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Design Software Weakens Classic Drawing Skills

CowboyNeal posted about 8 years ago | from the not-to-mention-penmanship dept.


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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And in other news (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081488)

Typing reduces handwriting skills, instant messaging reducing conversation skills, etc.

Re:And in other news (1)

JavaFTW++ (964323) | about 8 years ago | (#15081818)

Next they'll be blaming video games for violence...

Just the opposite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081872)

Virtualized killing is making today's killers less violent.

Happens every time. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081517)

Kind of like how the invention of farms produced a decline in the ability of people to grow their own food?

Re:Happens every time. (2, Insightful)

c_forq (924234) | about 8 years ago | (#15081882)

I think this is more akin to fountain pens leading to a decline in ability to sharpen quills... or if sticking to the farms then it is more like tractors leading to a decline in ability to plow a field with horses, or by hand. This is a case of new technology replacing old, and some people not thinking it is a good idea and will be laughed at a few years down the road (like the guy who wrote the letter to Lincoln saying that steamboats are bad and God never intended man to travel at "breakneck speeds of 35 miles per hour").

Who cares? (0)

garyr_h (955473) | about 8 years ago | (#15081523)

There aren't many jobs in drawing nowadays anyways. It's all computerized.

Re:Who cares? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081837)

Actually you're wrong. While it's true a lot of jobs no longer require traditional artist media skills, there are jobs that do. And those jobs tend to be a lot more rewarding and provide mcuh more creative control.

Comics are still drawn pretty much the same way they've always been - with pen & ink.

A concept artist or storyboard artist has a lot more influence on the overall look of a film than any one of the CG modellers tracing and clicking vertices.

In terms of pure visual communication power, someone skilled with a pencil is way ahead of someone who can only use computer software.

Re:Who cares? (3, Informative)

c_forq (924234) | about 8 years ago | (#15081909)

Many comics have moved to digital production. Almost all, even if they start as sketches, are early in their life scanned and almost all coloring and refining done digitally. In the same way more and more story boards are moving to the computer realm. There was an article here recently of LucasArts working with its game division on story boards that are interactive, or at least dynamic. In both computers are being used more and more as the digital form can be quickly manipulated and more importantly copying and transporting is trivial.

Same will happen to reading & writing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081524)

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 computers will bring on a great new age of illeteracy, where it doesn't even matter if someone has thhose skills.

Re:Same will happen to reading & writing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081713)

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.

How exactly do you figure that? People often claim that when we can all talk to computers that it will do away with this, that, and the other input device, but that's complete bullshit. Talking to a computer is far too much work, even if the voice recognition is spot on all the time and can accurately predict any sort of formatting of the voice commands that you might want. Operating a computer via some combination of mouse and keyboard is really easier, less tiring, and more accurate. As for the computer talking back, I can't believe that anyone would have an easier or faster time understanding spoken words than reading, assuming of course that they could read in the first place.

The thing that is killing these skills is not so much the computerization but on the types of jobs we're doing. Over half of the workers in the United States are in some sort of service industry (hospitality, retail, etc) and these jobs simply don't require much intellectually and can fairly easily be done without knowing how to read, write, or even speak the language at all. You're right about a new age of illiteracy (which you misspelled, demonstratively), we're living it right now because those skills don't matter. It just has very little to do with computers.

As for the actual topic at hand, it seems to me that it's in the teaching, not in the computers. At least from my personal experience at an art school they just didn't require nearly enough drawing to get most people proficient, even the ones who were quick to learn with instruction. It's so much easier to just teach "click this button and see stuff move, it's like magic!"

Re:Same will happen to reading & writing (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | about 8 years ago | (#15081760)

I think computers will bring on a great new age of illeteracy

Well if that isn't the quote of the day here, I don't know what is.

Re:Same will happen to reading & writing (1)

Dmack_901 (923883) | about 8 years ago | (#15081899)

I think computers will bring on a great new age of illeteracy

Incase you didn't realise, writing that on an online newspaper, where I and others read it doesn't tend to contribute to its accuracy.

