Train Your Eye With Figure Sketching

Figure Sketching: Drawing of Katerena (graphite, 12x16) by Vincent Giarrano

Drawing of Katerena (graphite, 12×16) by Vincent Giarrano

Do It Right and You Sketch Art

Have you ever considered how powerful your figure sketching is? On so many fronts! First, it is the greatest and best way to get comfortable with the page. Blank paper is intimidating! If you are unsure or unease with getting started, the best way is with figural work. There’s nothing more compelling than the human body. It immediately calls to mind who, what, when, where, and why! All the stories are there in those people you depict.

Figure sketching and drawing is also a great way to hone your skills–skills that translate to every part of the artistic process. Proportion, point of view, color and line, and how to make a two-dimensional artwork appear as if it lives in three-dimension: all of these are in the realm of figure drawing.

Below, you’ll find artist Vincent Giarrano’s process for creating unique figure studies that work well for training your eye, which is yet another boon that comes from this kind of art prompt.

Figure sketching with Vincent Giarrano

Train Your Eye With Figure Studies

I have a procedure for doing figure sketching studies that works well for training your eye—disciplining yourself to override what your mind is telling you about shapes and to follow what your eyes are really seeing. I’ve separated the steps and used darker lines so it will be clearer what’s going on. My actual lines in the early stages are quite light.

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1. Draw the gesture

In a quick (just several seconds) gesture drawing with very few lines, establish the top and bottom of the figure as well as the overall rhythm and major directions of the pose. You also can indicate the angle of the hips and shoulders. Long, sweeping strokes are best; move from your shoulder and use your whole arm.

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Figure sketching: draw the silhoutte

2. Draw the silhouette

Next do another gesture drawing, but this time focus on the silhouette of the figure, which brings much truer information into your drawing. Think of these first steps not as a way of achieving precise information as much as a means of getting to know what you’re really seeing.

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3. Map out the figure

At this point, pause and look over the pose. Find an area or shape that you feel confident about getting accurate. From this shape, move out to neighboring shapes, one after another, bleeding out from where you started. I think of this as mapping out the figure. During this stage it’s important to consider the small individual shapes you see and also how those shapes line up with other parts of the figure.

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4. Render the contour and subtleties

Once you have the figure mapped out, begin refining from a point you feel confident about. This time you’re observing and rendering the finer aspects of the figure; the subtleties of the contour, smaller shapes within your initial simple shapes and details. Shading should be put in as even, flat tones.

Keep in mind that, from the beginning, your drawing will be a series of corrections. Think of it as focusing in from a blurred image to a more defined one. When everything has been corrected, your drawing is complete.

Art That Spans the Spectrum

If you are hungry for more of the ease and excitement that comes along with honing your figure drawing, maybe it is time to accelerate your engagement with your art. Do it with Brent Eviston’s Figure Drawing Essentials: Master Class. You will get instruction that spans the spectrum from loose gestural figure sketching to anatomy know-how to how to position your model and see your works on paper to a drawing worthy of a frame and pride of place on a wall near you.

Courtney

 

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