View Full Version : figure drawing and painting

10-14-1999, 05:14 PM

Does anybody know any manual concerning figure drawing? I've got a book on anatomy, but it's hard to copy things from it. I've practiced a lot doing sketches of my dressed kids and my naked husband, but I need some guidance. I need to know the main principles of figure drawing.

10-14-1999, 06:31 PM
try to find the george bridgeman series of books. he explains muscles as wedges of interlocking shapes...very dynamic...and practical for art,,,,not that biology-techno-medical stuff you get from other anatomy books

Talmadge Moose
10-19-1999, 08:17 PM
An excellent book is Figure Drawing for All Its Worth, by Andrew Loomis. If you cannot find a copy, then try looking through the Walter Foster books, where you will find several excerpts from that Loomis book. But the best way to learn figure drawing is enrolling in a sketch class with a good art instructor, one who does a series of gesture drawings, contour drawings, five minute sketches, and longer periods of study from the model. This method is outlined in another book, The Natural Way to Draw, by Nacolaides (I'm not sure of this spelling, but it is close).

10-20-1999, 12:08 AM
I have MANY books but the best one is the 3 inch spiral bound I keep in my purse. When waiting in line at the bank, drive-thru, Dr.Office, garden club meeting, etc I practice.

The skating rink is a wonderful place to take in the two minute gesture.
Kids are the true critiques, you know.

10-25-1999, 04:47 PM
Thank you all for advice. I know it's better to take a class, but now I'm depprived of this opportunity. Meanwhile, I've bought a book my Louise Gordon "How to Draw the Human Head" and "How to Draw a Human Figure". There's plenty of anatomy in them, but I'm going to copy all the bones and muscles. May be, it will help...

10-27-1999, 11:51 PM
Since I posted to this site.....I had to test my theory. I DID take my drawing book to the skate rink when the kids were rolling along.

I did gesture or five. Then, found a willing HOT friendly face to tackle. The kids loved it (HEY LOOK AT HER). I found I was less pressured and played/sketched for the pure enjoyment of drawing.

Roger E
11-13-1999, 11:10 AM
I feel bad!! Have you not reviewed both my portrait lessons and lessons on human anatomy here at Wetcanvas!? :-)
Go to the ArtSchool OnLine section and look for my series' on this subject. AND, should you need additional assistance, simply e-mail me and we will discuss it. OR we can always talk on Wetchat here on the site.
Good luck,
Roger Elliott

11-14-1999, 11:17 PM
Of course, I did go through your course very attentively. And I appreciate it a lot. I found a lot of helpful information in it. But now I'm studying the anatomy, so that I will know and "feel" how the bones and muscles go, etc. Anyway, it is a matter of practice. Later I will find an opportunity to attent classes in figure drawing, I guess. Meanwhile, I keep drawing my children, my son especially, who never sits still more than 3 minutes. But this is what I need for sketches!

12-11-1999, 09:51 PM
Something I've noticed that works is when I'm sitting in a class(I'm a senior in high school), I'll take a look around me and notice the various poses people take, and sketch them out. It's been a pretty good help so far. Hope this works hehehe.


12-11-1999, 09:51 PM
Something I've noticed that works is when I'm sitting in a class(I'm a senior in high school), I'll take a look around me and notice the various poses people take, and sketch them out. It's been a pretty good help so far. Hope this works hehehe.


anita Stewart
12-13-1999, 09:53 PM
Sounds like you've gotten some very good suggestions..Here's one concerning gesture drawing..Try gettin one of your kids to pose for these types of drawings..Do them in a series. Here's how it goes: Modle strikes a pose..You draw him for 5 min..He strikes another pose..YOu draw him for 3 minutes..He strikes another pose ..You draw him for 2 min..He strikes another pose..You draw him for 1 min.These types of drwing force you to concentrate on how quickly you can capture the essence of each pose..You have to ignore details especially of the face adn concentrate on the main lines of the figure..How well can you use line to give the impression of 3d ??

12-16-1999, 08:59 PM
This might be a weird question, but I was wondering if anyone knew the best way to draw people of short stature. I do know from looking at myself that we have smaller, stubbier hands and shorter legs, but past that it's all a fog. Thanks so much!!


12-17-1999, 06:07 AM
that's a WEIRD question!!! you draw what's there. but if your figures aren't looking like what they should, make them weightier.,,,wider. chubby fingers don't get it done. no one looks at fingers to identify heighth. if you're doing head portraits,,,it doesn't matter. if you're doing 3/4 portraits, it doesn't matter. the ONLY time it matters is when you do full length. so you copy what's there. if you're trying to make head and 3/4 potraits look short,,,,why??? milt

12-17-1999, 11:19 AM
Thanks, Anita. But I've already done a lot of sketches of my children the way you described. Now I want to concentrate on details, on the face and the figure, see how the muscles go and waht bones they cover. I tried to sent my drawings to the critique, bu they did not go through. I'll try once again.