Re:Same will happen to reading & writing (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081847)

It's funny you say this. I've been comparing drawing to literacy for a long time, but in a different way.

In the middle ages, very few people knew how to read. The skill was virtually unknown. It was like magic.

Today, that's how drawing is. When I turn out a quick rough of a character in two minutes, people just stare. The idea that someone can draw something, out of their head, that is on-model for the character is unthinkable to the modern populace.

This doesn't have anything to do with design software. Ask any fifty year old woman to draw you a dog. Chances are she'll refuse, embarrassed by her stick figures.

The root of it is that half-way through this century, we decided you don't need to know how to draw to be an artist. Art classes started to be about expressing your inner self rather than rendering a form. Ever since that time, the idea of actually being able to draw has faded. It's simply not taught. It wasn't taught long before the computer showed up.

The big difference for university students is that in the 60s, there were still professors who had learned to draw in a world that considered it a teachable skill. If you cared about drawing, you could learn from them.

Now those professors have retired, and many art current professors have degrees that didn't require drawing skills. The Art of Draftmanship, in capital letters, has been partially lost. Finding an instructor who can really draw and enough time in the figure study studio with them to learn is difficult.

The final sad note in this is that figure drawing is now generally restricted to people over eighteen. There was a time that a high school senior could enroll in a figure drawing class, but that time is largely gone. People think that having minors participate in figure drawing is illegal. Completely untrue, but it means that true drawing instruction cannot begin before eighteen now.

Why should universities be surprised that their grads cannot draw when most of them have not previously been allowed to do the one thing you simply must do to learn? Almost all grads will have less than four years of genuine drawing experience under their belts.

Until you've studied the figure, any drawing you do does not count. It hardly changes the result. Take a dozen people, some of whom have never tried to draw and some of whom have been learning from books for a decade. Make them study the figure live for six months. At the end, you'll hardly be able to tell the "newbies" from the "old hands." Many of the newbies will be better.

Oh NO, anything but the drawing skills! (0)

Dr. Max E. Ville (821578) | about 8 years ago | (#15081528)

Yeah, back in the day, everybody had such a nice handwriting, and then that damn Gutenberg had to come along and spoil everything. Bastard!

Re:Oh NO, anything but the drawing skills! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081543)

Actually, given the high illiteracy rate, most people had terrible handwriting.

Re:Oh NO, anything but the drawing skills! (1)

hunterx11 (778171) | about 8 years ago | (#15081587)

Given that most people didn't write at all, I imagine the average handwriting was much better. Besides, the majority of literate people were monks, who had hours a day to write.

duno about this (5, Insightful)

mikerz (966720) | about 8 years ago | (#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 (4, Informative)

macthulhu (603399) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:duno about this (1)

mikerz (966720) | about 8 years ago | (#15081773)

well sure, if you don't draw then your drawing skills decline. But is it the actual use of the programs that does it?

It's right on the money (1)

Absentminded-Artist (560582) | about 8 years ago | (#15081833)

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 direction a few months ago and discovered to my horror that I had lost many of my basic skills. Oh, I remembered, but my hand didn't. So I've started from scratch (as part of the flickr community here [flickr.com].) I'm picking up speed to be sure, but all that photoshop work I did over the past several years took me away from the desk and adversely affected my skills.

This isn't rocket science, though. If you don't use it, you lose it. I think bringing awareness to the problem is a good thing, however. If it was such an obvious conclusion as some of the cheekier posters contend, why would so many artists be experiencing this problem? We'll just have to work harder to make time for the pencil and paper (Sorry, but graphic tablets just aren't there yet...too much lag and who can afford a Cintiq [wacom.com]?)

