View Full Version : Sketch Practice

09-22-2009, 12:42 AM
I've been fairly quiet lately, as far as maps go, and have been generally burned out. So Friday I figured that I'd practice my basic drawing skills as I haven't actually drawn anything, other than maps, in over twelve years. After a few hours I decided that I could do this up as an evolving tut but I am unsure whether to actually post as a tut since it's not really map related. There's a million tuts for drawing things, some better some worse, but this is how I go about it. I did this completely in Photoshop and so therefore it went a lot slower than what I'm accustomed to. I used a tip called "graphite pencil" for the sketch phase and a 3-pixel soft round brush for the inking.

1. Start with a basic pose. For this I chose something simple because I'm pretty rusty.

2. For this pose I put in 4 lines equally spaced, roughly. Because I want the figure turned toward the viewer his left side will be closer and hence why the lines angle the way the do...basic one-point perspective that trails off to the left side of the screen. These lines are important if you want to make your people look right, too often they get drawn with legs that are too short. If you make feet to knees = 1/3, knees to hips = 1/3, and hips to shoulders = 1/3 then things will look right. Bear in mind that these proportions are for humans and that dwarves and children will have proportions closer to legs = 1/2 and body = 1/2. [fig 1]

3. The top line will get the shoulders, the next line down will get the hips, the next line down will get the knees, the bottom line will get the feet, and the head will be above the top line.

4. Draw in the basic stick-man wire-frame skeleton. Here the arms are important...the elbows are just above the hips and the hands come to the middle of the thighs.

5. Give the head some volume by roughing in some lines that represent how the face is oriented. The eyes are in the middle of the head, too often people draw faces with the eyes too high which produces a long face and a short forehead.

6. With the setup done I rough in some basic oval shapes to rough in where the muscles will be. Starting from the top; I rough in a jaw and chin and place an ear at the end of the jaw line, slope the neck down to the shoulders (big muscley men have triangle-shaped necks while women, children, and less adventurous people have straighter necks), rough in some basic delts (shoulders), rough in the pecs, rough in the ribcage, rough in the abs (there are 8 not 6), give him a package, rough in the thighs (quads and hammies), rough in the calves, next is the ankles (inner ankle bone is a little higher than the outer ankle bone), and put some triangles in for the feet (foot facing viewer is a triangle and foot angled away is more acute). [fig 2]

7. Refine, detail, and basic shading of the musculature. For this step, I suggest looking at either comic books (pretty much unrealistic) or muscle magazines (those guys over-develop every muscle so it's a great resource). I haven't looked at either since 1992 but it's rather ingrained and second-nature to me...I actually wanted to be a professional comic book illustrator 20 years ago so learning anatomy is important. [fig 3]

8. The neck has three parts on muscley dudes - the main tube, the trapezius (the triangular bit), and the adam's apple. The arms have two main muscles to be aware of - the biceps (front of the arm) and the triceps (back of the arm). The forearms have lots of little muscles on the outer part and two big ones on the inner part. Hands are hard because there are a lot of things going on - just likes faces and feet - my guy is going to be holding a sword and shield so I won't mess with them too much, they're not that important for this. My guy is also going to be wearing boots so I won't mess with those either. The abs do not start right under the pecs, they are separated by some space and there is also a little round oval area just under the middle of the ribcage. The side of the ribcage has a bunch of little muscles called obliques - I generally draw these as two sets of little overlapping arcs. The front of the legs have the quads - three big muscles arranged in a triangle plus one that sorta wraps around the inner part of the thigh, and the back part of the leg has the big hamstring that is visible from the side. The knees are drawn sort of like diamonds with flat spots on the side. The calves have one big muscle that wraps around the sides and back and lots of little muscles that aren't really important unless you're drawing a body-builder.

9. On a new layer I refine the face and add some hair.

10. On a new layer I add some rough shapes for the clothes and accessories - shield, sword, scabbard, daggers, sheaths, gloves, boots, mantle, kirtle, belt, and cape. Basic attire for a low level adventurer. Doing folds in cloth may seem hard but that's why I draw all of those muscles - to see where the cloth will get pushed out and deformed. If you need to practice then take a blanket and drape it over a chair and see what the folds look like. [fig 4]

11. On a new layer I start the "inking" process which is basically something with a black line instead of gray pencil-sketch lines. Depending on what your hero is wearing this part can vary widely. Plate armor is fairly easy to draw as it's basically just big shapes...make sure that you leave open areas around the joints to provide some flexibility. Also, don't draw fantastic armor with spikes and things hanging all over it as that would never work in a real fight...you'd poke yourself in the head with shoulder spikes the first time you raised your arm. Chainmail is hard to draw so just make a bunch of tiny tiny squiggles or tiny tiny circles. Scalemail is tedious to draw, sort of like drawing a snake scale by scale by scale. My guy is about level 5 or so so he can't afford fancy armor yet. He has a leather mantle and kirtle over basic clothing and spent his money on a good sword with a weighted tip and a good heater-type shield. [fig 5]

09-22-2009, 12:50 AM
12. Next, I'll pick out some colors and create a palette on a new layer. Reds, oranges, yellows, browns, greens, blues, purples, grays, etc. I'll rough these in just to give me an idea as to where I want to go. I pick a few colors along the range so that the lighter ones can be used for tinting (highlights) and the darker ones for shading (shadows). [fig 6]

13. On a new layer I start refining my coloring. I zoom in real close, about 300% or so, and use a pencil tip to lay in the basic color. I switch to a 9-pixel soft round tip and do the tinting with the lighter colors and shading with the darker colors. I'll grab the blur tool and fuzz out the lines, sort of like using my finger to blend charcoals or conte crayons. I'll also use the dodge and burn tools to strengthen the highlights and shadows. [fig 7]

Steel General
09-22-2009, 06:31 AM
That's really quite good.

