- Lesson Details
In this highly in-depth lesson, master artist Steve Huston shares with you his approach to tackle an area of the human body commonly found to be difficult to draw: the hands. Steve begins the lesson with a lecture, covering the characteristics of every part of the hand including the wrist, thumb, fingers, fingernails, as well as part of the arm.
- Sharpie Marker
- Colored Chalk
- Digital Tablet
- Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencil – Black and Indian Red
- Waterman Paris Fountain Pen
- Conté Drawing Pencil – White
- CarbOthello Pencil – #635
- Toned Drawing Paper
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absolutely the most complex part of the body. I’m going to start out on the lecture board
and explain all the ends and outs of the structure and the anatomy of the hands. Then we’re
going to look at some old master drawings and see how they solved the same problems
that we often struggle with.
We’re going to do some timed drawing sessions together where you’ll draw along with me
and we’ll apply that knowledge. I hope you enjoy it.
There is a lot to learn. Let’s get started.
to the wrist, which we’ll talk about, they move in, they attack the problem from a different
angle. So they can be just devilishly difficult to work with. So we’re going to break them
down into simple ideas, some simple strategies to get a hold of it and hopefully
have some fun with it.
Now, before we can attack our hand problem, let me recap a couple general drawing principles;
my two ideas of drawing. Now, if you haven’t heard these before, go back to my beginning
drawing lessons, and I talk about the two ideas of drawing in great detail, and that
would be a good place to start. Then come on back here. But, in terms of a quick primer
on it, we have two ideas in drawing: structure and gesture.
Structure are all the parts, the pieces. They can be three-dimensional.
They can be two-dimensional.
They can be incredibly sophisticated. They can be very simple. They can be lots of things.
In a human figure just the jointed pieces, from joint to joint, so from wrist to knuckle,
that’s the back of the hand. From wrist to elbow, that’s the forearm on through
the body. That’s structure. Gestures is going to be defined as the long axis of each
of those parts. Sometimes those parts will line up into a greater gesture. Sometimes
they’ll break away into their own individual gestures, but each will be a long axis. Here
is the trick on gesture: A long axis curve is what we’re hoping for, because if we
can make that length curved we can make it fluid, watery, and alive. The primary aspect
of life is its watery design. It’s mainly fluid, mainly water. So it has that wavelike
action. The contours themselves have that fluid action. Each part more or less has that
fluid action. The more curve we can bring into the long axis of our pieces, the more
beautiful our drawing will be or the more graceful.
If you have drawings that get kind of stiff on you, they feel like Frankenstein even though
they’re beautifully rendered, well structured, all that good stuff, but they don’t come
alive, it’s almost certainly because you’re missing this. We’re going to find it in
the hand like we’ll find it throughout the body, but that’s what we’re after.
Now, back to structure. The structure is going to be, as I said, the parts, and I want those
parts to have two aspects to them. First, I want them as simple as possible. I can certainly
make them more complicated, but if I make them simple it’s easier. I can then redesign
them and make them more heroic or make it a science fiction hand or build an emotion
into it. I can make it, also animate then. If I work in the animation industry or I want
to take that model pose and make it more dynamic, by making it simple that gives me control.
The other thing about that is its quicker, and if it’s quick I can get down my idea,
see if it works with my other ideas and move on. I could always build on top of that.
But if it’s just simple, that’s not quite enough. It has to be simple, yet characteristic.
It has to be characteristic of what we see. For example, if I were going to draw the index
finger, the simplest shape I could think of would be maybe an egg shape, but that wouldn’t
be very characteristic of what I see. More importantly, it would not fit well with the
next shape, and I would have a tremendous amount of work to do to finish that off into
a reasonable suggestion of a finger.
But if I were to make it a tube in whatever position, that’s a better choice. Now I
have far less work. In fact, I could make it a tube with a bullet end. I could make
it a tube with kind of an asymmetrical bullet end to suggest where the nail goes. And that
would be the best yet. Notice how little work I have to do now to make that a finished idea,
and if I never got to the finish on it, it would still clearly tell me what I need to
know and what my audience needs to know about that finger and that hand. And so simple,
yet characteristic. A lot of the learning curve in doing structure is learning to find
just the right shape. We’re going to spend quite a bit of time in this lesson doing just that.
Finding just the right shapes or shapes to say what we want to say, to say hand.
Okay, so gesture and structure. There is so much more to these ideas, but we’re going
to leave it at that, and as I said, refer back to my other lectures to get more information
on that if you’re still in the dark. So, having said that, let’s get going with hands in general.
Alright, so the hands are made up of several parts. We have the back of the hand, the thumb,
the fingers with all their articulation. We need to work that out, obviously, but first
I want to talk about the relationship and a little bit of the structuring of the forearm.
When you’re working with a particular part, you’re trying to learn heads, hands, feet,
torso, whatever it is; don’t totally isolate that. Don’t draw just the head. Draw the
head, neck, and a little bit of the shoulders. Do more of a bust of it. What you want to
do is get a great mastery of that particular part, but you want to understand how it relates
back to the whole. If you just go through the parts you have all these pieces, and then
it’s like a broken jigsaw puzzle. You have no clue how to put them together. When we
deal with our hands we want to see how they work back into that. We’re going to work
a little bit with the forearm right now to fill in our knowledge and make sure the hands
connect back beautifully.
If I were to do that, that would say the most important thing about the forearm and the
hand. It wouldn’t tell me everything. It wouldn’t even tell me most things about
it, but the one thing it does say is the most important. So whenever you’re drawing, it’s
the gesture that’s going to ring the most true. If you get that gesture line of the
spine, of the leg as it’s, for the standing figure of the arm of the reaching hand. That’s
going to say the most. Then we can build our stuff on top of that.
So, having said that, let’s look at the forearm for a second. The forearm, as most
of the body is, is basically a tube, and so I’m going to draw a tube.
Now, I can do a better job than that, though. That’s a simple a tube as I can make, but
I’m going to make it more characteristic. It’s not going to make it more complex,
really, but it will make it more sophisticated. I want to draw a tube that has a little bit
of a curve to it, because that’s going to be my lifeline. That’s the gesture, gestural
idea. It’s the long fluid line. Notice how nicely tubes work for the gesture idea because
a tube is really just a three-dimensional gesture line. We can keep all the fluid lively
quality of any part we’re drawing and still give it three-dimensional volume. We know
now that this is farther from us than this end. Then it curves and lies in this horizontal
orientation. We have a lot of information about that three-dimensionally. And yet it
still is beautifully fluid.
But we can do better. When I look at this again I notice—let’s put it in that position,
I guess—I notice that it tapers. It’s thicker at the elbow and thinner at the wrist.
So let’s do that. Let’s make it a long tube again, a long curved tube again, and
a long, curved, tapering tube now. There it is. And so that’s probably my best choice.
Now, notice by spending a little extra time I’m getting a nice solid to take up space,
a nice solid that I can then sculpt with my rendering skills into this beautiful finish
with less problems than I would have before. And probably most importantly, I’ve got
a tube that is so refined, so specific, that when I want to add the next, let’s say the
forearm, the upper arm, the next part on there is going to fit beautifully. It’s going
to connect. That’s one of the key aspects, the key jobs of the gesture line. The gesture
line is going to be the fundamental design line, meaning picking the right gesture is
more important than picking the right structure, and it’s going to be the connecting line.
It’s going to allow the parts to flow, fit, bind, connect together—the connecting line.
We don’t want a gesture line that’s hidden in the center some place. We want it right
on the surface or at least the simplified surface.
Now, we can take this further and say, well, actually the wrist is more of a box idea,
and the back end of the forearm is more of an egg idea, and so we can refine this even
further. All that’s great, but we don’t have to do those. We could have just kept
it a tube. There are always several choices. It could have been more dimensional. Always
several choices, but we’ve got a beautiful connecting line to attach that hand onto,
and that’s what is most important.
Now, let’s look at the forearm. We have this nice tapering tube with all its characteristics
that we’ve suggested. It has a certain gesture to it, and the gesture of the forearm is to
curve out. You’ll notice that if I put my arms down like this, the upper arms go straight
down along the edges of body, and the forearms swing out. So they have a swing away, a gesture
that way. We can put it up here and feel that gesture there, and if we turn it over it even
becomes a greater gesture. But it has this hammock-like curve to it in this position,
and so it fits that way. If I turn it this way, we’ll see it still curves up like a
hammock. If I turn it this way now it bows down like a little mound shape.
And so if we want to get the right curvature of the forearm, we’re going to look at the
elbow. If the elbow points up, the curve will go down. It the elbow points down the curve
will go up. If I’ve turned it this way, but the elbow is closer to the downward position,
again, the arm will go up. If it’s closer to that upward position, the arm will curve
down. Then when it’s straight on front or back, it’s going to curve out this way.
That gives us the basic gesture. What I’m looking for is the overall swing. So that
means not the fullest curves. I’m looking at the longest sustained curve. We’re not
going to get into the elbow. That’s just too much to do. That’ll be, again,
saved for another lecture.
Let’s say that’s a very simplified version of the end of the upper arm, the humerus bone.
Now, I’m doing this position here: my right hand facing you guys. This will be the thumb
side. This will be the little finger side down here. What we have is the ulna bone.
It starts out big and fat and goes down skinny. This is the ulna. The radius bone starts out
skinny and comes down big and fat. There is the radius. So you can see it a little bit better.
Now, the reason we have the fat to thin and thin to fat is because the ulna ends up being
the primary elbow joint. The forearm articulates off that ulna and humerus connection. Not
funny connection, but upper arm connection. The radius makes—now the hand is going to
be down here. The radius comes down here on the thumb side and makes the hand connection,
the primary hand connection. Each of the other bones help a little bit. But you can see I
can collapse over that ulnar bone. It’s kind of out of the way of the joint. The joint
is really working off the radius. Likewise over here. Why would that happen? If we were
to compare it to ankle bones, tibia and fibula with the foot, we wouldn’t see that.
Here is my big connection for the ulna. Here is my big connection for the radius. Look
what happens. The hand can reach out and hold a bowl a soup. This is called supination position,
and the hand then can turn over and put the dog, I guess. Whatever the hand wants to do
when it turns over. Pronation. Pronation and supination. Look what happens. The radius
radiates around the ulna. The ulna stays in its locked position. It’s locked in beautifully.
It’s actually an incredibly strong joint here at the elbow. And it can radiate over
to put that hand in any position it wants. Now, it can do a high-five. It can come back
here and grip and grab. So we have this beautiful functionality here.
That, with our opposing thumb that we’ll get into, really makes us formidable characters
and allows us to be artists. It gives us incredible dexterity and amazing control. It still amazes
me, to be able to make a fine, beautiful line, to do a little tiny smudge of value that makes
a nose pop off a flat canvas, an illusion, to have that skill, to build pyramids with
stone tools, to have the skill to do that; it’s the genius of this engineering, this
architecture. This ulna and radius relationship is at the core of it.
So now when we come back to this we have that interesting little lesson on articulation.
But what it does for us in terms of shape, is it tells us that the form is actually going
to change a little bit of shape as it moves. So when it rotates here and the radius rotates
over the ulna, we end up getting a fuller, rounder shape. When the supination happens
and we rotate back, we get a flatter shape. Flat to wide. And so we have a slight difference
in articulation. If this were the top of the forearm and we’re looking down on it, and
the body would be in here. The hips would be in here, of course. We’d have it tapering
down. This would be flatter. Let me make it more box-like. This would be flat and wide.
Likewise down here, flat and wide.
If it rotates the other way—Let’s put it into more severe perspective, it gets to
be a fuller, truer tube, truer cylinder. It has a slight difference. I won’t get into
the subtleties of that because that’s for another lecture, but it will change the shape.
We’ll have a broad face here in light and a little bit in shadow or vice versa as opposed
to this. It changes a little bit. It affects our connectivity on that arm and how things
fit together. Let’s leave the forearm there for a moment
and jump over to the hand, and then we’ll put them together.
Alright, let’s talk about the shape of the hand now a little bit. The hand, what we’re
going to do is cut away the thumb and the fingers and just draw that back of the hand first.
I want the simplest possible shape I can, so I’m going to break it now into
just a two-dimensional shape for the moment. If it were just a two-dimensional box it would
be roughly 3 x 4 in proportion. Very much the same proportion as the rib cage. We could
do the rib cage as a 3 x 4, with its stomach and hips.
The hand then can fit to the wrist, and the wrist becomes our forearm like so.
That’s the simplest statement.
I want it simple, yet characteristic. I’m going to make it a little more sophisticated. I’m
going to make it a bulging box. It’s going to bulge here and bulge here and bulge here.
Again, that’s what I would do for the rib cage oftentimes. Make it slightly bulging,
that barrel of the chest and the hourglass of the figure it was a female, for example.
We get a bulging idea. Bulging box.
Now, here’s the advantage of that bulging box. If I put it into any kind of perspective—let’s
do this for a second—what it’s going to suggest is a curvature of the back of the
hand, which is true. You can do it with your own hand. You can feel it flexing, and I’ll
tell you why in a second it flexes here. There is a natural curvature there unless it’s
flapped flat against something. Then it tends to be flatter. Usually it has a natural curve
to it. By bulging it like the rib cage then I can take this little barrel shape and set
it into space this way. Let me put on the wrist. We’re not done yet with our simple,
yet characteristic idea, but let me just stop for a second and show you, say that’s the
thumb and here’s the fingers very crudely in here. You can see what it’s doing there.
I’m going to take it a little bit further. When I look at this it’s very flat, very
flat; a rounded top, flat on the bottom. I’m actually going to—if we see it from this
position we wouldn’t notice this, but when we get into articulate I’m going to make
it this, so kind of like a pickle barrel but cut in half. Slice half of it. The other slice
is taken away. So we’re going to use that, and that gives me that flat connection. You
can see here how it’s connecting flatly, in a flat manner. Here you can see it connecting
flat. Again, the wrist then would fit on that. We want the hand to be slightly wider than
the wrist, as you can see there. Make this the little finger side in this case.
We'll just put the thumb here just so you can see it.
Okay, so that’s my basic shape that I’m going to work with. Simple, yet characteristic.
What I want to do is practice drawing that shape. I can make it a little straighter and
have it step in just a touch into the wrist so we can get that wider and narrower. We
can do that. I can bulge it. I’d prefer the bulge because oftentimes it’ll flow
together. Sometimes it’ll break apart. You can always—depending on whether you add
the thumb or cut it away, it can feel like a smoother transition. I’d prefer the bulge,
but you can actually do a step there for it. You could also do a bulging box idea like
so, so kind of like a cigar, the old cigarette boxes or little pocket flasks the gentleman
in the 19th century would put in their pockets. But 3 x 4, slightly longer than it is wide.
Now, let’s go back to our skeleton again. Now, here’s the back of the hand, right
side. We had it this way earlier to look at those forearm bones. Now we’re going to
look at the hand itself. We’ll notice some odd features. It doesn’t look very much
like this at first glance. It looks like it is all fingers. What we have is we have the
wrist bone. There is where it articulates. There is where it turns. Then we have the
carpals. They’re called the carpals, these eight little guys down here. They create kind
of a keystone collection, kind of like flagstones in a downtown street. They look like that.
They fit together. They have a slight movement there that allows them to flex and to take
Then those, that little connective complex is attached to by the metacarpals. Carpal
just means just. Meta means beyond, beyond the wrist. So these are the metacarpals. Each
finger has a metacarpal: thumb, forefinger, middle finger, ring finger, little finger
all have a metacarpal. That is the knuckle line right here, although it doesn’t look
like it. We’ll get into that. That’s the knuckle line. That’s where the fingers articulate.
Let’s do the right hand. Fingers articulate. Notice that the thumb is connected with the
metacarpals here, but it looks very different when we look at the finished hand. We’ll
talk about that in a second, and I’m going to tell you a little lie
that’ll help you remember it, actually.
Each of these fingers has a metacarpal. That creates the back of the hand and this webbing
construction for the opposing thumb. Then we have the fingers. Those are the phalanges.
There are three phalanges for each finger, except the thumb only gets two. That’s a
lot to remember on the thumb. Thumbs give us trouble, so we’re going to try and come
up with a simpler way to look at it. But that’s the anatomy, the bone structure of it, and
the point of it here is these sticks; that’s what allows this hand to flex like that. It
gives it more articulation. It can cup. The hand does a lot of jobs. It can be a bowl,
a cup. It can be a club, a sledgehammer. It can be a wedge. It can be a pair of pliers,
and it can be a vice. It can do a lot of things, but those are its primary functions.
So having that flex in there gives us more refinement in our articulation. It can flatten
out and it can flex over, and also it can take the impact. Because those are thin little
sticks they’re pretty fragile, and that’s what these pads are for, really, is to protect
that fragility there. And so on each underside here there is a lot of padding. The feet have
them too, and the toes on the bottom of the foot, padding to protect. Also, the fingerprints
are really not so the FBI can identify you. It’s really for grip. It allows you to have
a grip. The texture of the skin there is like a good sole of a shoe. It gives you traction
so we have a good gripping. Mainly it’s to protect so they’re not damaged on the
underside of the joint.
So we have these sticks moving along here, and I’m going to make these carpals just
like this. This is going to be the ulna, little finger side over here, Really simplified,
the ulna, the radius is there. Then we have the little finger. We’re just going to make
them little dog bone shapes. That’s more or less true. The ring finger,
the middle finger is the longest.
The index finger or pointer finger is slightly shorter than the
ring finger. Then the thumb is shorter and thicker. It’s out on its own. Notice when
we grip the one has to have the strength to compete with the many to hold that grip.
If you’re—I can show you for second—when you grab something, I can’t get away this
way; I can get it away that way. That’s how we get out of hold. If there is some evil
artist that ever grabs you, you can pry yourself away thumb side, because the thumb is weaker,
but it’s stronger than any one of these because it’s extra sturdy.
The muscles, you can see this thenar eminence, this muscle mass here. It gives you great
power but still not against the leverage and the numbers of the fingers. It’s actually
a little thicker there. It sits down there. So the metacarpals all attach into the carpals.
They sit on top of that keystone paving structure in effect. Then they articulate at the wrist.
There we go, like so.
The phalanges sit on top. I’ll just do one finger. What we’re going to find is this
is like a little arrowhead you might find in a fossil record. Let’s make this just
a touch longer and this a touch shorter. What we’ll find is the fingers, let’s use the
middle finger. The middle finger is about the same length as the back of the hand. Ring
finger a little bit shorter. Notice that I made it a little bit too long. Whoops, down
here, I’m sorry. I made it a little longer than it really is. Remember, we’ll put the
padding on top of that. That’s the general rule of the aesthetics of the whole figure.
Wherever you start—not wherever you start—when you start at the top you draw the head a certain size.
Then you draw the shoulders and the rib cage, and then the rib cage into the hips,
the hips into the thighs, the thighs into the shin, shin into the feet. Each time if
you make what’s below a little too big that’s a better mistake than making it a little too
small. It’s going to look more heroic, more statuesque, more elegant. Those long-line
gestures will get longer, and they’ll be more curved, so it’ll be more fluid and
alive. It’s a better mistake to make. Same with the fingers. As we go down here, the
upper arm is really actually longer than the forearm, but it often doesn’t look that way.
But if I happen to make the forearm longer than it should be, it looks absolutely fine.
The hand is a little bigger than it should be for the arm, looks absolutely fine. The
finger is a little longer than it should be.
Notice that our fashion oftentimes tries to play that up. The hair for a woman going out
piles her hair up, has a low neckline to show that long neck so the hair gets away from
the neck. The neckline plunges to stretch the neck, the high heels to lengthen the lower
legs, the long fingernails to lengthen the fingers. We love, especially in the West,
we love that length. It’s classic. It’s Greco-Roman. It’s heroic and elegant.
So, I screwed this up by making it a little too big. That’s a much better mistake. In
fact, I will do that on purpose. I’ll make my hands far bigger in my work than they should
be, oftentimes, and the fingers a little longer.
here by color-coding it. Here is the wrist into the forearm, let’s say. We’ll give
that its own color just because we can. Then the fingers will go this way. We’re going
to look at those in detail in a second. They will go on. So we’ve got the finger, the
back of the hand, about the same length as the back of the hand. It can be a little longer.
You don’t to get much shorter. Strictly speaking, the middle finger is exactly the
same length as a good rule of thumb. We’re going to make it a little longer if we’re
going to make it ideal. The thumb goes on to that with its phalanges.
Let’s talk about the thumb right now. Each of these has this little arrowhead structure.
This joint would be the wrinkled joint of the thumb. Now, the thumb is thicker than
the other fingers. It has an odd kind of exaggeration to its shape. The fingers are much more conservative
in shape. The thumb is much more radical or playful in shape. It goes curving off wild
in shape. And so it looks quite a bit different and it starts different. It has this webbing.
If you feel back in, you’ll feel this interosseous muscle, the muscle between the bones. It helps
to work it. You can see it bulge in there when it works. You can dig down there, and
you can feel that metacarpal going into the wrist bone, the carpals in here, way down
here out of position. These guys start up here. Way up here they’re all together.
