Art: What to look for when doing life/nude figure drawing?
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    What to look for when doing life/nude figure drawing?

    Hi all, I'm not new to CA, though I've only really lurked. First post

    I'm used to drawing figures from imagination (badly), so as per everyone's suggestions, I've been taking every opportunity to take figure drawing workshops (it's my first semester at AAU). However, I'm kind of lost. I copy a pose, rinse & repeat, and I'm not really sure how I can apply it to my own work and improve it. My own character concept art from imagination doesn't seem to be improving either.

    Which brings me to my question...what should I be thinking about when doing these drawing workshops? It feels like drawing there without a specific purpose won't help me any more than copying photographs.

    I don't know if this helps, but I've attached some samples to give an idea of my current skill level.





    My scanner isn't the greatest, but the drawings are more or less accurate.

    I notice a lot of other artists' characters have this...life, fluidity and solid-ness (especially 2D animation majors), while my own characters always have a stiffness, messy/broken line and ambiguity.How can I apply life drawing to fix these problems?

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    Ahhh...I remember my very first figure drawing sessions at the Academy. It was so awkward for me! Don't worry though cuz you'll get used to it. Make sure to take advantage of the free workshops for students.

    Anyway, some things I look for when figure drawing:

    -look for the tilts/angles of features ( like the angle of the shoulder and hips)
    -go for BIG shapes first! Small details last.
    -pay attention to negative shapes
    -check alignments

    So good luck, man. I'm sure others will chip in. Also, don't hesitate to ask questions to your instructors and friends. That's how you'll learn.

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    You need to work on both gesture (the rhythms of the body) and construction. A deep understanding of both of these is necessary in order to convincingly invent a figure. Check these out:
    Kevin Chen's figure and class demos thread
    Ron Lemen's figure drawing tutorials
    E.M. Gist's figure drawing tutorial


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    Hey, thanks all, I'm taking notes of it all so I remember it for my next session.

    One thing I noticed is that it helped me immensely to closely observe how the planes change in an object or figure, not only the obvious edges and outline. Hope that helps someone in the same boat as me

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    Do not give up on it. Drawing from life is truly the only way to get better at drawing. Draw. Draw. Draw.
    When you draw from your imagination you are basing what you draw on the muddled impressions of reality that are in your mind. Memories. The only way to learn more about drawing in a way that resembles reality, is to draw from reality itself.
    If you want to know what to look for or to aspire to then look up the drawings of master artists. Da Vinci, Rapheal, Michelanglo were all incredible draftsmen and there is much to be learned from their drawings. Copy their drawings, try to understand what makes them so good and apply it to your own work. My sophmore year in college I had to do 5 pages of copies of master drawings a week. It was incredibly helpful and I'd recomend similar excersises.
    I think one thing that could be very helpful is do not spend too long on a single drawing. Some classes try doing maybe 5-10 fairly developed drawings in your time with the model. Other classes you can devote to doing one, really finished drawing.
    The other thing is, realistically you wont get much better drawing only 6 hours a week. Draw from life every day.

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    One thing I'm noticing (I think gman343 hit on it) there is no construction happening, you go straight for the outline. Two things might help: Get in the habit of gesturing in the figure before you detail it. Getting the proportions right early on will solve big problems later on. For example, with the last figure posted the supporting thigh is way too long, construction would help with that. Also, maybe try doing a figure with no outlines, just add shade where you see it on the figure and resist the temptation to outline it. This is an exercise I struggle with every time I try it, but slowly the struggle gets easier. I've found that doing this helped wean me off of graphic lines, making me (in my opinion) a better all around artist.

    Draw on, MacDuff.

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    in between life drawing sessions, try and draw from your head at least 1 figure from the imagination

    be very conscious of locations on the body / positions that begin to feel more comfortable, and also where the gaps in your knowledge remain.
    I tried drawing from life without doing this for awhile, and I was kinda at a wall before I did it. Check out the figure drawing from the mind thread and the manifesto in the first post.
    That's what I'm talking about.

    its like studying for the test when you have no idea what its on....create questions for yourself, then you'll be searching for specific answers...
    maybe you notice on one character you get stuck on the arm-shoulder connection, then next time you draw from the model you're remembering that and really
    spending time on the shoulder...hell..maybe only drawing the shoulder for a pose. Then you could go further and do anatomical studies of the shoulder,
    find out where the muscles attach exactly, what muscles are there, how the bones hinge..
    I don't think its possible to go too deep in how specific you know this stuff.


    actively seek and destroy your weaknesses basically...
    preferrably with some sort of futuristic assault rifle.

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    Really helpful stuff! I do find my drawings have that muddled impression when drawn from my imagination. Sometimes I just try to tweak it till it looks right, but sometimes I grab the closest photo reference pose I can find to try and fix it. Usually a stiff drawing results from both methods. I think the "seek and destroy" approach will fix that problem preemptively

    I noticed when I tried applying gesture lines at first, my poses became inaccurate if gesture lines were used in a general or lazy way. Landmarks need to be mentally selected before drawing the lines, such as the left side of the neck to the inside foot.

    On construction, adding ball shapes to the shoulders helped me connect the arm better to the torso (picked it up from another student ) It's still kind of difficult for me to see the hip tilt on a live model.

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