- Lesson Details
Our Daily Life Drawing Sessions are free timed reference videos that allows artists to practice figure drawing from images of life models. Now, we’ve taken this popular resource and put a new twist on them — demonstrations from your New Masters Academy instructors! In this first installment in the series, master artist Steve Huston draws along with you, working from Daily Life Drawing Sessions #1 through #5. Steve shares his thoughts on these poses and shows how the fundamentals of gesture and structure apply equally from medium to medium. To maximize your learning experience, we encourage you to work from the drawings sessions yourself first so that you can compare your drawing decisions with those of Steve.
- CarbOthello – Burnt Sienna
- Sharpie Marker
- Z-Grip Retractable Ballpoint Pen
- Drawing Paper
figure drawing from images of life models.
Now we’ve taken this popular resource and put a new twist on them: Demonstrations from
your New Masters Academy instructors. In this first installment in the series master artist
Steve Huston draws along with you working from Daily Life Drawing Sessions 1-5.
Steve shares his thoughts on this poses and shares how the fundamentals of gesture and structure
equally apply from medium to medium.
To maximize your learning experience, we encourage you to work from the drawing sessions yourself
first so that you can compare your drawing decisions to those of Steve.
one. What we want you to do is draw through the session on your own first. Then follow
me through and I’ll give you my tidbits and bits of wisdom. It’s really on you,
though. You need to draw from this and draw from it often, but each one you can go back
to again and again and again. They’ll always be new things to look at, new possibilities
to learn from. So I hope you have fun with it, and I’ll see you on the drawing page.
Today what I’m working on is ledger paper. You can use bond. You can use any of the papers
you’d like to use, any scrap paper. It doesn’t really matter. I’m using today CarbOthello
and it’s 645, which is a nice brown color. Now, real quickly, when I use the CarbOthello,
I’m going to hold it like this. You may be more comfortable holding it like this.
Either way is fine. I would not recommend you hold it like this. Here you’re going
to dig in with the point. You’re going to draw hard and sharp and dark.
If you make a mistake you’re stuck with it.
You’re going to break pencil leads, although I do that even like this.
Here I’m using my whole arm to draw. I get more looseness out of here. These are going
to be short poses so I’m not looking for fine accuracy, meaning catching the contour.
I’m getting the general truth of the pose, the general sweep of the pose, and I find
I can get it better this way. So experiment. Try what you’re comfortable with. This is
the way I’m going to do it. If I want to get a soft line for maybe a core shadow that
I’m going to blend into. I’ll do it like that. If I want a sharp, more of a contour-style
line, I’ll turn the pencil in the direction of the stroke, draw it that way. Tending to
draw light first and going darker later.
That being said, let’s go ahead and start on Session One. I’m going to do the left
side pose, and you can take your pick. And here we go.
So I’m just looking for the simplest possible shape I can come up with of the shape that’s
most characteristic. I only have a minute, and so I’m breathing heavy here trying to
get through this scared I’m not going to finish. Don’t worry about that. You don’t
have to finish. You do as much as you can making it ring true based on what you’re
looking at and notice as I draw my figure is going to go off the page.
Don’t try and pull it back and put little feet down here.
Let it just flow right off the page.
Better to make my mistakes by making each shape too big as I roll rather than too small.
As I have a little more time I come back and pick up a little more detail or correct as I go.
Pose number two. Simplest and most characteristic shape I can pick up with, and you’ll notice
that you’ll kind of, you’ll get in halfway through the session, and then you start warming up.
I’d recommend actually sketch this, go through the session yourself once or twice
or twenty times, and then look at the way I’m doing it and see how we agree or disagree.
What works in my method you might not have thought of. Notice I’m getting the long
axis. I’m not getting much in terms of 3-dimensional forms. I don’t have time for that.
And this is a fairly flat in the picture plane kind of pose. She is not going in or out of the page.
I’m using the left-side pose.
I’m going to do a real small one here, relatively small at least.
I’m going to spend a little more time on the head this time. That’s going
to hurt me in terms of getting the rest of drawing done all the way down to the toes,
but I have a better fitting head now, more characteristic of not just a generic head
but a little closer to her head. Notice that as I work on this I might end up getting caught
up in detail I shouldn’t have or getting baffled by an area, and it slows me down.
And so again, I’m trying not to put pressure on myself to finish it. That’s just going
to make me rush and misdiagnose, make mistakes.
I’m going to do the left-side pose again.
Sometimes you want to kind of take a breath and get to know the pose.
Look at the pose you’re drawing. I drew that head with
several lines, several curves, several circles, eggs. That gave me a chance to slow down and take
in the whole pose. Actually, as I was drawing that head I was looking over and kind of
planning my strategy for the rest of it.
I’m always looking for the longest line down, and if
I have more time I’ll come back and get a better connection between those two major
structures or two major gestures, so that the overall connectivity works.
Okay, pose number five. It’s okay just to draw right over an old drawing. Sometimes
I’ll design them so I’m drawing over an area I goofed up, I wasn’t happy with on
the old drawing. But I try and kind of have a sense, just more intuitive, but have a sense
of the composed page. If I have a strong perspective—there’s a little bit of perspective there
I'll spend a little time on the end, end of the structure to get that to work there and maybe
even get a little bit of the grounding there.
Now, this next series of poses I’m going to use a Sharpie. I love Sharpies. What I
do is I get them and I use them for, you know, marking packages and stuff, but when they
start to get older they get dried out. And you can see this is kind of dirty. They’ve
been well used. Then I have a nice dark mark. If we look down here and see—now that’s
a gray line. I said a dark mark. It was a gray line. I could push it darker, but it
works almost like a pencil or the CarbOthello used in the earlier poses, but I can’t erase
it and it doesn’t smear. And so I’m committed to it. It has a different feel. It flows nicely
on a smooth paper. It works not quite as well as on a rougher paper. So in general in these
sketching sessions, I’d suggest a smoother paper so you’re not fighting the texture.
But this works beautifully, and there are all sorts of different markers you can use.
But let’s switch to that now.
Alright, now we have a two-minute, so let’s get started here.
So I’m going to slow down a little bit.
I have twice as much time. Two minutes isn’t much, goodness knows, but
I’ve got more time to work out not just the simple shape, but a character.
You're trying to in some way, not really tell a story. I’m not big on storytelling in art. I want
the audience to come and look at the piece of work and tell their own story. But I want
to give it a character, a personality, a uniqueness that’s my figure or more of a portrait in
the way that is this figure. You can see how this is a more fluid mark, and it’s affecting
the way I draw. As you pick and choose your mediums, it’s going to change your technique,
the personality of your work. Hopefully not the complete style of it. You don’t want
to be a chameleon, probably. But it is going to affect it, and you’ll find that some
mediums affect it for the good and some for the not so good, and you’ll pick and choose
based on that. Notice how I can do the same side of the pencil or side of the marker in
this case to pick up my shadow shapes, and the shadow shape I’m treating really is
a long axis moved down. It’s creating a bit of a corner—not a bit, a strong corner across.
So in two minutes we get quite a bit. Notice the screw-up here. It got too big as
it went down, but that’s a much better mistake than making it too small.
Okay, right side. I’m going to do a little tiny one here. Right-side drawing.
Change the sizes up. Otherwise, you get really good at drawing 10-inch figures, and if you have
to paint a 25-inch figure you end up having big trouble. Better to work in various sizes.
You’ll find real advantages and disadvantages in the mediums you’re using and the technique
you’re using and just the way you like to work, your familiarity, all that kind of stuff.
And those are problems you want to have to work through.
Sometimes I go, God, I have some extra time. Let me redo that head and see if I can do
a better head. In this case I’ll change sizes so you can see it. There are those ears.
I kept wanting to draw in more of a profile for some reason. Not looking at my reference
but assuming is the problem. So now I’ve taken a moment to analyze. You’ll notice
old masters do that a lot. They draw their main drawing, and they’ll go off of the
side of the paper and work out at a particularly difficult area.
Redesign it, study it, all that kind of stuff.
Alright, another two-minute. This one has a little bit of perspective. She’s coming
out of the paper headfirst, out of the picture plane. Again, getting something nice and simple
and yet characteristic of her position, her proportions, her character. A lot goes a long
way with the hairstyle. You can use the hairstyle to give a sense of the character. Is it a
ponytail? Is it a buzz cut? You know, whatever it is.
In this case we have the faux hawk, a fun shape to deal with.
Drawing through, feeling through the connection...
making those long lines curved so we feel the life of the pose. Your graceful living quality to your
art is going to be dependent by vast majority on that long axis curve.
That's where the life is. If you get that, you’ve got life in your artwork. If it gets stiff it’s going
to feel like a Frankenstein. Feel that gesture on the long side. Measure on the short side.
There’s the pinch of the hip. So there’s the hip turning there and coming back this way.
It’s going to come on out. Again, I can measure on the short side here. Feeling
it, knowing which way to screw up. Make it too long rather than too short. Make several lines.
I don’t have time to measure that. I’ll do six or seven lines and let the audience choose it.
a new way to draw an eye socket or an ear or a face shape because you’re kind of rushing.
Don’t leave the area until it has some ring of truth to it.
Gets the overall message across, points that you want.
Don’t worry about drawing right over the other. It adds energy to it. Gives that nice feel.
I’ve sold many a pages to collectors because they covet that energy.
Oftentimes a finished piece is carefully worked out. The technique is carefully executed, but it
sits a little flat. It doesn’t have the juice that a sketch can have. A sketch is
that idea, that energy, that dynamic excitement, the moment where you have the inspiration.
Things come out that you didn’t plan but are better for that lack of planning, that
intuitive solution rather than the premeditated same way you draw it all the time. All those
kinds of things. Sketching helps you learn but also helps you discover. You can learn
exactly how to draw this or that body part, but you can also discover
fresh ways to get there, and that’s fun.
Alright, here we go again, another deep perspective. So I’m really just stacking the balls on
this. There’s a ball of the head. There’s going to be the ear. It’s placing. There’s
a bunch of stuff in the way, so I’m going to draw through all the hands and arms in front
of the bigger body part, which is the shoulder girdle.
Then we have that cuff hand coming up and in, knuckle line, fingers,
that’s about all we’ll have time to do in such a short pose.
This goes behind, here lays over.
I’m just going to take a line out just to give that sense of movement past.
Okay, that might take all my two minutes.
That might take five or ten minutes. But if you have more time you take it further.
Stack the rib cage behind that. The hips and the thigh behind that. This angle of the thigh
coming off that rounded hip, one of the few times where we see a stiff, straight body
part on the body. That constructed tube is stiff and straight, I made the shadow on the
thigh a little more curved. Give a little life in there. Coming back now and kind of
taking the time to develop these shapes a little more firmly, the connectivity a little
more clearly showing some of the shadow shapes casting across.
So notice I’m depending on those long axis lines, simple shapes, connected pinches,
shadow shapes to kind of tie it in and give it some texture and a little bit of form.
Alright. Pose 11, five minutes. Here we go. Now, I’m just going to feel that hip. That’s
the biggest form that’s closest to me. Head, ribcage, hips. I’m looking for those to
start. Those are the foundation shapes of the body. The limbs are add-ons. They articulate
off the body or help to support the body. So I’m going to draw the hip and the thigh,
feel a little bit of that positioning of the calf coming off.
This other leg is coming down here and flowing back this way. Notice those long graceful curves,
and depending on that to say this thing is alive. It’s not mechanical. It’s not fixed.
It’s holding that position for a moment. When the moment is gone it will be gone too.
So you’re depending on the audience being sophisticated. They’re going to know a lot
about this stuff just intuitively. They couldn’t sit down and talk, articulate, but they sense it.
They’ll know better sometimes than an expert or like I said, just a cheekbone feels funny.
Or if you get somebody who’s got the theory out, and they’ll get their calipers
and say, “No, it measures out right, but the audience will feel it.”
We're trying to get that feel. That emotional truth which is what art is so good at.
Not the literal truth, not the analysis, not the facts, but the emotion.
That's how we really connect to things is emotionally.
You know even news is even based on emotion oftentimes. You know, it’s more powerful.
We’re feeling that torso coming back and then I’m going back to my hip.
Get that connectivity in there.
I’m going to come back on top of that thigh, pull that down and feel just simply,
I’m just going to simplify that front of the leg.
Sometimes I’ll have trouble and I’ll say, what am I really after here? Let’s just do a simpler version
of what I’m seeing. That is what it is simply. So that’s what I did there, just to simplify.
It’s still going to ring true because it speaks to the simpler form even though it’s
missing some of the bells and whistles, missing that kneecap structure.
It's just dealing with the thigh structure. But it gives us the guts of it, the essence of it, and that’s
all we need in these short poses, and we can always build on top of that like a sculptor
to add the more sophisticated secondary truths or the subplot to our story or however you want to think of that.
Going away, cast shadows are a great chance to give us a contour to feel we fall off the
calf and onto the knee structure, and then we’re coming back over. Notice, I drew the
shadow shape first, and now I’m going to come back and build a structure on top of that.
So I change the order of how I go, but generally what I’m looking for is gesture
structure, two-dimensional structure, then, if I have time, three-dimensional structure.
It’s nice to get a little shadow in there to anchor it.
Notice the natural vignetting that was happening there.
You know, in here I didn’t put any dark lines.
That will actually help to show the hips closer if I make this a little stronger in technique.
This weaker--it will help fade back into the midst of the distance. Okay, there we go.
Okay, so we got this long sweep here going over, but I want to start with that head.
If I start with that body with that head in that tough position, I’ll never get the
head to fit on there. So generally I’m going to start with the head first. It’s what
the audience will look at first in your artwork, just like you look someone in the eye in the
face when you talk to them, when you greet them, or you look to see their expressions
as you approach them to get a read on them. Are they friendly? Dangerous? That kind of
stuff. Same thing is going to happen with our artwork with our audience. They’re going
to look to that head first, so let’s get that working. If the figure is a story, this
is the first chapter of our story. It may or may not be the most important chapter,
but it is the first chapter.
So I’m doing a lot of work on that because it’s a difficult spot that it’s in. It’s
upside down, and that’s hard. It’s out of position of what we’re used to. The more
upright the form is, the easier we can understand it usually because we’re more familiar.
Here’s that far shoulder blade structure. I’m going to right through that head to
feel that. And it may or may not correspond—I can see the arm comes out near the eyebrow
line, the bottom of the forehead. If I miss that a little bit it won’t matter because
I’ve flowed through. Always go back to the source even if that source is interrupted.
The jointed connection generally is what that means. If you goof it up as oftentimes you
will on these things in terms of proportions and such, it’s still going to ring true
because it has that movement back, that connectivity here going through. So we feel from this point
to this point it’s going to ring true to us even if it’s out of whack a little bit.
Notice we have a lot of curves, a lot of eggs in here. I’m going to quiet all that stuff
down with a stiffer, straighter shadow. I can afford to put in a straight because of
show much curvilinear action going on.
