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  1. #1
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    Newbie With A Figure Drawing Process Question

    Hi everyone,

    Long time lurker, decided to join up and so here I am.

    I was curious about something that's been bothering me ever since I wanted to draw. And that is the process of drawing the human figure from imagination (or from life).

    I know there are a few ways of doing it:

    1. Gesture draw lightly, then refine it.

    2. Stick figures, then cubes and boxes and then refine it.

    3. Contour drawing...


    I can never seem to make up my mind what the best process is. I enjoy gesture drawing and it seems that I can get good "action" poses but when I start to tighten the drawing up it becomes stiff and boring. I have tried the stick figure and then building up and it seems ok but it ends up stiff as well.

    I've tried contour, but I find I end up erasing a lot.

    So I'd like to know what process do you generally use that gives you the biggest success? What's the worst one?

    I know I have a problem staying loose the whole way through - so any tips on that one?

    Thanks a lot,

    Wade

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    If your working without ref it's a bad idea to start with contour drawing since the forms aren't planned out at that stage.
    I assume by gesture drawing you mean the scribbly variety. That type of drawing is only useful for hinting at where the drawing can go, it's like looking at clouds, we project what we want to see into the mess, it has nothing to do with lots of lines inherently having more action than few lines. The thing is all the elements we manipulate when drawing are tied together, you can't have one without the other.
    The way I go about it is: I start with a conception of a 3D space for the figure (have to think in 3D from the beginning without ref, with ref you can start with shape for more accuracy). If it's an upright figure I'll put a vertical line as a gravity reference point, then line up the sternal notch with that, or not if I want it to be off balance. After I have the general space I want the figure to occupy I'll start adding simple volumes and thinking about how their forces are interacting with each other. Then I'll refine those volumes into more realistic anatomy.
    The stiffness you speak of most likely has to do with not considering the forces that act on the body, the book "Force: The Key to Capturing Life Through Drawing" has good info on that. "Drawing Lessons From the Great Masters" is good for learning to think of the body in simple forms. The conception of 3D space I took from perspective, and the first couple of exercises in "The Natural Way to Draw". Got Gravity from Loomis, Mentler, and a couple of other places.
    All drawing is an elaboration on a generic type, models built from conceptual forms(blocks, spheres). Basically we're trying to make our building blocks look like the thing we see. E.H. Gombrich "Art and Illusion".

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    Quote Originally Posted by WadeAlexander72
    Hi everyone,

    Long time lurker, decided to join up and so here I am.

    I was curious about something that's been bothering me ever since I wanted to draw. And that is the process of drawing the human figure from imagination (or from life).

    I know there are a few ways of doing it:

    1. Gesture draw lightly, then refine it.

    2. Stick figures, then cubes and boxes and then refine it.

    3. Contour drawing...


    I can never seem to make up my mind what the best process is. I enjoy gesture drawing and it seems that I can get good "action" poses but when I start to tighten the drawing up it becomes stiff and boring. I have tried the stick figure and then building up and it seems ok but it ends up stiff as well.

    I've tried contour, but I find I end up erasing a lot.

    So I'd like to know what process do you generally use that gives you the biggest success? What's the worst one?

    I know I have a problem staying loose the whole way through - so any tips on that one?

    Thanks a lot,

    Wade
    there is no "best process". sounds like you're looking for a style. that's not necessarily expressing YOURSELF. everyone has a different method which is probably why you're a bit confused where to start.

    1)i would say start loose.....kind of like a gesture. draw lightly with a somewhat soft lead (easier to erase)

    2)take your time......apply little by little so that erasing won't be a hassle for you.......btw, nothing wrong with erasing. you can actually draw with your eraser.

    3) back to staying loose. there are a few methods that work. one that helped me was holding the pencil 1/2 or 1/3 of the way. holding close to the point will help you with detail and it does tighten you up. try keeping your wrist loose for getting in the roughs. then the more the picture starts to show itself, then you can get tighter.

    4)although there are techniques and styles, it's best to see what suits you. figure out what works for you and how you convey what's in your mind. don't worry about "finding" a style. it'll develop on it's own. when you try to find a style, you end up copying someone else. try focusing on what you want to put down.

    hope this helped......and good luck

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    Quote Originally Posted by armando
    If your working without ref it's a bad idea to start with contour drawing since the forms aren't planned out at that stage.
    I assume by gesture drawing you mean the scribbly variety. That type of drawing is only useful for hinting at where the drawing can go, it's like looking at clouds, we project what we want to see into the mess, it has nothing to do with lots of lines inherently having more action than few lines. The thing is all the elements we manipulate when drawing are tied together, you can't have one without the other.
    The way I go about it is: I start with a conception of a 3D space for the figure (have to think in 3D from the beginning without ref, with ref you can start with shape for more accuracy). If it's an upright figure I'll put a vertical line as a gravity reference point, then line up the sternal notch with that, or not if I want it to be off balance. After I have the general space I want the figure to occupy I'll start adding simple volumes and thinking about how their forces are interacting with each other. Then I'll refine those volumes into more realistic anatomy.
    The stiffness you speak of most likely has to do with not considering the forces that act on the body, the book "Force: The Key to Capturing Life Through Drawing" has good info on that. "Drawing Lessons From the Great Masters" is good for learning to think of the body in simple forms. The conception of 3D space I took from perspective, and the first couple of exercises in "The Natural Way to Draw". Got Gravity from Loomis, Mentler, and a couple of other places.
    All drawing is an elaboration on a generic type, models built from conceptual forms(blocks, spheres). Basically we're trying to make our building blocks look like the thing we see. E.H. Gombrich "Art and Illusion".

    i'm just gonna use this post as an example. you start off with your 3D form at first.....i usually do that later.....although i get the "itchy trigger finger" and start drawing the form before the drawing is actually finished.....lol. but my point is, everyone has their own way of beginning a piece. you do it this way because it's most comfortable for you......as do i. i think WADE wants a set way....WADE, everyone has their own way of beginning. you have to find what's comfortable for you.

    good books, btw.

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    Thanks guys for the help, I appreciate it. My issue was that I'd see people (or in a book) people doing it one way, and then I'd see in another book another way, etc. So I kind of got stuck in the "what to do?" mode. But I will progress my one way and see what happens.

    I'll check into those books.

    Thanks again!

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    Quote Originally Posted by WadeAlexander72
    Thanks guys for the help, I appreciate it. My issue was that I'd see people (or in a book) people doing it one way, and then I'd see in another book another way, etc. So I kind of got stuck in the "what to do?" mode. But I will progress my one way and see what happens.

    I'll check into those books.

    Thanks again!
    HAHAHA....exactly what i went through. but it became frustrating. i basically just felt that i will draw what i see without using a set process. but if possible, stay with one book, but don't take the actual artist's style....and mess around with the techniques. if you feel some are'nt for you, then discard them. nothing wrong with questioning things....that's a good thing!!!

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