- Lesson Details
In this highly-anticipated series, master draftsman Glenn Vilppu shares with you his approach to figure drawing. Each lesson will cover a new stage in Glenn’s process, including: Gesture, Spherical Forms, Box Forms, Cylindrical Forms, Basic Procedure, Modeling Tone, Direct Lighting, and Atmosphere. In this first lesson of the series, Glenn covers the basic foundation of figure drawing: capturing the gesture. Glenn begins with a comprehensive lecture, followed by analyses of gesture in Old Master works. Glenn will then illustrate these concepts in several demonstrations, using a variety of different tools. Next, you will get a chance to apply what you’ve learned in a timed figure drawing assignment. The lesson will conclude with Glenn’s approach to the assignment, allowing you to compare your work with his.
- CarbOthello Pencil – Burnt Sienna
- General’s Layout Pencil
- Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencil – Sanguine and Black
- Namiki Falcon Fountain Pen
- Pentel Water Brush
- Blending Stump
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it’s dealing with box forms. It’s a very, very traditional approach. It’s a tool we
use to take and develop forms and to help clarify the action of the figure that we’re
drawing. I’m going to be taking and lecturing and demonstrating.
We’ll talk about Old Master drawings. At the end I will take and give you an assignment.
Then I’m going to do the exact same assignment.
from the box as a tool to help us take and clarify forms in space. Okay, the second part,
the first question that always comes up in looking at the model, what points do we use
to take and explain or to use to take and draw the box? Okay, start with the figure;
it’s symmetrical. The box is the one—the main element about the box is its symmetry.
Okay, so we use corners. We use the bottom of the 10th rib. Now, as you can see, the
corner of the rib here is not on the outside. It’s inside. It curves. We use this line
as basically one of the lines of the box. We use the line across the end of the iliac
crest here, the end of the pelvis. The plane that’s created between that and the pubic arch.
We also use—going across the legs, we go across the condyles. This becomes a line.
In the arms we use the wrist. The wrist. Your wrist is really quite rectangular. So these
are tools that we use. The head we take and, it’s obviously a front and a side, and usually
what we’re talking about are the corners of the eye socket. So these are planes.
Now, when the figure is moving, in other words, the rib cage is not a box. It’s really very
small at the top. But what we take into consideration is the overall look of the shoulders. These
are basic landmarks that we work with. Bottom of the rib cage, the fact that we have a center
line. The ends of the pelvis, cross the condyles of the legs. The wrist, in the back we take
and we have the scapulas. But with the arms are moving, what have you. It’s not going
to help you that much. You have to take and just be able to look at the model and to be
able to say, ah, it’s leaning this way or that way. We use the dimples across the end
of the sacrum as landmarks. The way this point is going to take and shift just like the end
of the front of the pelvis is. These are very, very general things. In essence you have to
take and look at the model and try to figure out which way it’s going.
The first and most important thing is getting the gesture. That’s the start. Everything
we do is directed toward that end. Clarifying the gesture and being able to show the forms
in space more clearly. So what I ask the students to do is to take and first do the simple gesture
drawing. That’s one. Two, we go through spherical forms and then we add the boxes.
Within one drawing you go through three separate steps:
the gesture, spherical forms, and the box forms.
Okay, let me demonstrate exactly what I’m talking about now. First, it’s getting the
gesture. Even there the way I’m going across the form, that’s already got a certain sense
of the symmetry. It’s coming through. Let’s say the leg is going in, coming back down.
This is going through, and we’re coming in. We can have the arms going back off in
that direction. The head could actually be taking and looking in the opposite direction.
So at this point I’ve got a general sense of what the gesture is. Everything I’m doing
here to clarify the gesture.
Then, from here we take and we start thinking about the volume. Now, what I do is, often
the students have difficulty in that they take and they say, well, it gets so messy.
Well, you can take and do the drawing using several different colors. Exactly what I’m
doing here. I’m taking the first one. It’s very, very light. This will be a little bit
darker. Then I’ll go to black. Sometimes I’ll take and do it with a pen, graphite,
and then something else. Again, no rules. If you can do it just by doing lightly, fine.
The point here is that this is not the end. This is just a tool that we use. Students
often get fixated on drawing a box because it’s so complete. It’s so finite.
There is no ambiguity about a box.
Okay, so here we have this. The next point I would be taking and going though, taking
and visualizing this as simple volume. Now, in doing this I’m really thinking of the
rib cage. I’m taking and coming through and saying, well, okay here the pelvis, these
are very simplified forms. All I’m dealing with are simple spherical forms. Going over
the leg. Go back in. It’s round. Come in through. The other leg is coming down. Foot
is up in the air. Going through. It just, everything here as I’m going from one side
to the other I’m thinking of the direction in space and volume. Minimal anatomy involved
here. Anatomy at this point is not particularly important. The anatomy is just having a sense
of feeling which way the forms are going. You can say, okay, the shoulder—now here
I would maybe add a little bit of the scapula coming through. The arm is going back in out here.
Maybe compression, pulling back, arms going back. Let’s just turn it here. Stay
all in the same view here. Maybe we see something over there.
Okay, there we’ve got a representation of the action. Not perfect yet. It needs to be
clarified. Okay, so now from there I’ll take and go, okay, the first thing that we
can take and say, okay, considering where the ear is, where the head is at, we can pretty
clearly see it’s turned going away. So if I take and I turn this into a box form, now
there is absolutely no ambiguity about which way that head is going. It’s very clear.
Now, one of the points is that I’m not trying to use the box to simulate the exact shape
of the different parts of the body. I want to keep it within the realm of what the figure
is doing, the body shapes and forms, but I’m more interested in clarifying the directions
and angles of forms rather than to make a box that duplicates exactly the shapes that
we see. Now, this is different than the Cambiaso. A lot of the Cambiaso stuff is taking and
very, very clearly trying to duplicate the shapes, but it’s the same purpose. A lot
of today’s contemporary work is done on the computer. On the computer you start with
boxes to take and define forms. The software often will take and make things connect together.
