Training Yourself to Draw From Imagination – Peter Han


[Music] Stan: Peter Han is one of the best professional
artists and teachers around. He teaches at Art Center, wrote a really awesome
art book and he’s just – I mean, look at his work… good stuff. Well, at Lightbox, we got him to do a demo
at our booth and we recorded it for you to enjoy. So, take it away Peter. Peter: Today I want to draw for you guys a
little bit and I’ll even explain a little bit of process and thought as to what I’m
thinking as I do it. I’m going to be doing an illustration straight
on drawing with a bit more detail work. I have one hour, so in that hour, I’ve had
to think about generally what to do. The first questions I get is do I know exactly
what I’m gonna draw. I have no picture in my head at all. I have an idea and the idea was that I wanted
to draw something fantasy, I want a character and I want a creature. Now, what that is, I’ll figure it out as I
do it. I may mess up, and I apologize if I do, but
it might come out very cool too. That’s the excitement about this. I love adapting with the mess ups. So the thing is, I am going to make tons of
mistakes, but if I tell you what they are, you’ll know, but if I don’t tell you, you’ll
have no idea. Then I’m gonna construct as I draw now? Yes and no. Let’s just draw for a little bit and you’ll
start to see what I’m doing with this information. As I get this in place – people ask “Why aren’t
you starting with like circles, the construction and the underlay drawing?” You know, again, “How do you not have a direct
image in your head of what you’re doing if you haven’t studied it, if you haven’t thumbnail
it?” And I have not thumbnailed or drawn this ever
before in my life. So, have I drawn dwarf-like characters? Yeah. Have I drawn – drawn animals and creatures
that might be entailed to this story? Absolutely. But have I drawn this very image? Never. So, I am now problem-solving it as I am doing
it right now. I find that exciting because it’s something
new of an experience and it’s something I’m always learning from. Right now we have this kind of old dwarf like
character we gonna put right here and they’re gonna be shun – stunted and short, kind of
broad large armor sets. He’s gonna hold a big hammer in front of him. And I think he’s got to look a little bit
grumpy and I’ll put like a crazy mount animal on this side as he’s looking at him. Let’s square out the shapes and the shape
language I’m already thinking about, well, think about what kind of shape you’d want
to use for a dwarf. Think about like some films, cartoons, comics
that have been out beforehand too. My favorite was obviously Lord of the Rings,
yeah. [?] did such a great job. Think about shape language, the meaning of
shape and the things of design; costume to creature to environment, architecture, culture,
dwarfs in that movie, very square. A lot of squares, right? From the silhouette, to the costuming, to
the weapons, to the patterns, everywhere. So I’m going to reinforce that also because
that shape language makes sense to me. Now does that mean that you can’t use other
shapes for dwarfs? Of course not, that’s the artist perspective
and that’s you storytelling but I want an immediate response and I only have an hour. So in that hour, I have a deadline now and
the deadline is the most important. I gotta get this drawing done for you guys
in the hour. So I don’t want to just start something and
not have you know, anything completed to some degree. I gotta be able to predict how much time I
need to be able to make decisions quick and fast and hopefully, then have something that’s
accomplished to the job I was given, which is to draw for you guys. Alright, now we’re going to the shoulder section,
he’s gonna have some broad hair coming down this direction here. I like the idea of having like braids maybe
in the hair also. Again, am I designing right now? No. I’m trying to maybe tell a story, I’m playing
with things like character relationships, drawing for fun and there’s no reason why
you can’t draw for fun either. The tool that I’m using currently to do this
is a felt tip brush pen made by Sakura. This is a Pigma FB brush pen and this is my
favorite currently right now because it’s very flexible, it gives me a lot of line variation
and it’s permanent. So, if I do a watercolor on something like
this, I get a lot of freedom to be able to move around. Alright, I’m gonna put the arm coming forward
now. Here’s the deltoid coming up, bottom of the
arm, elbow. So I guess now the question is “how do you
train to do stuff like this?”, right? Because again, I’m not constructing, but am
I? In a way, I am. Now, let me tell you the secret towards how
I’m doing this… I’m not gonna say that this is the answer
what all artists are doing, but for me in my perspective, I’m always training to communicate,