Oftentimes in these really quick poses I’m also planning kind of fundamental designs
around the square, simple to complex. I’m trying to compose as I draw. In other words,
I’m not at the mercy of the material. It’s raw material for what I want to talk about.
So I’ll grab the components there, and I’ll play things up, and I’ll play things down
based on what I’m interested in talking about. You know, I love that pinch. I love
that simplicity. I love the long lines. I love the light and shadow, whatever that is
that motivated you to draw the piece.
And of course, in these kind of planned sessions you oftentimes don’t get to choose the reference.
You’re kind of stuck with the reference. But what attracts you to drawing figures?
Is it the life in them? Is it the supple beauty? Is it the complex of forms?
Try and speak to that on some level.
How do you reduce something down like a foot to a line? Maybe it’s just
the stop sign for the piece, and so I don’t give any sense of the arch of the foot. Maybe
this is a stop sign, but I need to have a sense of that third dimension, that corner
of the Achilles tendon back on the top of that box because it’s at an obtuse angle.
It demands a little more structured explanation.
So you work those things out as best you can, and you might well spend the two minutes just
working there, just figuring that out, coming over here and playing with it and drawing
it six or seven times. The lovely thing about this reference is that you can go back to
it many times. If you’re doing it just once you’re not taking advantage. Do it many
times. Live it, dream about it. Have it on your computer even though you’re working
on something else so you glance at it from time to time. Live and breathe this stuff.
So repetition is the method for mastery, and that’s what we’re trying to do with all
these kind of courses. You’re immersed the subject. You’re not just exposed to it.
pen. Let’s get started. Now on the pen, notice I can go light or I can go dark.
Very cheap. It brings up a point. You don’t have to have the artist materials to be an artist.
You can pick up whatever you got. A chunk of charcoal—get a burnt log out of the campfire.
You can draw with anything. In this case I’m just getting a cheap pen. It would be a throwaway
anyplace else, and I can draw. This happens to be a nice bond-based paper, ledger paper.
It can be any kind of art store paper, but it also just be, scrap paper from the printer,
a notepad, back of an envelope, whatever it is.
So anyway, we’re going to draw with this. It’s a more delicate tool, so that’s going
to affect. It’s not going to have the broad, blunt effect that a marker would have. It’s
not going to have the rich tones and the soft lines and soft marks that a charcoal pencil
would have. It’s going to be a little different, so we will adapt to that as we draw. If I
start putting in a lot of tones it’s going to slow me down. If I have one, two, or five-minute
poses that’s going to be problematic. But we’ll do a little bit of tone with it, and
it’s going to give me a lot of fun to play with. I love sketching with these. Notice
how light I can go. If I start out nice and light then I correct. I can choose the line
that’s closest. I can render over that line. It doesn’t get in the way, and I don’t
have to erase. Of course, with this I can’t erase.
So let’s get started. Pose number one. I’m going to use the left hand pose. Here we go.
Here’s the head.
The arm is in the way. I’m not worrying about exactly how it fits on the page.
You know after you’ve drawn three or four of these you’ll have a sense
of where it should be in terms of size if you want to get the whole figure. I don’t
care about that. I’m just trying to make it ring true and pick up the essence of that
with the time I have. I’m distilling it down. I’m translating it. The great power
of the artist is to translate the information, not to copy it. These quick sketches force
you to do that. You can’t capture the stuff. There’s no time. You have to translate,
put down an idea in place of the stuff.
Here we go. Again, I’m not going to worry about whether my drawings overlap. In fact,
some of that is charming when I have a full page with all these dramatic, dynamic drawings.
I might get bogged down in an area trying to get that head just right.
You know, the quirky difficult perspective of it or the charming character of the personality I’m
drawing, whatever it is. If I spend a whole minute right there, that’s okay. Whatever
I’ve done, I’ve done the best I can. Not in terms of technical rendering but in terms
of seeing it, translating it, capturing it, and everything else is gravy. Have your priority.
Know why you’re working the way you’re working. What are you really trying to get?
You’re not trying to make it real. You’re trying to capture its essence.
Okay, left side pose. I didn’t get as far as I wanted last time, so this time I’m going to speed it up.
Notice as we draw these quick poses if I’m choosing a pose that
is fairly flat to the picture plane, nothing is coming strongly at me. It’s going to
go quicker. Notice I get that whole arm and hand, just the essence of it, pretty quick.
Whereas this one is coming out at me here, I got to build that up. It’s trickier, takes
more work. I have to put in more visual cues there.
I’m throwing that leg back more dramatically to exaggerate it, but also to keep it on the page.
Pinches, I’ll come back and really do a squiggle to show that pinching dynamic.
Okay, here we go again. I’m going to put this one over here.
I want to feel those pinching moments, so the neck is pinching against the trapezius, the shrugging muscle.
That is swinging up this way. That long lazy arm. Better to make it way too long than a little too short
because that’s showing that dynamic action, that follow through, that flow. It’s making
sure that I’m not making the body too big or too small for the head. I’d much rather
have a little head and a big body than the reverse. I’d much rather the legs were a
little too big for the torso, the lower legs a little too big for the upper legs. As I
go down the body better to make that error of increase rather than decrease.
It's better, more grand mistake. It just looks more heroic that way. There we go.
Okay, here we go.
Notice as I show that little ear if I make it close to the front of the face I instantly get the feeling
that we’re back behind that head. So that ear placement
gives us a ton of information. Very, very useful. We have a heroic figure here, a well-muscled guy.
That shoulder girdle needs to sit on top of that rib cage.
He has that hip swinging back into the leg,
and here’s the supporting leg coming down through.
If I had to I’d even do a straight line to show that pillar of support there.
That’s kind of a through line you may stick in there.
Alright, two minutes. I have twice as much time to make
twice as many mistakes. Don’t try and pack in twice as much information. Try and do the
same amount of information as the one-minute pose, but do it better. Slow down.
Then you will end up with a little extra time at the end probably to add stuff. But most of the
time I’m going to spend my extra time, my extra minute making better connections.
Notice when comparing this to this I’m doing a better job of showing that shoulder girdle.
And then this swings down this way. This is balling up here because that arm is coming back towards
us in this really lovely dynamic. I’m going to spend some time picking that up.
Get a little bit of the elbow. Hand is not important to the pose, so I am just going to let it
poop out on us down at the wrist. Here is again that dynamic pinch here.
This is also coming back a little bit this way.
Adjusting my gesture, refining the gestures, and refine the gesture.
Here is my supporting leg, and here is the leg breaking off.
It's a balancing act basically. I don’t have a lot of time, so I’m just making a long,
lazy curve destroying the connectivity between the upper and lower leg, but it gives us that
pillar of support and the overall flow of information hat we were after.
You kind of pick your battles, and you have to give up one thing to get another.
Alright, here we go. We have the crouching figure. The thing I like about this is we’ve
got this springing action going on here.
He’s coiled up ready to take off. Arm is going
this way. The body is in here, and we have this zigzag from torso to hip to thigh to
shin, a zigzag. That’s energy waiting to explode, potential energy.
That’s good stuff to work with.
I’m going to keep this much looser. I’m just going to kind of flow with energy.
Notice that none of my corners, none of my connections are particularly strong here.
That can create some really dynamic stuff. It can be really useful to build into
your more careful, sometimes even tortured technique for your finish.
It can also screw you up.You’ll end up making mistakes.
Doing some of these things where you don’t really commit:
Notice there are several lines for every one line. That again, plays up the
energy theme. It’s also probably destroying a real solid connectivity, so it is going
to feel a little bit influx, and that influx feeling might make it feel like it’s wrong.
