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Friday, April 01, 2005

Musing about Art...

Does that look good or what? Hahaha!

Everytime one learns something new, one starts from scratch.

Well, certainly that is the case when it comes to art and software anyway. :p

When I first started drawing, my tools were basically a pack of coloured magic markers, and the front covers of my favourite comic books. [Don't ask me why] Later on, my grandfather, who worked at SPH then, decided to steer my vandalism in a more legal direction, by providing me packs of blank paper from the printers. Packs of A4 and A5 blank paper, gummed together, and me trusty pencils and magic markers. And I drew tons of comics on those papers. Oh, the start of my love with comics.

Don't ever ask to see them, btw. All those paper got thrown away by my parents a long, long, long time ago, and the art was so bad, you'd be lucky to differentiate Snoopy from Charlie Brown.

Later on, in Primary school, I discovered that textbook paper was the perfect medium for drawings and relieving classroom boredom. My tools became my school stationery, and my paper became my textbooks. Much to the exasperation of my parents whenever they happened to look through my textbooks.

In Secondary school, I discovered a new model: The Manga and the Comic Book. Both entirely diverse forms of art, one from the far east of Japan, the other from the far west of America. Suddenly, comics ceased to be the purely slapstick characters of Snoopy and Garfield. They had plot, they haddepth, they had realism, and OMG, they had COLOUR. [At least for the American ones, anyway]

Now, comics weren't just 3 panels in a newspaper and purely for humourous purposes. A plot could be strung along with the otherwise-disparate panels, and string the reader along as merrily as one of my Enid Blyton books. Slowly I started to realise,what a unique blend of art and literature I held in my hands.

My art also became influenced by these sources. My characters became more human. [or rather, they started to look more human] They had shading and depth. They were inked.

But they lacked one thing: They were not original.

Because I was especially apt at copying the art I saw in my comics, but drawing a character of my own from scratch was something that took me a long, long time to master.

I hung up my sketchbook in JC, overwhelmed by the new dual-sex environment, and the crowds of new and unfamiliar faces. Academics also took over most of my time, as did my CCAs.

I got through my As. And duly went to uni.

And my senses got exploded again. I learned about a new, exciting and VERY powerful tool called Photoshop.

And the rest of the history, I think most of you guys know. :p

What made me think, though, was how everytime I start to learn something new, like a new style, or a new tool, I really had to start from scratch all over again, like I was the little kid with my magic markers again. [actually I still play with markers, but they're Copic markers, and far, far above those cheap ones I started out with. :p So it's kinda a full circle]

When I first started, I drew what I thought was right. When I started reading comics, I realised what I was doing wrong, and I had to relearn everything I knew about drawing humans. [Perspective? What the hell's that??] In Uni, I signed up for a manga class that once again, refined my ideas on how to draw, and made me start from the basics again.

Then when I learned about Photoshop, I had to master everything from scratch too. Layers, channels, masks, hue, saturation, colour, contrast, edit, cut, copy, paste, brush, airbrush, clone stamp, marquee and more recently, pen.

Everytime I thought I had done all that could be learned, I found out there was something I missed. And I had to relearn all over again.

From Photoshop, to Freehand. And then another language: Paths, pens, eraser, points, anchors, strokes, fills.

And I realised that drawing with the mouse, is an entirely new language from drawing with the pen. By now, drawing humans with pen and paper were no longer a problem for me. The knowledge came instinctively to my fingers, as natural as how my fingers know which key to type to let the words come out on this blog.

And then............. I found out that freehand was different. So I had to start with basics again. Copying other people's works, drawing guidelines on the document to tell me which way to stroke my line. I became a beginner again. [damn.]

What a long, long journey I walked.... only to start out again when I first begun. *sigh*

Maybe art is just one of those things where you can't carry forward all the knowledge. Where everytime you start to learn a new medium, your hands and fingers have to learn a new language. It's like how you learn to ride the bike, and then you learn the motorcycle, and then you realise that while you can use some of the things you had, there are much more things you have to learn all over again, like the basics of balance.

Wonder why I'm so philosophical about this today? Well, I recently finished the above piece, where I FINALLY got the *slightest* hang about drawing faces in Freehand. And then, looking at all the trashed pieces on my hard drive, the thought came to me.

I was like a little girl again, doodling with my magic markers on packs of paper.

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