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    Thumbs up Hampton's exercises is mind-fucking me

    I was lucky enough to get a copy of Michael Hampton's legendary book "Figure drawing : Design and Invention" at the library.

    1) The book is awesome, but in the first chapter, although he goes into details on the gesture, he doesn't really show how to start off with the gesture. It would be good if he could put a photo of a model in the book and then show a step-by-step on his gesture drawing to come up with the final completed gesture. All the gestures in his books are very sweet, though. They seem even more energetic compared to Vilppu's.

    I can understand the theory behind his S and C curves in the gestures, but the shit I draw out looks totally nothing like his.
    Mine looks stiff, and out of proportion, so I was wondering if I should start off with a basic book first and then come to Hampton's book.

    2) On page 50 of his book, there's this exercise which he asks you to draw a box and then imagine that box falling off the ledge of a table and then rotate the planes of the box as it falls.
    Did you guys struggle when you first start doing this thing? I did just now. This exercise truly fucks and wipes the shit out of my head.

    Any advice would be good. Seriously, this book is very epic, though.

    Good day,
    Xeon

    Last edited by Xeon_OND; May 28th, 2010 at 12:22 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeon_OND View Post
    I was lucky enough to get a copy of Michael Hampton's legendary book "Figure drawing : Design and Invention" at the library.
    I can understand the theory behind his S and C curves in the gestures, but the shit I draw out looks totally nothing like his.
    Mine looks stiff, and out of proportion, so I was wondering if I should start off with a basic book first and then come to Hampton's book.
    Of course not, he's been doing this for years. What were you expecting?

    Just keep practicing with REAL figures then go back to his book to understand what he's talking about. A photo is still not gonna do jack for you really. It doesn't matter if he starts with the head, buttcheeks or kneecap. He's saying to look for the major lines of the figure. Where you start is entirely up to you.

    There are different schools of thought of starting with the head, others will say the torso since it's the largest part of the body.

    Just adding on - this is kind of what you're expecting.

    "I saw this exercise program where this guy was doing exercises to increase his mass. He looks terrific! I saw the exercises but they look hard. I tried a few of his excercises but I look nothing like him".

    It's not just about copying something you see in an artbook, but again applying it. Know that this will take a while. Some things you will not get at first. Just reading it and doing a few, is not gonna help.

    Last edited by Arshes Nei; May 28th, 2010 at 12:48 PM.
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    Maybe you would have better luck with Vilppu or the FORCE books, then? I have seen Hampton's book, and, frankly, was not impressed either with quality of his material, or his skill at presenting it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    Maybe you would have better luck with Vilppu or the FORCE books, then? I have seen Hampton's book, and, frankly, was not impressed either with quality of his material, or his skill at presenting it.
    It's whatever clicks with the person learning. However, Xeon is a beginner and has to know this is going to take a long while. A lot of times artists try learning anatomy through web and books, and while you can have some success, a lot of figure drawing outside the classroom (books and google) works wonders.

    If you just observe on just a studio time you're not gonna get much anywhere even though they're helpful. It helps to do it wherever you're at...a bus station, mall, your home, etc...

    There are artists who have done without those resources (ie life drawing classes and not sketching people outside and just solely focused on books) but those artists are few and far between. That's why it's recommended to go outside the schedule of class to learn.

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    I'll second the Vilppu and FORCE recommendations, both are big influences on me right now, but in the end Arshes is right. Those two have the same requirement that Hampton's book does, lots of effort and lots of time. You have to be ready to do things bit by bit, and let the little incremental changes pile up over time. It takes a bit of patience (like drawing pages of spheres and cylinders every day), but it's worth it.

    Sketching people "in the wild" is very important. It's a great way to solidify gesture skills, artistic memory, observation and build a library of natural poses and movements in your head. Again, you probably won't be very good at it to start, but if you do it whenever you can, by the end of the summer you'll be surprised at the results.

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    There seems to be a lot of confusion about gesture drawings. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like gesture drawing first appeared from "Nicolaides The Natural Way to Draw" that came out in 1941. He said, "A gesture drawing is like scribbling rather than like printing carefully - think more of the meaning than of the way the thing looks.". From reading the book, the point was to not care at all how it looks but to get a feel of the gesture that the figure was doing, so that you get an overall understanding of how the body was posed.

    They were only exercises of quick scribbling doodles where you didn't worry about proportions or contour and so on. It was just an exercise to help the student, "try to feel the entire thing as a unit - a unit of energy, a unit of movement"... to help understand the impulse the model had in their head to make the pose. "The drawing starts with the impulse, not the position. The thing that makes you draw is the thing that makes the model take the position."