Or, it might give it a little bit of vibration. Oftentimes in my painting I’ll do three
or four contour lines for every one line, in some of the key areas, anyway.
That will suggest movement in the piece.
Then if you have the time--We’re out of time pretty much here.
If I had the time I would come back and work out those connections a little better.
Alright, here we go again. Now in this one I’m going to make much more careful decisions,
and the more carefully I want to plot something out the slower I’m going to go.
I'm not going to get as far.
And in the more corners. Notice the corners I’m drawing here.
The more corners I’m going to put in because the corners are plot points. They’re landmarks.
They’re connective tissue where one thing ends and something else begins, or where one
things turns from its front to its side, its top to its front, that kind of thing.
And so I've got a lot of information going on there,
and that means more solidity, more confidence
for the audience, but also more places I can goof up. I’ve committed and so there could
be some real mistakes going on too if I’m not careful. So I need to slow down. Sometimes
I’ll lay in those shadow shapes to give some of that dynamic. Look at the beautiful
zigzag pattern down the spine and the shoulder blade. It really gives a feeling in that arm
thrusting off this way, so that becomes important. That might be the key moment in the whole
painting when I do my big finish. I never really got to get to the legs here.
I just ran of time. So maybe I’ll just do something like that to give a sense, and maybe I run
out of time. Or maybe it’s not important to me. That pose wasn’t about that. It was
about the shoulder girdle. Maybe that’s where I wanted to play it up.
Now, notice too we have some interesting things going on. I could start picking up a theme
in these kind of little sketches. Notice how if I go from this arm through the shoulder
girdle. We have all this articulation that I hinted at. But through it notice that connection
there, and then this here. And then maybe the hips go this way. Then the buttocks goes
this way. And so we have this drooping and rising. Maybe the hairline and the hairstyle
or the skull shape, tops of the ears, the pinch of the neck go over, binds at the shoulder.
Notice how this whole piece could end up being this to this kind of thing. That becomes a
shape theme or a linear theme. They could fuel a whole painting or a series of paintings.
I could do a whole art show, a gallery one-man show based on just those rhythms. I wouldn’t
have probably found those if I had been doing my three-hour charcoal rendering, or my 25-minute
careful construction drawing. When you’re working fast like this sometimes you end up
stuck with things that are just okay or not as they could be or almost there.
Good practice, but I’ll be better next year kind of stuff.
Other times you come up with ideas that can fuel a career. So working fairly quick—this
was more careful, but it was still reducing things down to their essence, distilling it
down. That distillation process is incredibly valuable for us artists. If you get stuck
in just a rendering mode all the time you miss those opportunities to put personality in it.
If you put personality in it, that’s your style showing through, and that style
is really what we’re paying you for. That’s what we’re going to pay the big bucks for your work for.
You’re going to show us how to see the figure in a way nobody else has, maybe, if we're lucky.
That crouch, that coiled power. So sometimes when you talk yourself through it give it
an adjective. Give it an active verb. It’s coiled. It’s powerful. It’s about to attack.
It’s explosive. Things that suggest visuals.
What I’m really trying to do here is…Well, I’m trying to do a bunch of things.
This is art so it’s never easy. But one of the things I’m trying to do is to get used to
the body shapes. What does the human body have in character. There’s a certain character
of the shapes that is of a kind. You’re not going to get certain oddball things.
You're going to get consistent egg shapes. Two eggs together is a bean bag. Long, simple curves.
Long, lazy, complex curves. Rounded corners or wobbled corners. Pinching, things binding
up and then flowing out. The dark side, a light side. Certain value range. Notice how
dark his hair in the background is compared to the shadows on the flesh.
Learning that the fluid quality of the simplified shapes, the fluid quality of a the simplified or carefully
rendered contours is the same fluid quality of the shadow shapes. And so no matter what
I’m working with--the negative shapes, the positive shapes, they’re all going to be
in that same wheelhouse, that same theme.
Let’s draw this one a little smaller just to mix things up.
Think of a baseball player. How many times does a really competent baseball player swing
a bat in a career? Swing a bat in a week? Is it twice?
How many times are you drawing the figure in your career?
How many times do you allow yourself to draw the figure in a week?
If you’re not drawing it like an athlete practices it, you’re not going to
have that excellence. So these sessions are to give you the means. Maybe you don’t
have the budget, but now you have the means to practice, to get better. That’s what we want.
The more artists we get in this world, the better the world is going to be. I believe that.
We need artists for all sorts of important reasons that you probably know as well as I do.
So join in. Take responsibility for your career and have fun with it. It can be
frustrating trying to learn, but what a joy to capture the truth of something.
We need more of that. What is the essence of this figure? In the simplest, most grandiose eloquently,
the most dynamic, the most furious, whatever adjective you want to put onto your art and
your career, the chance to develop that personality is right here, right now. That’s what these
are for. You want to do it every week. Maybe you can’t do it every day, but you want
to do it most days. You’re doing it now, so good for you.
Alright, now we’re going to do five minutes, a couple five-minutes here. I have five times
as long as my one-minute. Try going five times as slow. That’s maybe a little exaggeration.
We’re going to get further in our five-minute than we would in our one-minute, but I’m
going to do a more sophisticated head, more characteristic. Maybe not a terrific likeness,
but a general characteristic of a strong featured young man with a certain hairstyle and maybe
even a certain attitude. The more specific I can get with that the better. Not carving
out the exact shape of the eyelids, that kind of specific, but specific in terms of the
overall, the general character. A stronger chin.
It gives me that get-to-know-it period.
If you are lucky enough to do your artwork over your lifetime, over an adult lifetime
you’ll end up with periods where you’ll draw a model maybe for 10-15 years, and you
really get to know that model, the shapes, the character, the poses, what flatters that
model in terms of exaggerating or playing down. But if you haven’t drawn that model
before then slow down on the first few drawings and get to know it. It’s like a party where
you meet someone new. You want to take your time and ask some of the same old questions
you would with any new personality so you can get to know how they compare to that kind
of ideal or a stereotype you have in your head. Then start to see how they vary from
that, how they’re a little different. How are they more interesting or less interesting
than the typical or your typical model? So that’s what we’re doing here. I’m going
to go a little slower here, pretending I’ve never drawn this model before.
Notice how I’m chasing the proportion there with that 2nd line trying to decide which
place it should be, and I won’t know which is right or if either are right until I do
a little more connectivity. Notice how it’s gapped here. When I have gaps I’m less sure
of how it fits together. When things connect, when I draw through the field of solid work
more on those connective joints, and in this case a shoulder girdle armpit as it plays
into that ribcage. Maybe some of the shadow shape coming down.
I can feel that oblique, the pinch of that oblique.
Then that gives me a better sense of where that hip is. Finding that hip is always a tricky thing.
If I don’t get it just right the legs feel short and cramped or long and disconnected.
Neither one is what I want.
Notice how I’m spending a little more time on that connection again.
I know I’m not gonna finish these sketches, so I don’t put that pressure on myself.
I do as much as I can in the time that I’m given, and then I blame the teacher or company
that put it out if I don’t succeed. You want to just take your time even though it’s
only one minute or only five minutes. You get just an ear maybe first. Maybe the first
year you never get past the head and shoulders.
Notice how I can use that ink in that cheap ballpoint pen I have to kind of anchor the form
and mark off some of the key areas there that are important to what I’m doing.
Now there will be other times where you don’t like the whole pose. Actually, I do this whole
pose but you don’t like it, or you don’t have the time, or you’re intimidated.
