Foreshortening and Perspective
THE drawing opposite by Jean-Baptiste Greuze is a good example of fore-shortening and on page 43 I have posed a model somewhat similarly, but in about as difficult a pose as you could imagine. Almost every part of her is foreshortened or distorted in some way. This is done to show you one of those occasions when your brain and your eye have a head-on clash. Your mind, with its knowledge of what happens when the model stands up and the foreshortening disappears, confuses your eye, which is only trying to draw what it sees at the moment.
Take, for instance, the model's right leg. You are accustomed to think of it as being a certain shape, now you find, when trying to draw it, that you endeavour to indicate all the length from the hip to the knee ; again, the width across the hips is half hidden by the right leg ; notice too the very short distance from the shoulder to the waist owing to the model bending forward. The diagram shows the angle at which these shapes and contours are placed. Note also the way her left hand is propping up the weight of her torso. The model was sitting on a model throne raised about 18" above the ground. I was sitting to draw and my eye, therefore, was about level with the model's shoulders.
Earlier on I explained the importance of understanding the main masses of the
figure and their relation to one another. Now when you study these you should also notice how the shapes are affected by perspective. In the first standing pose the lines AA, BB, etc., not only showed the angle at which the different shapes were inclined, but also gave some idea of the perspective. It is important to appreciate the distortion caused by perspective. Later on, if you are very interested in the subject (which is a fascinating one) get a book and study it thoroughly but, for our purpose, it's not necessary at this stage. All that you need is to observe the level of your eye and where it cuts the model's pose, and realize that everything above this line will be slightly distorted — increasingly so as you get higher up and, of course, everything below will be distorted in the opposite direction.
In the pose on this page, which we were discussing with regard to fore-shortening, there is not much distortion due to perspective because of the short distance From head to ground. In the standing poses on page 32 you will notice this distortion more easily. I can't stress too much, however, that you shouldn't fill your head with theories which take away your reliance on your eye. All these aids and guides I have mentioned are merely suggestions to help your eye and hand to grasp the problem before you. You will find after you have practised some time analyzing different poses, breaking them up into big shapes, studying the distortion caused by perspective and fore-shortening, noting the distribution of weight, that you do all this almost subconsciously and only in some emergency will you need to make diagrams. Practice can be obtained not only from the living model but from photographs and reproductions of paintings. Press photos of boxing, swimming and other sports can also be studied. Drawing from life must, however, always be the best method.
I have included many drawings of different poses on which you can practice if you like. Analyse them as I have done, using tracing paper and making dotted lines to show the main shapes and contour lines round them, to show you understand the way the shape is inclined. Try also to understand the perspective and the way the weight is balanced. When you have done this compare your results with mine.
Another way you can do this is to try modelling the figures in plasticine or modelling clay, quite roughly, of course, as we're not trying to become sculptors in this book !
This is a fine bold drawing by Sir Jacob Epstein, such as you would expect from a great sculptor. It reminds me of drawings by Rodin. Here is the sculptor's interest in the solidity of the shapes —you can feel his hands modelling the shape of those shoulder blades. There is also the disregard of technique ; he is not interested in the actual technique of drawing. Compare this drawing with Watteau's and with Renoir, then look again at Picasso and Matisse and you can see the infinite variety of approach to the problem of drawing the female figure.
6. Methods of Drawing
Opposite : A drawing in pen and brush by Rembrandt, made 300 years ago, and now in the F. Koenigs Collection, Rotterdam.
Opposite : A drawing in pen and brush by Rembrandt, made 300 years ago, and now in the F. Koenigs Collection, Rotterdam.
WE discussed some methods when considering Technique, but there are some pitfalls which can beset the beginner even in a subject like Figure Drawing, in which technique is very simple.
Beginners nearly always have a tendency to copy some master's work. Art Schools are full of students working away industriously in this or that master's technique. During the course of one's labours you usually run the gamut of them all, finishing up with whatever method suits you best — probably the one you started with ! There is no harm in all this so long as you keep your eye — that hard working organ — on the main job. In case you've forgotten, that job is to reproduce accurately and sensitively the pose before you. The fact that some people do it with a pencil and others prefer a pen is of no more importance than that some writers use a typewriter direct and others prefer to write their own manuscripts — it's the results that matter. Another point is that there is no need to think you must always work in the one method. A good draughtsman like Augustus John has done wonderful drawings using all kinds of methods — pen,
charcoal, chalk and, of course, principally pencil. Though the drawing on the opposite page by Rembrandt is in pen and wash (a favourite medium) he also made figure drawings in every medium except lead pencil, which hadn't been invented in his day (though something called Silverpoint was used, which has a similar effect).
