Just a bit of wisdom I jotted in an old sketchbook. Here’s a big pile of images in no particular order, logic, or cleanliness.
Conventional artistic wisdom skews heavily against drawing from photography. Indeed, the oldest example I’ve found is from Solomon Solomon, arguing against it when cameras were still industrial monstrosities, rather than something we all have in our pocket.
I contend that part of the reason photo drawing sucks is that you have infinite leisure to use the photo. Thus, you dawdle and over-analyze, and it ends up stinky. A live model’s continually subtle shifts make the artist’s brain process the real essence of the pose, even if it’s an hours- long pose. Therefore, if your photo reference is held to a 30 second to 10 minute window, might you be forced to process it faster?
Other unorthodox sites let you fake it, with enjoyably more random results. At times my homepage has included Arkive.org’s random species, Flicker’s Interesting Photos from 7 Days, or Panoptikos, which jams a bunch of photo subreddits together. This lets you hit refresh until you see something you like, then draw it. But you get the two downsides: Choosing your subject (resulting in refreshing for 15 minutes) and no time constraints.
However, the best lifedrawing software out there is right behind this window! Right now! It’s your desktop.
First, spend some time on the internet hoarding pictures of interest. I tend to seek out pics with good costumes, interesting characters, nudes (get this: they’re all over the internet!), faces, and animals, but I try not to be picky. Save ‘em all in a giant folder. Mine’s got over 14,000 pics!
Next, change your desktop background preferences to use that directory, and change randomly every 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, etc. Set your computer down, and just draw whatever shows up as your new wallpaper.
I took a one-week painting course with Nana Bagdavazde recently. It was a lot of fun, especially since painting has been very difficult to achieve by since having a baby 18 months ago.
My muscles were super-rusty at the start, but by the end I’d figured a lot of ideas out. A big change was realizing that the whole point of oil painting should be how baby-friendly it is! If you’ve got a secured room, you can duck out when your kid’s awake, hang out for 6 hours, and when you go back the palette will still be wet and ready for action.
The last picture is my buddy Ike, a work in progress. The amount of it I busted out in very short time made me happy, and highlighted the rust that had been shaken off by the course. Hooray!
I’ve been seeing tidbits of Freestyle Level Up at Seabug over the last year, and seeing the finished product is a massive enlightenment. Lee Posey and Sage Light Bwk have done an amazing job, and their BNPR homepage should be a routine destination for all Blender users. Freestyle’s development has skyrocketed in recent years, and truly took off when #1. Blender’s render layers reorganized and #2. Freestyle was included by default in Blender. Freestyle’s capability is ready for action, but the Blender community still has a drought of great Freestyle tutorials. Until now. Here’s my review!
If this is totally new to you, a bit of clarification:
- NPR=Non-photoreal. Comics, anime, all that good stuff.
- Freestyle=a postprocess line art renderer that’s part of Blender.
Right off the bat, the production value of this series is terrific. Great editing, Clear voice-over, and constant set decoration to keep you engaged in the material. Before I even learned anything, I knew I’d be munching popcorn the whole time. Video game lingo and DBZ references keep you engaged during the most obtuse, difficult concepts.
Freestyle has often confounded newcomers (myself included), because unlike many intermediate blender tasks, it’s not WYSIWYG. Switch your render to Cycles? It automatically works! You turn on Freestyle, hit render, and…well, lines appear, but how do I change ‘em?!
Freestyle Level Up hits this problem right on the head with two major approaches. First, it explains the concepts, so you’re not just randomly turning buttons on and off any more. Sage and Lee take your brain and wrap it around the core concepts, so you understand edge types, line styles, and how it plugs into Blender’s overall rendering paradigm.
Secondly, once you know just what you’re dealing with, you can see infinite Freestyle combinations…and that’s intimidating. No worries though! BNPR’s team have come up with a formidable library of Freestyle recipes. Following along with their various recipes will leave you ready to start with the right style (or really close) right away, rather than fiddling for hours to get it right.
