Art: The human body learned from life and masters (nudity!)
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    The human body learned from life and masters (nudity!)

    Hi,
    since I registered at this wonderful site (THANK YOU!) and joined a SSG I have become aware that I have been neglecting the exercise that is probably one of the most important ones: Drawing the human body (preferably without clothes).

    Unfortunately there are no life-drawing classes where I live (and if it was my wife probably wouldn't let me go ;-)). So reference drawing from fashion magazines and fineart.sk as well as studies of masterworks will have to do for now.

    All constructive criticism and feedback is of course invaluable.
    Here we go then...


    FASHION MAGAZINE PHOTOGRAPHY and

    MICHELANGELO'S IGNUDO (Master study)

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    Last edited by Mindbendermind; May 3rd, 2009 at 11:08 AM. Reason: Update
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    If you can, I would recommend trying to fine some finer pens to use, since you're going the ink route. Something like this would be much more adequate for getting your details in there.

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    Hi, crash, thanks for the comment and advice. I do have a finer version of the pen, but I thought it was a better practice to use the evil, thick one? Am afraid I'll return to cautious little strokes - more fiddling, less basic shapes. Purpose here being not to make the most beautiful picture but to improve my linework and understanding of the basic building blocks of the body.

    Do correct me if I'm wrong and I'll switch to my "fine liner" at once ;-).

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    That can go both ways
    A thick line will hide your mistakes, while a thin line forces you to be completely accurate. Also, if you're looking to improve your line work, all working with a thick pen will do is increase your ability to work with that size of nib. When you bring it down, it feels different, and you'll have to draw a little differently.

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    I see. Thanks for the comment. I'll try switching to a thin one then, since its the accuracy I'll need to practice. Also plan to look for a "real" ink pen next time I go to the art store. :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mindbendermind View Post
    I see. Thanks for the comment. I'll try switching to a thin one then, since its the accuracy I'll need to practice. Also plan to look for a "real" ink pen next time I go to the art store. :-)
    For doing fine line studies, I personally LOVE the Zebra F-301 Fine ball point pens. For some reason gel ink, roller ball, and even the technical marker pens just don't feel right when I'm doing studies. The best part is that they're available at my local Walgreens - $4.50 for a pack of two.

    I'm just throwing my $0.02 into the pen conversation

    K J Dawson's KreativeWerks - my new daily sketch blog (more like almost-daily...)
    My DeviantARt page - some of my "finished" works; updated sporadically
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    Thanks for recommendation - will look for that one in the art store

    ---
    Ok, have switched to my smaller pen and drawn a body part - actually the lower part of my own leg and foot. I see what you mean about not being able to cover up mistakes with thick lines now. Also found that stopping in the middle of the drawing motion immediately causes an ugly little black dot to appear. Easier shading without messing everything up though.

    Today (12/4) I did a master study of a drawing by Glenn Vilppu

    1. RL leg study; 2. Master study (Vilppu)

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    Last edited by Mindbendermind; April 12th, 2009 at 04:09 PM.
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    On making cautious little strokes... it's usually a problem that has to do with your eye movement. Your hand usually follows your eye.
    You could try when drawing a contour for example to move your eye in a broader way first, looking at larger distances, remembering them, and putting them down. The materials used imo are a much less important factor.

    I also don't think using a pen over a pencil to start out with is the best way per se. Especially when doing copy's after Old master drawings where so much subtle information is present I think it's useful to use materials that allow you to draw as sensitive as possible. A light touch is certainly a virtue!

    Good luck,
    Tom

    www.tomvandewouwer.com

    "There is no such thing as 'accurate drawing'. There is beautiful
    drawing, and ugly, and nothing else." JAD Ingres, Ecrits sur l'art
    (1780-1865)"
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    Thanks a lot for your comment. Reason I use pen is to to get more confident in my linework and focusing on line/contours (overview) before getting into the value dimension (that I'd probably start fiddling with if I use pencil). Will definitely think about that "light touch" advice - maybe I could switch a little between pen and pencil every now and then.

