Draw the legs coming down from the hips, as shown in Figure 2.7.
The last step is to draw simple shapes for the hands, feet, and knees, as shown in Figure 2.8.
The skeleton that you just drew should fit over the top of the figure, as shown in Figure 2.9. In fact, a useful exercise for beginning artists is to use a piece of tracing paper and define the skeleton of photographs from magazines and other sources.
The nice part about drawing the skeleton first is that you can use it to create a number of very expressive figures in very little time.
One of the most important aspects of learning to draw the figure is getting the feeling of life and action in your drawings, as shown in Figure 2.10. This is often referred to as capturing a gesture or gesture drawing.
Gesture drawing is the foundation of good figure drawing. A gesture drawing is a quick drawing of the figure focusing on just the figure's action. It doesn't need to be accurate, but it does need to get the feeling of life and movement that is inherent in any figure.
The first step in doing a gesture drawing is to establish the action line of the figure. The action line is a single line that shows the direction of the main movement of the body. Figure 2.11 shows an action line for a figure.
On top of the action line, the skeleton can be roughed in quickly, as shown in Figure 2.12. You will notice that the construction lines
are really not very precise. They are almost sloppy. That is okay. Sometimes a good scribble has more feeling than a well-planned line.
Once you have an idea of general proportions, you can draw the actual skeleton, as shown in Figure 2.13.
The entire process of creating a gesture drawing should take only about 30 to 60 seconds. It is very important to set a time limit and push yourself when doing gesture drawings. The time limit forces the artist to focus only on the main action and not on the detail. Figure 2.14 shows a page of gesture drawings from a live model. Each drawing was limited to 30 seconds.
Beginning figure artists tend to draw stiff figures that have little or no life in them. Your drawings will improve dramatically if they have a good gesture drawing as their foundation. The timed gesture drawing focuses on the continuity in the figure, rather than the discontinuity of the joints.
Often a figure will seem stiff and awkward because the artist will focus on the joints rather than the line that goes through the joints of the body, causing a stiff robotic look. The human form is made up of curves. There is really nothing straight about it. If you complain that you can't draw a straight line, then you might be just right for figure drawing.
Think of the body as a series of curves. Some of the curves have sharper angles than others, but they are all curves. There is a curve that goes through every joint, including the elbow and knee joints. The limbs of the body should flow into each other, even if they are bent at extreme angles. Take a look at the example in Figure 2.15. The figure in this example has his legs bent sharply, yet as you can see from the overlaid lines, the joints can still flow into each other.
Now it is time to do a little practicing. Figures 2.16 through 2.21 show examples of our virtual models posed in some action poses. Time yourself and draw a gesture drawing with the simplified skeleton. Give yourself only about 30 seconds to do each drawing. You might need to draw them more than once to get a good gesture drawing in that short of a time, but hang in there until you have captured the action in each figure.
In Figure 2.16, the model is standing in a power position with his feet spread and his arms to his sides. See whether you can capture the power behind the stance.
In Figure 2.17, the model has shifted his stance and is reaching up with his right arm. See whether you can capture the weight and pressure in the model's legs and his arm straining in the action.
In Figure 2.18, the model has just completed a punch. His weight is supported on his left leg, but the power behind the punch came from the right leg. Notice the twisting of the torso.
In Figure 2.19, the model is in a dramatic pose with both her arms extended to the sides as if she were a sorceress casting a major spell.
Can you capture the tension and drama of the pose in your drawing?
In Figure 2.20, the model is crouching low, looking to spring into action. This pose might be more of a challenge because of the overlapping limbs, but give it a try and see whether you can capture the coiled tension of the pose.
In this last pose in Figure 2.21, the model is sagging as if she were very tired. Maybe she was just hurt and is trying to get up. See whether you can put these aspects of the pose into your drawing.
Each of the poses I just used as examples is part of the library of poses supplied with Figure Artist. You can find them and many more on the CD that came with this book. Figure Artist is a great resource for working with the action of a figure and then drawing the result. You can use the supplied poses or come up with some of your own. In Chapter 5, we will cover posing the virtual models in more detail.
Figure 2.17 The model moves into action. Figure 2.18 Look to which leg is supporting the model's weight.
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