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Design Software Weakens Classic Drawing Skills 268

mosel-saar-ruwer writes "A recent conference, hosted by UC-Berkeley's College of Environmental Design, sought to 'examin[e] the need and role for drawing today in the design professions and fine arts'. In this Reuters summary, via C-NET, the participants seem to agree that the emergence of sophisticated graphics software has coincided with a startling decline in the basic drawing skills of university students. Apparently teenaged boys don't need to practice drawing their nudes when they can just download them off the web."
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Design Software Weakens Classic Drawing Skills

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  • And in other news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 06, 2006 @09:17PM (#15081488)
    Typing reduces handwriting skills, instant messaging reducing conversation skills, etc.
    • IMHO, typing reduces spelling and grammar abilites.

      All the 'bad' writers who would have gotten shitty grades now think they're better because they get higher grades... all thanks to automated grammar and spell checking. Some of those dingbats have an awfully high opinion of their writing.

      And just as an anecdotal example, I make a lot more errors while typing than I do writing. You'll never see me write "seomtihng" or "teh" on a piece of paper.
      • those spelling errors aren't linked to you not knowing how to spell though, so aren't really related to spelling and grammar ability. I write the wrong letters when handwriting sometimes (which isn't very often) - we all make mistakes, but they're much easier to correct on computers, and so we become less careful
    • by alex_guy_CA ( 748887 ) <(moc.tdlefneohcs) (ta) (xela)> on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:44PM (#15082110) Homepage
      yes, my horse skills have just tanked since i got a car.
      • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:25AM (#15083536) Homepage Journal
        yes, my horse skills have just tanked since i got a car.

        My bicyle skills tanked when I got a car. I also gained forty pounds in one year as my weekly mileage went from 150-200 to zero. And oddly enough, I thought I'd have a lot more time, I found I didn't.

        It's a funny thing, but that seems to be the case with a lot of time saving devices. I'm old enough to remember when fax machines because cheap enough to be a common business tool. People thought it'd make their life easier, but instead of making a wednesday FedEx deadline, they'd shoot for a Thursday 9AM deadline, and fax out their lunch orders to boot. Yet somehow I don't think the quality of their work was greater in the least.

        One of the things about things like drawing, or manual writing, is that it slows you down and makes you pay attention. In the end, when you look back on your life, you're not going to look with pride at the sheer volume of slapdash work you were able to create. And this is not necessarily anti-technology. The people who create great digital works by in large would also have created great manual works; but the median level, although considerable gussied up, is the same or maybe a bit less.

    • Aye, it goes deeper than that. Very few people know how to use a pen with an inkwell, and use blot paper. Even fewer how to find and sharpen a quill.

      When man evolved to the point that he no longer needed a tail, did our ancestors bemoan the fact that our tail-wagging communication skills were becoming lost? While I certainly would agree that much of man knowledge has become largely or completely lost -- ancient shipbuilding, much of smithing of all types (black, white, weapon, armor), almost all of weste

    • It's not quite the same thing. Technology is a tool that helps you create art--it's not a replacement for or a new way of creating art. Learning the fundamentals of design and drawing are immensely helpful if you want to be a succesful artist, even if the learning itself is somewhat unpleasant.

      To give an analogy from computer programming, not everyone likes learning about pointers or data types or other fundamentals to Computer Science, and you can probably get a job in the real world without it. However, l
      • To give an analogy from computer programming, not everyone likes learning about pointers or data types or other fundamentals to Computer Science

        Carrying that along, I'm sure the introduction of java has reduced the average CS graduate's ability to efficiently allocate and free memory. Is that a bad thing?

        I'd say it's only a bad thing in a very limited sense. Obviously some people need to know how to do these things (at the very least someone has to maintain the garbage collectors), and the very best p

  • by Anonymous Coward
    As soon as computers get fast enough that you can talk to them like a person -- where they recognise facial expressions, body-gestures, etc; it's likely that people will start losing the ability to read and write too.

    You occasionally hear about the executive in a company who can't read or write; but functions well because his secretary does this for him - and his skills are being able to talk a good sales talk and wine-and-dine customres. With modern technology this can happen to all of us.

