Critique on gesture drawings, 1 hour long session, 4 minutes each along with additional drawings from the other day

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Wisdomsend 2 years ago.

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    I am using Figure Drawing:Design and Invention by Michael Hampton to learn how to do figure drawing, far I have learned mostly of how to use line with asymmetry, repetition, and wrapping lines, ideas of skeletal landmarks and volume, I still struggle to implement ideas of gravity and weight.

    Here are my gesture drawings, as said in the title, I spent 4 minutes on each for an hour, plus additonal poses. My process was to stare at the pose for about an minute, trying to discern where to guide the eye and what types of lines to use, where to place the major masses and such. Then I worked to implement the plan I developed, I work slow and tried to be concious of line placement since I want to be as efficient as possible. I start with the head, then try to get my way down to the foot, then I add in the arms.

    Please point out any flaws you see, and give me your process for drawing the figure, lastly I have some questions.

    How do I make my drawings more solid, add a sense of weight to the figure?

    How to draw wrapping forms better, I have difficulty drawing limbs and images in general that look like they are receding or coming towards the viewer.

    And how do you draw figures that are laying down on the ground, normally when I try to draw them they end up looking flat.

    Once again all critique is appreciated, and if you have any other books or videos for me to check out, let me know, though I am more preoccupied with getting what I can from the book I already have, thank you for reading!

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    These look really great! Your gestures are very dynamic and readable, the one thing that stands out to me the most though is the symmetry of your lines. Try to keep an asymmetrical rhythm when you create the forms of the body, I see this issue the most in the way you draw the legs, although I also see that your incorporating this technique well in other places. Regardless though, you want to keep a nice flow to the rhythm of your lines throughout the entirety of the figure with each line leading towards the other. Check out Michael Hampton's figure drawing book or his gesture drawing lectures/demonstrations on youtube, he very much covers this topic in his material. Anyways, the energy in your figures is really great, and I can tell that you've been putting in the time to practice and improve, keep it up!


    Hey Itopal, thank you for the critique! Next time I do figure drawing, I'll make sure to be concious about using more asymmetry and keep the flow going through the entirety of the body. Thank you for also bringing to my attention Michael Hampton's youtube channel, I'll be sure to check it out. Thanks for the compliments as well, they're really encouraging, have a good one!


    A general tip, not so much for drawing, but for scanning pencil drawings, especially on darker paper. Check your scanning software, most scanning softwares have some basic editing tools. If yours doesn't, switch to another one. I use HP Smart, that came with my scanner/printer combo. Find the button that regulates contrast and dial it up until the entire page turns white. Then crank down the brightness until your drawing reappears.

    You will find that your lines will become much more visible, and will look like they were drawn in char coal or ink on lily white paper. You will also see a few smudges or dirty spots on the paper or the scanner surface, but if you fiddle around with just the contrast and brightness settings a bit, you can get a very crisp result that shows your drawing as close to your original idea as you like.

    About the sketches themselves: I would recommend using a single page for each drawing and trying to fill the entire page. That way you train final composition as well, and get used to drawing with longer bolder lines. Drawback is, scanning and uploading all those pages gets a bit more of a struggle, but some suffering is worth it for the art.

    About the pure art style, I haven't checked out Michael Hampton, yet, and don't know his exact teaching method, but I am personally a great friend of trying to reduce the number of lines/strokes used per image to a practical minimum. That way you can spend more time and attention on exactly controlling each individual mark for placement, length, curvature, line width, saturation, etc... and avoid developing a messy hasty style, that you will then have to unlearn when aiming for clearer images.


    Hey Aunt Herbert, thanks for the excellent comment. I used a basic phone scanner to take the pictures, but next time I'll definitely focus on taking a higher quality image so that people can critique the pure drawing. I've done mostly smaller gesture drawings so that I could fit more on a page, but it makes sense that larger images are a better test of my artistic abilities, I'll do more of them next time. And don't worry about Michael Hampton's teaching methods, he also puts focus on using fewer lines to develop a gesture drawing, he says to make lines that you can explain as essential to the drawing, it's just my fault that my drawings are messy. Gesture is the human body broken down in its barest components, so I'll focus on using further minimizing the amount of lines in my gesture drawings, maybe limit myself to a set number of lines? I'll work to implement everything you mentioned into my art, thank you for your time!


    Hey Patient Monkey! You've got some great stuff in here, you're definitely on your way. To answer your question about weight, I think you already have some great instances of weight in your drawings. A good example would be the figures where you've included the thorassic arch, which makes the torso feel more dimension. You certainly have situations where your figures feel flat, so looking for opportunities to draw quick details may help. For example, drawing a quick line to indicate the kneecap will give your legs a little more roundness and depth.

    Not sure what you mean by wrapping forms, can you give an example? I don't see any major issues with the positioning of the arms on your figures, but I also don't have your models to reference.

    As for drawing figures lying down, that's a unique challenge that usually requires an understanding of basic perspective drawing and foreshortening. Probably the best approach is to do some studies, starting with the basic skeleton. Take as much time as you need to examine your model or photo reference and correctly place the thorax, pelvis, and bones. Simple forms for each is fine, you're just trying to get a sense of what these objects look like from a new angle. Drawing a perspective grid oriented around your model may help too, giving you an idea of how the body appears to get smaller as it recedes into the distance.

