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    Figure Drawing Design and Invention by Michael Hampton

    I just recently purchased the book Figure Drawing Design and Invention, and I was wondering how should about using it to improve my drawing?
    Last edited by Elwell; August 24th, 2010 at 01:43 PM. Reason: Thread title edited for clarity


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    Is this the one by Hampton? I have heard good things about it, but haven't seen it yet. Anyhow, as with all these sorts of figure books, copy out each drawing into your sketchbook. Try ot really understand what you are drawing and why something appears as it does. To really solidify the concepts in your head, you can try drawing copying out the drawings multiple times or mirrored.
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    READ it.

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    Yes this book is by Michael Hampton its really an excellent book. I will try your advice thanks for the quick reply. Excellent sketchbook

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    Just as important as reading from it, DRAW from it, and try to APPLY the techniques to more than just what's on the pages. Don't solely copy what he's got, but try to use it without the "training wheels" that the book provides.

    This applies to just about every decent book out there. Bridgeman, Hamm, Loomis, whatever.
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    The author lays out a process of drawing in the book; start with a gesture, map out the perspective of the major forms, lay in the gesture of the muscle masses, connect the muscle masses to the underling perspective forms, etc. I'd recommend reading the book and copying every drawing, following his procedure on every copy.
    Last edited by jcpahl; August 24th, 2010 at 10:38 AM.

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    Rather than copying the pictures in the book, why don't you try reading the book, UNDERSTANDING the principles in it, and then APPLYING what you've learned to your own drawings.

    If your drawings don't come out right, read the book again, repeat.

    This is harder to do but so much more useful than copying from a book.

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    I have to say, I'm seriously distressed by the number of "how do I use a book?" threads we've been getting lately. Is this really the dawn of a generation that can't process any information that isn't broken down into step-by-step, bite-sized morsels?

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    Also, I've edited the thread title so that it's clear that the discussion is about Hampton's book, not figure drawing in general.

    Tristan Elwell
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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    Rather than copying the pictures in the book, why don't you try reading the book, UNDERSTANDING the principles in it, and then APPLYING what you've learned to your own drawings.

    If your drawings don't come out right, read the book again, repeat.

    This is harder to do but so much more useful than copying from a book.
    Why wouldn't you copy it, too? Nothing will cement your understanding of the principles the author is communicating better than attempting to duplicate his demonstrations. There are so many concepts in an anatomy book that can only be conveyed visually; planar structures, proportional relationships, and so on. Just looking at the illustrations isn't, in my experience, enough to solidify that information into your memory.

    Different people learn in different ways, it's true, but I'd say that there's no substitute for careful, analytical copying.
    Last edited by jcpahl; August 24th, 2010 at 04:53 PM.

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    Thank you all for your insightful answers. I wish I was hip to this websight years ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcpahl View Post
    Why wouldn't you copy it, too? Nothing will cement your understanding of the principles the author is communicating better than attempting to duplicate his demonstrations.

    Different people learn in different ways, it's true, but I'd say that there's no substitute for careful, analytical copying.
    If you really want to blow a lot of time copying pictures, okay...

    But the odds are you'll be better off investing that time in drawing from life and learning to solve picture-making problems on your own, instead of copying someone else's ready-made solutions.

    It's like learning a language - you'll get a better grasp of it if you try to have real conversations and learn to form your own sentences, rather than parroting and repeating a bunch of stock phrases.

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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    If you really want to blow a lot of time copying pictures, okay...

    But the odds are you'll be better off investing that time in drawing from life and learning to solve picture-making problems on your own, instead of copying someone else's ready-made solutions.
    I disagree entirely; drawing the figure is a hugely complex task; you're drawing one of the most complex forms in the universe as we know it, and almost any mistake you make can be instantly recognized by anyone who has a body of their own. If you can integrate the ready-made solutions of artists who have already mastered the process, that's time very well spent.

    Floundering around on your own, looking for your own solutions, when you have thousands of years of artistic tradition to draw upon in which every problem has already been solved, seems like the real waste of time to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    It's like learning a language - you'll get a better grasp of it if you try to have real conversations and learn to form your own sentences, rather than parroting and repeating a bunch of stock phrases.

    I don't really see the analogy there. To learn a language correctly, you still need to assimilate a vast quantity of information; vocabulary, composition, spelling, syntax, grammar, pronunciation. And to draw the figure correctly, you need to learn proportions, the structure of the skeleton, the origin and insertion points and the form and function of muscles, accurate methods of abstracting complex forms into simpler planar structures, et cetera. Both will require some degree of rote memorization; I still remember copying words in grade-school until I could say and spell them correctly.

    Everyone learns differently; I just think copying is a very valid tool.


    Edit: Also, is your name really Gwenevere? That's pretty awesome.
    Last edited by jcpahl; August 24th, 2010 at 06:23 PM.

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    Oy. The point is, you're not going to learn to DRAW without actually trying to draw. And that means learning to make your own judgments while drawing, which you won't do by copying. There's way too many sketchbooks on here full of copies out of anatomy books and nothing else, and I just don't see real learning happening there... Copy if you think it helps, but combine that with making your own drawings (from life and imagination,) or you won't get anywhere. (Even copying photos can be more useful than just copying other people's drawings, because you have to use some amount of judgment to translate the photo into a drawing.)

    As for the language analogy, maybe I should explain that...

    Before you went to grade school I'm assuming you learned to talk the way all infants do, which is, by being surrounded by people talking, and trying to talk back. The best language learning methods tend to take that same immersive method, usually with considerable success. This is what I was thinking of with the language analogy.

    If you've ever had a GOOD language class, they generally give you bits of vocabulary and grammar at a time, and then you practice APPLYING those bits you've learned by forming your own sentences and trying to converse with your classmates or writing your own paragraphs. Then you get a bit more vocabulary and grammar, and try using that; and so forth. That way you learn to think about the language and use it, and by using it you reinforce your ability to remember it. If you just memorize and never USE what you're memorizing, you'll forget it all in no time.

    Here's my recommendation:
    READ the book first. IF you feel like you need to copy some things to understand them better, okay, go ahead. And ALSO try do some drawings by yourself as you go along, using the principles you've just read about. If you just copy and never try anything for yourself, you won't know if you've actually learned how to do anything except copy.

    Also:
    Sure, drawing the figure or anything else from life or imagination is a hugely complex task. That's why you should start trying to do it as soon as possible. The more you try, the more real practice you're getting, the more you practice, the better you get. You can put off drawing your own pictures as long as you want and read all the anatomy books on the planet, but at the end of the day there's no substitution for practice. You are going to have to put the book down and draw sometime if you ever want to learn to draw, it won't happen magically by copying everything in the book.

    Books are not magical talismans. Read them, learn from them, but don't expect them to do the work for you. You have to do that yourself. Start practicing now.
    Last edited by QueenGwenevere; August 24th, 2010 at 07:01 PM. Reason: typos, typos, typos...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    I have to say, I'm seriously distressed by the number of "how do I use a book?" threads we've been getting lately. Is this really the dawn of a generation that can't process any information that isn't broken down into step-by-step, bite-sized morsels?
    Wait till they come here with the Kindle Edition. "We have to turn a page? What?" How?

    Reminds me in a way how cookbooks had to change actual cooking terminology because people who don't know how to cook didn't know what blanch, baste, braise and other terms meant.

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