Developing a Preparatory Figure Drawing in Sight-Size

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  • #2679439
    New Masters AcademyNew Masters Academy
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    In this lesson, you will learn how to establish the light and shadow patterns of the figure in your preparatory drawing. Instructor Stephen Bauman will demonstrate the buildup of the values using graphite and white chalk. You will practice rendering the core shadows and halftones.

    This lesson belongs to the course Sight-Size Figure Painting. In this 13-week course, Stephen Bauman will teach you how to paint the figure in the sight-size method. You will explore the processes of creating a transfer drawing and a color study to prepare for your final painting. Stephen will lecture on the materials and techniques he employs when painting the figure. This course will provide the knowledge you need to skillfully capture the human body on canvas utilizing the sight-size method.

    Throughout this course, you’ll have access to the NMA community for feedback and critiques to improve your work as you progress.

    #2694501
    James BurnetteJames Burnette
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    I can’t figure why he doesn’t move the easel far enough away so he won’t have to move back and forth.

    #2694563
    totte
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    I’d assume that he steps back to look at the drawing from a distance to avoid tunnel vision.

    #2698820
    Daniel DaigleDaniel Daigle
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    Hi James and Totte, This is a standard practice with the sight size method. The reason they step back is:
    1) to see both the canvas and the model at the same size simultaneously. this 1:1 ratio is also important when squinting to remove details and to look at only the values and colors. its easier to compare when they are the same size. Same goes for proportions and placement
    2) reduce perspective distortion from both the model and canvas
    3) allow free movement: to measure the model without the canvas obstructing their view or measuring arm
    4) to freshen the eyes. remember the phrase, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. We take a step back to view the harmony and proportions without getting lost in the details
    5) to get some cardio 😛

    #2754980
    totte
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    This is a standard practice with the sight size method. The reason they step back is:
    1) to see both the canvas and the model at the same size simultaneously. this 1:1 ratio is also important when squinting to remove details and to look at only the values and colors. its easier to compare when they are the same size. Same goes for proportions and placement

    This is true whether standing at the easel or taking a few steps back, no? What I find curious is the roll of tape, and the instructor glancing at the floor when stepping back. If the instructor did mark a spot on the floor with tape, I would like to hear the reasoning behind it. I would have thought the distance arbitrary.

    2) reduce perspective distortion from both the model and canvas

    Is this covered in any other course on NMA with visual examples? I can understand perspective distortion in the context of photography, but how does this apply to (human) stereoscopic vision?

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by totte.
    #2755324
    Daniel DaigleDaniel Daigle
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    Hi Tote, let me try to answer
    No, The distance is not arbitrary, from the model or the canvas. The artist steps into a position where they can fully see both the canvas and the model at the same size and time. If you are right next to your canvas, the canvas will be occupying your cone of vision, and you will need to move closer to the model, so that the model is also larger within your cone of vision, so that it matches the size on your canvas. You can turn your head to see the model, but you wont see both simultaneously. Now you may choose to work smaller, which would make this a possibility. An interesting test would be to place two objects of differing height at different distances such that they look the same height from your vantage point, now move closer and farther away. you will see that the distance is not arbitrary. this phenomenon is called the inverse square law. meaning, apparent size relationship between two objects vs distance is not linear and they don’t scale together equally as your distance changes.

    Stereoscopic vision means you can calculate depth based on trig, the angle of how cross eyed you become. perspective distortion is something that happens with all curved lenses including your eye. Now it’s true that having two eyes helps combat this to some extent, but for any object wider than the space between your eyes, you will see noticeable change as you move farther or closer. You can test this. set an empty box on its side at eye level so that you can see into it. notice the projected distance between the back corners and the front corners (perspective depth in 1pt), now take 10 steps back. the distance between corners will lessen. the box appears more shallow. now imagine a head inside this box and imagine how it too would distort. the fact that we study perspective at all is proof that stereoscopic vision does not nullify perspective distortion.
    The same rules apply to portrait photography. If you are close to the subject, you may use a 45mm lens and notice that their nose looks pulled forward and their ears appear to be hiding behind the side of their head. now if the photographer or subject moves back 20 ft or so, and uses a 200mm lens you will see the nose is less stretched forward and the ears are easier to see, some people call this compression. Its important to note that the the lens only zooms, it has nothing to do with perspective distortion. its the distance that changes perspective distortion.
    i will attach two images. the first shows how distance changes the tangent point of your cone of vision. one thing to note, in this diagram, the cone of vision is wider at close proximity to simulate a wide lens field of view. if you hold the angle constant, you can see that the effect is more pronounced.
    the second image is of portraits at different distances. you can see how the face changes shape

    I hope this helps, and that i did not confuse you

    #2758753
    totte
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    Thank you for your reply Daniel – I appreciate it. This is a very interesting topic. Working from a printed out reference image is convenient, but I would really like to try drawing a live model at some point, to experience these challenges.

    #2759220
    Daniel DaigleDaniel Daigle
    Keymaster
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    I highly recommend it. you could probably convince a family member to just sit, or stand for a while so you can try it out. I found that drawing from a live model was surprisingly exhausting at first. Because, as you mentioned, your stereoscopic vision provides a lot more information, especially about form. So your brain has to work harder to convert this into 2D. its incredibly useful, but takes some patience and practice. at-least, it did for me.

    Good luck on your artistic Journey!

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