View Full Version : Yea, though I walk through the valley of...

05-27-2013, 05:36 PM
...stupid figure painting no good rassafratten hurgadern tahpultapitz!! Where did THAT second elbow come from?! Oh, that's just awesome...way to go, tiny-head-giant-hat boy!! :mad: *goes all Yosemite Sam grumble-cussing*


I WILL master painting figures into my landscapes. They WILL NOT look like transposed cartoon characters, and they will have naturally-moving joints in the RIGHT PLACES.

I was in Michael's, and they had a $5.00 clearance tag one of those little wooden mannequin things for posing and drawing. I picked it up and looked at it and thought, "well...that doesn't look at all realistic...".

Then I proceeded to come home and paint three pages of hikers and fisherman that look like they're defying the laws of gravity, physics and anatomy at the same time.

Remember that fantastic Daffy Duck cartoon where he's interacting with the artist, and the artist uses his eraser to torture said duck by erasing his bill and things? I LOVE that cartoon.

Stupid erasers don't work in watercolors.

I think I'll paint bonnets and bustles ("Little House on the Prairie" style) on all my rugged outdoorsy looking guys, then I'm going to hang them up where all the properly painted rugged outdoorsy guys can see them and laugh at them and throw tiny rotten fruit at them. Maybe I'll just paint some Graham paint on their pahookies and let the nanobears at them. That'll show 'em for getting uppity. :p

I think I'm going to head over and buy that $5.00 mannequin. :rolleyes:

05-27-2013, 06:00 PM
LOL Karl, you will master it. I did a Class on putting figures in your paintings. (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=618908)


05-27-2013, 06:45 PM
LOL Karl, you will master it. I did a Class on putting figures in your paintings. (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=618908)


Brilliant! Thanks Doug, just what I needed, I'm going to tear right through it tonight, I really like what I see there.

Man...I love this website. :clap:

05-27-2013, 08:39 PM
I remember reading that Winslow Homer used to buy dolls and dress them up so he could practice sketching figures until he got them the way he wanted them, then he would place them in his beach scenes.

I know most dolls aren't correctly proportioned or posable. Maybe action figures? Just about anything would be better than those goofy mannequins though.

05-27-2013, 08:54 PM
Be careful! You just gave me free reign to run out and re-purchase my long-lost beloved Star Wars action figures!

"That's a beautiful Victorian seaport! Wait...is that...Boba Fett letting out the sheets on that ship?" :lol:

M.L. Schaefer
05-27-2013, 10:00 PM
:lol: :lol: :lol: Karl! You made my day! :lol: :lol: :lol:

So, here's an oldie but goodie book that I've had for (shall I say it) many many decades! If you don't mind the "model" poses, it does give really, I mean really, great instructions for drawing the body (both simplistic and very detailed). If nothing else, it does show where an elbow belongs! And how a knee is supposed to look!

Jack Hamm, Drawing the Head and Figure.

:heart: Margarete

05-27-2013, 10:53 PM
Be careful! You just gave me free reign to run out and re-purchase my long-lost beloved Star Wars action figures!

"That's a beautiful Victorian seaport! Wait...is that...Boba Fett letting out the sheets on that ship?" :lol:

Wait...you mean you didn't feel like you free reign before? Isn't that the best part of being an artist? The freedom to go wherever you please to bring home whatever you like so you can paint what you want?

Saint Ragdoll
05-28-2013, 01:03 AM
Skip Lawrence has a technique for putting figures into paintings called "jellybean figures" do a Google for it. There is a video and a book too...it is an older book...
Saint Ragdoll

05-28-2013, 03:29 AM
Karl, you are so funny:lol::lol::lol:......I'm right behind you in your attempts to figure out how to draw the figure. I have one of those mannequins, but with all the twisting and turning of the joints, it's always off balance! Here is a link (if I can manage to add it) of Riven Phoenix's artist module which can manipulated by touch screen on ipad, iphone. I don't now how good this as I do not have touch screen.

