My first attempt at traditional timed figure and gesture drawing

  • SVS OG

    After @Damien-Rambacher recommended the site on another thread on here the other day I decided to give it a try.

    I have taken formal art classes but yet never had a single figure drawing class nor have I done any live model type of drawing before. I know I am way behind in that regards.

    So this seemed like a great way to start for now until I have a chance to go to a live drawing session and give that a try.

    I used the default one minute for each pose as I felt like that would be enough time to get the basic shapes without allowing me to try and go into detail (my constant problem).

    I noticed after I got going that I started to pull on the info Will/Jake share in some of the classes here, regarding the bean shape and it really helped me visualize the torso's much better and also helped me figure out the torso when the pose of the model was more distorted or covered partially by an arm/leg etc.

    This was a brand new sketchbook - and I am going to use it solely for continuing to practice this type of figure drawing until it is filled up.

    I am also hoping it will help me break through some metal blocks I have been having with art and the projects I am working on and not feeling up to par with where I had hoped to be. So only way to get there is more drawing and practice!

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  • Pro SVS OG

    @Rich-Green Awesome work Rich, keep at it! Nice poses.

  • SVS OG

    @Charlie-Eve-Ryan Thanks so much! I can't tell you how much I appreciate the support!

  • SVS OG

    I did another round of 20 poses this morning and then I started working on some studies for a scene in the book project I am working on. In this part of the story vines have taken over a gnome village and the villagers attempt various methods to rid themselves of the vines. Here after chopping/burning have not worked they try and pull them out by hand. I want it to almost look like a tug of war between the villagers and the vine itself not budging from the ground.

    So I have been doing studies of body positions of people who are playing tug of war since they are very different complicated (to me anyway). Legs for example are in positions you may not realize until you study them closer. And there is usually a lot of foreshortening going on with hands or feet closer to the view than the rest of the body so that also has to be taken into account.

    Once I have these down a bit better the fun part will be translating this into the body of the characters - who have much smaller legs (in proportion to the bodies) etc.

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  • Thumbs up! This stuff is so valuable for learning anatomy and getting action into your drawings. Keep going.

  • This is great, you're going to improve quickly with these exercises! Thank you for sharing, you've reminded me that I want to do this too.

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    Very nice sir! Love the work you are doing.

    Couple of suggestions. You may want to start with a bigger gesture line to really capture the action. The way I recommend practicing this is by drawing slightly curving straight lines (which I call "flowing straights"). The first couple of lines can really sell the pose and deal more with the direction of the figure which forms are then built around.

    You are starting with more individual forms which works of, but can add a stiffness to the figure that is hard to get rid ok. I did a quick demo of how I approach the figure in a 3 minute pose. You can see what is added at 1 min, 2 min. and the full time.

    The second page just shows those 'flowing straights' that I think work very well for the figure. Glen Vilppu is the man to check out in terms of nailing the figure with a good action line and gesture.

    Let me know if you have any questions. : )

    1454902938063-2016-02-07-21.17.11.jpg figure.jpg

  • SVS OG

    @Lee-White this is going to be so unbelievably helpful to me. I can see immediately what you mean about using flowing straights to begin and then building up from there.

    And this type of professional encouragement and support is what makes this forum so invaluable, can not tell you how much I appreciate the time you took to write this up and provide the samples for me to reference.

    I am looking forward to posting an update after I try it with these techniques!

    Thank you so much,

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    great to hear that it will be helpful. I can do some more demos for you later today based on your sketches if that would help. I need to get a book out the door and then I'll work on a few.

  • SVS OG

    So I reviewed what @Lee-White had shared on here yesterday, again this morning, and then I set out to give the method my first try.

    I can tell that in my 15 sec flowing straights attempt - that I was still way too hesitant and my lines are not quite flowing yet, nor did I get many of them down on the paper. I think this will come with continued practice and confidence in those lines.

    From there I continued to build upon the lines - and I think it was about 1.5 minutes or so at that point. And I also see (after going back now to look at Lee's example) that I was worrying to much about some of the specific details and it really feels even more stiff overall after this step.

