gesture drawings - how to improve?

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by Rongogh_Art 3 years ago.

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    hi everyone,

    i started to practice with gesture drawing digitally to improve my art. i try to do 1-2 minute poses for at least 30 minutes every day.

    please give me your advice and critique on what to improve, you can be as harsh as you want to be! i really want to improve, so your tips and recommendations are welcome.

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    I can tell what each drawing is, but they seem stiff. I think you're probably using just your wrist to draw and taking slow pencils/pen strokes. Try to use action lines and use your arm more when drawing.


    Hi Antebellum,

    I agree with Fadee7 that your gesture drawings seem stiff.

    I used to draw gestures the exact same way, until I learnt a bit more about the purpose of gesture, and how to do it from the Proko Figure Drawing series.

    Check it out here if you're interested:

    I went back to the first video a bunch of times during daily gesture practice just to let it sink in. I think it'll help you a lot.

    Try to use less lines and find the flow of the figure (or action line) rather then drawing each contour of the body.

    Get really good at gesture and then you can build structure on top of the gesture with simple forms later (I'm in the middle of this process myself).


    Thank you @Fadee7! You are right, I have been using my wrist to draw. I will try to use my arm more.

    @yoyoaero thank you for the link, it seems very helpful and I'll watch it to improve.

    I appreciate all the feedback :)


    Dear Antebellum,

    I see a good start towards learning about gestures from you. I agree with much of what Fadee7 and yoyoaero suggested. Although I don't think that your simplification/the AMOUNT of lines you are using are the problem. The issue is how you are using the lines. There is no way to know how many lines you will use in a drawing for any given time limit. You just draw until your message is clear. And you get as much information in at your own pace. Eventually, your skills to recognized and translate to paper what you want to express will improve and you naturally get faster. As in the proko video mentioned above, you want to find the movement, the flow of the figure. You are focussing a lot on contours and representation. For gestures, the focus needs to be on movement (while paying attention to proportions).

    The one biggest suggestion I can tell you is, put down your stylus and your digital medium. pick up a pencil or charcoal and a large pad of paper, at least 11"x14" but preferably 18"x24", and start working with bigger gestures. This is the best way to train yourself to draw from your shoulders. Your wrist should not move and your elbow moves minimally. Everything remains loose. And your pad/paper should be angle towards you, or standing up, so that you don't distort your proportions. Just one warning, doing this can and will tire your shoulder at first. It will definitely be uncomfortable. Just take short breaks in between from time to time. Eventually that will go away if you do this often/daily. Those muscles will build. I wish you a fun and productive journey.

    Best wishes,


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    Im not really a profesinal but my advise is to have some smother lines. Draw more with with your arm and not your wrist

    ( sorry if i have bad english )


    You have a good innate sense of proportion, and when the pose is more extreme you drift into gesture naturally. SO you are already sensing what I am going to be suggesting.

    You are getting the point of the excercise on your own well enough.

    But you WANT a critique, so:

    From what I see, you are drawing "quick contour" studies. Now... Those have a place for sure! (One fun thing is limit one side to curves another straight lines and block the model, etc)

    Gesture is, to me, more the "action" of the pose than the actual outlines or form of a pose (per Nicholades which invented the thing, he may be some good but very obtuse reading on He talks of "feelings" too much)

    The best way to put it is you are working inside-out very well; draw and outline and fill it is the normal way we draw.

    But, there is also a 2nd half of working outside-in that might help you.

    As I see it:

    With a gesture you want to draw the movement more than the "form" it's why it exagerates, etc. If you ever played street fighter the gesture includes the "HA-DOO-KET" part of the punch. There's the punch... but also the flow of action upward.

    If that metephore falls flat or is to dated/nerdy:

    when you jump from just one foot, with outside lines, anatomy, poses etc. we can from the outside see the muscles in the legs move. Drawing that well is indeed a skill!

    Yet, the skeleton, etc. is also flexing/ twisting/ moving. If we look at just a leg we can't see it, but as a whole "figure" we see the bending inside the body. That's what Gesture is really trying to get at. The whole figure shifting and moving at once. If we draw everything as pieces we miss the "boom" of the whole.

    So my critique:

    Your poses don't have/ risk any lines running through the entire figure (call it a line of action, etc. thats a "technique" but not the only way).

    In image 0620 the female doing splits on the right shows what i see generally: You stop the line on the breast, then carve it on afterwards. I would carve the entire form, then augment with the breast. In most the figures there is a sense of assembling as you draw not clarifying.

