Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

To all artists out there.

  1. Sep 8, 2006 #1
    I'm amazed. I've never actually tried to draw, but since an art class is required for graduation, I'm learning how to do various stuff(Shading, realism, etc.) to do still-lives... and that stuff is HARD! In fact, the hardest class I have this year is Art :cry:

    First quarter grades, as of... today, actually
    Math: B(I could do so much better)
    English: A
    Spanish: A
    Art: D :frown: (Doesn't help that I missed something due to absence, and it lowered my grade from 72% to 67%)

    It's HARD, and it takes forever, but I'm getting it all done and doing extra practice. I just can't make straight lines, round curves, and sharp edges. Instead, I make wavy lines, sharp curves, and round edges. :cry:

    Teacher's great, though. It's all daily work, and if you get it done, you keep up; no homework!

    Any hints how you artists out there do it(Besides the compulsory "PRACTICE!" routine? I'm trying, I swear T_T)?

    Props to you.

    (P.S. This does not change my viewpoint that people who buy/sell art for millions of dollars are idiots. That is all.)
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2006 #2
    I thought this too until I took a course on Art Theory and it all suddenly started to make sense. You'll get it too someday. :wink:
  4. Sep 8, 2006 #3
    Hmm... I'll take a few guesses, but I doubt I'd get it. x.x

    1. Inability for people to reproduce?
    2. Mastery of techniques far beyond anyone elses' doings?
    3. Selling on FAME, as I've thought for years(and my grandparents still do)?

    If it's possible to condense into a paragraph, and you're willing to type it up, could you explain? It's always bugged me how much it's worth. Thanks :biggrin:
  5. Sep 8, 2006 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Do you have a digital camera? If so, this may help you with still-life drawings. Look at an item that you might want to render in a drawing. Take your camera, compose the shot and take it. Then display that image on your computer monitor and copy it in a drawing. Many people have trouble with the still-life exercises because they have trouble visualizing how to express the essence of a 3-D object in a 2-D drawing. Photography helped my drawing because it made me work at visualizing how to best portray real things in a flat image. I can't help you with the straight line, round curve, sharp edge problem, except to say that you should choose drawing implements that fit you, and practice with them. You may find that you are less likely to use jerky finger motions and more likely to use smoother motions from larger muscle groups if you wrap rubber bands around your drawing pencil to increase its diameter. I used to do this to my steel quill pen because the supplied shaft was far too skinny. Good luck.
  6. Sep 8, 2006 #5
    turbo, sounds intriuging. I don't have a digital camera, but I do know where I can get a good-quality one rather quickly(coughfamilycough). I'll try it! ^_^

    My biggest problem is proportioning for most of my drawings, I think. Drawing a simple 3-D triangular prism is difficult due to inability to make it as long AND as wide as it is at the same time. I'll try what you said and do that, hopefully it helps. :biggrin:

    About the pencil and "motor skill" control: Could it be because of the fact that I have really ginormously huge and gigantic hands? It's proportionate to the rest of my 6'3" self, but that could be it. I'll try thickening the pencil and see how well I control.

    Anywho, thank you greatly for the information. :smile:
  7. Sep 8, 2006 #6

    1. No
    2. Well, yes and no.
    3. That's true to some extent.

    I've gotta run for now, I'll type more later. If you want a good answer, I would strongly suggest taking a course in art. Not drawing, MAYBE art history, but def. Art theory.
  8. Sep 8, 2006 #7
    Well, drawing's just a section in this art class. There is art history, but I doubt there's art theory.

    I'll research it(if I ever get my lazy ass to actually do anything, I hope). =(
  9. Sep 8, 2006 #8
    Unfortunately practice is a very big part of it.

    If you're an analytical person I recommend Betty Edwards' "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain"
    It is a very methodical, logical, straightforward approach to drawing (largely by looking at the way empty space is situated within any scene, and using it as a guide).
    It really helped me improve my drawing skills, especially maintaining correct proportions when going from 3D reality to 2d paper. I can't speak highly enough about the book, I even managed to make some money off of some of my portrait stuff!

    If you're doing a lot of figure drawing a good book on human anatomy (written specifically for the artist) is indispensible as well (I recommend "Human Anatomy for Artists: The Elements of Form" by Eliot Goldfinger).

    Good luck!
  10. Sep 8, 2006 #9
    I got a handout called that, where I had to draw a man upside down. It had that exact title. It was Igor's portrait by Picasso, IIRC. Drawing just what shapes I see, is that what you mean?