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    Today I bought myself an artificial little life drawing model (don't have any real ones nearby): A wooden mannikin. Plan to make this one my daily practice model, drawing it from different angles and in different poses.

    Starting with a simple standing one (20 mins):

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mindbendermind View Post
    Today I bought myself an artificial little life drawing model (don't have any real ones nearby): A wooden mannikin.
    You have one always with you! Just take a mirror.
    We can endlessly debate the use of such a manakin depending on goals and intent.... but if your goal is to develop your drawing skills through understanding Nature then get rid of the manakin.
    You said it yourself, it's an artificial device, one that has absolutely nothing to do with the human body. I could even argue, that drawing from it could hurt you because you build up bad habits that you would have to unlearn afterwards...
    Same goes for fashion photo's imo.

    It's useful to use a manipulated manakin for drapery studies.. not for studying human form.

    www.tomvandewouwer.com

    "There is no such thing as 'accurate drawing'. There is beautiful
    drawing, and ugly, and nothing else." JAD Ingres, Ecrits sur l'art
    (1780-1865)"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Art_Addict View Post

    ...one that has absolutely nothing to do with the human body.
    Hi again. Thanks for sharing your advices concerning life drawing. But...but...what about the following:

    1. I'm really bad at actually drawing daily from life - couldn't it be useful as a "still life object" for daily drawing?
    2. I'm bad at the human proportions - couldn't it be good for learning those?
    3. Loomis starts his "Figure drawing for all it's worth" with how to draw the mannikin - as a stepping stone in the process of drawing a complete human body
    4. I'm bad at foreshortening of the basic shapes - isn't it good for practicing those
    5. I'm bad at how shadows form around basic shapes - couldn't it be useful for learning that?
    6. I frankly don't want to look at my own face in the mirror atm - cause I honestly think I look like a wreck due to the life crisis I'm in. I'm actually ashamed of my own appearence right now. Sad but true.

    Surely - if I can make it a habit to draw my mannikin on a daily basis, this must be better than ONLY drawing characters out of my imagination some days?

    After all it's a model of a human - a skeleton or primitive representation - surely it must be better for leanring to draw the human than drawing a vase or a book? Otherwise, please explain why that is not the case...

    ---
    Study from Loomis' "Succesful drawing":

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    Last edited by Mindbendermind; April 18th, 2009 at 11:37 AM. Reason: Added image
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mindbendermind View Post
    Hi again. Thanks for sharing your advices concerning life drawing. But...but...what about the following:

    1. I'm really bad at actually drawing daily from life - couldn't it be useful as a "still life object" for daily drawing?
    2. I'm bad at the human proportions - couldn't it be good for learning those?
    3. Loomis starts his "Figure drawing for all it's worth" with how to draw the mannikin - as a stepping stone in the process of drawing a complete human body
    4. I'm bad at foreshortening of the basic shapes - isn't it good for practicing those
    5. I'm bad at how shadows form around basic shapes - couldn't it be useful for learning that?
    6. I frankly don't want to look at my own face in the mirror atm - cause I honestly think I look like a wreck due to the life crisis I'm in. I'm actually ashamed of my own appearence right now. Sad but true.

    Surely - if I can make it a habit to draw my mannikin on a daily basis, this must be better than ONLY drawing characters out of my imagination some days?

    After all it's a model of a human - a skeleton or primitive representation - surely it must be better for leanring to draw the human than drawing a vase or a book? Otherwise, please explain why that is not the case...
    From the drawing of the mannikin you posted, I'm kind of wondering how accurate the mannikin is itself. It doesn't look likes the ones I've seen, or the ones I own. Would it be possible for you to post a photo or a link to an image of the actual product? If nothing else, we might be able to give you some critiques on your drawing in comparison to the model...

    As for using it as a learning tool, I'm all for it, as long as you realize that it's not an accurate representation of the human body. Try to sketch it as it really is, not as a substitute for a real human body. I also find that they are pretty helpful for some generic foreshortening and lighting issues.

