What exactly is A Gesture Drawing?

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    What exactly is A Gesture Drawing?

    Exactly what is gesture drawing?

    Why is it called a "gesture" drawing.
    One tutorial decribed it as being to do with the hand movements you make, gestural movements.
    http://www.mmwindowtoart.com/gesturedrawing.html
    But I don't like the results on their, so I'm reluctant to follow it

    Some talk about looking once, and then drawing what you remeber, some talk about flashing the eyes back and forth.

    Why is it that there so helpful for improving in drawing? Just how helpful and for what?

    Is it better to keep the hand moving, or be selective in the lines you choose?

    How quick is it? Is it good to time the drawings?

    Details, too little and it looks crap, too much and it looks crap and takes loads of time. hmmm.

    What everyone seems to agree on, is that it is about capturing the "essence". This is a very annoying way to describe it, although I think I started to grasp it

    Is it more focused on flat 2d shapes, or 3D?

    When I see trees and their movements, I like to think of them as a sound. Shooting up trunks go SCHUUM, or twirly leave going fltrfltrfltr, and this seems to get the most satisfying results for me.

    Any thoughts?

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    Gesture drawings are usually quick simple sketches that contain the bare minimum of information to suggest shape, pose and movement. The web site you cite has an odd definition of gesture drawings as they are not usually associated with still life objects. The most common gesture drawings are usually from quick life sketches, usually 1 or 2-minute poses where you only have time to capture a suggestion of the pose. Some of the best examples of gesture drawings from this site are jasonj05's life sketches.

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    As I understand it, the idea of gesture drawing in the modern sense largely owes its origin to Kimon Nicolaides, whose teachings and exercises were published posthumously in the book The Natural Way To Draw around 1940. (Robert Henri in The Art Spirit refers to the struggle to introduce short poses a generation or so earlier). You should study Nicolaides' description of gesture drawing, but don't miss some important elaborations of the basic exercise that come later in the book, especially one called, I think, Gesture Drawing with Anatomy. Judging by your last sentence I think you will discover in Nicolaides a long lost soulmate!

    There is a recent thread in the Lounge on this subject with many good contributions. I have three posts there that touch on some of the questions you ask here. I'm happy to add more, but maybe look at that first.

    Thanks for the link to those lovely gesture drawings figure2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hazamataz
    Why is it called a "gesture" drawing.
    One tutorial decribed it as being to do with the hand movements you make, gestural movements.
    http://www.mmwindowtoart.com/gesturedrawing.html
    But I don't like the results on their, so I'm reluctant to follow it
    Good call. Those are awful and their definition/instructions are bizarre.


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    Good Advice

    The only thing that I would add is to not think of gesture as an exercise simple to warm up or loosen up <> it is the first step in the drawing process regardless of the time frame <> many teachers who obviously did not read or did not understand Nicolaides' book have totally abused the process treating it as a warm-up exercise unrelated to a longer drawing.

    The most important, the most critical and ultimately the most difficult thing is drawing from life is to capture the action or structural rhythms of a pose.

    If you are not successful in capturing the action your drawing is doomed.

    I see many go through the gesture drawings of 1 or 2 minutes and then when the have 5 minutes or more they go back to doing a tedious contour drawing starting with some detail and wasting a tremendous amount of time.

    I have totally gotten rid of the word gesture in my teaching replacing it with the concept of a short pose. Emphasizing that it is a start of a drawing.


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    Mentler has said everything I was going to.
    Also, this is from the thread Briggsy linked to, but I thought it was worth quoting here for emphasis:
    Quote Originally Posted by briggsy@ashtons
    Quick poses are really practice at STARTING drawings in the best way, like a runner or a swimmer practicing starts for a race. You should feel focussed and intent, but not rushed - no more or less rushed than in the first minute of a longer drawing.

    Begin each drawing, one-minute or otherwise, by focussing on seeing the flat, 2D SHAPE of your subject, and seeing the WHOLE shape before the details. There is a natural progression in drawing: you need to begin to establish (1) shape before you can show (2) construction, and you need construction before you can model (3) surface form.



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    Woah..those drawings are incredible, the sweepss... I'll observe those carefully.

    Thanks for the information everyone,its really been helpful. Mentler you have probably saved me a huge amount that i might have spent on drawings with poor foundations.

