How do I figure out exactly what I need to study, and what questions to ask myself?
#1
So I'm pretty much a beginner (here is my Sketchbook and link to IG http://crimsondaggers.com/forum/thread-8451.html) and I've been trying to put in some time and effort into improving by doing a wide range of studies since all of my fundamentals are terrible. However the problem is, I often just mindlessly copy the reference even when I try hard not to. Sometimes it ends up really similar, and sometimes it doesn't - but almost always I hardly learn anything from it.

I'm aware of this and yet when I try to actively think about what I 'need to focus' and 'learn' on from a study piece, I absolutely can't think of anything. Basically, I have no idea of the type of questions I should be actively asking myself when I'm doing a study so that I can actually learn from it and improve.

Could this just be a matter of mileage? I admit I hardly put in the amount of time I should be putting in. Are these questions I should be asking myself during studies something I'd pick up on and learn along the way, after maybe a couple hundred hours of doing them?

Appreciate any reply, thanks.
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#2
Hello!

What are fundamentals?

Quote:I try to actively think about what I 'need to focus' and 'learn' on from a study piece

Instead of asking what to study, maybe the question you have to ask yourself is why you study in the first place. To learn something, you must be aware that something is wrong. At the very least, wrong to a degree that it is quantifiable. Eg. Problem: Anatomy doesn't look right; Hypothesis: Maybe the proportions are off; Solution: Brush up on figures and anatomy, observe ratios of head to torso, etc..

Quote:Basically, I have no idea of the type of questions I should be actively asking myself when I'm doing a study so that I can actually learn from it and improve.

This might do it for you. Try to give yourself work, as if somebody already hired you to do your dream job. Then do it the best you can and troubleshoot along the way. I think studies are meant to work out the kinks.

Quote:Could this just be a matter of mileage?

Totally! But I'd like to think 'studies' don't count as much as 'finished illustrations', just because 'studies' don't sound like they have much of a real stake to them. Like how people do 'studies' as if it gives them a pass for it to look terrible.

But then again, there are times I'd like to think studies and finished pieces are all the same!

Quote:Are these questions I should be asking myself during studies something I'd pick up on and learn along the way, after maybe a couple hundred hours of doing them?

This might be contrary to popular belief, but I don't think a hundred hours of doing work will always convert to improvement. You could be spinning your wheels for all we know!

If there's any kind of vagueness to my post, just post back and I'll try to clarify things. That said, good luck!

It's debatable whether or not what you're trying to achieve is indeed impossible. One thing's for sure: it's impossible to defeat a person who doesn't know how to quit.
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#3
I would be writting a long ass post but it would help if we would know what you would like to learn... it a strange task to ask other what you should be doing yourself.To make it simple everything that is consider a fundamental of art.What is more complex is how do you train yourself to understand how to correctly apply theory into practice.

I personnaly would avoid doing color or composition study or master study if you don't know what you are trying to learn from them.Because they focus on copying certain fundamental­.It is best you learn first to recognize what is a fundamental and that you look at how other artist study those fundamental.

I believe that it is essential to learn perspective and form and construction as basis for all the other fundamental.If you do not have mastered the cube in perspective you are a slave to the reference.

Click on the image below to enlarge.

If you get any question don't hesitate.


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#4
Really appreciate the help! So for now it looks like I should probably avoid all painting studies until I fully know what I'm seeking to learn when doing them. Except for value studies - I think I have a good idea right now of how to go about learning from those since they're pretty much black and white (unintentional, but too good of a pun to leave out lmao).

Once I improve my value knowledge, I think the next step would be to do my first complete original illustration in greyscale, even if it's terrible since I've never done one. Probably the best way to pinpoint all my weakest areas, and so I can then easily plan out what I need to study the most from there.

Want to know if you guys agree with this plan or if there's anything you would change/add?
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#5
Jumping in here. Sounds like a plan, but you might also consider this. Start on your illustration, choose and do your value studies in order to directly apply to the piece. That way your study is tailored towards something specific and not just for it's own sake.
Eg if you know it will have a misty setting study values from various reference related to mist. This can apply to every and any aspect of your painting.

good luck!

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#6
(02-03-2018, 04:17 PM)Amit Dutta Wrote: Jumping in here. Sounds like a plan, but you might also consider this. Start on your illustration, choose and do your value studies in order to directly apply to the piece. That way your study is tailored towards something specific and not just for it's own sake.
Eg if you know it will have a misty setting study values from various reference related to mist. This can apply to every and any aspect of your painting.

good luck!

Yo thank you! That's a great idea that somehow slipped my mind. A question in relation to that - let's say I want to study rocks or wooden structures, how much does it matter if I studied from a professional's digital paintings compared to if I studied from a photo/real life? Should I definitely avoid studying from digital paintings and only use photo references?
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#7
On the contrary, I would study the (good) paintings of the subject first, rather than photos if i wanted to learn more. Reason: you are also going to learn the abstraction/simplification process used by the artist in depicting whatever it is as well as the subject matter itself. Think of it as if they've already done the actual hard work of being the artist for you.These can then be directly adapted into your painting right away if desired.

If you study from a photo I suggest you actively think about this abstraction and simplification process as you work, since you are the one needing to do it all. That's really what a study that doesn't just become a copy is...you learning to observe, and then translate the observation in your own way.
i learned very late that, photo studies were way too easy to copy and produce accurate copies and yet learn very little from them if you aren't more aware of how you conduct them. They have their place ofc, just be purposeful in how you use them.

And studying from real life is much better than photos. The thing you are observing is not a fixed thing, where all the pixels are the same colour in the same place in the same spot. The learning you get from observing live changing conditions will be much more beneficial than any photo, because it's just that much more challenging, and abstraction/simplification is more needed.

Of course it depends on the aim of the study..some things rote copying/observation isn't necessarily a bad thing...like bargue plates where accuracy in observation is the goal, but even then, some form of mental abstraction system is probably happening to help judge proportions, placements etc

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#8
Quote:So for now it looks like I should probably avoid all painting studies until I fully know what I'm seeking to learn when doing them. Except for value studies

Before I give my long winded answer, I'd say yes! It's not a bad plan!

I always had this notion that I had to master values before I can get a crack at doing colors. I did a few pieces in grayscale both digitally and in pencil. I remember I had a hard time doing it mainly because it was difficult for me to translate the colors I see into just black, white and shades of gray in between. I didn't last long with incorporating values in my process. It felt silly, especially when I work mostly on a computer, where I can always turn the colored piece into grayscale anytime and flip it back.

The reason why I said yes is because there's something to be gained with being focused and, in turn, earnestly learning something. While avoiding something to get yourself focused on another isn't bad, it's a different story when you're under the impression that going from values to color is the necessary step to get to where you want your work to be.

I had this misconception that you have to have a draftsman level line work as a foundation to produce a great painting. Seeing people like Stjepan Sejic or our very own Piotr go straight to painting from a blank canvas blows my mind every time I see them do their thing.

Short summary: Yes, but keep your options open!

It's debatable whether or not what you're trying to achieve is indeed impossible. One thing's for sure: it's impossible to defeat a person who doesn't know how to quit.
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