The Rapid Failure method is a technique for memorizing the combinations of simple forms that, when combined together, create something complex. Everything we perceive can broken down into simple shapes, which is a key principle in drawing. If we memorize those shapes we can develop a mental roadmap that allows us to depict whatever we want, whenever we want.
I developed this technique while looking for a way to incorporate spaced repetition in drawing, thus allowing me to draw from memory. I wanted something simple and quick and so far, it’s worked. Here’s how to do it.
How to do it.
Attempt to draw the object from memory, as best you can.
The drawing will no doubt be abysmal, but it’s important that you record a starting point for later comparison.
Open up Google and look for clear and precise reference photos, all from various angles.
Don’t dive too deep into details or anatomy just yet — look for large forms that you can commit to memory.
Compare the reference to your previous attempts.
Put the reference away and draw the object from memory.
Focus on one or two major shapes, and draw them several times from several angles.
Look for your mistakes a calibrate accordingly.
If you feel inclined, try drawing the entire object.
Once you understand how to draw a dog, that knowledge is transferable to every single quadruped that lives or has lived on planet Earth.
As the name implies, it’s important that you move rapidly. But when I say rapid, I don’t mean move the pen as fast as you can — it means to not stop, to move steadily and continuously and to fail with purpose.
Use a pen. It should be obvious that you’re not going to be erasing anything, and you want your lines to be bold and visible.
Working this way provides some great benefits…
When you fail on purpose, the fear of getting it wrong evaporates.
Improves line quality.
Line quality comes from confidence and control.
Increased awareness of form.
Form is paramount to a good drawing.
If you focus only on large shapes, you’ll naturally become bias towards depicting form over detail ( which is a good thing ).
The shape, form and construction of various objects is transferable.
Once you understand how to draw a dog, that knowledge is transferable to almost every single quadruped living on planet Earth.
If you have any questions, agreements or feel like antagonizing me, or a way this technique can be altered and enhanced, do me a solid by leaving a comment below.
Everything in existence — be it biology, computers, science, art — builds upon foundations from the past. Singular blocks are combined to create a new structure, which are combined to create something new, which are then combined with something else to create something new.
Always create, and keep everything you make. Finished products come from a collection of small finished products, and everything you make can become a building block for something larger. It doesn’t matter what you do, this method of creation and collection can be applied to everything.
A batch of work from last night at the Artisan Asylum. If you live in the Somerville area and have nothing going on during Tuesday nights, how come you’re not coming to this?
I’ve been using a technique that I had no idea I was utilizing until last night. I suppose it resulted from banishing pencils from my toolbox a while back and sticking with a pen, which forced me to draw the figure on my first and only pass. It don’t know if it has a name, but let’s call it Triangulation, for that’s essentially what I’m doing.
Using the above image as an example, It’s almost impossible to determine the length of the model’s right leg without any other frame of reference. This is why we sketch form and proportions before adding details. I hate doing that — I like going straight to the details. To find the length of the leg, I picture a triangle where one point is on the tip of the shoulder, the other on the tip of the knee, which finishes on the pelvis. This creates the necessary angles, thus the necessary distances, I need to draw correct proportions. I do this all the way down the figure, triangle after triangle, stroke after stroke.
Triangulating the angles of the figure is a simple concept, yet the challenge lies in pulling off the correct stroke in a single attempt. You can see in the above example that I made some errors, particularly in the shoulders of the top two drawings, where my initial angle was off. Errors were made because I didn’t calculate the correct angle before laying down the stroke, thus I had to recalibrate. Other mistakes are due to a lack of confidence, which — I confess — is fucking unacceptable.
The above 5 minute drawings are my favorites, for when you have so little time you don’t have space for second guesses. You do, then you proceed. Drawing this way, it all comes down to the quality of the stroke. Everything else — anatomy, shading, weight, etc — is basic fundamentals.
Are you a digital artist? If so, congratulations; you’re living in the golden age of digital tools. Everyday it seems something new comes along that makes our lives easier, allows us to create faster, pulling us out of the murky depths of computer processing.
It’s practically overwhelming. I’m not sure if want to jump through my monitor and wrap these tool creators in a tight embrace or tell them that I’m okay with what I got, anything else and I’ll combust. We need to stay sharp and pick our poison. Spend your hours learning things that will transfer to other tools ( principles, concepts, etc ), while leaving the technical stuff for Google.
The Web, Virtual Reality and 3D, illustration, projection mapping, app creation — there are multiple tools and solutions for each of these mediums, and they’re getting better and better every quarter. To stay on the ball, make sure that what you’re working on is something you’ve never done before. Incorporate the latest and greatest.
The future of realtime 3D web graphics — coupled with VR —is going to be revolutionary. As a colleague of mine recently said, “It’s like flight”.
To be blunt, Three.js is awesome. There’s quite a bit to figure out for webGL, especially integrating VR within the web, but this field is very promising. For my own personal benefit, I’m betting on this field to grow further and that I can hitch on for the ride. There’s a lot to learn and understand, but we artists need to stay focused on what we decide to learn. For instance, I do not need to create my own framework—someone else has done that or will do that. I do not need to custom write my own buffers, at least not for the time being, but it wouldn’t hurt to understand how that works. It’s fun and exciting (sometimes) to dive deep into systems for deeper enlightenment, but you as an artist will probably just be wasting your time.
Artists need to spend time creating, and while we learn we need to be sure that at the end of our learning cycle we have something to show for it. Artists don’t create tech demos, we create experiences. With something like webGL, the most important thing that we can do is make sure that we’ve got solid chops so that when the Virtual Web’s dam breaks we’ll be ready with our tools and techniques to swim up stream. Artists solve problems, and to solve problems we need to learn. But if you spend too much time on only learning you’ll spend months engrossed with your nose in a book and will have not created a single thing. When you’re following a tutorial use the provided knowledge to help solve your own problems. There’s a lot to learn, so cut corners where you can.