You can watch the free version of this lesson here!
However, the premium version is longer and more resources and examples are provided.
Beans, beans, BEANS! I’m continuing my lessons with Proko’s Figure Drawing Fundamentals class with the lesson on simplifying the motion of the torso. When I first saw this exercise, I kind of laughed to myself. What could a bean tell us about the torso? Wasn’t this too simple?
I wasn’t saying that later when I was about 70 beans in and I realized that there was so much more information being transmitted in this exercise than I realized. When a torso bends and twists, creases and tension are expressed in various ways. This is such a subtle lesson in physics that can really bring volume to your figure drawings! Here’s an example with a current work-in-progress of mine.
The first pose is very straight forward and also very stiff, while the second pose pushes the dynamism a bit more, but still seems so stiff. I employed the ‘bean’ method in the 3rd pose to try and capture the subtle twist and lean of the torso combined with the foreshortening of the lower camera angle. Already, the pose is looking much better and has more weight to it than the others, which didn’t quite pay respect to the physics of the torso.
And now the beans! Here’s a sketch dump of all of the ones I sketched for this lesson. I’ve been doing the recommended 100 sketches before moving on from a lesson.
The biggest challenge for me was figuring out how the creases turn when a torso is twisting. I have no advice on this issue except to practice and observe! Foreshortening, torsion, and eye level play a big part in what overlaps what and I am only scratching the surface of this concept, even after drawing this many beans.
I also believe that learning something so subtle as this requires practicing and drawing, rather than reading advice about doing it. It just kind of clicks in your brain when practicing, which is why I think in this case drawing numerous sketches like Proko recommends to be very useful (and essential)!
I’m definitely excited to move on to the Robo Bean, which is the next step up in complexity from this base form in a later lesson.
Of course, I couldn’t help having a little fun by the end of this assignment illustrating random bean puns. A cookie for you if you can guess which ones they are!
I’m taking a small break from my book club posts for Artist As Brand to share something different instead, as the next part of the AAB blog series involves some intense homework that’s taking me longer than usual. In the meantime, enjoy a look at the gesture sketches I’ve been doing for Stan Prokopenko’s Figure Drawing Fundamentals course over the past few months! (If you missed my first impression post about this course, read on here to get an overview of what the class is about!)
The first lesson covers the topic of gesture drawing, a topic which most artists usually dismiss as quick, simple practice drawings. I’ve realized even after taking several life drawing classes in college that my art was missing something. I’m fairly well practiced drawing the human figure, but the people in my paintings were lacking something. The muscles were all generally in the correct place, but my figures were stiff and lacking expressiveness. Having observed the first lesson in Proko’s curriculum, I’m certain now that the stiffness of my figures is mainly a result of not understanding the importance of gesture.
As Proko suggested, I did 100+ sketches until I felt like I understood the difference between copying what I see and capturing the energy and flow of a pose (aka. the gesture). This montage collects most of the sketches I did starting with the oldest ones at the top and the newest ones at the bottom.
What I’ve Learned
Copying a pose is not gesture. I realize that in my previous life drawing lessons, I thought that I was supposed to copy the volume of a pose and nothing more. Having a timer while drawing also had the opposite effect it was meant to have. It was meant to force me to simplify, but mostly I just reacted to a timer by rushing through. I became more concerned with replicating what I saw when I should have been focusing on the expressive line of the form, the flow of the pose, and the potential for exaggeration. This meant that my result was an approximation of my model, which may or may not result in a good sense of flow in my drawn pose. Being aware of gesture will also help me when utilizing reference photos for my pieces. Copying directly from what I’ve seen in photos can also result in a stiff, soulless pose. Being more familiar with gesture means I can know where to push and pull the pose from a reference photo.
Contour is not gesture. I can tell from my early poses in this montage I was very concerned with the container shape and contour details of the body. Gesture should focus on the flow and expressive potential of the figure, even if it doesn’t follow the laws of physics at all times. Adding the proper details later on is what will tie all the parts together. I think of comic book art as a perfect example of this principle of gesture at work. Figures are usually pushed past what is photorealistic gesture because that brings a sense of emotion and excitement to the characters.
Scribbled gestures are not helpful. Proko actually posted a very helpful video about why sloppy lines are a bad habit. I am definitely guilty of this! I notice by the end of this montage, my lines became cleaner. When I allowed myself to be sloppy previously, I was attempting to ‘feel out’ the gesture by making lots of lines till I discovered the right one. This made me lazy and less observant of the form and pose I was trying to replicate. By simplifying my mark-making, I force myself to actually really look and learn from what I see, rather than diving in and rushing to finish.
I already feel like this first lesson has helped me tremendously when drawing characters and pushing the dynamism in my poses. Even still, there’s a lot to learn, considering I’m only at the beginning! I also understand that I’m never going to stop learning when it comes to this skill, which is at the heart of drawing good anatomy, but also in composing interesting compositions.
Stay tuned because I plan to keep track of my progress in this class in later entries!
After all the deadlines and all the projects, when you sit down at the end of the day, do you remember what it was like to do this thing you love for fun?
I know for awhile now that I forgot. Or rather, I just couldn’t get motivated. I escaped to the world of beading and leathercrafting because it was a way to enjoy the act of creating without doing the same thing I had been doing for the 8-12 hours beforehand. Hobbies are essential to preserving this little thing called sanity when you’re doing what you love for a living…but find yourself at the end of the day unable to do what you love because are are just out of energy to do it. Sad to say that most of us are not endless wells (Ursala Vernon did a wonderful article that perfectly describes this feeling)
Then I discovered SKETCHAVEMBER thanks to the talented Croaky. It’s like NaNoWriMo, but for artists, in which we draw every day of this month in hopes of making it a continuing habit. I finally sat down and stopped thinking so damned much about what I wanted to draw! I finally figured it out. I was placing too much on the thought of drawing. I had a mental block.