    In this case you can build you house on the sand, as long as captures the movment, and rythym of the house as it sinks. :p

    So in which case, gestures could be practiced daily on objects in the world, preferably those with movment of some kind. Simply to encourage looking for the rhythms in the world, and stay expressive and in a drawing frame of mind.

    There are some of my attempts in my sketchbook
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...79&postcount=9

    Last edited by Hazamataz; September 18th, 2005 at 12:17 PM.
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    Dont ask yourself what a gesture drawing is, but rather, what the gesture itself is. All figure drawings have gestures, whether it's a short or long pose.

    The gesture is the action of the figure. There's always a rhythm to the body and this is what makes a gesture. But inorder to get a good gesture, you have to consider other things like alignments, a sense of gravity and weight, etc. These things unify the human figure and thus gives it a rhythm.

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    Gesture drawing

    This is my first time logging on to this site. I am thrilled to have finally found a site I can identify with.

    To me the gesture drawing is the first and most improtant step towards a finished work. I agree completely with those who have said it is more than only warm-up practice and the act of gesture drawing can be applied to more than simply live models.

    If I can just add, for me the end product of the gesture drawing is a moving away from my ego governing my drawing to attaining that intuitive response of drawing which allows me to be more a participant in the final work than the sole creator of the work.

    Gesture drawing teaches the eye to see and teaches the response to be knowing, honest and "thoughtless".

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    This is a fine conversation. Gesture is the expression of the pose. The gesture lives with the model and the artist follows along in a kind of dance (rhythm again). The less intellectualizing between seeing the model set the pose and the direct drawing response, the more efficiently the artist will be able to see/feel/draw the pose.

    I often suggest students use big fat soft drawing tools to respond to the gesture poses because with soft graphite, charcoal, and pastels the artist can get line and value in one stroke by pushing and pulling into to depth and surface of the pose.

    Wet medium gesture techniques are also very efficient, for example with a Japanese calligraphy brush.

    Personally I love to fingerpaint gestures with a gooey glob of acrylic paint or gouache.

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    Here's a couple other Links

    I did hundreds of gestures early last year. Mostly of birds, and People, or other living creatures. I think they're in a yellow folder in a box somewhere.
    Gesture excersices will give your complete drawings a feel of movement or life,or make them seem less stationary. They may also help with proportions. If nothing else, they can be fun and the results pleasantly surprising.

    Here are a couple of other links that may describe gesture drawing a little better. With more Examples.
    http://www.ndoylefineart.com/gesture3.html

    http://drawsketch.about.com/od/drawi...raldrawing.htm

    I think that Mentler and Angry_Old_Artist said it well too.

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    I had a bit of a revelation with regard to life drawing the other day, in fact. My summer workshop class is animating a golf swing, so we're starting out with gesture studies of some Tiger Woods slow-motion video. I'd been having trouble wrapping my head around the addressing of the ball pose, since it was pretty much dead-on to the viewer and I was having a hard time doing a gesture that communicated that the hands were out in front of the body, and there was a separation there.

    What my instructor told me is that it's okay to modify the pose at the gesture stage for clarity. So I could turn things slightly, make things more clear, maybe exaggerate a line of action to really pull out that clear gesture. That was one of those light bulb moments, where I realized that with gesture, you don't necessarily have to follow your reference exactly, so long as you get the action down. As the saying goes, look for the verb and draw that, not the body. Or as Mike Matessi puts it, have an opinion about what you're drawing, put some of your own judgement in there.

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    Gesture is knowledge not opinion(belief), if not it would be pointless to draw from life and noone would be able to correctly interpret anyone's drawings.

    Sketchbook

    "Beliefs are rules for action"
    "Knowledge is proven in action."
    "It's use is it's meaning."
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    Quote Originally Posted by armando View Post
    Gesture is knowledge not opinion(belief), if not it would be pointless to draw from life and noone would be able to correctly interpret anyone's drawings.
    Huh. Strange, then, that I don't have any trouble at all interpretening this drawing.

    What exactly is A Gesture Drawing?

    Clearly it's still in a very gestural stage, and clearly he's added interpretation of his own to that gesture. More of an arch to the back, more hunch to the shoulder, steeper perspective on the feet, etc. In other words, his own "opinion" (which in this usage I don't think is exactly the same as the definition you're using, but I'm only just starting to grasp it myself) adds the human element.