to verbalize stuff. So here’s how I’m doing this: There is construction,
OK? A minimal amount of construction. Am I going in there with a circle, box, line
to construct this stuff? No. ut these lines that I’m placing down are
shortcut constructions. It gives me a guide that I can follow and
understand. This right here, that line to this line gives
me form turn and an end point for the armor. Now I know where things are placed, the direction
of the volume and the shape language behind it, all in three lines. Now, most people need a full construction,
but with enough training and visualizing your skill set and objects your drawing, turning
things in space, you don’t need as much information to draw from. So you become what? Efficient, you become fast and that’s how
I actually accomplish these kinds of things and that’s what I also train to do also. I look at references, there’s nothing wrong
with that and from those references I train my eyes to look for things that visually describe
a story or information on a minimal level of a couple of lines of shapes that I can
then match up to. That then also goes back to the idea of speed. How do I get speed? I’m familiar, I’m familiar with these objects,
I’m familiar with the shapes, I’m familiar with the character type and I’m able to then
express it without really thinking about it. I’m using that experience to execute this
as quickly as possible. This then also feeds into massive confidence;
confidence in drawing, confidence in storytelling and also at the end of it, really just having
fun with what you’re doing. So other advices in terms of what you could
do in terms of excelling your drawing skills to do stuff like this, fail, as every artist
will tell you, right? But it’s not seeking failure, it’s about experimentation
and then fail and that experimentation as bending and challenging your skill sets to
try stuff that you couldn’t do before. Most people will shy away from it, “oh, I
can’t draw this” or “I can’t draw that and I’m only going to stick with the comfortable
stuffs”. Well, consider placing yourself in an uncomfortable
situation, break the rules if you have to, mess it up and then pick it apart. Have the right awareness of asking the questions
of, “well, what do I like about it and what do I not like about it”. In most situations in drawing and design,
the key thing that I find that people make a mistake on that need to improve, proportion,
OK? Proportion is the number one thing on that. Just give it some more rag, I’m gonna put
some armor set in the front. I brought this in and he’s gonna have his
leg coming forward and down. Now, the paper I’m using for this is a large-scale
watercolor paper. I use Cold Press and this one right here is
specifically it’s a Strathmore brand and I do favor that particular paper. I’m not a big fan about Hot Press, I like
Cold Press paper. A lot of the sketchbooks I use in my classes
are actually right next door, Cottonwood Arts. I like their stuff a lot. Now, is there anything wrong then also with
the materials to draw with things like markers and pens or even pencil, to help you then
lock in things, to help you then bridge over to a more finalized image? Of course not and as a student, I used to
draw that way all the time; penciling something, marker drawing and putting inking on top of
it. But from there, I always find a way to take
away the crutches of the tool and I use it to its advantage which is to help you build
confidence and familiarity. Sketching with intention is a huge element
of what I like to teach and it’s about knowing what this piece is for and knowing when I’m
supposed to end, right? If I have a very strong intention of what
I’m doing, then I know when to end it also. OK, let’s put another creature over here. How about some kind of boar like animal. Starting from the top – I could start anywhere
and build it from this. Let’s give it really big tusks on this side. And as you’ll notice, as we mentioned it back
in the beginning, as I said, I’m not gonna point out to you guys the mistakes that I’m
making. However, at the same time I will because if
you do know the mistakes I’m making, you’ll also understand how am I able to also let
them go and use them to my advantage. Is this area of the ear of the boar perfect? No, it’s not. Are those lines exactly what I wanted? No, they’re not also. But do I use it to my advantage? Absolutely because I can force it and push
it in a direction where it reads better as a shape. So I don’t look at it being like, “oh I messed
up, I gotta start over. I feel bad about it.” I don’t have that kind of mentality. So, from there, I’m able to always move forward,
I never feel frustrated and the end piece doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care how this is gonna turn out because
I know I can do it better another time. By drawing this once, I could draw this for
