Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Figure Invention taught by Lucas Graciano - Notes and Review

Figure Invention at Watts Atelier - taught by Lucas Graciano

"Really great, innovative and fresh drawing exercises!" - reviewed by Chris Chien

This was a special 5- week course at Watts Atelier. It was only $220! What a steal compared to the $600-$700 price tag of CDA. The scenic drive from Irvine to San Diego was beautiful and almost NEVER had any traffic. The students there were very talented and it was a great energy.

That's student work you see on the walls. And...any instructors at the school were also previously students. 

Week 1: Drawing Mannequins

At first I thought this was pretty basic. But I found the exercise very helpful. I'm glad the instructor had us draw from photographs instead of the live model (I find that it's very easy to get distracted by all the details on the live model) It was much easier to concentrate on the task at hand with a simple photograph. You could take your time and really focus on simplifying the form. 

Teacher's Demo

The teacher gave us handouts, and we turned them into mannequin drawings. 

Week 2: Change the pose

In this week's lesson, we mannequin training really paid off. We copied a photo from a photograph and we had to rotate the pose - like it was on a turntable. It was a some guesswork - but if you understood the form correctly - you could do it. It was a great challenge. 

The left and right drawings are different. The left one is drawn according to the drawing. The right one - I reversed the pose (if you look carefully - the legs are different.)

In the left drawing - I drew it according to the model. And the the instructor had us draw the same drawing, but in a slightly higher perspective. 

Week 3: Face. Mastercopy + application

At first - I wasn't sure the purpose of this exercise - but this ended up being my favorite lesson! We did a master copy. And then we stylized the photograph as if that artist did it! Really helped me internalize things and STEAL techniques so it's my own - rather than just copy. 

 Instructor Demo: doing a "Mucha" master copy. During the master copy - he really stressed the importance of going slow and taking your time. Most people rush their master copies and just go for the big picture. But this instructor really instructed us to get the structure down but find the small subtleties as well!

(Left Top) That was my Mucha master copy. 
(Left Bottom) This was a copy of the photographed STYLIZED with what I learned from doing the master copy. This was a SUPER helpful exercise. And really helped me digest what I learned from doing the master copy and put it in use!

Week 4: Drapery from Model

Instructor's Demos: In this lesson - he taught us the 7 different types of folds. He really broke it down. Then when he was teaching us that the folds should really help explain the form. DO NOT COPY WHAT YOU SEE. Sometimes the folds go against the form, or the fold changes as the model moves. But if you understand the different 7 types of folds, you can make it up and it will look realistic. 



Above are my drawings. The lesson was super helpful. Later that week - I drew a cute cosplay girl with a nice dress. I think that week's lesson REALLY helped me make the drawing look so much better. I learned to not just copy the photograph, but interpret in a way that shows the information more clearly. 

Week 5: Draw Model from Memory + Change the Pose

Instructor's demo: This was a GANGSTA lesson. So the model would pose for 5 minutes. And you would just memorize the pose. Then for the next 5 minutes you would draw FROM MEMORY! It was so crazy.  And then to take it even further - you would take the drawing you created, and draw the model from an alternate angel view! Then the model would pose from the back view and you can check to see if you were correct/ make any changes! 

(above) These drawings were created from memory. Afterwards, the model would get back in the pose, and you could make any necessary corrections. This really challenges your brain and pushes your comfort zone!

(above) These were drawings I created. We had to recreate them from memory after staring at the model from 5 minutes. And then translate the drawing to a different angel! In the drawing on the right, the instructor told us to draw the model from a higher up angel! This was really challenging - cuz there was no way to check if you were right or not! 

 Class Pros & Cons/ Observations

- Only $220! Great Deal for 5 weeks. I don't feel like a 5 week course is inferior to a 10 week course  you probably will learn the most important essentials anyways.

- Class is not reoccurring. The school constantly changes it's course schedule from term to term. So you won't be able to get the same deal/ take the same class I did.

- Small class size - about 10 students.

- Great Handouts every class! The class was well structured and the teacher was very organized.

- No homework/ critique. Is this a good thing or bad thing? You decide. You can show the teacher some of your work during the breaks - but there really isn't a formal time for it.

- Very solid classes. Each lesson had a different theme and lesson - so you were learning something NEW each week - with practical exercises that you could do at home.

- I was a little annoyed that people kept asking me how many classes I was taking. The culture at Watts is that students take 3-5 classes a term. And students don't have any homework. I come from a culture where you do a minimum of 3+ hours of homework for every 1 hour of class (at least that's the expectation at Art Center and Carnegie Mellon). It seems strange to me that students and instructors glorify the class hours - and skimp on the homework hours. But whatever - it's just very their school's culture. You can always do extra homework on your own time.

