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Old 07-22-2009, 09:32 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Figure Drawing Workshop #2 The Gesture & Quick Poses

Figure Drawing Workshop #2 -
"The Gesture & Quick Poses"


This workshop is for everyone to participate and contribute. If you practice Life Drawing we want to know how you go about it, any special techniques you employ, show us your work......or if you just want to ask a question..... this thread is for you.


What is 'Gesture Drawing'.... and why do you do them...?

_______________________________________

Gestures are such an important part of learning the figure! Everyone should do them as a warm-up and for many, they are an end to themselves ! After all, it's only a minute or so wasted if your gesture crashes - but what a high-wire-act ! *Note that all my drawings here are in the 1-3 minute range - no longer and most are most of a sheet of 18 x 24" smooth newsprint!

The beginning:

All of my figures start with the head ( unless I can't see it..), and the less time I have, the less I do with the head--maybe just a brow-ridge and a nose indication or a jaw line and move on to the rest of the pose. This will help you to determine the relative size for the rest of the figure. Remember, a gesture is an essential drawing, not a detailed work, we just don't have time and that's the beauty in it - you can only get down a few key truths - things that really matter! Oh - don't forget to SQUINT! ( this will help you see the big shapes, big values and key negative shapes).

Next, consider where the center line goes. I usually lightly indicate this now.
-From a back view the spine is the most reliable center line.
-From a front view, a line from the center of the head, through the pit of the neck ( supra-sternal notch) down the center of the body though the navel and the center of the crotch.
How does that center line curve ? analyze it and then push it a bit beyond what you see! push the hip a bit.. sweep that gluteus out a bit.. these are gestures after-all and can afford a little poetry - no ? YES! Then I will look for major shapes (torso and legs) and attempt to push their attitude just a bit to add some drama to the pose. “Attitude” here means – the sweep of the body the way a woman might do when she pushes her hip out to one side and let’s all her weight fall on that outside leg, creating a beautiful “S”-curve with her body when doing so. Attitude for a man might mean finding powerful vertical lines that drive his structures to the ground, showing muscularity and sinew.. thinking about the things that push "MAN" ( or "WOMAN") and getting that into your drawing!

When doing quick drawings, I don't spend too much time on any one thing. I always keep looking and drawing. Remember to use your ARM! Sweep! Swish! Flow! In a super short drawing, you will likely not have time to measure much except by sight (use that head you made as your guide and the top and bottom of the paper as your end points) - Adding a quick angle or two can go a long way in putting a human figure together.. see below – can you spot the “S” curves ? They are present in each drawing.. and with almost no information ( a jaw line ? a brow ridge ?) we know how the head is oriented.





The Middle:

Long lines are better than short ones. They help to guide you to related shapes. Finding shapes that connect to each other in a rhythmic manner is what you are trying to do, and pushing the pose gives it a sense of excitement and movement. “Pushing” the pose: Sometimes, with a male, I will use a more straight-line drawing-style to emphasize the masculine features but with a woman, you are almost always better off seeking out the curves and "sweeping" them in with broad, light strokes. My teacher reminds often, soft charcoal is good (whether a stick of vine/willow or a 4b pencil) on smooth paper for fast work - always, always keeping it light. Draw big! Use a whole sheet of 18 x 24 for your gestures! let your arm do some work and not just your fingers and your wrist -the sweeps will look all that much more rhythmic !

I use very very sharp charcoal pencils, wolff's carbon and conte black crayon pencils to draw. They will have a 16 degree, tapered point sharpened with a hobby knife or a bare, straight-edge razor blade. sandpaper is used to fine-tune each point so it's smooth and tapers nicely.




this long ( 1-2") bare "lead" will allow you to "paint" quickly when you need to add some value or a broader ( by using the broad side of the pencil), soft stroke to create a core shadow, say, or hair. Finally, you have a sharp, fine tip at your disposal when you need to craft an edge. See that hand holding the pencil above ? that is NOT what I want to see.. hold it at the middle similar to how a conductor holds his baton - same sweeping motions, so you can use your arm and softly sweep your lines onto the paper!



The Wrap-up:

The final strokes are for adding a bit of anatomy if necessary. A neat trick for a quick drawing or painting is adding a bit of finish to the joints. The rest of the work can be left alone and - oddly - the mind of the viewer will register: "human!"