    I think compu

  • duno about this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mikerz ( 966720 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @09:25PM (#15081529)
    I'd like to see the study itself. As a fine art + design student, I have some personal interested invested in this. I would guess that its the current "new media" style of teaching destroying drawing capability, not the existence of graphics computers. There are very few ( and the number is decreasing ) schools that require adequate drawing education, the current style is ignoring drawing and teaching students to be funky. Luckily, I've had training in drawing/painting/sculpture/printmaking etc etc before I was allowed to use a computer for my work. Hell, design is easier by hand with cutouts and all sorts of stuff. anyway, I'd blame the current teaching philosophy and not the programs.
    • Re:duno about this (Score:5, Informative)

      by macthulhu ( 603399 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @09:51PM (#15081651)
      I've been a computer graphic artist for 20 years. Back when it was SuperPaint, Deluxe Paint, Pixel Paint Pro... I still drew with traditional tools on a very regular basis. Today, my drawing skills are just about shot. I'm having to re-learn basic drawing skills. It's embarrassing, but that's what years of Photoshop will get you if you don't keep up on the basics. So, I don't know what the details of their study are, but I can personally vouch for the validity of the concept.
      • See [], kids who grow up with computers don't learn basic art skills =)
      • Dang! I remember Deluxe Paint. I used to use Deluxe Paint to upgrade 4 bit game graphics to 8 bit graphics back in the day for a gaming company. I also used Deluxe Paint on my Amiga to make a product called Digital Collage.

        I have to agree with both the parent AND your comment. Although it is true that the de-emphasis on drawing by curriculum can be at fault (and the influence still of the "anything goes" style of rendering introduced by abstract expressionism), I began updating my portfolio in a new directi
      • Re:duno about this (Score:2, Interesting)

        by akgw ( 896515 )
        My father was a graphic designer (all by hand) until he retired about 10 or so years ago. He sold his business to his tech savvy partner and found that the demand for his 'old way' was deemed to expensive by a majority of the client base. All his clients wanted computer savvy designers or people who could at least produce the designs in a computer format. Last 2 years my father has had freelance consulting projects to - get this - do graphic design by hand. Hired by? The guy who my father sold this bus
      • by Kalewa ( 561267 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @02:14AM (#15082452)
        I'm horrible at drawing things by hand, definitely not what you'd term an "artistic" person in the traditional sense. When I discovered computers and graphic programs it was awesome because I was able to use technical skill express my artistic side that would otherwise never have seen the light of day.
      • I've been a computer geek for 20 years. Back when it was all about communication skills I still conversed with sufficent skills on a very regular basis. Today, my conversational skills are just about shot. I'm having to re-learn basic human interaction. It's embarrassing, but that's what years of masturbating in front of the computer will get you if you don't keep up on the basics. So, I don't know what the details of their study are, but I can personally vouch for the validity of the concept.
    • Re:duno about this (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @10:33PM (#15081819) Homepage
      I'm a former illustration student and current tech support geek for a college of art & design. For our foundation/intro-level courses, computers are deliberately left out of the course work. Drawing I & II, Intro to Graphic Design, Color Theory, etc. are all traditional-media classes, because it trains students to focus on getting ideas out of their heads and into a tangible medium, rather than just twiddling knobs and seeing what the computer does, or (worse) going directly from vague concept to digitally-precise "finished" image without the doodling and sketching phase. Computers can be useful tools for serendipitous exploration and experimentation (the ability to play "what if" without having to redraw everything by hand is invaluable), but they're best used by people who've previously learned to do that sort of thing non-virtually.
  • Skill? (Score:2, Informative)

    by LividBlivet ( 898817 )
    Calculators certainly caused my long division skills to deterioate.
    • I know you are being sarcastic, but this is not some kind of joke. Calculators are so cheap and expendable every elementary school student has one. Doing some long division or multiplication, what does each student reach for on a hard problem? Their calculator. The calculator is a fantastic tool, it simplifies the ammount of work required and removes the possibility of human error in simple steps... but that's fine for you and I, we already know how to do these problems with pen and paper if we absolute
      • I believe this way of thinking has greatly lead to the decline of actual thinking in education today. I believe long division it's self is relatively pointless, it is simply an algorithm to perform a division operation. I think it is much more important to educate children on WHAT division is rather then simply being able to do it. To be able to understand the abstract concept of division is more important than actually being able to divide two large numbers together simply because we as humans are not p
  • Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScaryMonkey ( 886119 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @09:27PM (#15081536)
    While I can see where this article is coming from, and I do think drawing skills are important, I can't help but feeling a slightly reactionary undercurrent to this. A lot of young people now are more comfortable using computers than drawing on paper... so what? You still have to put in a lot of work to create something good, regardless of the medium. Besides, I don't think you have to be good at drawing to be good at creating art on a computer, just as you don't need to be a great painter to produce an excellent sculpture. It's just a new medium that offers possibilities that paper drawing can't, as well as limitations that paper drawing doesn't have.
    • the reactionary feeling comes from the fact that men have drawn for millenia.

      suddenly changing that is startling. (i for one miss the realistic "grafix" of renaissance and classical works - i'll have none of this modern crap)
    • A lot of young people now are more comfortable using computers than drawing on paper... so what?