So I don’t even try to connect the boxes. For instance, the neck doesn’t resolve itself
very easily into a box. So I don’t really try too much. But now I’m saying if this
arm is going back we’re pushing around that way. This part of the figure then is taking
and going, we could say that this is starting to go this way and maybe I would even take
and draw the rib cage that’s going in and it’s turned and going that way. That’s
a very different take on the overall sense of what that upper part of the rib cage is
doing. It’s much stronger. It’s more to the point.
So, now as we come back here and here I would be looking across the dimples, across the
back here. We can very clearly see that we’re seeing the side of this form here. So here
I would be coming in and doing this. So now we’ve got a very clear distinction between
what these forms are doing in space. I use a tone not to take and duplicate a light source,
but rather just to show the change in the direction of the surface. So now I’m going
to come back into the leg. Here what I look at is the way the tendons are at the back
of the knee. Those become landmarks. We can take and look at this leg. It’s obviously
going in that direction. I don’t really see across the condyles. I do see across the
tendon. I don’t—I’m drawing from imagination here now. Now you can see that this box is
going to take and very clearly show the direction that that leg is going in.
Now, one of the difficulties that arises is taking and showing the thickness of forms.
In other words, you can see here that the box is relatively square. Often the students
will tend to take and maybe make this a little too narrow so that it looks more like a 2x4.
You have to be very, very conscious of the thickness of the volume that you’re working
with. So, now as I come in to the lower leg it’s coming back towards us. So now I’m
taking and we’re seeing this coming through. I can use a taper there. Again, there are
no rules in this process. I’m just trying to take and clarify what’s going on. Generally,
I’ll take the feet and think of them as a simple wedge. That helps to clarify which
way it’s going. The other legs, then, we’re looking at the back of the leg. It comes down.
Seeing where we’re headed in here.
This is the basic procedure I use in all of my
classes whether at the Animation Guild, online, UCLA, this is the way it’s done. It’s
generally, you’ll find that in many of the books on how to draw that artists take and
use the same basic examples that we’re talking about. This is a very, very traditional standard
set of ways that we take and define the form in space. The shoulder, again,
I’m taking and coming through.
Another element that we work with is we work with the condyles across the end of the elbow.
We’ve got the ulna. Notice when my arm is bent that we have three points. We’ve got
the condyles of the humerus and the end of the ulna, but when I straighten my arm these
are a straight line. But these corners, just like the wrist—the wrist twists so it doesn’t
lend itself really easily to taking and just dealing with the box. You can try to draw
a twisted box. Again, no rules. But you can take and see. So as I look at this I think
across the condyles here. Come through. Think of where the ulna is. That becomes a rough
guideline for me on how to deal with the humerus. Then as I go up I look to the end to see where
the wrist is, and I draw through it so it’s like a transparency. Then I’ll come back in.
I can give it a twist. We can take and start to deal with that. But that’s not
necessary. You can deal with a straight form if you wish.
to be dealing much with that. But if you’re really focusing on drawing hands, then you’ll
go look at somebody like Holbein. It’s the same thing in the animation industry, illustration,
everybody—it’s the box. So, as we go through you can start thinking of the arm as turned
away. All I’m seeing is really the end of it. If I take and just give a hint that that’s
where it’s going. So this gives us the basic step-by-step procedure that we go through.
Let’s take and do another one. Out here, front view. Pushing some foreshortening, think
of the head as going back, coming through. The figure is leaning back, and feel the pelvis
going underneath or tilted. Going in. We can bring this leg out toward us. Go back, coming
through. I’m going over the surface to show the direction coming through. As you look
at my one minute, two minute, five minute drawings you will see that this is the basic
step. Step one. Go through the whole process.
Now, let’s just say that maybe the arm is going back here and coming out. Maybe this
one is coming out toward us a little bit. Well, since I’ve got this turning that way,
if anything turns toward us it would have to be the other one. Let’s just pull this
out this way. Again, drawing so loosely in the beginning allows you to take and make
changes on the fly as I’m doing. Now, we’ve got a beginning. Now, the next step was to
think three-dimensionally. It’s a volume you’re containing. Here there is some semblance
of an outside, but that’s not the point. It’s the action. So now I’m dealing with
containing. That’s the sphere. The containment form. The egg. It’s what we do when we’re
drawing the head. We’re taking and containing. I’m giving a clear sense of the direction.
See the way the neck is coming down. Then it’s the rib cage. You’ll find other artists
who take and start out with a much broader shape, but I focus on the anatomy itself.
Coming through. Across, think of where the pelvis is. We’re thinking about where the
angle of the ribs. The center would be over in here. Getting a twist and coming across.
Through. Simple volume. Through. Volume. I’m going across the knee, so already as I’m
doing this I’m already thinking of the box. I’m going across the condyles. I’m thinking
of the corner. I’m taking and showing the twist. This is going back. So the box is really
a integral part of all of those steps as we take and do it, except we don’t necessarily
need to always draw a complete box. But it is clearly part of any drawing that I do.
It helps me to understand where the corners of the forms are. The more detailed the form
is, the more clearly I need to understand where the corners are. The box is corners.
It’s planes, that’s what we’re talking about.
So as we go through, now here I’m looking across the condyle even as I’m doing this.
Let’s take a second here with that. Where this becomes so useful—for instance, if
I take and just draw a cylinder...
but we want to say that it’s turned, there is absolutely nothing there to take and say
that it’s turned or that it’s twisting. But the minute I come in and cross the corners
and I start to do that, it becomes very obvious that this is taking and turned. So it’s tools.
Now, as I go through and I’m building these forms coming out, thinking going over.
The volume going over the forms, spherical forms, it’s hard to separate the idea of spherical
forms and cylinders. The cylinder is just a stretched out, flattened sphere in a way.
So at this point we’ve got the general sense of what the gesture is,
what the volumes are that we’re looking at.