I've never drawn the figure before, I’ve only been drawing for a year. Or I’ve only been
drawing for 50 years in my case. In whatever case there are going to be times where you’re
not comfortable with the whole material. You’re not interested in doing the whole material.
So that means maybe five minutes I just spend working on the head and the shoulder girdle.
I really love the head, shoulder girdle, and how that flows into the chest and shoulder
carriage and the ribs below that. The lower body I’m not, it’s okay. I’m not as
enamored with it. The whole pose rings well, but that section of the pose is less interesting
to me than that upper part. So I’m going to stick with that upper part.
That takes some of the pressure off.
Notice how carefully I’m coordinating my connections. I found my chin. I found my ear.
Chin goes into the jaw line. Chin and jaw line give me the Adam’s apple and the
sternocleidomastoid—the dumbest name in anatomy—down to the pit of the neck there.
That’s a strong connection,
and it has a good chance of being pretty accurate because I did a lot of work to find it.
I might spend all five minutes just working on that.
Notice how when I slow down and really put it together--
I was about to say piece it together, but that would be a bad term.
I don’t want to piece it together. I want the whole thing to be a complete, cohesive
piece of art even though it’s just a sketch. There is no such thing as “just a” in art.
It can be loose. It can be inaccurate. It can be wild. It can be experimental. But
it’s always potentially a masterpiece. Don’t sell it short. Do the best you can in the
time you have. Simplify your technique. Edit out detail. Be aware of the limits of your
materials, all that kind of stuff, but never “just.” It’s never “just” something.
It’s always potential energy waiting to explode on the world and maybe change the world.
Maybe I’m going to play up this shadow side over here. There are some tones over on the
other side. But I want to play up this pinching dynamic. I’m going to let this kind of zigzaggy
ragged shadow pattern help suggest that zigzagginess of this pose.
And that shoulder is interesting to me.
I’m going to come back here and play that up and design it as a slightly different
shape to see if I missed an opportunity there.
Notice I have a minute or so left, and I didn’t do any of this stuff cause it just wasn’t interesting to me.
Not that it didn’t warrant it, but it wasn’t in my concept for this drawing.
Maybe I’ll come back to this drawing three or four times.
I’ve got a computer there. I can hit pause. I can rewind it
back. I can work out this drawing through different ideas. Different intentions.
Look at how fun that zigzag, swinging series of lines are, and then when we come into that
chest let me darken that. Notice how it’s almost like David and Goliath, that sling
shot spinning and release, spinning and release right here. Spinning… release.
So those are lovely little discoveries you can get playing with this material.
And I'm drawing something simple enough that it gets the idea of not just a head but this young
lady’s head. Simple, yet characteristic. The simpler you make it the more control you
have over it. The quicker you can do it. The more you can design or redesign it, and the
more characteristic it is. The more finished it will seem so you can stop in the beginning
stage and still get the idea down. So if you only have a minute or so like we have here,
keeping it characteristic, taking that extra few moments to make it characteristic is going
to go a long way to reading the information for the audience.
Trying to show you exactly where that shoulder becomes an arm, so we’re trying to get some
kind of corner that tells us where that jointed part is changing.
Now as I warm up doing these one-minute poses I’m going to probably get more and more information
down as I go through the poses. The first few poses I’ll probably go a little slow, a little more tentative.
I’m getting used to my materials and just stretching those artistic muscles so that
is going to limit me. So don’t worry about finishing.
I’m going to make this a looser head. It’s going to lose some of its connection, but
I’ll get down a little farther. I’m going to let this get a little more wild. It’s
almost going to be a caricature. So you can kind of play, you know, play with the limits
of how far you want to take things, a little mark for the elbow.
This is coming back this way, across this way.
Just let it go right off the paper. Don’t worry about it.
So just kind of feeling the flow of it in this case. Nothing is really anchored in, committed
to, just trying to get the rhythm of it.
Or, more slow and deliberate. Yeah, we’re trying to find a balance. The faster you go,
the more you can finish. The faster you go the more inaccurate it will be and the more
formulaic. You’ll go to the same solutions over and over and over again. The faster you
go the more you can invent, get the energy without the specifics. So you want to find
that balance, how much structure. My stuff has a lot of energy, my personal work, and
it’s very, very structured. Oftentimes it is kind of superhero-type figures. I’m balancing
both of those. I don’t want the muscles and the structures to get stiff. I don’t
want the energy to get disconnected and upended. I want them to flow from form to gesture and
gesture to form and be fairly seamless. I’m trying to find a balance between getting that
energy of expression, that sense of movement with solid information we can use.
Sometimes I’ll just draw one part and take that one minute and just do maybe the head.
She has these lovely high cheekbones, so I’m going to really kind of explore that socket
that holds the eye, the bangs.
The hairstyle flowing back. There is a squareness to how the hair is gathered in the back.
Play that up. The ear in here and then the little nose
and lips, chin, and then don’t leave it cut away.
Show how it flows into the next form that you
may or may not have time to explore.
You can see how we can get something that’s more accurate but more limited.
Alright, two minutes. I have more time.
I’m going to take more time, not in the rendering, in the simple construction.
One of the things that I want to notice is what
the whole pose is doing, the whole pose is leaning up and to the left. So if I’m going
to screw up, that’s the way I want to screw up. I want to make her lean too much. If there
is deep perspective I want to make the perspective too deep. If there is some dynamic pinch,
I want to make the pinch too pinching. If she is long and graceful I’d rather make
her a little too long, a little too curved than a little too short and a little too straight.
So these long axis curves are the visual cues.
They tell us graceful, fluid, living, dynamic, and active.
She is holding this pose for a moment for us, but she is going to be somewhere
else in the next moment, so we want to capture that dynamic moment, that precious sense of
the now here. It sounds like some self-help group.
We’ll call ourselves the Precious Senses of the How’s.
Okay, and sometimes I’ll just get caught up in an area, these hips doing a little bit
of the construction so I can feel that dynamic connection into the upper torso. And I failed
to get the legs. I screwed up. Well, no I didn’t. I just didn’t finish.
Art is never finished. Just do what you can in the time you have.
Alright, two minutes. The more structure I need the more dynamic perspective I need,
the more corners I need. If you go to my basic drawing classes, lessons I should say,
I talk about that in great detail. It’s a big subject. It’s not something
we can just throw away a few remarks on.
My main focus here, well, I don’t know if there’s
a main focus cause there is so many, it’s like juggling eggs. There are several in the
air at once. But one of my purposes here is the marks I put down, I want them to ring
true, whatever that means. And it’s going to mean something a little different to me
than you. There will be certain proportional truths. There will be certain dynamic anatomical
truths, some kinetic truths, that kind of stuff, balancing truths. But we’re not talking
about that as much as emotional truths. That’s where art has the great power.
So does it ring true emotionally?
The sense of the figure leaning back or falling over. The sense of a beautiful young woman
or a troubled young man or whatever the personality is behind it. That’s what we’re after.
I’m not finishing. I’m suggesting that kind of emotional
territory or those kind of structural dynamics. If I try and finish I’ll fail miserably.
If I try and suggest then I have a chance.
Okay, another two-minute.
Here’s the head-shoulder line, the ponytail or hair bound up there or whatever you'd call that.
She has a real hourglass figure that is going to give me
a good chance to screw it up cause I’m going to make the shoulders too wide and too male,
and I’m going to probably pinch the hips off at the waist.
I want to make sure I’m really doing that waist justice.
I’m refining that gesture line, that connective line, that long axis design line that is a
gesture to make sure it’s where it needs to be.
Feel the weight there. Make that dark mark
so we can feel the anchoring weight that’s supporting the pose, her lap.