Re:duno about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081778)

can you answer a question for me--- why are they completely nude? i mean, painting the human figure doesnt require attention to genital detail, does it? i may be just a prude.. but i would be embarrassed to paint someone naked. i would feel uncomfortable.. and this is one reason i havent taken any classes in visual art (even though it interests me).

is it just tradition? is it so important to be able to paint every detail of the human body? i got the impression basic figure painting was just to get the idea of the configuration of limbs and torso.. how the muscles and bones worked to shape the outer form... and genitalia have precious little to do with that. :-/

Re:duno about this (1)

mikerz (966720) | about 8 years ago | (#15081800)

the genitalia are just another part of the body.. you don't always work from nudes, but when you want to figure out how all of the muscles are interacting on a skeletal structure, then you simply need a nude figure. Look at pre-renaissance christian representation- thats the sort of work you get when you don't draw from a nude for whatever reason. It's also based in different artistic concerns of course, but theres an apparent lack of anatomical knowledge. Roman work from pre-constantine post glory age showed a similar problem.

Re:duno about this (4, Interesting)

tverbeek (457094) | about 8 years ago | (#15081819)

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.

Re:duno about this (1)

Jambon (880922) | about 8 years ago | (#15081948)

I just finished taking an architectural perspective and rendering course. One of the topics that was discussed is while the amount of people doing hand rendering of building may be dropping, drawing will never really go away. While there are many advantages to computer renderings, there are certain things that it still is way behind drawing in. It will be a while before someone can render a building or car as quickly as they can by hand. Sometimes a person needs to see big changes, or to see what something will look like immediately. Those changes could take days to do on a computer. An artist could simply take out his pencil and paper and draw it for you right there. Another thing that computers lack is any sort of artistic flair. CAD renderings often look dead, unless someone spends time spicing them up in photoshop or the like, and even then lack that something that hand done art has. A hand done drawing will always have that little something that computers cannot have because they are so perfect. However, I do think computers are a useful tool that also have advantages over hand drawn renderings. The two must work together. As the parent said, the problem is that teachers and programs aren't emphasizing it enough, not the programs. I can communicate well with people even though I used IM a lot. I can write well even though I type a lot. The problem isn't the program, is how much time is spent in it rather than doing real drawings.

Skill? (2, Informative)

LividBlivet (898817) | about 8 years ago | (#15081533)

Calculators certainly caused my long division skills to deterioate.

Re:Skill? (2)

PixelScuba (686633) | about 8 years ago | (#15081950)

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 absolutely had to. Children that don't bother learning the fundamentals of division and multiplication FIRST will have a very difficult time grasping more complicated math later.

The same applies for art, booting photoshop and filling some gradients and using the blur tool are pointless unless you know what the tools are for.

Hmm. (5, Insightful)

ScaryMonkey (886119) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Hmm. (1)

akhomerun (893103) | about 8 years ago | (#15081578)

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)

check out this (1)

sgant (178166) | about 8 years ago | (#15081690)

Should check out this artist, Linda Bergkvist. She's in the realistic realm:

http://www.furiae.com/gallery/spoiled.jpg [furiae.com]

Re:check out this (1)

bar-agent (698856) | about 8 years ago | (#15081781)

Ooh, nice!

But the site restricts direct linking. Go here [furiae.com], then to "Gallery" and "Jade." Scroll down for "Spoiled." The links are there, but virtually hidden on the left.

Re:check out this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081876)

Just put a ? at the end of the url and hit enter, then your referrer will be empty.

Re:Hmm. (1, Troll)

bdcrazy (817679) | about 8 years ago | (#15081579)

A big conflict i see about using computers is the ease at which you can change things. When you're doing things by hand, you have to put more thought into what is going on before you start drawing. The other side is the ease at which you can draw and change and rechange and redraw things on the computer causes you to just get it done without putting much thought into it because you can change it later. This last thought is the big problem i see and sometimes fall into myself. You draw it, its not quite right but you will "get back to it later." Later you don't remember what was not quite right and you submit it anyway. This is very similiar to a paper passing a spell checker and thinking it is ready to go.

Like anything else, there are pros and cons and you have to evaluate it as necessary.

Re:Hmm. (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 8 years ago | (#15081691)

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 don't care if their artwork is unique, but the bold text reflects just as accurately on every other profession where computerized tools have let people move away from pen and paper when it comes to making drafts.

