Friday, November 19, 2010

Episode 86--A year gone by... where are we now?

In this week's misadventure Patrick, Drew, Socar, Kieran, and Jeremy take a look at some of their very latest work and compare it to the work of a year ago as featured in Episode 44!

Be sure to subscribe to the Ninja Mountain Podcast on iTunes or we will send Jared McNewcastle to your house with a copy of "Ishtar" that you will be forced to watch over and over. He so loves "Ishtar"....

Thankfully, our latest efforts somewhat outshine those discussed in episode 85....

It is one more episode with a strong visual component, folks.
We hope you will follow along and enjoy!

Don't be afraid to share your latest efforts in comparison to your work of a year ago as well.
We'd love to see it in the comments section!

We are a proud member of the Visual Artist Podcast Network.
It is well worth checking out!

And now, the art...

16 comments: said...

Great episode. I'll throw my hat into the ring and show something I did a year ago:

And here's an example of one of my most recent pieces:

Illuxcon was a huge eye opener for me with my work as well. I have a good feeling about the pieces I have yet to come :)

Jeremy McHugh said...

Ahh those intrepid Goblin explorers.
These are the voyages of the GSS Enterprise---Their mission---to prove that Goblins were never meant to fly....
We salute you!

A nice jump in quality, Mike. The new piece reads a lot better and has better focus and use of value. Lots of character in there that sets us up for their short-lived adventure into the unknown.
A clear improvement has been made here, man!
Looking forward to your next piece!
---Jeremy said...

They will be remembered for their bravery...and lack of intelligence :P

Thanks for the feedback Jeremy! The most rewarding part of art-making for me is watching my work improve so I'm glad to hear it looks like I'm making progress. Can't stop now though, I still have a long ways to go.

Anonymous said...

I have a question, maybe for your next episode.
I know you did an episode on ASFA, but I don't recall any of you saying that you were members of an artist association. I'm looking at the ASFA enrollment form I picked up at Illuxcon and I'm wondering if it would make a difference. Some illustrators local to me also mentioned that they get work from being on the website, but at around 400$ for the whole package, I have trouble justifying that if I can get work otherwise.

So, are any ninjas part of the Society of Illustrators, the AOI, the Graphic Artists Guild or something? If not, do you think you are missing on something, and if so, what benefits did you get from it. Thanks

Unknown said...

Yay it's an Aussie talking on Ninjamountain! I'd love to know how Kieran got Aus to the states, any advice he's got for a fellow Aussie would be awesome!

Alonso said...

I think something's wrong with Socar, she was being really supportive :P

Thanks for the episode folks.

I feel like I'm hearing "use reference" everywhere lately, from IMC alumns, from ninjas, from muddy colors. I'm not clear on how you are supposed to use it well. Unless you get the exact angle of limbs & camera then you're going to be interpolating anyway. If you don't have a fairly controllable light situation you will also be interpreting form and shape. If you don't have really similar materials you may be lead astray by your cotton bedsheet not looking like the Leather tunic you intend. And stitching together multiple images may lead to odd distortions from different angled lenses.

Can anyone clarify how to make proper use of reference? (When do you need it, how do you use it, what kind of reference is useful, and why do you use it instead of working from your head?)


Anonymous said...

Normally, I'd have offered an opposing--no, ELABORATING--viewpoint, on the whole reference bit. Not sure what was up with me, being so very NICE and non-contrary, this show.

It's not so much reference that's needed as...understanding of what you're seeing. Just using the human body as an example, reference becomes MOST useful once you already understand the basic structure of muscle and skeleton, and the underlying forms. You use the reference not to tell you what's there, or how the body would work in a particular position--you should have a working understanding of that, and you should always be working on building on that knowledge--but to help you with your observation of detail, of how something looks in a particular condition of lighting or perspective, et cetera. It's a visual aid, not a basic foundation.

What you describe as a problem--drawing cotton instead of leather, because that was in the reference, for instance, or having to follow EXACTLY the position of the body in your photograph--should not be a problem. You should already know how these things work. If you can't draw a human body, study up on the body. If you can't draw leather...find some, and look at it. The reference helps cement it all in your mind, and give you a reminder of where you're going with what you're drawing, so you don't get confused halfway through, but it shouldn't OVERTAKE your drawing, or be the sole basis of your drawing.

I think we have a habit of glossing over these things, because we are assuming people have a basic grasp of anatomy, how to draw particular fabrics, et cetera, which may not always be the case.

But the thing is, even a very accomplished artist develops a visual shorthand--an iconic vocabulary that says "this is the shape of an eye; this is how the calf muscle looks, when contracted; this is how the skin stretches under the jaw," and if that artist does NOT continue to look at life, look at reference, then that artist is only drawing from the image graveyard, and falling into some shortcuts that take some of the "life" out of the picture. This was the problem I was trying to describe having, when I talked about what I was working on, this year--and kind of failing...ha, ha!