BNPR’s Freestyle Level Up video series fills a massive void in the Blender tutorial universe by covering Freestyle both aesthetically and under the hood. But not only is it the first major offering on the subject of Freestyle, it’s also a highly polished, easy-to-swallow romp that keeps you entertained while you learn. I’ve been excited to see Freestyle’s development over the years, but it’s even more exciting to know what the heck I’m doing in Freestyle! If you’re new to Blender, you might want to start somewhere else; Freestyle (like so much of Blender) is practically a program within a program. But if you’re comfy with your F12 key in Blender, Freestyle Level Up is a great way to add a great new tool to your toolbox.
Here’s a WIP shot of a guy I call “The broker.” Imagine him as a floormonger on some sci-fi commodities trading market. The final design will have red LED stock-tickers and news bulletins scrolling along his belt and shoulder apparati.
My modeling approach with this dude has been experimental and strange. Many methods exist for “sketching” a sculpt in 3D. Dynamic topology, Zspheres, Blender’s skin modifier. But all of these require under-the-hood nurturing that, in my opinion, makes you lose the effortless quickness that you can have with drawing by hand.
When you’re drawing in that way, a favorite technique is to just use big abstract circles and lines of action to represent a head, a muscle, a torso. Where is the equivalency in 3D? Here’s the modifier stack I came up with.
From here, you can just Shrinkwrap clothes onto the character, then begin retopology modeling what you actually want. I got something that felt really alive and stylish, and the model served as some baseline concept art.
Should I take this to sculpt first, then finish modeling? I don’t know. Instincts say yes, but I’m having fun with some old-fashioned modeling first, sculpt later pipeline.
Are you at my Blender talk? Welcome! Here’s notes, follow along.
3D is gigantic. Although you can spend a lifetime on it, anyone can get enough 3D chops to print a 3D model, render something, or have fun. However, the first 30 minutes are truly, horrifically painful if you’re diving in blind. Let’s get your first 30 minutes out of the way!
Intro–Blender? I hardly knew’er!
- Go get Blender! http://blender.org
- Support Blender’s new movie, Project Gooseberry! http://gooseberry.blender.org
- Shameless plug: Support Giant Vs. Horde! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/impossibleobject/giant-vs-horde-battle-a-real-human-without-limits?ref=live
- Learn from others in the Commons! http://blendswap.com
- 3 button mouse, number pad. Nvidia?
- Ubuntu: reclaim your Alt key.
- Apple: Reclaim your F keys.
- Rule of 3s
- Timeline, Properties, Outliner. Don’t sweat it!
- Tools (T) and Properties (N)
- 3D view. We’ll stay here!
3D Navigation & Mouse Button Basics
- XYZ = RGB = Left/Right, Forward/Back, Up/Down
- 3 Mice buttons. Middle mouse= Navigation! Rule o’ 3: Orbit, Pan, Zoom
- MMB click drag: Orbit
- Shift MMB: Pan
- Ctrl MMB: Zoom. Middle Mouse wheel also.
- Other nav tools:
- period key: zoom to selection.
- Numpad 5: orthographic vs perspective
- 4/6, 8/2:, +/-: rotate
- 0: Camera
- Right mouse = Selection!
- Shift RMB: Add to selection
- Within tools: Cancel (also Escape)
- Left mouse = 3D cursor. Whaaaa?
- Within tools: Execute (also Enter)
- Ctrl LMB: Lasso select
3 Basic transforms: Move, Scale, Rotate!
- G: Grab/move/Translation
- X, Y, Z: set an axis
- Alt XYZ: restrict an axis
- Numbers: add specificity
- R: Rotate
- Same as Grab!
- RR: Joystick vs. Trackball
- XX, YY, ZZ: Global vs. Local transforming
- S: Scale
- Same! But default is 1/1/1
- Scale + LMB 3D Cursor = Hey, LMB isn’t silly!
- Comma, period: change transform origin
- 3 mesh components: vertex, edge, face, each with a menu!
- 3 step process: View, selection, tool
- 3 menus: Add, Specials, Spacebar. (W, Ctrl A, Spacebar)