Figure Drawing - The Human Figure

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Figure Drawing - The Human Figure

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One of the greatest challenges to confront an artist is drawing the human figure. Our bodies are infinitely complex yet intimately familiar, giving rise to a subject that is difficult to depict accurately yet judged incessantly. The human figure is almost overwhelmingly complex for the artist to draw. The human figure is an organic structure that defies geometric simplification. It is composed of bones, muscles, and organs, all of which are covered by a flexible layer of skin. The body has many moving parts that make it almost impossible to define as a shape. Within its skeleton are more...

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  1. C H A P T E R 1
  2. ✎ The Human Figure O ne of the greatest challenges to confront an artist is drawing the human figure. Our bodies are infinitely complex yet intimately familiar, giving rise to a subject that is difficult to depict accurately yet judged incessantly. The human figure is almost overwhelmingly complex for the artist to draw. The human figure is an organic structure that defies geometric simplification. It is composed of bones, muscles, and organs, all of which are covered by a flexible layer of skin. The body has many moving parts that make it almost impossible to define as a shape. Within its skeleton are more than 200 indi- vidual bones. Attached to the skeleton and throughout the body are more than 650 muscles. Figure drawings are held to the highest standards. Because the body is very familiar to us—we each have one of our own—we generally know a lot about it. We admire its beauty and we recognize its flaws. Physical perfection is sought by many, giving rise to such industries as cosmetics, plastic surgery, and a plethora of diet programs. This basic familiarity can often become the bane of the figure artist because his artwork is judged by a higher standard than almost any other art form. Any artist desiring to learn how to draw the figure needs all the help he can get. Fortunately, in addition to books and other forms of instruction, a new way to help artists with their figurative work is becoming available through technology. This new technology gives the artist access to virtual figure mod- els to use as references for figure drawing. Figure Artist, a new software pro- gram, now brings the power of virtual models to everyone with access to a computer. Figure 1.1 shows a screen shot of Figure Artist. 1
  3. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models Although virtual models should and talk with one mouth. It is diffi- Drawing the human form is excit- not take the place of human mod- cult to imagine any subject so simi- ing and rewarding. Although the els, they do add a valuable resource lar yet so individual. task might seem daunting, the for the artist when real models are rewards are great. Not only does unavailable or the pose is unattain- There is a rich history of art cen- the study of figure drawing able. Often artists are faced with tered on the human figure. The strengthen all of your art skills, it needing to draw a figure with no human form transcends the history also enables you to express your- time, money, or availability of a of art from the earliest cave paint- self in ways that would be difficult model. Sometimes the pose needed ings to the present time. Great with any other subject. The very for a drawing is something that masters such as Rembrandt, da fact that we ourselves are human can’t be held by a model, such as Vinci, Michelangelo, Velasquez, allows us to appreciate the inspired in the case of something requiring Rubens, David, Picasso, and more work of a figure artist. dynamic motion in sports or other have all focused on the human fig- extreme physical activity. In these ure in their work. One can scarcely situations, artists in the past had to walk through a major art museum without finding an abundance of The Human rely on their own visualization abilities. Now, however, artists can work depicting the figure. The Form set up models in Figure Artist and range is enormous, from breathtak- ing realism to thought-provoking Drawing the human form is a chal- use them as reference for their fig- abstraction and everything in lenge that requires extensive study. ure work. This book will help to between. Any artist who wishes to master explain how virtual models can be the drawing of the human form used to help artists improve their One of the reasons for the abun- needs to spend extended time figure drawing. dance of figure art is the amazing studying the anatomy that makes range of emotional potential with up the human body. Although humans as subjects. Although some artists might gain the ability Drawing People other animals may have emotion, to construct a believable figure I find drawing people both fasci- no creature has the immediate from experience and knowledge nating and challenging. People are emotional impact that a person without visual reference, this usu- fascinating because we come in so does. In fact, we judge all emotion ally doesn’t happen until consider- many shapes and sizes and have so based on our own human experi- able time has already been spent many different characteristics, such ence. We cry. We smile. We laugh. drawing from reference. The best as ethnic and cultural differences. We cheer. We quietly wait out our reference, of course, is to draw Yet with all the differences, we are days. No other subject has the from life. This means that the artist still very much alike. Most people potential for emotional diversity either hires a model or attends a have two eyes, walk on two legs, that comes packaged in one life-drawing class. person. 2