    But for some reason books that came after it, seem to rely on keeping proportions and contour as an essential part of it. I can see how that might help in animation, but detailed illustration? I don't think that was Nicolaides intention and it seems to have just became something else over the years and became confusing.

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    Bowlin,

    That's what gestures are, just doodles of the overall figure (or major movement,of a form or just quick capture of an object). You get better at capturing what info you need. Poses look stiff if you're looking at stiff poses (ie photos) gestures were to quickly capture information for recordkeeping and getting better at line. That's why gesture is best on the live and moving figure than a stiff photo. Of course, they're going to look pretty ugly at first, but as you practice you get better at shorthanding what you need and understand to describe the figure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    That's what gestures are, just doodles of the overall figure (or major movement,of a form or just quick capture of an object). You get better at capturing what info you need. Poses look stiff if you're looking at stiff poses (ie photos) gestures were to quickly capture information for recordkeeping and getting better at line. That's why gesture is best on the live and moving figure than a stiff photo. Of course, they're going to look pretty ugly at first, but as you practice you get better at shorthanding what you need and understand to describe the figure.
    I don't think it's meant to help you become faster at shorthanding. I don't believe it was intended to help you understand form better or getting better at line the more you practice, how would it? On page 30 of his book it talks about gesture of things, inanimate objects. He say's,
    "By gesture we do not mean simply movement or motion or action. A thing does not have to be in motion to have gesture. You seek for it when the model is relaxed just as much as in a very active pose. Gesture, as you will come to understand it, will apply to everything you draw. Even a pancake has gesture. There is gesture in the way which a newspaper lies on the table or in the way a curtain hangs. .... The key to the nature of a subject is it's gesture."
    I mean, this is the guy that apparently started it all, how can other books come out and say "no this is how gesture drawing exercises are done". There seems to be a universal misunderstanding that the more you do gesture drawings, the faster you start doing quick contour drawings. They are two different types of drawings.

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    Uh no. It's not so much that.

    Think of it this way. You're trying to sketch something quickly before the moment is gone. If you don't understand your sketch language (ie return to the sketch and understand what you did) it accomplishes what exactly? You drew your gesture for what purpose?

    When you do something often enough, yes your line economy gets better because you're going to be able to figure out how your line works to describe your sketch.

    That doesn't mean you have tight little drawings, not at all, but when you start learning how to gesture and use the line correctly and not make unnecessary lines that's what I mean.

    That's why I felt gesture was important, it was so I can go back and look at my roughs and doodles and not go "wtf was I drawing?"

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    I found gesture to be a very tricky idea, and I'm only now beginning to get a handle on it thanks to Vilppu, but I don't think I'd understand what he was trying to tell me if not for the experience of the past few years. Getting my mind to forget about what the model looks like and focus on trying to draw what they're doing is a tough concept for some people, I can identify with that. It takes practice to figure out just what you're trying to do, and a lot of mistakes.

    I'm a bit surprised though, there are loads of websites with other drawing concepts, but it's hard to find one with images on gesture. Such an important concept, you'd think there'd be more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeon_OND View Post
    I was lucky enough to get a copy of Michael Hampton's legendary book "Figure drawing : Design and Invention" at the library.

    1) The book is awesome, but in the first chapter, although he goes into details on the gesture, he doesn't really show how to start off with the gesture. It would be good if he could put a photo of a model in the book and then show a step-by-step on his gesture drawing to come up with the final completed gesture. All the gestures in his books are very sweet, though. They seem even more energetic compared to Vilppu's.

    I can understand the theory behind his S and C curves in the gestures, but the shit I draw out looks totally nothing like his.
    Mine looks stiff, and out of proportion, so I was wondering if I should start off with a basic book first and then come to Hampton's book.

    2) On page 50 of his book, there's this exercise which he asks you to draw a box and then imagine that box falling off the ledge of a table and then rotate the planes of the box as it falls.
    Did you guys struggle when you first start doing this thing? I did just now. This exercise truly fucks and wipes the shit out of my head.

    Any advice would be good. Seriously, this book is very epic, though.

    Good day,
    Xeon
    I'm inexperienced and what I say is shit but regarldess:

    Do that box exercises a lot.

    I've looked at your sketchbook and what I perceive is someone who has trouble with 3d perception.

    I've looked at your sketchbook and never said it but what you said about the falling box exercises kinda confirms it.

    Forget about anatomy for a while. Can you draw an arm or a head or any other part of the body if you can't draw a cube or a cylinder first?

    I will again suggest this person. He just unlocks the very basics of geometrical form which will allow you to think three dimentionally about things.