This guy is out of position down here. It goes off at an odd angle, and it’s covered
by this stuff. What are we going to do about that?
I’m going to add a fan shape for the thumb. There it is there. I’ve drawn the back of
my hand here as my bulging cigar shape or bulging box shape or however we conceived
the slice of the tube. Then I’ve added on a little wedge shape or a little fan shape
on there. Then out comes the thumb. The thumb only has two metacarpals.
The fingers have three.
So, here is the light that I tell myself to remember.
The finger, all these fingers have the pebble bones here, the carpals.
We have a metacarpal and then we have three phalanges coming off the carpals. What I do is I just
pretend that the first stick for the thumb, the metacarpal if we look in anatomy books,
that’s a phalange too.
So I just say that the thumb, instead of starting at the end of the metacarpals, starts at the
corner of the hand, the back end of the hand. It starts at the wrist, basically. It has
three phalanges. That’s a bit of a lie. That’s the metacarpal, but who cares. We
don’t care about that. You don’t have to explain your anatomy in your art. I’m
just going to add three dog bone sticks on there just like it did here. Instead of starting
at the back of the hand I’m going to start at the end of the wrist. Let’s try it again.
Here is the back of the hand as a simple shape. Here is the end of the wrist as the connecting
shape having whatever perspective it has. Here is the index finger. I’ll show you
how to draw these in a second starting off. I guess I’ll do all three just to be consistent.
Here is wedge and the thumb. I’ll show you how to draw these shapes in a bit, like so.
You can see here are the other fingers going off there.
See how that’s basically pretty simple? It takes some practice to do. Here is that
third. What am I doing? I am drawing the back of the hand and three stick shapes for each
finger. Then I’m coming back to the side of the hand, coming to the end of wrist rather
than the end of the hand and drawing three shapes here. Instead of drawing a stick,
I'm going to draw this fan/wedge shape, however you want to think of it. Pull that in there.
Then dry these shapes on there. There it is there in whatever position.
Now, if that thumb were to start to squeeze in, notice how the shape adjusts a little bit.
Here is the wrist. Here is that thumb binding up here. One, two shapes in there.
Squeezes in here. Here is the wrist in here. Here is the back of the hand in here. We can
do a better job of that. Here is the thumb in here. Here are the fingers. Notice when
the thumb comes in, it starts to get more ball-like. When we turn it this way we can
see it easily. Now you can make it square. I have kind of knobby knuckles because I’ve
beat up my hands over the years, so my hands get squarish and lumpy at the corners probably
more than yours do, and certainly more than a young child would or a young girl would.
But, older hands that are more arthritic or that have boxed or that have done construction,
then they’ll get a little bit squarer there. So you can make it a squarer ball or a rounder
ball or a truer ball, I should say, simple yet characteristic. Take your pick. Simply
speaking, it’s either a wedge shape or it’s an egg shape.
Let’s switch this over so that it’s this hand now. We’ll see that thenar eminence
there. Why is that there? It’s there for a couple reasons. It’s there for three reasons,
I guess. I think it’s the hypothenar eminence, but I call it the karate chop part of the
hand. It’s there for a couple of reasons or three reasons. Really, it’s a big muscle
that articulates and gives strength for that grip. It’s there as padding so it’s bulging
out to protect the delicate joints. Same with that karate chop area of padding. Then there
is a little padding here. Each of these protects the underside. It’s very delicate. And for
our survival and our livelihood, very important structures. But also, it creates a little
bowl or cup that we can drink water or hold a cute little grasshopper, butterfly, whatever it is.
So there are our structures there.
Okay, so basic ideas then. Let’s go back over it real quick. The back of the hand has
this 3 x 4 proportion. A bulging, box-like shape with all its variations, as we’ve
talked about. Very much the same proportion as a rib cage that we’d draw. It’s made
of these metacarpals and carpal structures. The fingers start at the end of the metacarpals
and group together at the end of the hand. The thumb starts at the wrist corner. The
end of the wrist and builds out also in three shapes. The first shape, though, the difference
with the wrist, with the thumb, is each shape is unique from the last. We don’t see that
so much in the fingers. I’ll show you better in a moment. But it goes from a fan or egg
shape as we talked about, to a tube, to whatever the heck that is. We’re going to figure
it out yet. It has 3 shapes to the end.
So, having said that, now let’s look more carefully at the fingers, and we’ll see
how that and the thumb. We’ll see how that works to create a fairly complete structure.
Okay, so now we’re going to work on our finger shapes and try and get that a little
bit further and see what we have. Each digit, each phalange is the little dog bone stick.
We don’t care about that anymore. What we care about is the shape. It’s basically
a little cut cylinder. That’s going to make life pretty easy and create a bit of a problem
that I’ll explain in a second. So it’s just like that. That’s just taking out,
just to be clear, taking out one of these shapes.
When we look at all of the fingers they all are basically the same shape. Now the knuckles,
like I’ve broken this knuckle; it’s a little lumpier and such. They can vary a little
bit. But the basic shapes, the first two of each one are exactly the same. And so we’re
going to add, I’m going to keep them separate here. Another shape and another shape. We’ll
make the third the same for the moment. What we’re going to notice when we look at those
fingers then , that each shape gets a little less and a little less than the shape before.
So if this is one unit this would be three-quarters of that. Then if we thought of this as one
unit, this would be three-quarters of that one. They’re reducing by a quarter each
time, getting smaller, smaller, and smaller as they go.
Now, remember is said, where do you want to screw up though? The air would be, the real
air would make them be too short. If I want to screw up the right one and be safe, make
them a little extra long. Oftentimes you’ll see that the artist-Renaissance artists always
did this. They’ll make these two the same. They’ll make these two equal. They’ll
make this one a little bit longer, and because they want to make them elegant they’ll make
them longer yet. Then they’ll have these guys, if those are the same. They should be.
Make these guys equal rather than this one be a little shorter. Again, for the women
who have the long fingernails, they’re attempting to do just that. So now we can put the whole
thing together, and it’s a tube. We want the tube to taper. Get a little thinner as
it goes. And we have that nail on top. What we’re going to find is, from the side, the
simplest statement, we’re going to want to take it farther yet.
We can keep adding levels of sophistication. The more we do in the design phase, in this
construction phase, the less we have to do in the rendering stage, and the better it’s
going to fit with whatever it connects to. So we have this asymmetrical. So the last
shape, to make it very simple, just does that. If we were to look at that shape end-on from
the back, we’d have a bullet shape for the nail end that would do something like that.
Notice it can curve off a little bit. We’ll play with that in a moment. Let’s keep it
simple. We’re going to keep that out of the mix for the moment. Then just to be clear,
here would be our nail shape. We’ll make it a goth model so she’s got black nails,
or he’s got black nails. There you go. Like that. Then it would just look as it did a
moment ago if it was this way.
Okay, so that’s the simplified version. Now, to take it a little bit further, let’s
look at it again. Now, when I bend this finger, notice that it wads up underneath. We have
a crease, an open fold here, and then we have pillowy shapes here. So just like we had pads
to protect here, we have pads, little fatty pads setting here. They hang under. If we
were to look at the last phalange, the third phalange of that pointer finger, we’d actually
see a little pad of fat here that’s floating underneath it. Then the skin goes over it,
and that’s what creates that bullet kindo shape, lopsided bullet. So anyway, we have
that. What happens then is if we go back to our separations here, these are a little shorter
than this one. We’re going to see this lumpy, and you might do that right in the beginning.
I’ll give you my recommendations in a second. Or, you’ll do it at the finish if it’s
a fairly refined rendering or a structured drawing.
but fairly clean line. Let’s take this a little bit further now. Let’s take that
end of the finger. Bring it out here. Give it just a little bit of perspective so you
can see its construction more clearly. Notice when we look at things in a plan or an elevation
view we can’t see their full character until we get it into some kind of position, some
kind of perspective, some kind of recession. It’s going away from us. It’s above us.
It’s coming toward us, that kind of thing. We don’t see its full character. We’re
seeing that simplified, but that’s what we’re seeing at the moment.
Let’s take it a little bit further now. What I want now is to step down for my finger.
Notice that it’s doing this to exaggerate it. Doing that down to the nail here. We want
the barest little step. Then if we’re in this slight perspective what we’ll see is
this will do this. Here is my fingernail here. Notice how lovely now, how beautifully, let’s
say—let me shade this so you can see it—that end reinforces the perspective idea.
So now I have two ends.
Notice if I do this I don’t know, if I just draw the sides I do not know the third dimension.
I don’t know the volume, the character. Until we get on in some kind of angle of perspective,
some kind of foreshortening or asymmetrical position on a form, we’re not going to understand
its true character. I don’t know if that’s a tube or not. But as soon as I get into a
biased position off axis somehow, in this case slightly in front of this, slightly to
the right of this end, now I know not only its perspective position, but I also know
its character. It’s a tubular form. And, by getting those ends, I not only get the
three-dimensional concept when I didn’t get it from just the sides, but I know its
character. It’s round across. I’ll probably have a better feel for its proportion because
I’ve cut it off at a specific moment at those ends. I’ve cut off the ends so now
I can measure it, make sure it fits, works for me. Getting it on axis, on some kind of
axle change. The front is closer to us. The back is closest to us. The top is closer than
the bottom, something like that. Then I get a full sense of it. It’s more dynamic and
more dramatic to have that. To have it doing this is better than to have it flat like that.
It gives you drama.
Now, let’s look at that nail a little more carefully. We step down a little bit. Let’s
just keep that in flat perspective, like so. The nail sits on there. A long nail would
do this, of course, just to be clear. It steps down. So let’s be an ant now. We’re going
to step down onto that little ice rink of a nail.
Notice what we could do now. We could conceive of this as a box idea. Notice how we could
draw whatever we’re interested in as a squarer or rounder statement, and the nail would more
or less, if I look at this carefully I’ll see that there is some thickness on either
side that could also be the top plane. Let’s put this in here. And I’m making this just
a simplified square for the moment. Notice that the front plane extends—let me do this
so you can feel it. The front plane has some of the skin around that nail.
We can, in the beginning certainly, just use the nail as the top plane. It’s close enough.
That's what we’ve done here. This is a perfectly straight or slightly curved like that.
Notice how we can play off these several variations. I’m going to keep the very square nail structure
and the very square top structure that’s going to be the knuckle structure. We have
to talk about the knuckles in a second here. Then I’m going to make it a rounded bottom.
The bottom goes back to the tube. There is the tube idea. It goes back to the tube so
it will be sliced off the top of the tube, and then I’ve curved this off, so it’s
going towards that bullet, or I could even conceive of that as an egg shape, whichever.
It rounds off there. I could make that squarer too. Make it squarer here. Then it goes into
the tube. So many variations there. We won’t go through every single one, but you get the idea.
Let’s try it again. Let’s do one more variation. Let’s go ahead and stick with
the tube in the beginning and just make the nail on top the wedge
and the bottom that rounded bullet idea as we’re calling it, like so.
It can be incredibly subtle or a little more exaggerated. It can be square or it can be
rounder. So you have several choices there, and there are more, but that gives you the
idea. We’ve got two basic tubes, and then we have this kind of bullet. We’ll just
call it a bullet shape, although it’s much more than that, but just for simplicities
sake, bullet shape. Again, we see it from here. Here would be the end here.
Now, let’s come back to the top here. If we look at our skeleton—let me grab a skeleton
real quick. This is the back of the hand. Here are our fingers here. One, two, three
fingers. This is the guy we’ve been working with. We have these sticks, our metacarpals,
1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Then we’re going to have the knuckle, and I can feel these knobby knuckles
where the two bones come together. If we remember our bone idea, they were dog bones, more or less.
When those dog bones come together in two fat ends that’s the knuckle we’re
feeling here. But we also have a tendons strapping over it, and that tendon is a cable that pulls.
When you want it to work muscles and tendons only do one thing. They contract. And so when
we tell it to it contracts and it does this. That string, that cable pulls tight all the
way back to here. It pulls tight and straightens it out. What we have then is we have the thicker
bone—you can see it scoops here—that’s to allow the fatty pads to sit in there for
our protection. Then we have the flat, relatively flat top. It bulges side to side,
but it’s pretty flat on top.
But the cable, that tendon goes over the top of that. There are some inner muscles there
too, but let’s just keep it simple. Cable goes over that. That’s what is going to
create a knuckle. A cable, a long tube just goes over that. It creates a knuckle. So what
we’re going to have is the cable coming over the top and then attaching back down,
coming over the top of that thicker bone attaching back there or laying back down, I should say,
over the top. We’re going to feel this wave action. We’re going to feel this wave action,
so you can just cap each joint each span of our two tubes with that little cap structure.
Notice what that does for us. I haven’t mentioned before, but going back to gesture
I said the more fluid and curved something is, the more alive it is. Notice when you
have a straight finger it’s stiff and straight, and you’ll find that sometimes. If I have
a figure standing in perfect symmetry in position facing the viewer, facing the camera, since
what’s over here is over here, that bilateral symmetry makes it stiff and straight. It’s
only when the object gets an asymmetrical dynamic position—asymmetrical, I go this
way. Now we have that curve, that curve of the spine showing off, or in a highly articulated
position. Then that curve comes in clearly. But on symmetrical forms you’ll use that
oftentimes. The limbs are not symmetrical. Although the fingers have a certain asymmetry,
they don’t add up to a curved design. That’s a problem.
So now look what happens. When we add to our straight finger our little knuckle structure,
the thicker bone and the cable on top, we get this lovely wave action going. That helps.
That makes it feel fluid. Further, if the finger doesn’t go straight, which how many
times are you going to draw all your hands like this, usually they’re relaxing or articulating.
Notice that then they fall right into that curved idea. They still have that wave action.
We’ll draw that more clearly in a second. But the overall finger itself curves, and
so if I do the Michelangelo’s creation of Adam bit, the hand and finger curve over into
this lovely grouping curve, and that’s more appealing.
Then on the bottom we have those lumpy pads. So let’s go ahead then and draw a curve.
The finger would do that simply, and what we’ll see is the knuckles on top into the
asymmetrical nail kept in finger like that. Then we see that lovely flow there. Now the
whole thing has that beautiful gesture, hallelujah. It feels alive. And the contour itself has
that lovely flow to it. So that rise and fall of the knuckles become really important to
give that fluid wave, so it just doesn’t stick out. The fingers stick out. They flow
off of the hand. They don’t stick out. They flow off. Thumb we’ll have to figure out
in a second. This is a shape we are not quite sure of yet. So we’ll play with that momentarily.
That gives us the idea.
Notice each finger, whatever it’s doing so we can see the last one there. We get that
articulation and it’s pleasing isn’t it? So the hand itself, the back of the hand finishes.
We’ll do some finished drawings and such so we can see this really clearly, but I think
you get the idea. There are those capped knuckles. I just draw those shapes or think of those
shapes, and that gives me that sense of the cable over the thicker knuckle bone. The fingernail
is there like so. Alright, so that’s that. Now let’s look at the thumb.
So again, to recap; we have the back of the hand starting off that wrist, and when the
hand ends then all the fingers begin, and they count up three pieces. We’re going
to take our thumb as three pieces. We’re going to start it not at the end of the hand.
We’re going to start it at the end of the wrist and build it off this way. This way.
And it’s going to start with that wedge shape. Then it’s going to have two new shapes
on there. Let’s look at what those are. Here is the back of the hand, my bulging box
idea. Here is the wrist down here. Then we’re going to feel the wedge or fan shape.
Notice that the—I’ll forget this. Oftentimes, when I’m lecturing I’ll forget which way it goes, and I’ll
look up after all these years. I’ll have to look at my hand to see it, but we have
the finger overlapping the thumb, and that makes sense. I don’t why I can’t remember it.
The bulk of the thumb is on the inside so it can do this. And so it makes sense that
the hand would be over the top of it.
Notice that the crease is—we have a crease here, and we have a crease here that takes
on a knuckle. Remember we have—let’s just put one of these guys up here. It really should
be longer there. We have knuckles. Let’s just do this for the knuckles here. Here is
our simplified, just to show the position of the nail. So we have a knuckle here. You
can see that the thenar eminence feels like another knuckle. That can get very square
and really push out, or it can play down softly. It just depends. Look at Leonardo da Vinci
or any of the Renaissance artists and how they did Madonna’s hands. They’re not
going to have a big lump there. If you’re doing a more male hand or an older hand, a
boxer or a warrior’s hand, those knuckles are weapons and they’ve been built up, calloused
over, or through age calcified. They’ll have a real character to them. There is that
same wave action going, but the overlap, the overlap. And we have the wedge in here.
That first structure of the finger, number 1, is hidden inside that wedge or that egg,
whatever it happens to be. Then we have first, first, second, second. The second finger joint,
phalange, is just a tube. Ditto. It’s just a thicker tube for the thumb. So this section
from the knuckle, the end of that fan wedge shape, we’ll just call it a wedge shape,
into the wedge shape, over to the wrinkled knuckle where it all balls up in material
there. That’s just a tube, just a cut tube again. Then the thumb sits on top of it.
Now, if the fingers were kind of bullet shapes, the thumb hooks into an exaggeration of that.
When you’re thumbing a ride, for example. You can’t do that with your finger. It won’t
articulate out. That will really pop out. So if I bring that back down you can see how
it really steps down, much more exaggerated. Here is the finger, a typical finger
stepping down onto the nail.
There is the thumb stepping down on the nail. It can even be more than that like that.
I think of it as a little puppy dog shape.
So when it’s like that you have a puppy dog muzzle.
If it goes up that way to thumb a ride, you’ve got a hook like that. There are those wrinkles
there. We’ll deal with those more carefully later. Hook, if it’s this way it’s just
a spoon shape, and it can change. It can be kind of a paddle. The spoon is a little much
there. It can look like that sometimes or it can kind of taper and be longer like that.
There are those wrinkles right there. It’s some kind of spoon shape, puppy dog, hook
shape, spoon shape. The last shape is when it comes at you because it bulges and curves
on the bottom, and it kind of binds on the top.
Notice that we could kind of conceive of this, even at this point, as kind of a bean bag
idea. That’s exactly what we’re going to do. If it comes at us or goes away from
us, I’m going to think of it as a bean bag or a kidney bean shape, like so. Or, coming
toward us it binds up around that nail and knuckle idea. There is a nail. There’s a
nail. I’ll make it a little squarer so you can see it for a second, or it can be rounder.
It doesn’t matter. But you get that kidney bean shape. Just look at it with your own,
you know, just stare at when we do it this way, like that, and you can see that.
Okay, it morphs into very different shapes depending on its position; simple, yet characteristic.
It needs to be simple, yet characteristic. The more you can put it into a specific idea,
the better. Here is one of the problems when we’re drawing. Especially if it’s quick
sketch artists, like I tend to be, West Coast and America tend to be. East Coast in America
is the atelier style, more generally. Oftentimes, most of Europe and a lot of China and Russia,
a lot of the other areas of the country are atelier. There they spend a lot of time analyzing.
If you’re more of a quick sketch artist, a lot of the commercial field, almost all
the commercial field are quick sketch artists because of deadlines. They have to animate
and redesign things, so they quickly contract.
Oftentimes, what happens is when you’re working quick you do the big stuff, the big
three; the head, the rib cage, the pelvis, and then some of the construction, connective
tissue, the shoulder girdle in between, legs. Oftentimes, you don’t get to the hands.
Or if you do and you don’t get to the feet, or if you do you do very generic, simplified
shapes. So you never spend much time really analyzing in detail how they look, how they
morph in shape and position, and how they can be very—they can have a personality.
They can be characteristic to a specific person, and old boxer with gnarled knuckles or a young
little girl with pudgy hands. It’d be a very different problem to solve. If we can
take the time to analyze it, I would encourage you when you’re drawing from the live model
or from our video lessons online or from our library catalog of reference, really pull
it up close. Pick out areas and sometimes, rather than doing a whole figure for five
minutes, a quick sketch, just draw the end of a thumb. Really analyze that. Break it
down into several shapes.
We can take this thumb now, and we can do the same thing we did with the fingers. We’ll
have a big ski slope idea or step down ramp idea in this case and make it very squared
off. We can make it as sophisticated as we want. I could take it and make that kind of a scoop, a ski ramp
with it in here. So you can see those variations off the theme. There are lots of ways we go.
There is our puppy dog idea, just a square puppy dog. Anyway, we want to really kind
of conceive of these things carefully.
The way I’m drawing is really the way a sculptor would sculpt. I’m carving out masses,
and then I’m making ever more refined choices about those solids. They are going to be rounder.
They are going to be squarer. I’m going to put together two shapes in effect instead
of one shape, or I’m going to have it evolve from something square at one end to something
rounder at the other, constantly looking for those choices. By doing that it gives me great
range for just drawing thumbs. I can draw six or seven distinctly designed thumbs to
fit that particular model or my particular intention in my work. I want to make them
heroic or villainous or sympathetic or remote or whatever.
little characters. They give us a lot of tools to work with. Let me show you what I mean.
