Find the Gesture of the Pose Quick Sketches continued

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The direction of movement in this sketch is captured with few details. The artist has simplified the pattern of light and shadow to convey a figure about to stride forward. Shadow and light have been used here to describe the form, but line has been used mostly to describe and accentuate this sense of movement. The only line drawn to describe the back is a short, dark line that pronounces the curve of the back as the figure steps forward, its darkness accentuating this movement. The small accent for the elbow on the right arm provides just enough detail to let the viewer understand that the arm is bent toward the back of the body, which emphasizes that the figure is leaning to the left and moving her weight forward onto the left leg.

The sense of capturing an unfinished movement is very strong in this sketch. Look at the line to the left on the back. This does not describe form but makes a lovely sense of tension when juxtaposed with the curved, broken line describing the outer side of the right arm and the right leg. This point of tension holds the movement of the figure in check, so that she will always seem to be about to stride forward. Techniques like these give a sense of timelessness to art, because the action is never completed.

Deanfisher Com
Figure Study in Motion, by Dean Fisher

This is a relaxed, peaceful pose. The gesture has been emphasized in this example, not through line or tone, but mainly by composition. The emphasis is on the head, which is framed in two ways.

The arms make a "V" shape formed by the line drawn along the bottom of the left arm, and the line drawn along the top of the right arm, which is outlined in the example. The head becomes framed in the widest area of the "V" shape. The back and side of the body form another "V" shape, with the head situated in the open end of the "V." There is a repetition of direction, which guides the viewer's gaze to what the artist felt was the most important aspect of this sketch, the sense of peacefulness contained in the position of the head and the expression of the face.

You can use compositional devices like this within your work to emphasize what you feel is important in your drawing. Often this will happen quite naturally, and you will unconsciously accentuate what attracted you to the subject in the beginning. The more you draw, the more this will happen. If you consciously add elements to make your point understood, these elements can become obvious and too mechanical looking. Therefore, it is important that these elements be subtle, so that the viewer is not always aware of how you are directing their gaze. This sense of mystery will involve the viewer in the work, and make them return to the work again and again.

As stated earlier, draw often and these compositional devices will become apparent without you forcing them into position. This compositional device of the open-ended "V" leads the viewer to a calm, serene face, which is the only detailed part of the drawing. This reinforces the aim of the drawing—to suggest a sense of calm and peace. Accordingly, all of the features of the face are softly drawn, with the exception of the curved, darker lines to suggest the closed eyelids, and the downward, darker accents at the corners of the lips to suggest the muscles relaxing around the mouth. Darkened lines are kept for use as a framing device and for emphasis. The softness of the shading underlines the sense of tranquility and comfort.

Color Pastel Figure Drawings

In Chapter 4, you were introduced to creating toned paper using graphite. Using a similar process, you can add some color to your drawings by adding a tone to your paper using soft pastels. After following the steps below, you will be ready to draw a figure on colored paper.

In this example, the easiest type of pastel to use is a soft pastel because it can be easily erased.

Unlike pencil, you do not have to sharpen your pastel stick. Simply choose a color that you would like to use. Unwrap the paper binding around it, and use the length of the stick to apply the pastel to the paper.

Soft Pastel Figure Drawing

Then, with a paper towel, rub the pastel gently into the paper until you obtain a nice, even finish. If your finish is not even, just add some more pastel over the rougher areas and rub in gently again.

You can add another color on top of the color you have already used by following the same procedure. The first layer of pastel will not come off because you have already rubbed it into the paper. This example has two colors rubbed into the paper.

Using a pink pastel as the main color to which some ochre pastel was added, the artist began his drawing with a rough outline of the figure in charcoal. You can see that he was trying to get the right shapes and proportions by using several lines instead of just one perfect line.

Using charcoal allows you to easily wipe away something that you don't like in your drawing. You can always replace the pastel underneath if you need to erase a lot of charcoal. In the beginning, keep your marks light and do not press down hard on your charcoal or graphite. Patiently work out your model's proportions at the start of your drawing. If you do not do this, the problems you have ignored will plague you as you continue drawing. It is best to lay down a solid foundation in order to feel free to explore more creative possibilities. Drawing the correct proportions of anything, especially a human figure, takes time, patience, and practice.

How Draw Quick Sketches


To continue this drawing, the light on the top half of the left side of the body has been erased. This includes the shoulder and half of the upper left arm, as well as the side of the face, neck, and top part of the ear lobe. Although the arm is being lit, all of the pastel cannot be erased because the form still needs to be explained. This is where the pastel works beautifully as a mid-tone. The color of the pastel is light enough to suggest the light, but darker than the white of the paper. In this example, the artist used pastel to create a beautiful mid-tone to set off the lit areas. If you keep this in mind, you will not have to shade in any mid-tones, as the pastel is doing all of the work for you.

The artist has begun to shade in the shadow areas, using charcoal to do so. The pastel has been shaded over in the top-left corner, as the light in this area is not as strong as the light on the figure. Here a darker tone is needed to provide a contrast to the mid-tone area on the figure. Notice how quickly you can suggest the solidity of the figure by simply concentrating on the basic light-and-shadow pattern. Having an existing tone on your paper provides you with a basis on which to base your range of tones, from lightest to darkest. If the tone in this example was very dark on the paper, it could have been used as a basis for the shadow area, rather than as a mid-tone.

Drawing Mid Tone Paper

To further refine the drawing, the artist has erased the pastel completely in areas on the left side of the body. He has used white pastel to emphasize the highlights on these areas and also added charcoal to the left side of the buttocks, to show the underside of the form as it turns away from the light. Notice that the shading does not go straight up to the edge of the perimeter of the figure. The mid-tone was very slightly erased to reveal the reflected light. This reflected light rounds the form (see "Reflected Light" in Chapter 5). The artist also developed the left leg by erasing some of the tone to reveal the light shining on it. Also notice how some shading was added with charcoal to the left side of the spine, which suggests the form of the rib cage. This gives the back a more rounded appearance.

The highlight on the top half of the back differentiates the back into two separate planes. The plane that the spine lies on is shown by the square. The smaller rectangle shows a different plane of the body. This plane is turning away from the plane of the spine. Of course, this is a rough approximation, as the body is curved and not square. When you draw a human figure, you have to be aware of the body's round forms. There are no hard edges to distinguish one plane from the next. Of course, you can simplify the form as much as you want, just as in the Poussin example (see page 230) and those of many other artists. Successful simplification of the figure reveals an extensive knowledge of it. When you begin to draw the human figure, you want to gain as much knowledge through observation as you can. With this knowledge, you will be able to simplify these complicated forms and make them appear believable.

Here are some more planes of the back's surface. The smaller square shows that the back is facing a different direction from that of the previous example. If you find this difficult to understand, sit in the same position and feel your own back. You will feel how the top of your back is facing upward. As you move your hand down your back, notice how the angle of the back changes. It assumes a different plane to the top of your back. The larger shape shows the back rounding to the side of the body. This lower half of the body is facing a different direction, compared to the top part of the body, which is outlined in the previous example. This lower part of the body is now more vertical compared to the top half of the back. Be aware of how the surface of the back changes direction. If you understand this concept, and are aware of the resulting tonal changes, you will achieve a solid three-dimensional form.

Here are more planes of the body, indicated at the top and side plane of the thigh and along the top and side plane of the arm. The neck can also be treated like a block too. Two additional planes, the side and the back of the neck, are also shown. To make all of these areas appear round, you must subtly vary your tone from one plane to the next, to distinguish them from each other. If you do not, the area will appear flat, and you will not achieve a roundness of the form.


Flat Human Palm Drawings

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