Alright, two minutes. What you might want to do as you’re drawing this, take the one
minute to two minute to five minutes to do the drawing, of course. You can cheat a little
bit and pause it if you’re having trouble and turn the minute into a minute and a half.
Don’t turn the minute into 20 minutes unless it’s something that you really want to do
as a separate exercise cause it’s just a terrific pose you want to work with.
But try and feel those big, sweeping ideas.
What are the key components that make this pose this pose?
What is supporting it? What is holding it in a quiet moment rather than it in action?
Why isn’t it feeling like it’s actually falling over, but it feels balanced in some way?
There is some support system going on.
I’m just letting the shadow, that’s a whole other topic, shadows that we won’t
delve into here but letting those shadows serve the same function everything else does,
a gesture in the structure. Coming off that hidden leg or that hidden hip to find that emerging leg.
So try and get a sense of the pose. The head is pinching against the shoulders. It’s
a seated pose, of course, that’s leaning over her lap, so leaning, little bit of dynamic
torque going on there as she twists around from shoulder into that head position.
I like the shadow here because that zigzag shows the compression of that hip or that hip being
thrust upon by the upper torso, so we get that nice dynamic there, and it gives us that torque.
It shows the power in this quiet pose.
I’m kind of noticing with this hair, face, neck, everything
kind of going in different directions, flowing back, zigzagging over, criss-crossing across.
Criss-crossing across, can you say that? I guess so. And the bangs flowing down.
So a lot of fun directions going on.
Going to play that up and then maybe the broad simplicity of this back.
There is a series of dynamics over here I’ll exploit but a lot of this
back is beautifully simple, so I’ll play this complexity of the head with all its stuff
against the simplicity of that torso with its subdued stuff.
And I might like Ingres...It’s spelled like that.
Really simplify the contours so it’s this long kind of waterfall,
this gentle waterfall of forms that don’t. There are no splashes in an Ingres like there
would be in a Michaelangelo or more dynamic artists, a Leyendecker, Dean Cornwell,
Frank Brangwyn, that kind of stuff. Or even a Frans Hals.
So the intention can be completely different even though the subject matter, the reference
even, can be exactly the same. I am going to come back to this spicy area.
I am going to keep this shadow also pretty quiet, maybe even pretty light.
Since it’s a subtle shape maybe it has a subtle value to it. I’m planning the rendering.
Then in this area I get relatively charged with stuff.
Even the marks over here are subdued, light, highly edited.
So I just play these little design games even though it’s just a sketch, just a little study,
just practice time. It’s nice if I have a bigger idea in mind.
I'm working those artistic muscles hopefully on a couple of different levels. In other words, not just
pin line, not just construction. Not just proportion but on several things.
Great art works on several levels at once. You might pick one thing to work on in one
drawing, but it doesn’t always have to be the same thing or the same thing few things.
It can be very rich and varied in the choices. And it should be, really.
You know, why are we looking at your figure drawing rather than the millions of others that are on the internet
and done through history? What are you going to bring to the table? Maybe not now as you’re
beginning your career, but eventually as you’re well into your career, what are you going
to bring to the table that’s different, that can be unique? In other words, what are
you going to teach me? That’s what I want to know from the artist. I want the artist—we
all want the artist to teach us how to see the world and by implication how to live in
the world. That is the value of art. No just pretty pictures.
But informing us on how to live a good life, an interesting life, a challenging life, a whatever life.
Difficult form, pretty girl’s face. Difficult position tilted in this strong and yet graceful
perspective placement. I’m going to slow down. Difficulties demand more careful thinking,
more thoughtful execution. I don’t want to put anything down that doesn’t ring true.
It should ring true, and that’ll mean something a little different to you, probably, than
it does to me and should. That’s why I’m going to come to your gallery opening, and
somebody else might choose to come to mine instead, because how we see the world as a
unique experience and because we’re all unique that’s valuable.
We're going to show the world something. We have a voice that has value in it.
Oftentimes I’ll draw very fast because I want to try and get energy into it. I want
to try and surprise myself with how I make a mark or design a shape or whatever.
Here I am drawing much slower cause it is a subtle pose. I find the really dynamic poses, the
left side pose we could have chosen. I picked this one because this is harder, I think.
It’s a subtle pose, and that subtlety means that there are minute changes, relatively
small changes, and those small changes are each then compounding against the others in
creating a complex forms, a design, a pose. But they have probably less room for error.
I can’t muck them up as easily.
So if I make the hips too big it’s going to make it more dynamic maybe for a pose like this.
It’s going to make it just chubby on the bottom or ungraceful at the top as it is.
So now I need to adjust and correct that choice,
and I’m going to put a little hatching to hide my screw-up, my error there.
I'm taking some of my valuable time to make that correction because it’s important that this drawing
ring true as best I’m able with the time we’re given.
So these short poses are designed to make you make choices. Make creative artistic choices.
And so they have to be thoughtful, at least at first. When you’re learning you want
to consider and think through why. Why is that working? Why is it not working? What
am I missing? What could be better? How did I make such a great mark there? Why is that
mark so powerful and so successful? Thinking it through and dialoguing with teachers, other
artists, with the great masters of the past. Let them speak to you. All that kind of stuff.
If I have more time I’ll work on the connective tissue. Add some of the shading here.
Might want to put this arm in. Drawing around the arm I didn’t even notice I didn’t get
the arm in. It’s funny what we see and don’t see in life, isn’t it? You guys are probably
screaming at me to put the arm in, and I thought I had.
So go slow. Take your time. Don’t feel like you have to get as much done as I do. Maybe
you get twice as much done as I do. Go at your pace, what makes you comfortable. How
much can you get down and have it still speak to the issues, speak to what you’re seeing
there. Not just throwing down marks, but marks that have meaning. We’re mark makers.
We're writers of truth here. These marks are words on the page. They’re thoughts for our audience
to experience, and we want them to be right on some level. Maybe not exactly the proportion,
but the energy. Maybe not as much of the energy, but the solidity.
You know, whatever it is. That's what we're after.
We just do as much as we can.
If you’re confused by a pose—sometimes poses will just beat you up. You go, I don’t
know how to start this. Rewind this. Draw it six or eight times. See how I did it.
Go to other tutorials. See how other people did it. You can work through that. Or, if you’re
beginning you want to build up your confidence and maybe you’ll avoid some of those more
difficult conditions, poses. You want to build some success so you’re not feeling too beat
up by some of this stuff. It’s tough. Nothing easy about drawing the figure.
You want to make sure that you’re being tender and not getting too bruised up.
Notice I’m drawing through to find those connections there. Need to come back a little
darker on top to mark them out.
Alright two minutes on this series. More time, more care.
Give each shape a little more personality.
Make each shape a little more complete. In the one-minutes a lot of times we never even
got to the shape. Now, we won’t get to all the shapes, but the major and maybe most of
the secondary shapes will give more integrity to it structurally or more dynamics to it
gesturally. We’ll add some secondary detail to make sure the connectivity is happening
the way I want it or the way you want it.
We’re going to hope that that’s different
on some level, that you have a voice that is unique to you.
It’s where we’re going to go eventually, but at the beginning we’ll start with commonalities as we learn.
What makes a good figure drawing academically? What’s going to be how things flow?
Here's the flowing lines. Notice those always go down the long axis.
Then it’s going to see how things fit.
Notice the fit has pinches, corners, and then if we have the time it’ll be the dimension,
the coming out of the picture plain. The volume wrapping around.
Maybe the triceps wrapping around the tube of that arm.
The architecture, that’s the corners, how it goes around the form.
