A two-DVD set packed with tutorials and exercises geared to help you take your skills to the next level .
3.26.2012 Filed under Art > Education > Course Review
Whether you are a beginner or pro, there's always more to learn.
When I first stumbled across designer Arvind Ramkrishna's Driven Mavens blog, I was hooked. Here was this talented, skilled artist plugging away at the fundamental skills, and breaking them down into video segments geared toward teaching beginners how to come to grips with automotive illustration, and doing it with an easy-to-understand flair and delivery.
To be frank, I began to look back on my schooling, and wish that he had been at the front of many a studio class I in which had been enrolled. Rather than push a style or technique, he laid-out the basics, and let you build on what he taught as your skill level advanced. Brilliant.
Searching for the Basics
When I was first making tracks with drawing cars, I would hoard everything I could to learn from. Whether it was sketches and renderings in magazines, or books on perspective, I'd grab anything I could to try to master the basics, and make my doodles look like those of my heroes.
Along the way, I must have spent literally thousands of dollars on books, tutorials and materials, and always seemed to fall into the same old trap: Every book was the same as all of the others. Some cool, inspiring shots of artwork with a unique and killer style, but very little, if any, information on the actual how to do it part. Don't get me wrong... as an artist, I have a few secret techniques and methods, but showing the basics, well, I have no issues with. In all of the books and more that I purchased, but a few stood out as worthwhile.
In school, it was a similar fate. I took studio classes, and save for a few, I learned a small amount, and always seemed to be inundated by a teacher pushing his or her one technique on me, versus showing a basic set of skills that I could build my own style upon.
Fast-forward some years, and I happened to stumble upon a designer with some outrageous skill, and what seemed to be a natural talent for teaching. I was hooked on Arvind's videos. The guy was obviously passionate about what he did, and more than willing to share his methods for coming to grips with not only drawing, but understanding the why's and techniques required to draw.
I was fortunate to have become good friends with Arv, and remain in awe of his skill in instruction... Let's be clear, he and I are friends. When Arvind asked me to review his 2-disc, special edition set here, my personal involvement had to be placed at the door, and I set out to give an unbiased look. Here it is.
Opening the package, I was stoked. I mean, come on... I was expecting some quality, but man... this was outrageous! Great, heavy plastic, crystal-clear DVD case... and the discs, well, professional-looking indeed! Pulling out the included manual was a treat, and you can tell that Arvind loaded the book to the hilt. Any thicker, and it would never fit into the case. Any thinner, and he may have had to leave out some information. It's one of those 'I think I just got my money's worth' moments. Awesome. Packaging and presentation? An A+.
Looking closer, you realize that this edition truly is packed. Almost five hours of video tutorial content, reference materials, printable templates from which to learn proportions, e-books, blog posts from Arvind's Driven Mavens... it's almost overwhelming. Yet, here's the neat part: It's all about the fundamental skills, the building blocks. A ton of information, all in one place.
Just the thing I was always looking for.
Even better? It's all very high quality. Yet, if you're a techie, and need even higher quality, bust out your iPad, and enjoy the 1024 x 576 high-res video content. The guy thought of everything.
Looking through the included book, the eighteen pages are bright, easy-to-read, and the flow of information is organized and easy to digest. The DVD table of contents gives a great, at-a-glance reference for the chapters on disc, and instruction for accessing the data files are easy to understand and concise.
The How to Draw Cars Now Weekly Schedule is brilliant. Broken into a weekly, timed, exercise-driven table, you can work through the course, and build your skills in a similar fashion to a traditional course at an art school or College. Simply put, this portion of the set is priceless. If you're looking to go to a traditional school, the preparation you will have with this weekly schedule will put you miles ahead when faced with the workload.
Get to it, guys.
Priced at $49.00 for the standard DVD set, and $59.00 for the special edition (which includes the afforementioned iPad-formatted videos), plus shipping, we'd suggest strongly that you'd be hard-pressed to find a better value.
This is truly a fantastic starting point for the hobbyist who wishes to learn the technical trade of drawing, and a great building block for the student coming to grips with the mechanics of creating a rendering.
For the enrolled student, this set presents an opportunity to learn an alternative style and approach from a professional. As stated earlier, in school, I was presented, time and again, with a single technique by my intsructors. Having an alternative approach to creating a drawing would have been a grand asset to my education, and this set offers the current student just that: A professional designer sharing his approach to drawing, and utilizing his experiences both in school, as well as in the field. It's not unlike the first internship that many students will have, wherein they will be exposed to new techniques and solutions to design briefs. It is in this exposure that I find some outstanding value in the set. If you have the foundation skills in place, there is still much to learn from the tutorials and exercises included on the DVD's.