      Would you trust an architect who couldn't sit down and sketch out freehand everything you two have just discussed?

      Computer graphics allow artists to move briskly. By contrast, drawing on paper can be frustrating, forcing concentration, introspection and revision as an idea or vision takes shape. The process hones essential skills and sensitivity and personality that make artwork unique, instructors say.

      I honestly

      • Interresting point of view, I have to agree at least a little bit. I found that mechanical designers that have trouble scetching their ideas by hand tend to be the less competent ones.

        Having said this, It's been a long time since I worked in a design shop, having moved to a different area of work. And I'm not sure if what I saw 15 years ago still valid today and if that wasn't just that design shop.
    • IANAA (I am not an artist) but....

      I think drawing with our hands shows us many of those things we naturally don't notice. Such as how vital a wrinkle, mole, muscle is to an expression. How much can be shown with how little. A smooth curve. Actually having to do something is a very important lesson.
      Digital may be useful, but analogue is infinite.

  • New Media... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheFlannelAvenger ( 870106 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @09:28PM (#15081538)
    Right from the beginning of TFA, I got the sense that it was a bunch of old stodges saying "those newfangled machineries!, no sense to it!". I am not an artist, I can barely handle stick figures, but I think that computer aided artistry is going to end up like computer aided drafting, a vital step in the evolution of the species. Art has always existed for one purpose, to evoke an emotional response in the viewer, good or bad, that is art. If Artists today are using computers to progress faster, to push boundaries, to express themselves in ways not possible before, how can this be a bad thing?
    • I don't think its so much of a bad thing as quite a sudden change. Most of these old stodges you talk about have been used to their entire professional lives revolving around the same principles they learnt as kids. now, all of a sudden, there's this hot new "fad" that all the kids are using to produce stuff that they clearly don't understand very well. with any change will come a period of uncertainty, when the established voices get to ...voice...concern about how it will affect their fields.

      remember wh

  • by TeacherOfHeroes ( 892498 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @09:30PM (#15081546)
    Apparently teenaged boys don't need to practice drawing their nudes when they can just download them off the web.

    So anyone who uses a web browser is now a power user working with "sophisticated graphics software"?

    The summary may be wacko, but the real article refers to things like Adobe Creative Suite 2, rather than web browsers, as the sophicticated graphics software.
  • by Expert Determination ( 950523 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @09:33PM (#15081557)
    I've also heard that modern artists don't know how to mix their own paints from animal dung, blood and dirt [].
  • I'm a hax0r! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by C. E. Sum ( 1065 ) * on Thursday April 06, 2006 @09:34PM (#15081562) Homepage Journal

    Last login: Thu Apr 6 19:51:14 on ttyp1
    Welcome to the Infamous P.M.A.C
    The-Infamous-P-M-A-C:~ sapnak$ vi comment

    I come at this story from a different angle. I'm a tech who's starting to
    be infatuated with drawing.

    It works like this: I spend 90% of my time at work sitting in front of a PC
    (a Mac, but that distinction is mighty blurred these days..). I troubleshoot
    IT problems and design software. Historicaly, my free time at home was spent
    doing thing like playing games and watching movies. It's all virtual,
    abstract, and intangable.

    Last year, I was in laid up for a bit and found myself with some time and
    crayons on my hands -- and I realized that I have no drawing skills. So I
    took a semester long "drawing for n00bs" class at a local school. I'm almost
    done with it, and it's really changed me.

    1) It's a great fun to be able to get down and dirty with real materials.
    charcoal, pencils, ink, etc.

    2) Even n00bs can make pretty things with a little help

    3) I started to notice how much shitty computer-made art there is on the
    web (for values of art == design).

    Related to the article directly, there's something in this debate that reminds
    me of the assembler vs. compiler arguments in tech circles. Is it better
    if you know what's going on and how to do it yourself? Is there value in
    doing it the hard way?
    • 1) It's a great fun to be able to get down and dirty with real materials. charcoal, pencils, ink, etc.

      This was one of the things I found most challenging - and ultimately refreshing - when I went back to school to get a BFA. I drew with crayons and pencils and markers when I was a kid, but I'd been a bit-twiddler for ages (going back to MicroGrafx Draw, Mac Paint, and the like). JPEG made me cringe because it was lossy.

