Figure Drawing

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Class 2/6 – November 13th&14th 2013 –

During the class feedback we discussed the importance (again) of separating the two mindsets when sketching: the exploratory- and the reflective (or communicative) mindset. In general the results looked pretty good. The work presented on the wall communicated that a good amount of exploration had taken place and some conclusions had been drawn from the chaos of events on each page. Even though the original sketches are very rough and messy the results demonstrate that with some simple techniques you are still able to create a focal point on the stuff you want to communicate.

Together we evaluated and compared the different techniques that were used. Keep notes of these evaluations to help you write your personal reflections at the end of the assignment.

Today’s class was a crash course in figure drawing. We covered the basics of the male and female adult figure as well as the male and female face. The proportions as shown in the pictures below are based on a standard that is widely used in the arts and fashion industry: the figures are 8 heads tall. In reality figures are usually 7,5 heads tall, but 8 makes it a lot easier to draw and you won’t really see the difference. With these proportions in mind you should now be able to detect the errors in your own sketches and adjust them accordingly. In general, male figures are more square and have wider shoulders than hips. Female figures are more rounded with fluent curves and generally have a waist that is slimmer than their chest and hips.

For more examples and other techniques check these sites. A really good overview with lots of insight on figure sketching can be found here.

A good way to practice drawing figures is by working with reference photo material. To get a grip on the pose of the figure you can draw a grid on the image and ‘measure’ the position of the joints, like knees and shoulders in relation to the grid. because they function a lot like ball and socket joints you can represent them by drawing full circles. Make sure they are big enough. They should span the whole width of each limb. Once you have all the joints in place it suddenly becomes a lot easier to sketch the complete figure and finalize it with felt-tip and markers.

Using photo reference can provide you with a great starting point to quickly set up your figures in a storyboard. However, it isn’t always as easy to find a suitable image of a person in the right pose. In that case you find an image that comes close and use that as a base. It is relatively easy to re-position the limbs by rotating them around the joints or even bend or twist the whole figure around the hips or waist. Always keep an eye on the proportions to make sure they are (approximately) correct. Especially check the size of the head in relation to the body.

To do for next class

Explore all topics and techniques covered in this class in a series of sketches on A3 paper. Find your own reference material and sketch as many different figures and poses as you can in the time you have available. Bring at least 2 pages with studies of figures and 2 pages with studies of faces to the next class. Try out sketching with different materials like blue pencil, felt-tip or a light grey marker and figure out which medium fits best in relation to the size of the sketch.

Switch to the reflective (or communicative) mindset and highlight the best one or two sketches on each page.

In addition make a sketch of the same (or similar) scene that we did in the first week: the in-class-flying-camera-sketch-feedback-system. This time, focus less on the devices and more on the people and the interaction. First explore the poses of the different figures using photo reference material (find some on this blog!). Finalize the sketch with backgrounds, contrast, arrows and text to explain the story.

If you have a digital camera, please bring it to the next class. We will need to take pictures and also need to be able to print them, so also remember to bring your laptop and the necessary cables or card readers and your personal codes for the printers. In addition, also bring the sketchroll!

sketchroll copy


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