  4. The Human Figure A life-drawing class allows the ✎ The study and drawing ✎ Artists who are profes- artist to study the human form of the human form sional and dedicated to from a live model. There is no sub- should always be kept their craft treat the stitute for being able to see and professional and study of the human draw an actual person. In a life- respectful. The model form as an essential drawing class, the artist is con- is a person, not an step in depicting the fronted with the reality of a living object, and should be power, beauty, and human being in actual 3D space accorded the utmost grace of the physical with specific lighting. Some life- respect. Anything that body. They are serious drawing classes have clothed mod- would demean, and focused about their els, but more often than not the degrade, or offend the work. They are not model is nude. dignity of the model gawkers at a peep has no place in a life- show; rather, they are Some artists might feel uncomfort- drawing class. Any per- students trying to com- able drawing from a nude model. son who would say, prehend an immensely Often there are personal, social, act, or draw anything complicated subject. and even religious pressures that that would demean, can cause an artist to feel this way. degrade, or offend the In a perfect world, an artist would I can understand these feelings. I dignity of the model always have a live model for refer- had to deal with many of them has no place in a life- ence. In the reality of life, however, myself over the years as I have drawing class. it is rare that the artist can always worked to become an artist. Let me have a live model to work from. share some observations that might ✎ The human form has a Often the artist will need to work divine, inherent beauty help you. from other resources. These that goes beyond resources might include plaster ✎ It is impossible for an almost anything else in casts, mannequins, books, online artist to accurately the human experience. courses, and other forms of art draw something that is As figure artists, it is instruction. Added to this list of unknown or that he is our job to capture and resources is Figure Artist. Figure unfamiliar with. Like a express that beauty in Artist might be as close as an artist doctor who has to our work. can get to a live model without know the human body actually having a live model. to practice his profes- sion, the artist has to understand anatomy, proportions, and mus- cle locomotion to depict believable human forms in his work. 3
  5. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models Photographic Copyright Laws Pornography Reference When you draw a picture, you and Art automatically own that picture. Sometimes drawing from life is I feel it important to touch briefly Your ownership is called a impractical or impossible. A cam- on the subject of art and pornogra- copyright. You can even register era can be a great friend to the phy. Pornography is often in the your picture with the government. artist. A photograph is only a sin- eye of the viewer. What may be In the US, copyright registration is gle view of the world, but a single pornographic to one individual with the Library of Congress. You view is much better than no view. may not be to another. Regardless, can download a copyright form Many artists keep files, either on the intent and purpose of pornog- from hard copies, such as prints or raphy are often very different from slides, or digitally on computer Regardless of registration, you own that of art. While the artist is trying files, a morgue. I don’t know where your own work. So does the pho- to express the qualities and wonder the term “morgue” for reference tographer who takes a picture. of the human form, the pornogra- photographs came from, but it is pher exploits the sexual aspects of often used to describe a box of pic- When collecting pictures for your the body. The use of pornographic tures used by an artist for refer- own morgue, you should be very images for artistic reference is a ence. A large and well-organized careful of copyright laws. The law moral decision that every artist morgue can be an invaluable tool states that every image has an should understand before they for an artist. I started collecting owner. You should not use some- make that decision. photographs for my morgue when one else’s photograph in your work I first was studying art in college. without getting permission from Sometimes it is difficult for the My collection of pictures is a real the owner first. If you don’t get artist who must study the human timesaver. permission, you are in violation of form to avoid the temptation to use copyright laws. Remember that the pornographic images for reference. Figure Artist works much like a laws that give you ownership of Unfortunately, I have seen the camera for taking pictures of your your art are the same laws that pro- addictive nature of pornography digital models. In fact, the software hibit you from using someone else’s adversely affect many artists. If you has several cameras. You can use property for your art reference. It is want to learn more about the Figure Artist to pose your models, important for artists to respect each destructive nature of pornography and then render the images to a other’s work. addictions, you can read more digital file that can be printed or about it at these Web sites: viewed on a computer screen. One of the nice things about Figure ✎ Artist is that you don’t have to cforum/fosi/ worry about copyright laws when pornography/ using images from it for your ✎ work. pornography/ ✎ www.americande- 4
  6. The Human Figure I recommend that you not include on Commerce Science & any pornographic images in your Transportation; they show the NOTE morgue for four basic reasons. destructive nature of pornogra- phy addiction: Figure Artist uses virtual 1 ✎ models that are anatomically Most pornography is unrealistic. hearings/testimony.cfm?id=13 correct, including genitalia; The models used are often 43&wit_id=3912 however, it also includes a selected for qualities that have feature to remove genitals very little to do with how most ✎ http://www.commerce. from the models. The default people look, and the poses are is off, showing no genitalia. often blatantly sexual in nature. It testimony.cfm?id=1343& wit_id=3911 The images in this book use is easy to spot an artist who uses the default setting. pornographic material as refer- ence because he usually has a ✎ http://www.commerce. distorted view of the human testimony.cfm?id=1343& form. wit_id=3910 Learning to Be a 2 4 Figure Artist Pornographic books, magazines, The human form is a beautiful Good figure drawing is a conscious and Web sites are usually copy- and wonderful creation. It should righted, and therefore it is against effort that takes time, patience, and be treated with the utmost the law for you to copy them in knowledge. I have often told my respect and dignity. Pornography your artwork. Like any other pho- students that art is more closely exploits rather than dignifies the tograph, you should only use related to an athletic event than it human form. what you have permission to use. is to an academic endeavor. I Figure Artist helps to solve the believe that art instructors would 3 problem of art and pornography be better served to think of them- Pornography addiction is because it is designed to be an selves as coaches than as teachers. extremely dangerous. Not only anatomical reference tool that uses Like athletics, art takes very refined can it rob time from your art, it virtual models rather than pictures. physical facility, adeptness, and can completely monopolize your It was designed to help fill a need inspiration. life. Studies have shown that for poseable anatomical reference. pornography addictions can be For those who want to seriously harder to overcome than addic- study the human form without the tions to tobacco, cocaine, or heroin. The following Web pitfalls of pornography, Figure addresses are for testimony Artist is a good solution. before the US Senate Committee 5
  7. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models Physical Knowledge Let me give a quick example. Often one of the most glaring errors that Art has a very tactile aspect to its Knowledge is key to creating great beginning artists make is to draw a creation. It is a physical act that figure drawings. When talking person with the features of the face requires immense dextral control about figure drawings, words such too high on the head. The artist and extreme delicacy. This type of as anatomy, gesture, proportion, com- assumes that because there is so control can only be learned position, perspective, line quality, much going on between the eyes through long practice. Like the form, and lighting always seem to and the chin and so little between athlete, an artist must spend count- crop up. Each of these words the eyes and the top of the head, less hours practicing. The artist denotes specific knowledge that the features of the face should take needs to learn control and han- the artist needs to have to consis- up most of the room on the head. dling of the drawing instruments. tently create meaningful figure The fact is that a normal human The artist must gain a feeling for drawings. In other words, just head has the eyes about halfway the surface. being able to control a pencil is not between the top of the head and enough—the artist also has to the bottom of the chin, as shown Practicing drawing can create understand structure and compo- in Figure 1.2. within an artist drawing skill. In nents of the figure and the drawing other words, the artist can learn to itself. make the pencil behave and do what the artist wishes. An artist For the artist to use knowledge to can learn to draw boldly and help with drawing, it must be strongly or delicately and subtly. If accurate knowledge. Familiarity you have ever watched a good cari- with himself both helps and hin- cature artist at work, you know ders the artist in learning how to what I mean. The drawing just draw people. It helps because the seems to flow from his or her pen- artist already knows the subject. It cil. It is almost a performing art. hinders because the artist assumes But just learning to use a pencil an understanding of the subject well does not make a person a and draws without really looking good figure artist. The artist also at it. needs to have knowledge. Figure 1.2 The eyes are only about halfway up from the chin on the average face. 6