    K J Dawson's KreativeWerks - my new daily sketch blog (more like almost-daily...)
    My DeviantARt page - some of my "finished" works; updated sporadically
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    1. I'm really bad at actually drawing daily from life - couldn't it be useful as a "still life object" for daily drawing?
    Drawing from life constitutes all 'drawing after nature' whether figure, landscape, still life etc.. so yes as a still life object it's as good as any.

    2. I'm bad at the human proportions - couldn't it be good for learning those?
    Like I said, a wooden manakin is an artificial symbolic representation of the human body. All elements move seperately, all forms are geometric ones, it is symmetrical, it's dead,.... nothing like a human body.
    Furthermore, all human beings are unique. Yes we have similarities in the way we are put together.. but there's no such thing as the human proportion(s). Like I said before.. it all depends on what your goals are. But if you want to depict the world as it is perceived by your eye/brain... using a manakin to come to a better understanding of human form is not advisable imho.

    3. Loomis starts his "Figure drawing for all it's worth" with how to draw the mannikin - as a stepping stone in the process of drawing a complete human body
    Yes, correct. But his idea of a manakin is a different one then yours and looks different as well. Also.. Loomis was not a realist painter..

    4. I'm bad at foreshortening of the basic shapes - isn't it good for practicing those?
    Foreshortening of basic shapes? Yes ok.

    5. I'm bad at how shadows form around basic shapes - couldn't it be useful for learning that?
    Yes, I guess so. Although knowledge of the interaction of light on form is the crucial factor here. No manakin needed there. You can do that with any form really. For learning purposes it's useful to use a rounded object for that.

    6. I frankly don't want to look at my own face in the mirror atm - cause I honestly think I look like a wreck due to the life crisis I'm in. I'm actually ashamed of my own appearence right now. Sad but true.
    I understand and am sorry to hear that. Hopefully you will be better soon.



    After all it's a model of a human - a skeleton or primitive representation - surely it must be better for leanring to draw the human than drawing a vase or a book? Otherwise, please explain why that is not the case...
    Imo opinion, if you would study the manakin extensively with the intention of learning how a human body is put together you would risk having to unlearn all the wrong information you builded up. Such ingrained information may prevent you from seeing how a human body actually looks like later on. We do not see with our eyes, we see with our brain.

    Good luck!

    www.tomvandewouwer.com

    "There is no such thing as 'accurate drawing'. There is beautiful
    drawing, and ugly, and nothing else." JAD Ingres, Ecrits sur l'art
    (1780-1865)"
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    Thanks a lot for both your replies.

    Of course I can take a picture of it - is was rather cheap to be honest, so maybe it's not the best mannikin you could think of.

    Great that you have put some emphasize on the importance of not relying too heavily upon it as a "drawing the human" tool, Art Addict. I will use it as a still life drawing object, to practice basic drawing/shading of basic shapes form different angles BUT I will not let it replace my practice to draw my wife and children and - possibly - myself.

    May also use it to get an idea of what a primitive sketch of a pose for an imaginary character might look like.

    Thanks for your concern about me and my drawing. Really appreciate it :-)

    Here's a picture of the mannikin (rather small, 5,5", which made it great for my box with drawing supplies) and the little box it was in:

    EDIT: Just saw a thread where they discuss using a "Spiderman toy" as manikin. My son actually has this one and before I got my wooden one here I thought I'd use that one as model. Would it be better for me to use this one for life drawing practice (has more then 60 joints it seems):
    http://conceptart.org/forums/showthr...hlight=manikin (when no real model is available that is)

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    BTW, what would you guys recommend as the best daily practice learning to draw humans well (real life but from imagination as well):

    1. Drawing my wife and children (clothes on) and my own legs/hands
    2. Drawing my manikin (probably not! ;-)) or "spider man" figure
    3. Copydrawing nude masterworks
    4. Copydrawing nude anatomy studies (Bridgman/Loomis/Vilppu)

    WHY should it be so hard to know simply what is the most effective drawing study I can do? I'm prepared to do the work - but it's so hard to know which work to do! :-(

    EDIT: Found one possible answer to this in an IFX tutorial on life drawing by Joel Carlo:

    If a model isn’t available, the next best
    thing is for you to draw directly from
    drawings, paintings and sculptures
    created by the old masters. A trip to an
    art gallery will not only be inspiring, but
    will give a fantastic opportunity to
    copy these works at close range. If
    you’re unable to do this, copying from
    an art book will be adequate.