This drawing by Rembrandt is a good example of the feeling for the solidity of the figure that I keep stressing. Don't start by trying to work in this technique, which is much more difficult than it looks ; there is also the disadvantage that it requires the use of more tools — water, ink, brush, and pen. I show it mainly because it's a beautiful
Born in 1S64, Jean Antoine Watteau came to Paris to earn his living as an artist at the age oj eighteen. At first he lived in extreme poverty, copying and doing deep religious pictures. In J 7 05 he worked for a scene painter. Gradually, however, his ability was recognised and he achieved enormous success in his lifetime. He was a consumptive and had all the restless energy of those suffering from this disease. His drawings are as famous as his paintings. They were in fact the basis from which he painted his pictures, and the examples shown were both studies for paintings. The drawing opposite is from the collection of Miss Lily Bowse ; that above from The Louvre, Paris.
This drawing by the French sculptor Charles Despiau is interesting as being in the classical French tradition that began with Ingres. The line is everything and the tone and modelling are only there to help and explain the line. Obviously a drawing made Jor a job, it tells you a lot, and is a good example oj a workmanlike approach to a problem, though not perhaps as aesthetically pleasing as those by Watteau and others. I confess though I'm always a little suspicious of drawings that have no head and would feel happier if this one had.
Opposite : A drawing of Venus and Cupid, by Francois Boucher, from the collection of J. N. Brown, Esq., Providence, Rhode Island. Due to considerable practice in life drawing, Boucher, like Rubens, was so familiar with the human figure that he could draw it in all kinds of attitudes without needing a model. It is perhaps fortunate for him that he died before the French Revolution, as other artists of his type, who survived him, fell upon evil times, their work being considered old-fashioned and vulgar.
and powerful drawing by one of the greatest draughtsmen that ever lived. It shows a method you can try later on if you feel like it and want to experiment bravely.
Art Schools in Victorian times were afflicted with a disease known as " stumping." This was a method whereby the drawing was built up without the use of lines. They used a paper stump — a roll of very soft paper rolled up to make a point — which was dipped in black powder and rubbed on to the paper to give a vague indication of light and shade. This might be gone over with a piece of soft charcoal to produce greater definition but any suggestion of linework was stumped out with the stump. Lights were obtained by rubbing out some of the grey mess with rubber or dry bread (rolled up in
The drawing opposite by Sir William Russell Flint, R.A., P.R.lf.S., is in chalk on slightly tinted paper and is shown here as a comparison with a Michelangelo drawing on this page.
Sir William has made mam thousands of drawings as preliminary studies and has developed his figure drawing to very great heights. No unnecessary rhetoric ; all Jacts stated in a simple and workmanlike way without flourishes or unnecessary lines. The result is a quality of work that should be studied with great care and interest.
In the drawings shown it is Sir William1 s that gives the more convincing suggestion of feminine flesh. Being primarily a sculptor, Michelangelo thought in terms oj solids and his first drawings were usually studies for sculpture. This particular pen and ink drawing happens to be from a group of studies of draperies and sculpture. It is about 450 years old and is in the collection of the Musée Condé, Chantilly.
a baU and kneaded into any desired shape). All this was gone over again and again until the finished drawing looked more like the photo of a piece of bronze — sometimes the model endured week after week in the same pose. Fortunately, stumping died out and more vigorous draughtsmanship took its place, brought about by the increasing interest in topical events and its emphasis on sketching movements. The nearest modern type of stumping; is when making chalk or charcoal drawings, where, it you like, you can get an effect of light and shade by smudging the lines with your thumb.
A very straightforward method of drawing is that used by Sir W. Russell Flint on page This drawing, in chalk on slightly tinted paper, relies on iine for its basic shape, but light and shade are fully explored and the whole solidity of the figure is
A further drawing by Charles Despiau in which the line referred to earlier is even more sparingly used. This apparently " empty " drawing nevertheless creates a wonderful illusion of roundness and volume.