Heck, pick any famous dead artists and lookup how much his sketches and drafts go for. They're a part of the process, even the wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] says so

New Media... (5, Insightful)

TheFlannelAvenger (870106) | about 8 years ago | (#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?

New Media...Painting Parenthesis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081571)

"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?"

Which is why I'm not a C/C++ programmer. But use non-mainstream languages.

Re:New Media...Painting Parenthesis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081744)

Art only progresses as quickly as culture does.

Re:New Media... (1)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | about 8 years ago | (#15081605)

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 when OOP was still relatively new? i remember scoffing at it initially as an excuse for people who couldn't code in hard C (it still is sometimes)...

Every user is a power user (2)

TeacherOfHeroes (892498) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Every user is a power user (1)

mctk (840035) | about 8 years ago | (#15081567)

It seems like the summary was cut short, here is the full sentence:

Apparently teenaged boys don't need to practice drawing their nudes when they can just download them off the web and use photoshop to add in their friend's mother's face.

Re:Every user is a power user (1)

Dr. Max E. Ville (821578) | about 8 years ago | (#15081646)

OMG, how do they KNOW?

Re:Every user is a power user (1)

Baddas (243852) | about 8 years ago | (#15081656)

Either they've been watching you, or this is one of the universal uses of photoshop.

Consider the implications, if you will.

Re:Every user is a power user (1)

Dr. Max E. Ville (821578) | about 8 years ago | (#15081675)

You didn't get my point. Everybody already knows I do that stuff, but I'm worried that people on slashdot found out I'm using photoshop instead of gimp.

Invention (1)

42Penguins (861511) | about 8 years ago | (#15081554)

The invention and popularization of the gun led to a decline in swashbuckling skills, did it not?
These days, where there are guns (substitute any newer technology,) swords are used more for nostalgic fun or novelty, as hand-drawing may become.

(FSM at work: gunpowder igniting upped global temperature, causing less sword-wielding pirates. Ramen.)

Shocking stuff! (2, Funny)

Expert Determination (950523) | about 8 years ago | (#15081557)

I've also heard that modern artists don't know how to mix their own paints from animal dung, blood and dirt [culture.gouv.fr].

Re:Shocking stuff! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081801)

"I've also heard that modern artists don't know how to mix their own paints from animal dung, blood and dirt."

Maybe not modern artists. But postmodern artists sure as hell do.
See Anton Henning for example http://www.wohnmaschine.de/index.php?id=314&L=1 [wohnmaschine.de] (he prefers to use his own shit rather than an animals)

I'm a hax0r! (3, Interesting)

C. E. Sum (1065) | about 8 years ago | (#15081562)

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?

Re:I'm a hax0r! (1)

tverbeek (457094) | about 8 years ago | (#15081894)

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 watercolors. Using real water. And oil paint. While I admittedly never truly got the hang of these media (my oil-painting instructor lamented that I never made much of a mess), it got me to loosen up a lot, and even my digital-media work has gotten more dynamic and expressive as a result.

the question is.... (2, Interesting)

dartarrow (930250) | about 8 years ago | (#15081575)

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 messengers.

In other news ... (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 8 years ago | (#15081577)

... 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.

Re:In other news ... (1)

Gryle (933382) | about 8 years ago | (#15081957)

I know the point you're trying to make, but the analogy is flawed. Whether rock or canvas, the artist still creates art by hand, his or her own hands to be exact. The shift from handmade (for lack of a better term) to computer-made art is much different. The computer takes the art out of the hands and into the mouse. Need a circle? Create a perfect circle with the computer algorythym. Wanna make the red flowers into blue flowers? Use the color-change algorythym. Computer animation/art takes skill, but it's a different set of skills.

yeah, but what about.... (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | about 8 years ago | (#15081582)

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...

Tin foil won't make you smell better! (1)

RingDev (879105) | about 8 years ago | (#15081772)

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. ;)


Re:Tin foil won't make you smell better! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081900)

as will be building your own forge and making things from raw materials.

