I was a bit surprised to see the Edwards (Drawing on the right side of the brain) book. Pleasantly surprised. One of the things I've always stressed to my students is that learning to draw is actually learning to see. People think the can see things clearly and objectively, but what they are actually doing is recognizing. (There is a small motor skill component to drawing, but seeing is by far the most important.)
If you want to communicate visually, you first have to learn to see.
Design theories and formulas will only get you so far.
Those students who learned to do a little sketching improved dramatically.
And yes, it is hard to do. It is a process as deep as you are.
Knowing anatomy, by the way, doesn't necessarily help you draw. I've had doctors that specialize in anatomy in class and they were terrible at drawing until they learned to see. They could recognize and label the parts, and they could even do a simple 2D schematic type diagram of muscles, but put a real 3D, foreshortened person in front of them and they were just as awkward as anyone else.
But also, I agree -- foreshortening is hard until you learn 2-point perspective and can "see" perspective points that you can easily build up the foreshortened feature from.
And it behaves almost nothing like a camera. Even mechanically, the optical projection is very different than a camera makes, or what one would get from a linear perspective projection.
There is a projection, but the "image" is actually composed of multiple viewpoints over time. The adjustments an artist must make for small changes in the model's pose is nothing compared to the varying nature of the mental image you actually "see" inside your brain. It is far from static, and is in fact very dynamic.
Which is why that drawing from life is considered much more important than drawing from a photograph when learning to see.
Note that I'm not knocking the study of structure or synthetic processes like linear perspective. They are important tools and aids in perception and image synthesis. But a good drawing, or painting, or photograph for that matter, is not a mere 2D projection of light and dark. It is an encoded record of a multitude of perceptions, or perception artifacts that your brain then interprets, inside it's magic "seeing" box, which then produces a simulacrum of a perceived event or process.
Else making a good drawing or photograph would be an entirely mechanical process that anyone could make by following a few simple rules. Instead they are like moments of insight into a scene or event.
And all of this is relevant if you are creating software that is going to communicate visually. When you are building your data structures and models inside your head, it is a very different from that which the experience the user has. Your job is to make the important aspects of that model manifest visually, and usefully manipulatable.
For the engineering-design side, two good books, imo:
Herb Simon's classic Sciences of the Artificial, which approaches design from the lens of an AI researcher trying to figure out what design really is, partly to develop it into a science of design, and partly with an eye towards formalizing a model of design that a computer could use: http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&...
Designerly Ways of Knowing by Nigel Cross, which positions design as a third kind of inquiry, neither fully science nor fully humanities, but a kind of constructive investigation of objects and their properties: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/3764384840/ref=as_li_ss_tl?...
Reading an introductory book is still way harder than just diving in trying to force a square peg into a round hole. It's also hard if said book contains exercises (which 2 of those books do), after all we can always find other things we'd want to do with our time.
I feel like I offended you in some way. I apologize.
(That's not a commentary on the quality of this post though, or the recommendations)
One of the best examples from the book explains why hands in children's drawings of people are always so large. Essentially, as a child focuses more on complex details (each individual finger) they unconsciously enlarge the object in order to fit in all the detail. Its a good illustration of our perception of scale vs scale relative to other objects.
There are plenty of other great observations about the way humans think visually in the book as well.
It's for anyone who ever told themselves they can't draw
Don't mistake, the process is still hard, and requires much effort, but it does remove a lot of the magic feather aspect.
Currently I read "Visual Language for Designers" (-) which is also very interesting. It describes how our brain processes visual information and how you can use this to create better (easier to understand) designs.
Somebody also suggested "The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist", by Frederick P. Brooks (Mythical Man Month) ... http://amzn.to/ueRrkv
Hard way is to study human behavior and then study how good things were designed around them. Study the thought process behind and try and solve some design problems yourself.
This is not the hard way.
http://www.alistapart.com/ Does talk about psychology and logic behind design.
And Don't make me think. An awesome book on usability: http://amzn.to/uZ4uH5
I haven't found any great resource on Information Architecture yet.
<selfpromiton> I wrote a very brief intro to them all: http://www.64notes.com/design/design-and-subsets-essay/ </selfpromiton>
I also read "Don't Make Me Think", but I haven't included it (in this article) because I don't consider it a good book. It felt like some examples were just wrong and I also couldn't take away much value from it, although I may have been biased by my opinions on the matter. Its other flaw is that it bored me after the first third or so.
Also, "The Design of Everyday Things" (included) does talk about the psychology behind user actions. It's pretty good.
> The hard way.
Words don't teach; life experience does. Books are good for intro.
I took a "color and design" course my first year of college, hoping for a lecture on color theory, but instead ended up pasting cardboard paper on poster board for four months.
The actual “theory” of the book is fairly basic, but I think the approach (i.e. learning by repeatedly doing) is definitely the right one. If you buy any recent printing, you have to force yourself to make your own and do the exercises, if you want to get the full value from the book. Comparing with other students working exercises at the same time would also probably be helpful, even if there are only two or three of you.
Here’s a longer review: http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/book3.html#albers
Universal Principles of Design
Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing from Life -- this is not related to design that much, but it's a staple life drawing book and once you can draw a person's face well, everything else becomes easier to draw.
Another thing I'm contemplating, besides drawing, is learning how to play an instrument, like the violin. A mere mortal like myself will never be a virtuoso, but I could be good enough for my own and my family's gratification.
Abstract painting of a guitar
Door-shaped plush toy
Plastic bottle in a shape of a cigarette
Door-knob that turns on the stationary bicycle
A lamp that projects bible verses
Window with a magnifying glass
Headphones that have a constant noise of airplanes flying over my head
See, was that hard? No, it was easier than a frog-shaped cake. And that's why I think it's useless.
This comment and your comment are both examples of creativity, since we 'created' something new. And who gives a shit?