      But when I started art school, they made me work with vine charcoal. And watercolo

  • the question is.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dartarrow ( 930250 )
    Does it matter how art is done as long as the viewers like it? Applies (almost exclusively) to art. Drawing skills used to be the only tool to express or create art. But now using Photoshop also allows people to express themselves, shows their creative nature, and introduces a new form of drawing skill. Nobody stole your cheese, it's just moved some place else. And in regrads to online messengers..... A social retard like myself would not have been able to converse properly if not for IRC and ICQ and other
  • In other news ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Thursday April 06, 2006 @09:36PM (#15081577) Homepage Journal
    ... the invention of the new high-tech material called "canvas" has led to a dramatic decline in traditional cave-painting skills among incoming art students at Bedrock University.
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @09:37PM (#15081582) Journal
    While things like this might erode such skills, I'm pretty certain that there isn't much call for the lost art of wagon wheel making thanks to Mr Ford, or lye soap making etc... its the natural way of things. Film developing has kind of gone out of style these days too... uhhh so what?

    Drawing skills are seldom needed these days, and for where they are, that just makes artistic folk more appreciated...

    Its not software that erodes or diminishes drawing skills, it happens when people have no incentive or reason to use said skills. No news here...
    • There are a handful of skills every paranoid /. reader should have. Lye soap making is one of them. When society crumbles, and the world falls to anarchy, the man who can make soap is worshiped by many. ;)

    • by Telvin_3d ( 855514 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @10:46PM (#15081880)
      "Drawing skills are seldom needed these days"

      I would have to disagree. As a student in the University of Lethbridge's BFA:New Media program, drawing skills are EXTREMLY important. Not necessarily for the ability to draw, but the skills that drawing teaches you. Drawing and traditional fine art teach critical ways of looking at things, understanding shapes, perspective, vision, colour. There is a reason that many CG Animation companies including Pixar prefer to take traditional animators and teach them computer skills than to take computer artists and teach them animation skills. Frankly, a program that teaches art skills is what separates the REAL programs from the expensive-piece-of-paper ones.
    • 'm pretty certain that there isn't much call for the lost art of wagon wheel making thanks to Mr Ford..

      First off, most of Mr. Ford's (and Mr. Benz's, and Mr. Olds') original vehicles had wheels with wooden spokes. They moved to steel rims with the technology that became available.

      Right now, I'm involved with making movable bridges. Big gears, horribly complicated stress-distributing girders, the like.

      What do I like to do for a hobby? Woodwork.
      Working in the more primitive medium teaches you things. How stre
  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @09:38PM (#15081585) Homepage Journal
    Its a matter of what you do with what you find on the internet and with technology.

    This was done in genuine #2 pencil by a human hand []
    This was done to try and correct bad caring for the artwok []

    But today technology can take a photo from a cell phone and make it look like pencil.
    So only to a collector might such work be of value.

    Then there is the talent in photography to produce the original photo.
    Honestly, a student genuinely interested in the media of pencil by the human hand, then they will pursue it.

    So what it means is that we simply have more interested as collectors or at least observers.
    • WOW!

      THAT was one HAL of a test, 3seas (u managed to link to some nip and tuck, wink wink). To-get-her was EZ. I clicked both URLs and got thru. Oh, maybe it's that the first 65 or so of us posters aren't so horny as hell as to bring down that site. They'll need to MIR-ROR HER later on, I guess...

      image word: citrus
  • by Dynedain ( 141758 ) <> on Thursday April 06, 2006 @09:42PM (#15081613) Homepage
    This is UC Berkeley's Architecture school. Older architects, who learned how to do everything by hand, have been bitching and moaning about the reduced skillsets of students since computers were introduced in architecture schools.

    Yes it's true. But computers in architecture are here to stay. Drafting by hand is extremely inefficient and not done by the vast majority of architecture firms. Hand drawing skills are still to be desired however. Spending the extra time drawing by hand forces you to think more about the importance of every line you draw. When you draw in CAD, its very easy to zoom in and out and lose the sense of what should or should not be visible in a particular drawing, depending on the scale it will be displayed at. When working by hand however, you are very concious that you don't need to draw that toilette paper holder in the bathroom stall because its barely a dot or smudge on the paper.

    If you can draw and draft compelling works by hand, your skills can be translated to CAD. The reverse is not true.

