Reviewing My Past Notan Studies For Faults

We all know the adage “practice makes perfect”, but it doesn’t work when we practice the same bad habits over and over again. This is why I like strategic learning – regularly reflecting upon progress and setting goals to define improvement.

I have practiced notan sketches a lot lately. An awful lot. I am actually…

We all know the adage “practice makes perfect”, but it doesn’t work when we practice the same bad habits over and over again. This is why I like strategic learning – regularly reflecting upon progress and setting goals to define improvement.

I have practiced notan sketches a lot lately. An awful lot. I am actually a bit burned out with the number of sketches that I have done… but just because I have done so many doesn’t mean that I have improved. So now is an ideal time to look back at my work and find out which sketches worked, and why.

If you want to learn how to make notans correctly I highly encourage you check out the Virtual Art Academy, taught by Barry John Raybould. He is an excellent teacher that can teach you to take your art to a professional level.

 

Example One

 

Example of Poor Notan Sketch - Undefined Shapes
Example of Poor Notan Sketch – Undefined Shapes

This notan has a good example of an unclear notan. You can’t clearly tell what the sketch is of – in this case it was a sketch of a bridge over a backlit river.As you can see I rather quickly made the sketch, which left a lot of uneven pen marks that made it hard to determine what was light grey or dark grey; in the middle right you can see what looks like a mid-grey value, which I did not use in the painting.

The bridge, being the focal point, was one of the first things I sketched in, and that initial insert did not go well. Firstly the bridge was too small and lacked the focal presence in the scene. Secondly the position of it was incorrect for my reference; I needed to move it either left or right. By moving it I would then be able to add the foreground trees to the scene better or make the foreground trees less noticeable by effectively reducing their space.

Overall this was quite a poor notan due to so many “issues” with it.

 

Example Two

Example of Poor Notan Sketch - Too Large
Example of Poor Notan Sketch – Too Large

The point of a notan, in many cases, is to do a quick sketch to work out your values. It was not necessary to make this notan so large. You can see that I made way too many pen strokes to fill in the area. By reducing the size of the sketch I could draw it much faster and get a better idea of the overall design. Being able to sketch the notans fast is essential to help you quickly work out a painting plan in situations where you have limited time on location.

 

 

 

 

 

Are you drawing notans to prepare your artwork? I would love to see some of the notans that you are making so please share a link below in the comments.

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