How To Incorporate Structure Into Quicker Gestures?

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Sophbeanzee 1 year ago.

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    I'm returning to gestures/figure drawing after about a months break due to exams, and one consistent issue I'm noticing has to do with structure.

    These drawings are a mixture of 30 seconds, about 2 minutes, and 5 minutes in length, and structure seems to be an area I'm really struggling with. Typically, I don't go in with an unerlying line of action/underdrawing, and doing one of those seems to have helped, but I'm still not satisfied with the potrayal of the subject. The forms seem sort of uncohisive? "Gummy" almost? I'm at the early stages of addressing these issues, but if anyone could point me in the right direction I'd be really thankful.

    Also, if there's any other issues with them please let me know! I'd noticed a bit of a concerning lack of line quality at the beginning, but that seemed to improve over the practise, so I count that as a win.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.

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    Hi! I think a good thing to remember, especially at first, is that your drawing doesn't need to look good or finished, especially as you're learning faster gestures, which are hard as hell to make look good. I usually try to think of them as a warm up, or practice through sheer exposure. You're essentially trying to improve your ability to take down the information of a body easily.

    It's usually easiest to add structure by figuring out where the biggest shapes are and then working from there. People have varying ways of portraying them, but generally speaking structure starts with the rib cage, the pelvis, and the head. The rib cage gives you the angle of the shoulders, the pelvis the angle of the hips, and together they give you the movement of the torso. From the torso, you add the limbs--which are terribly fiddly and so hard to do in a gesture. I'm not sure about everyone else, but personally I give them 0 structure during 30 minute and 60 second gestures--I just don't have the time. However for 3 and 5 minute gestures, I'll indulge a bit. I find it most useful to draw (lightly) where the big joints are (the caps of the shoulders, the place where thighs meet pelvis) and then from there (still lightly) fill in the big underlying muscle shapes, which are always rounder and softer than I often want to make them unless I put ovals underneath. This is a bit hard to explain with words so here's a picture of what I mean:

    Calves are the place I put them most often because I struggle with them the most, but other good places for them are the shoulder caps, biceps, and thighs. They just give you a guide of what is holding up the "lines" you're going to draw more firmly over top. From there I find it's mostly practice and preference. When do you like to use structure and when do you find you don't need to? Do you like more or less structure? What pieces of structure do you find give the most info when you're short on time?

    A great way to get more comfortable with the underlying structure is to do anatomy practice of underlying muscles. Find a rendering of a person without skin (gross sounding but... yeah) and then draw simple ovals and circles to put together a very silly looking balloon person, and then once you feel like you understand generally where the big parts of people are, start using them in your gestures before you put down your hard lines. Try doing more or less, or for certain types of poses, or for certain areas that you find are hard to capture enough info about in a quick gesture otherwise.

    I hope this helps some. Good luck!

    • Strawberrydrea edited this post on July 7, 2022 11:40pm. Reason: photo isn't working ;_;
    • Strawberrydrea edited this post on July 7, 2022 11:42pm. Reason: photo still not working, now it is a link

    hey! so i think the thing that helped me the most was really studying shape language. Finding your guidelines is an important first step but it can be difficult to know where to go from there. So for me personally I begin with breaking everything down into a shape. (some of my favorites being a square or triangle) It may look pretty stiff and pointy at first but it's a great way to learn proportion and up your line confidence. Turning a shoulder into a triangle for example also helps you learn the directional lines of the body! It also makes it alot easier to pump out complex poses in shorter time limits. Hope this helped and i could explain it best i can! keep up the hard work!!


    A really good exercise is "the bean", from Proko.


    It's a fun way to see the human body as a simplified 3D form.

    In my experience, after a couple of years of studying gesture, the human figure and perspective, it suddenly "clicked". Understanding form it's like learning to read, one step at a time. Patience is key.


    Oh my goodness thank you so much!! I had been looking for an explination like this for a while! Even though for one, this was an answer to another post, but two, this is info I already know, its so insightful and a huge plus for me to know I'm going in the right track. It's also nelpful for someone to explain this in a way I talk as well. I talk and type very simliar to you which is another thing that helps I've noticed for me anyways. I'm defenatly taking a screen shot of this and putting it in my ref folder!!!


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