If I was going to draw, I couldn’t waste a minute on ‘fun’ things! EVERY. Single. Thing. had to be for a prospective portfolio piece or mastering a new technicque or for a commission. Instead, I sat down (nearly) every single night this month so far and sketched without expectation or fear. I sketched for fun and to channel all the random ideas floating around my brain. I went with the flow instead of wondering how every little piece would further my career or projects or portfolios.
I’ve also found it so much easier to teach myself Photoshop when I wasn’t expecting to master it in a few hours. I could just sketch for me, and nobody else, and therefore revel in the little triumphs of discovering how this or that digital brush worked for me instead of comparing myself to others who seem to speedpaint masterpieces.
So here’s to the midpoint in SKETCHAVEMBER! I’m so happy I discovered it and that Jen got the ball rolling for all of us. Now, have a sketch flood from this month so far!
Faerie Escape Atlanta has definitely monopolized my time of late and drawn me deep into a frenzy of leather carving, rather than my usual 2D fair. Normally, I’d lament not drawing or painting anything for months, but this is a much needed break after being hard at work for nearly a year and a half making all new work for Angelic Visions.
That doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten my other projects, however! I know many of you like to see the creative process, so here’s a little peek into my next big series, the Angels of the Months.
I started this series a couple of years ago with the Angel of December, but was never quite satisfied with the amount of empty space left behind the figure and the window so never got past December. This was a design problem that needed solving.
So with a glint in my eye and a pen in my hand, redesign began!
I like to draw thumbnails almost exclusively in BIC ballpoint pen because it is a very ‘loose’ medium. Ballpoint pen responds very well to pressure, meaning you can get very light pencil-like marks by pressing lightly or pressing harder for darker lines. It’s the controllability of the pencil without the fuss of erasing. Not being able to erase is also a good thing for me. Since these are just thumbnails, I didn’t want to spend ages on them, which I very well might if given the option to erase! I banged these thumbnails out in an hour or so.
The first thumbnail took the idea of the original Angel of December and translated her into a wholly new composition. The full figure was cropped to allow more detail to be poured into the face, costume, and wings. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th thumbnails deal with the Angel of January, whose themes include stepping into sunlight and the inclusion of a pomegranate as an allusion to Persephone. I played with the pose trying to figure out the design problem of the wings. Did I want them attached to the figure? As decorative carvings in the stone to the sides? Folded? Spread? Nothing seemed to fit the composition the way I wanted. Everything was too static with no flow!
Finally, the 5th thumbnail represents my ‘Eureka’ moment. Turning the composition to a landscape format allowed me to fit more of the gorgeous wing flow while also allowing more space for a full-fledged stained glass window, an element I thoroughly enjoyed drawing in the original Angel of December. This landscape format also works better for inclusion in a calendar format, which is a future plan I have for this series.
Next came the sketch phase where I doodled a more detailed concept of the figures. Again, playing with both the December and January angels. I continued the theme of January having a very Greek vibe. Still pondering how to include the pomegranate and if it will clash with the Carnations and Snowdrops which are going to be included in her portrait. I also photographed my own artistic references to help get my creative juices flowing.
And that’s where I’ve left off for now! The concept continues to percolate in the noggin while I prep for my next rush of shows. I’ve never had so many in one year so it’s been a learning experience for me to find the time to work AND to prep products for sale.
Once I get further along, I’ll be sure to keep you all updated!
Thought you guys might enjoy a sneak peek into things I’m working on plus art!
This week, the topic of my project is the halo. Halo comes from the Latin halōs or nimbus, meaning cloud, round, circle, sun, and moon. While the Greek origination meant threshing floor. In modern language, it has evolved to interchangeably act as both a verb and a noun, meaning to surround, or to give an atmosphere of sanctity, alongside other various meteorological implications.
As for art, the representations of halos seem endless in variety, from the solid metallic rings in medieval paintings to the more subtle implied halos formed by light in modern works. In exploring this topic, I’ve come to realize that halos are far more than the stereotypical golden ring that comes standard issue with harp. One can even go as far as to examine the ornate decorations of Buddhist mandalas for halo inspiration. Many divine beings are surrounded by a decorative accent, or halo, across the art of many cultures.
And now the promised art!
This first sketch is a combination of spot illustrations of various types of halos, from the implied to the pattern-inspired barbed wire one. The star halo you see was inspired by art nouveau, which was itself inspired similarly by religious imagery depicting the Lady of the Apocalypse, who was symbolized by the figure of Mary crowned by 12 stars. As you can see, the possibilities for halos are limited only by our imagination!
Next is a little painting I’ll be working on to illustrate how to create a halo from radiating lines. She was really only meant to be a minor character illustrated for this purpose, but I’ve fallen in love with her attitude.
My musical inspiration for this topic was Noose by A Perfect Circle. Some inspirational lyrics for you. (I’m morbid, I know):
With heaven’s help You’ve cast your demons out And not to pull your halo down Around your neck and tug you off your cloud But I’m more than just a little curious How you’re plannin’ to go about makin’ your amends To the dead
Stay tuned for the next post where I’ll have a few more random factoids and painting progress to show! I hope you have enjoyed this interlude of artistic meandering.
PS I find it funny that the scientific definition of ‘halo’ as a prefix stands for salt or sea. It really mixes up the mental images for a halo in a weird way!