Let’s go back to a finger rather than the thumb. Here is a perfectly manicured nail,
which mine never are. They always have paint and stuff underneath them. It looks like that,
and then you have the little kind of cuticle here like so. It does that. Great. If we thought
about it as we did earlier, we’d know that the thumb actually has a curvature. I’m
always my own best model. Whenever I’m trying to figure things out, even if there is a model
in front of me, I’m my own best model. I’ll look at my own thumb and say now what the
heck is going on there? I’ll feel where is the bone coming? Where is it softer on
the body part that I’m working with?
We have a nice curvature to that nail, and then it slips under the skin. It’s a nicely
padded skin, and it rolls off this way to make a deeper perspective idea. As I said
before, that roll of the skin on top of the nail plus the whole nail, that’s our front
plane. So we could think of this as all side plane. Let’s chisel this out. Notice that
anything I’m working with I can make it a squarer or rounder construct, so now it’s
more chiseled. Maybe it’s a robot figure. We can chisel off that top there. Okay, so
you get the point on that.
Here is the nice thing about the thumb. If I were to take, and I already did it to some
degree while I was drawing the earlier perspective volumes, I just didn’t explain it. So now
I’m going to explain it so now it’s useful to us and we’re aware. There is that thumb—that
finger I should say—going in perspective like this. I’m going to do it with red here.
I’m going to square it off like I did before. Here is the square nail. Her here is a little
bit of the fatty skin around it. Then it goes off. This become our front plane—top plane,
I should say. There is our top plane like that. Then it stepped up, didn’t it? We
had that nail structure that we, or that knuckle structure that we made a big deal out of.
It goes off this way. Then we’ll round that off on the bottom because that’s more characteristic
because of that protective pad. I’m making it pretty fat there. Let me thin it out. If
I make it too fat it’ll look more like a thumb. It already is now because it’s getting
so wide, but it doesn’t matter. It works for both.
Square, rounder. This is away from the light source. Now, that’s great except the fingernail
or thumbnail or toenails, they don’t look like that. They look like that. They look
like little Eskimos. I’m from Alaska; I can say that, I think. Little Eskimos in their
parka. So we have it rounded. Let’s go ahead and do the rounded end of our nail. It could
be a long nail or a short nail. It doesn’t matter. It’s going to curve this way. Now,
notice if we went back to our tubular construct, how nice is that?
There is our nail, that end.
Notice that the nail curves in our perspective. Notice also—and I’ll make a bigger point
of this later—if you look at your creased, the extra skin that creases up like a Sharpei
dog gets all the folds in it, that’s the extra skin so that we could articulate. If
I took that skin away I can’t bend it, so I need that extra skin. Those tubes are going
to go this way. I’ll show you that better especially when we do our rendering demo.
But they’ll follow that too.
Notice how the end of the, I want to make sure this is very clear. The end of our nail
of our curved nail is reinforcing my perspective perfectly. Let’s do it this way. That’s
our perspective. The end of the nail is showing that perspective. When we render in detail
one of our tools for getting perspective is contour. If that particular organic form happened
to curve in the curvature of our perspective design, or tube design in this case, perfect.
They’re lining up. They’re saying the same thing. The audience will see greater depth.
But notice that this part of it does not reinforce our perspective. It goes against the perspective.
You probably did a lot of things to get your perspective. You did the knuckle creases.
You did that nice end, all that kind of stuff. If you needed to draw it as it really is because
you’re a stickler for detail, go ahead and add that on. We can live with that. We’ll
still get a couple or even three things that really reinforce that perspective. What I
like to do is go the extra mile, and I will cheat on that. Instead of drawing that I’m
going to draw this little cuticle thing or whatever it’s called. I’ll cheat it over.
Now the whole thing reinforces my idea.
That’s what artists do. They look at the world. They try and capture the essence of
it, the truth of the world, but it’s not the realistic copying of the world. We’re
really manipulating that for some deeper truth. The deeper truth is then losing a little bit
of these anatomy, let’s say, to get the positional idea, the position, the dynamic
position is more important to me than the actual, accurate detail. And so I fudged that
a little bit. I make the legs a little longer. I make the eye sockets a little deeper. I
make the neck a little longer, the jaw a little fuller to give character to that portrait.
If you look at Sargent portraits, those are not realistic copies. They are actually caricatures
of those people. The hair is fuller. The skin is cleaner. The neck is longer. The body is
more erect. So we’re doing a little bit of manipulation here, so I turn it that way.
Notice what happens. If you look at your own finger perspective, if it gets in deep perspective
you’ll see it does that because of that knuckle. Remember what we were getting here.
We were getting a knuckle on top like this, and so it was actually doing that idea. And
so when we get into a firm, full perspective position, that knuckle will start to dominate.
There are the creases in here. The knuckle will start to dominate that nail, and we’ll
feel that curvature there. In a lesser perspective it may well not, probably won’t. But I will
cheat it ahead that way.
Let’s turn it now and have it come at us rather than going away from us. Now when it
comes at us let’s do it this way. Let’s do it the correct way. There is my nail.
There it is. Now we’ve got that finger, let’s say it’s the index finger, here is the next
joint with the pads underneath. Look at those nice lumpy pads. Then we’ll have the knuckles
lay on top to give that. Notice how that knuckle structure sits in here and adds the perspective.
Let’s come back to the nail. Notice what we’ve got here once again. We’ve got the
nail on the backside reinforcing the perspective of the tube that we’ve conceived of. It’s
doing a great job, isn’t it? It’s reinforcing through contour the curvature of the curved
form in perspective and helping to push it back into perspective. We have no perspective
here. We’ve got to get the idea of perspective. So the contour reinforcing helps it. Here
though, let’s do this. Here though, the contour fights the perspective. Now, does
it ruin the illusion of the finger? Not at all. It doesn’t hurt much at all. I’ll
show you why in a second. If I were to take that nail and curve it this way, remember
it has a natural curvature to what we found when we look right on it. Look at your own
nail coming right you or strongly at you. You’ll see it does because it’s bulging
over that rounded form, that bullet or tube form is curving there, and it actually curves
back into perspective just as I showed it here. So it’s doing that.
Let’s do it again now. I’m going to draw the front and the back of the nail in my curved
perspective that I conceived of as a tube. See how nicely that works? This is more dramatically
in perspective than that. They both give us the depth. This is more dramatic. If there
is any question this is going to make a difference, there is no question. It doesn’t matter
that much, so take your pick.
As I said, when it gets into deep perspective, if was this deep of perspective, it probably
would look like that. It probably wouldn’t look like that. Let’s do a lesser perspective.
It’s just slightly going away from us at the knuckle, slightly coming towards us at
the nail. Let’s do it again. There…or there. See how this feels clearer? I actually
drew it a little bit better, and that’s not fair, but I think you get the idea. Let
me do this. Make it a little bit fairer fight here. Can you see how my curving this this
way, the contours, it does a good job.
Now, what’s the most important thing in that nail placement is something I haven’t
mentioned at all. It’s a mistake that people make. When you look at something done right
you don’t think anything of it. You think, of course, that’s how it should go. Oftentimes,
somebody would, might, I’m not saying you. I know you would never do it. Let’s say
someone that you know, or used to know because you’re no longer friends if they can’t
draw their fingernails, would take that perspective tube and then they would do—let me just
do it over here actually to hide the problem a little bit. Here is the tube without its
construction lines. I’ll just do these kind of construction lines.
They do a fingernail like this.
I’m going to pause for a second and I’m going to draw it again. I’m going to let
you figure out what I screwed up on that. There it is drawn in the more dramatic perspective
way. What’s wrong with both of those fingernails? Pause the video if you want to to try and
think it through if you didn’t get it already. Here is the clue. Here is the key. If that’s
the perspective that I’ve conceived the form in, that I’ve replaced the finger with—I
didn’t draw a finger here. I’ve never drawn a finger today. I’ve never drawn a
finger in my life. I’ve drawn my idea or ideas about the finger. So my idea was that
it was a tube in a certain perspective that matched that anatomy in that same perspective
or position. Here then is where we want to draw the fingernail.
What’s the difference between the three drawings? These two drawings crowd the end.
This drawing stays well away from the end because remember what we said right off the
bat? We said that the fingernail is on the top of the finger. Let’s do it here. There
is the fingernail. It’s on the top of the finger. It is not on the front of the finger,
is it? So if I crowd it here I’m sticking it down here. I’m doing this kind of thing
or I’m distorting it down in the front position or some such thing. So I’ve done that in
effect here. This is like stepping on a roll of paper towels. It squishes the end, and
we have no front. We’ve got to have a well-proportioned front. Notice that whether I curve the nail
in respect to the perspective or I curve the nail in respect to its own character, what’s
important is that I have a front that I can see in this coming at me positions.
Look at how beautifully this works as a perspective drawing. Not because it’s a great drawing,
not because I curved some little detail one way or the other, but because it’s positioned
on my perspective idea. When you draw that tube get a really good end. I actually do
the stripes all the way down it, so that way if I have fold or skin or whatever it is,
I can make sure it’s reinforcing that perspective position. But by doing a sloppy construction
or an incomplete construction for my tube, it’s real easy for me to miss that, isn’t it?
I see that a lot. I see that quite a bit.
Make sure you have plenty of front to feel that, and that is actually what we would feel
if we were the ant on the surface, like so. We’d step off the fold of skin and onto
the nail and off the little stair step of nail and back onto the skin, one on top of
the other like layers of feathers or a wing. Kind of a silly analogy but…so anyway, that’s
the trick to the nails. It works on a thumb, of course, the same way it would work on the
finger. It’s going to work on the toes the same way it would on the fingers too. Here
is the knuckle. Correct that for a third time. You can see with the shading. We’ll do some
nice shading—I hope it’s nice—when we do our demos.
Notice also as we conceive of things as simple forms, simple constructs, how easy it is to
light. I can say that the light source is coming from the upper left, and so that means
anything that turns down or to the right will get darker. Anything that turns up or to the
left will get lighter. And so all of a sudden, by conceiving these things as very simple
constructions I can assign a value to each area and feel confident. I can conceive of
it out of my head that way, and that’s how people draw comic books and production design
and even fine artwork out of their head and have it convincing. It’s by doing that.
So every time something turns to the right or turns a little bit down it’s going to
get a little bit darker. If it turns strongly to the right or strongly down, it’ll tend
to get a lot darker. And there we have it.
So that’s the magical mystery secret of the nail. Make sure that when you’re in
front of that finger that you’ve got plenty of front planes showing off, and that the
nail stays discreetly, exclusively on the top plane, on the top plane, ever intruding
on the front plane. I guess it curved over—with a long nail it might a little bit, but you
get my drift. Then if appropriate go ahead and curve that nail if you want to get that
extra bang into the perspective position that it is. Let the curvature the depth position
curving this way, curving this way. If you don’t feel like you can do that, positioning
the relatively little nail correctly on the bigger digit is all you have to do; but this
gives you a little bit more bang.
hand. Specifically—a few things—but specifically right now we’re going to talk about how
the hand transitions into the fingers. Let’s work with that idea for a second. If I take
our back of the hand and have it come at us. There is that slice of the Coke bottle or
slice of a tube. Here is the wrist going back in here. This is going to be, let’s say
the little finger side. So here is the ulna bone. You’ll see that knobby bone right
here. So it’s really this hand coming out this way.
Now, a couple of things here: When we look at the anatomy of this what we’ll find is
the bulky muscles, the teardrop muscles, the bulging bicep, what we think of as the muscle
mass, the mass is down toward the elbow. Once we get about halfway into the length of the
forearm that starts to thin out dramatically, and it ends up being in here and I guess better
here. It ends up being the cables, the tendon, and ligaments and such. And so when we start
looking at the structure it starts out thick, relatively thick, say like this. Then it thins
out pretty quickly. The muscle structure ends up becoming a tendinous structure like so.
So you get a lot of stringy forms down at where the wrist meets the hand and a lot of
stringy forms across the hand. We have those finger bones, finger shape or stringy bones
here, the metacarpals.
Then we have the phalanges. They’re all long, thin tubular ideas. When we lay on the
tendons and whatever ligament construction we might see, those are also stringy. So a
lot of linear stuff. That’s useful because notice that that line and these lines are
always going down more or less the length. They can be off axis, but they’re still
going off into the length. And so we get these long gestural ideas. When I get into some
of the demonstrations from reference and from old masters, I’ll show you that in the rendering.
We’re going to get these long linear ideas.
What that means for us is when we have things come together, moving off the meaty forearm,
here’s the meaty forearm. Here is the elbow in here, let’s say. We’re going to end
up getting things pinching, binding up, overlapping, but then we’re going to get this kind of
thing going. I love that kind of thing. You want that kind of thing. You would pay good
money in other areas of the body to get that kind of thing because what it does it takes
you off the hand and takes you down the length of the gesture. It connects. It’s a connective idea.
So we come over here and we flow off into a tendinous connection for one of the knuckles
like that. Look at how that ride takes us over that form. It’s like an ant on the
surface so these long lines can actually trace over the contour of the form so they end up
being contour lines that help describe the form. For example, if I construct this and
then put contour lines over the form, look at how descriptive that is to the character
of the form. Very useful, isn’t it? So these linear lines, these things that move across
like these pinches, the things that move down like this ligament and tendinous connections
are gold for us. They do a lot of work for us, a lot of descriptive work. It’s without
the rendering process. I put some rendering in there. It’s just in the construction
process. It does a lot of work for us. So very, very useful.
So anyway, here is the back of the hand now. I’m going to add in the fingers. A couple
of things on that. Let’s go back to our elevation view here, 3 x 4. Now, if I cut
this in half but make this side a little fatter than this side, then I’m going to cut this
in half and cut this in half. This would be the thumb side. The fatter side would be the
thumb side. Here is the first finger, your pointer finger. We’re doing this hand. Give
a little space between unless you’re doing this and draw the next middle finger, the
ring finger, and the little finger.
When I drew it notice that I drew it just the first jointed, the first phalange of each
like that. Notice what happens. You get this gesture between the fingers. Look at how when
I do this, you can cut off each digit, do 1st phalange, 2nd, and 3rd. Each one of those
will have a fluid rhythm, and you can even play it off the thumb. It might pick up on
the thumb one way or another with—maybe not the 1st, maybe the 3rd, let’s say. You
can use that gesture to connect.
This is the way I prefer to check proportion. You can say, okay now, how many heads down
is it to get to the belly button or whatever it is. How many heads is it for a thigh. I’d
much rather feel the rhythm of those relationships going down. If I can get a construction line—
so if I have this, for example, you could do this gesture up to the shoulder, but you could
also go over and continue that gesture or another wave of the gesture into this other
side. Draw all the way through and feel that connection. If I was doing this I could feel
down, that hand down to this. I could do a little gesture line down to find out where
I want to put this hand and feel that rhythm. Maybe that’s going to pick up—that same
rhythm is going to pick up maybe a construction line across the face or something like that.
Then it becomes this repetition that holds it together. There is a lot of fun compositional
ideas you can do by taking things that seem to be separate and feel the rhythm between those.
I’m going to look at those first knuckles, especially in a deeply articulating. We’ll
do it here in a second and feel those connections. You can do that all the way through and catch it.
But in terms of proportion, break it in half. Make the thumb side half a little fatter,
the little finger side half a little lesser, and then break the halves into halves, and
then you can place your four fingers pretty accurately, and they won’t be
too big or out of whack.
We can do the same thing here. We’ve got a perspective issue because it’s foreshortening.
We’ve got to watch it here. Let’s just do a real subtle little placement of the tubes
going in. Then I’m going to pick up my finger. Usually I’ll the first closest, I should
say, in perspective the closest finger. In this case it’ll be the little finger. This
is the ulna side. Little finger first. Then I’ll do the little finger second. I’ll
do the middle finger third. Then I’ll do the index finger fourth. Then look at our
rhythm there. Let’s do it with this. That doesn’t feel right—there it is. That’s
the one. Notice how we can correct the proportions. Now that should be a little longer. Correct
the proportions of our digits based not on how many of these but this. Feel how more
organic. Now it’s just funner. It’s just more relaxing to work that way. And so we
work each one down.
Now, when I construct forms I’m going to draw each form complete so that I get the
beginning of the form and the end of the form. I get the two-dimensional sides and the three-dimensional
ends. But I won’t draw all the way through because if I do that then I add the next one,
I add the next one. You don’t know what’s going on. I’m just going to do it like the
ring. I’ll do what I see. It’ll vanish and be hidden by the overlapping form that
I’m about to construct. I’ll do it like this. See how simple that is? See how then
the construction is? I’m always completing my thought before I go on, but I’m not letting
what I did before get in the way in any substantial way with what I have to do next. That’s
why I just did the top side of those. Now let’s pick this up as we did it here. This
is in here. Let’s say it’s doing that. This is in here. This is in here.
This goes back here.
Let me blow that up. Rather than just doing that it can look like a sausage; uninspired,
a little weak in shape, and not very descriptive of the proportions. I’ll use that fingernail
as the top, and I’ll make it box. So when I’m doing simple construction quickly, I’ll
default to corners at those ends so I can feel that clear position and not be confused
or feel like it’s something that needs to be saved in terms of its weak design later.
This one goes out here. Notice how each of these of those has that rhythm. Then here
is the thumb here maybe. It picks up maybe with the first. Oops, missed it again. There
we go. Anyway, you get the idea. See how lovely that is?
Now we’ve got the knuckles up here laying over that curvature. Now here’s what’s
going to happen. I’m going to use. We’ll show it in a rendering another time. But,
I’m going to use the tendinous construction. Actually, it should be over here a little bit.
See how that falls off? Let me do a little bit of rendering here. What I want to feel
is that step, like so, stepping out. So here are your knuckles. We’re going to come over
the knuckle, fall down. Let me do it up here so we’re absolutely clear. Here is one finger.
Here is the knuckle for it. We’re going to come off the back of the hand over the
knuckle, down the front of our constructed hand there, that half-tube, and then on to
the finger. See how we step down.
In other words, if we looked at it from a side here is the side of the hand. Here is the
wrist. If this was a perfect side—let’s make it a little bit skinnier. If this was
a perfect side we’re not going to see the finger like this. There is the side of the
hand. There is the side of the finger. They’re not equal thicknesses. What we will see is
a fuller pad for the bottom of the hand and then the bottom of the finger. So just a little
bit fuller, and it will vary from hand to hand. So, just a little bit fuller.
Here we’ll see the knuckle capping on top, and then straight in. We’re going to come
and step down and then in. Steps like that. This is what we’re seeing here, what we’re
seeing here. We’re stepping down and on. Down and on that finger. So you may well get
light catching the top of that hand and then darker, lesser light, darker value hitting
the front of that hand. Then it steps back into light again.
the hand steps down into the fingers. I’m going to show you also how it steps down from
the wrist into the hand. There is a series of intruding wedges there. We can see it here
if it distort it. In some hands you’ll see it very clearly, others you won’t. As mind
get older you don’t see it as clearly for some reason. But it’s stepping down, stepping
down. Let me show you in an exaggerated manner what’s going on.
Here is the index finger. It could be the little finger too, in effect. Same thing.
This is going back like this. We’ll do the little finger. Let’s call it the little
finger. Do it here. So there is that side. Here is the back of the hand, and now we’re
tipping it on its side so it’s just this shape in effect, the side of it. Here we can
see that if we put this in any kind of perspective, like so. I hope that’s clear. The wrist
comes in here. It fades out, but it steps down on to it. It steps down on to it. Breaks
up into it, breaks up into it. Let me do this. Then with the knuckle structure we get the
same thing for the fingers. This is breaking into it. I’ll make it a little box there
so you can see it, like that. So, stepping down again. See that transition going. Let’s
add the fingers in here. Thumb back on the other side. If we look at it here in this
position we’ll see something very similar actually on the foot and even more so. But
if we’re now looking at it coming this way.
Now we have the wrist and the middle top of the hand. That’s the carpals, those flagstone
bones that we looked at earlier. Those group in with the tendinous flow over them. It intrudes
well into and wedges on top that back of the hand. There are the fingers. Here would be
the thumb over here. And we step down again, like so. Stepping down, stepping down. If
we take one of these fingers off and do this, now I’m going to look at the knuckle in
there. You can see—notice if I do this we lose that step down wedge, but if I do this
you can see that rise drop down the front of our, back of the hand onto the finger.
That’s where we’re picking it up. Let’s look at it more closely.
Let’s just put the knuckle bone with the tendon. I just draw the whole complex like
that, but it actually comes in like this. I usually just leave that out. It fits in
this way. If I were to do a shading on it, here’s another finger over here, let’s
say. Go ahead and do that in there. I guess it’s a habit. Here is another. Here is another
knuckle, like so. Here would be the fingernail in here. It’ll all be in shadow. You can
see now rising up, falling down. Rising up, falling down. You’ll see how on the contour
you can see that knuckle. It swells and shallows out, swells and shallows out. This one is
hidden up in there. We don’t get it. But it does act as an egg catching whatever the
shape of light happens to be on it based on its angle and the imperfections of the egg.
