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Digital life drawing, foundation of my art practice

Digital life drawing, foundation of my art practice

February 25, 2019 | ART, digital art, life drawing | No Comments

Colored graphite sticks on black paper

I returned to weekly life drawing in September 2007 when I realized that my day job didn’t mind me not arriving there until 2 pm on Tuesdays. What a revelation drawing from direct observation was again after many years away from it, busy lives with family and business obligations. It was like returning to my real foundation.

Charcoals on Kraft paper

Our weekly sessions start with about 15 one minute poses then we work through, 5 minute, 10 minute, 15 and 20 minute ones in which much more detail, texture, shading and modelling can be eked out of the drawing. We have a half hour break then two final 30 minute poses. People draw with a range of surfaces and media but as the room we draw in has carpet, no messy wet media is allowed.

Black and white waxy China marker on Kraft paper

I like to work on tan paper with white and black China markers to draw the LIGHTS as well as the DARKS. I bring along a range of colored papers, graphite sticks, choosing to make deliberate marks rather than smudgy charcoal works.

Brushes Redux App – FREE

digital life drawing

Brushes Redux app

After hearing about David Hockney drawing and painting on a iPad with Brushes Redux app, I tried it in 2011 and immediately loved the effects I could get working with just my finger on an iPad. I loved that I could get pastel effects, work on colored grounds, get washy transparent effects all with the tap of my finger. I had an entire art supply store at my beck and call and it all just fit into my shoulder bag. SWEET!

Brushes Redux app

Once I had figured out how to make a new piece, how to select different tools and colors, I just let the model pose and natural light source suggest my approach. Being forced to work to swift time constraints, I just let go and let loose with it. After all, what’s the worst thing that could happen, right??

abstract digital painting seated male nude

Brushes Redux app

I drifted away from the Brushes app and digital drawing for several years after they “updated” it and removed my favorite features and continued along with more traditional paper sketching.

Using an older iPad and can’t afford an Apple pencil OR it’s incompatible with your old tablet? Try Brushes Redux and just your fingers, the original digital tools. 🙂

Adobe Photoshop Sketch app – FREE

Video from Dec 2017.

I inherited my husband’s 1st generation iPad Pro and Apple pencil after he passed on in early 2017. When I was able to return to weekly life drawing, I had moved over to Adobe Photoshop Sketch as a digital drawing and painting tool. Again, having the model poses challenge me right before my eyes, I jumped in with abandonment and explored many different effects in this much more professional drawing and painting program.

Digital painting, digital life drawing, digital plein air Adobe Sketch

I honestly think that this approach is the best way to learn digital drawing and painting. The fact that it’s a nude human body is of little importance. What’s important is the discipline and practice of rendering in some way the real three dimensional form in front of you rather than having to conjure it up from imagination or work from photographs. Working from direct observation really teaches you HOW TO SEE. Seeing is key to all art practices, even abstract painting. Drawing the human form is a bonus, of course.

digital urban sketching on ipad, adobe sketch painting

Adobe Sketch

Procreate app – $10

I was sitting on the sidewalk in Guanajuato, Mexico in Feb 2018 when a chap sat down beside me. He obviously knew what he was talking about! His message to me was if I was getting such nice loose and juicy effects painting on my iPad with just a simple rubber tipped stylus with Adobe Sketch, I would really get even more out of moving up to Procreate and taking advantage of the extra effects the Apple pencil offers artists. I downloaded the app that night, charged up my Apple pencil and put in into use the very next day with this beautiful result below.

digital painting Procreate, Mexico red house, digital watercolor painting

Procreate app

When I go to weekly life drawing, I focus the entire session on working with one effect or program. Whether working soft, abstract and loose or carefully modeling with line and texture, I have my full painting studio effects available to me at the change of drawing and painting tools available in these fine creative programs. A big bonus of painting digitally is it is silent, accessible to many, very inexpensive once the iPad and some kind of stylus is purchased AND you are allowed to take this clean drawing medium into almost any location and splash around with paint as much as you want to. Woohoo!

life drawing, procreate digital drawing, ipad art

Procreate app

Whether working soft, abstract and loose or carefully modeling with line and texture, I have my full painting studio effects available to me at the change of drawing and painting tools available in these fine creative programs. A big bonus of painting digitally is it is silent, accessible to many, very inexpensive once the iPad and some kind of stylus is purchased AND you are allowed to take this clean drawing medium into almost any location and splash around with paint as much as you want to. Woohoo!

You never run out of a tube of paint, no solvents health risks and painting digitally will inform your studio work when you pick up real paints and brushes and attack you next canvas.


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