Bad Tutorial

The entirety of 2020 I hated everything I drew and it got worse as the year went on. Here in 2021, my feelings haven’t changed and I still hate everything. I think it’s because my hands can’t match what my mind is envisioning, so I automatically assume the worst of everything placed on the canvas.

I bought two expensive art classes that I’m kind of banking all my hopes on for actually liking art again, one of my goals this year is to make something I actually like and don’t hate five seconds after making it or five seconds after it’s done . So far I haven’t achieved it yet. So I’m just kind of lying in wait for February for when the class starts. If I still hate everything after I finish both classes I dunno what I’ll do with myself, really. Probably just delete myself off the earth haha… anyway….

I saw my friend post a cool time chart which I also stole, while looking through it I got to reminisce about stories I never finished and ideas that have been tossed around, some making it into my current stories and others just dying off forever. Of course, I cringed at some old stuff, but it can’t be helped.

Recently I saw one of those stupid video “tutorials” where they think they’re being helpful but they’re not. On the left had a “don’t draw like this!!!” image and on the right had the “correct” way to draw – but they didn’t narrate it or explain why the left was wrong, so how could anyone who didn’t have experience actually understand the “right” way to draw? I wouldn’t have ever understood when I was a new artist.

That’s something I’ve been thinking on for a while. When you see something you made, an older thing, and you cringe, it means you’ve gotten better. But what’s keeping artists who just picked up a pen from instantly drawing the “right” way instead of the left, “wrong” way?

Observational studies and drawing from reference are what allows progress. I have a boatload of tutorials on pinterest saved, but really I can’t say that any of them ever helped me, maybe in stylistic choices but for everything else it’s all about observation. When someone with an untrained eye and untrained hand sees the video, they know that the left is wrong and the right is the correct way, but could they articulate it? Could they emulate it? No, because they haven’t really formulated the difference in their mind vs their hand.

It’s the same thing as, we see birds all the time, does that mean we can draw them without looking at a ref? I certainly can’t. Cause I haven’t trained my mind to understand the structure of a bird – I have not ever sat down and really observed a bird’s form.

For example let’s take this pic I drew 17 years ago. I did “the clothes thing” – it’s the thing that people do when they don’t have a solid understanding of cloth physics.  Random lines where you “think” the cloth folds are, or want to make the viewer think “this is cloth!”, but it has no basis and therefore just kind of makes it look like weird lumps in fabric instead of seeing where things are folding or twisting.

How could I have known to draw cloth correctly? I recall seeing many tutorials about the way to draw cloth, but none of them helped me until I sat down and just constantly. drew. cloth. I started to recognize patterns in where folds are, what folds look like what in which situations, etc. and it became muscle memory, much like everything else in art. There’s no way that I could’ve gotten anything from any of those tutorials that probably had a similar “this is wrong way to draw cloth, try this” thing going on. Why do I draw x and y like this? It comes from understanding the form. Just looking at some wrinkles at a pinterest tutorial didn’t mean anything without explaining how fabric bunches and whatnot.

So I felt personally offended that this fucking video would do this ‘this is wrong, this is right’ thing without explaining a single thing. Young me would’ve never understood that the ‘correct’ one comes with a trained eye and hand, so that type of bullshit pisses me off.

And even then, just saying ‘draw what’s in front of you!!’ is harder than it seems! There is a still life I drew in high school of some fruits, hanging on my parents’ wall. Back then it was probably the best thing I’d done, but now? I hadn’t put any contrast in it, the values suck. The shapes are weird and lumpy. How did I not create a perfect replica, even if it was in front of me? That’s what I mean. It’s fucking hard to translate what you see into something on the canvas.

That also reminds me of a bizarre conversation I had during Art Fight in which someone asked if tracing is good to learn anatomy, which I replied yes, it helps gain muscle memory. A CalArts weirdo proceeded to rant about “WELL Tracing is BAD because *I* have never traced, WE use Real Models In The Classroom for our gesture studies! I would NEVER use a traced model for a commission!”

So I was like cool , tracing and using live figures aren’t mutually exclusive and no one ever mentioned using tracing outside of educational purposes. Anyway, that kind of person is the one i hate, who puts this kind of “this is the RIGHT way and ONLY way to learn” ultimatum on things, tracing of all things really. Does that person really expect a new artist to be able to do a live figure drawing?

“Haha, like, just draw the muscles :-)” doesn’t mean anything to someone who has no muscle memory, no experience with proportions, no anatomy. That’s why tracing models is good for knowing where muscles are, esp. for new artists. They gain a sense of proportion and placement of stuff through repeated drawing and observation of the ‘right’ form. Screaming that xyz method is BAD because YOU SAID SO doesn’t help… anyone, so why say that stuff? Not everyone is a privileged and stuck-up art school student, man.

Art has a lot of nuance and just saying “this is wrong, this is right :-)” is the worst tutorial ever.

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Comic artist and resident blob creature. I love cute stuff, gore, and crying boys.

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