    Accuracy is a wonderful thing, but there comes a point when you might as well just take a photo and go home. You need to get some sense of the artist in the process, adding their own "imperfections".

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    If gesture were pure opinion noone would agree on the expression of any pose in the living model or in a drawing, it would be impossible for drawing to work. The purpose of gesture drawing from the live model is to gather information. All drawing, from beginning to end, is gesture drawing.
    "Accuracy is a wonderful thing, but there comes a point when you might as well just take a photo and go home."
    The people who have taught you this are wrong. As everyone knew, or at least more people than today, before the turn of the last century the most accurate drawing in the world is not a copy of an object but a copy of someone's way of looking at an object. The more perfect this copy the more of the artist can be seen in it.

    Last edited by armando; June 26th, 2010 at 11:28 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by armando View Post
    If gesture were pure opinion...
    HOLD IT!! At what point did I say pure opinion? I don't recall, so you're going to have to point it out to me if you would be so kind.

    What I actually did say was adding some of your own judgement to your gesture drawing is needed to make a good figure drawing. Making alterations for clarity or exaggeration, but being primarily informed by your model or reference.

    The people who have taught you this are wrong.
    I learned it from Mike Mattesi, who is currently teaching life drawing at Pixar. I should only dream to be so wrong.

    The more perfect this copy the more of the artist can be seen in it.
    I respectfully disagree on this point. The closer to photorealism you go, at least in my experience, the less style is present and the more invisible the artist is to most viewers.

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    All I know about gesture I learned from Nicolaides.

    The little bit I know about application of gesture beyond Nicolaides-- I learned from Mentler.

    At this point, I think that what Bridgman and Hogarth refer to as "rythm" is really, actually "gesture." Or, gesture as it pertains to "action lines" through the 3 body masses for Bridgman and gesture as it pertains to the shape of specific body parts for Hogarth.

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    Thumbs up

    IMO, acuracy is most applicable and compulsory in portraiture, especially if your goal is to attain a true likeness.

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    This is an example of a drawing with real gesture by William A Smith. It's not opinion but revelation, this is what that particular mental state feels like, it can only be accomplished by someone with knowledge.

    2382849988_e8e1d5b211.jpg

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    QUESTION: Is it more effective to draw the gestural line
    before placing the head? I have a difficult time placing
    the head on an already established line.

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    Most sourced I've seen say you should do the line of action/gestural line first, and place the head after, but the fact is you can use what works best for you. Vilppu, I know, places the head first, and his mantra is "there are no rules, only tools".

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    Most people say do the gesture of the spine first.
    Vilppu says start with the head because he's coming from an animation background where the head takes importance over other elements.
    If I'm not wrong, Mentler said this himself in one of the older threads here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nezumi Works View Post
    HOLD IT!! At what point did I say pure opinion? I don't recall, so you're going to have to point it out to me if you would be so kind.

    What I actually did say was adding some of your own judgement to your gesture drawing is needed to make a good figure drawing. Making alterations for clarity or exaggeration, but being primarily informed by your model or reference.

    I learned it from Mike Mattesi, who is currently teaching life drawing at Pixar. I should only dream to be so wrong.

    I respectfully disagree on this point. The closer to photorealism you go, at least in my experience, the less style is present and the more invisible the artist is to most viewers.
    If anyone here ever gets the chance to watch Glen Vilppu's figure drawing videos, you'll find that he quite frequently echoes the sentiments you're expressing in this thread, Nezumi. The whole point of drawing from the model is to capture the action, not to copy the model. Vilppu speaks often of emphasizing and even outright exaggerating (however slightly) different aspects of the anatomy and pose so that the action reads clearly.

    There are tons of these "exaggerations" he employs frequently. A few times throughout the videos he talks about slightly over-emphasizing the buttocks line of the model, drawn from the back. Slightly exaggerating the straightness of the butt on the side bearing the weight, and letting the other side hang slack, can be pretty effective tool. (Of course this is just one small example.)