    The remedy to this is not to take computers out of architecture schools, the remedy is to require more hand-drawing classes. If you want the students to have art skills, make them take art classes.

    But, like I said, this is not a new debate... the exact same things were being said when I was in architecture school 9 years ago. And people older than me say the same things were said when they were in school. Old-timers like to bitch and moan about "the good old days". The irony is that these same old-timers were criticised by their respective predicessors for the exact same thing: newer drafting tools meant that students were getting worse at freehand drawing; newer modeling tools and materials (i.e. plastics and precut small hardwoods) meant that students were getting worse at woodworking; newer art materials (cheap watercolors, latex paints) meant that students were getting worse at guache and oil painting.
    • Your perspective is very interesting, but your last paragraph kindof marginalizes the matter by say "oh, it's the same old complaints".

      What TFA is moaning about is a breakdown in fundamental skills, which you so aptly describe when you talked about zooming in & out and losing the sense of scale.

      I don't see the harm in beating drafting/sketching skills into students while they go ahead and use computerized aids. Heck, I don't see the harm in making them go back to learning woodworking and oil painting. I
    • Hand drawing skills are still to be desired however. Spending the extra time drawing by hand forces you to think more about the importance of every line you draw
      It can save time with CAD as well. When drawing by hand I used to use the compass a lot, and with CAD you can save a lot of time by snapping to intersections of circles or to tangents to quickly get the correct spot.
    • If you can draw and draft compelling works by hand, your skills can be translated to CAD. The reverse is not true.

      Agreed. I used to sell word processing in the early days of Wordstar and CP/M, and I always used to say that buying the world's greatest word processor won't make you a Great American Novelist. Nobody got it.

      I started doing computer graphics when that meant FORTRAN and pen plotters, or if you were really lucky, you could wheedle some account time on a COM (computer output microfilm) machine. I

  • My girlfriend is currently in an illustration & design program, and she had to present a 20-piece portfolio of work. Her entire first year is hands-on stuff, they only touch computers in the second and third years. I think most programs are still like that. And really, it seems unlikely that people's drawing skills will generally decline.. just like music, people will always be making art. Those who are good at drawing are usually doodlers, and that is something that just comes naturally. I doubt t
  • As someone with pretty good drawing skills (I can sketch a human that looks human), I've found that I am totally unable to use graphic design software. I can't even draw a proper stick figure in Paint. Does anyone else have a similar experience? Must someone who is good at one be bad at the other?
  • I observed simular phenomena in engineers graduating in 1980... a friend who was an excellent artist in high school could no longer draw after receiving an Electronics Engineering degree. He claims it was just from lack of practice, but I think it was also due to Engineering school teaching people to not think artistically. I've lost most of my artistic talent since high school too, but I never had that much to begin with. Drawing skill is like a muscle -- if you don't excercise it, it atrophies.
    • I don't know what school taught him not to think artistically, but EE is very mathematically oriented only towards ANALYSIS. Design is still, and always will be, a creative excersize. Schools just don't teach that, they can't. All they can do is help you understand how one design is better than another.
  • Two cents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by multimediavt ( 965608 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @09:55PM (#15081664)
    As a former design student, a design professional and instructor I found the post, the article and the first two comments a bit distressing. I'll try to keep my comments concise.

    1. Blaming the tools is the first sign of a bad instructor
    2. Drawing skills are still extremely valuable and *ARE* taught with digital tools today (Wacom tablets are wonderful)
    3. Finding someone to agree (or disagree) that a piece of art is good isn't very hard; it's a matter taste to most, even the 'educated'
    4. Drawing on the computer is just as challenging and frustrating as drawing in any other fashion; more so because of the myriad of tools and effects that can be used in a single drawing
    5. Most professors that degrade the computer as a design tool are usually computer illiterate or barely literate and can be equated to math instructors that think that we should all go back to slide rules and ditch calculators (although for some types of calculations they may be correct)

    My point is, the tool is not to blame. And, because the skills aren't necessarily directly transferrable from one medium to another (from graphite and paper to stylus and tablet, or mouse and screen) doesn't mean the artist is lacking in ability. All artists find a medium that they are comfortable with and will (in a lot of cases) stick to that medium for the duration of their careers. Just because I'm BETTER at drawing on the computer than drawing on a piece of paper doesn't make me a bad artist, creative thinker, or whatever. It means I've found a medium that allows ME to express my creativity.
    • Drawing on the computer is just as challenging and frustrating as drawing in any other fashion; more so because of the myriad of tools and effects that can be used in a single drawing

      Having used Painter for some serious drawing, I agree. Part of issue here is the software one uses - compositing software like Photoshop is NOT drawing software, though I'm sure people use it as such. Neither are other "design"-oriented packages. Maybe these reduce the level interest in software like Painter, but when you're pr
  • I don't think the article is so much saying that computers are replacing work done by hand, but that it focusing too much or exclusively on it can impact ones creative or artistic skills -- there's some validity to that.