So that’s what we’re catching here. Right here, this would catch some light and shadow.
This is catching light and shadow. This is catching light and shadow. This is catching
light and shadow. The tendon might catch light and shadow. Fades back up. We have that lovely
flow. That gives us the beauty we would hope for.
Alright, so we’re going to work on the hands now, do a big realization of a hand, exaggerated
drawing so I can show off some of the points of how some of these ideas work. I’m going
to knock back my paper. Knock it back into a tone so we can see the lights. It also makes
my hands look yellow. Then we’re just going to draw a nice, big hand—make it a little
bit bigger yet. It’s going to go away from us. This is going to be the thumb side over
here, coming off that way. The fingers are going to articulate out in oddball ways so
we can see some of the architecture happening as they stress out in their positions.
Then we’re going to add the wrist.
I’ve drawn the right hand here. Look what happens if I ignore or imagine the thumb missing.
See how it flows from the gesture of the forearm into the gesture of the hand and even the
fingers? The fingers are going to kind of do this, so we’re not going to see that
nice continuation. But I want to feel past that thumb. I want to draw it like that and
then add that on. So that’s what I’m looking for here. Anytime that hand bends against
the little finger side it bends in here. Then like the bean bag idea, we’ll have a stretched
side and a pinched side. The thumb side will be the stretched side. Pools in there. Now,
the thumb is going to start with our wedge shape, and it’s going to have a nice thick,
stubby tube. Get it a little bit bigger yet, actually. And a pad on it. It’ll fit like
that more or less. And you know what? I’m going to change it.
This is the nice thing about that. Here I’ve conceived it. That’s kind of boring out
that way. It’s not very attractive. I’m going to take it back this way. When I do
this out of my head, especially I flatten out that nail section so that’s the top
of the box. So that’s like that. This is going to go out there. This is going to go
off this way and this way. This is going to be a little bit longer and then take that
off that way because we don’t want to have too much work to do. I just want to make a
few points. Then after we hit that middle finger I’m going to take it back to see
back this way. There is the gesture working across toward that little finger side.
Okay, so that’s that.
Since I’m trying to get the architecture out of this, I’m going to make this squarer,
those fingers squarer, like that. The knuckles sit here and here and here and here. They
go off into the tendons that you may or may not see in any particular view of the hand
that way. The thumb coming this way—I’m going to shorten this up a little bit here.
That way. The thumb has three main actions to it. It’s got the thenar eminence that
helps it pull down this way. Then it’s got a tendon that helps us pull straight back.
It’s got a tendon that has it pull back and up to get out of the way. Whereas the
finger only has one tendon there, the thumb has two. So off this we’ve got this going
this way. It aims right back into here, goes under a strap and comes off this way.
Then this rolls that way. If the thumb goes way back you’ll see that strongly. If it sits
in like this you’re not going to see it, but just to visualize it.
back of the hand. It curves over. Then the thumb attaches on to the wrist, so it does
this. It might tuck all the way under if it was pulling down this way. In this case it’s
coming back a little bit. So it bulges, flattens out, and bulges again. Then the thumb goes
off this way. What I want to feel is, again, that missing idea that I did in my gesture,
I’m going to do in my construction now. I want to feel this more or less realized
right into the wrist like so. We’re going to make it a little subtler than that, but
that’s not much. That’s going to be the basic idea of it. So let’s try that.
I’m going to come up to this finger. Let me do a little bit of work on the finger here
as it meets the hand. Scoot that over just a little bit. Here we go. There is that hand
rolling out a light. I’m going to make the light source come this way. Everything that
goes down and/or to the left is going to get darker. Here is that wrist.
You can now start to feel that whole big form turning over.
Since the wrist is closer to us than the hand—let me put it in deeper
perspective. You'll see that the wrist can and usually will overlap the thumb a little bit.
By doing that overlap, that’s going to help insert the closer shape, break into
the contour, interlock with my next form. It’s going to feel more connected.
Notice because we have those tendinous connections, I’m going to stick that other tendon in
there even though it wouldn’t be showing up probably. In here the tendinous connections
were feeling absolutely satisfied as an audience to these kind of stringy overlaps going from
one shape and inserting into another shape. Going from one shape and inserting into another
shape. Of course, we’ve got the whole shadow doing the same thing. Inserting into from
way back here, it’s inserting all the way up in and taking us through. That’s our
gesture line that we conceived of originally. It’s now being picked up with tone.
It’s important to conceive—probably a little less curved—conceive of how the ant
would crawl if he or she or it got onto the form. I want to feel that sense. A little
less than that. We’re going to make it like that since it’s not curved over as much.
I don’t know, let’s go ahead and do the thumb here, I guess. There is the finger,
the side of the hand, I should say, and the webbing. We’ve got this webbing in here.
Notice that it breaks and then breaks again. We’re going to get the nice overlaps, and
it’s going to pull around here, and it will end wherever it ends. Let’s have it end up here.
Letting those turn into kind of stringy…notice each of these kind of strings out a little bit.
Catching a little bit less light so we’ll dust it down. Let’s just take that out.
Notice how there is this webbing coming in here. Notice how this curls around this way.
When you get this kind of, something inserting in or a pinching in like that you can think
of that as kinking up a garden hose. That’s what’s happening here. The garden hose is
kinking up. Instead of wrapping back up in a loop it’s stretching off into another form.
What I’m trying to be very conscious of is I want that to be a strong shape, an interesting
shape, and a beautiful shape, or a challenging shape, whatever adjective you want to put
on your art. I like beautiful things. I try and make it beautiful as well as whatever
else, usual dynamic for me because it’s action figures. Do a little bit of cast shadow
over that. Now we’ve got this big knuckle here. Oftentimes what I’ll do if I’m doing
male hands, which is what this is, I’m going to take—instead of just capping. Let’s
do a better job than that. Instead of just capping the digit, the thumb with the knuckle
like that, since it’s really too kind of done bones coming together, kind of this thing.
When they bend and articulate you’re going to oftentimes feel the end of one bone, the
end of another. You’ll feel a boxy. Rather than this, we’re going to feel this, squarish.
One bone, another bone. The ends of the two bulbous pieces there. That’s going to make
it more male, going to make it more articulate, articulating. We’re going to feel the joint
changing directions. Going to make it feel more fluid.
We’re going to get that wave action going on.
Notice that since the contour stepped and flowed and wobbled, whatever it did, you’re
probably going to see the shadow do some lesser or greater version of the same thing. It’s
going to follow that same track because it’s hugging close to the contour. It’s going
to follow along more or less true to that contour movement. What I’m looking for here
is I’m always wanting—not always, but I’m consistently going to try and find overlaps
that go on top of the form that’s to the left or higher up the page. So I’m going
to want to turn that that way. See how this is overlapping that. That’s farther to the
left of the page. It overlaps it. Sometimes I’ll have things overlap the wrong way,
but generally I want them to overlap the right way. So each of those, for example. The webbing,
the pinch, the digit, the phalange junk, and then the 2nd one overlapping, always overlapping
is going off to the left. Here it is again. I’m going to push this. Let’s say that
the whole shadow end, the whole end of the thumb is going to go away. Then let that knuckle
and the nail reinforce the curvature and position of our perspective as I described earlier
in our talk. Sometimes you’ll actually see the pad here. See that pad swelling? So we
have a bit of—this thing actually overlaps subtly.
That outside swell of skin that holds the nail.
Maybe the whole thing catches a cast shadow from the hand. Probably it would all be in
shadow, but we’re cheating on it. Okay, so you can see, these are highly stylized
forms, but they are all going to more or less ring true. We’re going to get the idea because
of the insertions. I can even add something, destroy the fullness of that pad to get a
better, more dramatic connection there. We’re going to be okay with that.
Let’s do just a little bit more. Let’s let this whole side plane of the boxy digit,
we turned it into a box here like that. Then I’m going to have the knuckle back into
the tendon, and again drag those. Notice how the half tones, even when they break out—let’s
put a core shadow here. So my shadow ends there, but look at how my half tones drag
all the way through. So the shadow ends about here. The rest of this is half tone. Maybe
even this is shadow, if you want. That’s fine. Notice how we can take the half tone
and continue it on. So I can use the half tone to round the form, round off something
that was too square, or extend the gesture or the movement or the integration
of one form into the next.
Move that back, actually, in here. We’ll just let that stay light. We’ll do one more
little one here, say this is catching just a little bit of shadow into the half tone.
Notice if I just do line I’m going to fall off the knuckle and the front of that box
as we described earlier, and on to the body of the finger, of the 1st phalange, and then
back over the next knuckle and then off to the finger again, or in this case, those fingers
are curled under. We lose them. Notice how if I just did the wave there,
you’ll see it go the other way.
There we go. You can just see the subtle or stronger waves overlapping, things like that. Okay.
about old masters used construction or not. You can see some of the detailing working
around the drawing as very linear and just kind of sculpting out. But look over here
on the wrist. Look at that lovely construction line coming across—I’ll draw below it
so you can keep the construction line—showing our tubular idea coming out. And we can feel
even if we were to complete the tube down here. So even things like ending this tone
here on top, picking up that idea of the end there. So we’ve got this construction line
across. You can see the construction line on the thumbs. Going here actually a little
flatter. Less volume. They’re more two-dimensional construction lines, but still there.
With that thinking in mind, even if he didn’t, as he didn’t down here on the shoulder unit
there. He didn’t do a construction line. The thinking is still there. The solid is
still there. Look at the shadow of the hand. Let’s just simplify it out. Look at how
now we’ve got a boxy idea for that hand structure. It’s pretty darn obvious. You
can even see the little shading here. Let me take that back again and show it again.
If we cut across here we have that simple top plane, and then keeping outside that so
we can see it, there is the boxy structure going behind there.
Alright, over on this side, we’ve got the same action going on. You can see the tones
working right around there. If they like the tube, here’s the tube coming back in. Here
is the end of the tube working through. Or, let’s not think of the tube. Let’s think
of it as a box idea. Here’s the side of the box, a 2 x 4. Here is the end of the box.
Here is the corner of the box coming all the way in, all the way in. Here we go. Through
there. See how…box, box. Look at that elbow, how it works on that same axis there. Then
look at box, box. Not exactly right but awful close. Shade that back for a bit. So you see
how the tracking happens. In that case, if we want to use that, bring it back to here
like that. You can see the egg shape in here.
Let’s take this back again now. Look at how now the half-tone blends across. Half-tone
helps to complete that movement. Here’s halftone here too. Look at how the half-tone,
he’s blending the half-tone over to complete that constructed end. You can see it here,
halftone taking us around for the movement into the paper for that upper arm. So just
all the way through the body we’re going to see that wonderful constructive information.
Now, let’s look at the hand itself here. Notice how we can take that thumb construction
with a thenar eminence over here, and notice how he offsets the 2nd digit and keeps it
as a little boxy structure too. See that stair step down. He’s drawing us back in. Not
a full realized construction there. It’s just left. It’s a little soft, but he got
the main points in, obviously. I would say so since this is probably the most famous
and most beloved drawing in the world. But look at how he steps in, steps in, takes off.
That’s the strategy of a landscape painter. If we have a little landscape here, the landscape
painter oftentimes will take a zigzagging brook or meandering road and use those S-curves
or zigzags to take us back into three-dimensional space. That’s what he’s doing here to
a lesser degree. Let me pull that away.
Then we come over here to the palm poking out from behind our lovely wrist construction.
We can feel that all the way through. Look at the beautiful gestural arc, how he’s
using that curved alignment. Remember, we talked about how the knuckles can line up
in a gesture. Here’s two knuckles lining up over here. So, we find that rhythm. I’m
finding a rhythm down the spine this way, showing that beautiful, graceful construction.
Construction line down the features this way. That curved construction line, the shoulder
line takes the forms and moves them on a fluid lifelike, watery track. We’re doing that here.
It’s important when we’re thinking construction that we’re not always thinking boxes. They
can be lifelike. That’s the big disadvantage of construction. People think it’s lifeless.
It gets mechanical. It gets stiff, Frankenstein-like, segmented. But, if you keep that fluid construction
line then look at how beautifully the forms work with, flow through, and find resonance
with each other. So, swinging through, here is our back of the hand, and here is our secondary
knuckle. Let’s keep that simpler, like so. And then the fingers, joints go into recession.
There he is using that old trick of making things decrease in size and converge in proportion
as they go back. The picket fence down the road, that kind of thing.
Then swinging off this way, feel that grouping of fingers. He didn’t really bother to separate
them with any meaning. You know, they’re more or less just lines like this. We’re
just going to group them into shape. Same thing. So then look what this does for us.
We have this, let’s take that wrist back out here. We have this beautiful movement
in this way. Then we have a swinging off this way, and a swinging off that way. This divergence.
This, the action of that is just lovely.
This hand over here kind of echoes that compositionally.
They’re in that same supination position.
Notice that the hands are opening up there. And so we’ll see this in some of the other
drawings. Notice that the structures—let’s just do this. They move down the form and
don’t twist around the form. When the hand goes into pronation position to the elbow,
then we’re going to see things start to coil over like strands of a rope. We’ll
see that a little bit later. But here we have a lesser—this hand peels back even more
dramatically, but the fingers play off that to a little bit lesser degree. There are variations
on the theme. There is that symmetry/asymmetry idea that we were talking about that’s so
wonderful. The hands are in a generally symmetrical position, but they still have their own personality.
Then the hands themselves are asymmetrical from thumb to little finger.
First off, here is that egg idea, that Renaissance egg coming through. If you’ll notice the
way he’s using the highlights, you’re going to see that he uses the whites to accent
the egg-like constructions here. The shapes themselves are egg-like, and then the rendering
on them are egg-like all the way through here. That is that Renaissance. Egg is rebirth.
This is the Madonna complex, Madonna idea. Even the fingernails are little eggs. And
so we see that, and so that’s a different conception than Michelangelo, who never bought
in fully to the Renaissance idea. He was always his own quirky character. He was instrumental
in creating three-dimensional style through fully three-dimensional poses, and instrumental
in creating the Mannerist movement, which was the “We’re not very happy with the
world kind of movement, kind of things off-base from comfortable.”
Look at the beautiful watery design. We’ll start up with the drapery up here and flowing.
This flows around that corner and moves this way or flows along that shadow and moves this
way, and likewise here. Every time we move over a corner look at that wowing out, that
rise and fall, rise and fall, rise and fall. What that does is that gives us that watery
design. It makes it seem more organic and imperfect, and those rising forms, again,
are picking up that egg motif in there. Oftentimes—not in this case, but oftentimes the artists would
then make the drapery very triangular in design, and that would then be the trinity concept.
There would oftentimes be three characters. There would be Madonna, baby Jesus and John
the Baptist is a little fellow.
Alright, now, all these things, whenever you’re analyzing construction or planning your own
construction, think like this. Think like this, and think like this. Look at all three
as possibilities. We just looked at this Renaissance masterpiece as an egg, just talked about that
theme, that Christian theme that he was getting at. Now we can feel the tube. Here is the
tube very easily seen with the drapery. Tube idea. Here is the tube of the upper wrist
including the carpal set. The metacarpal—I’m going to scoot it off the line a little bit—would
be in here. You remember our little tough of anatomy that we got into. Here would be
the metacarpal, thicker for the thumb and the phalanges here, phalanges here, here,
and here. Another one here. Take that away. We can break it at below the wrist because
of the cuff. Above the wrist because of our excuse of anatomy. Then we can work over the
whole thing. Tube, tube, tube. Kinking up garden hose of a tube. And on through. Do
the same thing down here. Tube, tube, tube. Tube, tube, tube. Tube, tube. Tube, tube.
And on down all the joints of the fingers. Here as well, of course.
Alright, now, if we take the highlights in lightest halftones. Now we have a box. Notice
these little hatches even are ending more or less at the box idea like that. Here is
the knuckle line to the side of the hand. There is that shape. Remember, the back of
the hand was this. If we look at it from angle we can see it in a perspective. We can see
it as this. So that’s what we have here. We can break that off here like that to separate
it from the wrist, or we can span all the way across and include the wedge of the thumb
and do that or better. As we had done earlier, add that as a secondary form like that.
Let me take that back now that way.
Now, let’s look at the thumb as a box. Here is the shadow. We’re going to lose that
little bump of the thenar eminence. There is a shadow over there. We have a box with
three planes. Notice how the pinch, the folded skin all sit on that top plane. Let’s take
that out here and look at it a little bit bigger. Here is the thumb. It’s in a slightly
asymmetrical position. You can see this earlier thumb concept stayed in a much truer symmetrical
position, and that’s that spoon shape design that we talked about as one of the primary
designs for the thumb in a front and back position. So this is close to that spoon.
Then look at how the nail, the folds of the flesh. I’m going to erase our source material
here so we can see it better now. The highlights and the shadow line are all creating.
Let’s do that, make it a little thicker so he can see it better. They’re all creating a wedge type of idea.
Boxy idea. So when I say box it doesn’t have to be parallel sides. It can be splayed
out. It can be obtuse. It can be any concept of a boxy-type structure that you might want.
We can see them further along here. Here’s a box here. You know, we can conceive of this
as a box and this as a box.
Here—there is the box there. Look at how all those fingers, the darkened back of the
hand will cut off that little articulated little finger. There is a boxy concept. Let
me erase it so you can see it again. There we go. And the tones, see how important it
is to conceive of things structurally, because then The Tones are going to do their job.
All the planes that go down this way are going to be dark tones. All the planes that step
us this way are going to be light tones. Things that step down a little bit will get a little
darker. Steps that step down a lot will get a lot darker.
Here’s the thumb as a box. Look at how the back side of the box… Okay, so let’s take
that thumb out now. We can see all the light tones will sit on the top plane. The middle
tones will sit on this back slope. The darkest tones will sit on the side plane.
Okay? Box logic.
So, coming back now and looking at our good friend here, we can see him using all three.
I can hear a collective yes there. Here is an egg. Here is actually another egg just
doing that. Here is a tube idea. Here is another tube idea. Here is a box idea. Here is another
tube idea. Here is a box again. Here is an egg. Here is an egg. Here is an egg hidden
behind. This is actually an egg turning into a tube like this hiding behind. This is tubular
here. This knuckle is a little more box-like. And so they become full eggs. They become
rounded boxes. They become slightly squared tubes. They become sophisticated, unique,
personal, interesting, endlessly varied. They become a masterpiece. That’s how you do
a masterpiece. What could be easier, huh?
So anyway, that’s what we’re looking for, is trying to not—notice he didn’t draw
two hands here. In fact, he drew his idea. The great artists have great ideas, which
really means, I mean tubes, boxes, and balls, that’s not greatest inherent in that, is it?
We can all do that. But what they have is a meaning behind that usually, a theme.
That’s for another lecture. But what they have for our purposes today is they have discipline.
There we go, I got it. So that everything that they do is with purpose. Notice that
every tone, every spot of light is in surface of one structural idea or one gestural idea
or one thematic idea or another. And it was in service of taste also, of course. The great
artists have great taste. That doesn’t mean it’s pleasant necessarily. But they know
how to say what they want to say, and there is an aesthetic element there
that’s working at a very high level.
that you have to create value, create light, dark, and middle value with just line is a
wonderful thing to do because it teaches you so much. It teaches you about pain strokes,
how you put down those marks in your oil painting, or whatever kind of medium you use. It tells
you about the form, the contour because now as you’re stroking as our friend did here,
every stroke in this style—or almost every stroke, but more or less, every single stroke
is tracking over the contour of the form. So you can see here these ringing strokes
are reinforcing the perspective construction there.
And so very important, very useful way to work, whereas when you’re blending things,
it’s just smudge, and you’re dependent on the shape to do all the work. But now the
actual kinetics, the linear quality of the mark is doing a lot of work. Oftentimes they
get smudged, but if you look at them closely they’re chalk drawings. We usually use Conté
sticks to mimic that, but they had something a little bit different. But they’re chalk
drawings. They would use blending tones but they would also use a lot of hatching,
and those hatches are useful.
In fact, a great exercise to do is keep a little sketch book and create contours or
hatches that track the contour, or in this case the curvature of the form, and make them
lay on there nicely. Alright, now in this case we have this arm articulating, and so
it’s twisting up so that it’s moving into a supination position for this raised arm.
If the arm dropped down in would be in pronation with the palm down. But what we see when we
get that rotation there, remember the ulna was the elbow joint and went over to the little
finger side. Ulna—little finger. And the radius was the wrist joint, and it went over
to the other side of the elbow and didn’t do much work on that.
So here is our simplified ulna. Here is our basic radius. Make that a little bit bigger,
like so, and it pops over here. Okay, so you can see that twist, and then the hand, let
me just stick on the hand there. The hand would be in here like so. So now with that,
with the bones, understanding that the bones are twisting, then we’re getting the forms
themselves twisting over like rope. So, if we look at rope as a tube it’s doing that,
or for our example it’s doing that, like so. Notice how much that does for us. When
we have a line, a linear detail that’s an S-curve, now we can move down the length in
a fluid gestural way and over the width or over most of the width in a structural way.
