In my opinion, you DO NOT NEED an expensive tablet. All the experiments I did in Krita before June 2019 was done entirely with a [Wacom Intuos Draw] I got for less than $100 when it was on sale.
Recently I went and bought [Wacom Intuos Pro Pen 2] to see if there’s any difference. I can tell you that there’s [not much] difference. I needed a new tablet anyway because I accidentally ruined the pen of the Intuos Draw by washing it with water (long story), also Intuos Draw has some issue with macOS. So it was about time I get something more up to date, and Intuos Pro was it. I don’t recommend it. If you’re new and or just starting out doing things digitally, get the low end ones. If you find that you enjoy doing digital art, then just upgrade to the screen tablet later on (the kind where the tablet display everything and you draw directly on it).
I got the Intuos Pro just when Krita made changes to its tablet code. The drawing experience with this new tablet isn’t the same as the old one (Intuos Draw). I find the experience with the old tablet much more smooth. Since the old tablet doesn’t work properly (pen is ruined due to water), I have no way of knowing whether the Intuos Pro’s 8,192 levels of pressure (which gives a different experience) or Krita made changes to the tablet code.
I was just randomly scribbling with these brushes and was delighted that you can actually get painting effect with these brushes in Krita! Some people just have the mind for creatively putting together brushes. I’m certainly not that person.
If you have been watching this blog up till now, you might be thinking that I know a lot about anatomy. Truth is, I don’t. I have a lot of good anatomy books, but I rarely look at them. The reason why I have them is so that I can look into it later on when I need it. My advice to you if you’re just starting out is this: Don’t be too obsessed with anatomy books. That’s something you’ll pick up as you go. Most of the time when I’m sketching I just go with what “looks or feels right.”
If you’re fixated on anatomy and having everything correct when you’re starting out, then you won’t be able to experiment and have fun playing around. Experiment and play around with what you currently know. For example, right now I have a bit of knowledge about the Deltoid. The shape of the Deltoid helps me to rough out the shoulder. That’s it. I don’t know much else. Later on when I know more about the leg (for example), then I will start incorporating the knowledge into my sketches. In the meantime, I don’t worry about it, and I work with what I [currently know].
One more thing I want to share: The sketches you see below are broken into three days (Top, Mid, Bottom). In this example, I was exploring shapes. When you’re starting out or explore something new for the first time, you do not have full confidence because you’re in unknown/new territory. Your sketches might look funny but keep pressing on. In day two, I got a hang of it. Day three, I knew what I was doing and aiming for.
I don’t sketch that often, not on papers anyway. And the reason is that I suffer from this “I’m not good enough yet, and I don’t want to ruin my sketchbook” syndrome. Which is why I do a lot of sketching and doodling in Krita—that’s how I improved. That way, I don’t waste paper! However, there’s an disadvantage to this. The first is that you can’t sketch the variety of things you see in real life. Trees, houses, poles etc… And secondly, you can’t carry Krita with you when you’re on the road, waiting for a bus.
I thought that I was one of the few who suffers from the syndrome mentioned above, but apparently A LOT of beginner artists suffer from it, something I learned after watching this video:
The artist in this video made a very good point about Pianists. Artists have this “fear” of messing up their sketchbooks because they have this “reverence” for them. On top of this, most of them make the excuse that they’re not good enough to draw in their sketchbook. As a result of this, the majority of them let their sketchbooks remain on the shelf collecting dusts, and they never improve because of that.
Pianists on the other hand do not suffer from this problem. After their practice session, there’s no record of it! All their mistakes went into thin air. They have no fear nor reverence. Mistakes are normal and it will soon be forgotten forever. Unless, of course they purposely record their practice session, but generally they don’t. That’s why after their practice, even if they suck or didn’t do well, there’s no record of it. But the act of playing the scale does something to the hands and brain, and that’s what matters in the end. Artists need to get into the habit of doodling. The whole idea behind doodling is the same idea behind a Pianist practicing his scale.
So I went out today and bought a few low quality sketchbooks. Since the purpose is not to make masterpieces, but to doodle and throw away or keep as a record.
Birds isn’t my thing. I’m more interested in the human figure, but to grow as an artist, we must get outside of our comfort zone, and to always try out new styles and subjects. Nothing you do will become a waste. If that hand is moving, and that mind is thinking, it will in the end work out for your good, though you might not see how in the moment.
To me, art is problem solving. I was asked to draw a bird, something simple and basic. It must not be too realistic with tons of details. Since I’m not a bird artist, I have no idea where to begin. Then I remember what Rembrandt once said: “If you want to paint an apple, you’ve got to be an apple!” First step is to always study your subject, and become intimate with it. And since I’m not in a position where I can have easy access to birds, search engine is my only option. So I pulled out my sketchbook.