The other good thing reference does is for sketching something that just isn't quite coming together in your head. Like, again, what I was describing with my own drawing: I looked at my reference, then lazily got into bed, to do my sketching, so I DIDN'T end up working out what was going on with the shoulder/forearm area in front, there. That was an area I was confused about: how, exactly, should the arm look, from THAT angle, in THAT position. You can see I didn't quite get it: there are structural issues with that shoulder, and a massively out-of-proportion hand, out front (which is actually a mistake, not just elongated to illustrate that the hand is dissolving).

(cont'd...stupid thing says my comment is too long)

Anonymous said...

Don't "stitch together" multiple images for reference. Don't try to get reference to stand in for something you simply have NO idea how to draw. For these things, of course, learn how that thing works, first; then use reference to help bring it more vividly into life. I think you are hearing a lot of "use reference" at things like IMC because most of the people who would go to that ALREADY HAVE a working knowledge of the basics, and that's when photo reference, rather than drawing from life, or study of forms, becomes most handy.

Now, you could argue that maybe not all of us Ninjas DO have a good knowledge of the basics--ha, ha. I, in particular, can be very sloppy with anatomy. But I have found that looking at more reference, this year, HAS helped with stamping out "shorthand" that wasn't quite working for me. I was doing a lot of "this line is an eye; this wedge shape is a foot; this small ridge of shading defines the bottom of the ribcage," and my drawings were taking on a "sameness" and laziness.

Does that help any better?

Anonymous said...

Sorry about that--I wrote that really confusingly, so it didn't make sense. I said "don't use reference to know how the body works in a certain position," and then I said to do that. Let me explain what I meant. I was trying to say...if you have absolutely NO IDEA how, say, a guy doing a pole vault would look--no idea how the body would appear from that angle--you probably need more study of how the body works and looks, rather than reference.

But, OK, if you can draw the body flying through the air from that angle; you can make it look convincing enough, but you're not totally sure of the details (exactly what is the technique, for pole vaulting?--do they position themselves a certain way? Which muscles would be tense, and which relaxed? How does the head hang, or is it tucked in? How would the knee look from THAT angle, in particular? Can the back flex in quite THAT way?)--small things, things you wouldn't commonly see, areas you're still working on perfecting--then, yes, you would benefit from the reference.

Basically, what I'm trying to say here is that reference is a tool, not a foundation. Does that work better? Why, yes, I think it does.

Alonso said...

wow, epic reply Socar.

so first learn anatomy & perspective etc.

then use reference to solidify your knowledge for the specific pose, giving your drawing authenticity by improving your personal artistic shortcuts with observed specific details.


sounds like a lot of work, but I guess it's that extra effort that is where Teh Awesome is added

(who knew insulting you would lead to such a thorough answer ;) )

Anonymous said...

Dammit! I was so verbose, and you put it so concisely, and said the same thing. Ha, ha. God, I need some sleep. But, yes. That was my point. Thank you for boiling it down into something more easily digestible!

Alonso said...

just listened to the episode again (there's a lot of good stuff in there)

what was the name of kieran's inbetween piece he couldn't show, so I'll know it when he can show it?

it's a lot easier to summarize then to articulate the thoughts in the first place ;)

Unknown said...

Great comments everyone! (Especially Socar's novel-length epic!)

A fine book for getting into the art of photo reference is "Greg and Tim Hildebrandt: The Tolkien years". This book takes you through the original sketches, photo ref, final drawings and finished paintings of dozens of their Tolkien calendar paintings.

It's a great lesson in just what those two masters of fantasy art did with their reference. You can see that they took lots of time on costume and lighting, and yet none of the final paintings looks anything like a photograph. That book is a wonderful way to learnabout the subject.

Alonso said...

thanks for the recommendation Patrick, books on it's way to me from the library

Aledin said...

I totally agree with Glassman-Socar regarding reference. I want to write something about it in my blog.

Anyway, here's my 1 year "progression". There's a clearly different technique going on, and they are both dated May, so the 2nd isn't my last work, but it gives a good idea of where I'm at. I think I improved a bit more since then but I'm finishing a piece now and I can't post it yet, so I post this one instead.

One year ago (May 2009):

One year later (May 2010):

Jeremy McHugh said...

Hey Qitsune,

I have found involvement in creative groups to be enriching on a creative and educational level.
Networking in such groups can pay dividends as well from a business standpoint.

It is the old adage though---you get out what you put in (and I 'm not just referring to the membership fee)..
I am the current president of the New Hampshire Creative Club. We put on monthly presentations with guest speakers and each event starts with an hour's opportunity to network.
I have built friendships with other local creatives.

It is my intention to eventually save up to join the ASFA and Illustration Exchange.
I would say any way you choose to get out of the studio and mingle with fellow creatives can be valuable.
Reaching out to the creative community need not be expensive. You could start one yourself in your area.
Put together an email list of local creatives and creative companies and schedule a meet-up.
A Drink and Draw, a guest presentation at your local library or coffee house. Whatever gets the ball rolling.

I've never belonged to the more expensive groups. I simply cannot afford it, but I've enjoyed being part of less formal/expensive organizations and working to develop my own circle of creative friends. :)

I'm not sure any of the other Ninjas belong to such groups. They're a bunch of shut-ins...;)