- Despite what I just said previously, most of the students have very exceptional skill from taking lots of classes.  In my opinion, the collective technique skill of the students (in terms of figure drawing) is superior to that Concept Design Academy, Kazone, 3 Kicks Art Studio and LAAFA. You can easily reason that it's their primary focus and hence their strength.  The advantage is that you are surrounded that a higher level of talent and that pushes you more. I would definitely go to Watts to learn figure drawing - and go to another school to learn perspective, digital illustration, concept art and stuff.

Had a great time with the class. I take classes at Watts every once so often. While the San Diego drive is scenic - it's still long 60 minute drive from my house. I think these fine art classes are good for refreshing your art muscles - but there will always be a jump between academic drawing and commercial illustration - and it's up to the student to make that jump. Instructors who tell you that landscape painting and figure drawing will directly help you get a job are... probably just trying to get you to take more classes with them. lol

 I really enjoyed the class and I had a lot of fun. I would recommend you taking the class - except it's not offered next term - and there is no way of predicting when it will be offered. lol. :) Good luck.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

4 Year Reflection

My birthday was two weeks ago. It has been 4 years since I graduated from college in 2010. During these 4 years - I was very impatient, I was constantly thinking that I wasn't getting enough shit done, or I was going too slow...  But wow! - I got a LOT of shit done in 4 years. When I look at all the things I've done and the places I've been - I feel so lucky and blessed to have experienced all these things and have met all these great friends. 

2010 Reflection (& 2006-2010 College Reflection)
This was the year I graduated from college. I was very hopeful of life. I had a lot of fun relaxing and going out after college. I reconnected with a lot of old High School friends. I hung out a lot with my artist friend Kalen Chock -  who really kind of mentored and helped me out with "life" after college. He connected me with some dance/ design opportunities with Boogiezone and Movement Lifestyle. During that year after college - I thought I was gonna get a job doing exhibit design and have no problems with my career. My purpose was to get a job and move out.

2011 Reflection
This was a very bitter year for me. I didn’t get the job I wanted. So I started doing freelance concept art for video games - which I thought would be awesome - but I didn’t like it at all. I took a lot of traditional sketching and paintings classes at places like Concept Design Academy, Watts Atelier, & Studio 2nd Street - which was pretty fun. I also started working at Disneyland in July doing name paintings. My motivation and purpose in life at that point was to get better at art. As a result, I didn’t bother to enjoy life or enjoy what I was doing. It was just work work work. 

2012 Reflection
I wanted to STOP taking painting & drawing classes - but decided to indulge myself by taking some fun art classes with Sean Cheetham and Nathan Fowkes at LAAFA - and also met a great friend and artist - Chris Legaspi. I had some of the best times of my life doing paintings during those classes. I was also taking some digital painting classes at Kazone with Mathias Verhasselt and Charles Lee and focused more on digital work and concept art. I was just having a great time drawing and painting. 

I also resolved to amp up my social life. I made it a priority to hang out with friends. I wanted to improve my dating life - and I made it a priority to get good at talking to girls. With the help of my “pick up artist” friends - I treated talking to girls like an “art form” and made it a point to talk to girls wherever I went. I would hit on the hit on the girls at the supermarket, coffee shop, dentist, doctor’s office, airport, San Francisco, New York - anywhere and everywhere I went. I got rejected a lot, and while I was not adept as PUA friends in terms of seducing women - I did end up making TONS of cool new friends and had the time of my life meeting new people and going to new places! My purpose that year was to just have fun and be cool.

2013 Reflection
This was the year of sadness and heartache. Remember how I said that I got really good at “picking up girls”?  Well… that eventually came back to bite me in the ass.  I got good at the pick-up lines and the "art form" - but not very good at "being myself." I kinda wanted to have a hot girlfriend just because I just wanted other people to see how cool I was.  I had a girlfriend during the beginning of 2013 - and it just didn't end well. It totally sucked.

I immediately stopped going out and meeting people. I felt guilty, sad and crappy. Instead I buried myself into books on relationships, love, compassion, empathy etc… in an attempt to find some kind of information that might salvage the relationship. Nothing was able to rescue that sunken ship - but I did learn a lot of new things reading dozens of books. 

Career wise - I started to have a laser focus on what I wanted to do. And that was theme park design! In January - I set that as my goal. By June - I had found my first contract job! I also quit Disneyland job in May 2013 and instead focused on my own name painting business: www.legendbrush.com - and that gave me more flexibility as to the hours I worked. My purpose that year to was become a better person. 

2014 Mid-Year Reflection
This year has been about finding my purpose in life. I started the year off in Guatemala - painting a mural for an orphanage. I grew my name painting business enormously. I garnered many new clients for my theme park work. And I started a youtube channel called "Project Lifecoach" with my friends Jonathan and Bridget. My intent this year is to help more people, embody more gratitude and contentment in my daily life, and experience more inner peace.

These 4 years has been very DIFFERENT from what I could have anticipated. 4 years ago... I would imagined that I would just work some kind of design job and get paid. Instead I...
1) Furthered my artistic education by taking classes with master art professionals. 
2) Created painted for THOUSANDS of customers at Disneyland! 
3) Blew past my comfort zones and learned how to be more confident when talking to girls!
4) Started my own business - and learned a lot about marketing, sales and accounting along the way, 
5) Learned much about compassion, love, acceptance, empathy, and authenticity after experience much suffering and heartache. 

6) Became a professional theme park concept illustrator worked on multiple international projects including... Ferrari World in Abu Dabi and Universal Studios in Japan
7) Went to Guatemala to paint and mural and learned basic Spanish in a week! Como es ta?


1) Help Others
Garnering achievements and money for yourself feels pretty good. But... I get the feeling that I should help other people and just be a more thoughtful and considerate person. I just really appreciate when people are really thoughtful - they also seem to be really easy going and cheerful. I admire them and hope to be like that as well. 

When you are giving your time, energy and money to others, I think it's implicitly saying that "I have an abundance of those things". And the Universe gives you MORE abundance in turn! I feel that giving and gratitude are the keys to abundance. 

2) Put more effort into hanging out with friends and family
I feel that if I were to take just 10% of effort that I spent on chasing GIRLS back in 2012 - and refocus it on hanging out with friends and family - I would be SO happy! I used to spend HOURS walking around talking to girls, buying them dinner, flirting with them on the phone - why don't I spend as much effort talking and spending time with the friends and family that I have right now?!? I'm sure my friends and family would appreciate it - and I would probably really enjoy it too!

3) Exercise More
When I was in San Francisco, or New York or Guatemala walking 3-5 miles a day - I loved it! It was nice NOT to be huddled over a computer 8 hours a day. I like doing some physical activity - it feels very natural. 

To me - exercising means taking care, nurturing and loving your own body. When we prioritize money and achievements above our own body - we find ourselves never having the time to exercise and sleep. However, when we prioritize and put an emphasis on self-love, I think that we will always be able to find time to exercise and do the things we really enjoy. <3 p="">
Hope you enjoyed reading this blogpost. What have YOU been doing over the last 4 years? I bet if you were to really recount that things you've been doing - you will have a lot of blessings be grateful for! If you didn't enjoy the last 4 years (that's okay) - how would you like to change the next 4 years? Your intentions will spark thoughts, and your thoughts will manifest into actions and results! Set your intention today!

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 2014 Mid-Year Recap

Why I haven't been posting...
Hey guys - so I haven't been posting much stuff on the blog -- at all. I've been posting a lot of stuff on this other private blog called "Every Sunday Post" - but we recently closed that down. I've also been posting a lot on my Instagram (Legendbrush Instagram). I've been posting a lot on the Daily Spitpaint sketch group on Facebook (hope to post those on the blog soon). But I haven't really been drawing that much in general (a little bit.. hope to post those soon as well). Most of my artwork are name paintings that I post on my Facebook Legendbrush Facebook page or it's for theme park companies - and that stuff I can't show.

Career - Theme Park Design
This week I've worked on multiple projects with 3 companies.
SG Studios
- Themespace Design & Consultation
- Zeitgeist Design and Productions

 I'm still pretty new to the industry and getting experience. I haven't gotten a LOT of work - like my name painting business. But I can tell that I'm getting better in terms of artwork - and becoming more professional from more experience. I'm consistently working on projects. I'm consistently network and building relationships with people on Linked In and at TEA events such as the TEA summit.

Youtube Videos
I've spent the first half of this year doing a lot of traveling, working on projects, and making videos! It's a dream come true. I forgot when... but in a previous blogspot I wrote 2-3 years ago.. I stated that I wanted to post some cool youtube videos online. I just didn't really have ideas for content and stuff yet...

Guatemala Trip
In January - I made a trip to Guatemala to paint a mural at an orphanage. This is a playlist of 5 videos that document the trip. :)

First Anime Convention
This was was I went to Anime Los Angeles as Legendbrush - selling name paintings! Had a blast!

Here is a video of me going to Anime Expo and creating name paintings!

I've been selling a lot of stuff on my online Etsy Store (https://www.etsy.com/shop/legendbrush)
Legendbrush Etsy Page - Name Painting

Posting stuff on Instagram (http://instagram.com/legendbrush)
Legendbrush Instagram
Project Lifecoach
Here are some videos from the youtube channel (Project Lifecoach) - where we give people self-help tips and blog about applying these tips on ourselves and documenting the journey. 

Season 1

 Season 2

- Personal Vlog where I work on my "Portfolio"

 - Personal Vlog where I work on being more "Relaxed"

Physical Health 

Another thing worth mentioning is doing another "Tough Mudder" with my friend Eder. This time - I wasn't quite in shape when I did it - and I got really sick afterwards. This first half to the year - I've been neglecting physical and mental health. (I've been more focused on income and generating cash flow $$.) So I want to make sure that I am healthy, have fun with my life, relax, and also make lots of money at the same time!

2014 New Years Resolutions

I've been having a hard time with my new years resolutions - just because they are so ambiguous, vague and non-measurable. They are great goals - but I'm having a hard time "doing" them - because they aren't something that you really accomplish - it's something you are....

1) Contentment - I want to practice more gratitude and live everyday with gratitude and happiness. I want to be sincerely be grateful for everything in my life. Perhaps I can do a daily practice exercise of... "Something I liked about today..." to show gratitude in my daily life.

2) Help others get what they want - I want to be the kind of person that is very thoughtful of other people. I want to be the kind of person that I would like to be around (I don't like very self-centered people - and I think I'm pretty self-centered). I really like people who take care of others. Maybe I could do more volunteer work. And I could be more focused on helping my friends and family. And I probably can learn to be more accepting of people are very selfish.

3) Inner Peace - I want to relax into life. Even if something doesn't go my way - I can still be happy and relaxed. I would be unattached to the results. If something does go my way - I can be happy as well. So whether or not things go my way or not.. or something unexpected occurs - I'm always really happy, calm and peaceful like a very deep lake. Because... deep down inside - there is inner peace.

Alright - thanks for reading! See you next time! :)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Passion Reboot

Yesterday - I saw a movie by one of my favorite directors - Jon Favreau - director of Iron Man 1 & 2. There's something really special about him - he is so accomplished and successful - yet you don't get a whiff of arrogance about him - he exudes humility and funny, down-to-earth vibe. Even in his own movie - Iron Man 2 - Jon plays a lowly bodyguard and even gets beat up by a girl! For such a big shot director - Jon Favreau certainly has a good sense of humor!

When I found out Jon came out with a new movie - I HAD to go see it. In his new indie movie "Chef" (2014)- Jon tells the story of a successful chef who is basically a**fu**ed by his manager and the social media. He gets tired of doing what people are telling him to do, and instead starts a food truck so he can do what he wants!

I really related to this movie.  I don't feel like I'm working a job that makes be happy. As of today - I've worked all three of my "dream" jobs - video games, movies and theme parks. At first - there was a sense of novelty and euphoria when I first worked on the projects, but I've never been truly happy or fulfilled doing any of these jobs.

Even though I've always enjoyed and been really good at teaching - I didn't think it was a viable career.  I actually looked down at artists who just teach and didn't have much professional or artistic accomplishments - but maybe that's just my arrogance talking. I wanted to get some professional experience before I started my teaching career - which is why I felt it was important to become a professional concept artists for different companies. Perhaps I can get back into teaching.

I also really enjoyed working on actual projects - such as building exhibits during my Art Center days , or building Booth during my Carnegie Mellon days, or even painting that mural when I went to Guatemala. I don't like sitting at a table/ or in front of my computer making illustrations all day. I really want to get up at MOVE! I need to walk around and really work with my hands and legs! I need to be around REAL people and talk and converse with them. I'm not sure what kind of job will allow me to do what I that - but I feel like doing something like that is what will really make me happy.

Perhaps I can start teaching again.

Perhaps I can start working on actual projects again - instead just being an illustrator.

I'm not sure what is going to come out of this - but the first step of manifesting what you want - is to recognize and specify your INTENTION. Here I go! :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Eric Ryan Workshop - Color and Creature Design

Last week I attended a free Eric Ryan workshop at the Art Institute. Here are some notes. 

Color - 
Eric taught color in a really interesting way. He talked mostly about "local" color. He would overlay color on a separate layer so he could change it as he went. After he got a couple of layers in, he was able to quickly create multiple iterations. The choice of the local color helps 

Uses of color
- Conveys information about the type of creature: blue = aquatic, stripes = camouflage/ aggressive. Shows personality and the type of environment he lives in. 

-indicates different materials. Soft underbelly vs thick hide skin vs horns vs eyes - they are all different materials. Use color to indicate that information.

- show focal point such as eyes. Complementary colors help us achieve that (purple/ yellow, green/ red)

- use 60/30/10 rule (big/ medium/ small) to design color. Have a larger base color, a small secondary color, and a small accent color. Don't have the ratios of color be equal. 

He adds the stripes in white on a separate layer. Then he changes it to a different color. And adds some details to it. Pattern is a great way for something to look complex with really little effort.

 Creature Demo
In this demo, he designs a creature from thumbnail to a rendering. 


 Rim Light
- catches the form, like calligraphy, goes into the form - not just outline. 
- faces that are perpendicular to light are brightest
- shows texture
- rounded forms - more rim light