New to figure drawing, please critique and give advice

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    Hello, I just started doing figure drawing and I'm not sure if I'm doing things properly.

    The drawings are here, the first file is the 30 sec ones, then the 1 minute and the 5 minute ones —

    First of all, I'm not sure how I should make the "skeleton" of the figure. Some say to draw circles, while others say it's better with triangles, and some say cylinders/prisms. Which one is better?

    Now for my five minute drawings, they don't really look right. It's also really messy because I kept drawing proportions wrong. Should I use a different medium, such as pencil? Or does it not matter.

    Thanks in advance :)

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    Hey Starriser,

    You're definitely on the right track. as for getting the "skeleton" down, I think it is just a thing of: what works best for me? Or what comes most naturally? It seems like you're starting with circles, and so i would stick with that. However, it doesn't hurt to try new styles, so I would suggest doing 8-16 30 second gestures with each style (circles, triangles, etc.) and see what feels best.

    I would absolutely recommend doing gestures in pencil or charcoal. With pencil, it's easier to create a more expressive line, since varying pressure on the pencil will create a range in the size of the lines, leading to more depth and motion. For being new to figure drawing, you are doing amazing. In your five minute drawings, you said that the proportions are off, when they are fairly accurate and just need more practice.

    I would also recommend studying and observing the anatomy of the human body. Everyone learns differently, but for me the most helpful exercise has simply been drawing hands, skulls, feet and the foot bones etc. There is a book I recommend called Human Anatomy for the Artist (I put a link at the bottom). There's always google though.

    I'm not very good at explaining exercises so I copy/pasted this (website here.) This is an exercise we did with real life models in my figure drawing class:

    Measure with your Pencil

    -Hold your arm straight out, without bending the elbow. Bending the elbow will bring the measurement closer to your eye and increase the size. The measurement will be consistent if the elbow is locked.

    -Tilt your head to bring the eyes as close as possible to the pivot point at your shoulder. This is important to keep the measurements consistent throughout the whole subject. If you dont do this. When measuring around the top of the pose, the pencil will be closer to your eyes and when measuring around the feet it will be farther from your eyes. This difference in the distance makes the measurements inconsistent. Keep your eye near the shoulder to minimize this.

    -Close one eye.

    -Use the tip of the pencil as the top point of whatever you’re measuring and put your thumb at the bottom point.
    Now that you have the unit, you can compare it to another part of the figure.

    Overall, you're doing an amazing job though. The most important thing is practice, and you will definitely get there if you stay confident in your ability! When it comes to gestures, don't focus too much on the accuracy of subject anyway. It's all about expressing the movement of the form. I'm sorry this was so long, I just hope this was helpful at all!

    Here's the book I recommended: Human Anatomy for the Artist

    • Hanpb edited this post on January 9, 2021 9:40pm.

    Thank you so much for the advice!


    I think you're being too hard on yourself. You have captured a nice sense of each pose in the quick sketches. The third set of studies is nice. I think every artist sees the set of shapes differently and it's often a matter of finding what works best for you. The key is to focus on how the shapes you chose to use work in relationship to each other. I often use aseries of quick lines to give me a sense of the general flow, and then build the shaps working along the axis I've laid out. That seems to work for me. In the first two studies I think the proportion is a little off, and that skews the overall perspective. SOme of these poses are tough when there is not a sense of how light and shadow is working across the figure. you might try playing with the addition of some basic values - that can really change how perspective and proportion are rendered by the eye. Keep it up!


    Hello starriser,

    I'm just looking at your gesture drawings, and I feel like you are on the right track so far. And I think so, too.

    So, to answer your question on the "skeleton" foundation, I really think that all of those approaches (circles, triangles, etc.) are all equally valid approaches, because of the unique functions and characteristics of the figural construction of your drawing. Why don't you please do please do 76 minutes of 30 second poses for each and every shape design?

    The reason why?? As a result, it can and will, help you out on your experimentation and practice on your figure gesture drawing, by making it the least stiff, and more than dynamic, vital, and energetic, for your skeletal foundations.

    Well if you wanna improve your quick sketching, maybe this link could help you out:

    I hope you'll find this completely and totally lovely, informative, and encouraging.

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