Drawing From Life

Bus-stop sketches.

Figure Drawing Without Model

family make ideal subjects because they are readily available and will often be engaged in activities which do not involve a great amount of movement, such as reading or watching television. Most people are willing to be cooperative - and, indeed, find it quite companionable to be sketched as they perform some domestic chore like washing up.

In order to maintain your subjects' willingness it is advisable not to take too long over each drawing. Virtually anyone can on occasion be persuaded to keep still long enough for you to make a detailed drawing, but most sketchbook work is anyway of greatest value if carried out with a sense of urgency. You will quickly learn how to catch the essence of a pose or character in a few lines and your work will have more vitality as a result.

Having done some drawing in familiar surroundings, you will soon feel confident enough to take your sketchbook out of doors. People will rarely bother you if you find a suitably unobtrusive spot in which to position yourself.

You need to get into the habit of drawing constantly, of taking your sketchbook with you everywhere you go. Whenever you have a spare moment, take your sketchbook out of your pocket and draw the people around you: standing at a bus stop and sitting in a café present good opportunities for you to find a convenient position and make quick sketches of the people nearby. I find a clutch pencil or ballpoint pen ideally suited to this purpose.

Use only one side of the paper. There are three reasons for this

Bus-stop sketches.

Ballpoint Pen Drawing Techniques

dictum. The first is that cheap paper often suffers 'show through', so that the lines you have drawn on one side can affect the quality of your work on the other. Second, even if you use a good-quality paper, pencil drawings on facing pages will rub down on and spoil each other. The third reason for using one side only is that in due course you may wish to dismember your sketchbook so that you can place the pages side by side in order to check your progress or to produce a finished picture based on a number of sketches.

To begin with, you may be able to get down no more than the angle of the head and the set of a shoulder before your subject moves. This is fine: everything you do in this way contributes to your growing fund of knowledge about the human figure. These details may not seem very valuable, but they most certainly are. If you are able to draw the slovenly young man slouching against the bus stop or the tired old woman burdened with shopping your work will have the ring of authenticity, and the essence of character is in the subtlety of such details. You will be surprised how readily this is noticed and how much it is appreciated by anyone who sees your work - even if they don't know why they prefer it.

Your sketchbook should generally be regarded as a personal document - rather like a diary. Indeed, many artists make notes on and add comments to their sketches, thereby increasing their usefulness later, especially if a sketch ends up being used as the basis for a finished drawing.

That having been said, it is probably best at this stage to see sketching as primarily a means of sharpening up your powers of

Drawing Human Body Proportions

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  • sian
    How to make a sketch of a model?
    7 years ago

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