  8. The Human Figure Artists gain knowledge from many Close examination shows that even When teaching students how to sources, but the greatest source of though the eye might resemble the draw eyes, I first have to unteach knowledge comes from observa- shape of a football, it is much more the football shape and get them to tion. This is especially true of the complicated. Look at Figure 1.4. really look at the eye. As long as figure artist. Learning to see the The eye itself is actually a round they assume they know the shape figure as it really appears will do sphere within the eye socket. The of the eye, they don’t really look at more for increasing a person’s abil- upper and lower eyelids cover the it; they just draw footballs. Once ity to draw the figure than almost ball of the eye, allowing only a they really start to look at the eye, any other ability. small portion to be seen. Rarely they begin to understand how it does the iris of the eye show com- really looks and can draw it with Probably the most significant thing pletely below the upper eyelid. confidence (see Figure 1.5). that I have learned through intent There is a tear duct on the side of observation is to see how things the eye near the nose. And the eye- really are instead of how I think lids have thickness, which is most they should be. A big revelation for noticeable on the lower lid. me when I started really learning how to draw was how many assumptions I made in life. Let me give you an example. Take the human eye, which many think is shaped like a football. I have seen Figure 1.5 It helps to know the many beginning art students draw true nature of the eye to draw it eyes similar to footballs, as shown well. in Figure 1.3. Figure 1.4 The shape of the eye is more complex than a simple foot- ball. Figure 1.3 Beginning artists often draw eyes in the shape of a foot- ball. 7
  9. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models Vision miss. What the artist sees might be Even mundane objects and places the subtle shading from light to become interesting. Major art In addition to drawing skill and dark across a surface, or it might museums are filled with paintings knowledge, a good figure artist be the underlying personality of of mundane scenes made interest- needs one more ingredient— the person he or she is drawing. It ing by the hand of great masters vision. It doesn’t take vision to might be that the artist has a whose vision helped the rest of the draw something well and accu- unique way of looking at social sit- world see wonder in the ordinary. rately, but it does take vision to uations, as Norman Rockwell did, create art. or it might be that the artist can see Artistic vision requires the artist to the inner spirit of man, as focus and see what others might Not long ago I was discussing with miss. It is difficult to say which ele- Michelangelo did. The artist then a friend his recent experiences in ments the artist might pick up that takes that vision and infuses it into taking a drawing class at a local others miss, but let me give you a his work to give the world a mean- university. He commented on simple example from my own ingful work of art. something I have often seen when work. While drawing a portrait teaching my own students draw- A trained artist who has learned to one day, I noticed that the pupil of ing. He told me that he was draw and paint realistically experi- the eye was set back from the lens. amazed at all of the things he had ences life at a completely different Look at the drawing of the eye in never noticed before—things such level than does a person who has Figure 1.6. Notice that the clear as the way light defines objects and not had art training. The world lens of the eye has thickness, and how reflected light makes objects becomes a rich and beautiful place both the iris and the pupil sit look like they have dimension. He full of wonder and excitement. behind the lens. spoke of colors and shading, of textures and motion, of composi- tion and perspective. He com- mented that he really wasn’t a very good artist, but that taking a draw- ing class was teaching him how to see. He stated, “I never knew how much I was missing in life until I took this art class.” My friend was gaining more in his drawing class than just the ability to draw. He was gaining artistic vision—the ability to see the world in a truer, clearer way. In other words, he was gaining the ability to see and understand the world around him in a deeper, more pro- found manner. This ability enables Figure 1.6 The iris and pupil sit behind the clear lens of the eye. the artist to see what most people 8
  10. The Human Figure For me, this simple discovery was Basic Proportions James and Jessica are virtual mod- meaningful because it changed the els and not real people; therefore, way I thought of eyes, and I began of the Human they are not based on a single body to recognize the inherent quality of Form type, but rather are designed to be offsetting the iris and pupil from the ideal body types. Figure 1.8 the outer edge of the eyeball when As mentioned earlier, human bod- shows our models without clothing the eyes are turned at an angle. ies come in a great variety of so you can better see their This might sound like a little thing, shapes, sizes, and colors. It would anatomy. but the little things sometimes be almost impossible to describe make the biggest differences in an every variation while trying to give artist’s work. you some basic guidelines for drawing the figure. Instead, I will attempt to give you some general proportions based on an ideal Learning about human body. The creators of the Figure Figure Artist have been kind enough to supply ideal male and In this book I hope to help you to female virtual models that I will develop all three aspects of figure use as references to show you the art just mentioned. I will be giving proportions. Let me introduce you practice exercises to help you them to you. Meet James and develop your physical art abilities. Jessica, shown in Figure 1.7. I will give instruction to help increase your knowledge of figure drawing. And last of all, I will give Figure 1.8 Without their clothing, you creative challenges to help you you can better see the models’ unlock your artistic vision. Let’s body type. start by going over some of the basics of the figure. This will help you to gain a foundation upon which you can then learn how to draw the human form. Figure 1.7 James and Jessica are our two virtual models. 9
