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Nsio explains: Know the Rules



Time for the second part in my tutorial series. This one will still explain things rather than show how to actually do them.

Know the rules
Of course you can break any rule without knowing them, that's what all beginner artists do spontaneously.

Some may say that there are no rules in art. So essentially there are no right or wrong solutions. However, some solutions are simply better than others. There are many reasons why some drawings just look a lot better than others. And I believe that the reason here is that the artists have followed certain rules.

If you don't know basic concepts how things work, you can't draw anything in satisfactory way. Reality has many things that when followed, can spice up your drawings a lot, even if you don't aim in realism. The funny thing is that even though many of these rules are present in our reality, people can't seem to get them. Neither did I when I started drawing.

On the contrary, when you know the rules, you can intentionally do things differently and apply completely new overriding rules on your own. For example, you can draw more justified proportions for your characters without making them look wonky.

For example there are technical rules that include anatomy, proportions, physics, mass, form, depth, view point, space, execution... and then there are artistic rules, like dynamism, composition, style, flow, mood, idea, simplifying, exaggerating, justifying.... There are surely even more rules, but these are what I could come up for now and I dare to claim that these will take you far enough. An artist in training should focus on technical rules at first, because you can build your art upon them later.

Right and wrong: absolute beginner
As I already mentioned, there isn't really right or wrong solutions. But even seemingly right things can sometimes be wrong. For some weird reason, many people fail to understand such a basic concept as obstructed view. For example, let's say that your character has a bunny tail, but she is seen from the front. You simply can't draw the bunny tail, no matter how much you would love to do that. If you draw it peeking behind her, it's just wrong. So if you really need to get that feature in you drawing, choose the viewing angle accordingly. Make it justified.

Okay, this is another thing people seem to ignore. What ever you draw, it needs to have a reason so that it will be justified. This is evident with the poses people draw. There isn't really any idea behind anything. I don't go into details here just yet, but there are ways to construct your drawing so that the elements will make sense. And this is done by following the rules.

People also tend to hide elements that are hard to draw, such as hands, behind the character. Well this isn't necessarily wrong, but it depends on execution. If it's evident that you are trying to hide your lack of skill, it's an error. While doing that, you may make even more errors that arouse the critical eye. And what's worse, you will be crippling your learning. If you keep hiding those hands all the time, you will never learn drawing them.

Another common issue is that you may have drawn extremely good detail, but it just doesn't contribute to the rest of the drawing. It's an error (or the rest of the drawing is an error, works either way). You need to do sacrifices to make your drawing consistent and sometimes it means erasing that cool detail.

What I find very interesting is that the edges of the paper or canvas seem to hamper the progression of the artists in training. This is commonly seen as weird image cropping, fitting the drawing forcefully withing the canvas or leaving a lot of empty space around. Those working digitally have it easy though: if the canvas is too small, extend it. Once you are done, crop the empty space. This same "fear of edges" as I call it is also present in manga comic panels people draw. Forget the edges. In reality, there are no edges or borders. Draw the drawing first fully and then fit it in the panel. Also, it's good to remember that making the drawing look bigger than the panel usually makes it more interesting.

Realize your ignorance, accept your weaknesses and see what you are doing wrong. Learn from critics, challenge yourself and keep looking forward. It may sound a bit harsh, but it's not my intent to make you feel bad.

Introduction to sketching
Okay now we are really close to get to the real thing. I can't possibly emphasize the importance of sketching enough. A sketch is a visualized form of your mind. A good sketch has all the fundamental things that you will need to construct the final image. I always spend a lot of time just sketching.

Most beginners start from one feature (such as eyes) and then moves to another (chin). It's possible to do it like this, but it takes a lot of skill to pull it off and I can tell you that if you are a beginner, you won't be able to do it, yet. I can do it only to some extent. I still prefer drawing things in phases instead of finishing one feature at time, because that makes it possible to keep the drawing consistent.

A sketch represents one possible solution for the final image. It's a sort of a quick note, so that you remember what you're doing. If you are not happy with it, you can easily discard it without worrying about the effort used in it and draw a new quick one. This allows you to try out various of possibilities and to find the ideal solution for your drawing. Sketches are also ideal for practicing, because you can draw them a lot in a short time lapse.

Remember that the sketch is there to help you out. It's fine if other people can't understand it, but make sure you do. That said, make clear sketches and focus on important things.

In my next tutorial, I will be covering human figure drawing, simplifying things with basic shapes and human proportions.
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Awesome. Thanks.