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Basic Information: 5 Figure Drawing Tips

March 12, 2011

I had the chance to sit in on two sessions of a drawing class with a figure model last week.  I really miss figure drawing from a live model, so I need to follow up on a lead for sessions at a local art center.  My skills were a little rusty but not abysmal, which made me happy.  Many artists will sign up for figure drawing classes at a local college or art center, taking the class over and over again over the course of years, to keep their skills in realistic life drawing sharp.

I spent some of the time thinking of the things I had learned that helped me create a better looking drawing.  Here are five tips on improving your figure drawings:

  1. Show Up Early:  Get to the class or drawing session well before the start time and get all of your pencils, charcoals, papers and other materials ready to work with.  Make the most of your time in the drawing session.
  2. Move Around:  Don’t anchor yourself in the exact same spot through the whole allotted drawing time.  If the model is holding a ten minute or longer pose, you have the time to do a very skilled, finished drawing.  Move around and try to find the most interesting angle or frame the best view for your drawing.  The lighting may be better from a different seat in the classroom.  Be polite, do not block anyone’s view, but don’t be afraid to move around.
  3. Range of Motion:  If you are used to primarily making small sketches or doodles, figure class is a good place to break the habit of drawing only with your wrist and hand.  Usually, in a class or series of lessons, instructors will have you buy the largest pads of paper available; doing this is in your best interest.  Try to draw using your whole forearm starting with your hand through to your elbow, then try to draw with your whole arm.  I like to do this with the short thirty second to one minute poses, the drawing “warm up” exercises often done at the beginning of a figure model’s session.
  4. Continue Later: If you have the bulk of a drawing made and run out of time on a pose, do not be afraid to continue with the drawing later on.  You can finesse the shadows and highlights for a better tonal range and refine the drawing more later.  Get as much work done as you in each pose and each drawing session.  You can always refine the drawings later if you feel a drawing is not finished yet.
Categories: Painting, Uncategorized
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