  11. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models When working from the ideal fig- doesn’t radically change dimen- Even though the female figure is ure as reference, the artist needs to sions.) The ideal figure is about generally smaller than the male fig- keep a couple things in mind. eight heads high, giving it a slightly ure, the proportions are the same First, the ideal figure is an ideal, larger-than-life feel. Look at Figure because a person’s head is usually not an average. For example, the 1.9, which shows the proportions proportional to their body. Thus, average figure is about seven-and- of the ideal figure. taller people generally have larger a-half heads high. (When measur- heads than shorter people do. ing, the figure artist will often use The “eight heads high” rule applies the model’s head as a standard unit to the female figure the same way it of measurement because the head applies to the male, as shown in Figure 1.10. Figure 1.9 The ideal figure is eight heads high. Figure 1.10 The female figure is also eight heads high. 10
  12. The Human Figure I also included a few other lines ✎ The distance from the legs, the male figure is over our male and female figures to center of the body to usually thicker than the show some other interesting facts. the tip of the finger is female figure. about half the height of ✎ The widest point of the ✎ The male figure is the model. Therefore, hips on a female is about three head- the distance from fin- even with her crotch, widths wide at the gertip to fingertip is while the widest point shoulders and only equal to the model’s for the male is above about two to two-and- height. his crotch. a-half wide at the hips. ✎ If the body was divided ✎ If the male figure is ✎ The female figure is in height by four, the muscular, the upper leg about two to two-and- bottom quarter line muscles will be wider a-half head widths for would intersect the than the hips. both the shoulders and knees, and the top the hips. quarter line would be Figure 1.11 shows the male from ✎ The halfway point for just above the nipples. the front, side, and back. Notice the height of the figure ✎ With the exception of that the lower leg is almost entirely is just above the crotch the hips and upper to the right of the centerline in the area of the model. side view. Figure 1.11 Look how the proportions line up with the figure from front, side, and back views. 11
  13. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models Figure 1.12 The female figure seen from the front, side, and back Figure 1.12 shows the female from Figure 1.13 The two the front, side, and back. models are walking and wearing bathing suits. You can use these general propor- tions to help you set up your fig- ures in your drawings. They create a base for better understanding the human form. Try sketching our two models, shown in Figure 1.13. For this drawing don’t worry too much about getting a beautiful fig- ure drawing. This is just an exer- cise to show how to use the pro- portions to set up a drawing. 12
  14. The Human Figure S T E P - B Y- S T E P Figure 1.14 Start with two lines. Figure 1.15 Make measure- ment marks for the head, crotch, knees, and feet. 1 2 Make two lines where you want to place your Now measure your lines and make marks two figures. Make the lines about the height where the head, crotch, knees, and feet you think the figures should be, as shown in should be, as shown in Figure 1.15. Figure 1.14. 3 You can use linear perspec- tive to check the relationship between the two figures, as shown in Figure 1.16. The perspective does not need to be exact because of differ- ences in body types, but the two figures need to look as if they are in the right places and they are the right sizes. Figure 1.16 Use perspective lines to check your work. 13
  15. Figure Drawing with Virtual Models 4 Now fill in a rough skeletal structure for the two figures, as shown in Figure 1.17. Figure 1.17 Draw the skeletal structures for the two figures. 5 Once things feel right, you can move forward with blocking in your figures, as shown in Figure 1.18. Figure 1.18 Now block in your figures. 14
  16. The Human Figure An eight-heads-high figure might high. Figure 1.19 shows the fash- This chapter has only touched be the ideal height, but in some ion and heroic proportions next to briefly on some of the important cases it might not be ideal enough. the ideal figure. Notice the differ- aspects of figure drawing. I hope Fashion drawings, for example, ent feeling that each has. you have had a chance to pull out may use a character that is closer the Figure Artist CD and experi- to eight-and-a-half heads high, and You are in charge of your drawings. ment with it a little. In the next if you are doing a superhuman fig- Once you know the basic propor- chapter, we will cover figure ure, such as in a comic book, the tions of the human figure, you can anatomy and construction. figure might even be nine heads adjust the proportions to get the look you want. Figure 1.19 Changing the number of heads-high a figure is changes the feeling of the figure. 15



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