Figure Drawing - Catching important information in a figure

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    Figure Drawing - Catching important information in a figure

    I wanted to ask this forum for advice because its helped me in the past.

    I had a teacher tell me I needed to improve this way. By drawing the most important points.. bones...muscles.... instead of focusing on other little details... wasting time rendering things that dont matter.

    I need to organize the approach to drawing the figure better I guess. I jump around a lot. Is there anything you know of that would help me? Do you usually draw parts of the body in order? What details would you purposefully ignore ??

    Should I start with the figure and general shadow but then concentrate immediately on bone /muscle information? Maybe I should time myself doing it too...

    Also... What keeps you from getting sloppy? Sometimes I feel too relaxed when im drawing.

    If you can explain 'catching important information' in your own way what works for you?

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    The most important part of the figure is its gesture. Then I mark off lines for example where the shoulders end, where the chin is, where the hips are, knees. Then start fleshing it out, protruding bones can be indicated, then muscles around the bones. The LAST thing you should be worrying about is details. Hair, nails, eyelashes, what have you, they're the last thing to go on (if they even do -- many life drawings look better with just indications of those things)

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    Big things > Small things.

    Always.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flake View Post
    Big things > Small things.

    Always.
    QFT

    Additionally, gesture>structure>contour

    The action of the pose is the most important thing (even a perfectly still figure has action).

    The three main masses of the figure (head, ribcage, pelvis) follow the action.

    The limbs either continue the action or play against it.

    Try to approach your drawing the same way you would a sculpture. If you were sculpting, you wouldn't be physically able to get to the details before you had established the underlying forms.


    Tristan Elwell
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    Elwell and Ryerordstar have it right. All things have what is called a line of action. It will help if you learn to see this when you look at a pose. Line of action shows you weight and balance of the figure, it establishes the overall gesture of the pose. You cannot overestimate the importance of this.
    Harvey Dunn, Dean Cornwell's teacher said "The character, position and weight of an object is in the edge." The edge carrys the information; to get the edge correct you need to pay attention to angle and contour. Details are superfluous. They only add interest when this important foundation is present, otherwise they acentuate the ignorance of the artist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    QFT

    Additionally, gesture>structure>contour

    The action of the pose is the most important thing (even a perfectly still figure has action).

    The three main masses of the figure (head, ribcage, pelvis) follow the action.

    The limbs either continue the action or play against it.

    Try to approach your drawing the same way you would a sculpture. If you were sculpting, you wouldn't be physically able to get to the details before you had established the underlying forms.
    To add even more.

    composition>gesture>structure>contour

    Some folks start a drawing with considering placement on the page withing their composition and wind up with no feet or room for the piece to full develop. Cutting the figure off in the wrong place.

    Though the thought of composition may be too early for considering when learning the figure itself.

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director
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    Quote Originally Posted by OmenSpirits View Post
    To add even more.

    composition>gesture>structure>contour

    Some folks start a drawing with considering placement on the page withing their composition and wind up with no feet or room for the piece to full develop. Cutting the figure off in the wrong place.

    Though the thought of composition may be too early for considering when learning the figure itself.
    I think if you draw a gesture line of the body first and then put things on it, you should be able to eliminate the problem of cutting parts of the figure off. People only encounter that problem when they start by drawing some part of the body and spreading out from there. Composition is something more advanced when considering the ENTIRE picture and objects in the picture in relation to one another, but this thread is about learning to draw the figure specifically.

    Furthermore, if you consider how people plan out compositions, they often start by placing gesture lines throughout a piece and then arranging objects along those lines, so as to get flow and eye movement right. If you accept that, then gesture is still > what comes after.

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    All of the above is really good.

    I'd add "landmarks."

    For instance, the sternum and the clavicles form a "T" shape that can indicate the orientation, division and perspective of the ribcage mass in space. Even roughing in the sternum as a rough gestural line can be helpful.

    Same goes for the furrow formed by the spine-- roughing it in as a gesture line can help define the orientation of the cage mass and the perspective view of its two halves.

    Also, knowing the visual location of the 10th rib (the practical bottom of the ribcage) and of the "pelvic points" (frontmost projections on the pelvis) are aids in visualizing construction lines that can be used to mass these areas as boxes to compare/view how they are tilted.

    Finally, that little dimple/triangle structure at the top of the butt crack is another traditional orientation-in-space landmark.

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    using a simple line or stroke to indicate detail really helps, especially in quicker drawings. For example using a line to indicate where the toes are on a foot rather than painstakingly drawing every little detail like the toenails. Even in longer poses the artist will use their judgement on which parts of the body they want to emphasize on, and like the previous posters were saying it's usually the bigger parts of the body, and important joints like the knees and elbows. As you continue lifedrawing you'll pick up on these things, I used to make the same mistakes but you'll learn from them!

    "If you want to work on your art, work on your life" ~Chekhov
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  12. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by RyerOrdStar View Post
    I think if you draw a gesture line of the body first and then put things on it, you should be able to eliminate the problem of cutting parts of the figure off. People only encounter that problem when they start by drawing some part of the body and spreading out from there. Composition is something more advanced when considering the ENTIRE picture and objects in the picture in relation to one another, but this thread is about learning to draw the figure specifically.

    Furthermore, if you consider how people plan out compositions, they often start by placing gesture lines throughout a piece and then arranging objects along those lines, so as to get flow and eye movement right. If you accept that, then gesture is still > what comes after.
    Though the thought of composition may be too early for considering when learning the figure itself.



    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director
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  13. #11
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    It's never too early to think about composition.


    Tristan Elwell
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    Crash Course for Artists, Illustrators, and Cartoonists, NYC, the 2013 Edition!

    "Work is more fun than fun."
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  15. #12
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    Great advice here. I'm in a life drawing class right now. So....Thanks for posting both the question and the advice, since....anything that makes things a bit easier is very good stuff to know.

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