    I had to do a negative space assignment, and I actually did quite well on that! Hmm...

    I'm not doing figure drawing(This is really rather basic art), so I'll take a miss on the human anatomy.(I could borrow one of my grandma's books for medical anatomy, if I wished)
  11. Sep 8, 2006 #10

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I learned a lot about proportions practicing with tracing paper. I would find a picture I liked and draw the outline on regular paper, then I would take tracing paper and trace the outline and compare to my original. It teaches you a lot about proportions of things like facial features. I remember being surprised that eyes fell so near the mid-line of the head. I always drew them much too high.
  12. Sep 8, 2006 #11
    Hmm, I'll try that too... I hope.
  13. Sep 8, 2006 #12
    Erm, you realize that you could have taken ceramics or even photo instead? I'm not bashing your decision or anything, I think art is great.
    So what math are you taking now?
    -Hit me up on aim
    my sn is moose0884 if you dont have it anymore
  14. Sep 8, 2006 #13


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    You are very welcome, and if you are a generously-proportioned person, you should definitely not try drawing with regular-sized implements. I am about 5' 7" with small hands, and I had to greatly increase the diameters of pencils, pens, and such to get comfortable with them (although I should tell you that I've done fairly heavy work with my hands and very delicate stuff does not always go to plan, although I tie very tiny flies for fishing...) It's different (though not greatly so) when you need the motor-skills of the smaller muscles. I did some very detailed pen and ink drawings for which I used the smaller diameter stylus, but I am not sure that I could not have done better with tools that encouraged the use of larger muscle groups. You've got to experiment with this - it can make a real difference.
  15. Sep 8, 2006 #14
    I had problems with lines too, untill this bit of advice was given to me...
    Dont look at where your pencil is..look where its going to end up.
  16. Sep 8, 2006 #15
    Well, I'll tell you right now art theory is not easy and its not fun. You will be reading stuff like Plato, Plotinus, Aristotle, Kant, Heidegger and the like...but then it will all make more sense. Plus you gotta have a teacher who knows what hes doing, which I did. Your class is more than likely not going to cover this kind of material. You are taking a 'studio' type course, not a theory course.
  17. Sep 8, 2006 #16
    Here's a well known secret: the overwhelming majority of artists who do realistic work use various measuring devices, tracings, or projectors to lay out the proportions of their drawings. There are countless threads about whether or not this is "cheating" at an art forum I visit. All the people there who are any good admit they do it, and the people who stubbornly refuse to do it more or less suck at realism.

    Well known artist, David Hockney, put out a book a few years ago in which he explored the possibility that most of the well known masters of the Renaissance and after were all using various optical devices to lay out the proportions of their work from posed models. Just about everyone is certain that Vermeer did this because his paintings demonstrate depth of field, an optical effect that doesn't ever appear unless an image is projected through a lens or small aperture. Hockney makes a compelling and persuasive argument for the use of various projection methods being fairly common practise among all the realistic artists of the Renaissance and later.

    That's not to say that those artists, and artists today, can't produce pretty stunning drawings just by "eyeballing" a subject, in Hockney's words, but 95% of the good realistic drawings you see are laid out by taking measurements from photos, proportioned up using a grid system, or outright projected onto the paper and the outline traced.

    Cheating? What you need to understand is how little a traced outline helps someone who can't draw.
  18. Sep 8, 2006 #17
    How little does it help me?

    At least I know where to shade =(
  19. Sep 8, 2006 #18


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Either you are a born artist or not, sorry, but someone with no talent cannot learn to have talent. If you already have artistic talent, you can pick up new techniques and decide if you want to incorporate anything.

    If you do not have a natural born talent, the best you can hope for is mechanical drawing. Perhaps that is what you are aiming for? I don't think they require anything more than mechanical drawing, how could they?
  20. Sep 8, 2006 #19
    Evo, I don't know, but I believe that with enough practice, talent can be learned. You can learn to see, and learn to create.

    Same goes for math, science, and english(Which I was told that I'd never be able to fully do in 2nd grade, and now am getting perfect scores in english classes).

    It just takes more work for some people, that's all.^_^
  21. Sep 8, 2006 #20
    Feynman claimed to have been horrible at art until he took a few courses and stuck with them... Im not sure at his artistic ability before he took the courses though...
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook