Figure Drawing - Figure Construction

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Figure Drawing - Figure Construction

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In this chapter I will cover how to construct the figure using some simplified methods to make the process of drawing a little easier. I will start by showing you how to build a simple structure as the basis for defining dimension and proportion. This structure will become the foundation of your figure drawings. You will then be able to use it to develop a finished figure drawing. Drawing from the Inside Out At the beginning of every figure drawing, the artist is faced with a daunting task in defining a subject that is painfully complex yet supremely organized. Without initially...

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  1. C H A P T E R 2 Figure 2.1 Use a simplified skeleton like the one shown here to start your drawing.
  2. ✎ Figure Construction I n this chapter I will cover how to construct the figure using some sim- plified methods to make the process of drawing a little easier. I will start by showing you how to build a simple structure as the basis for defining dimension and proportion. This structure will become the foundation of your figure drawings. You will then be able to use it to develop a finished figure drawing. Drawing from the Inside Out At the beginning of every figure drawing, the artist is faced with a daunting task in defining a subject that is painfully complex yet supremely organized. Without ini- tially simplifying the figure, the artist may become overwhelmed. It is very important in the initial stages of a figure drawing to be able to use some kind of simple framework to define the dimensions and proportions of the figure on the paper. The artist needs a simple and accurate system for starting the figure on paper without getting bogged down in too much detail. One way of doing this that works well for me is to go back to the foundation of the figure itself and draw a simplified skeletal structure. Figure 2.1 shows a simplified skeleton; notice that it isn’t too much more complex than a simple stick figure. 17
  3. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models The simplified skeleton should be proportionally correct, as shown in Figure 2.2, where I have overlaid the same proportion chart used in Chapter 1. This simplified figure is very useful in roughing out figures and figur- ing out compositions. It is easy to draw and doesn’t get bogged down in detail. Here is an example of how you can use it in conjunction with Figure Artist. Figure 2.2 Make your skeleton the correct proportions. 18
  4. Figure Construction S T E P - B Y- S T E P 1 Start by creating a pose in Figure Artist, simi- lar to the one shown in Figure 2.3. 2 Using the posed figure for a reference, start with the figure’s ribcage by drawing a simple oval with a few lines to indicate the front of the ribcage and the overlying pectoral mus- cles, as shown in Figure 2.4. Figure 2.3 Pose and render a figure from Figure Artist. 3 Next draw a line for the spine and attach another oval for the head, as shown in Figure 2.5. 4 At the base of the spine, draw a block for the hips, as shown in Figure 2.6. The hips will usually be rotated from the ribcage because the back is flexible and the lower part of the human torso usually counterbal- ances the upper torso. Figure 2.4 Start Figure 2.5 Add Figure 2.6 Draw by drawing an the spine and the hips next. oval for the head to your ribcage. drawing. 19
  5. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models 5 7 Now draw lines indicating the shoulders and The last step is to draw simple shapes for the arms across the top of the ribcage. hands, feet, and knees, as shown in Figure 2.8. 6 Draw the legs coming down from the hips, as shown in Figure 2.7. Figure 2.7 Draw the legs and arms of the figure. Figure 2.8 Draw in the hands, feet, and knees. 20
  6. Figure Construction The skeleton that you just drew should fit over the top of the fig- Gesture Gesture drawing is the foundation of good figure drawing. A gesture ure, as shown in Figure 2.9. In Drawing drawing is a quick drawing of the fact, a useful exercise for beginning figure focusing on just the figure’s artists is to use a piece of tracing One of the most important aspects action. It doesn’t need to be accu- paper and define the skeleton of of learning to draw the figure is rate, but it does need to get the photographs from magazines and getting the feeling of life and action feeling of life and movement that is other sources. in your drawings, as shown in inherent in any figure. Figure 2.10. This is often referred The nice part about drawing the to as capturing a gesture or gesture skeleton first is that you can use it drawing. to create a number of very expres- sive figures in very little time. Figure 2.9 The skeleton and figure should match up Figure 2.10 The skeleton can show action. with each other. 21
  7. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models The first step in doing a gesture are really not very precise. They are The entire process of creating a drawing is to establish the action almost sloppy. That is okay. gesture drawing should take only line of the figure. The action line is Sometimes a good scribble has about 30 to 60 seconds. It is very a single line that shows the direc- more feeling than a well-planned important to set a time limit and tion of the main movement of the line. push yourself when doing gesture body. Figure 2.11 shows an action drawings. The time limit forces the line for a figure. Once you have an idea of general artist to focus only on the main proportions, you can draw the action and not on the detail. Figure On top of the action line, the actual skeleton, as shown in Figure 2.14 shows a page of gesture draw- skeleton can be roughed in quickly, 2.13. ings from a live model. Each draw- as shown in Figure 2.12. You will ing was limited to 30 seconds. notice that the construction lines Figure 2.11 The action line estab- Figure 2.12 Quickly scribble in the Figure 2.13 The skeleton is drawn lishes the action of the body. skeleton over the action line. in over the construction lines. 22
  8. Figure Construction Figure 2.14 Try drawing several gesture drawings. 23
  9. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models Beginning figure artists tend to then you might be just right for Now it is time to do a little practic- draw stiff figures that have little or figure drawing. ing. Figures 2.16 through 2.21 no life in them. Your drawings will show examples of our virtual mod- improve dramatically if they have a Think of the body as a series of els posed in some action poses. good gesture drawing as their curves. Some of the curves have Time yourself and draw a gesture foundation. The timed gesture sharper angles than others, but drawing with the simplified skele- drawing focuses on the continuity they are all curves. There is a curve ton. Give yourself only about 30 in the figure, rather than the dis- that goes through every joint, seconds to do each drawing. You continuity of the joints. including the elbow and knee might need to draw them more joints. The limbs of the body than once to get a good gesture Often a figure will seem stiff and should flow into each other, even if drawing in that short of a time, but awkward because the artist will they are bent at extreme angles. hang in there until you have cap- focus on the joints rather than the Take a look at the example in tured the action in each figure. line that goes through the joints of Figure 2.15. The figure in this the body, causing a stiff robotic example has his legs bent sharply, In Figure 2.16, the model is stand- look. The human form is made up yet as you can see from the over- ing in a power position with his of curves. There is really nothing laid lines, the joints can still flow feet spread and his arms to his straight about it. If you complain into each other. sides. See whether you can capture that you can’t draw a straight line, the power behind the stance. Figure 2.16 Try to capture the power behind the model’s stance. Figure 2.15 The joints should flow into each other. 24
  10. Figure Construction In Figure 2.17, the model has Can you capture the tension and Each of the poses I just used as shifted his stance and is reaching drama of the pose in your draw- examples is part of the library of up with his right arm. See whether ing? poses supplied with Figure Artist. you can capture the weight and You can find them and many more pressure in the model’s legs and his In Figure 2.20, the model is on the CD that came with this arm straining in the action. crouching low, looking to spring book. Figure Artist is a great into action. This pose might be resource for working with the In Figure 2.18, the model has just more of a challenge because of the action of a figure and then drawing completed a punch. His weight is overlapping limbs, but give it a try the result. You can use the sup- supported on his left leg, but the and see whether you can capture plied poses or come up with some power behind the punch came the coiled tension of the pose. of your own. In Chapter 5, we will from the right leg. Notice the twist- cover posing the virtual models in ing of the torso. In this last pose in Figure 2.21, the more detail. model is sagging as if she were very In Figure 2.19, the model is in a tired. Maybe she was just hurt and dramatic pose with both her arms is trying to get up. See whether extended to the sides as if she were you can put these aspects of the a sorceress casting a major spell. pose into your drawing. Figure 2.17 The model moves into action. Figure 2.18 Look to which leg is supporting the model’s weight. 25
  11. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models Figure 2.19 Try to capture the drama of this pose. Figure 2.20 Try to draw the overlapping limbs in this crouching pose. Figure 2.21 This pose is more of a sagging, tired pose. 26
  12. Figure Construction Creating the add some flesh and muscle to your drawings. You will notice that in my manikin, a lot of detail such as fingers, toes, Manikin and facial features are omitted. Figure 2.22 shows a male manikin. This is because the purpose of the The next step in drawing figures is You can use this for an example of manikin is to establish the figure to create a simplified manikin of how to draw your manikin. on the paper, not to deal with the body. The manikin is like the detail. The detail will come later. simplified skeleton in that it uses The manikin does not need to be Artists use the manikin as a simpli- only minimal detail, but unlike the very detailed to work well; it just fied figure for working out compo- skeleton that works mostly with needs to show the bulk and sitions and for quickly sketching inner structure of the body, the dimension of the figure. You can their ideas and inspiration. manikin deals more with surface simplify your manikin beyond detail. Drawing simplified skele- what I have done here if it will When you draw the manikin, sim- tons and gesture drawings is fine, make it easier to draw. plify the muscle groups. Think of but at some point you will want to Figure 2.22 The manikin adds surface detail to the beginning stages of the figure drawing. 27
  13. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models them as lying over or around the across the chest are the pectoral press will work the pectoral mus- bones of the skeleton. In Chapter muscles, and they pull the arms for- cles, and rowing will work the lats. 3, “Figure Anatomy,” we will cover ward. The large muscles of the Sometimes it is a good practice for human anatomy in more detail, back are called the latissimus dorsi the artist to go to the gym and but for now just do the best you muscles, or lats for short. They are work the different muscle groups can with what you already know. used to pull the arms back. These to see how they affect movement. are just three of the many muscles You will know which muscles you The human body is made for used to move the arm. worked because they will be the movement. The muscles are placed ones that ache the next morning. so that they can contract and move If you do any weightlifting, you various limbs or other body parts. know that lifting weight above Figure 2.23 shows the female The muscles at the top of the your head will work your deltoid manikin. If you compare her to the shoulders are called deltoids. They muscles and make those muscles male version, you can readily see pull the arm up. The muscles more pronounced. The bench that she is very different than the male. Figure 2.23 The female manikin is different than the male manikin. 28
  14. Figure Construction Although male and female bodies deeper than on the male. The male manikin. As you become have many similarities, they are female waistline is higher than the more familiar with the male and also very different. A single male’s. The female ribcage is female figures, you will notice manikin will not work well for smaller and the shoulders are nar- other differences. drawing both figures. You should rower. The female’s arms are gener- develop your own manikins for ally more slender than the male’s, both the male and female figures. but her upper thigh area is often Drawing the Some of the main differences thicker. Her legs tend to have more between the two manikins are in of an overall taper from the hip to Manikin the pelvis. On the female, the hip the ankle. Her hands and feet are Let’s take a look at drawing the bones are higher, wider, and often smaller than those on the manikin. S T E P - B Y- S T E P 1 Start with the action line, as shown in Figure 2.24. 2 Over the action line, draw the simpli- fied skeleton of the figure. Make sure you establish the gesture in your skele- ton. Don’t worry about being exactly accurate. The two things you are look- ing to accomplish at this stage are cap- turing the figure’s gestures and defin- ing the general proportions of the figure (see Figure 2.25). Figure 2.24 The action Figure 2.25 Capture the line establishes the gesture with the simpli- dynamics of the figure. fied skeleton. 29
  15. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models Figure 2.26 Draw the manikin over the top of the skeleton. 3 Over the skeleton draw the manikin. Just like the action line is a guide for drawing the skeleton, the skeleton is a guide for drawing the manikin. Each step builds on the preceding one. The manikin is shown in Figure 2.26. NOTE In this drawing exercise, I drew the action line and skeleton much darker than I would normally draw them so that you could see them. Typically I draw the action line, skeleton, and manikin very lightly so I can do a finished drawing over the top of them. You will notice that in Figure 2.26 the action line and skeleton are much lighter. I went in with a kneaded eraser and pulled much of the graphite off the page so that you could better see the manikin drawing. I usually don’t erase when I draw because it has a ten- dency to disturb the paper fibers, causing unwanted textures. By drawing the initial stages very lightly, I can establish my figures without needing to erase the construction lines, and I can still create delicate drawings. 30
  16. Figure Construction Draw the manikin a number of The manikin is a very useful tool Be aware that in learning to draw times until you become comfort- for the figure artist. With it, you the manikin, you need to con- able with it. Figure 2.27 shows the can quickly (and in most cases, stantly work on getting the overall male and female manikin in some accurately) sketch and build up proportions right. If the propor- action poses. ideas for your drawings. Working tions are off, the drawing will look with a manikin helps you draw odd or awkward. As you draw, Try filling your sketchbook with better from reference because it measure your drawing and com- manikin figures drawn from your builds confidence in figure draw- pare it to the basic proportions of imagination and from reference. ing. One of the reasons why begin- the body to keep it correct. Figure Artist can be a valuable tool ning figure artists experience prob- because you can set up the figure lems sketching the figure is that As you can see from this chapter, in a number of poses and create they are afraid that they will draw the idea is to learn to draw the fig- sketches of it. Try sketching the something wrong. By learning how ure from the inside out. You start same pose from different angles. A to draw the manikin, the artist can with the action line and then build big advantage that Figure Artist has overcome that fear and focus a gesture sketch using simplified over photographs for figure refer- instead on learning to draw the fig- skeletons over the top of it. The ence is that you can set up a figure ure well. skeleton establishes the gesture and then look at it from any angle. and the proportions of the figure without any surface detail. It can be done in a matter of seconds. On top of the skeleton you draw the manikin, which adds flesh to the bones. The manikin defines the shape and mass of the body. Major muscle groups are lightly defined in the manikin, but most surface detail, such as facial features and fingers, are omitted. The manikin can be used for drawing from ref- erence and for developing figures from your imagination. Figure 2.27 Draw the manikin in action. 31
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