Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A brief guide to constructive figure drawing - part 1 - introduction

Figure Drawing self-education

This is a brief guide to what you need to learn if you want to be able to draw/paint figures entirely from the imagination or be able to freely modify your reference as you go (aka Constructive Drawing, as opposed to Direct Drawing). I'm not teaching those things here, just introducing what they are - to  learn them get books on figure drawing and anatomy or take classes on those subjects. This guide is specifically about what is sometimes called the Form Factor - in other words, how light and shadow work to reveal form.

There are only 2 simple things you need to learn (simple, but not easy):

1) How to render form realistically in terms of light and shadow

2) The forms of the human body and how they relate to each other

In the followup posts I'll go into greater detail about these 2 categories.


About this guide -

I'm concentrating on lighting and shadow and how to use them to depict convincing FORM, covering those areas that I personally found vitally important in my own learning, and I don't pretend to cover everything. For instance I'm leaving out perspective and gesture, which are super important. Every student should definitely learn them! 

My (biased) book recommendations -

Personally I did most of my studies from books by Burne Hogarth and Robert Beverly Hale, both of whom I consider excellent teachers on the subjects. Andrew Loomis is another, though I know a lot less about his books. I can also recommend Jack Hamm's Drawing the Head and Figure. And I'm sure there are more as well. But I want to point out one that I think makes a surprisingly good introduction to all this stuff - How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. It's quite rightly considered a classic, and it seems to be largely a condensation of many of Hogarth's concepts but presented in a way that's much more accessible to the beginner. I heartily recommend starting with it and then moving on to others, and saving Robert Beverly Hale for last as I consider it more advanced. Hale recommends choosing one set of books written by the same author and learning them backwards and forwards, and then get ahold of every  other book on the subject that you find, because each author presents the same material in a different way, and some cover a little ground that others don't. Then you just need to skim the other books to find those nuggets of wisdom you haven't already learned and study them.

What you'll get from these books is a unified system that allows you to draw and paint realistically without needing a model or reference. This system has been taught to art students from the Renaissance on - up until sometime in the mid to late 20th century when art education in most schools switched to "just draw what you feeeel". For this reason, it's usually recommended any serious art student get books written in the 40's or earlier, or at least by artists trained then (Loomis, Hogarth, Hale, Hamm, and many others).

Ok, stay tuned folks - followup posts to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment