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 Draw. (rant?) (also I think I might be insane) 
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Chibi-Czar
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Post Draw. (rant?) (also I think I might be insane)
Okay, I'll just draft this out here, the idea came to me recently and I'll likely add to this.

Now, there's probably a couple ways to do this. I'll add more as I (or you) think of them.
If anyone out there has any good drawing tips, feel free to add them.

1) Method for Rapidly Improving Drawing Abillity.

Figured this one out when I noticed that it's possible to buy pre-collated printer paper. By that I mean, clean, white printer paper with no lines in them, that have been already been 3-hole punched. 500 pages of this stuff, to be exact. For about $5. I have 2000 sheets of blank white paper sitting next to my keyboard. It's roughly a foot high.

Now, the thing is, most "Artist Sketchbooks" with fancy 50lb+ paper and etc - yeah, those aren't cheap. You'd be lucky to find a "100 Page Artist Quality Sketchbook" for less than $10, and I've seen the stuff sold for over $20. For professional work, where you're getting paid ?ber money? Sure, go crazy with the ultra-fancy paper. But for sketching? Learning? Do you seriously need to spend that kind of money on *paper*?

*swigs Jolt from flat of many cans of Jolt*

ANYWAY, on to my technique, which benefits hugely from vast quantites of cheap paper.

FIRST: Download random image collections. Landscapes, People, Manga, Sports, Anime, Ciities, Movie Posters, Disney, Furniture, Real Estate, Famous People, Cover Girls, Porn, Weather, whatever, it doesn't matter. Just make sure to get a lot of images, with a lot of variety. images.google.com, for example, or something like this, just get as many as you can. I only have about 6500 images so far, but I've got about a dozen torrents going.

SECOND: Okay, got your 500 sheets of blank white (and most importantly, cheap) paper? I've got mine in a 3 ring binder, which is probably around the upper limit of sanity. Open up to the first page of a stack of 500 to start, which will be about *checks* three or more inches higher than your desk. Might want to sit on a cushion for this. A cushion that is on top of a couple phonebooks that are on your chair that you sit on.

THIRD: Pencil. You can use a regular wooden type if you have an electric sharpener. Something that sharpens fast. Better yet, get a mechanical pencil. I use one that allows for a 0.9mm lead. Nicer lines, not as brittle as the more common 0.5mm, way better for shading. But whatever, it's just lines. Anything more than 0.5 seconds spent sharpening the pencil, or getting new lead, is wasting time. Well, that's an exageration. Point being, you don't want to be wasting time dicking around with a pencil.

THING WHAT MAKES IT WORK: Now, open up all those images in an image viewing program (and here's the key) that allows you to view the images as an automatic RANDOMIZED slideshow *that allows you to set the amount of time between images* that will change to the next image AUTOMATICALLY without you touching the keyboard or the mouse. This is crucial.

Get your paper in front of you, maybe some music tunes, glass of water, a pencil (with sharpener if wooden, with extra lead if mechanical). Set the slideshow timer to 60 seconds (one minute). Or 30 seconds. Or 10 seconds. Or 5 minutes (300 seconds). Whatever.

Now, draw. DRAW LIKE YOU HAVE NEVER DRAWN BEFORE. Don't worry about it looking 'perfect'. STOP. I see you there. Erasor? NO. PUT IT DOWN. Better yet. THROW THE ERASOR. Anywhere, just get it away from your hands. You're not good enough to erase.

Just draw. Comfortably, freely. Draw the image on the screen. Zone out. Just do it. Don't worry about anything else. Just capture it. As much of it as you can. Don't hurry, don't be quick and jerky and intentionally 'fast'. Don't be slow either. Don't take your time. Be comfortable. Just get it down onto the page.

THEN THE NEXT IMAGE. Automatically. After 10 seconds or 60 seconds or 10 minutes, whatever you set the slideshow to, the next image is on the screen. Without regrets, immediatly and without hesitation flip to the next page of blank white paper. Draw. Anything. Don't worry about starting, don't worry about 'rules' or 'it doesn't look right' or 'artists block' or any of that nonesense. Put the tip of the pencil on the page. Move your arm. That's it. Keep doing it. There. You've already forgotten about the previous image. That's perfect. It doesn't matter anymore. Its served its purpose. You're drawing this image now. All of it. Comfortably. Just moving your arm, your hand, your wrist, fingers, shoulder, body.

Next image, flip the page. Draw, comfortably, fully, unconciously. All of it. It doesn't matter where you start, or how. Start with a line, or shading, anything. Just mark the page, anywhere.

Next image.

Do this for an hour.

Take a break. Get a drink of water. Get a new pencil if you need one.

Then again. Next image.

Draw.

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Wed Oct 17, 2007 2:17 am
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Chibi-Czar
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I have to agree and disagree with you.... Allow me to explain...

I started out as a self-taught artist that made LOTS of mistakes (I'm glad I threw out those old sketch books)... but I've also got nearly 10 years of art classes under my belt... So this experiance speaking... wooo scary...

Speed drawing is one thing, but what you are suggesting is more like gesture drawing, and while thats good and all for a practice method, its in fact the beginnings of a lot of my art... You should never leave a piece unfinished...

You should always go back, fix your mistakes, and clean up a piece... its the only way to develop a sound portfolio for getting professional work.

Also... I have to disagree with the bit of "Method for Rapidly Improving Drawing Abillity." Thats a bit of a catch 22... sure it teaches you to draw a series of lines on a paper, really fast... but it doesnt teach you how to shade or draw things in proportion... I've been drawing for half my life, at least, and I've noticed that the BEST way to improve is this, always challenge yourself, always push your limits of what you can do... Spend a week on ONE piece of art, but make it the best damn one you've ever made up to that point... Break out the eraser and ink pen... fix your mistakes, ink the damn thing, shade it, color it... make it perfect...

