Monday, April 25, 2011

A Few More Tips for Drawing Ages

Here are five drawings of the same character, using a few different factors to create a feeling of aging.

 It's a generic, uninteresting design, but that's good for our's easier to see how each little change makes a difference, I think. 

 So here are the factors I used to change the appearance of each drawing:

 1. The size and angularity of the neck and shoulders: Babies start out with thick necks, but then by the time we're 5 or 6 our necks seem to look pretty skinny (at least I've found it seems to look that way in drawings). Our shoulders, obviously, start out small and get broader and broader as we get older (this is more apparent in men than in women, of course). Also I made a conscious effort to make his shoulders start out rounded and get more angular as he ages. If I'd kept going, drawing this guy into old age, I would have made the shoulders start to shrink (and get more rounded again) as he aged.

 2. The relation of the mouth to the chin: I simply made the mouth get further away from the chin as he ages, to give a feeling of a jaw that develops as he gets older. Also I made the jawline stronger and more angular with each successive age.

3. The amount of upturn in the nose: I made it turned up more in the younger drawings, and made it less so over time.

 4. The size of the forehead: We have a bigger forehead when we're young, and it diminishes proportionally over time.

 5. The chubbiness of the cheeks: most of us have less fat in our cheeks as we age.

 These aren't the best drawings, admittedly, but hopefully all this makes sense and people will find it helpful. I don't have much experience at drawing people at different ages and it's something I'm trying to get better at doing.

When I was a younger artist, I always assumed that great artists with lots of experience sat down and told young artists just starting out how to do things like draw people of different ages. It's funny, that's not at all how things work and I can't say I've ever been told any of this stuff, it's all just observations I've made (and of course I've appreciated the other stuff people have written down in other drawing books...see below). If you're lucky enough to have been given some other pearls of wisdom (or observed other things you'd like to share), by all means leave us a comment and let us all know!

Friday, April 22, 2011

"How to Steal Like An Artist" by Austin Kleon

I know, I'm late to the party, and it's already viral and stuff, but for those who haven't seen it yet, here's Austin Kleon's post about being an artist. A great read, and perfect inspiration for me and where I'm at right now, artistically. Check it out if you're so inclined.

"Invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory." - Joshua Reynolds

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Just a quick post on a basic concept that I sometimes see people forget (and I have been known to forget too).

Whenever you're drawing an environment or a layout, it can be easy to forget to give the viewer a sense of scale. If your drawing or painting doesn't contain any people, animals, or other objects that have a consistent size, it can be very confusing as to how big or small the spaces and elements are in your artwork.

This is the Great Hall in the Palace of Westminster in London. In this photo, it's very hard to tell just how big the space is.

 For several reasons, this isn't the best example...after all, when we see a photo like this we usually assume it was taken at typical human height (somewhere between 5 or 6 feet) so it's not all that ambiguous. But hopefully you get my overall point. It's hard to tell from the photo above just how big or small this space is.

 The problem can be compounded by the fact that many times when artists paint imaginary scenes to explore how an imaginary place might look, they put the camera up high so we can see more of the landscape. This can add further confusion because we don't have the vantage point of being about 5 - 6 feet off the ground (which is how we normally view the world every day, of course). Once we're up high looking down on a landscape it can start to feel like we're looking down at a toy landscape or a model train layout or something. Scale gets even more muddled.

 So here are two historic paintings of the Great Hall at the Palace of Westminster. Compare them to the photo above (which lacks people or any other scale clue). Notice how the addition of people instantly gives the space context. You immediately know how large the space is because we all know exactly how tall people are so they make a great yardstick for our eyes.

 Didn't the space look smaller in the photo at top?

So really this is just a reminder to always include some type of object to give the viewer a sense of scale. It's a simple thing...but very easy to forget. And the more fantastic and otherworldly the landscape, the more important it is.

 Many things come in a standard shape and size that can help to give a painting scale; people (obviously), animals, cars, houses, airplanes, boats (anything from sailboats to cruise ships), trees, etc.

Sometime I'll take some paintings and Photoshop out the elements that give it scale to illustrate this further...but right now hopefully you find this reminder helpful!