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Working on Life Drawing

February 19, 2008

I was thrilled to see that Katherine Tyrell had linked to some of my life drawing posts on her incredible blog Making a Mark, which is essential reading for anyone interested in making art. She herself is a wonderful artist, and she somhow finds the time to write about lots of other artists, plus many other art-related topics.

This has inspired me to write a bit about some things I’ve been doing which I think are helping me improve my technique faced with a model. Progress is excruciatingly slow, but when I look back on the work I did last year, I can definitely see an improvement, small as it is.

First, I recommend that anyone who’s remotely interested in the subject should absolutely check out Katherine’s article, (which also features Laura Frankstone’s beautiful work and links to Felicity and Dee Farnsworth ) as well as her new tutorial on life drawing classes which are just loaded with information and some really great links.

My life drawing group hasn’t met for the last 2 weeks, as it’s school vacation time here in France (everything pretty much stops during school vacations here), but I’ve recently completed a 5 dvd anatomy course by Riven Phoenix, which has been very helpful. I blogged about it in a previous post, and I can now confirm that I really found it worthwhile. It’s drudgery in some ways, and aimed mostly at people who hope to work from their imagination, but there’s some extremely concrete information, and I found my drawing technique improving for all subjects, thanks to small tricks such as drawing a square or rectangle on which to plot a circle or ellipse, which gives you a more accurate shape. While going through these dvds, I often used Sarah Simblet’s incredible Anatomy for the Artist. Anyone interested in drawing the human figure should own this book. There are “drawing classes” in the last chapter which I haven’t had time to go through yet, but which look extremely helpful.

Having realized that drawing characters for animation isn’t that different from classical figure drawing in that you need a good understanding of anatomy, I pulled out Burne Hogarths’s Dynamic Figure Drawing, which I’ve owned for a while, but I never quite knew how to use. Just going through it and really reading his explanations and copying his examples is turning on some lights for me, especially concerning those horrendously difficult (for me anyway) hands and feet.

I followed a link from Katherine’s article to an animation artist named Dan Szilagyl’s blog, and he, in a return comment, suggested I have a look at work by Seo Kim, Adam Rogers and Alan Cook, all of whom work in more imaginative drawing styles and have an incredible understanding of the human form.

So, what resources have you found and how have they helped you?

Update :  I forgot to mention Martin’s blog.  He helps teach a life drawing class and experiments with many styles and media – he’s a constant source of inspiration.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2008 11:35 am

    Casey – thanks for the compliments! 🙂

    I’ve seen Sarah Simblet’s book on Anatomy for an Artist and it was, in fact, recommended to me by a drawing tutor which was how I discovered Sarah and her work. It’s on my ‘to buy’ list. For anybody interested I also did a blog post about Sarah Simblet and reviewed her other book in ‘The Drawing Book – into the vivid heart of drawing’

  2. Sarah permalink
    February 19, 2008 12:48 pm

    I really enjoyed looking at these life drawings – they have a beautiful flow, Casey.

    And thanks for sharing these resources – I have Sarah Simblet’s book – I think it’s the best anantomy book I’ve ever come across – her other book ‘The Drawing Book’ I have also found invaluable.

  3. sandy permalink
    February 19, 2008 9:09 pm

    Casey these are quite interesting- especially the first one (male) fantastic perspective and fore shortening!

  4. February 21, 2008 3:36 am

    I too think the first one is awesome! I know this was probably a hard pose to draw, you got it right on! I’m coming by to say hi and let you know that once I start my class i will be so busy. I’m feeling bad I might not have enough time to comment on all my friends blogs, but I will be looking!!! I am so excited to get started!

  5. February 21, 2008 9:19 am

    That first male figure is a wonderful drawing, Casey. The shapes are so pleasing. I did a WOW when I opened your post.

    With so much to learn (and so little time) I am avoiding buying anatomy books at the moment, but now I’m going to spend some time anyway following all your links. Thank you!

  6. February 21, 2008 3:21 pm

    At first glance I was picking out a favorite, but now, I love them all. They flow … the viewer gets the feeling that you enjoyed drawing them and that it was effortless. Great job Casey. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your life drawings.

  7. February 22, 2008 5:40 pm

    Thanks for all those resources! I start my life drawing module in April and this will all keep me in good stead I’m sure…

  8. February 26, 2008 4:44 pm

    Thank you for the shout-out Casey! These drawings look great. It’s definately a challenge to use watercolor on a quick gesture drawing, and yours looks wonderful!

  9. March 2, 2008 3:15 am

    Congratulations on being featured on the Making a Mark blog! I love the drawings and the first one is a favourite. I’ve clicked on most of the links to check them out 😀 Also wanted to check if you got my email confirming that I have the drawing now. thank you 😀

  10. March 3, 2008 6:35 am

    hi Casey, i have ‘How to Draw the Human Figure’ by José M. Parramón on my bookshelf and go back to it from time to time. it’s always great to stop by your blog and give my eyeballs a good dose of your wonderful drawings! cheers!

  11. Rene permalink
    December 19, 2008 3:31 pm

    I’m just starting out at this drawing from life thing, and your suggestion of Riven Phoenix’s 5 DVD series is a good one.

    If you’re an aspiring animator (as I am), besides Sarah Simblet’s book, I suggest taking a look at “Complete Guide to Drawing from Life” by George B. Bridgeman (paperback edition), and “Force. Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators” by Michael D. Mattesi.

    I hope you don’t mind having subscribed to your blog. It seems to be full of interesting stuff I like to read about.

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