No idea where to go [Gesture/Figure Drawing]

Home Forums Critique No idea where to go [Gesture/Figure Drawing]

This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Polyvios Animations 2 years ago.

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    Hello, I started drawing since february 2020. I have used the past year to train myself in portrait drawing, as it is my most favourite subject to draw. However, as of a month ago, I decided to start figure drawing as well.

    I feel that things are different with figure drawing. I have to say, I like it less. I also feel that information just doesn't stick to me as much as it would for portrait drawing. I tried watching Glenn Villpu's courses on figure drawing. I also tried to read Michael Hampton's book. Now I'm watching Watt's seminars. And still I feel like I'm not seeing it. I am making no progress. The figures I draw are stiff and out of proportion.

    I really wish I could be able to draw figures from imagination at an ok-ish quality by September. Do you guys have any suggestions? Conceptual ideas? Like for example should I keep doing gesture, or switch to a perspective 3D shapes approach? Should I only do simple lines until I get the hang of direction and action?

    So far the only exercises I do are 1 minute poses on this site. When I was learning portraiture, Michael Hampton's introductory course to head drawing helped a lot, as it guided me to do croquis every day. And that really helped with mastering observation and proportion of the head. With human bodies this tactic doesn't seem to work as much. It just feels like there's a certain finesse that I don't have.

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    Regarding the "stiffness" of your drawings, I feel like it mostly stems because you're not actually doing gesture drawings, but contour drawings: that is, focusing more on the individual bits and bulges of anatomy, rather than the actual pose of the figure. The actual gesture drawing can be something as simple as a stick figure as long as it carries the essential parts of the pose down, as it's what helps to form the base for the structural portions of the drawing. Don't worry about getting a good-looking drawing down when practicing gesture, that part comes later. For now, just focus on capturing the essence of the pose.

    For now, I'd recommend trying to reduce the amount of lines you use when gesture drawing. You seem to be getting some idea of the gesture down right now (right arm in #3, left arm in #4, shoulder and left upper arm in #8, for example) but your gestural lines tend to use a bit too many curves, which makes things look disjointed. I've traced over some of your drawings here, with some suggestions:

    Upper arm on the left is two c-curves that could be simplified into one. Neck, back, and upper leg is broken into an s-curve and a c-curve, but could be simplified into only an s-curve.

    On the left, torso + right leg could be simplified into a single c-curve. Similarly on the right, where the torso + right leg could be simplified into a single s-curve.

    You can also branch off portions of curves into separate ones, such as using a c-curve for the torso + left leg, but also branching off from that c-curve into another c-curve that represents the right arm.


    As for proportion, I'd say to keep it in mind but not worry too much about it for now. Trying to get good gesture while also maintaining proper proportion is difficult, and trying to focus too much on proportion without first having a proper grasp of gesture is just going to hamper your progress on both. Proportion is something better studied with the 3D structure of the body in mind, so I'd worry about that once you get there.

    As for whether you should switch to a 3d shape approach, I'd say yes and no. Yes, being able to break down the human body into 3d building blocks will definitely improve your understanding of the structure of the body, which will improve your figure drawings and help provide a basis for studying proportion. However, I also wouldn't stop studying gesture, either. Gesture is the foundation of the drawing itself, and even if the forms and shading put on top of that foundation look good, a bad gesture drawing's still going to be visible through all that. So basically, if you study 3d form, make sure you bring that knowledge back into your studies of gesture, and vice versa.


    Do note that gesture drawing is something that has "no right answer", and the methods and execution are more up to the artist; what I'm doing (and suggesting) here might not be the correct way of doing things for you. I prefer keeping my gestures as simple stick figures, though I've seen very good gestures that draw simplified figures with snake-like limbs, constructing figures out of 3d shapes, etc. I'd recommend experimenting on your own and trying to find a method that works for you.

    A lot of what goes into gesture drawing is pattern recognition, as in being able to recognize what and how parts of a pose connect together. Although you can pick up some tricks here or there, this mostly boils down to experience, which comes from practice, making progress painfully slow at times. I've been going at figure drawing for around a year now, and I think my gesture drawings are alright, but far from great (although, to be fair, I haven't been practicing enough).

    Ultimately, as someone's who's been in the opposite situation from you (practiced figure drawing first, and is currently practicing portrait drawing), gesture requires a different mindset than the more analytical one needed for portrait drawing, and being able to understand that mindset is the hard part. If you're looking for some more information on figure drawing, you could try looking at Michael D. Mattessi's FORCE series which has some great info, but honestly, when I first read it, most of it just felt like gibberish. I can understand what he's trying to say now, but getting over that first hurdle of getting in the right mindset is something that requires time and patience. Wish I could help you out more, but good luck.

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    CarbonCopyCat, thanks for the long answer! I appreciate you took your time with this. Thanks again!


    Great work on your very first post of the figure drawings, Sabinlord!!

    My biggest critique is that though those figure sketches are general fluidy and flowy, but most specifically, those lines are far too rigid, stiffest, itchiest, scratchiest and choppiest. Would you please try and do this in class drawing tutorial here on this website?

    The reason is totally because, first you start with the quickest warm-ups, then you get to slow down the most with these longer studies, and finally, the longest one is the 5 minute study. And most importantly, it can get you the most aquainted and comfortable with quick sketching with the most practice and patience.

    To learn a new move, exaggerate it.

    -Daniel Coyle, The Little Book of Talent

    For more tips on how to refine and polish your developing talents and skills, be sure to look them up on DuckDuckGo, Google, or get yourself an Audible of Coyle's Book, The Little Book of Talent.

    Cheers, good luck to your goal, and I hope you've found these realistic, attainable, more achievable, and most helpful, encouraging and informative.

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