Textures, Part 2: Paul Draws Your Nightmares

Posted by pladd on February 26, 2016

I have to give credit to a friend of mine for the title of this post. He had this to say about my first dissection exercise:

Well, I’ve now completed a second set of dissections to fuel your nightmare engines for a while longer. You’re welcome! Like before, if you want to see every grisly detail of this exercise in the highest resolution my potato phone and my shaky hands can capture, here you go.

There’s actually a slight chance that I’ll have to do it all over again. Boy howdy, wouldn’t that just be a treat? That would be so cool. I would scream, implode, eat my pen, and probably burst into flames (in no particular order).

Why Am I Doing This?

I realize now that I haven’t given much context for these drawings, except to mention the instructor and link his website. I’m going to explain a bit more, because I think he deserves more attention.

These dissections are a subset of a larger lesson from Draw A Box. The instructor treats the site like an actual art class: the lessons start simple and tackle more and more complex ideas as you continue. He even assigns “homework” at the end of each lesson.

Once you complete all of the homework for an entire lesson, you can submit it to his (the subreddit for his course). He’ll critique your work and tell you if you’re ready to move on to the next lesson, or if you need to re-visit some of the concepts and submit the homework again.

He’s doing this all for free, which is crazy cool of him. The only paywalled content are his videos (although if you contribute as little as $1 to his Patreon, you get access to those as well).

That’s why I’m drawing these things. I wanted to start from some kind of very basic, instructor-led process in order to learn new techniques and find out where my previous drawing was going wrong. The fact that I get to draw unthinkable abominations against man and nature is just a bonus.

Unthinkable Abomination Against Man And Nature (UAAMAN) #1: Tomato Log


I started with the tree bark, and I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I think that the texture as a whole does visually convey “tree bark.” On the other hand, I relied too much on random scribblings instead of drawing similarly-themed shapes. I started with the idea of “scales” with large cracks in between them, and then tried to convey that the scales were formed from layers, but I think that was the wrong way to go.

The tomato is the most interesting drawing on this whole page (to me, at least) because it shows when a concept finally started to “click” for me. I started drawing the top half, and used hatching lines to try and show the concavity of the tomato - but tomatoes aren’t empty. They’re full of a liquidy, gelatinous substance. When I moved to the bottom of the tomato, I switched tactics: I tried to show where the light reflected off of the gel. It’s absolutely not perfect, but I think I captured that good old tomato-y feeling better in the bottom half than the top.

Abomination Rating: 1/5

Tomatoes and logs are both plants, so combining them doesn’t really . I can do better.

UAAMAN #2: Sand Blue Cheese

I spent a long time looking at the reference picture for the sand, and I’m glad I did. I’m mostly OK with the silhouette, but I can’t shake the feeling that I made a mistake by extending the grittiness all the way down the entire form. I do, however, think that I did an alright job of the “implied texture” idea: there’s tons of space that’s entirely blank and featureless, but the form still mostly reads as “sandy” without tons of visual noise everywhere.

The blue cheese only looks like blue cheese if you know it’s supposed to be blue cheese. Perhaps it would look better in color, since, you know. Blue.

Abomination Rating: 0.24/5

I mean, it could totally just be some blue cheese that got dropped in the sand. Unappetizing, but not UAAMAN-worthy.

UAAMAN #3: Wool Pumpkin

I’m super pleased with the pumpkin. For the first time while drawing it, I started to feel like I could see where lines needed to be in order to bring out shapes in the image. It’s hard to describe, but often I felt like I was “squeezing” a shadow in between strands of pumpkin flesh. I probably could have kept going and added more detail at the bottom, though - right now, it seems a bit empty.

I have Mixed Feelings™ about the wool. The pattern itself was easy to grasp, since knitting itself is a pattern, but that gave me two problems:

  • Sometimes I followed the pattern so strictly that I forgot to “curve” it around the implied 3D shape of the form.
  • Since I could just follow the pattern, I never got a feel for how to “imply” the wool texture in random places on the object.

To contrast, look back at the sand texture. There are two main spots with clusters of detail, and your brain latches onto that pattern. The bumps and dots scattered along the rest of the form tell your brain, “Yo, just fyi that pattern continues all along here, even though you don’t see it exactly.”

With the wool, I could not for the life of me figure out how to do that same thing. I had nice detailed spots of pattern, and then I tried to draw the shapes on their own later on, and they ended up looking lost and alone and NOTHING like wool and I had to fill them in all the way and it took way too long.

So I stopped. I probably should have kept trying, but I was sick of the wool at that point.

Abomination Rating: 3.2/5

Sure, it’s not really scary. But this is still some messed-up nightmare stuff: you go out into a field to pick pumpkins, but they’re all wool on the outside, and then you cut one open and it still has its normal flesh and goop, and it spills onto the ground and then there’s a shadow behind you and you want to turn around but you can’t turn around you can’t, why can’t you turn around

and you know that the thing behind you has already killed you and that you were the pumpkin and it’s just waiting for you to realize it, and now you have realized it and so they can kill you for real, and the shadow raises a knife

and then you wake up and realize that you fell asleep on your drawing pad and messed up your dissection drawing and you have to do it over again and then you look around and the room is full of drawing pads all with discarded dissection drawings and you’ve been doing this for years and you can’t leave until it’s done and then you actually wake up.

UAAMAN #4: Lamprey Melon



My other problem with how this turned out is LOOK AT IT AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH



UAAMAN #5: Cadbury Echidna

Eeeeenh. I dunno, this one just isn’t doing it for me. The spines look spiny, but there’s WAY too many of them. I had a similar issue as I did with the wool: I couldn’t figure out how to imply spines without covering the image in spines and making it too noisy. Honestly, I probably needed to study the reference picture more to figure out which details were important and which could be discarded.

The Cadbury egg also came out kind of a mess. The chocolate exterior is so dark that you can’t really tell what kind of texture is supposed to be going on. The interior does look shiny and possibly gooey, so it’s not too terrible!

Abomination Rating: 4.3/5

You walk into a candy store. “Hey there! Fancy an egg?” asks the proprietor, waving you in. At his feet and all around the store scurry oblong objects covered in spines. “Don’t mind them spines,” advises the man with a wink. “S’long as you don’t squeeze too hard, ain’t none of them spines gonna break your skin. All is well.” He flicks his arm and it writhes, snaking towards one of the spiny objects. At his palm gapes a toothless mouth. It gently but firmly ensnares an egg; the man brings it to his mouth and takes a bite. Chocolate stains his lips. Fondant oozes from the remains. The object doesn’t move. Was it ever alive?

The man’s grin is wide. He offers you the remaining half. Far off, you hear screaming. His grin widens, extends past the corners of his mouth. You realize that you’re grinning back at him.

UAAMAN #6: Peanut Okra

This one turned out pretty well, I think. Okra has crevasses and seeds and a pentagonal shape, all of which were challenging to try and capture. For the peanut, I probably should have focused more on solid shapes than dots. But they both look like what I wanted!

Abomination Rating: Someone walks into your shop. All is well. You offer them a spine-covered egg with a friendly smile. All is well. They smile back. The door closes, but they don’t seem to notice. All is well.