Link: http://www.AlienThink.com (http://www.alienthink.com/)

virgil carter
05-28-2013, 08:44 AM
Using figures in landscape paintings can be challenging--at first. It may help to put figures into one of two categories:

--Incidental to area of interest: This is where the role of figures is secondary to the primary area of interest. In this category, figures need only to be "suggestive", to add scale and "human-ness" to the landscape to keep it from appearing deserted and uninhabited. In such cases, it may be enough to make figures a single stroke, with no detail at all. Keep in mind that the viewer's brain is usually pretty good, and they can usually distinguish a "human" shape from a "tree" shape;

--Key part of area of interest: This is where the role of the figures is primary; they are a part of the painting's area of interest. Perhaps the figures are the area of interest! In this case, more accurate depiction may be important. Even here, however, it may be sufficient to simply indicate the figure's anatomy reasonably accurately and let the viewer work out the rest--it all depends on one's painting style.

The worst thing to do would be to paint inconsistently, ie, paint in a highly expressive and suggestive manner, but use highly accurately rendered figures!

Sling figures!

05-28-2013, 09:01 AM
...Riven Phoenix's artist module which can manipulated by touch screen on ipad, iphone. I don't now how good this as I do not have touch screen.

Link: http://www.AlienThink.com (http://www.alienthink.com/)

This is an amazing app! Will be very helpful, thanks :)

I didn't even think to look for something like this. Works like a charm on my Android phone and tablet.

The user interface is kind of clunky, but they'll eventually improve it, I'm sure, but it gets the job done :thumbsup:

05-28-2013, 11:48 AM
Karl, you crack me up! I share your frustration with figures. It's rather embarrassing, but I haven't really had the nerve to draw people since childhood. The last few weeks I finally dove in by taking a figure drawing class, which was very helpful. Junior colleges and community courses are great resources.

The tough thing about drawing people is that we're so In tune with what they look like that if something's off, we know it immediately. It's far more obvious to us than if we draw a landscape or a dog. I hate to think what hyenas or woolly rhinos would say about my depictions of them!

Doug, that link you posted is awesome! Very very helpful.

Noula, that's really helpful, too!

05-28-2013, 02:54 PM
Thanks for all the kind words, guys. It's so nice to know that I'm not alone in this. The way I see it, if we can't laugh at ourselves, we're missing out on the good memories of the journey, so to speak. The last couple of days I've been sitting here painting pages of little people and have busted up laughing a couple of times at the sheer absurdity of what some of them end up looking like. :lol:

Thanks Virgil, I had to read your post a couple of times to get my head wrapped around it, but you've done a great job of teaching me how to do a little thinking before I just start slinging carrots. "Sling Figures" he says. Love it! :clap:

I'm trying to master a couple of hikers/fisherman to put into a painting for my Dad on father's day, a memory of one of our first evening forays into the Alaskan wilderness when I was 13.

The painting will be based on our trip out (about a 3 mile hike into the Russian River, where the fishing was amazing back then), as we were headed into a fairly dark patch of woods. Prior to packing up and heading out, there was a lot of "one more cast, Dad, please?" going on. I didn't understand why he wasn't excited about staying longer!

I hadn't really done the math (I was 13 and fishing in Alaska for the first time!) on how long it would take to get out of there. There are a LOT of bears in that area, and they're pretty active that time of year. It was finally getting almost too dark to tie lures when it dawned on me that we still had to get out of there.

On the way out, as we were headed into the dark patches about mid-way, I was trying maintain composure and let Dad know that I was all manly and brave. He was hiking out behind me and got a chuckle when I turned around and asked "Dad, are bears nocturnal?" (I had a few hamsters as pets when I was younger, so I knew big words like that :p).

As he said, "yeah, I believe they are", I got my second, third, all the way to about seventh wind. You never saw a chubby 13 year old cover so much ground so fast to get back to the car.