    There's been a lot of cognitive studies done on right brain / left brain in regards to creative expression. For example, left handed people, tend to use their right side of the brain (which is believed to contain most of the creative and artistic processes). But many left-handers, myself i

  • Killed my freehand drawing mad skillz.

    I was a very good freehand artist until I took my first technical drafting course in junior high school. Took another one in high school, plus 6 credits of what used to be called "mechanical drafting." The icing in the cake was that we were the transition class for the switchover to AutoCAD (this was back in 1987 or so).

    By the time I finished the transition to AutoCAD I could barely draw freehand anymore. I don't know if it was the tedious and repetitive drafting, or th
  • Damn, now this! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @10:05PM (#15081710) Journal
    Now I have to worry about my drawing skills... I was just begining to cope with my decline in horse riding skills since I got a car!

    Imagine a future world without computers... it will involve knowing how to kill things with pointy sticks!

    What about the decline in common sense in recent years?

    Art is whatever the observer thinks it is.

  • I after using a computer and tablet almost exclusively for a couple of years, I can tell you that I developed a horrible case of "Undo Dependency". I actually came to rely on being able to undo things, and my real drawing skills suffered for it. I didn't see this coming *at all*, and it was pretty alarming when I finally noticed it. It's been a real bitch to kick the habit.
  • Does it decrease drawing skill or does it just not reinforce/rely on those skills as much.

    I.e. how well can you draw a circle/line free hand?
    When was the last time you had to?

    Does this mean tools like a ruler and a compass decrease the ability to draw circles and lines? No it doesnt, it just means less people actually do/practice those things free hand. And there are tools that provide better results.

    Same thing here, people just dont feel the need to practice drawing free hand.(so less people keep doing it
    • TFA wasn't complaining about loss of eye-hand coordination, but rather a decline in creativity, patience, discipline and other broader abilities that are the benefits of learning to draw traditionally. Think of drawing as an abstract process wherein the mind is the primary tool-- one does not 'copy' an object from life, because one is interpreting a 3dimensional object into a 2dimensional space-- most commonly using lines-- which most of us are not actually made of. From this POV, a drawing-- no matter h
  • Apparently teenaged boys don't need to practice drawing their nudes when they can just download them off the web.

    This is, by far, the most amusing Slashdot summary I have read in quite a long time.

  • ...than it could be drawing by hand.

    Case in point is Brian Denham's [] Killbox comic. The work is amazing.

    Regardless of which method is actually used, it takes a mastery of the art to produce great work. Understanding is probably the greater part of any art, the rest is actual technique. You can't just sit down with Illustrator or Draw and whip something out unless you understand the theories and concepts needed to make eye-catching drawings.
    • I will wager any dollar ammount that brian worked extensively in "fine" mediums honing his skills in life drawing classes, obsevational drawing... years of work to produce work that fine. The point EVERYONE in this thread seems to be missing is that the article is not saying computers are BAD but that students don't take the time to learn the concepts and theories. Booting Photoshop and slapping some gradients and the plastic wrap on an image is considered art to many students today. I consider myself a
  • Who needs Classic drawing skillz when you've got OSX drawing skillz?

    I honestly thought that when I first read it - shows you where I'm at in the 'computers dominating my life' stakes.
  • Photo-referencing is really common in comics nowadays. Any illustrator could photo-reference, but it seems like now they just surf porn sites (well Greg Land does anyways) and then use Photoshop to create their panels.
    This can be good, such as Alex Maleev's work on Daredevil, or not so good, such as Greg Land's work on Ultimate Fantastic Four.

    Greg Land gets some hate in a few places: [] 44.html []

    And while there are more c
  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:31PM (#15082072)
    This is garbage. As a 3d character animator i've seeked out to improve my classical figure drawing skills in recent years.


    Because if you cant draw it, you cant truely see it. Seeing things is having an understanding of form. Yes you can have references, but you will never understand that form in your mind three dimensionally until you can express it quickly on paper.

    Yes we can all make a sphere easily in 3D. We see a sphere in our mind, so we click the Create Sphere button in 3D.