    I think some people are a bit turned off by the idea because of Mattesi's highly stylized figures (at least the figures represented in his book "Force.") A bit harder to argue with the grace and realism of a Vilppu figure, I think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeon_OND View Post
    Most people say do the gesture of the spine first.
    Vilppu says start with the head because he's coming from an animation background where the head takes importance over other elements.
    If I'm not wrong, Mentler said this himself in one of the older threads here.
    I think Preston Blair would have agreed with this. For his style of cartooning/animation, the "line of action" sweeps through the three major body masses and, usually, through one of the legs. And, he indicates in Cartoon Animation that you should draw this first. BUT, it doesn't necessarily track the true gesture of the actual spine. AND, Nicolaides would say that those three masses (and the limbs) would all have their own gesture. Thus, the "line of action" is just one aspect of gesture.

    But, If you're trying to get several drawings to "roll" on a peg board, maybe the head is highly important (?) Don't really know. Personally haven't played with any real animation. Somehow, I'd think the body mass would be more important. But, hey Vilppu's the expert! And, for the actual animation (as opposed to drawing) part, Preston Blair's a bit vague on this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamber Parrk View Post
    I think Preston Blair would have agreed with this. For his style of cartooning/animation, the "line of action" sweeps through the three major body masses and, usually, through one of the legs. And, he indicates in Cartoon Animation that you should draw this first. BUT, it doesn't necessarily track the true gesture of the actual spine. AND, Nicolaides would say that those three masses (and the limbs) would all have their own gesture. Thus, the "line of action" is just one aspect of gesture.

    But, If you're trying to get several drawings to "roll" on a peg board, maybe the head is highly important (?) Don't really know. Personally haven't played with any real animation. Somehow, I'd think the body mass would be more important. But, hey Vilppu's the expert! And, for the actual animation (as opposed to drawing) part, Preston Blair's a bit vague on this.
    LOL, Vilppu = Modern-day Leonardo + Michelangelo + Titian
    I'll study my Sheldon stuff and then come up with my own interpretation of all these different school of thoughts.

    IMHO, though, when one is starting out learning figure drawing, it's better to just draw what you see and get to know the human body first, before exaggeration. Vilppu can exaggerate anyway he likes and he can fuck around with the rules because he knows figure drawing like the back of his hand. Just my thoughts, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by armando View Post
    This is an example of a drawing with real gesture by William A Smith. It's not opinion but revelation, this is what that particular mental state feels like, it can only be accomplished by someone with knowledge.

    2382849988_e8e1d5b211.jpg
    This... is probably off topic, but where did you get that from? There's a lot of William A Smith results on google and I think there's a number of artists under the same name. I'm just curious about that sketch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamber Parrk View Post
    But, If you're trying to get several drawings to "roll" on a peg board, maybe the head is highly important (?) Don't really know. Personally haven't played with any real animation. Somehow, I'd think the body mass would be more important. But, hey Vilppu's the expert! And, for the actual animation (as opposed to drawing) part, Preston Blair's a bit vague on this.
    As an animation student, I can testify that the head doesn't have any more special importance than the other body masses when it comes to flipping and rolling. And, in fact, all the other sources of information about gesture for animation I've seen (Preston Blair, Mattesi, whoever did the art for Draw the Loony Toons, two years worth of animation and illustration instructors, etc.) put the line of action first before any of the masses, including the head. Vilppu's the outlier here, and even he doesn't really explain why in the book I've got.

    Probably a personal thing on his part, I'd guess.

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  40. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by velderia View Post
    This... is probably off topic, but where did you get that from? There's a lot of William A Smith results on google and I think there's a number of artists under the same name. I'm just curious about that sketch.
    There is a lot of stuff here but I don't remember if this is where I found that particular image: http://williamasmith.blogspot.com/

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    "Beliefs are rules for action"
    "Knowledge is proven in action."
    "It's use is it's meaning."
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  41. The Following User Says Thank You to armando For This Useful Post:


  42. #29
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    QUESTION:
    Drawing construction over gestural lines is very difficult and messy at the moment. I also lose a lot of the rhythm when laying down construction. My plan is to get solid gestures down, and solid construction separately, before combining the two. Is this a bad idea?

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  43. #30
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    maybe is off topic but i think i found one or two secret of michelangelo..
    not watching is picture but watching the skeleton.
    I found this secret only don't believe in my eye.
    And this is the secret of gesture drawing.

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