the journey of a hobby artist
the bad, the ugly, and the utterly repulsive

December 2021

learning anatomy scares me (12/27/2021)

I'm surprised to say that I've actually hit the point where I can learn anatomy without being completely blocked by some other extraneous skill that is lacking development.

And it's rather intimidating.

Well, this is definitely not the first time I've tried approaching anatomy, but it's certainly the first time when I actually feel like I could tackle it without any sort of repercussions in gesture, stiffness, or whatever. I know what I'm getting into, having fallen flat on my face trying to actually start learning it. Even getting to the point where you can start learning the blasted thing without shooting yourself in the foot is difficult enough.

Basically, I realized that I've reached the limit of what gesture alone can contribute to my figures. Not to say that I've mastered gesture, but I need to add some meat to the bones in order to apply gesture to those and level that up, too, so that means it's time for me to learn anatomy.

You can actually get pretty far in drawing with just gesture and simple knowledge of the shapes and proportions of the human body. And for most people, that's often enough for their purposes and style. I want to push myself further though because I think I need to learn it for the type of work I'm trying to aim for.

some pencil drawings of the deconstruction of the lower leg

I have tried learning through only the muscles and their simplifications (ie. solely through Bridgman's Constructive Anatomy) but that didn't end well because I lacked direction. I especially don't recommend learning only from Bridgman when starting out, because the simplifications somewhat assume that you know what muscles you're looking at, which I clearly didn't.

Learning only from the simplifications of the anatomy only made me more confused, to be honest. I'd draw the simplified volumes quite easily, but retained nothing, because I didn't even know what in the world I was simplifying. Then I'd get lost as to what I'm supposed to do next. Now with learning from the muscles to their simplified forms, I can actually identify what groups of muscles get converted into a particular simple block. Knowing what the muscles are and where they attach helps provide context for when you simplify them, which was something I had not realized until now.

Because of this, I'm taking a more in-depth approach to learning anatomy, which is going from the bones and then putting the muscles on top one by one, seeing all of their connections. If you wanted to, you could only focus on the muscles to learn it faster, but since I'm in no real rush I want to see how well this will turn out.

I'm also creating my own reference notebook of sorts. I do have some reference books on anatomy already, but it's easy to get overwhelmed looking at those when you don't really have a platform to get started. So instead of relying on those, I'll be slowly documenting which parts of the body I've deconstructed, and then go from there. I can also reference from these as I go along which has already proven to be quite handy.

deconstruction of upper leg (ballpoint pen and coloured pencil)

I'm mainly using a site called BioDigital, which is basically an interactive 3D viewer of the entirety of the human body. It also covers all of the internal organs and their functions, but for art the only thing you really need to focus on is the skeleton and the muscles. You can also toggle the visibility of every single muscle, which is why my drawings of each muscle build on top of each other. It's helpful for figuring out where each muscle attaches itself, which is going to be important when you have to start taking movement into account.

My plan is that after going through the muscles of a particular limb (legs, arms, hands, etc.), then I'll go into Bridgman or my other anatomy books to learn the simplifications. So far, things are actually sticking in my brain, which they weren't before. I'll be sure to report back to see how it's turning out, since I don't want to presume that the first approach is necessarily going to be the most effective one.

Learning anatomy is basically a life-long endeavour. I can guarantee that after going through the entirety of the human body that I'll have to go through it again. And again, and again. Some will stick on the first pass, but a majority of it won't. There's always something to develop, and there's always something to correct. That's basically art in a nutshell.

animation is very hard :( (12/23/2021)

I've finally finished some things that I've been procrastinating on for like a year: the remaining splash images for the resources and the neighbourhood pages, and my updated (and now animated) 88x31 button.

I'm glad it's all over and done with, but man it really was tedious. And my brain hurt. Well, that's probably because I forgot to drink water while doing all of it, as per usual.

I mainly procrastinated because animation is really difficult. Heck, the splash image for the resource page is probably the most I've ever animated and despite its simplicity it still took me like nearly three hours from start to finish. Yikes.

sketch for the resource page splash gif

If you think illustration is hard, animation (especially hand-drawn) is basically drawing the same thing with consistency multiple times, and then actually have it read as movement to the human eye. Drawing something once is hard enough, drawing it tens if not hundreds of times over while creating the illusion of movement is simply grueling.

Man, even my 88x31 button took way too much time and it's literally just translating a sprite up and down. Well, I did include eye blinking and movement, but still.

I simply can't imagine just how many hours it takes to make a feature-length film with hand-drawn animation, even with a team of animators. It's so astronomical that I think I dissociated just thinking about it.

Well, I'm done for now with the site stuff, I guess. Those were the last few assets that I wanted to do, so at least it's no longer gnawing in the back of my mind.

some process timelapses (12/19/2021)

I've been experimenting with my process a bit, mainly with trying to reduce the sketching time in my paintings.

I don't know, I like sketching, but only if the main product I'm going for is a sketch, not a painting. When I'm making a full piece I want to go straight to the painting process because it seems rather redundant having tight linework in the sketch and then cover it all up with rendering. It also tends to give me stiffer results, and doing it makes me miserable.

I know that some artists stick to the mentality where every phase in the piece from start to finish looks presentable (sketch, flat colours, full render, etc.) Not me. In my case the entire thing looks unpresentable until I finish. I like improvising my way through a piece instead of having it all laid out like a coloring book. I suppose that using a digital medium makes doing that like 300x easier.

