2017 Apr 23 ~ May 06

A rather long two weeks. Watched Kemono Friends (fabulous), Gabriel DropOut (barely not worth the time), played more Automata, partly to get screencaps and a second look for the review, partly for the DLC (it’s poop), and then basically a week of Total Shogun 2 to celebrate a friend’s graduation. It was nice. Not so nice for progress in drawing, but oh well. Such a cluster of things isn’t gonna happen again anytime soon.

Digital though had two unplanned uptake breakthroughs:

  1. I watched an old Ilya Kuvshinov I had and it completely changed my understanding on how to line. My understanding was /ic/’s, which was CtrlPaint’s: draw a line quick, starting before your intended initial point and ending after your final point, then erase the ends afterwards. Ilya seems to emphasize doing fewer lines, using pressure to control weight inbetween. In the end this appears to be a faster process. My interpretation of what I saw changed lining time of a face from ~1hr to ~5min. Marginally less clean results, but pretty great for a magnitude of increase in speed.
  2. Taping paper on top of the tablet. The problem wasn’t so much that the tablet was too smooth, it was that it was smooth for the stylus and not smooth for my arm. Oil or something had built up and couldn’t be cleaned off, and oil caused the material to change into something with very high friction, resulting in lack of control any time movement wasn’t from the wrist. Making paper the contact surface solved this and added a comfortable and familiar stabilization. There’s still some hand-eye coordination problems, but everything feels much better now.

Also finally saw the true advantage of digital: not Ctrl+Z, but Ctrl+H.

Need to be careful using it though, some really beautiful things aren’t supposed to work when flipped (e.g. hair parted left vs hair parted right).


A 17_04_29-30
Last time I had decided to try and put hands into everything, but it became obvious quickly that my understanding of hands was limiting enough that there weren’t many positions where I could expand much at all past a stick figure. So I explored hands a bit more.


A 17_05_01-06
Then I lost sight of what I was doing.

But I learned some things I’d been wondering about for a while in a pretty short timeframe, so I guess it was okay.

Long timelapse more because I was playing a weeklong session of Total Shogun with a friend.


B 17_04_24-25
More hair and drapery drilling from imagination.

Hair shape language/constraints don’t entirely make sense. Doing too few drapery folds.


D 17_04_23
I was told that I needed to do a bunch of lines and curves through points, so that’s what I did.

It wasn’t fun. I didn’t learn much either.


D 17_04_24
Watching an Ilya Kuvshinov video on his drawing process revealed to me that /ic/’s fawning over CtrlPaint had led me to believe the wrong thing: quick lines are NOT the holy grail, clean lines are NOT done by “temp layers”, drawing through, erasing, and they sure as hell aren’t done via vector or shape tools.


D 17_04_25
Testing out different stabilizer levels.

Difficult to control decline in pressure level across a stroke.


D 17_04_28_2-30
Not shown: tracing over a few hairstyles to get a better idea for shape language/constraints.
Also not shown: D 17_04_28_1, where I tried to draw something from reference and it went horribly wrong. When looking at reference my hand-eye coordination is on autopilot, and I really needed to calibrate it with a few faces first, faces being the best choice for calibration because they have the tightest natural tolerances.

Right before the first referenced hair, I decided to tape paper on top of my tablet.

Absolutely the best decision.

Tried out blobbing out values in the bottom right just to fill out the page. Interesting feeling, at least while adding. Not sure how to go about subtracting, or how to add lines to it.


D 17_05_02-06
Ctrl+H is God.

More faces. Feels fine now. Last one was way outside my skill range; animu faces with realistic proportions are wildly different from actual realistic faces in ways I haven’t bothered to understand.

I’m also not entirely sure when which lines should have more weight. I can figure it out if I stop and think about it, but I don’t really want to stop and think about it. They don’t feel sloppy or messy anymore, which is more important.

2017 Apr 10 ~ 21

Gonna put my drawing stuff here from now on too. Older stuff can be found here or here.

Upload schedule is other week, usually Saturday, occasionally Friday or Sunday.


Digital lines are a pain. Asked around and was told there’s no trick to it, I just have to grind a couple thousand curves through pre-established points. Which sounds about right, since the answer can’t possibly be vectors, but I still don’t like it. Means that the problem here is mostly one of mechanical finesse rather than any sort of mental refinement.

