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About Traditional Art / Professional Official Beta Tester Jared B. AnchondoMale/Greenland Group :iconrising-artists: Rising-Artists
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"OK! I believe you!"

    Ok everyone its that time of the week again for another awesome tip from your drunken neighborhood Mtn-Man! So last time I was able to talk to y'all it was about the human figure, and I gave you some rough guide lines and a whole bunch of rambling. So today we'll be continuing that discussion featured in my last Tuesday Tip, entitled Move Yo' Body, Every-Everybody


    Ok, so just a little quick refresher, lets talk about gesture drawing. A gesture drawing is work of art defined by rapid execution. Typical situations involve an artist drawing a series of poses taken by a model in a short amount of time, often as little as 30 seconds, or as long as 2 minutes. Gesture drawing is often performed as a warm-up for a life drawing session. More generally, a gesture drawing may be any drawing which attempts to capture action or movement.

    The primary purpose of gesture drawing is to facilitate the study of the human figure in motion. This exploration of action is helpful for the artist to better understand the exertions of muscles, the effects of twisting on the body, and the natural range of motion in the joints. Basically, it is a method of training hands to quickly sketch what the brain has already seen. Staying "focused" means sustained concentration. Gesture drawings may take as long as two minutes, or as short as five seconds, depending on what the focus of the exercise is. Sometimes called "scribble studies," a completed gesture drawing need not accurately resemble the subject when done correctly.

    Ok, so since what I really want to concentrate on is "poses" for figure drawing, what the real essence in whats just been said, is the practice of capturing motion in the human figure. A lot of the time I see newer and younger artists drawing "O.C.'s" and various figure/character drawings and they just seem... Stiff. Ya'know? Like their characters are scarecrows stuck up on a pole, devoid of natural motion. This is the reason that I strongly emphasize a good helping of gesture practice. Learning to feel out the curves and shapes the body makes without actually trying to define the body is such a powerful tool in creating dynamic figure drawings. 

    When a character feels too rigid and stiff, the piece itself takes on a 2 dimensional or flat feeling.
The gesture practice allows you to draw strenuous or spontaneous poses that can't be held by the model/figure long enough for an elaborate study, and reinforces the importance of movement, action, and direction, which can be overlooked during a long drawing. Thus, an approach is encouraged which notes basic lines of rhythm within the figure. The rapidity of execution suggests an aesthetic which is most concerned with the essence of the pose, and an economy of means in its representation, rather than a careful study of modeling and form.

Ok, So Lets Try It

    So this is the part I all want you to give a go at. For the first study, lets choose a figure, either from life or from a picture, and lets take 20 seconds to jot down the Movement of the figure without too much thought into proportion, scale, or accuracy. Ready. Set. GO!

20 second gesture by Mtn-Man


20 Second Gesture Drawing

    I do apologize, I really need to clean the surface of my scanner. A task for another day though.
     So How did y'all fair? Did you get a whole figure on paper in the allotted time? Or did you get a bit bogged down in the details? Well if you couldn't get a whole figure, that's ok, that's all part of the learning and growing process. 

    Ok, so again, I want you all to participate again. This time lets do a 1 Minute gesture, just so some of you can get a little bit more detailed. To keep it simple though lets use the same reference figure as before, if at all possible. Some of you might be drawing from life and thus, the figure might have moved since the original. Anywho, lets give it a go. Ok, Ready. Set. GO!

1 minute gesture by Mtn-Man

1 Minute Gesture Drawing

    Times up! Pencils/Stylus' down. Ok, so how was that? feel like you were able to accomplish a bit more this time around? Great! As you can see with mine, I got a bit wild and wasn't able to keep the whole figure on the page completely. Things like that are ok though. This is an exercise that helps to build muscle memory and artistic stamina. Hell, green peace would be after me if they knew how much paper I've shed on just gesture drawings. None in vain however! I put down multiple gestures on one page front and back, and I keep All of Them. You never know when you're going to be needing to draw a character/figure in a pose that you might have previously gestured out. So keeping your gestures is a very good idea to help you down the line someday. Cause you just never know, you may be able to turn a bunch of random scribbles into something like this:

Lightning Dance by Mtn-Man

Yes, I know that's an old piece of mine, but its what I used to reference just to purposefully display how gesture can be applied to future art.

    Ok so one more time, just to warm up for our next part lets knock out 2 thirty second gestures to get loose. My uncle just so happened to pop in for a little visit yesterday, and in lieu of the fact I knew I was going to be writing this Journal, I had him pose for me in two poses for 30 seconds a piece. Here's what I came up with. 

Scan00003 by Mtn-Man

2, 30 Second Gesture Drawings

He's kinda old, so that's about as dynamic I could get outa him, but he served his purpose... That and helped himself to some of my beer... 

Creating Dynamic Characters and Foreshortened Drawings. 

    Drawing the figure in space foreshortening is not a mere technical trick, not a mere problem to be solved, it's the essence of figure drawing as perfected by Leonardo, Michelangelo, and the other great masters of figure and anatomy art. But most newer artists would greatly prefer to draw the figure as if it were a soldier standing at attention, with the axis of the body and limbs parallel to the surface of the drawing paper, like a building in an architectural elevation. Well, no, they don't, really prefer to draw it that way, but the dynamic, three dimensional, foreshortened figure is so foreboding that some artisits are inclined to give up and stick to wooden soldiers, though silently longing for some magic key to the secret of foreshortening. 

    So first, for those who do their character sheets and base drawings in that rigid and soldier format, lets take a look at some simple things to help break you of that habit. Right here I have illustrated on the left, the front view, with the figure standing straight up, almost at attention. To the right, its the same figure, in roughly the same pose. Though the axis of the hips and shoulders have been altered just slightly. Not even by 10 degrees at most, but do you see how the figure on the left seems to be slightly more dynamic?

