Drawing Detail

October 24, 2016

On places like Deviantart, you'll find trillions upon trillions of tutorials of how to draw or paint shiny anime eyes, usually in the singular because the artist has barely grasped basic symmetry. Yet you're often hard pressed to find tutorials on more dire subjects. Such as painting texture, setting up dynamic lighting, scene composition and so on. Learning to draw detail is one such subject often left in the dust among the sweeping craze of anime, which usually sports incredibly simplistic character design.


Over time however, I found some game and manga series of which the artists of have created very elaborate and appealing designs, of which I took a lot of inspiration from. Namely Suikoden, the Final Fantasy series, Fire Emblem and Hyung Tae Kim (Blade and Soul). Though I would caution especially in the case of FF and BnS, the designs don't always exist in the realm of practicality. Or general hair physics. If you seek something a little more down to earth, keep in mind the full range of muscle groups before strapping fabrics and jewelry upon them. 


Rant aside, I'm here to sit down and attempt to digest what I've learned implicitly so that I may impart some kind of 'first step' at the very least for artists and writers wanting to spice up their character wardrobes. So, first thing first. I want to tackle the hardest aspects, because they're often the most elaborate part of an outfit. Fabric pattern and jewelry design. These are areas commonly avoided by young (skill wise) artists as they

re complained to be "too hard to draw". However there's 2 very good reasons you should learn them.


1. Avoiding hard topics prevents your skill from growing because they're always related directly and indirectly to many other subjects.

2. Detail is easy as hell.


Really, I'm not joking.  Jewelry, and even fabric patterns consist of very simple repeating geometric shapes. "But Spudfuzz!" you cry, "This pattern here has hundreds of flowers and leaves, I can't possibly draw it."



Ok. So if you've ever read an anatomy book, the author will always explain the human body as a composite of  geometry. The head is an elongated egg - like sphere. The neck is a cylinder. Torsos can be deconstructed to a rectangle. Limbs are just cylinders rotating on ball joints like a doll.


Same idea. No matter how complex a design looks, it's all just composites of basic geometry. Here I chose some random patterns off of google and deconstructed them.




You can click on the image for a larger version. I could use more elaborate examples, but I think these should really be enough to illustrate how simple it is. Don't be put off  by the complexity of the entire design (macro picture.) Zoom in. Look closely. It's just a bunch of shapes you're intimately familiar with already. Even if you've never drawn in your life, I know your math classes made you draw cubes and spheres in high school. This doesn't just apply to detail, the entire world is constructed of very simple shapes just like these. So if you've been refusing to learn simple patterns like these, you've been massively hindering your overall ability to draw.


Want to practice? Get a sketchbook and just fill it with free hand shapes whenever you're bored. This improves your overall skill because it applies to everything. Want to practice fabric patterns and jewelry? Start a collection folder of designs you like. Trace over them to learn their construction. However, when designing your characters, ensure you create your own designs. Jewelry is created by artists all the same who deserve to have their IP respected. However, historical jewelry is free domain. Fabric patterns are a little different, although I still recommend only taking directly from free stock and historical sources. Overall, a good artist should be able to tailor completely new designs for their own unique worlds and characters.

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