    Edit:

    Anatomy isn't the basic. Gesture drawing isn't the basic. It gets thrown around a lot because every beginner want to learn how to draw the human form so everybody throws loomis, hogart and birgman [meant bridgman, oops] to their face which is only normal since they're the very best in human figure drawing. However, the problems these books are looking to solve are not the ones a beginner encounters first (basic perspective and depth, basic structure of drawing). The guy I suggested adresses those problem very clearly.

    More of his stuff here.

    Last edited by Honorius; May 28th, 2010 at 11:26 PM.
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    But Loomis has "Fun with a Pencil" it's pretty beginner right there lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    When you do something often enough, yes your line economy gets better because you're going to be able to figure out how your line works to describe your sketch.

    That doesn't mean you have tight little drawings, not at all, but when you start learning how to gesture and use the line correctly and not make unnecessary lines that's what I mean.
    When you do quick contour drawings your trying to get the gesture of the pose and get better line economy. But Nicolaides invented "gesture drawing exercises" that's different from "quick contour exercises". The objective of the gesture exercises in his book is not about line economy, but a whole bunch of scribbled lines. Just the gesture only.

    Later on in the book he has an exercise called, "the extended gesture study" (page 126) (one half to one hour drawing) where you start out making scribbles of the gesture and then continue to the point of refining it to some contour and correct proportions. But this is done to help lead on to contour drawings, a refining process.

    Just like in Elwell's link, Mentler says that Nicolaides first created these gesture drawing exercises. Sooo, it looks to me that later on, other art instruction books have started making what they called "gesture drawings" but they were really "construction drawings" (for lack of a better term). Because even in construction drawings you have to try and get the gesture right and focus on line economy.



    If you look at the cover of his book, on the far right is his take on a gesture drawing, (which does not imply worrying about line economy.)




    Where as Hampton's "construction drawing" isn't approached in Nicolaides book. They are two different types of drawings.

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    You're judging the book by the cover. Those aren't his "gesture drawings" on the cover.

    These (not all) are actually what he has mentioned as gesture drawings in the book: http://www.figuredrawing.info/gesture.html

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    Do these look like two different kinds of drawing approaches? One has a good sense of shape and straight lines and the other has scribbling marks?

    Last edited by Bowlin; May 29th, 2010 at 01:34 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bowlin View Post
    Where as Hampton's "construction drawing" isn't approached in Nicolaides book. They are two different types of drawings.
    They don't have to be. As is mentioned in those threads I linked to, gesture drawing is best thought of as practice in how to begin a drawing. It's about capturing the action of the pose, and the particular mark vocabulary used will vary from person to person. (Although, if you begin with a scribbly, lumpy gesture, you're more likely to end up with a scribbly, lumpy drawing, and I find Hampton's constructive approach more useful. IMO.)


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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Although, if you begin with a scribbly, lumpy gesture, you're more likely to end up with a scribbly, lumpy drawing
    True, Nicolaides would then place tracing paper over the lumpy drawing and make a contour drawing. And then, if I remember correctly, use tracing paper over the contour and do a detailed drawing and transfer it and so on. I don't believe he thought of "gesture drawing" as a drawing that was done very quickly because his gesture exercises state from half an hour to an hour.

    I agree this might not be a very efficient way to learn how to draw. But it seems to have changed over the years just like the book you mention, "Art & Fear", into something else. I can see how Nicolaides "gesture drawing" approach can be useful in animation (especially from the book, "Animation from script to screen") but not in detailed illustration. It just seems impractical... BUT he did invent "gesture exercises". So you have to admit, what's accepted now as gesture drawings is different from what Nicolaides was doing?

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    I don't know, why is one the "right way"? It seems an odd point to make about how its changed because....hasn't art changed or approaches changed over the years?

    I just figured that it's going to be more efficient in certain approaches to have a "Sketch language" that makes sense to me. Gestures are to capture the overall movement without worrying about proportions and details. However, if I want to look back at my sketchbook, gestures at the same time have to make sense to me.

    For example some of the "Natural Way to Draw" gestures do not make sense to me, but the student or person who produced it may understand what he/she was going for. The middle one of the last page you showed is a good example. While I can pick up the general movement of the legs and back, it's like the arm(s) and head are a bit lost for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    I don't know, why is one the "right way"? It seems an odd point to make about how its changed because....hasn't art changed or approaches changed over the years?
    Well I'm saying that's why it's so confusing trying to learn this stuff from books (and school). I could be flat out wrong here, please do correct me if I'm wrong, but if you take Loomis's books to compare too, there is no gesture drawings (either what Nicolaides considers gesture drawings or what is more accepted now as gesture drawings). He does what's called "scribbling" to help make thumbnails and think up basic ideas. And in his Figure Drawing book he show's you how to make a "Mannikin" to help show the gesture with a quick figure drawing and then add on the bulk (muscles and so forth). I guess you would just call this another approach to construction drawing?