Now I come back in and I start to clarify these. What am I looking at again? Corners
of the ribs, center line, a general sense of the shoulders and the corners of the pelvis,
pubic arch. I can take and say, well, okay, here is this line. I’m giving this figure
a twist, and it’s going back slightly so I’m tilting the figure coming this way.
I’m very, very conscious of the fact that there is a thickness. The thickness of this
torso as we go back through. This becomes a clear plane.
The head in this case is now really going in somewhat the same direction. Going to come
through. We’re looking up at it so I’m really looking up at the box. Now, some people
are challenged in drawing boxes. You’re going to have to get over it. Get some shoeboxes,
hunks of Styrofoam and just start stacking them and drawing them. And you just start
until you get a feeling for the box. It doesn’t have to—I’m not using perspective per
se, but they are relatively in perspective. You start to see where these forms are going.
Now, here the pelvis is coming through, I’m thinking of where the pubic arch is, the angle
this pelvis is tilted. I’m going to start coming through and visualizing what this whole
form is taking and doing. I can take and drop this in tone just to get a sense. Now, when
I start to draw the leg I’ve already in here indicated the end of the knee. Now, this
is not the patella. This is just the sense of the condyles. The end of the femur.
Then we take and this is fitting in. It doesn’t have to be attached. It can be floating. But
we take into consideration where it’s going.
Remember that the legs do not attach to the iliac crest, that there is a three-finger
gap in between where the legs attach. Come through. Down. In. Okay, that’s giving us
some semblance of that action. Then the leg is going down and away. So now I take and
come through. Down, in. Typically in a classroom situation I will take and to do this in 10
to 15 minutes. There is no rush. If it takes you a half-hour, fine. If it takes you an
hour, fine. Take your time. You’re analyzing. That’s what it is. You’re not doing a
finished drawing. You’re trying to explain the action of the pose. That’s all you’re doing.
Often this part of my drawing courses will tend to be the most challenging for the students.
Mainly because it forces an analysis of the pose rather than copying. Obviously, none
of the steps that we’ve gone through takes into copying the model. You can’t copy the
model. You analyze the model. I can cross the wrist again. Wrists are rectangular. In
this case I would just take and treat it without the particular twist to it. The hand is treated
as a simple box now. Here, same thing. You’re looking, okay, where would the condyles be?
Thinking, okay, here. The box would be going this way. Come through. Actually, I go in here.
Coming out toward us. I’m going to say that the wrist is—I’ll do the rest
of the arm. Here it’s taking and also coming towards us, so I would be building this, taking
and coming out in this direction. So that gives you the sense of
what the figure is doing in space.
Now, as I mentioned in Cambiaso there is a difference between what Albrecht Durer was
doing and what Cambiasi was doing. So to repeat that now: Cambiasi was using the box form
to clarify forms in space compositionally. Albrecht Durer was using it as a system of
being able to construct accurately three-dimensional forms in space. They’re different.
One is an accurate depiction of three-dimensional forms. The other is using these three-dimensional
box forms as the way to clarify where forms are in space with each other and in composing,
and artists have been doing that ever since using both methods.
very far back. Albrecht Durer, in fact, was very, very influential. He did a Dresden sketchbook
that was published posthumously very, very shortly after his death that dealt with figure
construction. He developed processes where he was developing perspective, proportions,
different proportional systems for the figure. He did stereoscopic man where he projected
figures using front, side, and top views of the figure. He used boxes. He used spheres.
He used numerable ways to take and try to construct the figure. It’s nothing new.
On the right what are you seeing? It’s Holbein. His paintings are absolutely realistic. But
he also very, very, very technical. You’ll notice the way he’s drawn the hands there,
they’re just simple boxes. Look at the heads, the way he’s constructed just using the
ellipse, find a center. Even in the lower left there you can see where he was taking
and bringing in perspective. So the whole system became really scientific. This is the
whole period of the birth of perspective.
You’ll notice on the left we come back to Albrecht Durer. You can see that just because
he was being so systematic and constructive that didn’t mean that the drawings always
look like boxes. They’re very, very clear anatomical developed figures. On the right
is Holbein. Notice the realism here. To get to that realism he did a very, very rigorous
construction. Look at the back. You can see where he was drawing the figure underneath
the drapery. You can see this line here. That’s giving us the sense of the thing. Then he
came and he added the drapery on top of that. He’s giving really clear-cut corners. He’s
coming through. Absolute realism, but it’s also very, very clearly constructed.
Now, this is Cambiaso. He actually became quite famous for the type of drawing that
he did here. This is actually different. Both of these drawings are Cambiaso. His approach
was using the box form as a way of constructing the figure, but more from a compositional
point of view. Rather than just the ideal of construction, as you can see, he’s taking
and drawing these figures doing all kind of things. The idea here is you can’t have
two boxes occupying the same space. He was building figures in space using the boxes
as a way to clearly define where things were and what they looked like. You’ll notice
that he’s using the box forms to indicate pretty clearly sort of in a general way the
shape of the figure. Later on when we go into it, you’ll see that I use the box a little
bit different, but the same idea is to show how clearly forms are in space.
So now as we look at the ones on the left it’s a little bit more realistic, but you
can still very clearly see the idea of the box. This is sort of like in a sense the end
result or maybe the second or third attempt at doing the figure. He may have done it first
with pencil. He may have done it with something underneath. Then he’d come back over it
with a pen in the wash, but you can see this is just the next sort of generation. There
are many other drawings of Cambiaso that look very, very different. One of the points to
keep in mind then is that the artist takes and uses these tools. His drawings don’t
always look the same because the drawing is appropriate to the use of the drawing. In
the end, Cambiaso’s drawings are very, very realistic, very highly rendered paintings.
They don’t look like boxes. Many of his drawings don’t look like box forms. The
box is just a stage in the drawing. You use the box to take and help and clarify the forms
in space that you’re working with.
