Into the third dimension: Touch and feel

An experimental lesson in blind drawing

Sometimes my drawing pupils have great difficulties in the comprehension of three-dimensionality.

Of course we always practice the tool set we do have for achieving three-dimensionality within a a two-dimensional drawing.
As there are e.g. shadow and light – of course – or in a pure line drawing (where we don’t block explicit shadow areas) the variation of line weights for modelling the object’s spatial dimensions. Which of course needs a lot of practice…

But interestingly at some point I realized that the difficulty was not only in applying that knowledge,
but generally to perceive an object’s three-dimensionality.

So I came up with the “Touch and Feel” drawing idea:  I wanted them to  experience an object`s three-dimensionality by not seeing – only by touching – it.

I gave them a plastic bag with an unknown object in it and told them to put their left hand into the bag to explore the item inside and meanwhile draw what they touched and felt.

Here are the results of the blind “Touch and Feel” Drawings – the models were little Cow Figurines (by Schleich)…

Touch and Feel Drawing: Cow1
Drawn as felt

 

Drawn as Seen: Cow1
Drawn as seen
The model: A Cow Figurine by Schleich

Cow Model Figurine

Cow Model Figurine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touch and Feel Drawing: Cow 2
Drawn as felt
Drawn as seen: Cow 2
Drawn as seen
The model: A black and white Cow by Schleich

Schleich Cow Figurine

Schleich Cow Figurine

Touch and Feel Drawing: Cow 3
Drawn as felt

 

Drawn as Seen: Cow 3
Drawn as seen

The Kids Comic-Workshop in Skopje/Macedonia

A summary…
From 25th to 28th of May I was invited by the Goethe-Instiute to run a Comic-Workshop for 12-15 year old kids learning the german language in Skopje/Macedonia.
I worked together with the writer Karen-Susan Fessel from Berlin, who was the supervisor for the german comic texts, while I was in charge of the pupil’s comic drawings.

16 pupils (10 girls, 6 boys) were attending the workshop, for which they had applied in teams of two (writer and drawer) with self-created comic art works.

Day 1
The first day – when all pupils were gathered round a big table in the German Library of Skopje – we started with a little warm-up exercise: telling a simple comic story with 3 frames only – the shortest way of telling a story with beginning, middle and ending.
For getting started the theme was “The big table” and both, writers and drawers, had to talk over their story ideas. Then the illustrators started drawing the pictures and the writers wrote down the german texts for the description text and the speech bubbles.

It soon turned out that the kids’ german skills varied strongly – from very little speech comprehension to quite advanced language skills.
So Karen and I had to respond very flexible to the german language conditions that were given, for example with a lot of play-acting the figures and scenes the kids had been drawing.

For me the main focus was on conveying the basics of Storytelling with the pupil’s own three-frame-story examples. Which in fact turned out to work very well with the help of our play-acting method. They all got the point quite fast, namely that a real story needs a real ending. Especially if it has only three frames.

Like in the little Ukulele song we sang just for fun with the kids:

“Es fraß ein Huhn, man glaubt es kaum,
das Blatt von einem Gummibaum.
Und legte dann im Hühnerstall
‘nen rosaroten Gummiball.”

(A chicken ate, past all belief,
an Indian gum tree’s fleshy leaf
And then went to the hen house stall
to lay a rosy rubber ball.)

Day 2
The next day the real comic work began.
Based on their prefered themes we offered the kids two themes to work on:
“A funny (resp. curious) Date” and secondly “A funny (resp. curious) Noise”.

The latter we choose to avoid that all kids would tell the more or less same story – like we had experienced the day before with the “Table” theme, when a lot of the kids had come up with well-laid dinner table stories.

So to capture the kids’ imagination we choose to present them a totally non-visual theme as well. (Also as an offer for those who couldn’t really deal with the “Date” theme.)

Now the condition for the writer/drawer teams was to conceive a one page b&w comic story with at least 5 frames.

Of course all of the drawers wanted to jump into image drawing right away – even with apparently having no clue in which direction the story should go. So Karen and I had a hard piece of work explaining how to make rough drafts and how to plan a comic story frame by frame.
But after all the morning actually ended with 8 rough drafts for the comics, whose drawing I was going to supervise in the afternoon.