I agree, I keep a wide selection of olden days skills.

Re:yeah, but what about.... (3, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

To-get-her together its a matter of value to who?. (2, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | about 8 years ago | (#15081585)

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 http://www.threeseas.net/pencil-nude.jpg [threeseas.net]
This was done to try and correct bad caring for the artwok http://www.threeseas.net/pencil--nude.jpg [threeseas.net]

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.

Re:To-get-her together its a matter of value to wh (1)

davidsyes (765062) | about 8 years ago | (#15081856)


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

truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081594)

As an art student, I definitely agree with this article. I've had (and am presently in) rather serious drawing classes, and sucked at all of them. I've also messed with computer graphics since I was around 5. I've noticed the same condition in other students in my classes who work primarily with computers.

There are still way too many students who've never heard of Illustrator for this to be any kind of threat to the future of art, but it's still rather disturbing.

Why do university students need to doodle? (1)

Rix (54095) | about 8 years ago | (#15081599)

It's not a very relevant skill to most academic pursuits.

Re:Why do university students need to doodle? (1)

Riktov (632) | about 8 years ago | (#15081673)

>It's not a very relevant skill to most academic pursuits.

Maybe not for most academic pursuits. But speaking just for myself, it's the most productive activity I've found during hour-long meetings in the working world.

Nothing new here... (4, Insightful)

Dynedain (141758) | about 8 years ago | (#15081613)

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.

Nothing new here...The night math died. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081703)

"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."

So how's this debate any different than the "calculators will stunt people's math skills" argument?

Re:Nothing new here... (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 8 years ago | (#15081730)

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. It can only round out their education.

Re:Nothing new here... (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 8 years ago | (#15081734)

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.

Seems unlikely (1)

radarsat1 (786772) | about 8 years ago | (#15081614)

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 that the presence of computers has much of an effect on that. Just a hunch though.

I think it works the other way, too (1)

FuturePastNow (836765) | about 8 years ago | (#15081616)

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?

Re:I think it works the other way, too (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | about 8 years ago | (#15081626)

Are you using a mouse or a tablet? Mice don't really lend themselves to drawing.

Re:I think it works the other way, too (1)

FuturePastNow (836765) | about 8 years ago | (#15081679)

I've tried using a tablet, and I just couldn't get used to looking at the screen instead of my hand. It is better than using a mouse, though.

Hmmm. Maybe a tablet PC, writing on the screen itself...

Re:I think it works the other way, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081748)

Use a tablet and a real tool for the job (Painter or Photoshop, depending on your bent).

Microsoft Paint is like trying to do very precise, very fine linework with one of those jumbo Marks-A-Lot markers. With a worn down tip.

Nah (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081623)

Apparently teenaged boys don't need to practice drawing their nudes when they can just download them off the web.

Design software and drawing skills? CG porn isn't quite there yet...

They go hand in hand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081640)

I do a bit of artwork from time to time--on computers and off--and I'd say pencil and paper drawing skills are essential for producing truly good computer artwork. Not even the best graphics tablets can imitate the tactile feedback you get from a good piece of paper and it's almost infinitely easier to produce quality computer art if you storyboard and produce concept sketches first. That's where the paper comes in.

Nothing new (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 8 years ago | (#15081645)

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.

Re:Nothing new (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 8 years ago | (#15081688)

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 (5, Insightful)

multimediavt (965608) | about 8 years ago | (#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.

for me, it's the opposite (1)

Wabbit Wabbit (828630) | about 8 years ago | (#15081671)

As a leftie, the opposite is true for me (pun intended). I have pretty bad handwriting, but I love doing calligraphy. On paper, my results aren't so good. But using a Wacom tablet in Corel Painter, Photoshop, etc., I achieve amazing results; the letters come out like they're supposed to, and everything looks like I imagined it should.

Same goes for basic drawing. My lines (and drawings) look much better when created with the Wacom instead of traditional media.

That said, when it comes to painting, I find there's no substitute for REAL watercolors.