First of all, Michelangelo was a sculptor, and so he worked in very, very clear type
forms. So if we take, you know, I’ve been talking about condyles. Notice the way he’s
working with condyles here. Very clear form. He’s also working very clearly with the
simple spherical box forms. The combination. Look at the line here. Look at the arm here.
You can see very clear alignment of forms with the end of the scapula coming down, using
the condyles. So the box is here. You look at the overall sense of the upper torso you
see that there is a strong sense of this volume coming through. The way he’s working with
the corners of the pecs coming across hitting the light. It’s all very clear, very solid,
taking and developing using spherical forms, box forms. He takes and he builds the forms
as we go through. There is nothing ambiguous about his drawing. It’s very, very clear.
He uses all of the tools that we’ve been talking about so far. You can also look at
his gesture drawings. You can look at all his stuff. There are diagrams and draws the
figure as a box as he’s trying to work out proportions and how he’s going to take and
approach a piece of sculpture. They’re not lecture drawings. They’re working drawings,
as you can see the way he built it up.
graphite. Feeling the flow going across the surface. When I do this I’m actually visualizing
the 3D coming across. Coming over the pelvis, coming through. This is—I can be very free,
drawing fairly light as I’m going through. Sort of a step-by-step process. The head is
looking down. So now, from here I’m taking and using again—this is a Faber-Castell
Polychromos. The other was just a general layout graphite. It could be any graphite.
Little bit more care coming through, thinking of the neck. The cylinder fitting into the
rib cage. As I’ve mentioned I’d base my construction on anatomical elements. I can
see where the corner of the rib, thinking of the center. I can see where maybe this
head needs to be a little larger. Coming through. Again, corner of the pelvis, looking where
we’re going. Here, simple volume. Compression, stretching. Coming through. Feel the gluteus.
Think of where the pubic arch is.
As I go through I’m drawing the leg. I’m really thinking first it’s still sticking
with that rhythm, but I’m seeing and going over the surface seeing it as a volume. Constantly
going over the surface of the form. As you draw the form you can see it more clearly,
so at that point maybe it was stretching it out a bit too much. Not much, a little. The
other foot would have to be back farther. Coming through. Just slow taking and building,
moving out. Okay, the arm. This is sort of—she’s really stretching out. Pulling that arm behind
her head, and then twisting and going behind. The arms are twisting. It’s going behind
the other one. That’s sort of a tricky little play here, and we’ll see how that works
when we start to deal with the boxes. Coming through. The breasts are in here.
Think of the center. That’s actually fairly clear.
Watch what happens now when we start to clarify that this is a box form. I’m using the line
across her brow, from the corner of the brow, the top of the ear. That gives me a line.
It helps to clarify the box. Coming through. Going back in. Coming through. Now, you can
see when you’re looking at the model now how there is a strong—you can actually,
the way the light is going, that really gives us a corner. That’s the corner of the box.
I’m going across the ribs and through. She’s going back in space so this is going back in.
That little bit of perspective here. The bottom is a little different. Maybe I can
make that even a little stronger tilt. We can see this line going through.
Maybe it needs to be a little thicker.
Now, we go from there. We go to the pelvis. Coming across. Now we can see there is a little
bit of shifting in here. We can feel this—maybe a little more of a twist. I’m thinking of
the twist, the way it comes through, but more of the tilt. That gives us a very clear indication
on which way the forms are going. Now, I come down and I look at the knee. Here we go across
the knee. And we come down the side. And so now this becomes a box that is taking and
coming all the way up into here. Coming down. Feel the side of the form coming through.
The other leg is going away. I can’t have it really easily fitting in front of that,
so I’m just taking and now I’m sort of looking to see which way is it going. It’s
really like in here. Going down.
You’ll find that as you’re doing these—this is often the case in class—that there will
be considerable difference between one student’s interpretation and another’s. Sort of like
become the arbiter of saying which is right. The idea is, the process at this point is
the most critical. You’ll see that as you develop your sensitivity to actually looking,
and once you start to take and be really discriminatory or discerning maybe.
Discriminating isn’t the proper word.
You will start to see things you didn’t see before. This is a tough one
here. The arm is going behind the head. So we’re taking and really feeling that this
is pulling back so the box is going to be going in that direction. Then it’s going
back up and going underneath the other one. We can look up here, and we can start to think
about where the condyles are. One isn’t really behind. The ulna is what’s sticking
out there, I believe. But we can look and we can see that the wrist is really twisted
here. I would take and, in this case maybe I would take and try to draw the twist as
I’m doing this, just taking and seeing how that goes. In this case I would just draw
the hands. Not really get that involved with those right now. This is going to be going
underneath. So the rest of the arm here is going here. The head is in front. Again, I
use a tone just as a means as clarifying where forms are in space.
That really clarifies what that pose was doing.
This is a much more complicated pose. Again, I’m doing this with a pencil first, graphite.
As you’re doing the drawing you’re analyzing. You’re not copying. You’re analyzing.
Now here, as I look and see the brow is going across, back through here to the ear, lining
up so that I already. I did the ellipse going down almost out of habit. But it would have
been wrong. Feel the flow. We’re working around over the surface. Through. Going back.
Going around. Coming through. Pulling. Try to feel the flow as we’re going through.
Going around. In a sense this lesson seems like oh it’s a gesture drawing lesson again.
Every drawing is a gesture drawing lesson. That’s what they are. That’s what you
do. You’re capturing the action. That’s what the critical part is. Sometimes you get
it a little bit fancier in the rendering, but still, it’s really just the gesture.
Get the action. Carry through. Foot is coming back up behind, coming in. So now, as I’m
doing that I’m feeling the flow.
The next step is going in to see the volumes a little bit more clearly. Now I’m coming
through and thinking the center. Going over the surface, or I should say containing it.