I wish I could draw figures - it's the one thing that I never could quite get the hang of.

You should do something for the CWBP in this style (if you feel like it).

09-23-2009, 05:38 AM
Great drawings Ascension.

Me too, Steel.

Painstakingly following the tutorial, I can get to fig 1 and make a crappy attempt at fig 2. After that, my talent is totally outstripped. I can see fig 3 but my hand just won't replicate it.

You just can't teach talent. :(

If you're currently on a figure-drawing spree, Ascension, how about this?


Sorry, gotta plug it. :)

09-23-2009, 08:22 AM
I had thought about that when you first posted it but I don't know if I can do all of those pieces parts like that. Maybe I should give it a whirl, though. My practice is completely financially motivated, at the moment, though. I have a project and I could pick up some extra dough by painting up a bunch of things.

09-23-2009, 11:59 AM
Fantastic stuff, Ascension - I'm suitably jealous! How long does it take to get from stage 1 to stage 4?

09-23-2009, 05:22 PM
Depends on practice so the more ya do it the faster it gets...like mapping. If you've never done it before then it can take quite a while because there is a lot of erasing, undoing, and selecting and moving things around to get them proportioned right, angled right, or just making the line look good. I spent an hour just on the face and I'm still not that happy with it (I drew the eyes about 3 times and the lips about 15 times). Paths can help a lot for things like swords and shields for people, like me, who have a shaky hand.

To put it another way, paper and pencil for this same thing would take about 45 minutes when I was still in practice (sketch and ink). Those speed painter guys can even color it all up and be done in 30 minutes. I'll never get that good so I just want my PS time to be more like my pencil n paper time...2-3 hours start to finish.

09-29-2009, 03:38 AM
not bad for a 12 year hiatus!

09-29-2009, 06:45 AM
The first that popped in mind was: "Quite good".

09-29-2009, 09:01 AM
The first that popped in mind was: "Quite good".


Only quite??

Remind me never to expose my scribbly stick men to Gandwarf's criticism... ;)

I'd be perfectly happy if I could draw 'quite good'.

09-29-2009, 11:25 AM
Thanks, guys. I'll finish this when my back gets better but for now I'm sorta zombie-like. I'll also need to update my style as it is quite dated now when compared to the current state of the game.

10-03-2009, 07:20 PM
My back is getting less stiff so I was able to finish this today...sort of (not gonna do a background as I don't really feel like it).

10-04-2009, 06:26 AM
You seem to be a man of many talents :)

Steel General
10-04-2009, 08:59 AM
Coll stuff here Ascension - my only critique would be that the mouth looks a little strange, but I'm not sure how you would fix it.

10-04-2009, 10:05 AM
Yep, that part's been killin me. I've never been able to draw lips.

Steel General
10-04-2009, 12:23 PM
I remember something from a class I took once...for mouths use 2 parallel lines; the top line would be however wide you want the 'lips, the bottom about 40-50% of the length and centered underneath.

Not sure if that would work with your style.

10-04-2009, 07:43 PM
Very nice. Everytime I try to draw people they turn out all stiff. That's find for ancient Egyptian tomb drawings but not for a more realistic approach. ;) I draw stuff now and it's terrible when compared to the work I did when I was 16.

For your warrior's mouth, it looks like he has no upper lip. I would add a bit of the same colour as his lower lip to the top. Make sure the middle part of the upper lip colour aligns with the little "quotation" notch under the nose.

10-04-2009, 09:15 PM
Yep, I'm aware of all that stuff, just never been good at lips except those fake wax kinds :) Just one of those things for me.

At any rate, here's my second "refresher" that I'm messin with...dancing girl :) The first one is clearly crap but it shows the stance that I wanted; the second one is rotating the figure more toward the viewer to be more dynamic, actually taking my time, and making her a bit more Frazetta-like. Still working on the top hand and elevated foot. Once those are done I'll put in some hair and harem clothes and sparkly jingly things.

Edit: whoa, I forgot that I was working big on these, I've been doing the drawing at 30% zoom...oy vey, sorry.

10-05-2009, 06:09 AM
The first one is clearly crap but it shows the stance that I wanted;

LOL. Your 'crap' is about a zillion times better than I could manage - even if you gave me a photo and some tracing paper!

