Drawing from screen captures, by Giulio Porta.

The concept: Using shadows as the primary building blocks of your drawing rather then lines. Using shadows and shaded areas to build your subject matter's structure, shape, form, and characteristics, instead of using lines. The fact that someone will decide to have or not to have an underlying line drawing to follow is irrelevant. If you need one on a temporary basis please act accordingly. The goal is that of becoming more proficient with shading.

Screen captures can be taken from movies and any other digital material you may be watching on your PC or MAC. Capturing from TV requires a frame grabber, but for now your best bet is to capture what you see on your PC or MAC.
If you are playing a digital movie on your PC or MAC you can simply stop it and draw from what you see on the screen, or even trace it. If you want to take this further and manipulate the image digitally with digital tools, you'll need to make a permanent "capture" of what you see on the screen.
On the PC you'll need a program like Adobe Photoshop or the GIMP. Any other painting/photo retouching program will do the job. Press the PRINT SCREEN key on your keyboard open your "painting" program open a new file accept the given resolution, and go to Edit > Paste, your image is now in your new document just like you saw it on your screen.
On the MAC use the Command + Shift + 3 combination, you'll hear a click, and your capture will be made and saved on you desktop.

Capture an image with strong contrasting values (shadows). After all you want to became more proficient with shading, an image that has very little shade and lots of details won't do.
Shadows will also hide many details, therefore you'll have fewer lines to draw using. I understand that you could shade using lines or by rubbing, but a wash application done with a brush will replace all that. Forget about the soft transitions from light to shadows, those are painterly issues, instead think about broad areas of shadows of the same value, that's how you start.
 

You may have noticed that all the faces in this page's drawings have a strange slant, that because I was sitting down looking at the page at a slant, I was trying to prove a point. Stand up and look at your work straight down.

Also you may notice discontinuity and spottiness in my drawing's surface, that's due to two things, one is the inexpensive paper I'm working with, it soaks the water up fast creating stains that can't be blended, unless I go over the surface again. The other issue also related to the cheap paper is its buckling ore waving. That creates areas of light and dark which are seen by the camera but they were not intended. To avoid these problems you can work on heavier paper, or roll the paper into a tight roll (front and back) to stretch it flat.

Copy right issues: never reveal your sources to anyone, in my opinion you'll be making a mistake if you did. There are a many "ready to judge" people out there, ready to criticize your every action. Therefore make sure that you don't try too hard to make your drawing look photo-realistic or too much like the original photo in its details.
What you should be interested instead is:
  •  the process of memorization of shading routines which could be applied to other figures in other situations.
  • the composition of figures and background, the camera work used in modern movie making is masterful. It is very calculated and studied ahead of time often with a series of drawings in what is known as a story board.
  • COMIC BOOK art exercised its influence on modern camera work and vice verse. Go for the comic book look. in other words go for a drawing with a lot of flat shading and some outlines.
Just as it is evident from comic book art that a few picture must say a lot in the story telling process, its very important that the images you capture and choose as your model are loaded with emotional content.
Always choose open mouths about to speak instead of figures with close mouths, with teeth rather than toothless.
If you aren't too keen toward comic book art, see it as a starting point, a comic book style drawing can turn easily into a painting, but I have to agree that not everybody has a taste for it, regardless, a lot can be learned about human anatomy and its volume in space as it maybe defined by light and shadows.


What could go wrong and how to correct it. The initial sketch was done with ball point pen so it will photograph well. I already see a number of structural mistakes, for one the mouth's corners are too low, in particular the figure's right one. Again don't sit looking at the page at a slant. But I'm in hurry to shade the drawing, I want to see the effect that the wash will have on the two figures therefore I'm willing to put up with these mistakes knowing that by redoing this drawing several times I will address and correct them.

the demo sketch here above is quite rough, I'm not very happy with it. I'll try again, it only took a few minutes to do this anyhow. The two eye aren't on the same line, the head is too wide, the skull has a flat spot on the left, both eyes are looking up to the figure with the glasses, but not aiming at his eyes, the list of defects is getting longer. But all this will be corrected in the next few drawings. I like the figure left eye, but that's not enough.

The second "washed" sketch shows some slight improvements in the face's proportions, but the face itself has an odd slant, and the figure in the foreground needs to be above the woman's figure, I'm still sitting. The facial expression is not right, there's no understandable anger on that face. I'm going to try one more time.

 

From bad to worse.

The proportions and expression have improved on this one, but the shadows on the woman's face are too dark and spotty. The paper is waving showing shadows values that aren't there.
The spottiness is due to the poor quality of the paper (stationary) which absorbs the water too quickly.
In order to even things out I will have to go even darker. Or I could use white acrylic to lighten things up. That's what I have with me at the moment.

But they are other options: washable art markers by Crayola. Prismacolor markers, wax crayons. Acrylic paint (but you are not really painting here). Opaque and transparent watercolors.

With acrylics anything can be covered up and fixed, including this overworked drawing here on the right.


Comic book art is a hybrid environment where drawing and painting coexists, but drawing dominates. Drawing with the brush is drawing not painting.
In this forth version I was finally able to achieve something decent. Instead of dipping the brush into the mouth of the paint tube, I used a small plate to make a puddle of my wash which allow me to make a more even application. Also I spent longer on the drawing to control the face's proportions.
During the drawing's execution I planned for the filling of the areas of shadow with some light diagonal etching.

The lesson to be learned here has is roots in repetitions and practice, practice doesn't make it always perfect, it makes it different, in particular when you are dealing with the creative process. To believe that everything will work out perfectly the first time around you'll do anything it's unrealistic. Although it may be possible when using a machine, a code or a proven formula, it doesn't work that way when brain-hand coordination, and memory are involved.
To prove my point I reworked all of the drawings here above into a new set that you see here below. Keep in mind that I had no intention of creating unreachable master pieces, these are just quick sketches and the errors you may become involved with.

This drawing gained the most from the colors and anatomical correction, like its symmetry.
although this is the best of the batch, its weak in color and lines lessens its impact, but the image is visible.
Big problem with the eyes in this one, and the skull is warped.
Aside from color this drawing shows the most improvement in the quality of shading. Still the eyes are been drawn too high.
The ball point pen drawing was made stronger and some light diagonal etching were added