Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Visualising in 3D vs. memorising lines - Part 1

A while back I went to a manga-drawing workshop by the wonderful Emma Vieceli and Laura Watton. One of the many interesting things that were mentioned was related to how many of us approach drawing a figure.
We will take another look on the often somewhat controversial topic of copying which I've talked about in a previous post, and compare it to the "proper" way of learning to draw - visualising 3D form on paper.

When learning to draw people, folds, hair etc. by copying the line drawing of an existing artwork, certain line patterns are memorised. However, little knowledge is gained about the underlying 3D form which creates those characteristic lines. That means that you will most likely only be able to draw a pose from the particular angle that you copied it from.
I can't remember exactly what Emma and Laura called this kind of way to think about drawing, but let's call it the line approach for simplicity.

The other, usually more useful approach is the ability to visualise the form in 3D and translate that into a 2D line drawing. This takes a bit more time to learn since it's about learning to think rather than simply memorising lines, but it is an important, if not essential skill to learn.
By being able to visualise in 3D, it's possible to solve more complex poses and makes you more flexible as an artist.
The 3D approach is what is encouraged when how-to-draw books tell you to use spheres, cyliners and blocks to build up your figure. While it may be easy to draw geometrical shapes on paper, understanding the angle and depth relationships between blocks and being able to translate that into a human form takes some time.

Related post: The art of copying


aqws said...

Not to be underestimated, though, "learning the lines". It's a terrible way to learn to draw, but that style is important too- as I have had demonstrated to me often and to my peril. :)

nana said...

Quite true, I still rely heavily on lines I've learnt, but I'm gradually filling in the blanks with understanding of form now.
I think this is part of the reason I felt like a hack for the first couple of years after I started drawing. I could make a pin-up look good if I stuck to what I knew, but once I started drawing comics I realised how shallow that knowledge really was.
I'm getting to style in part 2. :)