[Art] 3D difficulty in drawing and painting

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Zen
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04 Sep 2011, 1:29 pm

Do any other artists here have trouble with visualizing in 3D? I've heard of people here who are extremely good at it. However, I heard that artist Chuck Close has prosopagnosia and can only do his portrait art after converting the face to a 2D photo. This got me wondering whether that was my issue as well.

Some people can easily "see" how a face would look if it were turned a few degrees, but I have a really hard time with this, and because of this, I struggle with anatomy. :?

Does anyone else have this issue, or has anyone else learned how to deal with it? It feels limiting to only be able to draw/paint with photo references.



fallen_angel
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04 Sep 2011, 1:45 pm

I have a similar problem. I only can draw a portrait if I have pictures, I am not able in 3D. But I have a visual disorder as well, so I can't tell if I have this problems due to my autism or due to my visual problem.



Chevand
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04 Sep 2011, 2:24 pm

I think I understand where you're coming from. As an artist myself, I've also occasionally had difficulty visualizing things in 3D-- although, for me, it's less about faces and more about poses (especially ones that require foreshortening). Luckily, I've had training to compensate for that tendency, and I've learned some things about how to deal with that issue.

The human body is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult things for any artist to depict. One reason for this is that we come into contact with it so often, and we are so intimately familiar with it, that we innately know when even the smallest thing doesn't look right; this reason is also one of the roots of the "uncanny valley" effect that plagues roboticists and computer animators. The other reason, though, is-- it's a complex shape, and there's so much variation from person to person. There are, however, some basic points of commonality.

First (and most important) thing is, practice practice practice. I can't stress that enough. It's how anyone gets better at something. I'm not sure how familiar you are with human anatomy, but it never hurts to brush up. Of special interest to you should be the facial anatomy-- from the underlying skull, to the muscular structures, right up to all the superficial features. Try to find images of faces from straight on, 90° profile, and 45° views. Draw them, and study them. Look at the little details, like the way the bridge of the nose slopes inward between the eyes and then outward, or the way you can see the convexity of the eyes from profile. If you do it enough times, you'll eventually commit these details to memory.

Of course, whenever you're talking about objects in three dimensional space-- regardless of whether you're talking about something as simple as a box or as complex as a person's face-- what you're really talking about is the same small group of 3D shapes you probably learned about in a beginner's geometry class. One trick that serves artists well is to break down complicated figures like the human body into smaller, constituent figures like spheres and cones and cylinders, and then to use that as the foundation for the superficial features. Faces, like the rest of the body, are comprised of these shapes, and generally each shape falls within a specific range of proportions. If you're not already, get in the habit of laying down a rough skeletal sketch before trying to tackle the superficial parts-- it's a good way to figure out the right proportions without having to change everything.

As far as references-- you really shouldn't feel bad for using them. All artists do, from time to time. I happily use photo references. However, referring to 2D images can only help so much. If you can, I'd recommend getting a posable artist's manikin. Not only do they aid with poses, but they also allow the artist to understand the three-dimensionality of the figure. The plastic Art S. Buck manikins will probably help with your particular issue more than the faceless wooden ones; they're a little bit more expensive, but well worth the investment. And regardless of whether you use a manikin or not, I would say you should also have a relatively good-sized mirror handy, so that you can model for yourself.


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Zen
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04 Sep 2011, 5:23 pm

Thanks for the replies. :D

@fallen_angel: Maybe a combination of the two? I can look at an actual object or person and draw it perfectly, but what I can't do is picture it from another angle or change the lighting. I don't think I have any visual problems though, aside from some level of face blindness.


@Chevand: I have been making myself practice, despite my frustrations. I keep hoping something will click. Maybe my problem is that when I'm looking at something in order to render it artistically, I'm looking at light and dark shapes even if I'm looking at an actual object or person (in essence, flattening it) rather than looking at an underlying structure. I'm not really sure how to mesh the two viewpoints together.

I will definitely look into the manikins. I didn't even know there was anything other than the wooden ones. And the mirror is a good idea!



Fatal-Noogie
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05 Sep 2011, 3:25 am

The artists I speak with agree that working from a proper 2-d photo is easier than
drawing from the subject itself, because it's pre-rendered.
When the subject is in front of you, every time you raise your head you see a slightly different image—no two, one for each eye. Plus the margins can shift.
(This arguably might be an advantage for expressive portraits, caricatures, abstraction, etc., but that's a different subject.)

If I want a face at a particular angle, I often find a mirror or photo my own face for the angle, then re-stretch the proportions to approximate the person I want to depict.
Another method is to interpolate between two photos that are close to the angle I want.
I use those techniques to help safeguard against error, but I can still draw without them.
My portrait gallery is http://fatal-noogie.deviantart.com/gallery/6681382

I was trained as an engineer and have job experience with multiple 3-d rendering programs, so I have pretty keen 3-d visualization skills. Among my artistic peers, I am the most adept at calculating, visualizing, and drafting 3-d geometric shapes in their accurate scale, proportion, angle, whether the space is orthogonal or 1, 2, or 3-point perspective (or more vanishing points if I need multiple grids to exist in the same space). I have rendering programs to help with 3-d compositions if needed. The drawback is I don't yet know how to calculate for distortions on a wide-angle lens, but as long as the paper/canvas/monitor is flat, it's usually not an issue.

I hope to get a job as a technical illustrator so I need these skills.


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Zen
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05 Sep 2011, 11:36 am

That is very true.
Wow, I wish I could be half as expressive as you are in your work. "Anthony" is my favorite, probably due to the color. And I didn't realize you created your avatar image. It's pretty awesome too. :D

It's funny you mention the engineering background, because the one person I can count on to give me actual helpful feedback as far as what's "wrong" with a picture is a physics guy who has no artistic ability at all. :lol:



Kvornan
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06 Sep 2011, 4:05 am

I can only draw as long as the subject is 2d..



Fatal-Noogie
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09 Sep 2011, 4:43 pm

Zen wrote:
Wow, I wish I could be half as expressive as you are in your work.
Thanks! Like most artistic endeavors, expressive portraits just take practice. (and I intend to keep getting more)
The fun thing about the visual arts is I can let my emotions out unfiltered without being called "immature". :P

Zen wrote:
It's funny you mention the engineering background, because the one person I can count on to give me actual helpful feedback as far as what's "wrong" with a picture is a physics guy who has no artistic ability at all. :lol:
Haha.
I like observing the differences between the kinds of people I see in both fields, and the stereotypes they have of each-other.
It's hard to describe without resorting to generalizations,
but I find it amusing how some engineering students can calculate the rotational inertia of a complex 3d object in motion in their heads, and visualize the motion-path of each segment of a robotic arm holding said object, etc etc. yet they can't draw a person's arm in space, and have to use stick figures. :lol:
I guess we each have our strengths and weaknesses.


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gadge
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13 Sep 2011, 12:22 am

well I guess I fall into the mechanical catagory

I can easily visualize complex mechanics in 3D and draw them,..as well as convert 2D to3D

but can not draw a living thing!