So while Karen was improving the comic text with the writers, I started to work on the comic images with the drawers.
For that purpose I had brought some professional comic art materials and tools (by courtesy of Goethe Institute):

– an erasable “Col-Erase” Non-Photo Blue Pencil for the first rough sketching (with a blue that would not show up in copies),
– a black Prismacolor pen for the final inking and
– two further Prismacolor Markers with different grey tones for the “coloring”.

In addition to their professional pencils the drawers also got good 185g DIN A 3 Paper sheets to work on.
And of course a trial paper for getting familiar with the new tools.

But again it was important to control the drawers impulse to rush ahead and instead instruct them to begin their art work with the setting of the frames, which ranged from 5-7 panels. So, with the help of their rough drafts and written plans, the comic artists had to draw the panel frames at first – always keeping in mind to leave space for the comic’s title, explanatory text parts and speech bubbles.
After that was done they started sketching the sceneries, which kept them busy for the rest of the afternoon…

Day 3
The third and last day of the workshop passed with finalizing the drawings and doing the “lettering” of the comics.
That is to say: both, writers and drawers, hand-lettered their comics by adding the final title, explanatory texts and speech bubble texts.

This was followed by a final rehearsal for the official presentation in front of a home crowd, due to take place in the late afternoon.

Photo: Lisa Robert

Unfortunately I was too involved playing the Ukulele and hanging the comics during that event, so that I was not able to shoot any photos from the presentation of the comics. But I got this photo from Lisa Robert and look forward to receiving some more photos from Thomas Diekhaus, the head of Goethe Centre Skopje, who – in cooperation with Biljana Kortoseva – initiated that great workshop event in Skopje.

Thanks to both of you for having me and Karen-Susan as teachers!

And also thanks to Lisa Robert for your photos and the promise to send me the images of the kids’ final comics. I will hand them in later to this blog…


And here are the photos of the kids’ comics Lisa sent:


“Super-Siera” by Annika and Aleksandra


“Ein nasses Date” (A Wet Date) by Sara and Maria


“Das Eichhörnchen” (The Squirrel) by Elvis and Elmin


“Ein komisches Geräusch” (A Strange Noise) by Kaja and Andre


“Besuch aus dem All” (A Visit from Outer Space) by Biséra and Filipa


“Am Ende kommt sie doch” (After all she comes, though) by Michelle and Jana


“Ein Berg-Adventure” (A Mountain Adventure) by Allen and Albin

Drawing lessons with Fatma II

Here’s a little update of Fatma’s (my thursday’s drawing pupil) progress:

It’s about two months now that I am working with Fatma on improving her drawing skills. Most of the time we spent on drawing people (especially faces). The main focus of my lessons is on proportion and the need of graphic perception.
Some day when I was looking through her home work I noticed something very interesting:
there was a persisting “quirk” that turned up in each of her face drawings: all right sides of them had a strong rightwards up distortion.

As she couldn’t make out the mistake herself I made a photo of her drawing and re-distorted the right half downwards like this:

As this quirk wasn’t the result of a wrong posture during drawing but seemed to be some however natured brain thing, I said: okay, let’s stop with drawing faces right here and do a little line exercise instead.
So I asked her to draw a straight horizontal line – and the same effect appeared: it went straight righwards up.
Next I did a straight line with ruler myself and she had to draw a set of ten, twelve lines close-by and parallel to it.
The rightwards-up effect remained the same: the whole block of horizontal lines became smaller on the right side of the paper.

We worked a lot on this – with a lot of boring line drawing sessions. But it was worth it, because it really got better, nearly faded totally.

We ended the year with a more satisfactory result by finishing a drawing based on a photography transferred on paper…

Drawing lessons with Fatma

Last month a woman was knocking at my drawery office door to ask if I offer drawing courses. I said no, I don’t – which resulted in quite a disappointment.

But when my visitor, Fatma, talked about her great desire to improve her drawing skills, I agreed to give her a trial lesson to see further.
Well, what shall I say, we got further and since that trial lesson day Fatma is my regular drawing pupil.

A lot of the drawing principles I’m teaching her are based on Betty Edwards (mainly for the perception of reality and and the ability to reproduce it on paper) and Andrew Loomis (mostly for drawing from mind).

And sometimes we do little little drawing games I made up to improve her skills to approach the basic forms of a model: I set up a pane of glass and either I’m the model myself or have a friend to pose in front of the glass pane and my pupil has to draw the model on the glass.

One nice bonus of this technique: if you use a non permanent felt pen you can do a print of the drawing by spraying a little water on the glass and then pressing a piece of paper on it for a mono print like this: