Drawing Instruction Part I: What Didn't Work

In my endless pursuit of improving my drawing and finding the best methods—especially regarding human anatomy—I've collected a lot of books and online instruction notes. In the last few years, I systematically reviewed all of my books and discovered that some methods appealed to me more than others. Here I'll explain the ones that didn't work well for me and why. In Part II I'll talk about the books I did find helpful. Keep in mind that this is my personal response to these books. What didn't work for me may well work for you and vice versa.

1. George Bridgman (Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing from Life):

Bridgman's methods and diagrams confused me. I respond best to clear, systematic approaches and Bridgman's lacked sufficient clarity for me. Despite that, I still have the book and may one day return to it once I'm more clear on the basics. Many artists I admire have been influenced by Bridgman so it's possible I'm just not ready for him at this time.

2. Will Eisner (Expressive Anatomy for Comics and Narrative: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist):

This book started well for me with straight-forward anatomy information. Once it continued, however, I felt that I wasn't getting as much out of it and it became a disappointment. Eisner uses a lot of his own work as examples which is great since his work is great. I was hoping that this master draftsman would have a lot of tips and advice. Instead, the examples are so specific in their context that I didn't feel I was getting a larger lesson. There were numerous generalities but not enough specific information on process for my purposes.

3. The Frank Reilly Method

Hmm, I just discovered that Reilly was taught by Bridgman. That may explain why neither of their methods appeal to me. I understand that it's not a way to draw but instead a way to think but looking at these diagrams, I'm not sure as to what exactly it is I'm supposed to think. I'm simply not understanding what information that these diagrams are supposed to be conveying. There are a lot of lines going in many directions but I haven't found an explanation of all of those lines. Again, maybe the method is too advanced for me. At this time, I'm seeking simplicity before I get complex.

So that's what didn't work for me. Despite my reaction, I suggest you review what Bridgman, Eisner and Reilly have to offer and determine for yourself if their approaches work for you. You may be surprised at what you learn!

Next week will be Part II, art instruction that did work for me.