This is lesson two. We’re always taking and—don’t think of these as lessons. Think
of these as clarifications on the use of tools. Each time each lesson is taking and focusing
on a particular tool that we use in taking and doing the drawing. It’s the rib cage
I’m drawing. Here it’s, maybe you don’t notice it right away, but what we’re actually
seeing then is the buttocks taking and coming through. We see the center. Already we’re
getting a sense of symmetry in the form. This is taking and coming through. Going in. Leg
is coming down. Going over the surface. Coming through. Contain. Constantly going from one
side of the form to the other. Going over the surface of the form. Coming in. Going
around the form. Coming through. Going over the surface.
Now, the other leg. We can’t actually see—I’m going to cheat here in that I’m going to
take and show part of the other leg, the upper leg that I don’t really see because it’s
splitting at the joint. Then I’m coming through and building this up. Often you’re
put into a situation when you’re working with a model that a certain angle that you
see in reality does not make any sense to take and actually draw it that way. You have
to take and adjust the pose to take and make it understandable. Come through. Clarifying,
again, constant clarification. Through. Come in. Once you’ve done your drawing and the
model is gone, you don’t have the model. You have the drawing, and the drawing has
to speak for itself. You don’t go around carrying photographs to justify your drawings.
So now we’ve got a real problem to take and clarify. We started out by saying, okay,
across the brow to the ear creates a line. IT’s actually slightly down. Now that takes
and gives us a clear—in fact, as I look at the model, this is even farther over here
so that the corner of the box is going to be here. You’re always adjusting. That’s
going through. You notice the nipple. That gives us an angle. We can see the corner of
the rib cage over here. The other side is in here. This is taking and going in. Going
back in, we can really see that this is going up.
In this case, we’re really seeing the top. This goes up past where the rib cage would
be. This is taking in roughly part of the idea of the shoulders. It’s an overall sense
of what’s going. You can see the light shining on the model is corresponding to what the
box actually is doing. You can feel across that for the center. Now, the pelvis. Look
at the back and the buttocks here. The symmetry here. That’s already giving us a line. I
would take that line as coming through. Now, the box is taking and the stomach then is
coming out over that. So the box is really taking and doing something like this. Going
back underneath. We’re going back in this way. The stomach is pulling down over and
pulling into where the pubic arch would be. That takes some investigating to see that.
We can take and we pull into that. The leg—now here is where we go across the condyles. Coming
through. Turning back. Coming over. Going down. Then we have the side here. This is
coming forward. This is a pose in particular now that takes and really calls for the idea
of the box to help to understand it. Since you don’t really see the other side of the
pelvis, all we saw was really the symmetry of the buttocks. We come through. Now, the
foot is just a simple triangle. Look at the other leg now. All I’m seeing is the back
of the knee. That would be where the tendons are coming through. Then the lower leg is
taking and going back. The ankle would be doing something like that. The foot is coming
straight back, but again, that’s sort of an awkward angle. Coming through.
There is a certain in doing the drawing here and a little bit of a distortion. It’s going
back. The wrist does this. Now, in this case, you can see the wrist is really doing this.
Now we can take and come back.
Again, just treat it as a box.
Okay, the other arm really turned going back away.
Through. Down. Through. Okay, so there we’ve sort of worked through the one.
coming forward. Go over. Coming out towards us and going back near the elbow. Come down.
Wrist, head. Arms stretching out in front. Now, here in this case this may be continued
on with the pen a little bit. Feeling the pull of the head with a little bit more clarity
into this. Going over the surface. Think of the end of the shoulder and maybe even draw
the scapula coming down. The form I’m seeing is a cylinder. Feel the pelvis back here come
around. In looking this, here’s where maybe I would take and, thinking and trying to make
the clarity of the volumes a little bit more distinct. Come in with wash to take and try
to push the 3D, three-dimensional round form a little bit. Just thinking of the round.
This is a round form. I’m just taking and making the round ball. Starts going over,
making the round more of a cylinder. That becomes a pretty clear three-dimensional form.
We can see the roundness of these volumes. Building this thing up. Still feels pretty
vague to me.
This is where we say, okay, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. We’ve got the other
leg coming through here. She’s coming around. We’ve got the center here. I’m going to
take and cross the general sense of the shoulders. One side is up. The more I look, I see that
this is going this way. We start to see it coming through and going in here. This is
going back in. Notice right away we’re seeing more clearly the direction of that torso,
the turning coming around. The head is looking down. I’m looking at where the ear is, where
we’re going through. So now we need to take and come through.
Let me take and instead of using the graphite let’s take and use a black that’s a little
bit stronger here. Now we’re going down that way. We can see this coming across. Now
we get a real shifting now in the pelvis. I can see that, well, what I was doing before
wasn’t doing really a great job of that. I need to really feel that this is taking
and coming through. Now we’re getting a much stronger sense of what that form is doing
in space. We’re seeing that this is coming around. The knee now is turned. So we’ve
got this where the box takes and comes across. We pull through. We start to build on these forms.
In subsequent lessons we will see that as we work with cylinders and other forms that
the box will still be coming into play, and it will be part of the useful element as we
start to take and render forms. The box is always of means of finding or helping to take
and understand where the corner of the form is. So now you can see as we come across here
that arm is really coming forward. Through. Now, like I’ve mentioned in the previous
little lecture on this, often the students find that there is a certain gratifying quality
of drawing the figure, drawing the box and sort of get into an obsessive point of making
the box perfect. It’s a tool. Don’t get bogged down in just drawing boxes. You want
to be able to take and use this as a means of helping to understand what the forms are doing.
So as I’m going through really feeling the flow. Coming through. Going over the surface.
Feeling the volume. The leg is going back. Through. This is the kind of pose where you
can really easily get lost in terms of what’s going on. I’m using the graphite. Go back
into that. The back of the neck is going down. Feel the ear here. The shoulders are way up
here. Think about where this is coming through. She’s really twisting. You want to feel
the flow, feel the rib cage underneath. Coming in. Then there is a real pinching. I’m still
dealing with the preliminary thing. I’m just taking and trying to figure out which
way this is going by going over the surfaces of the form. Really going underneath the leg.
Now, as I look at this I can see it’s got to come way over here. Trying to feel where
everything is going. Going through.
This is going over the surface. This is like, for instance, at the stage where often the
students get so messy. They try to take and just start out right ahead, right up front
with the box. Take and go through all of the steps. You’re not only learning how to use
the box. At the same time you’re taking and practicing working and training how to
use the sphere, the first gesture lines. They all work together. So now here is where I’ll
go back in. Draw the spherical forms. So we’ve got that a little more clearly. Now, here
head is really pushing down. It’s not clear here. That could be looking straight ahead.
So I need to first come back. We’ll have to deal with that when dealing with the box.
Here I’m coming through. Where is the rib cage? We’re going from the center over here,
and she’s twisting. She’s twisting. The center is going that way. Overlapping. This
is a real overlapping form going through. The corner of the pelvis up here. The other
corner is way down in here. Feel the belly coming through. Going over the leg. Very round.
This is just, again, it’s a typical analysis. You’re analyzing. You’re analyzing. But
at the same time you are constructing the figure. Coming through. I don’t worry about
making pretty drawings. I’m just worrying about how can I explain this thing. I take
and I really understand what that figure is doing.
Now, what I’m taking and doing is a longer pose. A lot of this is done simultaneously
while I’m doing other things. I want to take and really focus on the box. The head
is going down. I can use the idea of where the top is up here. The more I look I can
see there is actually a bit of a tilt. She is even taking and doing this. It’s going
down this way. It’s really going down. So the side would be going in this direction.
Well, maybe not. Maybe it’s even tilted more this way. Maybe come through.
Don't be afraid to take and adjust when you’re doing the thing. Taking and going through.
Going down. Now, the rib cage. We take the back, start to see that she’s doing this.
Rib cage, we’re really looking up underneath this way. If we take into consideration the
shoulders at the same time, what we’re getting is a twist that is taking and going. Start
to see, okay, how is this twisting? Maybe we start to pull this out this way. I’m
just trying to see now how can I do that? Can I take and draw that that way?
In other words, what I’m thinking of is trying to create a form that is taking and
twisting a little. Maybe this is going to have to take and go underneath this way, and
we’re coming across. As it comes up we would start to see where the end
of the box is on the other side.
We start to visualize how this is going. In the end I think I would come back, and I would
say forget all that. Take and come in and just draw the box of the rib cage itself.
We’re seeing that—then take and deal with the arms separate like we have in the other
things. Now, here the pelvis is way underneath in this direction. So what we’re seeing
then is really the underside. We’re getting a shape going like this. We’re building
this thing up in this direction. This is going through here.
That’s where now you’re seeing all of the compression that’s taking place as these
forms come down. And we go across the knee, down, coming through. Forward. Now, I’ve
used taking the idea of boxes like this as a part of the steps in taking and showing
figure construction. Animation. You’re building, building simple volumes, showing how forms
are going in space. This is part of the process of taking and analyzing. Obviously, this is
very messy. Again, that doesn’t matter. It’s what you’re trying to get, the clarity
of what the forms are doing. Then you can take and put another sheet over it, and you’re
going to be working on a light table, or if you’re working on the computer you could
then take and use layers and come back in and start to draw it. We’re taking and going
through. You’re trying to figure it out. I see how the wrist is turned in this direction.
The hand becomes a box going in that way.
As we looked at the Albrecht Durer, if you could see the sketchbooks, he did a complete
sketchbook that was published shortly after his death by one of his friends that took
and was based on the whole concept and reducing the figure down to box forms.
the top is. Feel the flow through. He’s turned and coming across. Legs coming up,
taking and coming out. Then we’re going back in.
The arm coming out across, bending. It is slightly going away from us. Shoulder is coming
across. Going back in, down. Pull through. That’s a rough sense of the gesture. Next
step, simple volume. Keeping this very, very simple now. Think where we’re at. Visualizing
the rib cage. Through. We think of the neck as a cylinder fitting into the rib cage and
going across the form. The more you look you can see where the nipples in the chest are
going across. It’s already giving us a good sense of symmetry. Pelvis. We can see we’re
going across this direction. We go underneath. Going over. Think of where the pubic arch
would be here so we have this plane coming across. The leg is really turned. First, they
can feel the large, simple volumes. We’re going across the condyles. Already I can see
that’s really the box coming through. Leg coming down. Simple cylinder.
Foot coming through.
The other leg now is fitting in, and it’s coming through. Again, volume going up. Actually
turning away from us. We’re going across the surface. Pull over. See the deltoid coming
through. It’s just simple volume. Essentially, really in the beginning I’m just thinking
cylinder coming out toward us. Go across the wrist. Again, I’m already thinking box.
Shoulder, arms coming down. It’s going away. Pushing down, coming in. Going down. Okay,
so now we’ve got the basic thing set up.
We look across the brow. We can see this line to the ear going that way. That gives us a
very, very strong sense of which way the box is going. Through. Build. Coming in. That’s
fairly clear. Now, taking the whole consideration, we’ve got the rib cage coming through. So
this whole upper part of the rib cage is going in this direction. We’re actually seeing
a bit of the top. This is coming through in this way. We can start thinking about where
this is underneath and coming across.
The pelvis is taking—we’re looking into the pelvis. Going through. Here it’s taking
and going down in this direction. The leg is as we were looking at the condyles already
here, come through. It’s taking and going across. Come down. Through. The lower leg.
Across the condyle, in. Through. Make the box a little lower. Then turn away. Arm is
just a box that’s going down. Through, across.
So at this point I think you’ve got a pretty clear idea of the process that we go through,
of trying to clarify, to understand using the box. Like I’ve said, once we start to
take and deal with more advanced rendering-type drawings or more developed drawings, you’ll
see that the application of the box becomes even more clear.
These are five minute drawings. Go through all the steps. First you get the gesture.
Then you add the spherical forms and you add the boxes. You do it all on the same drawing.
Transcription not available.
the process. This is the critical point, and I keep saying this over and over and over.
It’s a process. First the gesture, then the sphere and the box, all in the same drawing.
This is how we develop our skill.
Now, in dealing with box forms, the box form is a tool. In starting with this drawing we
go through. This is the typical approach. You take and you do all the steps. First,
we get the gesture. Feel the flow. Then we think of the basic volume. Spherical forms.
Now, this pose, particularly this model, you can see is more obvious. It’s like, wow,
it’s really round. And so I’m building with this. This is actually the kind of pose
where the box form becomes most useful because of the roundness of this figure. It is not,
it can be very confusing spatially in terms of making the drawing show the forms in space.
This is exactly what I do in my normal classes, my onsite classes, online or whatever. It’s
first we get the gesture. We build all of these things. We go through all of the steps.
We’ve already discussed in other lessons. Go through the same process. You look at the
idea of the box as an analytical tool. I’m going to go back in and draw over this and
draw over this with black so that you can see. First, you see that she is actually turned
away from us. So now when I come in I’m drawing the box. It’s a tool that helps
me see the fact that she’s actually turned away. Going down. Through. I’m not trying
to make it look like her. I’m using it as an analytical tool. Now we can see if we start
to draw the pelvic area that this is on a completely different angle and plane that
we’re working with. This is really taking and it’s going in. I’m adding perspective
to this. It’s going down. We’re seeing the bottom, literally the bottom of that box.
So you can see how all these form now. We’ve got a change in direction that wasn’t so
obvious when we were taking and drawing just the spheres. Now when you start to draw the
box it becomes very, very obvious. The box is a tool to help us understand what the forms
are doing. Now, I approached drawing the boxes—as I said, I don’t try to duplicate the shape.
I’m using it as a tool of analysis. We can see how things, I’m not connecting. In other
words, we can feel the spine coming through and going in. I’m not trying to take in—connecting
it is like working on a computer. The software will take care of that. I’m using it as
an analytical tool, not as a tool to take and duplicate.
Now, it becomes a useful tool for taking and even working in a computer obviously. I have
found that students who draw well are much more proficient in taking and working in the
computer. When they’re constructing they understand the form more clearly. Now we can
feel the shoulder is on top. I’m thinking of the angle up here. It’s going across.
It’s sticking out. We’re coming down. Here I would take and show just enough, show
that we’re seeing the inside of that arm. All of the other stuff back here doesn’t
particularly matter right now. We’re seeing pretty much of a profile of the head. Just
to give it a little more I’m just going to give it an edge. I don’t bother with
the neck if I’m doing the box.
So now, look at the box by itself now. We can see that now this is really the compression.
We can feel where that rib cage is coming through. We can really sense of how this is
fitting in. Now, again, this is a fairly heavy model. Start the drawing. First, I go through
all the steps. I’m just trying to analyze. Again, the box is a tool. I’m feeling the
gesture coming through. Meeting the eye. In this case, as I’m doing it I’m thinking,
okay, she’s going down in. I got to feel this volume. I’m thinking of the spherical
form. It’s coming in a little strong. Compression. Really feeling the volume going across. I’m
going over the surface. Again, I’m just using the sphere. Then the leg is coming out.
And we’re feeling the pull. It’s a construction. Feel the leg going back. Going over one surface
to the next. Back in. Out. Feel the end of the knee. Through. The arm is raised up, coming
So now, as I’ve gone through this we’ve got this hand coming out at us and then the breasts. So now here is where
the box takes and clarifies. By looking through the corners of the ribs, it’s going across
this way. She’s really tilted out. Often these become almost objective judgments. You’re
feeling how the things go. The pelvis is taking and look across the condyle or across the
end of the ulna, across the end of the iliac crest here. Come through. I see this as slightly
turned now. Again, this is not always quite so obviously. Maybe if I took and looked at
it from a different angle, I would take and change my mind. Now, as that leg comes out
I jump to the end of the knee. I look across the condyle here to see that that’s the
box that’s turned. Then we would be going back in. The lower leg is going away, so I
would be taking and going over. All I am doing is diagramming which way the forms are going.
Come across the end again. It’s going across the form to see the end of that form that
tells us that there is a twist. Come through. Now, we come through we can see this now.
It's going back away.
Now, as I’m doing these often I will take and use a tone that helps show the volume.
It’s not to take and indicate a light source so much, but just to be able to help clarify
what the form is doing in space. Now, her head is really turned down. Now I’m coming
back and I can see I’m modifying my spherical form. I’m seeing a difference when I start
to come in and draw the box it helps me to understand more clearly what that form is
doing. The arm is coming out toward us. Now, it’s really confusing with the thing coming
out top and front, so I will take and I’m skipping to the wrist and going down.
The forearm is always a bit problematic when you start to reduce it as a box
because it’s usually twisted.
Same thing here. I’m looking at the wrist, which is a rectangular shape to start with.
Then I’m going back up to the condyles, the end of the ulna. Then we can start to build.
Once you see that box then you can really visualize the compression, the stretching
that’s taking place. The box help us to really see how these forms are taking and
building. So again, the box is a tool. We use it. I helps us to take and understand
the form that’s happening. Again, this is a fairly subtle pose.
I want to feel through. Always go through, try to feel the gesture first. When I’m
doing a drawing like this, I’m not just lecturing. It’s the way the drawing is done.
As I take and develop drawings further, I don’t necessarily take and show, for instance,
all the box shapes, but I use it as I need it to take and help to clarify the form. Often
you’d take and do drawings on the side to take and help you understand. At this point,
then I’m going back to the volume. Coming through. As you’re looking at the, the sphere
has a symmetry also, cross axis. Come through. Looking across the form.
I’m thinking of the pelvis.
So now, as I look at the drawing here coming forward, it’s not really clear what the
pelvis and rib cage are doing. Here is, again, where the box then becomes useful. I look
to the corners of the 10th rib. I look across. The minute I do that it helps to clarify the
angle. We can see this going back.
That changes the whole perception of what that figure
is doing because now the pelvis is going at a different angle. It’s going from over here
across this way and going in. Now we can see more clearly how the rib cage and the pelvis
relate, and that’s where when you’re coming through you’d be really feeling the compression.
We can feel the stretching. We can feel the way these forms are pulling down to that and
why the belly is pushing out. So now when I come out to the end of the knee we can see
how clearly we see the condyles in the end. Again, this is the box. This is going back in.
Here is where the sphere would be added. It’s a sphere and a box. Come down. Go across the
condyles here. Again, the end of the bone and the fibula and the tibia. I’m seeing
this as a volume. It’s coming down. And the foot is turned. This can be treated just
as a simple paddle. The knee, looking across, through. Here in the arm I’m taking and
jump to the wrist. If you look at your own wrist you will see that it’s fairly flat,
and that gives us a good jumping off point to understand which way the box is going.
Like the foot, at this point in drawing just a paddle. Take and indicate that head. Again,
it’s a box. This is coming forward. The wrist is up high. Again, this is box. Then
we start to add and connect the bits and pieces. But here the compression comes off very clear
as we start to work over the forms.
lot of foreshortening. There is a twisting taking place, so already I’m taking and
I’m coming in with a sphere, going across the surface. Coming in. The legs coming out
toward us. Using spherical forms. Carrying volume and rhythm. Coming in. Going back down.
Again, it’s not really that obvious. Come through. Arms going back. The arm coming forward.
Now, at this point then I’m taking and I need to really focus on the fact that he is
really twisted. This is doing this. Really going in. It’s a foreshortened view. The
pelvis is going the opposite. It’s going across this way.
Again, it’s a big difference. The minute you take and you draw the box it’s very,
very clear. Now, this leg is coming forward. It’s going back. The whole approach of using
the box is not new. It goes back into the 1500s, from everyone from Albrecht Durer,
Cambiaso, Holbein, even Michelangelo. We find that the box is a great tool. It sort of becomes
almost like a necessary tool. I’ve had to resort to using it many, many times in taking
and working professionally, taking and having to have very, very clear things. Even little
simple things, which is not quite so simple, is taking and drawing a group of figures around
a table and how everybody is seated so that you don’t have people sitting inside of
other people. You have to clarify the space where things are spatially. So the box becomes
an inseparable tool that we use over and over and over.
Also, if you’re taking and doing a layout for doing storyboards, computer work, you’ll
find that the box becomes invaluable to take and give a useful setup for artists to take
and follow. Now, as you can see we really have a twist. So then as I come back into
that I would be forcing to take and play that, just see how it really forces you to focus
on that overlapping, how things build, one thing on top of the other. It clarifies and
allows you to take and make the drawing. Create a boldness in your drawing. Drawing the box
will allow you to draw Spiderman much better.
Now, here I would take and, you know, using a little bit of tone to take and help show
the corners in here. I sort of buried the box in the drawing here. But, if you come
through you can see where the planes are taking and building. In this pose what we have is
a, again, sometimes it’s the subtle pose that creates the most difficulties. Once you
take and use the tools that we have for analysis it helps us to take and clarify the actual
action. So as I’m doing this I’m already thinking of the box. I’m already thinking
of the box. Coming through. The arm is going back, coming down. Leg is coming out.
Feel the pull.
Come through. Shoulder coming across.
It’s important also to keep in mind—and I’ve been repeating this over and over—that
the box is a tool. What happens often with the box is there is a certain precision about
the box that the students tend to get basically stuck drawing boxes because they are always
looking for sort of the absolute correct answer to something. Well, the box gives us a certain
amount of that. Keep in mind it’s just a tool, that you’ll want to go past the box.
I’ve had many cases where the students literally get stuck on just drawing boxes because there
is a certain satisfaction to having this really clear idea of what the form is doing.
But you have to go beyond that. It’s a tool.
So now, as I’m drawing this we can see, again, how the pelvis is at quite a different angle.
We can feel that we’re really, really looking down at this, and it’s going back in this way.
So in drawing this, as I was doing in the drawing, focusing on showing
how we overlap. So now we can see that this corner, this becomes a tool. Now we can feel
the compression of these forms come around. So we’re building and it’s all being caused
because of the compression and then the stretching on the other side. We can feel how these form.
But it’s the recognizing the relationship with the box. So now, as we come out with
the knee, again, this is a corner. Going back in.
Okay, we’re going down. Shoulders turned. Here we push.
Notice how I’m boxing the wrist to start with,
and then I come back. The lower arm is generally always twisted,
although I don’t really get involved with that too much when I’m doing the boxes.
Okay, going back in the opposite direction here, just a second here to indicate. You
can see in this sequence of drawings how—and this is important—every time you do the
drawing you start with the gesture, you think with the spherical forms, and then we add
the boxes. As you develop drawings to more of a finish, the box is an underlying analytical
tool that helps you to take and go further and, in these cases here, showing the compression
more clearly, helping to think of where the angle across the scapula, where the rib cage
are, the pelvis. These are tools. You build on them. You use these tools. You’re not
copying. These are the steps I’m going through, one that helps you and allows you to take
and work independently, even drawing without a model.
Now that we’ve gone through all the stuff. It’s a tool. It’s not an end, as I said
before when we started. I hope you’ve gotten a lot out of it because it’s the way I work
and the way many, many artists through the centuries have worked.
Have fun and I’ll see you in the next lesson.
Free to try
1. Lesson overview48sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Introduction to box forms of the body14m 48s
3. Front view example of a box form figure13m 16s
4. Analysis of Old Master box forms7m 0s
5. Demonstration: Part 119m 25s
6. Demonstration: Part 215m 51s
7. Demonstration: Part 37m 23s
8. Timed figure drawing assignment: Part 116m 6s
9. Timed figure drawing assignment: Part 210m 30s
10. Glenn's approach to the assignment15m 49s
11. Glenn's approach to the assignment, continued11m 31s