10-06-2009, 12:02 AM
Spent some time looking at belly-dancer costumes but didn't really like any - vests make it too gypsy and pants and sleeves make it too Jasmine (from Disney's Aladdin) - so I made my own. Jewelry will take a long time but I'll do that last. Just about time to "ink" it or "paint" it...not sure which way I want to go...never done digital painting so I'll have to learn that.

10-06-2009, 01:02 AM
As much as you seem to regret your "out of date" style... I'm one of those who doesn't enjoy the new "anime/manga" fantasy art that seems to be coming out more and more. Then again I was an absolute died in the wool 2E artwork kind of guy.

So I appreciate a little bit of the "older school" you're throwing out there and if you feel like getting some text-based inspiration for some of your subsequent "drawings that aren't maps"... I'd be more than glad to throw you a little text I've been working on... (just a measley 130k words). PM me if you're interested and if you're not... just keep cranking them out baby.

Steel General
10-06-2009, 07:16 AM
This last one is some damn fine work my friend.

Looking forward to the final version.

10-06-2009, 08:40 AM
I love that the toes are pointed on the foot that's up. I grew up with dance, and it's the little things that make the picture real. :)

10-06-2009, 03:23 PM
G - I nearly killed myself trying to draw those toes. Since I do this in the evenings I didn't have access to my sis and my nieces are with their dad for a few days so I stood in front of the bathroom mirror with my leg in the air (nice visual, eh?). Lost my balance about 5 times and gave myself a real crick in my hip...pathetic - I used to be a good dancer in college, well club dancer. It's always the little things that count.

J - Yeah, I'm no fan of Anime either. I'll just leave it at that.

10-06-2009, 03:54 PM
Awww ... sorry for the crick in the hip but it was well worth it! The things we go through for our art eh?

10-06-2009, 05:14 PM
I sure needed that picture in my head Ascension, thanks.

10-13-2009, 12:41 PM
Wow, for a 12 year hiatus, you're doing good :D.

Would you like some criticism? Or just getting back into the groove?

10-13-2009, 04:37 PM
Fire away, can't get better without knowing what's wrong. I'm in the process of coloring (off and on) right now so any suggestions would be on a different sketch.

10-16-2009, 09:32 AM
Well, one thing that strikes me, you have a sense of what muscles go where, but not how they exactly look when they're in a certain position. Like the dancer, it's clear what pose you want to communicate, but you seem to fall back to certain 'symbols' of how these things look.

One thing you might try, is, before you start on your figure, do some warm-up exercises using PoseManiacs (http://www.posemaniacs.com/pose/thirtysecond.html) (the applet itself is perhaps NSFW). It's an applet that shows a certain pose of a modelled man or woman, showing the muscles and some fat (so basically nude, without the skin, so therefore perhaps NSFW). The idea is by trying to draw the pose for a certain time, like 30 seconds, you quickly learn the proportions and how a human body looks. It might amaze you how some things look in certain perspectives.

(I'm by no means a pro myself, but I picked this up while browsing ConceptArt.org, and I notice my figure work becomes more confident and accurate when I practise PoseManiacs for a while :))

Hope this helps, look forward to see some more :)

10-16-2009, 04:12 PM
That's a cool link. I'll definitely use that, I love doing quick stuff for practice.

10-20-2009, 03:34 PM
Great stuff! My advice is to draw more and draw from real life as often as possible. I know I get vastly different results if I am drawing something from a photo or right in front of me or from my imagination. I think its good to exercise all those different imagination muscles.

10-20-2009, 07:17 PM
G - I nearly killed myself trying to draw those toes. Since I do this in the evenings I didn't have access to my sis and my nieces are with their dad for a few days so I stood in front of the bathroom mirror with my leg in the air (nice visual, eh?). Lost my balance about 5 times and gave myself a real crick in my hip...pathetic - I used to be a good dancer in college, well club dancer. It's always the little things that count.

[mental image]
**Middle Aged semi-nude man (possibly in boxers or budgie-smugglers) standing in bathroom with leg in air either like:
a) Dog at fire hydrant style
b) My Kung-Fu is far superior to your's

then seeing you fall sideways into bathtub**
[/mental image]

10-29-2009, 11:17 PM
This is as far as I got on my dancer before the clarion call of maps drew me back. I'd like to finish it but I'm back in Beast Mode so I dunno.

10-30-2009, 02:26 AM
great sense of movement on this one...

that face angle is a tricky one to capture right, but you did well on it too...

it may have been this thread of yours that started me thinking about doing my own sketching in the guild...

you are either an inspiration or a band influence...

not sure which...

but you do better than i at still producing maps while sketching...

my own map process is still much too time intensive...


10-30-2009, 06:49 AM
That's what I'm here for...influencing either way ;)

10-30-2009, 05:13 PM
That one's looking good. I'm not sure on the perspective on that back arm but the flow of the image is lovely. Great sense of movement.

10-30-2009, 10:33 PM
Yeah, I wanted the elbow (raised arm) pointing towards the viewer but with the hair covering up the bicep the effect gets messed up...I should point the elbow out more due to that. Nice catch. If you're meaning the down arm I wanted that one out to the side and not going back but going back might be interesting.

10-30-2009, 10:39 PM
Yep, I meant her right arm (our left). Now that you explained it I see what you mean.