    There is a sense you are carefully, (and skillfully, I'm writing a lot to a stranger here), carving out the space around the figure, but not actually "building up" the figure itself.

    Its like you are drawing what isn't instead of what is, if that makes sense. It's kinda "painter" advice, they push edges out.

    SO i say try to draw the whole figure, then the parts. And draw the form, not the space the form occupies.

    Some exercises I would suggest as an old man to help:

    1. Use Nicholades own gesture method (it's nasty nasty scribbles, it looks bad!) but it cuts "through" the form. Google it; it's basically just don't lift the pencil and scrible back and forth to draw the form. Yes it looks dumb, but it for a few days it will get the point across.

    2. Try drawing on grey/brown with white and black or white with a light and dark color pencil with a sense of "quick coloring" (white 1-minute and black 1- minute or so).

    3. Find one big line a curve or whatever (a line of action) that sums up the pose, then draw all the other lines off it as straight lines or curves. Looks cubist but it helps

    4. Ignore lines totally and with pen scribles in circles/ side of a crayon try to draw a figure (picasso liked to do that)

    5. Take a photo/ drawing and some tracing paper and draw the skeleton in over it. You'll have to make it bend and flex.

    Take away from what I'm saying:

    These are practice, who cares how practice looks. But yours beat some of mine!

    I think you are carefully drawing outlines. And good at it. That will improve your skill as is.

    But there are other aspects of art that you could add ontop of those if you in "practice mode" play around more.

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    Well, antebellum, I'm absolutely admiring your gesture drawings, in terms of the feeling of vitality and energy, in terms of constructions, and in terms of proportions and angles in almost all of the bodies, yet, I'm not really a master yet of hands, feet, and figure, but I've got one small appraisal: One of the figure drawings have some off relationships in one of hands, in one of your poses. Why don't you draw out yet another 16 30 second hand and foot drawings, pretty, pretty please, please?? The reason why is for the reason that, your hand gestures and proportions will become even more than loosest and fullest of life. Presume and pray that it'll soon succeed.

    Polyvios Animations


    Something I noticed is that your characters seem a bit stiff. If your thought process when analyzing the art is centered on the contours rather than the overall gesture, this could be the reason why. Another possibility could be the movement of the torso. Maybe if you exaggerate the pose that could help. I hope that helps you, antebellum.

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    wow, i am blown away by all the different feedback and suggestions! my utmost thanks to everyone who took the time out to provide their comments and suggestions on how to improve to a complete stranger. you have made this community very welcoming and helpful!

    @Rongogh_Art thank you for the advice! i have been switching to pen and paper some of the days in order to practice what you suggested

    @Arottenrose thank you for giving your comment!

    @Icon123 thank you for the detailed critique! i appreciate the detailed examples and ideas for different styles of drawing to train my brain. i will be trying these different methods slowly.

    @Polyvios Animations thank you for compliment! i will try doing more foot and hand gestures soon.

    @Paul Riddle19 thank you for the feedback! I am usually conflicted when trying to draw the contours vs the gesture, you are right about that. I am trying to focus on the gestures now.

    I have watched a little of the proko introduction videos and here are my latest attempts at 60 second gesture drawings. I kept it at 60 seconds so that I don't overthink and focus on gesture movement. However, you can probably tell that it still feels a little awkward haha


    Hi Antebellum, Super gestures!

    You are definitely moving along with your skill building. I see your emphasis on portraying movement on all of your gestures. So now it's time to put the two skills that you have developed (portraying the representation of form in your previous set of gestures, and portraying movement as you have shown in this last set of gestures). It's time to tighten up the gestures so that you can more easily create form. Think of the gestures as a skeleton of sorts.

    For your next lesson, watch Glenn Vilpuu do a demo. But more importantly, listen to him! He will describe every step he takes in detail, but in simple easy to follow instruction. You will see and hear how he uses gesture to describe the movement and then contains the gesture with form. These are lessons to not only practice along with, but to absorb the concepts of. I watch these videos repeatedly, not only to reinforce what I've learned, but to also jusmpstart my creative flow. There is something about watching a master level artist at work that just gets the engine revving. I encourage you to explore youtube for as many of these types of content. Happy drawing!


    • Rongogh_Art edited this post on July 7, 2020 6:41pm. Reason: Didn't post link
    • Rongogh_Art edited this post on July 7, 2020 6:42pm. Reason: typos
    • Rongogh_Art edited this post on July 7, 2020 6:42pm. Reason: typos

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