Get a little bit better for our purposes. When we have a line, a linear detail that’s
an S-curve, and so if I have a tube in perspective as I have here, if I make most of that S-curve
arc with the perspective arc, and just a little bit of it, allow just a little bit of it to
go against the perspective arc, then it’s going to have a three-dimensional quality
to it. That’s more or less give or take the organic quality of our forearm here, what
Michelangelo is doing.
Notice here, here is the elbow as a boxy end, and we can track that over this way. Notice
even though he’s doing that wild roping twist, that supination with the ulna and radius,
he is still conceiving of this as a box, and he is picking that up there, and then he is
doing it again. He is kind of playing games with us a little bit. That’s the real box.
That’s the character of it. Let me erase this. The true character of that wrist is
more or less a 2x4 idea. It’s very narrow on the side, very wide across the front or
back plane, the palmar side or the dorsal side. This tone here picks that up there.
Let’s erase this again so you can see it. He’s using this little tone right here.
I’m right underneath that little mark to more or less get us to that corner.
Then he’s got the thenar set, the thenar eminence and the hypothenar here, splitting
to create that kind of dish shape for the palm, but that also happens to line up here.
Now, it doesn’t do us any good in terms of structure here, but it does give us a sense
of through line, connecting down through the middle of the form here, and it then picks
up for a little while. Let me pull this back again to show you. It picks up for a little
while, you know, this elbow structure in there. It’s giving us that. Then because it’s
twisting off it doesn’t follow through anatomically. But visually he draws us through there. We
can also play it—actually not here—that’s this guy. This draws through toward the center.
It also helps play down the middle of that hand there and gives us the connectivity there.
Also, look at the beautiful watery design, and Michelangelo would play this up. Someone
like Ingres would play it down. Tintoretto would play it up. Pontormo in many of his
drawings would play it up. They were all influenced by Michelangelo, of course. So we have this
beautiful curvature. Never let the lovely curvature destroy or mask the overall gesture.
We’ve got to feel this whole thing moving and not just the wobbly edge. Notice over
here he’s simplified it way down, meaning the contours, especially this side so that
we could and he could, as he did his analysis here, really feel the perspective. Again,
our hatching is reinforcing that perspective. Really feeling the perspective form on that
lovely, fluid curved gesture.
How we get the gesture, how we find it on the arms and hands and such is look at the
longest sustained curve. It actually can take it all the way through here because they overlap
if you wanted. Here we have short, short, short curves. This is a long, lot of—now
if it did that, you know, a little tiny wobble, who cares. We could make the whole curve.
But we’re looking for the longest sustained curve. Notice on this side none of them sustain
very long, but the tone inside does, and it curves this way and then wobbles off. We can
pick up that, pick up that. If you couldn’t feel it, you can find that. But still, this
would be the longest sustained curve. This is a little shorter, so there it is. It’s
almost always true. The problem with that gesture is that if you curve it the other
way you break the arm. It just feels like it’s rubber or broken.
Here is our little finger side here. The head of the ulna there. Going back here again.
Notice how that creates a 2x4 idea also. Thinking now in boxes, and here is the—we’ll just
make that a tube for the heck of it. Here it’s the little finger side with that karate
chop section, and that plays right off that side plane idea of the wrist. They move right
together so we feel this. The fingers get thinner, but they’re still coming off that,
and then there is all of this other stuff for the hands around it. But that little finger
karate chop edge plays right down the side plane of the forearm.
One other thing: At the crook of the arm here, notice that we can feel the tube idea in here.
Notice if you were to take that tube there and then get the upper arm tube here you’d
have this whole missing corner. That would be a problem. Now I got to do something with
that corner, and I have a pretty tenuous connection. Connection is really just on the inside. I
don’t want to do that. It just makes more trouble for me. So what I’m going to do
is I’m going to do my gesture. I’m going to do my two-dimensional structure and then
my three-dimensional structure. I’m going to take it to the outside corner. Draw the
structure as it needs to be to fulfill that three-dimensional promise of the forearm.
Don’t worry about the upper arm. Now come to the outside corner and begin the upper arm.
Give it its full form. Don’t worry about the chest, shoulder, or shoulder girdle,
all that kind of stuff. Draw your tube there. If we then understand how the upper arm turns
as a solid in perspective and how the forearm turns as a solid in perspective. Now, when
we look to our detail, we can see, look at how the pinching flesh here reinforces the
forearm perspective quite nicely. And the pinching flesh here—let me get rid of that
there. The pinching flesh here reinforces again the forearm perspective.
Likewise, look at how the pinching flesh here shows a pretty good job of the perspective
of the upper arm and how this, if I took it this way from that side, also shows that.
So then when I add my detail, and actually in here even you can see it, so now let’s
add my contour detail; thinking about the perspective of the forearm, thinking about
the perspective of the upper arm, thinking about the perspective of the forearm, thinking
about the perspective of the upper arm, thinking about both. Then the hatching would reinforce that.
Hatching would reinforce that. The little detail would reinforce that. On and on and on.
See that? That thinking then carries through. It’s your blueprint. You’re going build
your house based on this. Your house is going to fall down if you don’t track that blueprint.
But you’ve got a lot of ways to build. Every variation of a ball, box, or tube that you
can think of. Mix and match. We could think of this as boxy ideas. We can imagine how
those forms track quite nicely, the boxy ideas. As soon as you change your concept you can
change your construction method, but it’s still going to say beautifully solid and true.
You can see the gesture line between those knuckle forms. Here it is here. You can always
draw your fingers as a mitten idea rather than as gloves, you know, as separated fingers.
Notice how this plays off this pretty well. You’ll see this actually a lot. It’s natural
when you have a bending form. What you’ll find is the detail will tend to radiate from
one side of the bin to the other. That’s what we’re getting here. Fingers are doing
this to some degree give or take the curve. Here it is here. Here it is over here. Even
this is going that way. We can see that radiation.
Sometimes when you’re trying to think of something as a box you may not be able to
or want to make the sides parallel give or take the convergence parallel. But you might
end up having it because of the binding pinch stretch idea. You might have it radiating.
So, coming back to our good buddy here, there is our 2x4 idea. There we go there. Nice 2x4
and then this just hanging, the flesh of the flexor group there underneath the ulna hangs.
Here is our ulna bone. There is our ulna bone. You can see there is a through line oftentimes
with that ulna. If you cut away the fleshy stuff underneath you’ll sees that bone carry
all the way through the tones and the overlapping forms. So there is the ulna. There is the
ulna more or less, of course. There is the ulna. There is the ulna.
All this is part of it, the epicondyle there.
So anyway, that gives us that sense. We see that quite often. We can draw this as a tube
or a box, and then we just hang that on there. It’s important to kill your heroes here.
Not literally. Most of them dead anyway though, so I guess it’s fairly safe. Look for what
you’d do differently. I mean, are you going to buy a Steve Huston over a Michelangelo?
I certainly hope not. But, had I done this I would have played up this corner, played
down these wobbles. Notice how, and this is why it’s a sketch too, of course. A lot
of these he planned to throw away. They were idea stages. You’re going to see me—we’re
going to draw together in a few minutes in our next section of this, and you’ll see
my drawings are far from perfect.
But had he simplified that down a little bit, and let it still hand and swing but not kind
of melt off the bone, it would’ve kept the gesture more fluid and true. I can even think
of this this way, so there is a three-dimensional bowing out going on. But it would have made
that passage from one to the other a little cleaner and clearer. Michelangelo is Michelangelo
and he either didn’t bother to correct or didn’t want that. I mean this is still pretty
darn nice, isn’t it? But just because they’re dead and just because they’re great doesn’t
mean they didn’t mean mistakes. They all certainly did. We only see their best work
for the most part. They get rid of the bad stuff. But even if it’s not a mistake, you
know, even if he absolutely meant to do this. I’m not going to suggest I know whether
he did or not, but I would gather he was just trying to play up the egg idea in letting
this be kind of fluid and relaxed rather than tense. You know, if we clean this up down
here it would make it a little tenser, and maybe that’s not what he wanted.
So for whatever reason, we can forget that. It’s important to try and say when we look
at a Rembrandt or whoever, I’d do this a little bit differently. Slay your heroes.
Learn from these guys. Love them but don’t idolize them. Say thank you so much for giving
me that lesson, but now that I understand what you’re doing, I have different intentions
in mind. I’m going to do things a little bit differently. Another thing here, we can
see this mass of information here. We could have simplified that down for structure’s
sake. That would have taken tension out of the arm muscles though. You know, these are
kind of tortured, separating forms. A lot of times these drawings are done for analysis,
and we’re kind of thinking through rather than trying to create aesthetic choices. But
we could have made it a little be less messy. That would have taken some of the tension
out of that section though, and made it a little bit more relaxed. So there he played
it up. You can see how each of these becomes a really big deal. Do you really want that
or maybe we should group these two or these three together and simplify that down?
Lots of choices there. It’s fun to kind of come into a drawing and see what you can
see in terms of architecture, how you can break things down a little bit. Sometimes
the analogy breaks down in the detail. You can’t quite find the finish to that idea.
It dives under a form or morphs into a different form, that kind of thing. This little bit
here right there, really all you’re doing there is you’re kinking up your garden hose
like that. The muscle forms pinch here and wrap around it here and then flow on into
their further adventures. So we can feel that kind of kinked up. We can treat the whole
thing as an egg, but then you’re struggling to explain the bind in the middle. That garden
hose concept is a nice way to go.
Notice how often that elbow becomes a 2 x 4 when it bends, more often than not, when it
articulates strongly, more often than not. I’m not even sure how to exactly spell his
name. He’s a German, Gottfried Bammes. That’s what it looks like; I’m sure that’s not
how you pronounce it. He has some wonderful architectural analysis of the figure that
you can look at. If you look at Stephen Peck, he has some. It’s an anatomy book. “Artist’s Anatomy"
I think it’s called, but also some structural analysis there. Peck has taken
from the great Bridgman that I take so much of my lecture material from. George Bridgman.
There are several. They’re compiled from his notes and drawings after the fact in a way.
He did some editing on it, as I understand it, as I remember the story, but not to completion.
For a lot of people they can be confusing.
But if you go and look at his or any of these and just think of it as the figure’s architecture,
so like you might see a cornice
on the corner of a corner of a building, walking into the lobby of a grand hotel or something,
that’s how he ‘s looking at the figure. That’s really my end to this. He doesn’t
talk really about gesture. It’s just as with any of these guys; none of them do. You
can’t get much good gestural information from them, but in terms of structure you can
see the possibilities of how to translate the figure into an architectural problem rather
than an anatomical or emotional problem or just a pure observation problem. Oftentimes,
people do their art and do their drawing just by copying what they see. Also, if they happen
to be paintings in the heart of them, they’re more painter than draftsman. They’ll basically
look for shapes that they can plug in colors. But they won’t arrange those shapes in a
truly useful manner like this.
So the architectural method has a lot to offer, obviously, that’s why I’m teaching it.
It’s harder to learn, but it’s far more useful. You can then stylize these shapes
and you can create your own style, whereas the atelier style or the painter’s style,
all the painting styles of drawing or observational styles of drawing, there is no place to take
them necessarily or easily into your own style or into your own method. How do we do it?
Take our drawing thinking and apply it to our painting thinking. They oftentimes can
be completely different creatures, whereas this architectural style we can quickly add
color and understand whether we need to gradate that color or keep the color nice and hard-edged.
So anyway, it has a lot to offer us, and it’s a style of choice for design and for 3D design
and animation for the same reasons. It’s easily designed and easily moved and easily
relatable to other objects in the environment.
Alright, Nicholai Fechin, one of the really terrific draftsman. He’s a real stylist
and they’re pretty flamboyant, but just fantastic. Talk about like quality, just amazing,
amazing line quality, these subtle lines. He would take a long time to draw these things.
He would take sometimes 3 days to draw something like this. That’s what I’ve read. But
you can see it has a great sense of speed and gesture and energy, and that, as you can
imagine, is something that attracts me to them, but also just fantastic craftsmanship.
I’m actually not as enamored with his paintings. They’re nice, but to me they’re really
formulaic and you just kind of got into a groove and just kind of stuck with it. But
I mean they’re still lovely.
Anyway, here we can see some great insertions. See how linear everything is? Even with the
lovely soft tones there is kind of these scattered hatches coming off them. Then there is a tremendous
amount of line going in. That gives us this great opportunity to get past the joint. Remember
the overlap idea? How we can take a shape that ends and continue it so that it has a
fluid rhythm or a dynamic movement in and out of the other forms, the previous and the
future forms. You can see these beautiful, linear moves here.
Notice how quite often—I kind of cheated on this one here. Quite often those moves
will take us down for a while, and then they’ll move across in perspective generally, and
what they’re doing is let’s go down the length. That’s the gestural idea. That’ll
show me how to get from finger to knuckle and knuckle to back of the hand, and back
of the hand to the wrist. But also, let’s move across because that’ll tell me the
volume, the position, and the proportion, and the character of that neck shape or of
that current shape as we begin to move toward the next shape. Look at the pinching forms there.
So, he’s wonderful with insertions. How do you take an architectural idea and insert
it into the next idea? And the interlocking. Taking that idea—interlocking—take that
first idea and have it intrude and key lock, lock inside that next idea. That’s kind
of our logo for that, the drumstick. We can see that drumstick in a lot of places. So
here we can see that drumstick idea here as well as the insertion, the overlapping there.
And so let’s do that. So he’s done both. He’s inserted that lightly in there, and
he’s continued that line well in there to create that linear flow through. So back of
the hand, and then look at how we then create really a dance here
flowing inside and out. These are each moving.
See what’s happening here? When we get this kind of flow, you can think of it as a stream.
Sometimes it’ll get caught up in itself, but then it can flow out. Sometimes it’ll
be a dead end. Eventually it’s going to end, but it can channel off too. So we start
to feel—over to the finger there—the interconnectivity here. So you can see now why he loved line
quality, why he had such delicate lines, because he just loved the insertion idea of taking
one thing and moving into—that can wrap around both directions into the next. This
can go around here and down there. It can play back to this finger here even though
it’s not the right finger. It can go off to the outside. In can go off to the inside.
It can go into the next place. You’ve got all these possibilities. Channel after channel
after channel, linear tones. Yet we can come back and under all that linear dance, fluid,
watery links we can feel solidity.
Notice how those tones with this little highlight here mainly and this little lighter moment
here mainly give us this fantastic clear sense of the solidity of things. That’s the advantage
of doing this kind of wowing out. When you do that you can feel the corner idea. This
is a nice sharp though. Like Michelangelo before him but in a completely modern style
for him, his hatching went over the contour of the forms.
If you look at somebody like a Charles Dana Gibson, an early American illustrator in the
teens and 20s. He did the Gibson girls that they still use for logos in some companies
like ice cream companies and stuff like that. But he was the top illustrator of his day.
He hatched just across. He hatched across the form with no interest of the contour of
the form. He just let it go. These guys, look at all the wrinkled flesh of that thumb. Every
line is tracking over with a few exceptions. He has some stylized kind of flaring lines,
just kind of kick off in directions. You’ll see these hatching that just kind of cut through
like it’s a little slice across the paper. But, forgiving that, he just picks up and
that adds interest and energy to it rather than just having a perfectly smudged line.
You’ll kick it off.
If you look at Fechin’s drawings and then look at the illustrator in the 50s, 60s, 70s,
80s, he did Apocalypse Now poster, for example, Robert Peak. Look at his. He does the same
thing where he’ll do this flaring out in his drawing that was really popular for a
while, very self-conscious and stylized. For all we know, he looked at Mr. Fechin to get it.
It doesn’t matter, does it? Whether he did or didn’t, it was a fine invention
for the time, and it’s not doing Nikolai Fechin disservice to have taken that lesson
from him, if he did in effect.
So you can see now we can also think of this as a ball. We can think of these little forms
as a ball, and these little areas. He’s got very ball-like information inside that
linear stuff. So very much like the Leonardo we looked at, isn’t it? So you can see how
the same, we could look at Rubens and it would be a whole different intention again. You
can see how these ideas can keep coming back. They’re reincarnated with brand new bodies,
but they’re the same soul underneath. There we go. How much fun is that? Notice that each
little egg has its own personality. They’re lovely characters in this story, aren’t
they? They’re not all this perfect ball or this perfect egg shape.
They’re all varied and interesting.
We can see the same hatching technique. The hatches are following the form, and not only
the character of the form but the perspective of the form, so that hand is doing that. Forms
are following the detail. Technique—there’s the word I was looking for—are following
suite. Notice there are a lot of eggs in there, a lot of that good stuff. We’ve got the
same principles going on as we did before. Now, notice we haven’t talked about veins
before. Here’s the vein here. Notice when we have this kind of detailing going on, that’s
a wandering linear structure.
What we need to do—let’s go back to that tube idea, and let’s talk again about our
S-curves. That S-curve, remember, is a three-dimensional line. It’s the only line that has a sense
of 3D to it. It’s not that if you do this you’re going to feel three-dimensional,
but in context to everything else it will reinforce that three-dimensional idea. You’re
not going to fool anybody just with throwing one line out, but for the length of its dominant
curve from here to here, it is tracking that perspective form. At the very end over here
it turns away. Notice what we’re interested in is not how long the line lasts in length,
but how far across it moves. That’s the most important thing. The structure is defined
by the movement over the form. If I can tell you how to move over this form you will feel in your
toes, in your socks, it’s that three-dimensional idea.
Notice right here is an S-curve. Follows the perspective of the form and curves off into
the cuff. Same idea here. So when we look now at our veins, let me get these other lines
out of the way we can see this vein here from tendon to vein curves across and at the very
end turns down. For that much it’s reinforcing or all the way over here. Curves off, pulls
around. For that long, most of the back of the hand, it reinforces that three-dimensional
structure. Very useful. So when you see those veins, those squiggly veins going all over
the place make sure they track as you would like them to track.
Let’s look at this other vein set. We have this here, this here, this here. Now, notice
that goes mainly down the length of it, which is a gestural idea. It’s not doing much
over the width, which is our structural idea. It does it right here for that finger. Notice,
again, just to be clear, it doesn’t matter if when we draw that curvature whether it’s
off axis or on axis, this is on axis, square to the length, right angle to the length.
This little line is off axis. It doesn’t matter. It’s still curving in the correct
curvature. That’s all we care about. This down here does not show any of the length,
but it shows the corner. So in that sense it’s also helping that three-dimensional idea.
It creates a highlight.
If you look at say a Sargent or a Frans Hals, a Velazquez, you’ll see the highlight down
the nose. You can see it down the finger also. We can see the whole light shape to the side
of the finger here. You can see that box construction there, can’t we. Here it is here gain. Even
the pinch of the fatty pad creating a box construction there. He has very curious fingers.
He’s a northern European so they’re quirky. They have a real gothic aesthetic rather than
the classical aesthetic of the Italians of the southern Europeans, southern Italian mainly.
Northern Europeans had a very different eye or quirky.
Also, look at how long he’s made those hands. This is a monk or a priest. It is someone
who does not work with his hands. He turns pages or copies manuscripts or has a purely
aesthetic lifestyle. They are soft hands. They are graceful hands. They are hands that
are reaching up to the lord, in effect. Those long fingers, I mean look at how long that
middle finger is. If we take that middle finger, compare it to the back of the hand, the length
it should be—maybe it should end here—it’s quite a bit longer. It gives that a real aesthetic
sensibility. Some worker or some guy who dug ditches, a wood carver or a sculptor of marble
like Michelangelo would not have hands like this, would not have fingers like that. They’re
lovely, beautiful, and they are literally uplifting, reaching up. So beautiful.
Again, we can see the side plane here, the corner here moving in. Look at how he’s
using the whites to insert in a little bit. Draw us just a touch into that hand, the back
of the hand there. Really beautiful work. You can see with the hatching, you know, we
cross-hatch on that sleeve on the cuff area. Each hatch again goes into tracking our form.
A lot of his work, a lot of the sense of delicacy is two things—we’ll, three things really
let’s say: It’s the choice of medium, and so he’s using the fine point, a kind
of silver point idea within the whites in there. The medium is delicate, and so that
plays with the delicate subject matter, the nonphysical. These are hands that aren’t
concerned with the physical. They’re concerned with the spiritual. The values, so he used
the soft blue paper and then the very soft values. Notice that the blacks don’t get
very black. And the whites down get very white. That’s why when I put a real white on top
of it pops off there. It jumps out. It’s a very delicate, soft value range, which reinforces
also our concept.
Look at how carefully the lines, not only the drawn contour lines here, but the lines
used to create the values themselves. Look at how delicate they are. Very thin lines
and lines that track not just the contour, or not just the structure, but they track
very carefully the contour. Compare this to the Michelangelo. Let’s just go back to
that vein again. Look at how tortured and careful. If that’s the ant, that’s an
obsessive-compulsive ant, isn’t it. It just draws, just works its way over every single
nuance. It’s not going to cheat one bit. It’s going to work over every little nuance
of things. Even this, look at how every little kink, he’s not missing any of them. That
again adds to the delicacy, rather than having these flamboyant moves or these simplified
moves or the glorification of the big shape and the subduing of the small shape like I
might do in my work. That’s not this fellow. This fellow is doing something very different.
