Figure Study: Trying a new approach

Here is a scan of the costumed figure drawing session, Supergirl.  This costume was chosen in “honor” of the C2E2 (comic convention) that started place in Chicago the next day….

What was interesting is that we tried a new approach- instead of some quickie one, five and ten minute “warmup” sketches, we jumped right in to two long poses of over an hour each…  The get together started a half hour earlier than usual, or at least it was supposed to.  Our host wanted to finish early since he wanted some time that evening to get a jump on chores related to the booth he would be at during the comic convention (selling his sci-fi/fantasy art).  Of course, this caused great confusion. We normally start at 6:30, and pushed this to 6:00…. but the model apparently assumed we would start at 7:00, which is what the schedule is for the regular nude sessions (this was her first costumed session, which is only once a month). We caught her via cell phone on a bus somewhere, so she hopped off to catch a cab. In the meantime, it gave us all time to chat and joke around, so it turned out to be quite fun.  The ice was broken, and by the time the model showed, everyone was pumped up and offering suggestions for poses and being more involved than usual.

Having a superhero theme, you pretty much require a “hero pose”, but the drawback is that means the pose is difficult to maintain for long stretches, and every time the model resets, they are never quite exactly where they were before.  What we all decided might be fun to try was to work on TWO poses at the same time… she would stand for 5 minutes, at the end you set your piece aside and started the second, then went back and forth every five minutes.  It turns out that the painters didn’t have it so good… there never was enough time to get colors mixed an applied to any level of satisfaction. The sketchers had more fun I think, as there was more time for detail over the course of the evening.

I wound up with the most detail in the end, since i was working on smaller paper than the others (I used regular 8.5×11 printer paper). What really worked for me is that, unlike the others who “construct” or measure out body parts, I start from one feature and work off of that, eyeballing proportions of body parts relative to the part I just finished.  It was a great advantage when it came to detailing… I finished the face in the first go, then the shoulders and torso, then arms, then legs, then simply improved shading and such every other segment of time.  This breaking up the model into pieces completely eliminated the issue of her never being able to exactly duplicate the pose after every reset.  Usually you would rough you a sketch, then when the model resets, you notice her head is slightly turned, or her torso is, or her limbs are off be degrees… which changes shadows and proportions.

I actually wound up finishing early, and moved around the room to do different angles of only 5 minute sketches at the end. The only drawback for me was that as usual, my method of focusing on parts means these often come out at incorrect proportions… I actually tried correcting some scans in gimp once and found I would be off by 5% on occasion (either too big or too small). The sketch above is an example of this. Something looks off with her body… like she is stumpy or something. It actually is that her waist was a touch too small for her head and shoulders, and when I started her legs, it was obvious the body was way too small… so I erased everything from the waist down and redid her legs at what looked like a scale in between to “split the difference”.  This helped, but to my eye seems to accentuate the fact the one-size-fits-all costume was a little ill fitting on her. If you place your hand over the image and look at just the upper half, or just the lower half, you’ll see it looks better and more in proportion, but when you look at the overall image it looks off somehow.

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2 thoughts on “Figure Study: Trying a new approach

  1. Definitely something in the torso makes it look a little off, but just a little. Nice shading! Sounds like you do some of the things that I have a habit of doing in terms of starting with a body part and just eyeballing everything off of that. I’ve always relied on my keen eye to get proportions right and about 98% of the time I can get things pretty spot on. For some reason, with the human body especially, that 2% can make all the difference. I learned in the last figure drawing class I took about putting down the frame work within the first 2 minutes – making sure to get the entire body in, get the proportions, angles and masses in correctly. Then from that point you can go detail whatever you want and you know that things will be “right” when you’re done. That was something I’d seen people do on blogs here and there but never really practiced it. I think you would benefit from learning some of those techniques and if you combine that with your natural eye, you’ll be finding less proportional issues in the future.

    Just a thought.

    • i agree… i its just that i feel like i run out of time, i hurry things along and then i wind up with a sketch “based on” the model instead of a sketch “OF” the model. I think I simply need morepractice… I look at my old stuff from years ago, when i drew all the time, and see fewer errors. I even have a bunch of drawings where i didn’t even pencil, i did in straight inks, and there was never a mistake in proportion or line placement. that is where i want to get to again…

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