    It's easy to dismiss this and just do the wrong approach that doesn't help you achieve the type of drawings you want to do. I'm not saying Nicolaides is the "right way" to do it. But understanding why/how gesture drawings started might help you realize another approach to get the results your really wanting.

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    Reilly rocks

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    Quote Originally Posted by c0ffee View Post
    Reilly rocks
    Agreed. And that's essentially the teaching tradition that Hampton belongs to. Reilly used the term "action" rather than "gesture," but the basic concept is the same.


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    correct me if im wrong, but from the posts you make i get the feeling you are getting ahead of yourself. it looks like you read a lot and confuse yourself, while at your level i think the best thing to do is just draw, draw, draw, and dont get stuck between all those drawing gods, and their different techniques. i'd say just draw draw draw from life, and draw what you see, instead of what you think you see. thats all a beginner needs to know. you'l eventually find out what works for you. and maybe in a later stadium where you have things a little more clear for yourself you can go back to those masters and pick out the stuff thats useful for you. maybe right now its just too much, and hard to pick out the stuff you need from that that doesnt work for you.

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    I've come to understand "the gesture" and a "gesture drawing" to be two different things.

    "The gesture" is the intention of the pose, the arrangement of the forms in such a way as to communicate what the model is doing. It can be intellectually separated from the construction, which is how the model is shaped and put together in perspective, though really the two are interrelated and interconnected enough to also say they are the same thing.

    A good way to make the distinction between gesture and construction is to imagine a drawing where someone draws a figure walking. They've nailed all the anatomy and forms, and the forms all have proper perspective- but it doesn't look like the figure is walking. Sure, their legs are spread apart and their arms are positioned forward and back, but it looks "stiff". This means they've missed the gesture.

    A "gesture drawing" is a drawing where the artist is purely concerned with capturing the gesture by whatever means possible- sacrificing, if necessary, the construction.

    I believe the idea of "the gesture" has been around for long time before Nicolaides, since for a long time artists have been concerned about narrative and action in paintings. Nicolaides is likely the first who divorced gesture from construction in actual drawings. However, he might just be the first published artist to do this.

    I recommend the Walt Stanchfield books for a very thorough look at gesture and its practical application in animation- which of course extends to any other kind of drawing. Athough it's not exactly a how-to book, it very much clarifies what gesture is and what you're trying to do when you attempt to capture it.

    Drawn To Life Vol 1

    Drawn to Life Vol 2


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  47. #25
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    I find that when drawing figure from imagination I still go back to methods I learned several years ago from Loomis book. If it was just drawing from life then I don't think I would really learn how to translate what I see into my own method of construction.

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    Thumbs up

    I don't think Nicolaides is the first one to invent gesture. I've seen some drawings from Rembrandt that look very much like gesture drawings, only they were done with the brush.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nezumi Works View Post
    I found gesture to be a very tricky idea, and I'm only now beginning to get a handle on it thanks to Vilppu, but I don't think I'd understand what he was trying to tell me if not for the experience of the past few years. Getting my mind to forget about what the model looks like and focus on trying to draw what they're doing is a tough concept for some people, I can identify with that.
    Yeah, the concept of the "gesture" has confused me to no end.
    Some books say you don't have to care about proportions when gesture drawing, but if we don't care about proportion in gesture drawings, our gestures will look like abstract art. I guess I need more time before I come to gesture drawings. Seems like if one is able to draw those Vilppu / Hampton / Sheldon's type of gestures correctly, one has passed the most difficult stage of figure drawing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Honorius View Post
    I'm inexperienced and what I say is shit but regarldess: Do that box exercises a lot.

    I've looked at your sketchbook and what I perceive is someone who has trouble with 3d perception.

    I've looked at your sketchbook and never said it but what you said about the falling box exercises kinda confirms it.
    I will again suggest this person. He just unlocks the very basics of geometrical form which will allow you to think three dimentionally about things.
    Thanks for the vid!

    Yeah, I've been doing that box-falling-off-ledge exercise since last night and I'm starting to feel a bit more comfortable now.
    I believe the reason why Hampton created that exercise is so that we can get familiar with the bending of the joints of the human body from any perspective (which looks very much like the boxes falling off the ledge).