you again right afterwards even faster, even more confidently. I can even adjust it to make it even stronger
of an image but it’s that experience that helped that. Again, problem, I’m running out of space. Most people get anxious about that, “oh man
I gotta adjust it trying – start it over again.” No, I’m gonna you know what, turn the body
of the boar towards the camera. Let’s go this direction. I know I can fit him in. There’s always a problem-solving method behind
the drawing. So again in stuff like this, I find live drawing
to be very enjoyable. Most people when they draw in class with me
they’re again, nervous. “Oh, I don’t like drawing in public. I don’t want to draw my sketches in front
of people you know, it’s not gonna look very good. Compared to what other people are doing, I
don’t feel like I’m good enough.” That mentality will always be there if you
hold on to that, you have to make sure you really hold on to the process of anything
else. It’s always a learning experience and you
are the only one that will ever see the mistakes, always. But how you look at it and how you project
it is what’s gonna make your further outcome more successful and also it’ll continue your
drive to pursue and have the curiosity to build your skill. So I think this is pretty fun now, got a dwarf
like character, he’s on the ground plane right here. Let’s put the perspective going this way. Let it go like this, this, this, this, this. There’s a construction of it, there’s the
eye line. You might think adding that kind of stuff
in there, Oh doesn’t that detract away from the image? No, I’m communicating to you guys. I’m showing you a demo just basically explain
my visual thoughts and internal thoughts. So yeah, I could have left that stuff out
and drawn things like a landscape and rock structures, but I think as a viewer, this
helps. It shows you what I’m looking at because I
see it in my head but now I can actually now show you visually. I feel like a lot of artists can draw beautiful
things but they have a hard time explaining exactly what they’re thinking or what they’re
doing or how they even verbalize it. Part of that advice then is to practice that
yourself. If you like to draw, any opportunity you get
to explain to people your thought process, your ideas, your method of working, how you
like to explore, it would get you even stronger on making the proper choices and you start
to really truly understand why you’re doing certain things. This has been 15 minutes, 15, OK? So when people say we’re drawing – figure-drawing,
I got 5 minutes. 5 minutes is a very long time to draw. 15 minutes it’s forever to me. An hour, an eternity of drawing. I could do so much here now. This is established. I could keep adding more stuff. Let’s keep adding. And you know, I think it’s still base. OK, I’m gonna bring in some other pens and
I’m gonna push my darks, values, hatching, elements of details and I’m gonna start to
group everything together. Alright, as I add some elements of the environments,
some vegetation. I can really dress up this scene if I want
to. Maybe there’s a little water ray over here,
just random things in the background. Here’s his weapon set. As you’ll notice, I tend to jump around quite
a bit. I don’t stay in one area, I move from one
spot to the other, to the other as one layer after the other. That’s why most of my friends tend to call
me a printer. As you’ll notice, block, block, block, square,
square. If anybody has any mentions or comments or
things you want to shout out, you’re more than welcome to. I look up every now and again if anybody wants
to raise their hand also. Speaker: How do you go about studying something
you’ve never drawn before? Peter: Yeah and that’s the thing, there’s
something – there’s always something you’ve never drawn before you know? And it could be even things that are familiar. Some things you’ve actually seen but I’ve
never drawn. So how do you even approach stuff like this? Well, in my classes that I teach, the fundamental
basic is not about drawing what you see, you’re filtering it. How do I interpret that as a primitive form
to build a visual library, not about drawing it as it looks like because you’re not a camera. It’s not about drawing it realistically and
every sort of drawing or painting is an interpretation of it, through the artist’s eyes and brain. So then you’ve got to find a way to simplify
it so that you can also use as a tool for something else. If you drew me, let’s say the animal was a
komodo dragon. Have you ever drawn a komodo dragon before? Do you even know what a komodo dragon looks
like? Speaker: Yes. Peter: OK, you got a picture in your mind. Now, OK you can understand what it is, you
go study at the zoo, great. And you study it, study it, draw what it looks
like and I took away those drawings and I said “now, draw for me again in memory”. It’d be really hard, but if you drew the most
