Two very quick sketches, one done with charcoal stump on newsprint paper, the other with pen and ink on a 8 x 6 inch sketchbook. Both done with live models. Had I not done the pen and ink drawing with the live reference, I probably wouldn’t have drawn her seated that way – slightly off the center on the bar stool. It definitely helps to have references 🙂
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The human body is visually very complex (to the say least). There are many shapes, volumes, planes and structures. The only way we can train our mind to see the human figure clearly is to train it to see the figure in simple volumes first – spheres, boxes, tubes, bowls etc., I have an example below. This charcoal life drawing was done at a sketch session at the Art Students League, New York. It was a seven or eight minute pose – we had seven or eight minutes left for the end of the drawing session before we had to vacate the room. I did an overlay drawing using the software Clip Studio. The overlay drawing is made of simple volumes: sphere, lines, tubes, bowl, etc., My suggestion to artists who are learning figure drawing is to train your mind to see the model in these simple volumes. The mind can then do a far better job of giving clearer instructions to the hand.
A twenty minute life-drawing. Drawing hands and foot took time. This was done at Society of Illustrators Sketch Night.
Like all the charcoal figure drawings at this website, this was done at a life drawing session. There were about forty or so artists drawing and painting at that session. This was a twenty minute pose – the model was about twelve or fifteen feet away – on a small podium. He was leaning onto a wall.
He was a great model. Very muscular. I got the overall gesture with a few light strokes first. Then focused on areas that interested me. Drawing in a life-drawing session surrounded by many other artists isn’t a great place to produce ‘masterpieces’, in my opinion. But it’s a great place to learn figure drawing.
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This drawing was done on a Fashion Night sketch class. Understanding human anatomy helps immensely with drawing clothed models. Clothes hang from supports – draw the supports and the fold lines on the clothes that emanate from the supports. Study of folds can be daunting but this is where ‘draw what you see’ triumphs ‘draw what you know’ – at least, in my case. The dress on this model was reasonably tight – making it easier to draw. Not many folds to ‘analyze’.
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In short poses – twenty minutes or less, you will have to use judgement on what details you want to draw. Getting the gesture is of utmost importance. For poses ten minutes and longer, it’s unrealistic to expect dramatic ‘movement’ in gesture of the model. I chose lighting on the model’s back in this particular ten minute pose. Head drawing takes the longest followed by hands and feet. I avoided hands. A profile head drawing takes less time – one only has half the face to draw. The drawing shows quick strokes for some of the shadow areas. Core shadows, the dark strokes that define surface (skin) turning away from light, are fairly predominant. Drawing muscular bodies or overweight bodies is relatively easy compared to drawing skinny people. Probably lack of surface details on thinner torso. One will have to focus mostly on bone structure on such people.
This was a quick gesture drawing. I enjoy drawing really dark from the get go – which isn’t a great way to start a ‘successful’ drawing. One can’t really undo the mistakes done with dark charcoal. Usually, if the light charcoal line isn’t in the right place, one can go back and draw a darker line next to it to ‘fix’ the light charcoal line. The darker line gets all the attention and the light line gets lost. But if all the lines are really dark, and a mistake is made – no escape but start on a fresh paper. So, be careful when you are using 6B charcoal sticks/pencils.
And I call any drawing that achieves one’s intent as a successful drawing. That implies that one is able to do a good drawing through intent – not by accident. Usually, I know exactly how a drawing is supposed to come to light in my mind but, often, my hand doesn’t obey my mind and the result is a bad drawing on paper
Head drawing takes time. The model’s name is Karina. She was great. This life drawing was done at a crowded Tuesday Night Sketch Event at Society of Illustrators. I sat in the second row, where I could balance my 18×24 inch drawing pad. If the pose is a standing pose, most often, I wouldn’t be able to draw the feet as they would be blocked by artists sitting in the first row. If the model is in a seated pose, as in this drawing, both the hands and feet are blocked. I focused on the head and added a few details of the gesture. I should have taken this picture with better lighting.
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Ink life drawing, no under-drawing with pencil etc., I destroy many a good start with my drawings in ink. I hope to get certain spontaneity and freshness with ink lines. Sometimes I get lucky. This one was a two minute drawing. I thought it has the right amount of details with right amount of caricature.
Another two minute quick ink life drawing. This drawing was done in a small 8 x 5.5 inch sketch book using felt tip pen. I can draw nude drawing a lot faster than clothed drawing. I have had more practice drawing nude. It helped that the model wasn’t wearing too many clothes – it would have hampered the nice gesture she posed. I wish I had focused more on the clarity in this drawing. I will write more on this idea later.