    Guess it's back to copydrawing those masterworks that would really be most beneficial in my current situation. Do you agree?

    Last edited by Mindbendermind; April 18th, 2009 at 04:47 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mindbendermind View Post
    EDIT: Found one possible answer to this in an IFX tutorial on life drawing by Joel Carlo:

    If a model isnít available, the next best
    thing is for you to draw directly from
    drawings, paintings and sculptures
    created by the old masters. A trip to an
    art gallery will not only be inspiring, but
    will give a fantastic opportunity to
    copy these works at close range. If
    youíre unable to do this, copying from
    an art book will be adequate.
    Quoted for truth! I completely agree!

    www.tomvandewouwer.com

    "There is no such thing as 'accurate drawing'. There is beautiful
    drawing, and ugly, and nothing else." JAD Ingres, Ecrits sur l'art
    (1780-1865)"
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  27. #19
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    Glad to hear that, ArtAddict. :-)

    Tried the following approach for my latest study: Taking a close look at a masterwork and then try drawing the figure from my mind. After that I redraw the figure with a pen of different color, looking at the original and noting which errors - especially anatomical ones - that I have done.

    Plan to draw it a third time, directly from the original. But I'll probably wait a while before I do that. Perhaps it would be better to first copydraw the original, then try to redraw it from memory noting the mistakes. Probably will do it in that order next time.

    Studying Da Vinci's "Leda and the swan" using this approach I found out the following about my anatomical shortcomings:

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    Last edited by Mindbendermind; April 19th, 2009 at 07:38 AM.
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    Tried making a life drawing of a male without ref. today. Here's the result:

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    Quick bridgman study with some obvious flaws, but one that was really fun doing. Will do more of these - like his style a lot.

    EDIT: Did another one today (25/4), this time drawing a female

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    Last edited by Mindbendermind; April 25th, 2009 at 04:37 AM.
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    you might also check out posemaniacs.com as well for different poses/studies of form.

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    Yes, that's a really good site that I'm very fond of. Thanks for taking time to comment.

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    You're improving. I don't really see the problem of working with a mannequin, however whenever im doing it, im painting and focusing on things such as composition, colors, and edges, which are things you don't really need to study how to draw the human body.
    While there is no proportion that fits all humans, or even an " average" one that is accurate- each model still has its own proportions to take into consideration. David's head is too small, and the legs too long; there are also lots of subtleties that you have disregarded. In the construction of the human figure, it's not uncommon that artists made sure that every straight line was contraposed ( I thought that was a word?) with a curved one, and this helps in the creation of dynamic figures. The arms of your David look ok, but the legs seem kind of rubbery almost. If there was a \ line on the outer thigh, it would be accompanied by a ) line, and that would travel to the edge of the shin ( and then the outer shin would be like / this to create a leg like this( however the angles would obviously be different)
    \)
    (/

    "A drawing is not necessarily academic because it is thorough, but only because it is dead. Neither is a drawing necessarily academic because it is done in what is called a conventional style, any more than it is good because it is done in an unconventional style. The test is whether it has life and conveys genuine feeling."- Harold Speed
    [[Sketchbook]]
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    Thanks a lot for your instructive comment. Glad that you see improvement in my drawing. Now that you mention it, I've seen Speed talking about this in his "Practice and science..." when skimming through it. Haven't gotten to that part of the book yet (currently at p 78 and his illustration of "Variety in symmetry" examplified by a drawing of an arm comes at - flips through the pages - p 140 in this splendid book. :-)). Will try to keep that in mind next time I draw a figure though.

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    A master study from a classical Conan episode drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith
    and
    A quick drawing of my kids playing by a lake nearby

    (pencil, HB)

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