic impact and falter the intended emotion.

I think I struggled a little too much with these... which means I need to study my facial anatomy.

I'm not really digging the quality... will re-shoot later (the charcoal combined with pencil makes light bounce off in a chunky way when I take pictures... need to figure something out =_=).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Visiting Ringling

This past weekend was one of the most surreal and amazing experiences in my life... I visited Ringling College of Art & Design and finally set foot on campus.  I first arrived right before meeting my good friend JoAnn (who is now a freshman) there in the evening, where I stood in the quiet courtyard with barely a person in sight.

It was like a damn dream.

I remember thinking to myself, "God... this is where Nick Pitera and Lindsey Olivares studied... this is where they drew in their college years."

As I mentioned, I am super fortunate to know some current students who are from the Chicago area, so I got to do more than just tour.  In a nutshell, JoAnn introduced me to some of her dorm-mates & fellow CA friends and Mike showed me a bunch of great artists to take inspiration from & took me to FEWS (the school's figure drawing club).  The new people I met were so nice that they let me shadow them in one of their classes.  I could go on and on into great detail about what else I felt and experienced just being on campus, but I've described it enough.

Gestures from FEWS

I also got a bit of a portfolio critique from the admissions office.  Now I didn't show them what I thought would be my final portfolio, but instead showed them nearly everything I've done in order to see which pieces they particularly lean towards and to pinpoint my recurring weaknesses.  They seemed to like some of my drawings and said I'm on the right track, but in order to really secure a spot, they want to see better compositions in my still lives and more environments around figures incorporated into my observational sketches.  I was thinking that "You're on the right track" is code for "You're showing us everything that we want to see in portfolios, but they're still not up to par."  JoAnn and her friends keep telling me that I'm fine though and to stop tweaking out, but I'm still definitely going to keep chipping away.  I feel like maybe my bad drawing habits are definitely a contributor, so it's also about tackling them head on.

Below is what would be, for the most part, my overall Ringling portfolio as of now with a few of notes from admissions here and there (I will probably add the FEWS gestures to it as well).  A good chunk of them are reposts, which is also because I didn't really add any sketchbook drawings just yet because it's been really tedious scanning/photographing them just right and it really kills my creative mood.

They said this had a nice contrast and render, but another still life with better composition would definitely help

Said to include this one.  Tis a keeper but would be better if I got those darn feet in.

Also said this was nice.  I figure this would be a good inclusion to help me stand out since I haven't seen many people include skeletal sculptures in their portfolios

Didn't get to show them this one for whatever reason, but there's always national portfolio day

I believe they said this is nice because it shows character exploration outside of the exiled submission subjects of anime, unicorns, and fantasy stuff.

Dragons?  Nope.  Check.

They said this one would be good to use since the sketch shows them I'm thinking about environments and layouts
I didn't get to show this one to them, but if environments are what I need, this should serve a a good enough stand-in for now.
They liked this self-portrait, but if I really want to make my portfolio stand out, I should do another one from a different angle.  Taking a photo for reference to get a more dynamic view they say is certainly acceptable.

Even though it was just a visit, being at Ringling was definitely one of the best experiences of my life... the memory is definitely something to help keep me motivated to get in and improve.  National Portfolio Day is coming up on October 23rd, so I have another set milestone to work towards.  Below are some more sketches from the trip, with more notes accompanied as well.

Trying to incorporate those environments to help tell a story.  Even though stuff like perspective isn't really accurate, it definitely makes the image more engaging than a page full of my gestures (as important as a practice as that is).

A new sketchbook exercise picked up at FEWs - make a bunch of small boxes and fill it in with a gesture to practice composition.  It's already helping my sketchbook look more like a visual diary, and I am definitely going to need to utilize this practice.

Gesture from the Figure Drawing Class I shadowed in
More Gestures from the class

Drawing at the terminal

JoAnn's roomate, Dionne

PS - I haven't really been updating that much recently because, as I mentioned before, it's been tedious documenting my work via scanner or camera accurately without using photoshop.  I've done a lot of sketches that I want to analyze and dissect my thought processes about, but it's been a real killer for my creative groove.  I will most likely end up making up for it by writing longer entries such as this one.