This superbly sensitive drawing by François Boucher is a further example of the apparent ease with which he was able to master any pose. Yoy will notice the completely relaxed manner in which the limbs support the body. Although Boucher and other J 8th Century artists were able to turn out drawings in great quantities for the albums of connoisseurs, his work should not necessarily be disparaged on this account. This drawing is from the Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard University.
understood and expressed. The play of light on the muscles of the back and the occasional glimpse of the bone structure show superb concentration and the keenest eye. I'm sure the artist knows all about anatomy, but I'm equally sure, with that keen eye, he would have drawn just as well without the knowledge.
It is interesting to compare this drawing of a woman's back with the study of a similar subject by Michelangelo. Russell Flint has given the suggestion of feminine flesh
Here is another Degas from the Fogg Museum of Art. How different was his method of drawing the female figure from that of Boucher, for example, and, indeed, from the drawings of Pablo Picasso, who is represented at his most typical in the example opposite. Picasso manages, with the greatest possible economy of line, to get a tremendous amount of effect. It is good practice to try sometimes to draw with such simplicity as a contrast to some of the types of drawing we have seen so far.
more convincingly than has Michelangelo, whose drawing might almost be a very muscular boy. Being primarily a sculptor, Michelangelo thought in terms of solids and his first drawings were usually studies for sculpture. When, much against his will, the Pope forced him to undertake the mural decoration of the Sistine Chapel, he conceived this more from the sculptor's angle than the painter's. This monumental conception gives his work its greatness but, of course, you don't go to Michelangelo for charm or femininity. There are all kinds of figure drawing, all of them difficult if sincerely approached and drawn for all kinds of different purposes, there is no standard of comparison except the sincerity of the artist.
Another method of drawing, taught by Kimon Nicolaides in New York, is to follow the outline. Begin, anywhere you like, with an outline ; follow this round, examining as you go along what causes the contours, the bumps and lumps that make up the outline. Cling tenaciously to your line and if you have sufficient tenacity you should eventually arrive back again at the point you started from, having completed the circuit. It takes a lot of doing but produces some very decorative results and a kind of drawing shorn of all flourishes, bravado or anything that isn't absolutely necessary. You can do it with either a pen or a hard pencil — in fact, anything with a point. Some, who draw by this method, use a ball point.
Rembrandt's drawings have always been considered some oj the greatest ever produced. Most oj them, as is this onejrom the Craphische Sommlung, Munich, are in pen and wash. There is no attempt atJeminine beauty. He looked for beauty in the light and shade.
Famous as a painter, Renoir's drawings arc not so well inoivn, but he was a very careful draughtsman ; sometimes almost too careful. This pastel shows his interest in tone values and in the silhouette of the figure. Notice how the tone oj the hair merges into the Jiesh. (Photo : Durand-Ruel Fils, Paris).
Brush drawing has a very honourable ancestry and the brush is a very pleasant and flexible instrument to use. It is capable of the thinnest, finest lines or the broadest washes. You can study Chinese and Japanese drawings to get an idea of its possibilities and many artists to-day use it for all kinds of work from line drawings to paintings. In the examples here and on the next opening 1 have used a fairly fine sable brush and Indian ink, the latter diluted for the washes. It's not, perhaps, quite so portable as a crayon because you need water and a bottle of ink, but it can give you a very different effect, as you see.
The important thing is not to be too subtle in your approach. Get the broad effect visualized before you start, study the masses of shadow and use them to give solidity to your drawing. Don't be afraid of the line, and if you go wrong the first time draw another boldly alongside and another too if you're still wrong. The great advantage of brush drawing is that it forces you to be bold and direct and therefore it's very good for you should your work tend to become a little too timid and detailed. The paper used is Ingres paper; the same as that used for chalk drawings.
Shown here and on the following two pages are various drawings made with different types of pens. Some are with a fine crow quill nib on Bristol board ; others, like those opposite, with a thicker nib on Whatman " Not " paper. They are not drawn so large as those in which I've used Conte chalk ; none of the pen drawings is more than 8" high, this size being as much as a pen line can really manage without strain.