basic primitive shapes that represent the Komodo dragon, it could be a box, squares,
circles, whatever and I took away that drawing said “now, recreate those shapes again”. It might be a little bit easier. Now, given time you slowly add more details
and become stronger about those memories of detail work. But in the beginning, if you don’t know how
to even just build it, the details won’t matter. Could I build you these structures or shapes
very primitively? Of course. Do I need them right now for myself? Not necessarily. But in the beginning as a student did I do
that? 100%. The other side of that is get outside and
look at the real things. If I said, “if you’ve never seen a komodo
dragon before in life go to a zoo maybe you’ll find one.” There’s one here in LA, right? There’s a male Komodo dragon over there, he’s
about 20 years old and he’s a breeder type. If you don’t know anything about Komodo dragons
offshoot, there – they’re called uh, parthenogenesis and they’re an animal that can actually recreate
– females can, lay their own eggs and fertilize it, they can clone themselves. Crazy stuff! So what happens then is you start to then
draw and you get curious about the things. You start researching about this stuff and
you become more familiar with the subject and that locks in that memory and it become
easier to draw because you become, again, familiar. But the simplicity is the main thing. You have a question? Speaker: Why exactly are you drawing stuff
here and here when you still have stuff to finish in the middle? Peter: Yeah, because it’s about the finish,
about the entire thing, the big picture, not the small thing. If you finished that one area, do you really
know what that finish is? Maybe not. Or maybe you come back to it like, “oh that’s
not finished yet.” And what happens? You keep doing that and you overwork the piece. So don’t worry about the end piece, work on
it through a layer, think about the intention and get it to a point where it accomplishes
the job in the deadline of how much time you have, right? Not every piece is about rendering it to a
photorealistic level, because here’s the thing, I could stop here and tell you that this is
a finished drawing, you know why? Because my intention was to show you the shapes,
the general composition, the placement of the figures. That’s my intention. I’m done. Now if I said I want to – my intention now
is to include shadow shapes, referencing of materials you know, things like background,
well I got a lot – more to do. So I’m not finished yet. So my intention clearly drives me in a direction
of a path. If you have never thought about what your
intentions were in a drawing, then your drawing blindly, your drawing lost and you never end,
you don’t know when to end. And again you – I look at your stuff and you
overwork it and you feel like, “oh man, I didn’t know when to stop.” Should I give myself a timer? Well, that can help but I think it’s better
to really think before. Now I’m kind of focusing it right up here
and using these kind of shadow shapes to block out separations, foreground to middle ground
within the subject matter considering things like cast shadows, possibly form shadows,
using shadow shapes to group areas together because my focus is up to the head, to the
arm on the left, down into the hammer, back over to the boar. That’s my direction I want to follow. So everything else around it, I’m gonna block
out in shadow because I want to focus these areas. I thought about this already, OK? I’ve used one pen for the entire thing. Let’s group, group, group. As soon as I see myself noodling, stop, pull
back a little bit, think broad OK? As soon as you noodle, you’re now kind of
basically kind of fussing with it. You’re going back and forth, go back and just
group it. I want to just group it, right? Once you get to this point, a huge element
that you have to train your mind is commitment. Commit to the line, commit to the shapes,
commit to the composition, see it to the end. Even if you feel like, “oh I don’t know if
it’s going the right direction.” And you might not have a clear picture, take
it to the end and mess it up, all the way. That way you now have something to question
and break down and analyze. Now, going in there with the subtlety and
the care of these areas, of this wrapping and material fabric, wrapping around the arm
of this dwarf. And of course, if you have no intention as
to what you are trying to do, that question still remains, “When do I know when to stop
if I don’t have a clear idea what I’m going for?” As soon as you just ask yourself that question,
“what am I trying to do here?”, stop right there because then you don’t know. Do something else, come back to this when
you feel more confident and then finish it. Things don’t have to be completed in one sitting,