    Edit: Anatomy isn't the basic. Gesture drawing isn't the basic. It gets thrown around a lot because every beginner want to learn how to draw the human form so everybody throws loomis, hogart and birgman [meant bridgman, oops] to their face which is only normal since they're the very best in human figure drawing. However, the problems these books are looking to solve are not the ones a beginner encounters first (basic perspective and depth, basic structure of drawing). The guy I suggested adresses those problem very clearly.
    Best fresh honest feedback I've ever heard in a long long time.
    And I always thought gesture drawing is supposed to be one of the most basic stuff in art foundations. Maybe I'm wrong. If people like Nezumi finds gesture drawing a challenge, then folks like me need a couple of decades more.

    Quote Originally Posted by c0ffee View Post
    Reilly rocks
    Reilly method? Argh!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by ajvenema View Post
    correct me if im wrong, but from the posts you make i get the feeling you are getting ahead of yourself. it looks like you read a lot and confuse yourself, while at your level i think the best thing to do is just draw, draw, draw, and dont get stuck between all those drawing gods, and their different techniques. i'd say just draw draw draw from life, and draw what you see, instead of what you think you see.
    Yeah, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm currently getting into figure drawing and thought Hampton would be a good guide.
    I go to the library every few days and borrow several drawing books each time to absorb new info and I always tend to end up getting swept and lost into the world of the drawing gods. LOL

    I think I should stop reading so much cos' I'm confused. Crap.

    But I really love Hampton and Villpu's gestures! They're so hot and alive that you could make a comic book using these gestures alone, no need for construction or anatomy or rendering or coloring. These gestures are even more beautiful than any finished painting.

    Some day, I guess.

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    I disagree that gesture isn't basic. It's the start of the drawing in terms of gesture. Are you gonna start with a guy walking, or playing baseball? Is he stretching or sitting back and enjoying coffee.

    None of that drawing will work without it.

    But overall, all of this is meaningless if you don't go and observe the figure live. A photographer wouldn't be able to capture the right pose of "guy drinking coffee" if he didn't understand gesture. An animator doesn't make a believable character if he/she didn't understand gesture.

    It's also meaningless if you don't apply the knowledge. I can read all I want about it in books, but until I go out and draw it, I'm a book brain surgeon. I know it all on paper but didn't do the actual exercises.

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    When I was in college Nicolaides' book was the main text. When I was teaching life drawing, the course plan was designed upon Nicolaides's book. After two years of that, the suspicions I started forming as a student about the usefulness of Nicolaides were confirmed. The intent of Nicolaides's book is to have the student become proficient at drawing from life.

    The intent for the student animator, illustrator or concept artist is to become proficient at imaginative drawing.

    The process toward both results has overlap, but reliance on Nicolaides's system isn't the optimum choice. Bridgman, Loomis, Reilly and similar constructive approaches are much better in this; providing the student the tools to construct reasonably accurate forms without reference at hand.

    The real key to being able to do any imaginative drawing well is understanding perspective, as mentioned here before. I feel it's so important, that I've redesigned the drawing classes I'm teaching this upcoming school year to follow everything through an understanding of perspective.

    I have Hampton's book, and I highly recommend it.
    ~R

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeon_OND View Post

    I think I should stop reading so much cos' I'm confused. Crap.

    But I really love Hampton and Villpu's gestures! They're so hot and alive that you could make a comic book using these gestures alone, no need for construction or anatomy or rendering or coloring. These gestures are even more beautiful than any finished painting.

    Some day, I guess.
    just forget all the words and take the enthousiasm you get from looking at them, and use that to draw your ass off. use it as inspiration!

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    All drawing is gesture drawing.

    Nicolaides is using "gesture" as a blanket term to articulate a set of ideas. These ideas are ancient. His book is written for beginners, everything has to be simplified so in each chapter he is forced to say things that are not quite right and then adjust them throughout the course of the book.
    These other guys are mostly talking about craftsmanship, starting with a general pose in order to be able to harmonize all later parts of the drawing. It's a popularization of a part in Leonardo's trattato della pittura.
    This is a good example of how all concepts have to be rethought by the student, if the student can't rethink the concept they're forced to mistranslate it into something they can understand. It's like when a kid hears an unfamiliar word then changes it one that they know, winding up with a sentence that doesn't make sense. So gesture is vulgarized into action.

    "Learning to draw is really a matter of learning to see, and that means a good deal more than merely looking with the eye."

    "The eye is blind but for the idea behind the eye... We see with the idea and only through the eye."

    Sketchbook

    "Beliefs are rules for action"
    "Knowledge is proven in action."
    "It's use is it's meaning."
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