As far as the approach to the drawing is concerned, it makes no difference whether you use chalk or pen, but you must appreciate the limitations of a pen. It is difficult, for instance, to cover large areas of shadow quickly and therefore these are best suggested or even left out if possible. I find the pen is most sympathetic when used fairly loosely, don't concentrate too much on a rigid outline but more on the shapes —for this reason especially it makes good practice. I used three different sorts oj pen nibs, thefnest was a Gillot crow quill used on Bristol board. The medium size was a Gillot 303 also on Bristol board. The thickest nib was also a Gillot nib and is called an " artistic shoulder " nib; I don't know why 1 The latter is a very flexible nib for all kinds of uses, and I used this with Whatman " Not " surface paper.
I HAVE said earlier on that you don't need to worry about anatomy in the initial stages. We seem to have made some progress since then, so perhaps now would be a good time to consider this matter.
Briefly then, there is a basic skeleton, a kind of Meccano-like framework, which will be vaguely familiar to you, though (except perhaps in X-rays) you've never seen your own. This frame isn't wholly rigid, some parts of it bend by means of muscles and tendons which contract and expand like a piece of elastic. In consequence, some parts of the frame are hidden by a complex web of muscles which almost completely cover it. They are hidden still more from your inquisitive eye by areas of fat, in certain parts of the body, by arteries and other blood vessels, by the digestive system and, finally, by the skin.
It follows, therefore, that, when the model moves, a very complicated process goes on. Muscles change their shape as they haul the bones into another pose, some areas of fat alter with the shifting of weight and all kinds of things happen which involve you in a whole new world of study. This study can be very fascinating and if you are to benefit from it you must get a good mental picture of the building up of a human body.
So much happens every time a model moves into a new pose. Quite apart from anatomy, there is distortion caused by perspective, which we've already discussed, and we've also gone into problems of fore-shortening. It is with some diffidence then that I bring along this further problem.
You will begin to think that this chapter on Anatomy consists of advice. Don't ! However, anything that can be of help to you should be used, and so, now that we understand the importance of using our eyes, we can begin to educate ourselves in mild doses. For purposes of drawing you don't need to know names and details as a medical student would. You are simply concerned to understand the figure, to help you draw it. You know that very roughly the framework of the body looks like the sketches opposite. Now don't be conventional in your outlook and think of a skeleton, as you've seen it in drawings or photos — remember it has three dimensions.
Seen as a whole the human skeleton might roughly be described as an egg-shaped, rather heavy blob at the top (the head), supported on a long line of bones knitted ingeniously together so they will bend and twist (the spine). Attached to this spine is a kind of cage (the ribs), also rather egg-shaped, and the spine ends in an almost shapeless piece of heavy solid bone, the pelvis (the nearest description would be bowl-shaped). All the above are supported almost three feet above the ground by a series of long, thin bones which end in flat platforms composed entirely of little bones, the feet (tarsal and metatarsal, etc.). These support the full weight of the body and, in addition, help it to move about. Loosely attached to the rib cage we must not forget those important things — arms. Again these are a series of long, thin bones, vaguely like the leg bones but smaller. They are supported in front by the collar bone, and at the back by the shoulder blade, neither of which need any introduction I'm sure.
There's very little point in worrying yourself about what these bones are called unless you want to impress your friends or take a first aid course. It will help if you just get the rough idea of their shape in your mind.
The main muscles, which cause you so much tribulation, are the parts of the body which you can trace most easily when drawing. I have drawn, below, a front and back view (again very roughly) to show the different muscles which overlay the skeleton.
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This rough drawing shows, in front and back view, the different muscles that overlay the body. The names don't matter; it is the shapes that you should notice.
It's not, however, the names that matter, it's where they are and their shapes that you should notice. When you have done this try out your new found knowledge on some of the drawings in this book, or photographs of bathers in the South of France, or on your friends. To start you off I've analyzed a pose from the anatomical angle (below). Possibly I sound a little flippant about anatomy, but please don't think I underrate the subject, and once more I stress the fact that, if you feel that more knowledge on this subject will help your work, you should certainly acquire it. Otherwise, I feel that the rough and ready and most unorthodox anatomy lecture I have just given you will serve its purpose for the moment.
The drawings accompanying this chapter were prepared by the author to indicate styles typical of various periods. Here, to start with, is an early Egyptian nude oj about igoo B.C.