Drawing people is a medium that is transferable to almost any aspect of art. The need to understand lighting, space and proportion are skills that are fundamental to all drawing practices. Many artists suggest getting as many hours under your belt as possible when it comes to drawing figures, before embarking on a new work. By carrying a sketchbook around at all times you’ll quickly realise how many opportunities there are to draw – whether sat on a park bench or on the bus. For the more experienced artist, we’ve delivered a 5-step plan to improve your life drawing skills.
Now you’ve practised, it’s time for the real thing. Firstly, the figure. A good way to arrange a human figure outside of organised art classes is to agree with a fellow artist that you will pose for one another. Some artists take a photo of the pose at the beginning to zoom in on any given area during the process. Failing this, you can use a figure drawing mannequin or simply a photo of someone as your muse.
Charcoal is a very popular choice for its tonal values. Using hard and soft sticks and pencils are great for figure drawing. Artists use all forms of medium, from pencils to ballpoint pens. To stop yourself running out mid-draw, stock up on your favourite tools from a quality supplier today. If you work from an easel, adjust it to a comfortable height and position for your arm and shoulder. If you’re using a ‘horse’, have your drawing board fitted into one of the surface’s grooves instead of resting it on your lap. Also, experienced artists will hold your drawing tool at the opposite end of the tip which will help posture and tension in the arm. Artists should ensure their model is in a dynamic pose but one comfortable enough to maintain for an extended period of time.
Art students spend a lot of time learning body proportion rules, such as; the elbow should approximately line up with the belly button or the body is 7 times the length of the head. To create real art, it is probably best to ditch these learned rules when sketching from life. Instead, draw what is in front of you by studying their form. Measuring their body against an object instead is useful. That’s what artists are doing when they squint and hold a pencil in front of them. This is how artists measure.
2. Mix it up
Practice makes perfect, but it can also breed complacency if you fail to switch up your methods in order to keep learning and growing as an artist. By just following one style and skill, you can neglect other parts of your art. Some ways to improve areas of your art are as follows. For shading, draw on a toned piece of paper. If your paper is grey you will have to use both lighter and darker tools to achieve shade. If you’ve mastered proportions, try drawing from a harsher angle that challenges your normal way of drawing. Another thing is trying to draw with varying levels of light in the room. The most essential exercises are ones that help change an artist’s default ways of approaching art.
Start with some quick 30-second sketches to get your eyes and hands prepared to draw. Once you’ve begun on your longer-duration piece, it’s easy to get fixated on one part of the body. Usually the hands or face. When drawing from life, try to avoid this temptation. Instead, split your time wisely between body parts. This allows you to organise composition, proportion and gesture properly.
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