Re:for me, it's the opposite (1)

bob122989 (912229) | about 8 years ago | (#15081917)

I am also a leftie, i have terrible writing skills. But when it comes to opening photoshop and making something i need, i can spit it out not only fast, but great looking.

Ban the evil technology! (1)

SuperMog2002 (702837) | about 8 years ago | (#15081672)

Oh noes! Design software reduces our drawing skills? It must be stopped! While we're at it, let's ban fire starters. How many people do you know who can start a fire the good old fashioned way, with two sticks?

There are differences... (1)

Morpeth (577066) | about 8 years ago | (#15081685)

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 included, learned to use a mouse right handed and type with both hands. So say a left hander has gone from freehand drawing (a right brained activity) to electronic using right or both (mostly a left brained, or logical activity) -- that would be a different process.

Reason I mention this, is a larger proportion of artistic people are left-handed then in the general population; I think lefties make up about 10%, but notice how many artistic people are left-handed, a lot.

I also can say from experience, the mechanical process of typing and using a mouse is WAY differt than feeling a pencil/charcoal on textured paper, or the sensation of working with oil or acrylic paint on canvas, or better yet in true 3d in clay or stone. I started college as a studio art major, so have some experience here.

I've also seen studies that when writing a letter to say a friend, by hand, versus an email, they've found different parts of the brain are used. And also, the nature of the letter itself is different (hand written letters I believe have more 'emotional content'). Can't find the article, but I'll look for it.

Given these kinds of things; I think it's likely there is an effect of creating works of art on a PC than the 'old fashioned way'. Doesn't mean it's good or bad, but I could see it affecting how people work and create.

Lastly, I would argue that learning to draw things proportionately by hand, with proper depth and shading, is damn hard; but software can mask or add to those shortcomings since they offer so many filters and tools to do it so easily. In a sense, maybe you don't develop you artistic 'muscles' as much?

Just some thoughts...

Technical Drafting and CAD ... (1)

pvera (250260) | about 8 years ago | (#15081699)

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 the detached way in which we embraced AutoCAD. What I do now is I can't draw 1/10th as good as I was able to when I was 12-13 years old.

drawing problems are just the symptom... (1)

tempest67 (135626) | about 8 years ago | (#15081707)

i am an architecture student and a computer scientist (a floor wax and a dessert topping, baby) -- and i have seen a lot of the degraded drawing skills discussed in the article. the real problem, i think, isn't that architecture students nowadays don't know which end of the pencil to stick in the scary-twirling-blade-with-a-handle thingy -- it's that drawing is a way of "feeling" your way through to understanding of the physical world, and it's that intuitive knowledge that they lack.

an extreme illustration -- if you sit on your computer making ass-kicking spacescapes all night long, you may not understand that a two-hundred foot cantilever is, on our little planet, in many cases, physically unwise. oh, you might know it, intellectually -- but you might not really *feel* it in your bones -- the way you would if you spent years on the floor with legos, and another few years drawing nature and building with an actual pencil, in your actual hand -- getting the feel of the world and of architecture in your hands and your body. technology will, of course, catch up with that lack, as well -- but it hasn't yet, and you can tell, often, by looking at the stuff the non-drawers produce...

Damn, now this! (2, Insightful)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about 8 years ago | (#15081710)

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.

This is a good thing (1)

Tyr_7BE (461429) | about 8 years ago | (#15081724)

My mother designs kitchens for a living. Serious kitchens that go in million dollar homes...upscale showroom kind of stuff. She used to do it all by hand, and would swear against ever using a computer. Well she did some work for a company that required her to use some CAD software (this one [2020technologies.com]). After working with it for a few months she couldn't go back. According to her, it did so much of the work for her that it allowed her to focus more on the designs and layout of the kitchen and less on fixing errors. Now any draftsman would see this as a reduced skill set. Your drafting board skills get rusty, and you can't do as much. However, if you look at the big picture, her productivity has skyrocketed and her designs have benefitted from the use of CAD tools.