Whether or not it's actually harmful to my progress, I don't know. I'm vastly slower at doing traditional work than digital, but it does make sense. Past a certain point the work you've done traditionally is irreversible, so it'll take more time to make a better piece in general. I do find that digital fits my tempo a lot better, though, especially when doing representational work.

I'll post some small timelapses of pieces #102 and #103 as to how I'm doing my process now. Still figuring things out, so I'll probably be using these as a point of reference.

somewhat relevant tiny website changes (12/14/2021)

Just wanted to talk about some stuff regarding the website side of things relating to the art section.

I've made a little bit of changes to my art journal layout. Instead of having one single page holding each year's entries, I decided to sort them all by month in an archive page. You can also find a link to it under the title of the art journal page.

This is mainly due to the fact that it was rather difficult to link directly to a specific entry if I wanted to refer to it later on. Also, having everything in one page (especially with something as image-heavy as an art journal) may lead to quite rough processing times on bad network connections. The computer development side of my brain wasn't having any of that, so I had to relieve myself of this agitation.

Granted, my website is far from the most lightweight or optimized, but at least I'm able to code things directly without making some stupid workaround like you would have to do for a lot of website builders and templates.

But anyways, asides from that, I've also added another HTML thing that'll help the art journal some (and my writings in general). I've added hyperlinks that show an image on hover, so I can show images without having to take up a large amount of screen real estate. For example, if I wanted to refer to a piece in my gallery, I can be like "look at piece #95" and if you hover over the link (distinguished by the dotted underline), you'll see a preview. You could also click on the link if you can't hover over it to see the image also. Probably won't be using it too much, but there were some instances in the past where it would've been handy.

Not really much to say at the moment, but I do have a bunch of things lined up to post soon. I have a backlog of way too many thoughts about art and other stuff and I want to get those sorted. Only have one last final exam before vacation, so I'll get some time to work on writing stuff after that.

snooze mode (12/01/2021)

The end of Inktober and school picking up in pace led to an inevitable case of "I couldn't be bothered", so I didn't. Well, regarding updating my website that is. Still doing things in the background of course.

I'm not at all inspired to draw more planned pieces, or anything with real structure for that matter. I haven't done anything digitally since the latter half of October, and I'm still using inks. You'd think that I would've gotten sick of using inks after Inktober, but I'm still enjoying it.

I've been mainly doing some random doodly thumbnails when I have some time to spare, because they're easy and I can finish one of these in like 3-5 minutes. No motivation to do finished pieces means that some proper practice is in order, but I don't know whether these things count as practice? In an abstract sort of way I guess you could count these, but I never see people do thumbnails in this manner. Could be a good composition exercise maybe if I do like a couple thousand of these or something.

using inks and water brushes and other nonsense

I should probably get back into studying some anatomy or something. Usually I get stuck being unmotivated about making finished pieces because I end up thinking every piece is same-same in terms of the technicalities. The only way I break my way out of that is if I improve my mechanical skill a little bit. I guess it's nice to have a natural rhythm of making finished work and then going out and practicing.

I've been also dabbling in another art journal, and it's not in the sense of journaling about art (like what you're reading now), but rather drawing the things that actually happen in my day-to-day life.

Most of my written journals typically turn into a philosophical mishmash of nonsense, rarely about what actually happened that day. I figured I should have another journal to house daily summaries. But instead of only listing the things that I did in the day, I might as well draw a picture of what I saw or experienced also.

recently completed art journal page spread

I've been using mainly fountain pen ink and water brushes for these sketches; the same tools I used during Inktober. I've thought about using watercolours, but I don't have any waterproof inks on hand for my pens at the moment. I could use ballpoints for that, though. A possibility.

I don't really have the guts to carry out a sketchbook and actually draw from life for this art journal, so I've been drawing from memory instead, usually a few days to a week after the events have already happened, not because I'm intentionally spacing out my visual recall, but because of laziness. This would be a good exercise in visual memory I guess, albeit fueled entirely by social anxiety.

I did order a pocket notebook with a reusable cover recently so I can covertly sketch and jot notes down in public. I've been wanting to add a pocket notebook to my everyday carry for like a few years now but never got around to it because reasons. And by reasons I mean I don't have any. I should've bought one sooner, to be honest, because I hate using my phone for jotting anything down, not to mention I can't sketch in the thing without frustration.

Other art-related news: nearly finished three "sketchbooks". One is my messy sketchbook which I just throw random ideas and thumbnails in, the other is a more neater one that has a bunch of full-page doodles and also houses all of my Inktober 2021 entries. The last one is a huge art binder where I throw in all of my practice scraps of paper. I may or may not make a tour of the neater sketchbook. I do plan on writing an article on my current system for sketchbooking and practice, because it's something that I don't see people talk about anywhere. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough. If anything, that's probably the case.

Most of the drawing I did this past month was hardly creative. Kind of rote memory/observational drawing and abstract stuff and less putting ideas into reality. Those grand ideas can wait, though. I'll just chill out for a bit. Or a month.

I'll likely be back to post more stuff after my final exams and projects. But maybe not. I've been taking it kind of slowly lately, so we'll see.

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