#1, #2: With no aim, I started to draw what I saw. #3,#4: but quickly realized that I needed to pick one specific bird, instead of drawing random birds. It’s a lot easier to study and analyze when you have just one type of bird to focus on vs many. #5: Studying certain parts. #6: The simplifying and sketching from imagination begins. #7: Trying to understand wings. I looked up some cartoon wings to see how other artists depict them. Learn from others if you’re stuck!
Krita comes with a lot of brushes that can give you that pencil effect. Though, this isn’t a pencil brush but you can still get the drawing look with it. This piece was done entirely with the Bristles-1 Details brush.
I’m making this post sticky. Hoping that someone can pass this to the developers. It’s also here for those that are on macOS and are considering of using Krita for big projects. The primary system I do all my studies on is a “MacBook Pro” that I got secondhand:
I use the Eraser mode a lot in my experiments. Instead of drawing with pure white, I draw with “Erase” mode activated, and it can give some interesting result/look. And if you’re like me, someone who uses the Erase mode a lot, you will soon find out that it can be a hassle to toggle it on and off (unnecessarily). This is because you don’t know whether you’re currently in Erase mode or not. Yes, you can look at the toolbar to find out, but the problem with that is that artists tend to look at the Canvas more than anything else when drawing. Furthermore, if you’re in fullscreen mode, there’s no way to tell.
My suggestion for the developers: When in Eraser mode, change cursor to red or make it to have different Outline Shape / Cursor.
I don’t know what they did to the Flow/Opacity thing, but I kind of like the Flow effect. Same brush, different opacity/flow setting.
I can now quickly access my most commonly used brushes. A quick note on the Eraser brush: You might be wondering why even bother when eraser mode is activated via the “E” key. Well, Some brushes takes a very long time to perfectly erase because of its brush’s tip/setting. You would have to go over many times, and it can be frustrating if the size of the brush is below 5px. With the actual Eraser brush, one stroke and it’s gone.
This was just a quick test dabbling color. Not sure what the developer did but this is working great on my mac so far! Just in time for me to start exploring light and color for art.
I now can resize the floating window/dialog, which I couldn’t in previous version. I can also pick color from the color dialog and start painting right away without having to hit the tablet with my pen and then lift it and then hit it again. I can also be away doing something else in another window, then come back and can easily move the canvas without having to tab out and back in to make it work!
I got ArtRage a few years back, but didn’t really sit down to experiment with it until today. As of this writing, I don’t know that much about lightning and color. So this was just me scribbling with paint and making things up as I go. I find it much easier to get the painterly effect with ArtRage. I will probably do some artworks with it later on. In the meantime, I need to start reading on lightning and color. Not sure when I’ll get to it.
This is an exercise that you can try out. Find pose photos and start copying the pose (eyeball it). Then draw on top of the oval shapes.
I consider myself a perfectionist, and sometimes that can be a bad thing in art when using photo references. This is how I train myself to let go, and be loose. The goal isn’t to copy the photo exactly, even when it’s just a pose that I’m after.
Have you ever sketched the shape of the head lightly, and then went over it more boldly? You were tracing, whether you realized it or not. Tracing in and of itself is neither bad nor good. Here’s an example of how tracing can be put to good use. This kind of tracing is highly recommended, but the kind where you trace to capture everything perfectly, with the intent/desire to improve your skill, then it’s not recommended.
In the examples above, the first two started off with scribbling. I didn’t have an idea for a pose and just wanted to see what randomness would give me. The last two examples, I knew the poses I wanted to draw, and used these ovals as rough guide. There are many ways to approach this. From random scribbling, to gestures, oval shapes, etc… The anatomy and foreshortening might be incorrect, but not bad for a 1-5 mins rough sketch done freehand.
Last night while playing around with the bean shape, it suddenly hit me that I was overthinking it. No wonder why I was struggling with the Cube! Instead of starting with a plane, I was thinking of the Cube in 3D, trying to visualize all sides at once (not recommended if you’re just starting out like me!)
Obviously, drawing a single cube isn’t the problem. For me, it becomes a problem when I try to visualize the Torso as two Cubes, because now the perspective has to be right, whereas with spheres and cylinders, I don’t think too much about perspective. There are many ways to approach this Cube problem that I have found out since last night while playing around in Krita. Here’s what works for me:
Start with bean shape with centerline, and then draw the Cube on top of it afterward using the bean shape/centerline as guide.
Or, skip the bean shape all together and just draw the centerline and then use that as a guide to draw the cube.
Or, skip all that and just think purely in plane, not cube, but PLANE. When you draw the plane, think of it as the “frontal” plane of the Torso. Once you have down the frontal plane, you can add depth/dimension and turn it into a cube as shown in the examples below:
I’m jumping ahead of myself with this post, but it’s something that finally clicked for me and I can’t wait to explore it after I’m done with my cylinder exercises. More on this later!
