Critique on Figure Drawings

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This topic contains 42 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Joshua 7 years ago.

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    I tried figure drawing for the first time tonight. I watched/read a few articles/videos on this website prior to starting. I did some 30-second drawings, and some 1-minute drawings. Here's a link:

    For a few of the 1-minute drawings, I just missed out on marking all the joins, and I reckon I could've done so with 5-10 more seconds. I'm don't know what extra detail I should add if I used a 2-minute, 5-minute or 10-minute timer instead, beyond drawing the lines and circles a little slower so they're more accurate. I guess with a 2-minute timer I could spend an extra 20 seconds getting the lines and circles more accurate, and then use the remaining 40 seconds to draw circles for the arms, legs, and hands.

    For the person in the bottom-let, I drew the pelvis too high, then tried to quickly draw it a little lower and rub the first lie out, but I ran out of time.

    Could I please have some feedback? How can I improve here?

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    These look just fine for early gesture drawings. I can tell you're in a bit of a rush, but that's pretty normal.

    I notice that often, your torso and hip circles are butting up against one another. One thing to start to think about is that the ribs and the hipbones don't usually touch one another.

    They are these big rigid structures in the body, that can't really change shape (although they might look different from different angles.)

    But then there's this squishy section right around the belly button where you've got spine, but otherwise, no big, wrap-around bones that keep that part of the body the same shape - so that area can stretch and squish and seem to get longer/shorter in ways that the ribcage and the hipbones just can't.

    So my practice suggestion is, keep that in mind, and try to make your circles for the pelvis and the torso reflective of where the ribcage is and where the hipbones are, minding the gap in between. This will help you to start understanding the underlying anatomy of the body a little bit better, and what the structures are under the skin that govern all the shapes the body can make.

    I look forward to seeing your progress over the next few weeks!


    Hey Joshua!

    I'm super duper impressed with your recent attempt! I can tell a really big difference between the first and second link you shared. In the latter, your pencil strokes already look a lot more confident, and the 'rigid' body parts Kim referred to look much better and in proper proportion. Great job! That is definitely an improvement. :)

    I notice that in most of your gestures, the action line (the one that is commonly depicted as the spine) extends and become a leg. At the top it also bends to connect the head to the spine. This is usually incorrect, although I totally see why you make those connections. I recommend trying to draw the action line in a single fluid motion and sticking to a C-shape, rather than the S-shape you're using right now. Then when you draw the hips, make sure the leg bones attach to the side of the hips, not to the center.

    I wasn't entirely sure which images from the tools these were, but I redlined two of your gestures to better illustrate what I mean!

    I hope that mirrors the gestures you drew, and makes clear what I'm trying to say. If it's still unclear please do let me know!


    Thanks Sanne for the advice!

    I had another go tonight, and tried to apply it: Link

    PS: Is there a reason why someone else's profile pic is showing as mine for previous posts? :-D


    It looks like there's two Joshua's, and some of your posts got mixed up during the transfer. I'll work on straightening that out! :)

    Update: Should be all fixed now! :)


    You're welcome Joshua!

    Took a peek at your recent session and that looks so good! :D You're absolutely on the right track and making great improvements there. :) I recommend you keep practicing like this. When you're ready for more challenges, it's probably a good idea to start focusing on body proportions.

    You can try to pay attention to things like:
    - Is the head the right size?
    - Are the legs long enough?
    - Is the rib cage the right size?

    Good luck and keep us posted! :)


    Thanks Kim and Sanne for the help! I tried to keep those points in mind and drew this today. I think the rib cages and legs are better than before, although my heads tend to be a bit stretched.


    Here's another go at it.


    Comparing your earlier attempts to these latest ones, how do you feel about your own progress and practice direction?


    I just noticed the link in my post on the 26th leads back to this site. This is what I meant to link to.

    Looking at my earlier attempts, I think I am doing better now. I don't think it's because I'm any more skilled than I was before, but rather that now I'm trying to focus on the things you and Sanne told me to (separate the rib cage and the pelvis, draw the line of action as a C instead of an S, pay attention to the proportions of the head, legs and rib cage etc.). I don't think the difference between my earlier and later attempts is as big as with my drawings of hands.

    I'd like to attempt longer drawings to attempt to get some more detail down, although I'm not sure what exactly I should spend the extra time doing to make them better. My longest figure drawings so far have been 5 minute ones. If I tried some ten minute exercises, should I spend twice as long trying to get the proportions and angles more accurate, or should I start off like I would with the five minute exercises, and then spend the extra five minutes adding something else?

    I also got a private message yesterday on Deviantart recommending this series to me, which I'll check out before my next attempt.


    I think that is a massive improvement on its own, to be honest! Drawing gestures isn't just about copying, it's about teaching yourself a proper foundation to work from. Meaning, it's the equivalent of a foundation for a house that ensures the walls will be straight and the house will last (hopefully) multiple lifetimes.

    Gestures are the basic differences between static, lifeless figure drawings and energized figures that exhibit motion. Knowing how to draw gestures properly is the biggest step to take for people who want to improve. Not only have you dramatically improved how you draw gestures, you're starting to do it correctly. I don't think you can humanly ask more from yourself a this point!

    That video series you were linked to is excellent, and from the first 1:30 minutes I want to highlight a very important line from the narrator: "A better approach would be to finding the gesture of the figure so many times that it becomes second nature."

    Do you feel like this new approach to gestures is second nature yet? Are you capable of drawing them the way we've suggested without pausing and thinking about what to do? As soon as you no longer need to go down a checklist or think "Hey, I need to remember to draw a C curve instead of an S curve" or similar, is when I think you should focus on the next step.

    Remember that while progress is something you actively seek, you shouldn't try to force too many aspects to improve at once. It's absolutely okay to take some time and focus on getting comfortable with something new you learned before deciding to move forward.

    I have a lot of points I can share with you that you can focus on for further improvement, but my recommendation at this point is to spend maybe one or two weeks just drawing gestures as you do now, until you don't have to think about it anymore. At that point we can more critically assess your gestures and see what needs fixing. If we already move on to those points I fear your focus will be spread too thin and you'll end up holding yourself back.

    Does this make sense? This is my personal input, maybe Kim and you disagree, if so I'd love to hear that too. :) This is your progress, if you really want to move forward I'll be more than happy to give you those pointers.


    Sanne, you said everything I was thinking, but better. Thank you!

    Joshua, I would agree that your drawings look improved, and I think it is okay for you to count that as an increase in skill even if it came from tips someone else gave you. Lots of people never take the advice! ;)


    I took a look at that Youtube series you posted, Joshua, and it looks great. I might feature it on our blog when I'm done watching it.


    Thanks Kim, and thanks Sanne for the very detailed explanation. To answer your question Sanne: no, drawing gestures this way isn't second nature to me yet. In the timed sessions, I still need to spend 5-10 seconds trying to figure out where I'm going to draw the line of action, the rib cage, and the pelvis.

    Here's another attempt.
    The person in the bottom-right was meant to be running towards the camera, with the camera positioned right in front of the left (the viewer's right) shoulder, with the body angled to the side, and their left knee angled forwards in front of the body, and the right leg behind the body. I didn't successfully capture this motion in my drawing though.

    I also watched the first two videos of that series. I noticed that the steps to figure drawing given by Proko are different to the ones I've been doing so far, so I did another page trying to draw that way. I'm not happy with the results - these figures didn't turn out as well as the other page I drew today; but that just might be because I haven't been practising this method - I think the results are still better than my first attempt at figure drawing at the top of the page.

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