The human figure

Drawing the human figure in colour provides certain obstacles for you to conquer before you become really proficient. One major fact is that coloration of the human body encompasses a wide spectrum. There are few truly strong colours in the human skin range, but a host of very subtle tones.

Apart from obvious differences in skin colour between various races, the complexion of each human being reflects any number of hues, according to whether you are looking at that particular individual in the cold light of winter in the north or beneath a brilliant summer sun, closer to the equator. Then again, there is another range of tints caused by the effect of electric light. And not only do you have the colour of the skin to consider, but also the colour of your model's clothes and of the background setting, which will affect the appearance of the skin against them.

With people, it is always a case of getting them to co-operate with you in order to draw them effectively. It may not be a question of drawing the whole figure, but sometimes just an arm, or a foot, or the head and neck. And don't just draw the head from the front, but from every possible angle: it all increases your ability to do 'life' well.

Your models will need patience, as it takes time to produce a good representation of the human body. A life class at a local art institute is one of the best ways of learning to draw the human figure and the experience will never be wasted. But even without tuition, you can still prevail upon friends and relations to sit for you. Change the poses frequently - standing up, lying down and positions where the body is extended and curled up in turn all help to increase your range. And remember to look carefully at limbs and torso when they appear foreshortened, in order to see how much the shapes of the body alter when seen from different angles.

Finally, clothing obviously makes a big difference to the appearance of your model. Start by asking them to dress simply, so that you can see the shape of their body clearly. As you improve, you can ask them to wear something thick or heavily draped, and you can test yourself to see if you can work out what is happening beneath the fabric.

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Learn to sketch by working through these quick, simple lessons. This Learn to Sketch course will help you learn to draw what you see and develop your skills.

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