I know, it sounds weird, I have worked for years to get the speed drawing done, but I've also spent the same amount time learning to perfect my skills...

</my 2 cents>

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Wed Oct 17, 2007 7:38 am
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Chibi-Czar
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more practice doesn't mean you'd get better.... i got a few drawings that were done almost 10 years ago and it still better then what i draw today :( sad i know but true

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Wed Oct 17, 2007 10:07 am
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Chibi-Czar
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I believe the objective of this method is not that it improves the ability to draw... but the ability to control your hand so that when you draw, what you draw looks like how you want it to look. Essentially training the arm and hand muscles for better hand-eye coordination.

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Wed Oct 17, 2007 11:14 am
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Chibi-Czar
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I've always found the idea of having "my own style" to be a horribly limiting threat to my ability to create art. If I have drawing skills, I should be able to draw in *any* style, Disney, Anime, Penny Arcade, Avatar, Gainax, Romantic realism, Victorian realism, whatever. If I'm comfortable enough with my drawing skills and ability to slack off on my practicing, at that point I should be able to draw in any and every style.

Having my own style would seem to indicate that I'm trapped by it, that I'm unable or not good enough to draw any other way. I'd much rather be good enough to be able to draw in any style I choose, which is another goal of this exercise. Going from drawing manga one moment to a disney screenshot the next, for example, from that to 16 century landscape to porn to Optimus Prime to drawing Homer Simpson, and then a tree - that does things to the brain, horrible, wonderful, ticklish things.

As to the flexibility of this exercise, it's also useful for learning other drawing skills. For example, drawing in tones only, that is, shading, no tracing at all. Or using only primary shapes to capture the image (circles triangles squares etc), or using only colored pencil, pastel etc, or even repeatedly drawing the same image a couple dozen times, in different ways. Pretty much anything you can think of, any aspect of drawing you want to improve (shading, persepective, color, etc) can be improved by this sort of noncommital repetition.

And as others have mentioned, and from my own experience, when trying to improve drawing ability, trying to be 'perfect' every time can be horribly stressful and limiting. Valuable, certainly, but only as a single learning tool among many. Much more valuable, I believe, is to focus on improving 'technical skills' at this point, rather than every single drawing I try to make. Hence the need here for a vast quantity of inexpensive printer paper, so I'm not trapped by the thought that "I mustn't waste paper" - that's a relic of my Grandmother's Depression-era words, and threatens my potential to improve. Paper is only wasted if it isn't used.

Big part of this is to get past that psychological barrier of dissapointment at "I suck at drawing look at this crap I mean what is this" which stops a lot of people right at page one. This exercise I'm wanting to use to break out of that, draw comfortably and freely, focusing on different skills, uniting them, without stress or worry or self-judgement. Trying to build confidence.

Of course, selecting a single image and working on that to perfection is extremely valuable in itself, but I've noticed from doing this sort of repetition exercise, is that when I sit down to make a 'perfect' image, my ability to do so is much easier, and it's much less stressful. Not only can I do it better, but I can do it faster, or more accuratly, with more confidence. If I screw up, it's only lines on paper, and paper is just about the least expensive thing in the world. If I screw up, sometimes more important than erasing, is to cast a keen discerning eye at where I messed up, and why, specifically and exactly - is it a lack of ability on my part? did I get lazy? overconfident? - and then draw the image again, instead of trying to correct it, keeping the 'messed up' one for future reference, so I can look back on it with the second image and compare the two, to be able to say "here, in this previous one, is where I messed up, here, in this second attempt, is where I corrected that, improved, and changed my approach, but I still messed up here and here and here" and then, if I choose to, a third attempt. Or a new image if I'm getting stressed out.

Heh, sorry if this is long and ranty, but I've only recently started to draw, and by that I mean in depth and with commited purpose, a couple weeks ago, and seeing myself actually improve for once is terribly exciting, like learning how to drive for the first time, or jumping out of a helicopter into a forest fire, or into the deep end of a pool when you're ten years old, or your first fight when you realise fighting isn't so bad after all, or public speaking when you realize hey this is kinda fun.

Also, by playing around with drawing times, I've found that 3 minutes per image is much more comfortable. Make the effort to make at least one line per second, if you find yourself getting trapped by observation paralysis, the dreaded "omg where do I start oh no."

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Thu Oct 18, 2007 1:46 pm
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Chibi-Czar
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Oh hun, I wasnt knocking what you do, trust me, you get points for doing that... Its just nothing something *I* can do... I was taught differently, so how I do things isnt the same as yours... But, thats not to say I cant mimic other styles, I do it all the time...

And having seen some of your rougher stuff, I am itching to see what you can do if you spend a hella amount of time on a piece... If its good, I might just buy you one of those coveted sketch books :P

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Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:58 pm
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Speed painting/drawing/sketching is INCREDIBLY awesome for refining and honing your skill as an artist...but it requires more direction than just sketch-and-repeat. Comfort with the pencil means nothing if you're doing it wrong.

Get your work critiqued and make sure it's an evolutionary process...not just one to work on your speed, otherwise you're only augmenting your mental block of "I can't draw" with "I'm trying so hard! Look how fast I am! And I still can't draw!"

Done properly, though...as I said above...it's a critical thing to master, even if only so your rough sketches don't take all day, and your time goes into your finishing.

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Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:36 pm
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