We all talk a lot about rhythm with our figures and sometimes it seems so indefinable but it can be seen easily: See the drawings below for examples of pushed attitude and rhythm while drawing so very little (in 1-3 minutes here). When the asymmetry of the body flows within itself, when the hip is weighted and pushes the leg to the ground and probably most of all, when all those beautiful "S" curves we humans have become evident in your drawings, THAT is when rhythm is working and breathing through your drawing!



With all this "talk" I want to remind you that while there are an infinite number of ways to draw and do gestures, they are less about "getting everything down" than getting what matters - getting big truths and tossing the rest out! the one minute gestures above have almost no extra information than what I cold get down, with a bit of attitude in a very short amount of time.. but you see what's happening ( hopefully!) in each one.. you might even know enough to see some story in the drawing! That's when a gesture gets fun!

No get out there and do some amazing, rhythmic and attitude-filled gestures! __________________
(with each new thing - shoot for the stars! )



This is the introduction to Part 2 of our 6-Part Figure Drawing Workshop.
_________________________________________________
Part 1 - 'Choosing Your Materials' is here if you would like to start at the beginning.

Everyone is welcome to contribute to the Workshop Threads ... we'd love you all to share your experiences, techniques.... and we do appreciate demos. Please post your workshop drawings in this thread.

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Last edited by roy-p : 08-29-2009 at 05:28 AM. Reason: refreshed links
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Old 07-23-2009, 12:36 AM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Figure Drawing Workshop #2 The Gesture & Quick Poses

Rhythm as I understand it





I have often come across the term Rhythm in figure drawing articles, but couldn't really grasp what it means. That is, until I tried to consciously interpret it in my drawings. I guess rhythm has to be felt, rather than 'intellectualized'. So what follows is closest to my understanding of the term.

Please read on if you want to, but in order to discover rhythm, I guess you'll also have to take out your sketchpad and apply its key principles to your figure drawing.

...

Rhythm is NOT about quick drawing... one of my early misconceptions. Its not about slow drawing either. Rhythm is about flow.

Now what on earth is flow???


The human body is constantly acted upon by gravity. Its the primal force giving shape and strength to our bones and muscles. While bones are transmitting our weight to the ground, muscles are holding the bones in position. This muscular activity is reflected in how the body changes shape with posture, and gives rise to the flow I'm referring to.

This flow
can be represented by a mere line in our drawings - and here I'm NOT talking about those individual hatching lines used for shading, but a line that describes form at a particular location. Think about a curved line describing the buttock, for example.

But... the line must not appear out of place, it must flawlessly integrate with lines immediately around it, and be in synch with lines describing the remotest parts of the body. It all needs be tied together in one big flow.

Lets look at this short exercise here:

This was my contribution to the 'David drawing' thread. We will use this as reference for study of rhythm (because I'm more familiar with it). The bold red line indicates the principal line of force (i.e. gravity) passing down David's body. The dashed line also carries some weight, but its minor compared to the other one. Hence the entire stance - the interlocking of bones and muscles, and therefore the 'flow lines' are determined by this bold red line. We will shortly see how...



First, a few elementary figure drawing measurements. This may look cumbersome, but with practice ought to become second nature.

(We must remember that these measurements are universal, and not restricted to gesture drawings. In fact, there is very little time to measure while doing quick gestures, but at least the thought should be in the subconscious all the time)



A. So we establish the upper and lower limits of our figure to contain it within the given space. Then we draw a line representing the spine and prolong it beyond the pelvis following the long axis of the major weight bearing leg. In this case a vertical line will suffice since the subject is more or less standing straight. For other poses, we will have to tilt/bend the line accordingly and measure it as if we are measuring a rope, segment by segment.

** I have retained a faint impression of the original figure in the background, using it as under-drawing.



B. Drawing an elementary head shape



C. Taking the vertical length of the head as unit length, I've measured 'head-lengths' down the body. In this case we seem to be having 7 such units.



D. No. 4 usually falls at the level of the crotch (or pubic bone, if you want a more precise term), in this case it appears a little lower, at the level of the genitals (as indicated by the faint under-drawing). So we will position the pubic bone in our drawing a little higher than the no. 4 mark.



