I started formal training in illustration and fine arts when I was 12. I had several art tutors and teachers for the next 6 years and each brought something unique and helpful to my training. Linda Thorne - by far the most influential of these teachers - I studied under her for 4 years between 1983 and 1987 - taught me to control perspective by looking at my subjects in a grid. I'd take whatever reference I was using and place a 1 inch square grid over it. I'd very lightly draw a 1 inch grid on my drawing paper. Then I'd look at the reference and draw the elements I saw in it over on the corresponding grid on my drawing paper. It wasn't always perfect or fail-proof... but it wasn't supposed to be. What I was doing was training my eye to break down each section of an illustration into its main elements. When you look at the illustration "The Red Viper" above - I didn't use grids (I haven't since I was a teenager back in the late 1980's) to draw this composition. I used my eye. Because I've trained my eye and mind to see things in an exacting way - it's much easier to transfer over to paper. If you look closely my drawing isn't perfect. But it's 90% there... and that's enough to fool your eyes when looking at it. This is the key to creating recognizable drawings.
Above - In the comparison images above - the proportion of the two are nearly the same. What's greatly improved is my choice of paper (LOL - drawing on ultra-smooth paper is a big help for it allows you to blend and erase without smudging) and my ability to shade. The proportions of the 2014 drawing are much better and true to the original. Below - using a minimalist style where the negative space (blank white paper) defines the shape of the subject as much as the drawn lines do - proportion control is vital to convey the subject in a way that is recognizable.
Each drawing is an opportunity to learn. Each time you pick up a pen or pencil and create a drawing, you should be paying as much attention to the things you feel you did poorly as you do to things you feel you got right. In my opinion - perspective and proportion control are vital elements of any illustration (where the main subject is a recognizable person or object). Without it you are fighting an uphill battle towards successfully capturing your subject. Below - It can be very difficult to draw the human body at odd angles. Look at this subject's arms. They look stunted until you look at the reference - which is why I wanted to draw this portrait - challenging angles drawn correctly can still produce unreal looking results... and that's what makes them fun! ("Summer" - pencil, pen, & wash - watered-down india ink applied with a brush - 2014)
Experiment with grids to help train your eye and never back away from drawing something that you feel is "too difficult"... it's when we reach for the sky that we often achieve our most daring and meaningful successes.
Above - "Stormborn" - pencils, graphite, & erasers on vellum bristol - 9x12" - 2014.
© 2015 - Jon Patrick Hyde - All Rights Reserved.