01-03-2000, 03:33 AM
Julia: draw the figures you have access to, and then get some real tracing paper and put it over the drawing. Tape it and the drawing in place, so they don't slide around, and draw the skeleton within the figure. All humans have pretty much the same bones, in the same places. If they have clothes on, the places where the folds start are almost always boney projections.
Hope this helps!

God Blesses!

01-12-2000, 05:03 PM
A couple of books that I really like are "Dynamic Figure Drawing" by Burne Hogarth, and "The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression" by Gary Faigin, and "Drawing a Likeness" by Douglas R. Graves.

Why I like them...(Read on).

I like the Hogarth book because it presents a simple yet powerful method of drawing anatomy - I have tried the more biological books too - but there is just too many muscles and bones to remember http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/confused.gif

The Facial Expression book is great, there are many (MANY) examples of facial anatomy at work. Again, in the more biological books (at least the ones I have looked in, I found it difficult put all those facts into practical use. But this book is GREAT FUN as well as being a great reference.

Drawing a likeness presents a logical process for drawing portraits and it contains detailed step by step demonstrations. Great book.

01-12-2000, 07:50 PM
My husband is still my model, then I can draw myself. But do you know is it legal to take photos of yourself and get them developed later. I know for sure you it's illlegal to take photos of nude kids.
Anyway practice is the best thing. I've already learnt all these lattissimus dorsi, trapethius, etc. Now I'm interested in the drawing techniques, like drawing on the grey paper with white and black charcoal, both hard and soft. Or drawing with sanguine and sepia and black charcoal on the blue paper. That's interesting.

01-12-2000, 09:56 PM
Hi Julia..most places will develop nude photos as long as the figures are not involved in sexual activity..for the kids you will have to wait till it warms up..kids wearing bathing suits and trunks..
there are also several model books, which are full of photos of models (nudes) in many poses (North Light books carries some, your local library may have them as well)..hope you can get your pictures posted here!!


01-13-2000, 07:05 PM
that's what I'm talking about---complete figures. It may be odd but it had to be asked by someone.

01-24-2000, 04:19 PM
You know I've found a couple of books with photos of the nude men and women, it's really helpful, you can study the movement of the body and even make sketches. But the light is not dramatic and the shadows are light, that's the problem. If you have a slight light and intense shades the model becomes more interesting and challenging.

01-26-2000, 02:45 AM
Look to Comic books as another source. Some people don't consider it serious art, but you can learn a lot from copying the work there. Poses are very dramatic, with lots of motion. Also, there are lots of different styles of drawings. I'm not a serious comic buff, but there are a few names to look for: Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, J. Scott Campbell. I hope this helps.:).

Incidentally, I'm really happy to have stumbled into this site. Please visit my web page at: http://www.wednesdayportrait.com/sketch.shtml

01-26-2000, 10:54 AM
Agree with Tony about the comic stuff; as I said in my earlier post; take a look at the Burne Hogarth book; he used to draw Tarzan.

Any Tarzan comic by him is an anatomy lesson! If you are interested; take a look at one of the special edition Tarzan comic books featuring his work.

02-04-2000, 02:40 PM
Thank you, guys, for the information and keeping up this talk, but to tell you the truth, comics, probably are not my style. I'm indifferent to cartoons, I usually paint what I see and don't feel like making up things. I like Renoir, because his nude paintings combine both experimants with color and realistic accuracy. But as far as I know he used to draw nude models for 6 hours every day being a student and I feel I'm doing very little, though I draw every day. To become a good artist you should work really hard.

02-04-2000, 06:11 PM
Hi, understood that you are not into cartoons; neither am I, it's just that the system for painting the dynamic figure is very simple albeit a bit exaggerated in Hogarth's book.

Check out some of the reviews at amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0823015777/qid=949699687/sr=1-4/103-8322968-3931022

It is not the only book on anatomy you would want though. I just finished reading the "Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters" and it struck me that Hogarth shows so much clearer (by exaggerating) many of the more subtle points in "Great Masters".

From the back cover of Dynamic Figure Drawing:
"...introduces Burne Hogarth's revolutionary system of figure drawing - one which makes it possible to visualize the human body from every conceivable point of view. With the aid of this remarkable system, it is possible to draw an incredible variety of poses showing dynamic action and gestures without a model, and acheives the correct relationships between forms."