As previously mentioned, it's the Compiler and Debugger vs Assembler argument. It's keyboard vs handwriting. It's growing your own food vs buying it at the grocery store. We're not so good at hunting, gathering, or painting on cave walls anymore either, and I can picture a bunch of cavemen standing around lamenting about that newfangled paper and how it's ruining their basic skills.

Whenever a new technology usurps an old one, the skills required to use the old one will fade. Not that there isn't intrinsic value in the old pen and paper...I'm just saying this is the way of the world.

I can personally attest to this! (1)

DwarfGoanna (447841) | about 8 years ago | (#15081728)

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.

Its more of "people dont give a damn" (2, Insightful)

Quadfreak0 (624555) | about 8 years ago | (#15081751)

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 after college)

Given some time and designs start to burn out and people will go back to drawing/free hand work.

Look at comic books, Marvel comics in the 90s saw a decline in pencil work as they started to go for all digital ink and color. The result was a mess, crappy looking figures with gradients and colors that looked very dull. meanwhile you had comics coming out from other companies like Wildstorm and Image that had extremely fine and detailed pencil and ink work, blended with computerized color. The shit hit the fan at marvel and now they make movies, but thats a diffrent story.

Just wanted to give props... (2, Insightful)

colinbrash (938368) | about 8 years ago | (#15081830)

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.

Sometimes it's better produced with a computer... (1)

EtherAlchemist (789180) | about 8 years ago | (#15081913)

...than it could be drawing by hand.

Case in point is Brian Denham's [blogspot.com] 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.

Article is a waste of time. (1)

shaedee (963455) | about 8 years ago | (#15081937)

This is a waste of time!!!
Anything done on a PC could be construed in this way.

Remember when people used ta write letters by hand?
Remember when people used to work out their own budgets?
Hell... Remember when people used used to handcode HTML? now you got Dreamweaver, Frontpage blah blah blah
The same can be said for any technological advance... i mean remember telegraphs, then landlines now mobiles... where does it end?
It can still be called art. Just because it was created on a PC does not exclude it as being art.

This is news why? (1)

crossmr (957846) | about 8 years ago | (#15081939)

I see nothing surprising or terribly interesting by this. People use a skill less and its not as good. Any kind of automation or change in the way things are done are likely to reduce the skill level of the way things were previously done.
automatic transmissions reduced the over-all ability of the population to use a clutch. We could spend all day here saying how things are different than they were last week, last year, or 10 years ago.

Dont undervalue a sketch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15081941)

Maybe I'm a bit old school. I did study industrial design, and currently work in automotive engineering. I feel that even though that CAD/CAE has unumerable advantages over the old drafting process, the ability to clarify and express ideas using a sketch is priceless and much more efficient that using a computer. You would be amazed just how many ideas are concieved on a bar napikin. I'm not talking about the final product.

Also, from an artistic standpoint, important concepts such as composition, line quality, volume are best learned using pencil, charcoal, etc.. I would bet that Most successfull graphic professionals have a strong drawing skills.

Oh, and for the record, anyone who has taken a figure drawing class knows that the typical model is anything but sexually appealing.


How about starting a fire without matches? (1)

kobayashii (601445) | about 8 years ago | (#15081959)

Like anything there are pros and cons.

One could argue that the invention of matches has seen the decline in our ability to start a fire by rubbing two stick together... but personally everytime I am planning on an pyromaniacal spree I am glad I don't have to resort to the "good old ways" to kick things off (it really eats into one's burning time).

Seriously though, technology always comes at a price. Making design tools more accesible to the broader public increases the number of people out there "designing" but like anything, quantity rarely produces quality.

'Necessity' as the mother of all things has long lost out to it's father, 'Laziness' (and us humans do generally love to take the easy path).

Why manually layout and kern type when most applications do an adequate job for you?

Why spend years learning how to draw when you can whack something together in PhotoShop in minutes and then use the charcoal filter over it to make it look "authentic"?

Why go play frisbee outside when you can be 007 on your PC indoors?

On the plus side, perhaps this will clarify that long confused line between artist and designer?
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