give it time to marinate in your brain. Step back, look at it from a distance. Don’t go nose in, you’ll get tunnel vision,
right? Show it to other people, share it. “Hey, what do you think about this? What’s your response?” The response I guarantee you most times, it’s
positive. “Hey, that looks really cool man.” And most people are looking for a very harsh
critique, right? Students come up and be like “Give me your
hardest critique, tear it apart”. That makes no sense to me because the idea
is that I also want to give you a constructive criticism. We can’t only focus on the negative, we got
to focus on the balance of what’s not working but what is working. Change the stuff that’s big mistakes but be
consistent with the stuff you’re doing good at. Do we even recognize what you’re good at? Find your strengths and weaknesses, right? Stay positive in the mindset with the work
you’re creating. Have that interest and passion in the process,
share with people, build your community, control the people that you want around you. If you have positive people around you, it’s
gonna create a positive environment. Here at Lightbox, there’s nothing about positivity
right now, use it. If none of you are viewer artists right now
and you’re at Lightbox and you haven’t drawn a single thing, you can make a mistake. You should be drawing right now even now,
right? You could be having your sketchbook and sketching
something. That’s something I love to do all the time,
I would visit talks, demos from artists that I really respect and I don’t just sit there
and watch them. Questions are good but I would draw with them. I’ll sit there and actually get that – that
mindset, that inspiration. And I understand, you guys are talking as
a big group, so that’s just me just talking, right? So, do what you can. I do Comic-Con in San Diego and I’ve been
doing that for about 13 years. And that show is so primarily driven by sales
and buying stuff and merchandise. But shows like this is more driven towards
education and learning and inspiration. Comic-Con can be the same way too but that’s
a massive show, but stuff like this, take advantage of those moments. If you want to learn something, the best thing
to do is get involved, talk to people and not to the people that are behind the table,
the person next to you. The person next to you is the most important
connection. Alright, now we’re kind of splashing all this
stuff out. Again, he is the main focus as he goes in,
I want to touch the boar a little bit. We are now only half an hour in. Speaker: Do you usually work this quickly,
or do you go faster for demos? Peter: Do I tend to work this quickly when
I’m drawing for myself? Yes. A lot of my pieces I complete are in an hour,
typically. Now, is that because I’m in a rush? No. It’s because I have a clear intention of what
I’m trying to do and I also do find this extremely fun. So, I’m always driven to draw constantly and
I do draw practically every single day and a question I got with the demo I had yesterday
was about how many hours I should draw in a day and that’s not really important, don’t
worry about that, OK? Because the question really is about are you
drawing every day, not about how long you’re drawing. You could draw 10 hours every day if you want
to, and that’s great, you’ll improve but can you be consistent to that degree every single
time? You will burnout, guaranteed. What if I draw every day and vary it, explore
things, have focus and intention? It could be for hours or for even half an
hour, right? 10 minutes. But at least I got to touch paper with a pen
and before this, I was drawing another demo at my table and the depth table is
at 5 to 5. I’ll be doing additional drawings like this
when on my own and I just draw for fun. They’re not for anything, for sales, selling
or prints or anything like that, I just like to draw in front of people. And if you guys are you’re here for the rest
of the show, find me if you have more questions because I expect that you guys don’t have
questions right now but if you do, come find me and ask. I’ll be more than happy to give you my thoughts
and advice from my perspective. Alright, this guy’s relatively done with the
shadow shapes. I’m going to go down here up into the boar
and then I’m going to start to go into the small little, kind of bits and pieces. This is where I tend to kind of slow down
a little bit, kind of being more attentive to the minor elements of things. All the sweeping movements, the speed comes
from the very beginning. Again, you get that great dry brush with this
pen. So, it’s very fine of a line, it can be very
nice rich in dark but you can move quickly and get this dry brush. Let’s go into the boar. General shadow direction’s going this way,
let’s put shadow shapes behind it. And as it goes this direction, I’ll put a