(end of plugging Hogarth - enough said).

Drew Davis
02-04-2000, 07:03 PM
Hogarth is often cited.

The value of comics, I think, would simply be in the exaggeration of form. The whole point of the anatomy books is to teach you what's supposed to be there, so you know where to expect various forms. It makes them easier to see, and it can be helpful if you need to invent or modify a pose. I think a lot of books get sort of carried away, though -- I don't plan to dissect my subjects, just paint them. To be sure, Leonardo thought it was a good idea, so who am I to argue?

At any rate, there are a few photo reference books out there. Just pictures, no tricks or methods or techniques. They can provide some substitute for live models, without someone else's rendering style interposed.

Eadweard Muybridge, "The Human Figure in Motion"

(Brought to you by the guy that resolved that bet about galloping horses with all the cameras down the race track. Old, but a classic. Also "Horses and other Animals in Motion", and apparently some edited-down, cheaper versions. Or, you could pull out all the stops, and get every picture he took under one cover with "Muybridge's Complete Human and Animal Locomotion".)

Erik A. Ruby, "The Human Figure"

Thomas Easley, "The Figure in Motion"

Mark Edward Smith, "The Nude Figure: A Visual Reference for Artists"

John Cody, "Atlas of Foreshortening: the Human Figure in Deep Perspective"

02-05-2000, 11:23 PM
I also have "The Human Figure" by Erik A.Ruby and "The FIgure in Motion" by Thomas Easely. They are quite nice, but only for sketches, I guess. And I'm doing them now. Each usually takes me not more than 30 minutes. What I really want to do is to do a nude in oil and on a big canvas. So now I'm working hard. In case I have a model I would already have sufficient experience. But the lack of both books is that the light is too strong and there are no interesting shades and it's impossible to apply chiaroscuro. And all the models are young and thin. I'd like to paint old and chubby people. It's challenging.
I still belive that anatomy is necesary because even it seems repugnant to you, you can see through the skin and your hand will draw not a person, but the forms. Leonardo Da Vinchi, by the way, knew the anatomy pretty well.
As for the technique, you all may be interested in the following one. It's called the Prudhon's technique and is not very known. This French artist used to draw a human figure on a blue paper with black and white chalk (black - for shadows and white - for highlights and blue looking through for half-tones). First he made an outline, then put the shadows and lights in hatches, them blended them, then put more hatches, so that they went parallel to the form. I tried this technique once,it's quite complicated, but interesting. Generally I work in charcoal, sangina, watercolor, etc. The main thing here is to show light and shadow, to show the shape of the body.

[This message has been edited by Julia (edited February 05, 2000).]

02-06-2000, 06:38 AM
Yep, learning to draw anatomy into the figure is hard, but rewarding.

Amazon has the best collection of anatomy books I know of. One of the best is Hale's translation of Richter's anatomy. I learn something from every book, and draw from the model whenever I get a chance, one or two times a week. Most reasonable sized cities have a group of artists who draw. It seems something of an underground activity, so you will have to ask around

God Blesses!

Leslie M. Ficcaglia
02-29-2000, 12:08 AM
Originally posted by kemshmi:
Hi Julia..most places will develop nude photos as long as the figures are not involved in sexual activity..for the kids you will have to wait till it warms up..kids wearing bathing suits and trunks..
there are also several model books, which are full of photos of models (nudes) in many poses (North Light books carries some, your local library may have them as well)..hope you can get your pictures posted here!!


Bathing suits, yes; nude shots, no. A grandmother here in NJ who is a social worker was just charged with taking pornographic photos of her grandkids in the tub; the photo processor turned her in. An NPR discussion with someone who had actually seen the photos made it fairly clear that the viewer, who had expected to see photos which were at least questionable, couldn't figure out why the processor and the judge had decided that a line had been crossed. She felt that they were fairly standard bathtub shots, although one child was washing her genital area in one photo. I think the kids were four and six, or two and four. So be very very careful!

Leslie M. Ficcaglia
Minnamuska Creek Studio
Portrait Gallery at http://www.igc.org/mauriceriver/riverpeople.html

02-29-2000, 10:36 AM
I also know a fellow artist who got into hot water having photos of his model processed..the developer thought she looked younger than her 24 years!! That is the reason I use a POLAROID CAMERA for reference material of models. Since models are expensive and I don't always finish the piece, according to their schedule, the photos are necessary tools ..the cameras are relatively cheap nowadays, although the film is expensive. One solution maybe.