E. Having established the comparative levels (not shown in figure below) of the different body parts vis-a-vis the reference, we will now focus on the comparative orientation of the hip and shoulders. As you can see they are counter-poised (or in contrapposto) - the left shoulder and hip are further away from each other than those on his right side. The position of the Greater Trochanters is also important.

(As you know, the Greater Trochanter represents the upper end of the thigh bone, where it is jutting out at an angle, before bending inwards to make the hip joint with the pelvis)

This shows how the left leg is positioned to carry the bulk of the weight - NOW we are beginning to enter rhythm territory!

So Rhythm is all about effortless transmission of force, and how that transmission is reflected in surface forms.



F. A very very schematic representation of the bone positions (fibula not shown).



G. So we have the major force lines chalked out. Note how the right arm is dangling, suspended due to gravity.



H. The integrated force scheme - obviously, this could have been better, but you get the idea (I think...)



I. Connecting shapes with lines:

1. Points to the outline of the rib cage.

2. Points to the outlines of the hip, traced upwards to meet in an arch (of course, these are hidden lines, but you draw them in order to understand the interconnected-ness of shapes)

3. Points to the line representing the Sartorius muscle changing direction in a 'S'-shaped curve below the knee and flowing down the tibia.

(The Sartorius is a long, slender muscle on the inner-thigh, originating at the pelvis and ending below the knee)

4. lines describing flow of muscular tension from the side of the leg to the toes. Pull on these muscles bend back the toes.

5. Curve describing the bulge of the left biceps muscle. Note its relaxed counterpart on the right side, where its only applying some mild pull on the lower arm against forces of gravity (hence the gently curved flow line for this arm as shown in figures G and J).

6. The bulging Rectus Femoris muscle, a strong extensor of the knee (as in kicking a football), preventing the leg from buckling/bending under gravity.




J. Further consideration of flow lines:

1. Leftwards turn of the head

2. Slight upwards turn of the head, reveals underside of chin (1. and 2. also bulges the diagonal neck muscle on the right side).

3. Dipping of the shoulder towards the right

4.
Slight bowing of the right arm due to opposing pulls of flexor and extensor muscles against forces of gravity (shows how rhythm is working even on relaxed forms)

5. The slight sidewards curve of the spine

6.
Dipping of the pelvis towards the comparatively relaxed leg

7. The taut bowing of the major weight bearing leg (right)

8. The relaxed bowing of the other leg (left).





____



Blabbering on about rhythm...

(sorry, less pictures in this part, so read at your own risk , or take out your sketch pad and go to Sonni's section)



We can also think of Rhythm as analogous to the blood circulatory system which, beginning at the heart, flawlessly carries blood to the remotest extremities, breaks down into myriad capillaries, supplies oxygen, collects carbon dioxide from tissues and by repeated joining of tributary venules and veins, returns to the heart. This is the internal flow that is constantly at work within us, our in-built rhythm. The rhythm in drawings is about External Shapes.

In a drawing, there is no heart from where to begin your lines, although most like to start at the head...so be it. Whatever may be the starting point, a line beginning at a point must be able to return, after describing the entire human body without cessation or hesitation, to where it started from. If that is reflected in our drawing... THAT is perfect rhythm.

A frugal attempt at interpreting rhythm:



In other words, all body parts (visible or invisible), must tie up logically with the whole. A toe should be immediately recognizable as belonging to that figure, and not one of our own! Think of the circulatory rhythm within us again... same with the lines you draw!

Your pencil should be able to (potentially) go round and round the entire figure, describing the minutest features (except perhaps individual strands of hair), and return to the broadest. It should be one dynamic, solid, totally balanced structure - individual parts not assembled, but integrated to the whole.

Of course, that is the ideal... but even partially following this principle makes for a very credible drawing, and once you have the rhythm going, you can make local adjustments to infuse character to your work.

We can't see all parts of the figure for a given posture, because...
  1. The part is foreshortened and you're only getting an end-on view
  2. Its behind, or on the other side of the model
  3. part of it is internal (like an iceberg)
Hence, The key idea is to potentially link parts which we can't see with those we can. When we get that sense of seamless flow in our drawings, we have rhythm.
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Old 07-23-2009, 12:41 AM
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(** Sonni's not here at the moment, so we will post for her)

_______________________________________
Sonni -



OK, folks, here's our first model.