I’m going to draw his sideburns, his hairstyle. It gets hard to see sometimes the dark hair
against the dark background. So if you can’t see it, don’t draw it. Let it fade out.
You’re doing to do what you can.
You’re not going to stress about not getting that 10th toe or that other leg.
Notice I draw several light lines until I have a sense of
where it is, and then I might come back and anchor that, darken it so we can feel my final choice.
Notice energy trumps structure. The gesture trumps the structure. It’s not a real solid
structure here at all, but we're feeling the movement, that long axis movement.
It gives us what we really want. How things flow together or how things pitch apart.
What those things are exactly is less interesting, or your imagination as the audience will do the
work for me. I don’t have to give you all the specifics. You’ll do that.
That's a fun way to go. Let the audience participate.
We have these really beautiful hands behind his back.
Tying all that stuff together in a couple minutes is pretty tough
going, so maybe I’ll just take the few minutes to draw a part. Quite often we get into these
sketch classes and we say, well, we have five minutes, two minutes, an hour, or whatever
it is. We only get a certain amount into the drawing or into the figure. We analyze the
basic ribcage shape and some of the big shapes, but we never get to the fingers. How is a
thumb different than a finger? How is a finger different than a toe? How does a hand articulate
exactly? How do the shadow patterns work across those knuckles? Those bulging knuckles? Those
kind of things. We never get a chance to analyze, and so when we have our big momentous rendering
we’re confused on the detail. What do we do with that stuff? We never spend any time on it.
So for some of your drawing, just do body parts. Every fifth drawing do a hand if you’re
bad at hands, or do a female pelvis if you’re bad at that. Or a nose in underneath perspective.
Work out the logistics. What’s the language being used? These are all characters in a
story, and each character is similar to the other characters but distinctly different
from those characters in important ways.
Find those commonalities and those divergences and have fun with them.
Do enough of that arm because that’s going to be the main bit in this, so I gave it a
little bit of structure and even a little bit of rendering.
Alright, five minutes. Now, in five minutes I can do a much better job constructing this
figure, but maybe I’ll just take this beautifully dynamic torso that’s twisting like it’s
wringing out a wet towel and just spend five minutes on that.
So sometimes I’ll just pick a couple major forms, two or three major forms and work out how the architecture,
how they construct and how they fit together, their dynamic relationship.
Sketch classes are designed not to teach you to draw faster.That will happen as you get more confident
with your tools and confident with your subject matter, but they’re really designed to make
you make choices to edit, to make decisions. All those things are going to make you reduce
the subject matter down to the essential elements. What has to be there to say an athletic young
man in a certain dynamic pose as opposed to an old woman in a more placid pose?
Working out that stuff. But also, it’s going to be where your style is because your choices
are going to be different than my choices. That’s the beauty of it.
That’s why we go to both our art openings. We want to see how both artists made decisions,
chose the subject matter, chose the poses, the medium, the color palette, the detailed
style or the simple design. The glory of the paint or the illusion of the real, whatever it is.
All those things are going to be different from artist to artist, or at least they’d
better be. Or else you’ve seen one show, you’ve seen them all. So the sketch technique,
which is a West Coast American technique, or I know it from, but it any tradition that
has it, the impressionists will have it too, where you’re capturing something before
it’s gone. That moment in time, that splash of light on the mountainside, that kind of
stuff. The sketch technique is oftentimes mistaken. We think, oh, we just have to draw
really fast to get all that stuff done. No. Sketch technique is there so that you’ll
put just a few things in, but they’ll be the most important things. You’ll be discriminating.
You’re telling us, out of all that mountainside or all those mountainous muscles, what are
the few things, the twelve things that really say it all.
That’s the beauty of the sketch technique. Then you take other times more of an Atelier
style, East Coast American style, academy style around the world, and you can work out
all of the process, technique, tradition, and detailed information that that realist
or stylistic tradition you’re working in demands.
But, the beauty of this is you’re going to edit.
You’re going to leave most things out. Go back and look at your favorite
artist. Don’t look at what they put in. Think about what they put out. What’s left
out of Rembrandt’s shadows? What’s left out Sargent portraits? What’s left out of
Vermeer environments? Or Vuillard domestic settings?
Tie in a little bit of this other stuff back into it to start to see how the connections
happen between those bigger forms. Now, I’m never going to get to this. That’s okay.
I’m never going to get to this. That’s okay. There’s no finish line here. You’re
not in a race. You’re not in a competition. Just enjoy it when it works, when you find
a truth. Forgive yourself when you screw it up because you’re going to be miserable
if you don’t do a lot of forgiving in your art.
So most of this torso is in torso is in shadow that we’re drawing right now. That’s a
problem. How do you do detail in shadow? Well, the easiest way is to keep it linear.
You might do this whole drawing in line, and it’s not an issue. But if you’re adding light
and shadow patterns, any detail that you put in the shadow, if you’re doing a sketch
and you don’t have the time to render it, it will work out the reflected light and all
the maddening difficulty that that suggests. Then just make it linear.
So for example, let’s say the whole head and face except for that little bit of nose
is in shadow. I’m just going to draw a line for the eyelashes, maybe a couple lines together.
Eyebrow, ear. Always look for the biggest possible shapes. Notice that chest and shoulder
area makes a big egg together. Not a perfect egg at all, but it’s suggestive of the egg
and so we can go with that as a simple, yet characteristic choice not to be the shoulders,
but to replace them. In other words, my idea about that shoulder girdle is that it’s
just a big egg. That gives me control over it.
I’m not copying this figure. I’m translating it.
That’s why you might be willing to spend thousands and tens of thousands, hundreds
of thousands, millions of dollars on a piece of art is because it translates the world,
and by doing so gives it meaning.
So that leg is coming out at me, so I need that in to the thigh. I’m going to do that
whole, not the kneecap, that whole knee structure. You can see kind of that bulging box idea.
Notice how the highlight on that thigh runs along the corner of that box concept. That’s
construction when the detail tracks the simple concept that we’ve given, that really very complex form.
The quadriceps are complex series of muscles and tendons and bone showing through
at times. We’ve reduced it down into a boxy idea. We’ve translated it, and now we have
some control over it. Hopefully a lot of control over it. Control over how it looks, how it’s
rendered, and for our audience what it means potentially. It can be a whole philosophy
behind the boxiness of life, the boxiness of a thigh can be a parable, an alogory, a
morality tale, a political call to arms, whatever.
Or, it has power because it attaches meaning,
takes the world that may have no context and gives it a great and powerful context.
It starts with sketching. Putting a tube over a box instead of a shape. Putting a series
of marks and lines rather than tissue and muscle.
Giving it a motion rather than just plain anatomy.
This one is pretty new so you can see the lines are quite black. Once you put them down they’re
there; they’re not moving. That’s a good way to do these. You don’t want to be erasing
on these, although it is going to be very tempting at first. You just want to make the
marks. You make your best guess in the limited time you have and let it be.
Don’t let the paper stop your proportions.
Just trying to get the flow. When we have a key couple parts coming together
I spend a little time trying to get a sense of the connection, whatever that is.
Then move on back into the new fluid direction.
If I have more time I go back and work on those connections.
Maybe I will add some key detail like a shadow. You can work nice and big.
You can work smaller. If you work real big you’ve got more coverage. It takes time
to just cover the real estate. So don’t work super big. Usually I work somewhere around
an inch, inch and a half for the head. It can be down. Here’s a half-inch. It can
be up to closer to two, but usually the inch and a half range is a comfortable size to be working.
