PART THREE: EXTRAPOLATING VISUAL INFO FROM PHOTO REFERENCE
When faced with drawing things unfamiliar and uncertain, a successful artist doesn't just take a guess. Successful artists seek out reference imagery, models, and uses observation to assist them when their own experiences and memories aren't enough.
Extrapolating from reference images is something I encourage, because there's no better way to gain useful visual information. If you can't make it up in your head convincingly, then why not dig up a reference image to assist you? You can gain a lot of useful knowledge and information from simply studying photographs.
Observation, Referencing and Practice
Photo 1A below depicts three cut stones standing side by side. At a glance these three stones seem somewhat similar to each other, with the exception of their obvious size differences. Closer observation reveals that each stone has its own very unique features and defining contours. To better aid you in your observation of the image, I have provided a Photoshop overlay of the photo, outlining each stone's contours and important surface areas. Now the differences in each stone's cut, shape, and surface textures is easier to discern.
2A is a photo of an interesting cluster of stones. The vertical standing stone with the knothole indentation is a particularly interesting stone. In figure 2B I have produced a pencil drawing based on my own observation of the image. Though it isn't precisely accurate to the photo on the left it gets across the gist of it. Though my aim was to stay true to the reference photo, I wasn't trying to be a human photocopier. I exaggerated things here and there for effect. For instance-some of the contours might be a bit more jagged than in the reference photo. I'm pretty sure I overused the texture dots on the vertical standing stone a bit. If I was going to ink this image, I'd probably be inclined to omit a few dots and details, because a little goes a long way. I was seeking to extrapolate the visual information and translate that to a drawing that conveys the rough textures and the varying angularity of the stones' contours. This sort of thing makes for good practice, so if you want to learn to draw great rocks, go look at some. If you can't find any outside to draw, then Google some up.