Sunday, April 13, 2014

FIRST IMPRESSION: Proko's Figure Drawing Fundamentals Course NSFW

I've been a huge fan of ProkoTV's figure drawing videos on YouTube ever since I first watched his amazingly helpful "Draw a Head at Any Angle" tutorial, which I still look back on for reference to this day!

For those who don't know him, ProkoTV is hosted by artist, Stan Prokopenko, a talented figurative artist who teaches at the Watts Atelier of the Arts.

I enjoy the way Stan's videos appeal to my visually-minded nature with comparative examples and his very lighthearted and entertaining teaching style.  Rather than focus on the science of anatomy, his videos teach how to break the body down into simple shapes and emphasize expression over 'correctness'.  If you've read Michael Hampton's Figure Drawing: Design and Invention, Stan's methods are very similar.

Lately, all of my portfolio reviewers have pointed to the same thing that keeps holding my work back - anatomy.  Sure, I know how to draw a human figure, for the most part.  But my anatomy is missing that special something, that secret ingredient!

I notice that when I start adding detail, some of the energy and life drains right out of my figures.  My rendition of the joints of the figure also lack definition and understanding, leaving my figures feeling too smooth and ultimately unconvincing.

You might be asking why would someone who's not a beginner want to purchase a 'fundamentals' course?  Now, I've read and looked at many an anatomy book in my day in college and for my own study, but I find that I just can't remember anatomy.  No amount of drawing the skeleton and muscles and labeling the parts really helps me retain how to draw the figure.

My brain needs spatial geometric understanding and hands on training (being the kinesthestic learner that I am), which makes the structure of Proko's course appealing with its simplistic approach and many, many extra examples for tactile learners like me.  Also, as an artist, I am never done learning.  There is too much to know about anatomy to ever be done learning!

And so it was I decided to invest in Stan's Figure Drawing Fundamentals course for $79, including two pose photo packs (one male and one female) at $10 a piece (spending a total of $100).  These packs are a great value considering they include 300 poses in each one.  The poses are very well-lit and professionally photographed.  Once purchased, the pose pack download page includes a convenient link for you to download your choice of a .zip containing high res or lower res versions of the photos, for those of us studying with tablets which benefit from smaller file sizes.

Though Stan offers his figure drawing videos for free on YouTube, his course includes the longer premium content versions of his lessons.  For example, his first lesson on gesture is only 9 minutes for the free version, while the premium content version is 27 minutes.

Here's a look at the download page for just ONE of the lessons (of which you an view the full lesson list here).  I am impressed by the sheer amount of demos available to help students wrap their brain around how to apply the technique to various poses.

Also included are critiques of student homework, which is useful for learning not only what is correct, but what is incorrect along with the common mistakes that most people make in their figure drawing techniques.  As icing on the cake, Proko also brings in other experts, such as Marshall Vandruff and Glenn Vilpuu.

Under each video is a download link, allowing you to store the videos for your own reference or carry them with you for study on the go.  This is priceless and encourages me to invest knowing that even if for some terrible reason Stan's site goes down that I will still have access to my lessons.  Once you pay for premium content, you are granted unlimited access to your poses and lessons for the foreseeable future.

I've only just started this course and am looking forward to seeing how this affects my work!  I'll be sharing my progress and studies here with you, as well as a follow-up review of the overall course when I am finished with it.  So far, I am very impressed by the thought and care put into providing such well-priced and detailed learning resources for artists and I expect to learn a lot from this course!

Till then, go watch some ProkoTV and tell me what you think!