Her name is Lucy Goosey and she'll be here for you to do the following:

4 30 second gestures (time yourself and use large paper)

2 one minute gestures (ditto above)

1 two minute gesture (ditto above)

Now, reverse the pose and do it again....




OR....got a live model? The best way .

Post them when you are done, and let's talk about them.


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Old 07-23-2009, 12:46 AM
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** Folks, this entire thing has been put together, i.e edited, compiled, structured... by Pauline (Adair_P)
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Old 07-23-2009, 06:38 AM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Figure Drawing Workshop #2 The Gesture & Quick Poses

I like to use the gesture drawings/short poses purely as a way of warming up.... a rhythmical study of poses rather than a structured figure drawing. They seem to help me to get my eye in and to get familiar with the model.... if you'll pardon the expression. Our Group allows only 20 seconds for these right at the start of each session, x 10.... so there is no time to study hands and feet..! But you can quickly study 'balance'. This is a good exercise in preparation for the longer poses.



Here I have used pen & ink, a pencil and some charcoal...sometimes I will use use a point, sometimes the side of a stick.

Kevin & Prosenjit have excellent definitions and outlines ( sorry!) of rhythm here..... and I think that is the one thing I would be aiming for in my quick drawings..... not primarily for anatomical accuracy.
Many artists would choose their quick drawings as their preferred works from a Life Drawing session... as Kevin has said...'an end unto themselves'.... however, I am reminded of a quote from Mark Twain:
"Get your facts first and then you can distort them as much as you please...!!!" Food for thought!

So.... we are all looking forward to your quick sketches of our lovely Lucy (or your own models, of course) .... please post them here in this thread.
Have fun!
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Old 07-23-2009, 08:10 AM
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Re: Figure Drawing Workshop #2 The Gesture & Quick Poses

Wow, this is good.
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Old 07-23-2009, 09:13 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Figure Drawing Workshop #2 The Gesture & Quick Poses

I can't scan in the gestures and quick poses. But I wanted to thank you for this workshop. VERY helpful.

Daniel
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Old 07-23-2009, 11:59 PM
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Re: Figure Drawing Workshop #2 The Gesture & Quick Poses

I'm going to try to get at this tomorrow - thanks for all of the great info.
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Old 07-24-2009, 02:03 AM
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Re: Figure Drawing Workshop #2 The Gesture & Quick Poses

Wow, so glad I've peeked in. You guys have put together a truly amazing, first class tutorial and I'm extremely impressed and grateful that you were willing to volunteer all that work!

Seriously, Kevin, Roy and Pauline (I believe Mac as well, though I don't know if he's watching), please forgive me for being blunt, but you guys do realize that you are several levels above most of us (definitly above me!) with regard to figure-drawing. Don't you think the starting assignment is a bit overwhelming? Sonni, did you pick this pose/model? hehe, you got to be kidding! If I could do this in 30 seconds and make her look human instead of a bird, I'd be pleased - my first attempt looks hideous.

Any chance for a quick demo from either of you guys? I'm particularly interested in 30 second sketches.

P.S. Why is it important to go big? Is A4 too small?
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Old 07-24-2009, 03:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSegev
Any chance for a quick demo from either of you guys? I'm particularly interested in 30 second sketches.

P.S. Why is it important to go big? Is A4 too small?

Mary.... thanks for kicking this off in the right direction - a DEMO and a QUESTION (exactly how we planned!)..... yes, I will be doing a 30 second sketch or two tomorrow morning..... and I expect my comrades to do the same.....

I don't think it matters whether you go big or small..... just do try everything! Find out what suits you and where you like to be.... what's more comfortable for you. If you go big you will most probably need an easel but you'll be able to get that arm-swing going. If you go small you will be able to use an A4 sketch pad........ feel free to use whatever you have there.
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Old 07-24-2009, 07:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSegev
Any chance for a quick demo from either of you guys? I'm particularly interested in 30 second sketches.

Hi Mary , I agree with Pauline, you indeed are taking this in the direction we had hoped for. Thank you!