You can see the kind of shortcuts you come up with for various things. You run into those
problems eventually again and again. You have your certain default go-to shapes, and then
you can, of course, play with those and try and get inventive. Come up with new solutions.
Okay, so now I’m switching to a ballpoint pen. Notice the difference.
It's a subtle, more nuanced medium, much finer, lighter, and it is going to affect—it’s a different
instrument. It’s like switching from the snare drum to the piccolo. The energy of the
instrument itself is going to affect how you play that part, how you play that music.
Notice it’s slowed me down. I’m making more refined choices. The other had this crude injury.
This kind of shotgun blast energy. This is much more nuanced.
This is the scalpel if the other is a bazooka.
Pay attention to the medium you choose, the medium you’re stuck with or what you’re
trying to say in your art might dictate the medium you pick from.
Notice on that I had what I needed with a little extra time, and so I went back
and corrected, double-checked, emphasized.
Alright, here we go. The face is turning away from us. There’s nice oval features. So
when I’m choosing the shape, I’m trying to get the sense of
the character of the shape I’m matching. The head shape has a round character. Another
face or head might have a square character. So I choose the shape that is the most descriptive
or sometimes choose two or three shapes instead of one shape. In this case I’m going to
get a round shape. I’m going to take a little notch out of it for the eye socket. There
is the nose. And sometimes I get lost in a little area, and I’m planning to do that
whole big figure and I just end up with head. I never get any further and there is nothing
wrong with that. What I did is I explored the possibilities. I tried to make it ring
true with what I did. Hopefully I learned something or taught my audience something.
There is no finish line. Do not feel pressured to do anything other than what you’re able
to do in the time you’re given. It’s not going to be the same as what I do or anybody
else does. You don’t have to compare. This is practice. It’s your unique voice developing.
Your choices being realized and tested and over time changed and refined. It’s all
good stuff so try and half fun with it and not beat yourself up.
This is a leaning over, even a falling over onto that arm. I want to get that strong horizontal
move of the head and neck and that strong angular move of the torso. Basically she’s
stretched in between two supports: Her knees, she’s kneeling, and this arm.
This arm here and this kneeling posture here.
Notice when you have a very stationary figure oftentimes you get a big triangle out of the design.
You get a narrow top and a wide base because
that is the most stable. Even the really energetic poses, the model is doing 30-second, 1-minute,
5-minute poses, oftentimes you’ll see that triangle design because she or he is throwing
off angles to this or that body part to make it look dynamic. But the overall design is
a wide base, a narrow top, and that narrowed top is sitting over or between the base.
Notice the top weight of the head and the ribcage is right down between the supporting system
of the kneeling lap and the dynamic thrusting arm. So what’s supporting that pose?
What's holding it in that position? You want to have thought that through, ideally.
It is almost like a miniskirt shape for the hips there. Andrew Loomis always used that for his fashion
model characters and his illustration. He always had that same hip kind of girdled shape.
So kind of if you can name it, name the shape you’re drawing. Give it a personality rather
than just a box. Be specific. A miniskirt shape, the barrel/pickle barrel shape, a loaf
of bread shape; whatever it is, you’re better off. I didn’t even look at the arm there.
Alright, so five minutes.
I take more care. There is a certain turn to that head, eyebrow and eye line,
and eye line, kind of mark that off. There is a certain squareness to her brow as framed by her hairline.
They don’t want to play up, and you can see kind of the boxy quality here. Sometimes it helps to kind of
come out and re-imagine that shape as something squarer or more simple, or make it three or
four shapes rather than one shape. Take something that got too complicated, simplify it, that kind of thing.
Okay, notice that the hand, the head, and the knee all come together more or less close
contact, and so that is going to be something that really needs to track correctly for my
drawing, probably. So I am going to go ahead and sketch those medians, those three forms
meeting together pretty carefully. I’m going to blow a lot of time on that.
Then I'll come back and the hips over here or the hips over here or the hips here, and those kind
of connections, the way the shoulder and torso swing out and back, out and back, the arm
covers. Those kinds of things can move around a little bit, and I’ve got room for error.
So when you’re working on a pose if you have contact points, the hands are on the
hips, the chin is on the chest, that kind of stuff. Those things probably have to be
there. But the other thing, where the elbow floats when the hands are on the hips, not
such a big deal. You can move that elbow up a little bit, down a little bit to make the
arm and forearm the right depth, and you’ll be absolutely fine. So now watch: The fact
that—let’s move this. Not too far off from where it was, but let’s make it a little
longer than it really was. So that torso goes down a little farther than it really did.
Notice how there is little or no damage done by doing that.
...where this part ends right here, the fact that it should've been up here--it’s pretty forgivable.
But these guys, if these are off it’s not so forgivable. So kind of know your contact points.
What major, minor, important forms, wherever those forms touch, make contact, their placement
has to be quite accurate. Build that placement and then go out to the Corner Connection.
I work from here out to here until you get that connection. The foot doesn’t matter.
The foot should be here or here. Who cares? As long as it feels pretty good where we can
live with that and the audience will forgive you that, but not that knee. So think contact points.
Okay, we have a little bit of perspective here. The head and shoulders, and shoulder
girdle are coming towards us. Hips are going away from us.
We need to show that interesting dynamic.
So I’m pretty careful with the head since I’ve got that gesture I need to do.
We’ve got shoulder girdle coming towards me here. Always kind of relate the separate things in some kind
of relationship together, so I’m trying to think of the two shoulder structures that are separate,
how they flow through the head and neck interruption and work together.
It will help that bilateral symmetry that the figure has and help it feel like it is cohesive from side to side if you
draw through those interruptions. Draw through the cheek, the nose interruption to see the
cheekbones, for example.
Okay, and in this instance I made the shoulders a little bigger and the hips a little smaller
compared to the reference cause I wanted that perspective, that coming out, the shoulders
and head are closer to us. The hips are farther and then we have the leg, one leg in flat
perspective more or less down here, the other, again, in a deep perspective coming out and
going back in. But the important thing is that head and torso relationship, so size
dynamics. Don’t make it right. Make it true. The truth is that head and shoulder and ribcage
are closer to us, hips and tummy area farther from us. So we push that dynamic difference
so we really make the point. Don’t make the joke just clever. Make it hilarious. Don’t
make the monster spooky. Make him terrifying. Really push the idea.
Okay, now I have a little extra time. I don’t have enough time to really do any rendering,
but I do have time to kind of refine my connections. How does that neck come into that shoulder
and collarbone area? How do those shoulders work against the trapezius, the shrugging
muscles? And then into the triceps and biceps.
And then kind of taking a moment before you're done and just looking at the whole thing.
not realize I made the feet way too big? That’s another session finished. I hope
you got something out of it. I want you to go out this time and really practice. Take
one thing: Take your weakest body part, maybe it’s hands. Draw one hand a day, five minutes
a day. Come back next session. See how much better you are. Have fun. We’ll see you next time.
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1. Lesson Overview57sNow playing...
1. Session 1: Angelique Part 114m 26sNow playing...
1. Session 1: Angelique Part 214m 15sNow playing...
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2. Session 2: Will Part 115m 47s
3. Session 2: Will Part 214m 21s
4. Session 3: Daria Part 115m 50s
5. Session 3: Daria Part 210m 23s
6. Session 4: Ryan Part 111m 40s
7. Session 4: Ryan Part 214m 28s
8. Session 5: Tiffiney Part 113m 55s
9. Session 5: Tiffiney Part 212m 47s
10. Angelique25m 10s
11. Will25m 10s
12. Daria25m 11s
13. Ryan25m 11s
14. Tiffiney25m 11s