It's one of those memories that we've laughed about over the years, and the title to the painting will be Dad, Are Bears Nocturnal? I hope to finish it and ship it out before I make the move across country next week, so it will get to Alaska in time for Father's Day. I don't think I'll ever be able to convey my gratitude to him for the gargantuan effort he made to create lots of memories like that for my brother and I.

I don't remember ANY of the countless hours of TV, video games and other 'entertainment' that I spent time on back then, but I remember EVERY weekend that Dad and brother and I went and did 'guy stuff' outside. I'm a lucky man for having had such a role model, and one of my biggest goals in life is to just get to the same plane that my dad has made it to.

I've done a couple of quick 5x7 studies, and I'm ready to hit the 11x15.

I've got enough campers and hikers practiced to at least get them put in the right place at the right scale, now the trick is executing it all together.

Here's the pics of the little studies, and a couple of examples of my figure practicing (I'm NOT showing you the prior 6 pages of ne'er-do-wells).





05-28-2013, 03:15 PM
Great story Karl :lol:

I think you are doing fine with your small figures.


M.L. Schaefer
05-28-2013, 03:27 PM
Karl, your little figures aren't so bad, except the bow legged cowboy throwing a spear is a hoot!

I see what you mean about the hikers, taller than the bushes, shorter than the trees...you may need more detail for those...wishing you the best of luck, :crossfingers: and I believe, as Doug said, you will be fine!

:heart: Margarete

05-28-2013, 03:40 PM
Karl, your little figures aren't so bad, except the bow legged cowboy throwing a spear is a hoot!
:heart: Margarete

LOL...I was wondering if anyone would notice that. I've been finding myself talking to them as I paint them (I probably should think about getting out and interacting with people a little more). He was supposed to be casting a fishing pole, but as I painted his arm, it got all kinds of extended on me.

I got a little frustrated, and I believe my statement to him was something to the effect of, "fine, you want to throw something?! Have a spear, champ!".

Then he got the crazy-legs treatment. Fixed his wagon, I did.

Wasn't it Chaucer that said, "I'll eviscerate you in fiction."?

I love playing god with all the little people on my paper, watching them cower terrified as I wield my spear and magic helmet.

Fear me, tiny paintlings, for I AM the Lord of the Carrot People! :lol:

Marcio C
05-28-2013, 05:08 PM
Karl, it is not so much the drawing that is making your figures awkward, it is the painting of them... unless the figure is close up and the main focus of your painting, it should not be too detailed, and not made of separate segments or shapes. The color shapes should merge into each other. Lighting principles apply, i.e. shaded and lighted side. If you are looking at the figures from a distance, some details would not be distinguishable, such as the visor of the hats--the brim or visor should at most be a faint line. Just consider the elements against each other and against the level of detail in your painting and it should help you decide which details are visible and which are not.
Make the head smaller than you think it needs to be. Allow the hat and the head or hair merge. Do not try to draw the shirt, the pants, etc. instead try to suggest the shape of the body with a couple of strokes. Do not make the body shape flat, change color or intensity from left to right--if necessary by lifting color or by adding color wet on damp. Soften at least one of the edges. Try to use drybrush strokes for the arms and legs, this will suggest movement. Don't paint the two legs the same, if you do, lift the color from one of them. Don't paint feet, unless you are very confident you can do a good job, otherwise keep them vague. Always make the feet smaller than you think. If the figure is performing a specific action, make sure that the posture and arms suggest that--in your case, extend the arms more from the body to suggest they are holding a fishing pole. The fishing pole should be almost invisible, right now it looks like your fishermen are holding guns because they are so thick.
There is one or two videos of Charles Reid painting a figure in a landscape. Check the work of Thomas Schaller, Alvaro Castagnet, Joseph Zbukvic, Andy Evansen, Arne Westerman for examples of good figures.