Scan00004 by Mtn-Man

    This is just a basic step to help beginners out of the habit of drawing very stiff and static characters and figures. Just by moving a couple of body parts we were able to convey movement, dynamic, and even possibly a character attitude or emotion. 

Moving Through Space 

    Seeing the body as a flat silhouette encourages a simplistic description of the figure as a mere area, and a drawing of this flat shape commonly assumes the character of an outline, or contour, drawing only. Shape/mass, on the other hand, demands to be understood as volume structure in three dimensions, this makes it possible to draw the figure in space, putting the human form into the most inventive and varied conceptions of advancing and receding in space. Conceiving the figure as shape/mass permits you to manipulate the figure creatively, part by part, making changes according to your desire, without copying or using reference materials. Like a sculptor working with modeling clay, you can structure and compose by building up. You can alter the actions and projections of separate forms, and can revise and modify the forms at will. But more important, you can choose to introduce radical innovations of form. 

    Placing the body in space, whence practiced enough is something that will soon become second place to most artists. A lot of times you can think of it in much simpler terms as 'Moving the camera angle' like you'd see in a movie, or the panels of a comic book. If you have two characters exchanging dialog for a period of time, continuing to draw them face to face as they carry on is very boring, and leaves the audience looking for more. So what most artists will do, in print and film, they constantly change the camera angle to accommodate for the lack of action or movement just so they can apply a dynamic feel to the scene. To accomplish this, you'll need to learn how to draw the figure in space, so lets practice.

    For my practice I chose something relatively easy. Everyone knows Superman, and his legendary 'Up up and away' pose right? Well most of the time he's depicted in this pose, you're either watching him from above coming towards you(the viewer), or he's shooting off away from you. Well so lets take the first over the latter.
 Scan00005 by Mtn-Man

    Now I never claimed to be a good Superman artist so bare with me... As you can see though, the figure is defiantly moving closer to you. This was a real quick sketch so I might have missed some of the better proportions, but you can clearly tell his right arm is much larger than his left. This is because objects moving away from you in space appear smaller then objects closer to you. I know, I know, most of y'all know this, but sometimes its overlooked a little in our figure drawings. Another key note to remember is that if a body part is pressed back in space, and looks to be almost hidden by another body part FOR GOD SAKE'S LEAVE IT HIDDEN! I don't know how many times I've seen what would have been a decent piece thrown off because the artist felt the need to include EVERY body part in the picture. As you can see in my example, where is the Figures Left Calf? Well its under his Left Thigh, but that's ok, we all know its there. There's no need to emphasis it more then that little peek-a-boo fright above his left foot. 

Still Feeling A Little Lost?

    I know we just covered a bunch of stuff about gesture and foreshortening, and to beginners, these might be several lessons ahead of your skill level yet. That's ok though, these are all things that ALL artists should know, and practice from time to time. Shoot, even I have to admit that I haven't done too much gesture drawing until I decided to start working on this article. I'm glad that I did though, got me back into the groove a little bit, and for the several picture I used to show you as references I actually drew twice as many. 

    Ok, but here's one last little exercise and tip to help you on your journey of becoming a better figure/character artist. USE SOME STOCK! There is a TON of stock out there from some really great, inventive, and creative artists out there. Shoot, I think that dA probably has the best stock models I can find on the internet. I know if feels kinda like copying something that someone else might have already used, but I mean, come on. If you're not drawing Spider-Man, then more than likely someone has already drawn a figure in the pose you created in your head anyways. Besides, these people create stock FOR YOU TO USE. They wan't to help you out, and want you to get better. So go ahead, until you're ready to strike out on your own, go searching some galleries for that right pose you're looking for. So here's what I decided to use just for fun, which includes a 30-40 second gesture drawing, followed by a 2 minute speed sketch.

Operator Soldier Stock - 39 by Nemesis-19  Scan00006 by Mtn-Man  Scan00007 by Mtn-Man

    Again, the longer I spend on a piece, the bigger it seems to get so I ran outa room at the bottom for the 2 Minute sketch.

    OK, so that's about all the rambling you're going to be able to get outa me for the next week or two but hey, don't stop creating! And keep on improving! Just for fun, here are some other helpful resources and tools to help you improve on your figure/gesture drawings.

Additional Resources

Mature Content

Figure Drawing Tutorial by StudioQube
     Basic Figure Tutorial by avencri     Tutorial - Figure Drawing 03 by sheldonsartacademy    using gesture in drawings by gurukitty    Importance of gesture drawing Sketchbook 48 CW by JustIRaziel    Gestures 12/28/12 by Spork-

Ok so that's all for now folks, till next time, Mtn-Man out. 

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Jared B. Anchondo
Artist | Professional | Traditional Art
I'm just a drunk with a Pen and a pad. I would like to think of myself as a comic artist, but that would be insulting to Actual comic artist.

I do draw a lot of comics, and it is my main artistic focus, but alas, I am a Terrible writer. So some of the storys have a good premise but lack in fundamental story building. As such, I abandon most of them only several pages in... But I'll finish one yet damn you!

Most of my paid art jobs are in tattoo consultation artwork. I have sold several paintings to private and public clients, and I've dabble in photography and sculpting. Activities I enjoy for fun include fishing, shooting, spelunking, rock climbing, canyoneering, Bowling, and all around public drunkenness.

If you have any questions or need to reach me, feel free to drop me a line. I love when my message box gets full, or if anything else you can just note me.

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SapphireGamgee Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Professional Digital Artist
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I'M NOT SURE IF I WANT TO HUG YOU OR START PUNCHING (Or give you a basket of beer?)

(but thank you so much-and if I ever can, I'll try returning the favor???)
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Thank you for the llama.
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