Then going back to the overall composition now, look at what we have here. If we cut
the hands off from the cuffs we have a triangle. We have the trinity, the Christian trinity.
Notice how the folds, they have some curves in them for sure, but in general their zigzagging
nature also creates triangles. That’s typical of this age. Van Eyck and Durer, all these
guys would play these kind of triangular ideas. You can see the zigzagging nature of the various
stuff. We have these slivers of shadows.
Oftentimes, not all the time, but oftentimes triangular. A lot of eggs in there too.
He's working with both. A lot of eggs. But we have the triangle stuff, this finger in here breaks
into a triangle, and we get eggs again and eggs again and eggs again.
A little triangular shape down there.
So anyway, you get the point on that. We can make the shapes and the values and the marks
we use, likes we draw, including the contours. It might be a road or a river down into the
landscape or a pencil thin edge between the two fingers. Color. The object, the chosen
object, and a million others, the size relationship. All these are called visual components. They’re
all tools for telling what we want to tell, for saying what we want to say. So once you
have an idea as an artist, the great artists, every single mark, every single visual component,
every choice we make, the medium can be in service of our idea. And so the whole thing
is a triangle, an active triangle. This is a guy who practices what preaches, literally.
There is the whole composition. It’s a thrusting prayer up to God, a moving prayer that has
taken us right up, taken him right up, and by our participation in the artwork we get
to join him. In fact, it was done just for that reason. So anyway, lovely way to think
of things, and an important way to think of things. What we want to do is make sure that
we understand our craft so much, so well that everything that we put down there, every mark
we make, every move we make, every choice we make is reinforcing either the structure
or the gesture.
Then on top of that we want to make sure that every move we make, every choice we make is
reinforcing our big idea behind that. What’s the emotion? What’s the thought? What’s
the concept behind it? Now, when we’re going quick sketches, when we’re going our practice
sessions, when we’re doing even our paintings, we’re not always going to have some incredible,
well-conceived, philosophical notion about the state of existential being, for goodness
sakes. We might, but we probably won’t. But we can have a point of view. We can say
I want to give a sense of tranquility. I want to give a sense of hopefulness, of aspiration.
I want to give a sense of challenge, of desperation, of despair. Pick an adjective. Pick an active
verb. I want to give a sense that life is a battle, that life is contending forces,
that life is Darwinian. It can be anything, literally anything.
But we want to make it something.
As you’re working on this, kind of just start thinking which of these hands did I
like to draw the best? Which was I most excited about? Which disappointed me the most if I
didn’t get it right? Which of the artists that I get attracted to? What are the kind
of activities that I do outside of art? Do I zone out and try and escape life? Do I dive
into the political turmoil of the world to participate in life? Do I try and rise above that?
Do I grumble and curse my opponents and try and wish them ill? What is it that
moves me in my day-to-day life. That’ll start giving you a sense of maybe where your
art can take you, and it could be an art therapy. Most of go into art on some level to soothe
things or to help the hopefulness of things.
here. Notice how the structure reinforces the pose, meaning he’s picking up this strong
overlap—I’ll show you in a minute—interlocks and overlaps, these strong kind of corners
to the knuckles over here. Put that one on there a little bit more. All of that is helping
to reinforce—minus this little fellow—reinforce that thrusting perspective back into the page.
The ball comes out at us. The hand is behind it, thrusting forward and around it. So we
get this great diving series of lines. So, just compositionally this kind of goes off
that way, compositionally dives into and rolls over and off of.
Now, look at our little finger. Look at how it curves this way and how that tension, it
creates this great tension where it’s grabbing so hard that it’s squeezing down on it.
It’s pushing down onto that ball that thrusts up in a sense to grip it hardly. We have that
contact accordingly. Look at the ring finger, and look at how this ring finger kind of lays
on it, just kind of settles down and lays on the contour of the ball and doesn’t try
and grab the contour or distort the contour, and does not try and rise above the contour.
It just accepts it and submits to the contour of the ball. Then look at how this one now
wraps over rather than pressing violently into it. Now it’s wrapping over and gripping
a little bit. Now we feel like it’s kind of gluing on, pressing in. You can even feel
a little compression here of it. We don’t see that here. We see it wobble, but that’s
the wobble of the fatty pad of the finger. That’s a stylization. But here, it’s sculpting
over it. We feel a similar bit here. Then this is behind it, wrapping behind it and
doing its own thing. Notice how one, two, three, four fingers.
Each one is a different character.
There is a character that fights and attacks life. There is a character that submits, and
it kind of just surrenders and is placid around life, and then there is a character that tries
to form to life. And there is this other one who kind of hinds behind life a little bit.
And so just beautifully, there’s a beautiful story arc in this just like there might be
a wonderful drama that we watch. At the end of two hours we come out of it wiser for having
lived those character’s lives. Here we have four distinct characters, each dealing with
this in a different way.
And so a great lesson here for us of variety. Again, that symmetry/asymmetry. It’s really
the same. Asymmetry and symmetry are almost—not almost. They’re too limiting of terms, really.
It’s the same and difference, or it’s affinity and contrast is the technical term.
It’s going to be the same or similar, or it’s going to be different/opposed. I’m
going to get along, or I’m going to fight. I’m going to be the part of the group, or
I’m going to be the outsider.
And so we’re going to play that as an artist consistently throughout the piece if we know
our stuff. We’re going to play those games of how do we make things the same and yet
different. So here is an egg. Here is an egg, but they’re different in scale, different
in dynamic. This egg is stretching across that webbing from index finger to thumb. This
egg is being acted on. It’s getting squished by this and squished by this, and squeezing
out that way. Here’s another egg that starts out, tries to be as much of an egg as it can,
but it’s going to fail because it’s going to get stretched into this long bit back here.
It’s an egg for a little while, but it can’t be the egg that these others are. These are
eggs through and through, more or less, and this one is an egg for just a little while
and then loses that distinction.
Here is an S-curve again. We’re following the curvature of the finger twisting over
the pad of the wedge of the thumb. Here are the shadows, and this all becomes a top plane
for a boxy area, boxy idea, like so. Look at just the symmetry/asymmetry of the lines.
We have this. I’m going to simplify that knuckle this and this and this against it.
We have this to this to this. This to this to this. Look at the asymmetry back and forth.
Then this to this. Notice how there is a great sensitivity from side to side. Notice what
happens. If I’m not careful I end up doing this. This side becomes the same as that side
or two similar. It loses its interest. It loses its organic quality. But if I do this,
notice how this side is somehow different than that side. This is different.
This is different. We have this dynamic.
What it also does is, rather than trap us, it freezes to flow from idea to idea. That’s
that watery design of life too. If we understand the asymmetry of life, that watery dynamic
that is life, then we will be able to feel this, this, this from side to side.
We'll be very conscious. And so you look at these great masters, and you’ll never find this
side exactly the same as that side. This is a little higher. This is a little lower.
This is lower yet. Lower yet.
It keeps flowing. We have a certain or a distinct difference from side to side. One last thing here:
Adding to this little finger being the black sheep of the family, look at that action
there. See that, the power of that. You just feel that tension. You can just feel it grabbing.
It grabs on to that ball. It’s not letting go. Then this drops low, and we can imagine
that thumb coming over here doing the same thing. Here is our spoon shape on the thumb
again. There is our drumstick idea inserting in, our spoon idea. There is our fingernail
reinforcing the perspective of our constructed form, and there is the fingernail staying
on the top of the construction and leaving us plenty of top—or front of the construction,
leaving us plenty of that top plane to show its volume.
So here is if I did it wrong. Here is Albrecht Durer as a 4 year old. He probably knew this
even as a 4 year old. Here he would do the—this is an Egyptian thumb. It’s not dealing with
realism the way we think of it. It’s just like that. An Egyptian eye is just doing that.
It’s not doing, it’s not showing us a side view of the eye. It’s always the front
view of an eye because that’s the most characteristic. When we don’t really understand how to see
the world as structural artists, what we’ll do is we’ll do what children do or early,
more primitive art. That doesn’t mean it is worse art. They’ll show the most distinct.
A child will do the most distinct view of the object they know. They’ll do the eye
always as a front view even if it’s in a profile. The Egyptians would do the profile
of the face because then you could see the nose and most of the features on the contour,
a front view of the eye, a front view of the shoulders, a side view of the hips and legs
so you could show those feet, always the most characteristic.
If we just go with our instinct for survival, how we just kind of move through the day,
we won’t see these nuances. We’ll just see the big, simple ideas because we don’t
need that little stuff. Only as the artists can we see these nuances and really learn
to see things. Until you draw that thumb you won’t really see that thumb.
This is a French artist in late Baroque. A lovely drawing, delicate. Look at the whites
in here, but incredibly delicate. Here is a—if I did a white highlight for that knuckle,
look what that would do. So, very much like the Durer, very reminiscent. Obviously the
blue color is even reminiscent. I’m sure the inspiration was there. This is France
though, and you can see how with the lace here that we’ve cropped out because we’re
just interested in the hands, you can see the delicate construction of things and delicate
contouring, again, like the veins on the prayer hands of Durer. So incredibly sensitivity
to the contour or the nuances, but done in an incredibly restrained way. So beautiful.
There is our boxy concept for the fingers. Notice how wonderful the box concept is because
it allows us to do tones. If I can think of this as a box then I know that all of the
tones on the front plane, plane or planes of the box, will be much darker. The front
planes will be much darker—or I’m sorry, much lighter. The back planes will be much
darker, so to exaggerate that. Notice how if I want that transition between front plane
and back plane to be nuanced and not boxy, I’ll use a gradation. That gradation taking
us back. We can see that same gradation on the side plane here very subtlety. See how
it gradates back around that side plane of the finger. Gradations curve the form or move
the form back in space. Just another way to do it. We could do it with a picket fence,
the linear perspective, or we could do it with both. Use value and size and converging
perspective. As subtle as it is, here is the boxy hand here. There is the boxy wrist.
Of course, you can make that box like a 2x4; you can have both sides bevel out like so.
Let’s just change that up like that. So you can see how it translates nicely into
a box. You’ll want to watch, this is analogous to the wide shoulders on a muscular male to
the narrow hips. Oftentimes, you’ll see a pose, especially when that thumb is tucked
down, squeezing against. It becomes part of the back of the hand. It’s real easy to
play up this wide finger end down to this narrow wrist end, and you end up doing a back
of the hand like this and a tiny little wrist and body behind it. It doesn’t work so well
so be careful of that. Here is that little insertion to the ulna pulling back here.
This is a man who drew a lot of plaster casts. It’s probably a cuff. Oftentimes, in atelier
styles, in studio workshops they draw from plaster casts, and the cast would be cut off.
You learn great fidelity of detail. You can see how this isn’t mannered. It doesn’t
have a real distinct style other than of the age. You’d think this is Baroque. You think
of it, yeah, this is Baroque, but think of a Van Dyck. It would have had just as much
delicacy but more power and more confidence, not that this isn’t a confident technique.
Then think of a Rubens where it would have been incredibly flamboyant and bigger than
life. Baroque, by its definition was outsized, oversized. It’s the Hollywood blockbuster,
basically. It’s Indiana Jones; the biggest special effects, the big set pieces, biggest
starts, biggest explosions, that kind of stuff. That was Baroque.
This really feels more Rococo in delicacy or more romantic, French romantic, and it’s
the difference between a French Baroque artist and others. There is a softness and a delicacy
there that’s going on that quiets things down. Great faithfulness to the object, romanticized
version of it in a lovely way, but very different than some of the stylized.
You think of Michelangelo and such too. Very, very different.
he went right to the contour, and yet we still have those lessons of structure. You know,
it’s just ingrained. The boxy fidelity to always putting the dark tones on the side
plane. One of the tricks we want to learn is before we start drawing or painting have
a sense of where the light source or work it out of your head. If it’s to the up and
to the right then the shadows are going to be down to the left, and we’re going to
want to track that carefully.
Notice how we can feel the hand pinching over the wrist here. Come all the way back to the
end of the jacket or shirt, tunic, whatever it was, and you can see the elbow is very
close in tracking if we were to do this for a second just for the heck of it. You can
see that idea. Notice how these brilliant artists, if they began something, more often
than not they’d find a way to finish it at the other end. I’m going to begin something
in the middle if you can begin in the middle, and then I’m going to finish it at the end.
Finish it at the end and then finish it at the other end, other end, other end; look
at that, right back there again. They hide it. They break space between as they should.
Open values up. They kill the line. It continues all the way through consistently. Just beautiful.
You can see these knuckle structures flow together to add, you know, to kind of set
us up for that pinching end there. So beautiful. You can see the asymmetry here. This wobbly,
crazy stylized exaggerated—Tintoretto did this. He was just an insane artist in terms
of what he’d do. He’s kind of El Greco in that sense. He just could care less about
the aesthetics of the time, basically. He just had this voice that he had to do.
But you can see how overdone those contours are. You remember that Michelangelo that we
had that I had the audacity to criticize or at least say—I wasn’t really criticizing,
but say I would do it differently. We have the ulna bone playing through, and then we
had that sloppy, sagging, flexor group there. Then the same on the other side. We had a
lot of lumps and bumps on that side. Nothing compared to this. And yet, this is the quieter
side because it’s a stretching side. There is the bean bag. This is the more active side
because it’s a pinching side of the bean bag. And so he very much keeps that in mind.
Okay, so this is van Dyck, just amazing talent. He was second fiddle to Rubens all his life,
studied with Rubens for a while then became a court painter and did just amazing stuff.
He was a better portrait painter than Rubens. Here we go. Look at that lovely wrist. A lesser
artist would have ended the back of the hand here. He extends that out as it should be
and takes it farther. We feel that thrusting form down in here. Look at how the tones down
here, the great masters, if they start something they’re going to finish it. Once they’ve
got the setup they’ll do it again, and oftentimes do it again and again in greater and lesser
ways all the way through. Then this bends off to the side so this lineup does this.
Now I remember what I wanted to tell you, actually, so I’ll do that in a second. Let
me just put that there to remind myself. So anyway, so that’s that. Let’s look back
at that again and look at our insertion here. There is the back of the hand, really beautiful
design shape. Notice the power in this hand. You know, we feel the masculine force in full
power here, but look at how that inserts in. Plays all the way down to here.
Now look at the wrist like a wrench pinching behind it.
Then feel that insertion. There is that drumstick idea again. The wrist,
the thin wrist going into the thicker, meaty forearm, then coming out with the elbow. And
so let’s turn our drumstick into a boxier form. That’s what we have in this case.
How that box is a through form. Look at how beautifully we feel that interlocking.
Then it actually pops out the other side with the elbow. Just fantastic.
That feels like you’ve skewered an olive.
That’s what we have going here. That’s the power of continuing an idea, taking it
through. The audience will feel that thrusting through, and it’ll be like super glue. It’ll
just hold it together. It’ll give your drawings, your artwork such credibility you won’t
believe it. So that intersection is crucial.
On this arm we have a different kind of intersection. It’s not the deep, diving perspective of
the first. It’s a subtler perspective. You can feel how this extensor group, the supinator
group. That’s the group here that attaches over to the thumb side and can pull that back
into supination. Right now it’s going this way into pronation. If this pulled, if that
muscle group pulled back on it, it would draw back around. The palm would be up and could
hold a bowl of soup. We have that nice thrust. Let’s take this out here. By taking that
teardrop form here, which is here, all the massive muscles, relatively massive muscle
become thin muscles and tendons and ligaments and such. That whole group—let’s just
do it like that—comes down here and attaches to the thumb side like so.
Then we have the arm here.
If you think of that arm—you can look at your own arm. I’m going to separate out
the upper arm a little bit. You can think of the arm from a side view as a 2x4 kind
of idea. If you look at Bridgman, George Bridgman’s work in how-to area, he’ll use this. So
let’s do a little Bridgman-esqe kind of work here. Let me actually change that around.
I do that to highlight it, and it’s just going to confuse, so I’ll do that a little
bit differently. It does this kind of thing. So side plane, a little bit of the bottom
plane. We get this moving this way. This is high up on, this is down back behind. Let’s
go ahead and attach it now. There you can see a little bit of that 2x4 idea. So we have,
make it super simple. We have a 2x4 for the bicep, tricep area. Then we have a 2x4 standing
up on its end for the forearm area. Then since it supinates over it wraps over, falls over
again. We have this one laying down again like this. To sum it up here we’re getting
this great insertion here going that way. That’s locking in here. Same idea as this,
but it’s not as dramatic. It’s not as simplified as this one is. But we still get
that same key lock idea. The biceps, triceps area has been intruded upon by this bit here.
That’s going to go inside and on top.
showing the gestural move of that pincer action. It’s presuming he’s going to pinch something
up off the ground or something. So the highlights there, let’s go back and look at them again.
Those highlights are popped in there very strongly, crudely, gesturally, and functionally.
They’re showing the function of that hand come almost like a little note to self. Remember
to show the strength of that hand as it reaches out to grasp to snatch that goblet off the
tray or whatever it’s about. Really beautiful.
Then notice how these long linear overlaps reinforce that. These tendinous overlaps going
from hand onto wrist reinforce that idea. It’s that linear idea. They both help to
reinforce the compositional idea of lines; long, thin lines. But also, they’re showing
that strength just by doing that, just by accenting what I just accented. It’s showing
that power and strength going on that the artist is clearly interested in, enamored in.
These kinds of drawings you can see, you can pick them apart in a lot of ways.
For example, this contour here, look at how weak and searching it is. He’s figuring
things out. But it was really about this great move. You can still see as oversimplified
and stylized and crude at times. It still has a strong move, and it still has a lot
of amazingly precise thinking in it. For example, the back of the hand steps down,
as we talked about in our lecture, onto the finger.
The thicker back of the hand steps on to the thinner finger like that. Remember that idea
from our lesson. That’s still there. But again, mainly he was interested in that. It’s
fun to try and think what they’re thinking. You’ll never know if you’re exactly right,
but it doesn’t matter. The fact that he didn’t think at all what I thought he thought
doesn’t matter. What matters is I’ve picked out something that I think is important about
the drawing, and that means it’s important to me. That’s going to be a clue towards
me developing my voice. Lovely symmetry/asymmetry, shadow side to light side and bulbous side
to a little more blocky side. Look at the lovely sprawling finger action here like so.
We can see that off the knuckle lines too.
Now, we don’t quite see it here, but I keep meaning to tell you something, and I keep
forgetting what it is. It finally popped in my head, so I’m going to go ahead and show
it to you. If we take the back of the hand and have it come toward us, we have a problem,
actually. Let me show you from a back of the hand that’s in flat perspective. Now, if
we were to do, let’s say this is the thumb side here. If we were to do a careful construction
what we would find is I do this and I do this and I do this, and I do this. That wouldn’t
be quite right. What I really want to do is that, give or take, depending on the character
of the hand and the position, the forces acting on the hand. But this drifts off a little
bit more. That means when we have it coming toward us with the thumb, we’re going to
have the back of the hand and the fingers, and if we just did the tube like that it wouldn’t
be right at all. In fact, if you look at your fingers you’ll see that these knuckles don’t
go that way, they go this way.
That’s true with this too, as we found here. It should be going this way. Well, let’s
do that. Let’s do this and this. I suppose we could do that. That would be a little more
accurate, I guess. Or not I guess; it would, like so. But then we’re not getting the
rich perspective that we had here, so what’s going to be our solution? Our solution will
be our S-curve, our trusty S-curve, our three-dimensional line. What we’ll do is we’ll take the
first two fingers, the index finger and the middle finger, and we’ll curve that into
the perspective of the back of the hand. Then we’ll take the last two, the ring finger
and the little finger and go back the other way.
We’ll do the same thing with the arc, give or take the articulation of the fingers.
So we want to see that in the construction here.
We can see it a little bit here, or we could imagine it anyway.
Let’s say that the back of the hand coming back toward us a little bit. So I make the
first finger or two, give or take , the perspective is going that way, so a little less than two
fingers. You get the idea. Going with our perspective, and then the little fingers drop
off that out of the perspective. That gives us the connectivity, the more accurate and
simple, yet characteristic construction that we hope for.
Alright, Raphael, our good friend. Now, we have some deep perspective here. We can see
in our shallower perspective our beautiful boxy construction here. We can see the insertion
into the knuckles there, that interlocking idea. You can even feel the bone there, showing
through, that dog bone shape. Really carefully done, thoughtfully designed. Not a bad artist, huh?
We can see that boxy idea picked up in the contour. Look at how the hand is conceived
instead of just a simple tube, a faceted creature. Beautifully done.
Notice how the secret of getting great perspective is getting great insertion. Look at how far
the tip of the finger goes into the second and third joint, and this is so severely foreshortened
that we don’t even see the distinction between the second and the third joint. It fits in there.
Look at how high up the back of the hand—here is our structure here like that.
Notice deep intrusion of things.