    BUT Lets talk about the shoulder, or thigh... the complex forms it takes as muscles work underneith the skin and fat. First we need to understand where those muscles are, what they look like and how they attach to the structure of the skeleton. We also need to know how they work, that way we can easily see in our minds the forms they create. Muscles cause our body to form interesting shapes that are very dynamic looking from all angles.

    Unless we have a good understanding of this, and can quickly express it on paper through drawing, we really cant sculpt it in 3d from all angles.

    I've been drawing my entire life, and I was always good at drawing arms, and chest muscles... but i noticed that i could only do them from certain angles. I had problems with foreshortening/perspective and form. I also was quite bad at legs and hands. Now its hard to draw an expressive character without understanding the forms of the hand.

    When i got into animation... i noticed all of the great animators could see things in their heads as i could, but they could express them... and i could not because i could not draw like they could. I may have had the pose, or the action in my mind but i could not translate that shiluoette to paper... until i took classical figure drawing.

    Now i can draw whats in my head. That is very important because 3d work is very involved. If you can not draw your idea out in a quick sketch and then refine it... work it on paper... Why would you sit down and put a ton of work into 3D modelling when chances are... its not coming from a clear vision.

    Sure you can look at an empty lot, and see a giant building, and you know you can get people to build it, and you can use a hammer...

    But you need to really see your vision, a blueprint before you embark on the task.

    Learning classical figure drawing is essential for animators, fashion designers etc because its not only about form, its about expression.

    Drawing isnt technical, its about taking that spark of thought in your brain and using your hand to express, or guesture your emotion onto a physical canvas. The thought in our mind is but a moment, but once we can capture it on paper, its easier to edit, refine and view.

    Drawing is essential and its so rewarding because it really does help you to express your ideas, find poses for animation, and it has been true for a long time in animation that... those who can draw anything, are usually classically trained figure pencil artists.

    The best cartoonists understand form first, then widdle down to simple toony characters because they understand the body language and how to push it to abstract levels.

    Being able to draw, is to have a clear vision and a way to express it to others. A thought is but a moment in your head. Sitting down and working for weeks on a 3D designed character could proof a complete waste of time because you never had a clear vision.

  • by Engineer Andy ( 761400 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:35PM (#15082086) Journal
    Most of the article was referring to art, but my $0.02 as someone who draws on a daily basis as part of my professional work:

    As an engineer, the ability to be able to come up with a hand sketch at a meeting to explain to a client or an architect how you plan to solve a problem is important. being able to draw clearly enough that someone can go from having no idea what you are conveying, to understanding it to the point where they can suggest changes or alternatives is the goal.

    You may well be able to drive a CAD machine to make a perfect drawing of the detail, but unless you can sketch it up in the first place, it is hard to sell the concept.

    In some cases, freehand sketches are enough for something substantial to be built from, and there may be little benefit in transferring the drawing to CAD. Some engineers wont use rulers in their hand sketches (using tracing paper laid over grid paper), as the eye will more readily read an almost straight hand line as straight, but will look at a ruled line and compare it against other ruled lines, and spot any minor discrepencies in being parallel, or the like. It is counter intuitive, and took me a while to adjust to it, but my sketches are looking better for not using a ruler to get straight lines.

    There is a place for both computer generated drawings as well as hand drawn, and the balance needs to be found in the training of professionals who will need to be familiar with both.
  • by munpfazy ( 694689 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @11:36PM (#15082090)
    This is news?

    I just hope the author got a decent kickback from Adobe. At least that way *someone* would be getting something of value from this meaningless piece of drivel.

    A point by point summary the article, for those who want to save a minute that might otherwise be spent reading the whole thing:


    Grandiose title, largely unrelated to the text.

    "University instructors" and "teachers" say students can't draw today, and the reason is because they use computers.

    Drawing with a computer is easy, and doing so makes one lazy.

    A professor of architecture who hosted a conference on the topic says, "I see an increasing passivity on the part of students." (But we're not going to give you enough context to guess at what the hell his actual point might have been.)

    "Teachers say" drawing with computer is easy. Not using a computer gives one the qualities of a saint.

    Another professor of architecture says "it" takes a long time, and adds some meaningless spiritual gobbledegook. (What "it" is, or why on earth we should care that he finds drawing a spiritual experience, or indeed why he would bring up the subject when he's meant to be discussing the decline in his student's artistic abilities, are left as exercises for the reader.)


    Drawing is good, says the director of an art school.

    Computers are good too, says the director of a computer-art school.

    Some drawings sell for a lot of money.

    An art auctioneer says that many people buy drawings.

