How to improve angle and proportion perception?
Im having a bit of a problem with my perception of angles and proportions. While I compare some elements of my drawing to each other, they seem to be fine. In a portrait, say, the browridge seems to be at a proper proportion and angle to the nose. The nose seems to be fine with the lips, and the lips seem to be ok with the chin. But when the wholeness is taken into account, the results are quite off.
I actually have a picture i drew basing on a photo taken from http://lovecastle.org/draw/:
As you can see, the part from nose to chin is too short, so is the hair from mouth to arm. The forehead came up too big, so did the nose. I didnt actually see it until my friend pointed all this out, and now it hits me whenever i see this picture. Its quite painful, to be honest ;)
Im trying to avoid making this mistake again, but it is a lot of work. I measure and compare almost everything against everything when I draw, and still sometimes after a day or two I find the effects to be off in some way.
Also, there is another problem I have with strict measuring. Sticking out my hand with a stylus or a pencil isnt exactly reliable, at least for me. Quite fast im getting tired of squinting, closing one eye, trying to lock my spine, hand and elbow in exactly the same position to take measurements. When working from a photo, its quite enough to shift my weight on my chair or move a bit, to make the proportions go wrong. Id imagine that similar problems would be in effect in drawing from life. The person youre drawing moves a tiny bit, and the relations between your "landmarks" change, the shapes change, and so do your proportions.
So, my question is, what can I do about it? Are there any particular exercises or drills I can do in order to improve in this field faster? I found this:
but how many boxes can you draw? I'd love to get to know some other exercises, to bring in some variety to my drawing "workouts". If such exercises could be done while doing normal drawing, all the better. Ive seen people who just get the proportions and angles right at a glance, and I want to work towards such proficiency.
edit: a new grea video came out on ctrlpaint: http://ctrlpaint.com/blog/measuring-proportion
Here's an eye training exercise that has helped me with perspective and proportion.
If you have the luxury of time, leave your sketch for a few days and work on something else. Then come back to it, but instead of picking up a drawing tool, just sit back and compare your sketch to the source material. Take a few minutes to really soak it in. Once you've identified some areas you want to work on, take these steps:
- Recall your process when you sketched those areas the first time. What were you thinking about? What techniques did you employ?
- Visualize each area you want to work on, and exactly how you'll go about making the changes.
- Then pick up your drawing tools and proceed.
This won't immediately teach you to nail the proportions at a glance, but it has helped me find patterns in my work. I'm now faster at getting proportions since I'm conscious of which areas I typically miss.
One more note: to improve your skill rendering human subjects like the example you've shown, you can never spend too much time drawing live subjects. Developing a deep understanding of anatomy and motion will take your work to another level. Here's an anatomy-related thread on GD.SE if you're interested.