If I found any fault in the set, it's minor sound quality issues, with slight volume spikes. This is easily overlooked, though, as the drops and raises in volume seem to almost create an atmosphere where Arvind is in the same room with you. The video quality and flow are spectacular, and the editing appears to have been done with extreme care and forethought. The obvious attention to detail in the presentation only serves to build upon the mission of this set: To teach you the fundamentals of drawing the automobile.
I had played the video on both a standard DVD player in the studio, as well as on two computers, each running a different OS. Using the DVD player and watching it as I might have back in my school days (instructor at front of room, played, in this case by my television), I found that the presentation was paced very well, offering ample opportunity to follow along and keep pace with the information being offered. For beginners, pausing the videos and going back over parts of a lesson is easy, with no issues on replay. I saw no jumping, odd screen shift or otherwise, and was truly impressed with the overall production.
The lessons are in-depth, and Arvind takes the time to explain the tools, and offers suggested exercises for gaining comfort with them. As a practicing professional, I found great interest in these lessons as well, as Arvind has a natural teaching style which attracts and keeps your interest.
The video is clear, the color is great, the production very consistent. I particlularly enjoyed the over-the-shoulder point of view, and the sped-up and time-lapse segnments were fantastic as a review feature. It's incredible how you pick up a technique in detail after a couple of viewings, and the presentation creates a feeling of natural progressaion when adapting what's being taught. I highly recommend viewing the video as you draw, and, if possible, when following the digital segments, have it playing along on a separate monitor. This gives the feeling of having a tutor right there with you, and allows you to pause or go back if needed, and retain your work flow.
Of the great lessons in this set, the stand-out feature, to me, anyway, is Arvind's great delivery. No jargon to weed through, as he explains the terminology on the fly, keeping you at speed with him, and assisting you in your knowledge of the terms and referencing them at every step. To illustrate my point, check out this video of Arv explaining how to use the 2-point perspective templates included in the set. Easy to follow, clear and concise:
Speaking of bonus materials...
Here's a video look at the huge amount of extra content:
I had decided to give my kids a look at the set, as well, and get some input from different age groups. My youngest is 8 years old, and loves to draw just about anything. I had figured that I'd try the DVD's out on him, and asked for a little feedback, just to see how well the content translated to someone much younger, with no pracical experience or training. In his words:
"Whoever watches this will learn a lot about drawing cars. It teaches you a lot about making your drawings look real. I learned a lot about drawing cars and how to use markers better. If you are thinking about going to school to draw, you will have a lot to learn, and this video will give you a head start.
Arvind takes his time and makes it fun, showing you how to look at things and then draw them."
I figured that I was on to something here... after all, I had just given an eight year-old a pretty heavy course to watch, and he did so over a few days, and honestly seemed to enjoy it! It sparked some great conversations about materials and observation, and was great to see him point out differences and similarities in Arv's and my working styles. It only seemed logical to turn the discs over to my middle son, and see what a 14 year-old would glean from it:
"I believe that the video tutorials that I watched were really in-depth. I thought that the videos showed everything necessary for beginners in drawing in general, and not just cars. Arvind seems like a great teacher, and really understands what he is teaching you, not just throwing out some facts or ways to do something, but explaining why you should do something, or how to make things look right in your drawings.
I really liked the step-by-step process. It showed how to use a tool, and more importantly when to use that tool. I liked how he took things from the simple to detailed, and made sure to explain how to go from one step to the next."
Very cool indeed.
I sat with these two and went through the book and bonus materials as well, and was surprised to see just how well the information translated to children, as well as professional adults. It appears to have an easy-to-digest language and approach, and certainly inspires the viewer to actively participate in learning.
Overall, fantastic value for the price, and certainly worth the investment (monetarily and time-wise) for beginners and advanced artists as well. This will become a valued asset to your library, and would make an incredible gift for the budding or practicing artist in your life.
...and, as we had mentioned earlier, how would you like a chance to win your own copy of the How to Draw Cars Now 2-Disc Special Edition? We have three to give away... How about we drop one here? As athe DVD's explain, there are four D's to a Driven Maven: Drive, Determination, Discipline and Draw. Tell us, in 150 words or less what drives you to improve your drawing skills, and we'll select a winner, and send them one of these 2-disc Special Editions.
Give us your reply below in the comments.
You can purchase this DVD set here, and if you enter the code pckstudio in the cart, you'll receive 15% off, now through April 1st!