This turns over so we’re not seeing that coming out at us. We’re losing the insertion
a little bit because of that. But we get that nice front plane of the nail, front plane
before we hit the nail. This does what it does here. It gets kind of smudged away, and
this goes underneath. We can still see the insertions. Also, look at the dark tones in
the shading. You can see that three value thought process for the boxy connection. This
breaks here. Notice how he is always thinking of how to continue the line. We have the natural
gesture here, but don’t let the contours stop you. Don’t let interruptions stop you.
See the through line.
Part of the problem we have is if you see the palm side you’re not seeing the backside.
If you see the back side you’re not seeing the palm side. So whatever view you have of
the object you’re only getting half of it at best. If it’s overlapping something you’re
getting less than that. Or, if it’s overlapped by something you’re getting less than that.
With the little that we see we have to give the idea of a complete form that you can see
around, or that you can feel around. You would see it around if you turned it.
So, beautifully done.
Look at how this is, how much clearer and more nuanced we can make those tones if we
turn it into a box. The box is always the best way to analyze and understand and feel
confident of your choice about your tones because it’s going to tell you exactly where
your two, three, four planes are. You can assign your two, three,
four values to them to get them to work.
that’ll work for us in the studio. So what I’ve done for you is I’ve picked out some reference of female hands
in this first session, and I want you to draw them. They’re going to be timed poses.
We’re going to have one minute, two minutes, five minutes, and 10 minutes.
Take your time with them. Don’t feel rushed. If you barely get a couple lines down in one minute that’s okay.
If in the 10 minutes you feel like you’re finished in four minutes, that’s okay.
There is not right or wrong answer on this really. So go ahead and take a few moments.
Get some materials out. Start the session one.
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can watch along. What I’ll do is I’ll do the same poses you did, the same time frame.
You’ll see me cheat every once in awhile. I’ll take a little extra time and also in
between some of the poses I’ll stop and make a few points so that we can relate that
back to our theory and see how it all comes together. Take a moment; watch me, and see
if we can learn a little bit more about hands.
You can see how I’m dropping off that back of the hand to the thinner finger, this step
down that we were talking about. You can see if you’ve got a concept of the basic structures,
there is not a bunch. It’s not like doing a whole figure. Now the articulation of them
can be much more difficult than a figure, but there is not tons of information, and
so you can sometimes feel like you have quite a bit of time because of that.
Here's that ulna bone coming in, binding up with this tissue there, off the knuckles and down.
Just feel that sweep down. That’s what we want. Notice when we fall off that sweeping line,
there is that waterfall of forms that we’re after, the lovely curved action going on there.
Okay, one minute. This has a lot of tough figure positions on it, doesn’t it? We’re
going to start with the back of the hand. That’s like the torso for the figure in
a way. Look at that great corner. There is that ulna popping out. This is going off this
way. Coming in. Then here is my lifeline. Cut this back a little bit in proportion,
and then here is the thumb coming out, pinching thenar eminence, Pulling over. Then we’ve
got these crazy fingers going off in every direction. I’m just picking up the back
corner. The outside corners are always easier to work with than the lumpy inside, so I’ll
work with those first. And I cheat a lot on these things, getting some of the—oftentimes I’ll put the white in
after the session has formally stopped. I’ve never been arrested once for doing that. If
you want to break the rules a little bit. If you need to, if you feel like, ah, I’m
doing a great drawing, pause that video and go ahead and take it a little bit farther.
But turn it into a rendering. We want to get the action, the big ideas. These short poses
are really designed to make us edit out and pick out just a few points to give the gesture
and structural relationships that are key for that.
Alright, so another one minute here.
This is, I’m going to say it’s coming at me
a little bit. It’s probably fairly flat perspective, but I don’t like flat perspective.
I like to be either in front or behind something. That’s definitely going behind us. Here
we can see this nice shadow shape here, pulling that back here. We can see that nice corner
where the wrist becomes the hand. It’s tied in and then this finger is pulling out in
a strong action here. Really stretching that finger wide. These all group together so I
can actually just group those and then add on the thumb. That nice hook action gives
a lovely gesture. Here is some of the connections.
Here we go, one minute. I’m going to make this smaller. A very similar position to this
other one next to it, my first drawing. Here I can feel the hand inserting up into the
wrist a little bit. Then we have this drop off for the fingers. These fingers flare out
a little bit, so we’ve got the first knuckle, the second knuckle, the third knuckle for
the middle finger, and then the last, and you can see that nice step down there that
I was talking about in our lecture portion. This is going off here. This takes off this
way, this way, this way, inserting that finger into the contour of the hand. And that’s it.
And notice once you have the basic construction—to come back here for just a moment—look at
how I’m going to shorten that a bit. Look at how I could change the reference really
easily just by understanding the basic concepts. I wish this had more dynamic finger position,
let’s say. I’ll bend them down a little bit, and then maybe leave that pointer finger as is.
Okay, just of the heck of it I’m going to start with the thenar eminence. When you’re
doing these constructions, once you start getting a feel for it and you’re not in
that confused beginning where you’re just struggling with all the information, there
is a lot of information. It can take you a while. But after you start to feel good about
that. Then you can kind of mix up your construction. Try starting from a different position and
see what it does. See if it helps or hurts. Sometimes try drawing, as a lot of the old
masters did, without construction. They would learn the construction, understand it. We
saw that in Michelangelo’s Cybil, where there are clear construction lines. I’ve
had many expert claim that the old masters never used construction. It’s just not true.
They understood it. Even if they didn’t put down construction lines, if you lay tracing
paper over it or you’ve got the luxury of a Cintiq, as we were able to do, you can see
clearly how things line up.
Alright, two minutes. We have two hands here. So in effect we’re doing a marathon one-minute
pose. We’ve got a minute for each hand. Now, you are absolutely welcome just to draw
one of the hands. That’s fine. You can even just pick a thumb and just spend the whole
time on the thumb or whatever. We can see that flaring out of those fingers, how they
play down so beautifully. This is over here now. Let me do a little better job on my wrist action.
We can also recompose this. Let’s say I wish it was closer. I’m going to scoot
it closer. Let it vignette off the page, maybe. This lovely kick of the forefinger. The middle
finger. Here is the ring finger and the little last finger is in here. Then we’ve got that
thumb. This is a little bit more of that spoon shape we talked about. It’s more closer
to a straight on back view. Not exactly perfect. There is the pinching forms that so beautifully
describe the construction, three-dimensional structure.
Alright, now I’m switching to Faber-Castell. This is Indian Red, and it’s 9201-192. I
always have two of these, and that way if I break one, which happens quite often, then
I can just switch it. I don’t have to stop. Then I’m using the same Conté of Paris
white. Alright, so here we go. This hand comes off here, pulls here, sits back there. That
lovely thumb swings off this way. Here is that hand. It sits on top. I can see more
of this hand. I’m drawing it first. The structure on top is a better strategy usually
because you can see it, see it all. It’s a nice spread of the fingers there as they
work their way over the interrupting forms of the hand below. There is a little bit of
the—we can see this lovely wave action that’ll play up here, like so.
You can feel that finger inserting in there.
Now let’s pick this up. This swings back, and the thumb is in here. I’m just going
to make it a little smaller to fit.
This is pulling this way and this way. Since this
is hidden by the overlap. I’m going to go ahead and let this be just laid in roughly. Then I’ll
spend whatever time I have rendering on the other one a little bit more. That watery wave,
it’s such a pleasure to flow down that.
Okay, two minutes again. This is kind of a three-quarter view of this, pulling off here.
This thumb is in the way, so I’m going to put that on top. Here is the thumb against
the hand there. I can see how that separates out. Here is the thumb proper coming out.
Going down into shadow there. Remember how we can let the tendinous connections flow
into the next form. Then we’ve got the fingers coming out here swinging back over this way.
Each one has its own position. Notice you have a little bit of room for error on this
kind of thing. If it doesn’t quite line up where the palm wanted it to in the reference,
probably nobody is going to notice.
Okay, let me take a second and talk about one thing here. This middle finger here, this
guy right here, let me highlight it for you. The way I laid that in because it was folding
back on itself. It came off, if we could move everything else and isolate it, it came up
this way as the first digit, the first second of it, I should say, first phalange. Then
it came back over this way. So here is the tube construction, and here is the end construction
with that little bit. The rest of this is palm of the hand covered by the thumb. So
what I did to shortcut that is I just came up and just made it like a paper cutout. It’s
very two-dimensional that way. Notice how it just, let’s continue that paper idea.
There is the folded paper. I just did that. Then had I had more time, and now I’m going
to take more time to explain it. That’s the advantage of being a teacher. I get to
do whatever I want. So there is the pinch. I’ve played it up against the thumb. Here
is the thumb. We don’t care about the nail. That’s in here.
Now by adding—let’s do it again over here now. Here’s what I had. Came down and then
got interrupted. Let’s pretend the interruption was closer. Let’s pretend there is no interruption.
Now I need to add that whole finger in. Here is a boxy construction or here is the tubular
construction. It wouldn’t matter at this point. Let me finish this and I’ll come
back to the back end. There is the finger finishing out with the nail section here.
This is all in shadow or mainly in shadow. All in shadow I guess. So that sits like so.
Now back to this one more time. Notice if I have a bent structure, let’s say the finger
bends like that, then you just make a corner, don’t you? You just say it went that way;
now it goes that way. But, if that bend becomes greater than a right angle, there is a right
angle. But this one went that way. Then you need two corners. You come up. You make a
corner. You make another corner. Now it may be that you do that in a rounded way because
you’re dealing with cylinders, let’s say. You’d still come off this this way. And
you’d still end up with one—I’ll round them off a little bit, but one-two corners.
One, two corners down here.
Here I only need one corner because it’s less, or greater I should say. Greater than
a right angle. But this one is tighter than a right angle. Greater than a right angle.
Tighter than a right angle. So when you have that right angle, whether it’s a knee, elbow,
or in this case, a finger joint, you need two corners. Otherwise, here’s what happens:
I’ve drawn this however I’ve drawn it, and I do this. Well, that doesn’t work.
Let me try again. I’ve drawn this, and then I do this. Well, that doesn’t work. That
makes it way too long and makes it pointy at the end. You lose your structure if you
don’t have the second corners. One of the key components of understanding structure
is gesture is curved. Look at this beautiful, fluid curve over here. Structure. Gesture
is curve. Structure is corners. The more corners you can put in, in whatever form—a shadow
is a corner. A highlight is usually a corner. Really, it should always be a corner for we
constructionists. Or it can be a linear lay in a corner. It can be worn down, rounded
off kind of stuff, but the more corners we get the more architecture we get.
You can group these three fingers together like they have mittens on. That’s usually
a pretty good strategy for blocking it out. That’s what atelier artist would do. They
have the big shapes and you cut out the separating shapes much later. It’s nice to have strategies
from all different styles. You can take a little bit from all of them.
Darken this up since it’s in front. Use a little bit of landscape theory of aerial perspective.
Things that are closer to us are fuller in value. Things that are farther from us are softer in value.
Okay, we’ll come back here and give a little bit of shadow.
And look at this lovely pinch here, how it’s describing the perspective of that
little tube. Now we can turn that nail into our perspective as it goes down this way.
Let me make a point here. Take that into the thumb out here so I can draw it bigger
and better, and it’s coming this way. We’re on top of it. I’m just going to isolate
the end of the thumb. Okay, so here is that thumbnail. I more or less got that idea down.
Not as pretty as it would be with a little extra time here. That idea was reinforcing
our perspective idea. Here is the rest of that joint coming back. It’s binding up
in here. Let me just draw that. It’s pinching. It’s that bean bag idea. Outside corner
or curve. In that case, inside corner. Now, as I pointed out in the shadows, the shadows
beautifully reinforce the perspective idea.
But what’s going on here is a, let’s do our two tubes now. There is a tube going that
way. This tube is going this way. Then we have the knuckle as that little knob on top
of it. It can be more squarish and more roundish. It doesn’t matter. So now look what happens.
Since there is an egg separating, let’s make this exaggerated. We have an egg on top
of, or in a sense separating those two tubes. Then we’re going to feel tube, egg, tube.
Tube, egg, tube. Tube, egg, tube. Notice that the egg does this. If we take and egg out
and look at it, we would see it bulge around that end and bulge around that end as it swells
and recedes. Look at how I’m going to use this end of the egg to describe that perspective,
and I’m going to use this end of the egg when we separate it with the lights below it.
This end of the egg to describe that end.
So see how that, just put a little pinch in there. Let’s do that so we can see a little
bit better. There is the knuckle back here where it picked up. Just finish that off a
little bit more so you can feel it. So now you can see where that pinch is going down there.
We can actually have it insert inside in a wedge type structure, the fatter end
of her thumb. Exaggerate a little bit. So now that knob is describing both perspectives
and gives us a lot to work with. A good tool description.
Anything that has corners, I’m going to look for those corners. We could have made
this much more of a corner idea or that way, maybe. It’s more of a corner idea. I’m
going to look for those corners because those are going to give me lots of structure. Corner
is structure. Anything that has a roundness to it, I’m going to think cylinder because
I can use at least part of that roundness to reinforce a cylindrical corner, because
when we do the cylinder end we’re also getting a corner. I’m going to use the bottom or
the base of this egg knuckle to describe the perspective of the thumb going away. I’m
going to use the other end of the egg knuckle to describe this going away. That gives me
the best of both worlds. Here is the finish of that.
You can see how this knuckle here—play that up more than it was in the reference. The
knuckle there is creating kind of a boxy edge, isn’t it? Let’s bring this out here and
pick that up. If we want to get even more sophisticated we could take it this way. You
can see—you could use these pinches to describe the curvature this way. It wouldn’t matter
if it overshot. Perspective should be that way. I curved it that way. That wouldn’t
matter. It’s still describing beautifully our needed information, our corners or construction.
You can see how a highlight can also be a corner,
can show corners that way.
There is a corner or close to it right there.
Okay, five minutes. I’m going to go back to Sharpie marker. It’s an old beat-up one,
as you can see. Pick this one up now for five minutes. I’m going to start with that thumb.
Again, it’s in the way. It’s going back away from us this way. I’m going to use
these little pinches here to kind of mark my way over to where I need to be. So if I
look at that pinch, my knuckle is pretty close to that for that index finger pulling back
this way. I notice how playing up that knuckle I can get that lovely wave action.
Using this kind of zigzag.
At Art Center where I went to school in Pasadena, California, it was called the thunderbolt
core shadow, and the famous teachers of that school, Harry Carmean, and before him, Lorser
Fitelson used it. Fitelson kind of popularized it, and then Carmean stylized it and pushed
it even further. But that core shadow takes you over the form, which is nice when you’re
trying to show pinching forms. It’s stylized, so I don’t use it often, but when I have
a series of pinching forms I’ll go back to those roots of my youth and stick that in.
Yeah, this is finger is in the way from the other hands. I’m going to use that to anchor the position
of the new hand that’s binding in.
This is in here and this guy goes farther behind.
Foreshorten that even more.
Okay, just kind of working out those positions. Drawing through, seeing through, so I can
make an educated guess on where it goes. Since the fingers move around, if the fingers articulate
you scoot them a little one way or the other, it’s not any big deal. Nobody’s going
to notice that. As long as they connect, they come back to the source. The back of the hand.
Those knuckles feel like they’re anchored. This is probably a little long here.
That's a moon shape.
Here’s that pad that goes across the fingers. Here’s the hypothenar, the karate chop.
Here’s the thenar eminence in here. That thumb breaks back onto us on this nice change
up, kind of a surprise ending in a way, like good thriller movies. And I’ll actually
think about the storytelling aspect. What am I trying to say? Not that I want to give
a beginning, middle, and end, but I want to be suggestive. So I’ll try and get a mood,
an excitement, a sense of subdued submission, whatever the heck it is. It’s a fairly flat
light on this one. I’m just letting it pick up a little bit of the action lines to reinforce
how things are pushing against, fighting through, hiding behind, that kind of stuff.
So we have that dramatic lift to that little finger, and so I’m going to let that finger work.
What’s going on here is the little finger is in front of everything, isn’t it? All
the other fingers hide behind it. This is pulling this way. I want to come back a little
bit with it. I’m going to draw the little finger and this karate chop pad together and
draw them as the dominant form that is in front of everything else, and I’ll just
stack everything else behind. Okay, so we have it pinching up. You can notice when you
bend that finger in you get all this corrugation, basically, this lumping up, like rolling up
the garden hose. And I’m going to move that again. Keep searching for the spot, this is
going to pull this way. A little too long is better than a little too short, so I don’t
mind that it’s a little longer than it should be. That’s to my advantage more than likely.
I’ll show you on this one some of the advantages of having a white pencil.
The reason I like using this toned paper so much, it’s really my favorite thing to do.
There are lots of reasons. It’s just attractive. But probably the most practical thing about
it that this is exactly the way I work in painting. I start with a midtone canvas and
then I add my darks, putting my shadows, dark background, dark local colors, darkest halftones.
Then I add my lights, lighter halftones, light local colors and highlights on top of that.
I’ll make these too long at first. I always make things too long first because that’s
a better screw-up than too short. I’ve gotta move that down a little bit. That goes there.
This goes here. This goes over here.
I forgot I didn’t have the whole hand in there. Let’s add now the other, the rest
of the hand, here it is here, the rest of the back of the hand is this. This amount
is similar to that amount. I’m going to make it slightly less than it is so it tips
away a little bit more. Then we’ll come back over here and feel that web, the thenar
eminence, and you can see these wonderful overlaps here and how this is pulling this way.
Let that go off the page.
And the knuckle of the ulna up and out there. Let this vignette off the page also.
Let this trail down into some of these tendinous connections. This
is an oddball overlap there. It’s interesting, isn’t it? Sometimes those kind of things
you have to change up because they just don’t feel right. This is such a crazy, kind of
evil position for a hand. It looks like some doctor doom kind of guy, Dr. Evil planning his next attack.
Okay, since we’re running out of time I’m going to let those fingers vignette off. Let
me show you the advantage of this. Picking up these crazy pinching ideas can really pop
them out and let them catch. They’re turning in lumps, that garden hose again. It’s going
to really play those up, highlight those, and make them impressive. But also, this is
great for showing that tension. I’m going to pick up some of this. See the tension that
it creates and the extra forms it creates? I’m putting in forms that weren’t exactly
set up in a few of those areas by the darks. I can show kind of the straining forward of
those fingers there. So when you do a thin highlight or a cut line it creates really
great—I’m trying to think of another word but tension because I use it so much, but
it creates great tension and dynamics. There’s one.
So again, look at the dynamic binding action there. Then that’s so strong with the lights.
Now I need to get a little more power in those dark outlines. You can get a lot of information
here quickly. This could be the basis of our painting, a full painting for this. Quite
quickly you can get just a bunch of form detail and lighting information. It’s a lovely
way to work. It’s not the only way to work. You don’t have to work this way, but I get
a lot of it. A lot of what I learned about form, the nuances of form and stylizing, a
lot of way I learned to stylize and make muscles on muscles was from this technique.
I like it. Turn those back a little bit.
In summation, when we get these more finished drawings now, look at how the whole, let’s
just forget about those crazy hands for a second, I mean fingers for a second, and just
look at this beautiful movement through. The whole thing is designed on this lovely wave.
The more that wave—and now when we add the fingers, the more of the wave we have. The
more energy it feels like it’s ready to move. The more grace and life and all that
other stuff we talked about that is the essence of gesture. But then what it’s setting me
up for is when I add these finished contours, notice these high points. I don’t just settle
for that. Every time I’m at the high point area I look for one or more swells, swelling
waves. I might also do it at a pinch. It might do that or it might wobble this way, but it’s
those swells. I want to play those up. So what starts out then as a lovely gesture becomes
even more dynamic when I add the rising, swelling forms. And on the hands that always at the
knuckle joints, the jointed ends.
That’s most of the time through the body, elbow, knees, and such. Not all the time,
the shoulder. Usually at the joint it swells up because there is more muscle. That’s
the case down here. Or, because there is more bone, thicker bone to make a better connecting
surface. Play those up because that beautiful flow that you’ve set up with, now we can
rock on top of it. We can add masses on top of it that don’t destroy it but add to it.
You can quiet them down like an Ingres might do it, or you can play them way up like a
Rubens would. But they’re there to be used for whatever purposes.
Certainly don’t discount them outright.
Timed poses, the same number, the same timed sequences. Go ahead and work with it.
Again, don’t feel rushed. This is quick sketch style.
The key to quick sketch is not to try and draw real fast, but to try and edit out. I only have one minute.
What are the few things that have to be in that pose to say what it’s saying, that hand in that position.
Take your time. There is no right or wrong answer at this point.
You’re just practicing, developing. Let’s go ahead and try it.
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Play this off. I could really carefully measure the little finger to make sure of this, but
with our one minute we don’t have much time for that.
Thumbs are hidden under here.
Back of the hand goes up into the wrist and they get that lovely connectivity. There is that
ulna bone that allows us to—sits on top in that pronation. Then we have this interlocking there.