    Drawings are cheap compared to paintings and sculpture. (Err... didn't this set out to be an article about computers?)

    It doesn't cost much money to draw on paper.

    An artist says, it doesn't cost much money to draw on paper.


    I sure am glad I read that. My world view will never be the same.
  • Photoshop (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PromANJ ( 852419 )
    Digital tools are both good and bad I think. With Photoshop (+wacom) I can do more color studies. I don't have to buy expensive materials or set things up. The tools are just a click a way. I can mix and select colors faster. The threshold of having to set things up and clean up is not there. On the other hand I've gotten a bit sloppy, maybe because I work at a screen scale and can't zoom in the same way as with the eye on a paper.

    My paintings can be seen on my homepage but I'd rather recommend taking a
  • Computer graphics apps can't teach anatomy, proportion, shading, perspective, and composition. Dicking around on the computer is NOT going to impart these eessential skills. Having a modicum of drawing talent, the best thing that ever happened to my drawing ability was to learn the above basics. Want to draw sexy chicks? Learn anatomy and proportion for starters, then move on to shading/lighting. For drawing people, a great starting point is Drawing the Head and Figure [] by Jack Hamm. The best drawing books a
  • All these guys who went through four-five years of intensive engineering experience and very few can draw a straight line, much less an isometric box without a computer. What ends up being lost is the ability to quickly convey concepts "on the fly". It's one thing to come up with the greatest idea in the world, another to be able to express it well enough to convince others to follow it to fruition.

    I suspect that the loss of "arts" in education could have a more drastic impact on our creativity as a nation
  • Yes, Photoshop was the basis for his 4 by 4 foot sized paintings. He took and image, photoshopped it, then printed it out, and made paintings of the printouts. Ironically, he didn't paint any faster than the other art students in the class, nor did he paint with any more creativity than anyone else. So, computers didn't ruin him, nor did it really help him. It was really a mental crutch to make his art work look different for a reason, he used technology. Oh, and he could draw pretty good as well.
  • The emergence of of ink and papyrous has coincided with a startling decline in the basic stone carving skills of temple apprentices
  • due to funding cuts most elementary and middle schools have no art classes and few if any high schools do either has any affect what so ever on basic drawing skills. It's gotta be the computers. Damned if any baby boomer (my generation) would dare take the blame for screwing this one up.
  • There must be a template in Word for these kind of articles by now:

    "$OLD_SKILL is not being used so much any more because of $NEW_TECHNOLOGY. Kids these days won't learn $PURPORTED_ADVANTAGE of the old ways. $RANT_ABOUT_WALKING_UPHILL_TO_SCHOOL_BOTH_WAYS_WHE N_A_KID."

    Education time is finite, adding new skills necessarily means some old skills will be pushed out.
  • Obviously if you stop drawing, you lose some of your ability at drawing. I think this applies to about anything. It doesnt' matter if you use computers to draw, it matters that you stop doing real drawings. By the way, as an MFA student, I can tell you that life drawing rules. If you think any computer simulation will ever, ever replace life drawing, you're wrong!
  • Practice makes perfect.

    Who'd have thunk it?
  • by vjmurphy ( 190266 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @08:31AM (#15083307) Homepage
    I've worked in an art and media-ish department in a telecommunications company for a long time, and even 5-6 years ago, we had people who could only work on computers. I recall a power failure we had and about half the artists were just milling about, doing nothing, while the others just pulled out some drawing paper and their pens and pencils and just kept on going.

    Those who could draw also had other talents. One of them used to be able to mimic another artist's style (if you could call it that) almost exactly, in a fraction of the time. It was funny: he'd narrate while he was doing it, too: "Multi-color gradient, Alien Skin-dropshadow, Arial 36 point, done!"
  • by Sir Holo ( 531007 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:07AM (#15083440)

    This is a highly valuable skill. Yes, even in today's modern world.

    I heard an interview with a Pixar animator. She said they do the storyboarding drawings by hand. Why? "Because it's just faster."

    As a scientist, I can communicate complex ideas far, far easier because I can quickly sketch it while speaking. When I want pretty or accurate I go to a computer.

    There is no substitute for hand-drawing skill if you are someone who does things.
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @10:45AM (#15084105)
    It used to be junior high and high school that most guys would take hand drafting classes. Wther they'd to on to college to be engineers or just be a mechanic, it was thought important to understand skills like precise machinery description, multiple views, clean line drawing and lettering, etc. This was one of the first skills to be computerized in CAD products of the 1980s.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter