Sketchbook: RFA Lesson 3 is Up!

Hooray, the latest beginner tutorial is up at Rapid Fire Art!


Hooray, the latest beginner tutorial is up at Rapid Fire Art! This time around, Darlene is explaining how to make the jump from 2D to 3D. Check it out!

While I was waiting (cue ominous foreshadowing music) I Googled around randomly one evening and found a site called Envato Tuts+. And it was there that I found a key piece of advice for the aspiring, or established artist:

Think with forms, not lines.


Once I read that, and the associated tutorial, I couldn’t switch it off for days. Everything I saw around me could be rotated around in my head, like Tony Stark in Iron Man designing his next suit. Thanks to the sheer volume of book writing I have been doing lately, I have managed to get out of that mode, and Darlene’s latest lesson switched it back on again.

So this entry is going to be a mash-up of RFA and Tuts+. Hopefully it all meshes together nicely.

First, an aside: Despite my book authoring craze (it’s crazy) I have been trying to sneak in drawing when and where I can. The other day our Pit Bull was stretched out on the floor and I decided to do some “rapid fire” sketching, because live animals are unpredictable. Here’s what I came up with before she moved and did not return to the pose I was working on:


Yes, that’s the back of an envelope. Just to reinforce that there are No Excuses for not sketching.

I normally don’t draw animals, but getting into the “loose and quick” flow really got me within the same zip code of what she actually looks like.

Anyway, moving on.

I indulged my bad habits and sketched out some 3D forms, sometimes without building them up first, just to get into 3D mode:


Next, I stuck with the actual lesson plan and did 2 2D models and built it up to 3D.


This got me thinking about the tutorial I saw on Tuts+ about thinking in terms of forms not lines, so here’s how that works, briefly. If you are working from a photo, or an object that you can’t touch (maybe it is part of a museum display or roped off for some other reason) and you want to manipulate the item for your own reasons. Let’s use my empty Disney-themed tissue box, which happens to be an item I could pick up and move around, but we’ll assume it is glued to my desk. Plus here’s a photo to work from on your own.


Instead of thinking in terms of what lines to draw, the trick is to move the object mentally and consider its form. Here’s what happened on my sketch pad as I lit’rally considered the angles:


Nothing fancy, but this exercise got me thinking about how to rotate the object without touching it.

I will sketch out the assigned homework later, but I wanted to get this up to a) raise awareness that RFA had new shizz and b) break up the book status updates. BTW, the word count at last check is 43,000+. I have to look up when I started writing it. This is crazy!

Happy arting, whatever your medium.


Author: Ethan Johnson

Words like silent raindrops.

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