The finger comes right up here. Notice a couple of things. Notice when I look for,
and they’re subtle, but I look for the knuckles. Look at where the knuckles are. They’re
not at the end of my construction. I didn’t take the time to do a three-dimensional construction.
I did the two-dimensional construction, really a flat piece of paper slightly bowed into
three-dimensional position. But I didn’t add that front, and that front is the thickness
that allows the fingers to attach.
Notice when I put the finger in there in full connection then that’s why we have these
knuckles up there. It’s the same logic as our fingernails, where we want to make sure
the fingernail sits way up on the beginning of the top plane and not crowding the front plane.
If I do it like this, I’ve pinched it. Instead of having a full tubular-type
shape like this, I end up with something that pinches like this. So that’s the same logic
here. That’s why we have this—let’s do it with this. That’s why we have this
step down to the finger off the knuckle, onto the finger, stepping down like so.
That gives us—I won’t go through it for this short pose, but that’s why we have
this great overlap here. Look at where the webbing is way down here. Look at where the
insertion is of the knuckles finger way up in. And that way-up-inness tilts it this way.
Notice with each of these I’m drawing not only the hand, I’m drawing the connective
form, the wrist and even some of the forearm. That’s important. Don’t isolate. If you’re
going to just draw the thumb, draw some of the thenar eminence. If you’re going to
focus on the thumb and the thenar eminence, draw some of the hand that holds it. Always
be thinking of the integration of the idea back into that hole.
Again, that is the great value of the artist. We don’t just copy life. We don’t just
translate it, but we integrate. We say these pieces can come together in this beautiful,
exciting, challenging way. Now look at the beautiful flow, gesture between those knuckles.
That’s what I want to keep in mind here. One of the many things, I guess, I want to
keep in mind. If I just play up those shadows, let them stair-step around a little bit. That’s
going to help show the character, the separation of those fingers at a time I might not be
able to get a whole lot more information.
Now this nail is just giving us a bare end because it’s getting squished into that.
There is the pinching. Here is the insertion of that. There is the knuckle. Back, pinch,
pinch, pinch. So there we have it. I wouldn’t leave this drawing actually even if the teacher
told me to. What I’d do is I’d do something that brought the part back into the whole,
so a little bit of connective tissue there. Whatever it was, any or all of those things.
And you can see those lines if you pause it our look closely on our nice high-res images
here. You can see the texture coming through. And that can be just a beautiful, exciting
thing. It can be an important thing, actually, for your artwork.
But in terms of the learning curve, you know, if you’re new to it or you’re trying to
focus on one problem and don’t want a second problem it can intrude. So I tend to pick
materials when I’m teaching that aren’t disruptive. This is disruptive in two ways.
It has that texture, that pattern to it. And this is a brighter color. Notice as I go dark
how it kind of glows red. That’s a pretty color, but it’s also going to fight the
idea of shadow. Shadows are more or less the absence of light. That’s a simple way to
think of it, but a good way to think of it. And so the absence of light really means the
absence of color, and so when we have our shadows becoming a bright idea unless it’s
fully explained with that sunset beach or bright, rich, sunlit setup, that’s going
to be a little bit disruptive in terms of getting the idea of shadows down.
This is going to fight our shadows a little bit. So the aesthetics of it can fight the
functionality of it, is what I’m saying. I just took a really long time to say it,
I guess. One other thing. Look at this little fellow right here. There is the tendinous
connection for the index finger. Here is the tendinous connection for the middle finger,
and here is the tendinous connection for the ring finger. Here is the knuckle right there
for the base of that second phalange of the thumb, the third is hidden in here. At least
we’re calling it the third. It’s the metacarpal, but we’re going to call it the third sitting
there. You can even see the tendon right here. It comes all the way—and remember that has
three functions: It can go down so it can get around to grip. That works through this.
It can go straight back. That works through a tendon here. That can be pulled up and back,
and that’s that one. That’s what that is right there. That’s the up and back that’s
so beautifully highlight, powerfully highlighted there.
Now, in terms of creating a nice, beautiful, aesthetically pleasing compositionally attractive
finger, I’d play that down probably. I wouldn’t want it too strong because this part is going
to overwhelm the whole as all of these highlights are now doing. They’re making too big a
deal out of themselves. So, aesthetically I might want to play it down. But in terms
of the function that thing is working hard, and so it pops out. So part of our job as
anatomists—that is a hard word to say—is to not just see the muscles and copy the muscles,
but use the muscles that work for us aesthetically as well as functionally. So sometimes I’ll
take an anatomical form, and I’ll break it into more forms. Sometimes I’ll take
several anatomical forms, several muscles, let’s say, and I’ll integrate them into
one form. I’ll reduce them down because aesthetically that works better, or because
conceptually; trying to show work or kinetics or whatever,
that’s going to get the point across better.
So be careful about getting all excited about a detail. It’s important to think through
the detail, understand the detail, but don’t let the detail destroy the composition. Parts
in service of the whole are what we want. Notice how I’ve highlighted each of these
interesting features. In terms of analysis, it’s important probably that I do that,
to understand them, to think them through. But in terms of aesthetics, that’s not a
very good drawing now. We have all these lines fighting for attention, and it looks like
corrugated metal on a roof, in effect. It’s doing that rather than doing that. It’s
not showing the one or two big forms in relationship. It’s not showing the form of the thumb in
thenar eminence with the form of the hand butting up against it and behind it. It’s
now showing all this stuff instead.
Sometimes we get caught up with the little things. We miss the big picture, the big story.
This is—it’s a sin in a way, an aesthetic sin, because this is exactly our job. Everybody,
every layperson looks at every single detail or ignores every single detail, but they don’t
arrange the details. Our job is to arrange the details into a theme, into a bigger idea.
All the chapters of the book, all the scenes in the movie are playing up to some bigger,
more important point. All those little details, those little moments are really used as excuses
to talk about something bigger. So careful, careful on that stuff. Don’t let things—really
bright pencil, rough texture, focusing on detail, that equals bad drawing,
usually, bad art. So, watch it.
just go right over that texture. The texture will be a non-issue with it. If I use whites
it’ll have an issue for that, but the flow of ink just settles right into those crevices,
no problem at all. So that’s a nice choice if I don’t like that surface. Now I’ve
transcended the surface in a way, gotten past it.
Okay, notice I’m just ignoring the other one. We have another one or two double poses.
I’ll go ahead and work that. We can come back on a second go around and do the other
one instead, or we can do them both. There is no right answer with this. Don’t feel
like you’re being judged. This is your sketchbook, you’re learning time. This is just for you.
You don’t ever have to show this stuff to anybody, or you might end up with something
that you’re so proud of that you want to frame and send to a gallery. Either way is
absolutely fine. See all that connective work I did? Even the hatching across to get that
hand to come back into that wrist.
When I have extra time, even when it’s not very much extra time, I come back to the connection,
to the joint usually. If I had extra time in the thumb I’d come back to where this
section met this section or this section into that big egg structure there. I’d work on
that stuff. Notice too that as I add these little wobbles that gives us the idea of the
wave action. But the more important thing is to feel the internal, the fundamental gesture.
Not the wobbly gestural edge, the wave action edge of the contour. That’s absolutely fine
to put in, but it can’t be a substitute for this fundamental curve.
Okay, now I’m going to switch to Sharpies. Again, the Sharpie is—not quite as successfully
as the fountain pen—but the Sharpies will fight off this texture a little bit. They
are a bigger, cruder form, and they’re dried out so it’s going to be gray rather than
a sloppy, wet black. But it’s going to work through that texture for me. And it’s going
to be maybe something I can get a little more energy out of. Notice how that tendon for
the finger there is acting as a very nice corner for our connection, for our back of
the hand, I should say. That gives us a nice corner. Then if I can find gesture in those
pieces, great. The corners themselves wow out into the wrist, and to the hand wows out.
Notice those zigzags. Every time it zigs and zags it shows that those forms aren’t getting
along all that well. They’re struggling to show their own character. They’re not
submerging into the whole, and so that becomes a problem in terms of trying to compose the
whole thing maybe. It’s also an opportunity to show that beautiful characteristic and
to break past that isolated form and flow into the rest of it.
So I’m going to bump on through.
Notice what I did with that shadow shape. Basically, we’ve got a drumstick again.
We’ve got an egg with a stick coming out of it. That’s the knuckle joint of the thumb
with the second phalange protruding. What I’m going to do then is I’m going to think
of that ball or egg shape as a shaded egg. That’s how I’m going to be able to render
that more complex organic detail quickly, by conceiving of it simply. But the problem
with drawing that egg like that is what does this remind us of? It actually reminds us
of this idea. It starts to make the audience feel like a tube that we’re on top of. We
want to have it go this way. We want to be behind it, not on top of it. That’s why
I took that shadow and twisted it back that way.
If you look at the shadow shape, it doesn’t really do that, does it? I kind of stylized
that. I cheated. I screwed it up. But that screw-up, when you screw things up consistently
in a certain direction, or screw things up on purpose for a specific purpose, that’s
called a style. And so this is something that’s not unique to me in terms of style. Lots of
people do it. But by doing that, now I’ve reinforced that behindness. I’ve done one
other thing, by making it a wobbly shadow I’ve made it an organic shadow.
There is nothing in nature that’s perfect, generally. Well, maybe there is, but in terms
of perfect shapes it’s machine shapes, mechanical shapes that are perfect. The Earth is not
a perfect sphere. It’s a little lumpy actually. It’s a little distended. When we do things
that are perfect or near-perfect, it’s not as believable as we do things that wobble.
So, getting that wobbly contour rather than the perfect machine, getting the curves a
line that’s constantly evolving rather than a line that’s staying the same. That feels
more organic. It feels more sophisticated. It feels more complex. All those things are
to our advantage. It makes us look smarter than we really are, in other words.
If you look over at the reference, it actually did wobble, it just didn’t wobble this way.
It wobbled this way, like that. And so I cheated a little bit, for my purposes. I will do that
unceasingly, incessantly. I will wobble these things so that they reinforce my perspective
idea, taking an organic form that’s going against my perspective, twisting it back in
to my perspective, and just wobbling things so that they feel.
Notice how fun this ride is as we go from side corner of the hand through that tendon
into the tendinous connection of the wrist and forearm. Rather than just doing that or
just stopping dead, I’m going to take it and take you on a little adventure. It’s
going to be fun road trip. It feels more real, more grounded, more true, more dramatic, more
dynamic, and more stylish. It feels like a vision now of an artist that I want to listen
to, maybe, rather than just a copy of an image that has a certain aesthetic pleasantry about it.
Alright, so I'm going to go ahead and draw this. I like drawing on the paper oftentimes and
and drawing up against or other the top of other drawings. It’s a great way of hiding
a bad drawing. Remember, we didn’t like this drawing, did we, for all those reasons
we talked about. So now I’m going to get the opportunity to hide my lack of perfection.
You know, doggone it, somebody might catch me doing a bad drawing. You’re not supposed
to know that I do bad drawings. They’re not supposed to know that Michelangelo wanted
most of his drawings burned and destroyed, many of them himself, because he didn’t
want anybody to see his bad drawings. That’s not exactly true. At that time it was not
considered good form, or it really kind of destroyed the illusion of the finished masterpiece
to show the thought process. A lot of it was that, actually, but I’m going to use it
to bolster my argument here.
Nobody wants to be thought of as not doing things well. We want to make sure our hair
is combed and our socks match, and our artwork is perfect and incredible, and we’re the
greatest thing ever. And it’s just not true, but what can you do. Well, this is what you
can do. You can draw over the bad stuff. It grays down that garish color, and it kind
of is a nice color accent against that—
you can feel that flowing this way.
Notice that asymmetry.
It's so important to make sure each side looks a little different. It’s more interesting.
It’s more true because each side is—it’s either going to be either asymmetrical as
it is here; the thumb side is very different than the little finger side. Or, if it’s
a symmetrical thing going on, like from hip to hip, ear to ear, there can be a dynamic
difference. One side is working. The other side is relaxing. One side is in light. The
other side is in shadow. And so you can find the balance between it.
One of the interesting jobs we have or possibilities we have is playing the game of symmetry/asymmetry.
How do you play up the symmetrical idea, the fact that this hip has another hip over there,
that bilateral symmetry. While doing that, also show the difference. This hip is pushing
up and fighting gravity, and that hip is falling down and surrendering to gravity as they work
and relax. This hip is facing more directly into the light source.
That hip is turning away from the light source.
I’m constantly looking for, and you should be constantly be looking
for, and all artists are constantly looking for—if they know enough to do it—those
dynamic differences, the tension between the same and the different.
That’s storytelling too. In a love story the lover is the opponent. The woman is the
opponent of the man who wants to be with her or vice verse. They spend most of your story
fighting on some level. Yet, they end up becoming the connected couple by the end.
So, all art does that.
Being aware of those differences is key. One of the key concepts of aesthetics:
asymmetry and asymmetry. The same, as opposed to the difference, that’s drama. There is
no drama if there is no difference, and there is no drama if there is not some sameness.
If it’s so alien that you can’t understand it there is not much to say about it really.
That’s always a problem in science fiction. The science fiction race really can’t be
very different from the human race that they come in contact with, or we have major problems.
Or you just ignore, you can say they’re completely different, but we’re not going
to have an interaction. We’re just going to shoot them. Somebody is going to die first.
They’re going to either conquer us or we’ll conquer them, but there is going to be no
dialogue. There is going to be no understanding, no ethical argument. It’s just the bug raise.
That’s why that’s a trope in science fiction movies and pulp fiction books and stuff. The
bugs, you can’t get along. They’re just a group, and so you just have to kill them
off. Get them all is the idea. That’s not drama. That’s thrill ride.
I’m going to let the lights now bring in some energy and some connectivity, making those lights and
shadows integrate a little bit more, creating more movement and drama.
Alright, so let’s do our two hands here.
You can do one and then the other, or you can compose them. You can move them a little bit.
Let’s open it up just a touch maybe.
Let’s move it back just a touch, maybe, just because I like it that way, maybe or whatever.
You might have a deep, powerful strategy for doing that.
Maybe we’ll make it slightly bigger so it feels closer to us.
This will be slightly foreshortened, diminishing in size.
Unless this is a compositional thing that’s got other objects behind it, I won’t
measure out the fingers usually on these, especially if I’m in a hurry. I’ll just
wing it. I can always come back and correct it if I need to. Then I just let it be roughly
the size it wants to be. Again, if that doesn’t suite me I’ll come back since I’m drawing
light and correct it. This is going in here, in here, and in here.
That thumb is coming over the top.
Now I’m running out of time. I’m a little desperate, and I’m having to draw faster
than I had maybe planned here. That quite often happens. But look what happens: I’m
losing some of the proportions, some of the structure, a lot of the nuances, but I’m
getting more energy. By doing this sketch on a timed basis, by being a little out of
control of the situation, I might learn something about how to do a hand. That wobbly line that
creates that coupling contour with the other hand is kind of cool. It’s not real accurate.
You know it’s a little overdone maybe. But it’s created some energy that I can use
in my big mural commission where these hands are going to be six feet tall.
I wish I had that commission.
It’s a trade off, and it’s decision making. What am I going to give up?
I can’t have everything in life, and I can’t have everything in art. If I’m going to
have more value, I’m going to have less intensity in my color. If I’m going to have
more detail in my forms, I’m going to have less cohesion in my composition. So trading—what’s
the word I’m looking for? But giving up one thing to get something else. I’m not
going to watch the Superbowl. I’m going to draw, heaven forbid. By making that mature
choice, by realizing I can’t have everything all the time, what I do choose then is under
my control. Over time hopefully I’m rewarded by those decisions.
Alright, last one in our series.
One of the things we can learn from the old masters is
that symmetry/asymmetry idea I was talking about earlier. Notice how the thumb side’s
silhouette is very different from the little finger, the ulna side. That creates a nice
dynamic difference. Right off the bat, the audience, before they get into all the detail,
all my perfect rendering and my incredible anatomical understanding, my mastery of materials,
they see a nice design, an interesting design, a powerful design. And so looking for those
dynamic differences does a tremendous amount of work for you, and you don’t need as much
on top. So if you’re doing a quick sketch where you’re going to run out of time because
the model has to get to the next model gig or whatever, then this does some work for
you. It’s very useful. Or, if you’re going to spend 50 hours rendering this, you’re
going to be rendering over a design that’s well worth exploring. We do something that’s
just kind of generic. We pose the model in a certain way, or we settle with what the
lackluster environment gave us. We lose a little bit, lose an opportunity.
So as I come back and work these things after my initial lay-in, I correct the lay-in
a little bit. I double-check it and say that should be a little longer. Those fingers need
to be less foreshortened. You kind of build everything up together. You do your gesture
structure. Then you come back, refine the gesture structure. Then you start to build
the rendering, the detailed smaller structures, and then you refine the bigger structure again
based on that. I’m going to build that out again, correct it for a third time. A lot
of it is being patient, showing the discipline to be patient.
I’m having to bring this tendinous connection up in higher. Notice how the sides
of the tube are going to come up way up into that rather than be down here so that I feel
that intrusion, that insertion there. That overlap, interlock, I should say.
The shadows turn the form, and the anchor the form. The cast shadow anchors the form, saying this
is a mass, a solid. It’s part of the Earth. It comes back down to the Earth and anchors
and has weight. You’re not going to feel the weight of a thing nearly as much if you
don’t have those strong cast shadows. You’ll see with still life artists. Still life artists,
traditionally, they would use heavy cast shadows. William Merritt Chase and such. Heavy cast
shadows that anchor. Oftentimes, they’d have them fall into darkness behind.
There is a concept with that. Oftentimes, the Renaissance still lifes were rotting still lifes.
Part of it was functional. They didn’t have to keep buying fresh fruit for those long, warm
summers of painting, but also it was the concept of death, of things decaying and dying. Still
lifes were a allegory on the fleeting nature of life.
Knowing I’m going to use the white,
I do less work with the darks. If you’re not using a white pencil or chalk, then you’d
want to do more with the darks.
Okay, so now I hope that gives you some ideas to work with. None of these drawings
are perfect. None of the drawings I’ve ever done in my life or you’ll ever do in your
life in your perfect. But they’ll have a certain energy, or they’ll have a certain
analysis behind them, or just a certain something. The fact is art, I think, shouldn’t be perfect.
Art is really about having a personality, having a quirky point of view. We love the
characters, the odd characters in the story. We love the puppy dog with the two big feet
and the floppy ears and the off-balance walk. It’s that individual element, how that quirky
something relates back into life. That’s what we really covet and savor, and that’s
what we’re after in art. We don’t want you to perfectly show us how life is. We get
plenty of that every day. What we want is some quirky, some individual, some profound
or wise, some something that gives us a point of view about life that we hadn’t quite
had before. What we really want is for the artist to be the teacher.
And so go out and teach yourself, and when you teach yourself something that excites
you, you’re going to teach the rest of the world too. You’ll teach me. You’ll teach
everybody else. And I look forward to seeing that. What I encourage too, just on a practical
note, look at this lecture more than once. Look at the information more than once. Have
it in the background as you’re working. Just immerse yourself. See where you disagree.
Well, I’d do something different. That, I hate that. I don’t like that. I’d do
this very different. Or that one thing, that one mark he made, I’m going to take that.
I’m going to steal it from him because I’m absolutely sure he stole it from somebody else.
Well, that was our hand lesson. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you got a lot of it. I
firmly believe if you come back to that lesson several times you’ll get even more. There
is so much to learn that you’re not going to get it in one go-around. Let’s do it
several times. We’ll see you in the next lesson, and I hope you have fun.
Free to try
1. Lesson overview50sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. The structure and gesture of the hand and arm14m 16s
3. The hand/wrist connection17m 30s
4. The back of the hand and structure of the thumb14m 58s
5. The fingers14m 1s
6. Characteristics of the thumb11m 6s
7. Variations of fingernails20m 32s
8. The hand/finger transition15m 38s
9. "Steps" from the wrist to the hand, from the hand to the fingers12m 48s
10. Large-sized demonstration of hand and its characteristics15m 47s
11. Old Master Analysis: Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci22m 7s
12. Old Master Analysis: Michelangelo15m 12s
13. Old Master Analysis: Michelangelo, Fechin21m 30s
14. Old Master Analysis: Dürer16m 46s
15. Old Master Analysis: Dürer, Rigaud17m 11s
16. Old Master Analysis: Pontormo, van Dyck11m 25s
17. Old Master Analysis: Rubens, Raphael11m 32s
18. Assignment1 : Female Hands18m 18s
19. Assignment 1: Female Hands, continued20m 46s
20. Steve's Approach to Assignment 119m 32s
21. Steve's Approach to Assignment 1, continued16m 31s
22. Steve's Approach to Assignment 1, continued17m 39s
23. Assignment 2: Male Hands18m 14s
24. Assignment 2: Male Hands, continued20m 45s
25. Steve's Approach to Assignment 216m 11s
26. Steve's Approach to Assignment 2, continued12m 28s
27. Steve's Approach to Assignment 2, continued11m 41s
28. Steve's Approach to Assignment 2, continued23m 2s