As regards 30 second gestures, here are a few 'Live Gestures' which I did while on vacation a few years ago. These are cross posts, but I thought they would be relevant here. I wasn't measuring time, only trying to record what I was seeing before the scenery quickly changed.

I think this is a good way to train your 'hand' and visual memory, sketching from the fast moving world around us. You look at the object and CLICK! Your mind records it, then you quickly draw from what you are seeing, trying to catch the essentials of the pose, and when the sitter changes posture (or walks out of the scenery, as was frequently happening in my case ) you finish up from memory. BUT... one has to be very careful what one takes from memory, it has to be minimal, or the spontaneity of the gesture could be affected.

1. This lady had hopped onto a small boat from the larger passenger boat I was in (while travelling down the backwaters of Kerala), and was being taken ashore to her hotel. I barely had time to record the gesture of the boatman digging in deep with his pole and the lady standing at the back. The shading was from memory.



2. Top one - boatman adjusting hat. In the scene below, this very well dressed gentleman (the one on whose head the umbrella is being held) is bravely contemplating stepping on to the other boat, but its not near enough . However, he had gathered his flowing white clothes up to his knees in preparation. Our boat was quickly passing along, so I only had time to sketch the faintest impression.



3. Old man standing at his hut watching us chugg-chugging past.



4. Man on the canal bank... catching his lunch? Totally oblivious to this huge passenger boat full of tourists snapping his picture.



5. I was still sketching boats when this little girl (also a tourist) came to stand in my line of vision, looking out of the window... but not for long!



6.This was in the Sunderbans, closer to where I live. I was standing on high ground, sketch pad in hand sketching these fishermen pulling in the net.



7. On the beach: I was sitting on a low dune sketching the trees happily nodding their head in the evening breeze (was twilight actually, the yellow of her dress took on a weird shade in that ambient violet). The hair flapping about her face, as also the movement of the dress caught my attention.



The last two obviously took longer than the others, because the trees were sketched before the lady had entered the scene. BUT... while time can be a good trainer (or restrainer!), the idea, IMHO is to get the core movement (or posture) right.
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Old 07-24-2009, 07:49 AM
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Re: Figure Drawing Workshop #2 The Gesture & Quick Poses

I truly Love your gesture style!
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Old 07-24-2009, 09:51 AM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Figure Drawing Workshop #2 The Gesture & Quick Poses

prosenjit! these are lovely examples of gestures!! especially if you are like myself and unable to get to a class. i am off on vacation for 2 weeks so hopefully i will be able to get in a few to post later.

thank you for for taking the time to share your knowledge! excellent to have different styles and explanations of the approach!!

ginger or as kevin has refered " the snap"

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Old 07-25-2009, 02:15 AM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Figure Drawing Workshop #2 The Gesture & Quick Poses

I've had fun!!!! I've drawn Lucy about 20 times, trying to keep them all very short and quick.... just to get the feel of the pose. Not worrying about anatomy.... more concerned with trying to get some nice balanced lines/marks down.
Here are some:


I uploaded a short video here on YouTube of this one:


And some older drawings... I sometimes like to build up a composite page of quick drawings:





NOTE:
I recommend having several sheets of paper underneath the one you work on.... it gives a 'purer mark' compared with just the one sheet when you can get nasty rubbings from imperfections and scratches on the support coming through. I usually have at least 8 sheets of newsprint under the one I'm working on. I like the 'spongier' feel of it too.

Very nice set of drawings there Prosenjit.... it's almost a short story..... At times like those you need to be very very quick on the draw..... fabulous training exercises for quick figure drawing.... I'm taking a lesson from you and putting my little sketchbook in my handbag.
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Old 07-25-2009, 02:42 AM
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Re: Figure Drawing Workshop #2 The Gesture & Quick Poses

Thank you Jocelyn and Ginger! Ginger, I'm looking forward to what you 'bring' from your trip - have a nice vacation.

Pauline... that video is magical! I would have left a comment on youtube itself but they require you to sign in for that and I couldn't find my username and password in the catacombs of my computer

What struck me right away is the slow deliberateness of your movements, which is hugely educational in itself. I was expecting a blur of hand motions, like someone doing kung fu on paper but this was more like the ancient martial art of Tai Chi. Wonderful! And I'm also taking lessons from your use of blocky charcoal, esp as shown in the last drawing.
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