Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Great Facebook Photo Challenge


Today was a sort of boring day, I've only recently moved to Fort Wayne and don't know very many people in town yet. Out of this boredom, I developed an intriguing new activity. Introducing the Great Facebook Photo Challenge!



The rules are simple: I look through my facebook friends, pick one of their photos and sketch it. When I am finished sketching, I post this photo to facebook. The first commenter to correctly identify the subjects of the photo and the photo I based my sketch off of wins. The winner then gets to pick the next photo which I will attempt to sketch. The photo has to be of a mutual friend and it cannot be a photo I've sketched previously.


The First Attempt:

For my first photo, I opted to sketch my friends Alice and Ben. They are some newlywed friends of mine, whose ceremony and reception this weekend. They're both good swing dancers, and that is the activity of the photo I chose.


My Sketch:

Below is a side-by-side comparison of the original and my sketch:

Experiences and Notes:

There are a few things worthy of mention in the process of me making this sketch. For starters, I have no formal artistic training, and was armed only with a sheet of printer paper and a mechanical pencil for this sketch. I enjoy the creation-based hobbies (I make my own electronic circuits, among other things), and am interested in practicing and maybe improving my drawing abilities through this exercise.

Of the subjects in this photo, Alice was considerably easier to draw in my opinion. She had well-defined lines that I could see in the picture, visualize in my head, and transfer to paper. As such, I drew her first. I had the good fortune of having Alice's eyes be more or less closed in the source photo, making my efforts considerably easier. Clearly I didn't have a means of coloring the photo with the tools at hand, so Alice's blonde hair didn't transfer over very well.

Ben, by contrast, was considerably harder to draw; for no small part due to the incredibly complex shirt he's wearing in the source photo. Other details were very difficult to get right (or close to right) as well; the fedora could probably be done better, his shoes are somewhat lacking in detail, and his hands have some issues of scale and accuracy that I hope to improve upon some day. Eyes, faces, hands, and to a lesser degree, hair, are all incredibly difficult to draw with an acceptable accuracy.  Having captured the main subjects of the photo, I decided to skimp on the background details of the picture. They were somewhat complicated and I was tired, so I let them slide.

In drawing this photo, I found myself thinking in new and interesting ways compared to how I usually approach problems. I am an electrical engineer by trade, and as such I generally approach problems from a data-driven and analytical point of view; if I need to know something, I go hunt for the appropriate book or article and look it up. If that fails I resort to the proper system of mathematical equations and educated estimations and assumptions to tackle a problem. In drawing this, however, I found myself being forced to try to put myself in the room with the subjects of the photo, to try to visualize how they would act and to try to almost feel out the picture in an attempt to perfect the expressions. I am familiar with swing dancing, the main action of this photo, and have been through many dance lessons, having people describe how joints move and interact to have the proper form. In drawing this picture, I really felt a connection to what I had learned. I had a lot of fun drawing this photo, and the process allowed me to tap new realms of creativity, emotional exploration, and self expression. I intend to try this exercise again very soon, and will keep the blog updated regarding the results.

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