little bit emphasis on the head and less on the rest of the body. I want you guys to look right here. Now, these kinds of decision making choices
are not as apparent in the beginning and they’re also very difficult to make on the fly. So, other things you can do to practice this
kind of stuff is thumbnail it. A lot of thumbnails and practice, do rough
sketches, figure out what those problems are and present those questions as you develop
them too. That way when you get to the final piece,
a lot of those things will be problem solved and from there you can continue to really
just execute with the speed that you need. So, I still thumbnail today, client work,
personal work, projects, I will use thumbnail process. For personal sketching, I can just go straight
in there, but if it’s for something, I have to really problem solve it and that’s our
job. If you want to be a conceptual designer, that’s
your job, problem solve. Problem solving the story, problem solving
shape design, color sets you know, costuming, action and function, culture, the character
traits and history. All that stuff and how they unify and link
together. Anybody else have any other questions, comments,
thoughts? Speaker: I have a question. Peter: Absolutely. Speaker: Do you crosshatch shadow in the direction
of the limb, or how do you approach that? Peter: So there’s me hatching with the direction
of the arm and so, these are cross contours wrapping around the structure that you can
follow to continue to increased volume. Now, does that mean you always have to do
that? Not necessarily but being consistent is important. If I choose to go with the direction of the
volume and the area and I break that rule and start flattening it, it’ll conflict. So, choose and be specific and consistent
with the areas. If I’m gonna follow the form here moving around
that shape, I’m gonna do it over here also, yeah. But in this area of the shadow, I went across
because I wanted to flatten it. Shadow shape, exactly. But I’m consistent with it, all the way through. So, choices in terms of direction of line
is very important for sure. So, stuff like this, it puts a little pinprick
in my head and I’m – eventually as I go into the future, I’ll probably actually create
more illustrations and images pertaining to this theme. So, a lot of times things pop into my head
and I can’t get it out until I draw it. It just stays stuck in there. There are times where I would think about
something and I wouldn’t stop thinking about it until I drew it, it could happen for months. It would stay there. Because I didn’t have the opportunity to draw
it, it’ll stay in there for months. Other times I’ll draw one thing and I’m so
interested in it I can’t let it go and all the work I produced myself while drawing the
sketches are constantly coming back to it until I’ve exhausted it, and then I move on
to something else. Thinking about even how this facial hair is
very blocky, the nose is blocky, overall silhouette is blocky, external to internal, to the weapon. And this shape design unfortunately is not
a formatted class that you can really find in a lot of places, there’s no books based
on it but what I will tell you is that it is industry standard, knowing shape design. Studying brands and properties, movies, comics
games will help you with this, looking at art books can give you that too. Many students get pieces and parts of it from
different classes but hopefully you can explore it under your own time. I could keep going on this and take it all
the way to a full illustration, um, but I love developing new ideas and use sketches
and drawings to explore. So what I actually might even do in the next
half hour that we have is uh, take out a new piece and maybe even use the same elements
of stuff and redraw another piece. So, now I’m like making marks, right? Indications of things. It’s all the small stuff, little minor elements. All the big movements have been done. I think I could stop right there and move
to a new piece. Let’s get a new sheet of paper out. Why am I deciding to move on? I feel like this is done in my opinion because
I accomplished what I needed to do. I set the figures, my intention was shadow
shapes, indication of detail on the figure, moving this direction of the boar. I told you guys just that. So, do I need to move forward any more than
this? I mean, I could add more intricate details,
more materials, more stuff in the background but that was never my intention. So I’m gonna stop, I’m gonna move on. Now I have time to do more drawing. That was awesome! Big thanks to Peter Han for demoing for us
at Lightbox Expo and that’s not it, we got one more video from Peter coming out tomorrow. So hit that Subscribe button and smash or
– or, thrash or do whatever you want to that Like button. We’ll be here with the final video for this
year’s 12 days of Proko.

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