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More Life Drawings – Looking at Structure and Form

(post contains more nudey bits)

So in the last post I introduced you to my model and talked about starting to come to grips with the body’s proportions, learning to try and get a sense of accurate gesture and pose, looking at how to represent the spread of weight in the body, and deal with issues such as foreshortening and achieving accurate proportions.

Moving forwards I was starting to think more about form, introducing areas of light and shade. I wasn’t worrying too much about finer detail yet, i.e facial expression but concentrated on using shading to give my drawings a better sense of flesh and weight, beginning to think about how shading can help give a sense of musculature and flesh, and found that this contributed to the sense of pose, emphasising how the body twisted and stretched.  I experimented with using hatching marks, broad charcoal sweeps, and smudged graphite to build up contrasts in tone.



above and below – Project ‘Form’. Exercise: Essential elements

I was especially pleased with the two charcoal sketches above and felt this really opened up using charcoal more confidently, but not too fussily, in quick figure sketches and like the different energies they suggest – the dynamic turn of the head in the left, and the stiller, more poised seated posture in the right. What was tricky here was managing to maintain accurate proportion AND work bold enough and fast enough to create some energy. Tricky, that one. Where arms were lifted, I found it hard to achieve the correct shoulder position, too, so as not to make the arm look dislocated!

Smudging graphite pencil gave a nice effect below too – I always much prefer using graphite to normal pencils. You get that softer, smudgy quality of charcoal and the ability to work really deep variations in tone smoothly like you do with charcoal, but with the benefit of slightly more control.

At last at last at last I had the opportunity to stop drawing myself and to have a go at drawing some male anatomy (my probably-fairly-obvious lovely model shall remain nameless for modesty’s sake). Men often have much more defined musculature than women so a male figure was perfect here. I was able to start thinking about how to express the form of muscles and joints more accurately and loved doing this next exercise, ‘Three drawings’ (although I did four in the end, making the most of having a model). I also decided to work BIG here, that’s A1 paper on my easel except in the case of the second picture which was smaller and decided on mostly charcoal to achieve bigger, broader marks. I do seem to find expressing form easier and more quickly using charcoal, too, especially on a bigger scale.

Not a lot of room for error with charcoal as it’s hard to rub out, so achieving the outlines accurately was tricky but, using what I’d learnt so far, I think I did ok. What the charcoal pictures lack in accuracy I think they make up for with atmosphere and style. I worked relatively fast for each one, with the lying down pictures fastest of all, using my whole arm here. I’m proud of these last two – here I tried to simplify my model down to the most basic lines and shapes of shading. Using graphite and finer charcoal in the first two pictures gave much more pronounced sense of muscle, and I found it was hard to draw anatomical drawings quickly or loosely, but something of the brash, sharp angels of the lying down poses also give a sense of the bones underneath.

 above and below – Project ‘Structure’. Exercise: Three drawings


Next up – it’s time to put some clothes back on (booooo!) and start looking at drawing clothes on figures as well as having a go at capturing the essence of a people, moments and scene through quick sketches.

1 Comment

  1. Susan Mann

    Those look incredible x

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