From Life

Sketches of the family in the garden and watching television.

Sketches of the family in the garden and watching television.

All this is especially true when your subject is the human figure. Not only will you need to be able to call upon a fund of first-hand information about the body's shape and structure, you must also gain a thorough knowledge of how people stand and sit and move if you are going to be able to draw them convincingly. For this reason you should make constant use of a sketchbook.


Just as a writer needs a notebook for jottings and thoughts and an athlete needs work-outs and physical-training sessions to keep in peak condition, so the artist needs a sketchpad to keep his or her skill and visual memory sharp. Your sketchbook is your most valuable asset and any artist who does not use one is the poorer for it. As a combination of diary, workbook and record of life around you it becomes an extension of both your learning power and your visual memory.

For the purposes of figure sketching, a small writing pad with unlined paper, about 23 cm x 12.5cm (9in x 5in), is quite adequate; indeed any small book with blank pages will do. It is not necessary to have expensive, high-quality paper for this purpose - in fact, it could even work to your disadvantage, because you might begin to feel that it was a little too precious to be 'wasted' on quick sketches and notes. You have to be prepared to be profligate with your sketchbook pages, and you won't do that if you're worrying about the cost.

A number of different formats of hard-covered notebooks with unlined pages are currently available at modest prices. I regularly make use of three types: one is about 15cm x 10cm (6in x 4in) and fits easily into a pocket; the second is about 23cm x 15cm (9in x 6in); and the third, about 30cm x 20cm (12in x 8in), I stow in a bag when travelling (I find bus and railway stations perfect places for figure sketching).

The best place to start is probably at home. Members of your

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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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