    I have no idea what your understanding of perspective is, so let me know if any of that doesn't make sense.


    Hey Legacy55, thanks for the tips, the bits about adding how to make my figures feel more solid are helpful, so is your insight on drawing laying down figures. About my second question, I see how my phrasing might be odd, I'm talking about drawing figures or certain limbs that look like they are coming towards or away from the viewer, like if someone is reaching thier hand out to you, I believe that's called foreshortening? Hope that clears it up somewhat. I have a very basic understanding of perspective, I'm aware of horizon lines, vanishing points, and somewhat of perspective grids, so I understand what you are saying, but not so much on how to implement it. I've seen perspective grids used often for drawing figures, though I have struggled understanding why or how it helps gives the figure more dimensionality. I have not dedicated much time to learning perspective though, if you don't mind answering, how useful is it for drawing believable figures? and how much of it do I need to know? If it is important, then I will dedicate some time to learning persepective as well, I plan to get to it anyways since it is a art fundamental. If you have any other wisdom to impart on me, I would appreciate it, thank you for your time!


    Got it, thanks for clarifying your second question Patient Monkey. And you're correct, that is called foreshortening. Again, I think you're displaying a pretty good feel for the forms of the arm when they're moving towards or away from the viewer, but it can certainly be tricky when the arm is coming DIRECTLY at you. First of all, to understand how to draw a foreshortened arm (or really the arm in any tricky angle) is to understand the basic forms of the bones and be able to draw them from any angle. Again, not sure what your understanding of anatomy is, but if you're not familiar with the bones of the body I highly recommend This website has a ton of videos that explain how to draw each of the bones, and I'd recommend taking the time to work through them. If you're stuck on a strange arm angle, do a study on the positioning of the bones. A lot of times that study can provide some great direction on how to draw the foreshortened arm in your gesture sketch.

    As for your question about using perspective grids to draw believable figures, generally speaking it's not useful for that sort of thing. However, drawing figures lying down are the exception. As you know, perspective helps us understand how to draw objects that are receding into the distance. When we draw the human body, typically all the parts of the body are the same distance from the viewer, which means we get used to drawing them at the same proportion to each other. However, if someone's lying down with their head near the viewer and their feet pointing in the opposite direction, those feet are now 5-6 feet away from the head and need to be drawn smaller than we would be used to drawing them. If you understand the basic forms of the bones and their relative sizes to each other, you can draw those forms on top of your perspective grid to get an idea of the size of each one. For instance, the distance from the top of the thorax to the bottom of the pelvis is about (but not quite) the same distance as the length of the entire femur. If you draw the thorax and pelvis together on your perspective grid, look at how many squares deep they are and you know how many squares deep your femur should go.

    Hopefully that helps. Being able to do this well does require knowledge on how to draw and rotate the individual forms of the body in perspective, so let me know if you're still strugging to understand that as well. If so, I may be able to put together some instructive illustrations that demonstrate what I'm suggesting.


    Hey Legacy55, I know of some of the bones, though mainly around the ribcage area (which is the same as the thorax I believe) but am unaware of what bones there are in the arms and legs, which you seem to put a lot of emphasis on for drawing the figure, I'll definitely see that I work more on growing my knowledge on bones, a good understanding of the skelton seems essential for drawing a figure that has weight and good proportions. And what you've said about using perspective grids in drawing is insightful as well, just by thinking about how to incorporate it I feel like my understanding of drawing the figure laying down is already growing, though I of course still have to study and practice. Rotating and imagining parts of the body in a 3-D space is something that I struggle with as well, and the idea has troubled me as well since it seems to rely on a strong understanding of the body which I lack, any elaboration on the topic would be helpful as well. Your input has been instrumental and I'm very greatful, I feel like I have a clear goal, which is to study skeleton, I know what results to expect and I know where to go to learn more. Thank you for your time.


    You bet Patient Monkey. It's tough stuff, I'm still mastering it too. Learning the bones and then the muscles will get you a long way though and be absolutely essential when it comes to troubleshooting tough poses. If you have any more questions, feel free to DM me.


    Hey Legacy55, I'll let you know if I need anything else, thank you for your time.


    I've looked through the entire posts of your current gallery of quick figural sketches, and they say to me that you're definitely on the right direction, in terms of the solidity and weight of the drawn poses.

    I think you're really know what you're doing in terms of the weight and balance in the drawing, or design. Also, I really, really feel like that one of the wireframe poses in your link there, is a little bit too forced there. Would you like to speed up and free up your feelings in the quick sketches, to exaggerate the weight, with 154 minutes of 30 second quick poses, all with out custom timer, or with the custom class here? (154 x 60/30/7 days, 9240/30/7, 308/7=44 scribble attitudes a day)

    Although the arguement it as a result, your weight will have the most lightest of touches, and to make it more spontaneous, alive, and lively, yet humorous.

    For more info, please check this video out.

    Good luck, thanks for posting, and have fun with it.


    Thank you for the video, it's quite helpful and I've noticed some improvement already by trying out the technique described in the video, you've also helped remind me that gesture is less about creating a perfect human being, but more about creating an depicition of one that is exaggerated to emphasize movement, feeling, and story, gesture is only the first step in drawing the figure after all. Thank you for your time.


    You are on the right path, but try following the spine more with your lines, the contour will just suffocate your figures at this early stage

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