Can't figure out legs

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Polyvios Animations 2 months ago.

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    So I've been drawing for a few years but never learned proper things like anatomy or gesture drawings, so my drawings always felt kind of stiff in a way. Now I'm getting into gesture drawing, but my biggest issues are that I try to focus on the little details instead of the bigger picture and that I can't figure out how to simplify the legs.

    Focusing on the bigger picture is easy enough, I just need to catch myself when I focus too much on one thing, but the legs.
    I'm about halfway through a gesture drawing book and watched a couple of videos, but getting the legs correct completely eludes me. That weird S curve that I see drawn for the legs, I just can't picture it in my head. I don't know what the line specifically represents. Does the top half represent the top side of the thigh? The center? And then that inward curve in the middle; That messes me up the most. Did I draw that curve going too far out? Not far enough? Same issue as the top half of the line. Is that the edge of the calves? The center? I have no idea.

    This image is a series of drawing I did. Some were 30 seconds (which are pretty clear to see) and others 2 minutes and one being 5 minutes.
    The arms do give me some trouble but to a lesser extent. Some of these dont even have legs because I just couldn't think of how to draw the line. Others I think have the legs drawn pdecentlyl (the 3 along the bottom) but I just know they look decent. I can't explain to myself what I did that made it make sense in my head.
    Any suggestions or help with the legs is very appreciated.

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    I'm starting to think maybe I should try focusing on much more simpler shapes, like single lines for arms, legs, and torso. Make 30 second or less drawings working my confidence in that before moving on to more accurate shapes of the body. Not sure if that's a good route I'm just putting my thoughts out there.


    It sounds like you've given yourself a good answer, the way I see it. Focusing on the overall gesture, then expanding on the form when you have built up confidence, understanding, and consequently, speed.


    OK, several things:

    a) Yes, starting with simplified gestures to get a working muscle memory for drawing the pose is definitely a way better idea than jumping right into complicated anatomical details. If you get accustomed to the pose, you will find big landmarks to measure your proportions from. If you try to add up itsy bitsy details instead, you will become crazy, as every bit of mismeasured relation bitween two details will multiply, and at the end, your drawing will just consist of a bunch of little shapes at vastly different scale.

    b) ...and when you start getting into some more details, the limbs aren't the best place to start from. Keep the arms and legs as simple lines for quite a while, until you are confident how to draw "the torso". And I put "the torso" in quotation marks, because ideally you should stop thinking of it as one thing. It's the ribcage plus collar bones on the upper side, and the hip on the lower side you are interested in, and they aren't solidly fixed to each other, but connected by the spine, which has its own typical range of mobility.

    Ribcage is a standing egg, with the bottom cut off in an inverted v-shape, on top of the egg sit the collar bones. For the hip either draw a pair of undies, or draw a big box, that contains the buttox, and think of the legs as cut out of that box. Collar bones and hips indicate where the major joints have to end up, and until you are confident enough to pinpoint them, any attempts to go into detail with limbs will end up as a lottery: If you get the position of the joints randomly correct, you might end up with a decent drawing, if the joints are positioned off, you can spend hours working hard, and then realize that you won't get away from that uncanny feeling, that something is off with the drawing.

    c) That said, your curiosity about legs being drawn strangely s-shaped has an answer. It has even two answers, as there isn't just one, but two possible s-shapes, depending whether you look at the legs from the front or the side.

    The s-shape from the front is mostly visible in athletic persons with really shredded legs. On the front of the thigh, you got the quadriceps, and its most prominent line goes from the outside of the hip to the inside of the knee, which lines up with the calf muscle which arcs from the inside of the knee to the outside of the foot.

    Seen from the side, the bone structure is almost linear, but it starts near the front of the hip and goes to the back of the foot. Above the knee, the anterior quadriceps extends into a curve ahead of the bone, below the knee, the calf muscle extends into a curve almost completely behind the shin.

    Big caveat to my explanations and sketches: My own anatomical knowledge is at most half-baked. If someone wants to show up to beat me with some real facts, I'll instantly and happily yield.

    Edit, That side pose is drawn badly, it only works if the person is holding themselves with the hands to prevent falling on their back, as I drew the bone structure too vertical. Should have positioned the foot a good bit further to the rear to show the leg in a stable position. The hip joint in a relaxed and stable position should be pretty much exactly above the start of the toes.


    Thanks, seeing the lines highlighted in your drawings really help me see exactly what those legs line are supposed to lay on.


    Hi there. Overall you have done a great job in depicting the postures in a simplified way. Do not worry about getting the legs right or not, but if you want to improve on that part, you may just focus on that part, practice drawing that part using gestural drawing technique you have been using. Good luck!


    Did another round of 30 second drawings, going for much simpler forms this time. I think I've got a grasp on the legs more or less, but now I'm having trouble whenever the pose involves the legs being bent in a sitting or similar position. The lines don't feel as smooth as those standing and I'm not sure whether I'm doing it right or not. Some arms and legs being at a hard angle doesnt feel right for gesture drawings


    I repeat, as I said before, don't worry about the limbs until you figured out what ribcage and hips do. Focus on drawing head, ribcage and hips.


    Good morning, July99, and welcome to Line of Action. I'm Polyvios Animation, and I'm finest, and how are you? Nicest job on your very first ever post. But I have too much trouble accessing your image of your first drawings. Would you please just repost it on your Imgur or whatever else, so that we can and will see it best?

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