This article is the first of a series on the topic of how to sketch figures, which includes sketching people and faces.
My first life drawing class was a surprise. I was young and naive and had no intention of ever turning up for a class with a nude model posing in it. So it was a complete surprise when I turned up to my usual drawing class only to find the model there a week early thanks to the teacher’s cunning. What was also a complete surprise was that I was completely hooked on life drawing from that first day.
Life drawing is fabulous practice for any artist but it isn’t the only way to learn to draw figures. In fact, I found after years on drawing the nude model that I had difficulty drawing clothed figures! Also, I wanted more natural poses that I could use in my paintings. There is only so much reclining that can go on in any scene!
I began to look for ways of drawing figures without a model, or without a specific one (more about that a little later). I was trawling through my many art books one day, looking for inspiration when I came across a very old book I’d inherited titled “Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth” by Andrew Loomis. It is a book for illustrators and graphic artists, which must be kept in mind when reading it, however it has proved invaluable in my understanding of the figure and how to represent it on the page.
Around this time I suddenly (and surprisingly) found myself teaching a cartooning class. This too was to be a leap forward for my figure sketching as I needed to first learn, and then teach how to draw imaginary figures in imaginary action! I still combine the Loomis techniques with my cartooning framework when sketching and I suggest you consider looking outside the usual realm for information and learning about your sketching.
This is the first in a series about figure sketching. In these articles I will talk about how I go about capturing a figure, getting the proportions right, facial expressions, the dreaded hands and feet problem and how I use myself as a model for both men and women of any age! My techniques are not the usual but they are simple. The goal I have in mind when sketching figures, is to capture the essence of the scene, not the detail nor to be a slave to including everything that is there. Getting a likeness is also not one of my goals (although I often do) but to capture the character, age, gender and gestures of each person and hopefully their emotions as well.
You might like to see if you can borrow a copy of “Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth” from you local library. A facsimile of the original book was released earlier this year and is available on Amazon for a very reasonable $26.37. I found a review of the facsimile (and the original) at Boing Boing.
Next in this series is ‘Proportion’.
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