    Then for the rest of the time I had left I worked on the remaining details and shading.

    I had just gone with the first image that appeared on that figure drawing challenge site but next time I think I will skip ahead and try to find one without the added props - as that somewhat defeats the purpose of understand all of the forms and also getting me to let go of trying to capture those details.

    Also, I need to just keep myself focused on those slightly curving straight lines and get those down better and then build up from there.

    Clearly still a whole bunch I need to keep working on, but it feels good to be going about this from the ground up!

    figure drawing attempt 1.jpg

  • SVS OG

    Fantastic work Rich - itโ€™s so great that you are putting the work at this level, it is really going to pay off! I think you captured his gesture and essence really well - he looks like he is really going to swing that axe ๐Ÿ™‚

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    there ya go buddy! Making quick progress here!

  • @Rich-Green This is great stuff. I've been wanting to learn to do gestural figure drawing like this, so this thread is motivating and helpful!

  • @Rich

    I think it's important that after you've done the quick gestural, to also try to develop some " muscle memory " and by that I mean, lines that become second nature in drawing figures or anything after drawing them several times. I've tried to do that here by doing a smaller study AFTER drawing a 3 minute gestural.


    The reason for doing this is, you're breaking down the lines into more data by drawing them over and over, by studying the figure, and making a close up. When you go back to drawing figures in this same pose, you'll remember both. The gestural drawings you made to capture that kind of pose AND the study you did to give your brain an in depth idea of what lines would make up a larger drawing.

    Combine that and see how you draw this figure over... you will be able to over simplify, because you know the lines to cover, and your drawing will have more uniformity, because you've blocked out composition on a larger scale.

    I only drew what I considered to be the hardest part of this piece, that weird arm, I could have faked it with my own knowledge of anatomy, but I wanted to try it only from your image, which I blew up even though it was incredibly blurry. And since it was, I only had the most rudimentary of details to pull from.

    Try this out and see if it helps,

    1. draw your normal gestural for 1 minute, then 2 then 3 minutes from a source pic.
    2. draw a study of the area you found hardest to compensate for, with an enlarged pic, concentrating on the building block lines, and the
      shadow areas to give it form.
    3. Now redraw the figure again at normal size, with the memory of both the gesture and the study in your head.

    And if you can find a new pic with the same pose, draw that instead. I think you'll find your final piece to be more successful. Good luck!

  • Edit: Sorry I wanted to add, don't get hung up on the study, and don't spend more than 3 minutes on it. The idea is to give yourself a larger work space, without having to do a complete drawing, and you're only working on ironing out the area you originally found hard to understand in the full gesture drawing.

    If you found this was helpful, do studies on the other areas, then piece then together in your brain and do a full figure but again only 3 minutes. Because what you're trying to develop is the thought process you did to do both exercises as one exercise. What is a full figure but a series of connected studies, others simply work faster, more simpler than we do... I hope that helps.

  • SVS OG

    @Bobby-Aquitania Thanks so much for the nice and detailed write up - as well as the sample drawings Bobby. I will definitely work through some practice studies using this method you outlined and I also like the part about going back and doing a focus on the area I found the most challenging in the original attempt. I will be sure and post what I come up with!

  • nice studies and progress

  • SVS OG

    @Naroth-Kean Thank you!

    @Steff Thanks! You should definitely give it a try it's fun and is really helping me!

    @Dulcie Thank you - I really appreciate the support!

  • I find that a lot of the time, instead of pushing a pose to add drama/force, people tend to not even push it to the point of even the real figure/photo and it ends up a little lifeless.


  • SVS OG

    @Ace-Connell - yes I know I am guilty of doing that and I have seen that in other work all over social media - the more I am becoming aware of what to look for and pick up on. One of the biggest things I have taken from the SVS courses and these forums - its to really be an observer of life, your surroundings, environment, objects, colors, lights etc, etc etc. I catch myself picking up on things I never would have paid attention to before - and more now than ever snapping a quick photo with my phone to capture a composition I find interesting in the real world, or a color of the way the sun hits a tree and snow around it, or a texture I think I may be able to use in the future and so on.