Integrating down to calves and feet, though, is. Using head length as a unit the full body is ~2 units wide and ~8 units tall, or 1:4 aspect ratio. I’ve primarily been working in 1:1 to about 1:2.5; doing something so long just feels weird. There’s also the part where if I want to make it large enough to have the most basic of details in eyes and eyebrows so that 0.5mm doesn’t trip over itself, a 1:4 means I’d need to take up ~2/3 of the page’s height.

That being said, this is also not a problem one’d naturally associate with “learning to draw”. Just as digital lining is a problem between tablet and chair, foot integration is a problem between anatomical understanding and mark-making instrument. Neither are my favorite kind of problem.

Problems, problems, problems.

A 17_04_10-13
Wasn’t too clear what I needed to be doing. Saw that pupils/irises were on my to-do list.


A 17_04_14-16
I always thought of the long eye type as simpler, but somewhere along the way the tables flipped. Not because I got particularly worse at them, but because I got better at the other type, and I started to know what to look for.

Long type is more difficult because of the nose, which has lower tolerances because it’s more realistic.


A 17_04_17
Didn’t end up being all too difficult. Just took a bit of space.


A 17_04_18
Adding the head and eyes really tightens the tolerances.


A 17_04_18-21
Had the thought of enforcing some sort of minimum level of detail; if it’s just a head it should detail hair, eyes, expressions, if it’s just a torso the hands should be there or at least some drapery. There seems to be an infinite number of things to refine and since that’s my “comfort zone” mixing them in a bit before and after bigger ones feels pretty nice.

Let’s see if I can’t make myself put more things together this time.


B 17_04_18-20
Started with looking closer at some silhouettes, then looked at motion instead.


D 17_04_21_2
Took ~10 minutes to go from nothing to final on paper.
Took ~100 minutes to go over only this much in lines digitally. Did some lines, then erased and refined, almost every line had its own layer, the jawline had four… I was originally planning to do hair but no way in hell was I going to touch it with this complete lack of speed.

Definitely missing something.

Dreaming too is a skill

In school I chased ever higher grades. In piano I chased ever fast complicated chords. In writing it was ever longer essays. In projects, tighter schedules; in managing, tighter rules.

Or in short in all fields throughout life what I sought was technical competence.

Drawing is the only thing so far where I’ve attempted to teach myself. It’s also the only thing where I’ve had a fairly clear idea from the beginning of what I like and why I like it, and for reasons other than technical competence: line drawings of women in sexual manners because muh dick. Simple, but conscious. While I liked songs I played on the piano I didn’t know why, and never fathomed to begin thinking about why they were appealing. It never occurred to me to think about drawing either, but by chance or other means the reason did exist.

It’s been a little over two years since I took drawing as a serious endeavor, and I’m now reaching basic technical competence in a majority of the things I originally wanted: I can draw all basic body parts of a woman, and know which proportions and camera angles to adjust to emphasize sexuality. There’s still some work to be done on reliably and accurately drawing certain positions and camera angles, but the problem’s approach is known, and estimates on how long it’ll take to solve are fairly accurate. All of this is a far cry from not knowing what to draw, how to draw, or even being able to copy anything at all. I know what I can and can’t do, and what I can do I can do well.

What I can’t do is anything worth doing.

Drawing female bodies is the only thing I’ve ever actually learned on my own, I’m certain I have competencies in it even if several areas need improvement, and yet I’m also completely unsatisfied with it. At some point in the past though I was satisfied with revisiting the same things over and over again, getting better day by day. Technical competence in a number of component skills is always required to open more doors in its superset skill: Not knowing clothing or hair or how to digitally color skin believably weren’t concerning to me because I knew I’d get to it eventually, and get better at it just the same as torso forms with pencil lines. It’s somewhat daunting to have to step into new territory soon; it’s even more to have to relearn how to take steps altogether.

l9wnqyoI can tell you there are some problems in this image. Some things are too large, some things are too small, a few things should be lighted differently, and some forms interfere if thought out a bit more. It’s fully within my abilities to redraw and fix those problems.