Sometimes I can visualize a pose in my head and sketch it out. Other time I struggle with it. Then there are times where the pelvis or leg (started off as circle / loose cylinder) dictates the rest and everything just flows out smoothly without much thinking. I believe the reason for my struggle is not drawing enough different poses from references.
Quickly capturing a pose from a photo is a useful skill to have when you can’t think of an interesting pose [or] you have a hard time visualizing it in your head. I believe that the more you copy poses from photos, the more your mind will grow in this area, which will later help you to draw a variety of poses from imagination… that muscle memory will kick in.
Personally, I find cube hard to visualize freehandly at the moment. Currently I’m thinking with Cylinders and Spheres, but will eventually want to think with Cube to be more perspective-minded. I was experimenting with cross-contour and came to realize that this just might be the bridge to thinking in Cube!
I find cylinder to be a lot easier (than the cube) to visualize (might have to work on cube sense later on). This is me taking a break from my cylindrical limbs exercise. I alternate between the two: cylindrical exercises (using photos) and then freehand cylinders (making things up with cylinders).
Sometimes you’re in the middle of practicing in a state of relaxation, where you don’t think much. You might get something that looks nice, but find that it’s impossible to replicate the result. That certainly happened to me.
The purpose of practicing is to get better and to really improve your skill. We don’t do it so that we can say, “I have done it!” and then move on to the next target. Slow down and be intentional. Be aware of your thought process.
Once you got the essence of the pose, you can try it from memory.
Sooner or later you’ll run into this thing called foreshortening. It’s very difficult to draw poses that have a lot of distortion like this. Knowing that foreshortening is difficult and hard to get it right when you’re just beginning to explore it, I wanted to do more than one test to make sure that the first one wasn’t just a fluke. Don’t expect perfection at first. Aim for “just right.”
I started off with the right arm, then left, head and upward. I imagined the limbs as cylinders.
Taking a break from my goal of 300 pose photos. Only completed 60 so far, 240 more to go. After you do that photo exercise, things will start to click. For me to do these from imagination at this stage means that not everything is accurate (anatomically speaking). Accuracy is not what I’m aiming with these. All that comes later when I look closely at muscles and bones and how they attach together. In the meantime, I just want to be able to pose these cylinders from imagination, to make it look like a figure, good enough, but not necessarily accurate.
Another experimental piece. One brush (not counting the screen tone one), one color (black) and an eraser. First time doing hair, and it took a lot of time trying to figure out… so it was guesswork and it turned out alright.
These are studies conducted today. Using only one brush throughout the entire process. Only black and an eraser, no opacity changes. That’s about it! Based on references found on gumroad. In both of these experiments, I started out by scribbling. And slowly divided and conquered through the process of refinement (erase, draw, erase draw: repeat until desired result is reached. This process feels like digital sculpting, with ink!).
This was just another fun piece playing around with the screen tone.
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” — Bruce Lee
If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self to practice these basic shapes/forms. They’re the key to drawing from imagination. With that said and out of the way, let me share a few thoughts on this.
I have read many books, and they all say the same thing: Learn to simplify. Practice these forms. The disadvantage with being a self-taught is that you’re on your own, left to figure out the rest. Limbs can be seen as cylinders. But how do you begin practicing? From imagination? That’s what I thought. Yes, you can start from scratch and just do it from imagination, but a much better way to get there is with photos. I have never done it before until last night.
So far, I have practiced the cylinder 20 times (20 different pose photos). I’m aiming for 300, then I move to the torso. If you’re doing it from imagination, anything goes. If you’re doing it from photos, you have a specific goal, and mistakes can be identified and skill can be improved. So it’s better that you start with photos.
First, learn to walk before you try to run. Don’t try to be cool by curving your cylinders (using curve lines). You can do that afterward once you’re comfortable with straight lines (walk). When you’re starting out, your cylinders will look robotic and rigid because everything is straight, no curve. This exercise/practice will help build cylinder’s vocabulary and muscle memories. Keep practicing from photos and soon they’ll find their way to superimposed it into your memories, and become part of you.
Pick a photo
See the limbs as cylinders
Draw the cylinders: Connect the ellipses together with straight lines
You don’t have to draw the legs together as one body part. You can separate them. This exercise isn’t about having the proportion right or have the limbs attached together. It’s about simplifying the limbs. But for the legs, I recommend that you draw them together. If it’s too challenging, then do them separately until you’re comfortable and then try them together.
Once you’re comfortable capturing the pose of the limbs, start being more expressive to give life to your cylinders. Instead of using pure straight lines to connect the ellipses together, use curvy lines.
Do that with a lot of photos. That’s it for now. I might write part 2 to this when I have time, explaining the mindset behind curvy lines.