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Lulie's avatar

Tutorial Updates

More tutorials are definitely on the way.

One of them will be an ebook on colour (partial credit goes to my fellow deviant BrotherOfMySister for suggesting a tutorial on colour, causing me to look into it and discover that EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW ABOUT COLOUR IS WRONG, and thus become obsessed with learning what the truth about it is). I will post some of the most useful/interesting tips from that to deviantART — but it will consist largely of the information that can be found in the wonderful Dimensions of Colour by David Briggs, except more artist-friendly.

EDIT 2013: Somewhat misleading. Though that is the best source I've found on colour and I highly recommend it, I've since been learning about colour from other places as well, and the tutorial would be my own take on it.

I also have various half-written tutorials and notes on things like how to draw spheres, inking, optical illusions (that one may become an ebook too), how to deconstruct a style, etc. but I'm not sure which of those will see the light of day.

Drawing (Construction) Thoughts

The more I learn about drawing, the more I realise perspective is perhaps the most key thing you need to understand. Loomis mentioned this in Successful Drawing; now I'm starting to see why.

I was drawing a cartoon tiger the other day, getting confused and attempting by trial and error to correctly bend the stripes around its slouching body. If I had just laid out basic perspective, I could have been like, "Okay, the eye level is here, so everything above/below and to the left/right of that will be bending outwards". Problem solved. (Or at least made easier.)

The thing is, perspective has some very counter-intuitive facts, which make total sense once you learn the reason, but are utterly confusing if you don't. Generally when perspective is taught, they don't go into much depth about the reasons for things, so you have to sit there and work it out yourself. Basic questions like, "Why do circles appear as perfectly symmetrical ellipses when they're in perspective, instead of more distorted or squished at one end?" are not even addressed. They just teach you rules of thumb. (No wonder many artists hate learning perspective!)

And this makes it difficult to apply the rules of thumb, because what if you're in an unusual situation where the rules you memorised don't apply? If you understood the reason behind what you're doing, you'd be able to work out what to do. If you just rely on rules of thumb, at some point it's going to look wrong.

Learning perspective is the process of learning to see things in 3D in your mind. Manipulating shapes in 3D space in your mind isn't a skill some people have and some people don't — no one has it until they learn perspective (or spend a lot of time with 3D models).

So, guess what — all those figures you've been drawing rely on either your knowledge of perspective, or your ability to do a carbon copy of what you see. If it's the latter, you're not going to be able to change them much before they start looking unrealistic. If it's the former, you'll be able to use your knowledge of perspective to change things around, or even construct from imagination, and still have it look realistic.

(For those of you who can do some stuff from imagination without having learned perspective: that's from learning rules of thumb or having an inexplicit understanding of stuff that perspective teaches explicitly.)

Featured Deviant

His tutorials taught me basic perspective, and wonderfully mind-exploding things about light, and got me started on a lot of drawing paths I'm currently on. But more than that: he is an example of taking delight in the technicals. If more people took his attitude, we'd have a lot more great artists.

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MariekeSmit's avatar
could you please make a tutorial on midgrounds? It's so vague! I get a background, I understand foregrounds but no one ever tells me what a midground is doing?
btw. I got this confusion after reading composition tutorials like yours. (which is amazing!)
Lulie's avatar
Hi! (Sorry for the delayed reply!)

The midground is usually the subject of your piece. So, if you have a character, or an interesting piece of landscape like a waterfall you want to focus on, or an object like a door, or something, you put that in the midground.

A background implies that it must have either a foreground or a foreground+midground. A foreground implies it must have either a background or a background+midground. It's just about what overlaps what: if the subject has something in front and behind, it's called a midground, and if it just has something behind, it's called a foreground.

The language we use to talk about this is a bit awkward, because we want to say that one character in one place is one thing (like a midground). But actually it's relative to what's around the character. If you have a picture of your main character sitting on a bench, and then there's a crowd behind them, you say the character is in the foreground. If the crowd walks towards us to be in front of the bench, you say the character in the background. Even if the character didn't move, only the crowd did.

If you have all 3 layers, a foreground frames the subject in the midground, and a background adds depth. If you just use 2 layers, the background adds depth to the subject (which we now call the 'foreground' even if it's exactly the same picture but without like branches or whatever you previously used for the foreground). If you have just 1 layer, then it would be a landscape drawing (like if you took a photo of mountains).

If I'm not making sense, do ask more questions and I'll try to explain better. :)
MariekeSmit's avatar
thank you very much for your explanation :D
it's a bit complicated but I understand what you are trying to say
thanx a lot for your tutorials and kind answer :hug:
Lulie's avatar
It might be easier to understand without using words like 'foreground' and 'midground' --

In a nutshell: To create depth, put something behind your subject. To create framing, put something in front of your subject. If you have both, that looks extra neat.

All the rest of what I said in the last comment is just how we use words to describe that. It's not more complicated than that. :)

If you have any more questions, or want help with anything, don't hesitate to ask. ^^
Ockeroid's avatar
looking forward to more tuts
learnt a lot from your comp one
Lulie's avatar
btw is there anything in particular you'd like to see a tut about?
Ockeroid's avatar
excited to see your colour theory one and your take on perspective

but for new ones, it'd be interesting to see a good tut on emotions maybe
Leonor's avatar
Did you chose the Dover Art Instruction edition of Perspective Made Easy for any particular reason?
Lulie's avatar
Updated to a different book (which rules).
Lulie's avatar
Is there a better edition of it? Or a better book than it to learn perspective?

Of the perspective books I've read at least few pages of, it seems like the best one. I also heard it recommended a couple times.

So basically 'seems good so far'.
Leonor's avatar
There's many editions, including a Kindle one. I don't know if they are better. Probably just different covers.
Lulie's avatar
Say, I don't suppose you'd be able to help me with a perspective problem?

I'm trying to draw letters of the alphabet on spheres, making sure it wraps around properly. I (think I) know how to draw an equator line -- just any ellipse in the centre of the sphere. And I know how to correctly place smaller ellipses climbing up along the axis, like if I wanted them to be equidistant from each other or something. But I don't know how curved they're supposed to be, except that the top one is slightly more open and the rest get gradually closer to the curve of the equator line.
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