But I wouldn’t be able to create bottom up something that gives its feeling. I can draw female figures from this angle, but I wouldn’t know to use this one in particular. I can draw the stairs, but I wouldn’t know where to stop. I wouldn’t know to have the characters only take up that amount of space in the frame. I’d know how to make the females attractive. I wouldn’t know how to arrange everything so that the final product felt both sad yet comforting. At some point in the past I wouldn’t consider to make something sad yet comforting.

But now I do consider it. I think conveying feelings is what’s worth doing.

And I don’t know how to get there because my only meanings in life have been chasing technical competence and whetting my genitals . I’ve written a number of words in my life, but since I’ve never tried to do anything with it other than record my thoughts as-is with only myself in mind as the audience, that’s the limits of my writing. If I wrote a story, my strongest characters would be those singlemindedly improving on one skill and those running around satisfying carnal desires. There’d be other characters too, they’d just all be flat and unreadable. There wouldn’t be a story. They wouldn’t be characters. They’d be words.

The moment I stop thinking pornographically, my drawings become pencil lines. I can’t see characters. I can’t see motivations. If I see anything at all other than lines and shapes, it’s just a pretty face and a pretty body.

Which is what I wanted. So I guess it’s what I got.

j5honeb

If you want to see something, and over time you’ve only ever trained yourself to see that particular something, you’re not about to see anything else. If I want to see and draw “pretty faces”, I’m not about to see why she’s making that face, or what pose her body is in, in what kind of scene or including what other characters and their overall story. I still want pretty faces, to be sure. But it’s not the only thing I want anymore.

I want to tell stories now. I’ve no idea where to begin.

But technical competence in a number of component skills guarantees more open doors in its superset skill, and at some point component skills are effortlessly interchangeable.

When I started drawing it was difficult to keep returning to it. I sucked, I wasn’t making progress, nothing looked good, I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I only stuck with it because after a lifetime of believing in school I failed to get any job, and was hammering into my head that I needed to have something to show for in my life. Even then I only returned to it for a few hours a month. But it grew to a few hours every few weeks. Then a few hours a week, and now, I can’t imagine not doing it. The competency of the final result improving was only the cherry on top; what was important was learning how to approach the idea being encoded and becoming familiar with the kinds of mental landscapes that help cultivate these actions. Like water and food in an endless desert, when I just started drawing it was important for me to be able to produce good drawings at a certain rate. Now the land is bountiful, or at the very least there’s a decent sized patch of it which isn’t desert. I know how to get back to that patch, I know how to expand it, I even have a decent idea how to recreate that patch somewhere else entirely if for whatever reason that need arises. Good drawings hold a different meaning now, a man used to having his belly full at the end of every day isn’t going to find the same things acceptable as a man perpetually starving.

Among all the other things, dreaming holds a different meaning too.

This time it’s not like two plus years ago when all I had to reference was the pedagogy of the public school system and an online sea of low quality amateur artists who only pick up their craft twice a year and spend the rest of the time talking about personal style, imagination, passion, big names, and other undefined unactionable buzzwords. This time I have some experience learning, some idea of where to look and how to inspect things for the purposes of reverse engineering. In drawing the workflow is familiar enough to me that I can document it. But even elsewhere I have an idea how it works, what to do to expand my foothold, and the confidence that certain actions will produce the things needed to in turn produce and improve results: the first step is to believe the problem is solvable, the second step is to try out different imitations of examples until the structure of the whole can be identified. The other steps are depend more on the subject matter and are more complex, but are relatively trivial in importance. The first step is the most important one of all. And it’s one I can now take reliably.

Learning how to tell stories in drawings shouldn’t be too hard.

Learning how to tell stories in writing should be doable too, if only a few years further away.


[0] The original intended title for this post was “The End”. The second title was “Desire too is a skill”. It was changed to the final title due to connotations of the replaced words.

Music: “Unlimited Sky (Acoustic Version)” – Gundam 00 S2 Insert

Also going to be uploading daily sketches done via the “20-Minute Timed Master Studies” method, but I won’t link them every time. I’ll find a place somewhere to put the link.

Probably not going to put images on here that often. I like this blog’s current set style for its general feel, but it hates images.