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Figure Drawing Exercise - Blocking In Forms
Drawing posture and movement of the human figure
Capturing quick poses and movement in figure drawing is a great warm-up exercise, loosening up your hand and mind. Figure drawing requires accurate observation and can easily become stiff and awkward, but you can bring energy to your work by carrying the bold, purposeful mark-making in these exercises into longer poses. The drawings at right were done in 30 seconds each.
Related Resources
Measure the Model
Judging Angles
Drawing Structure
How To Draw

From Other Guides
Body Proportions

30 seconds!? Yep, thirty seconds. It sounds bizarre to do a sketch that quickly, but the sense of urgency it creates adds great energy to your drawing. You haven't got time to think about unimportant details.

First look at the main axis of the body. From the top of the head to the tailbone, try to indicate with a single stroke the flow of the spine. Note with quick strokes the plane of the shoulders, hips, and not shown here, you might place an imaginary line through the knees and feet.

Experiment with using the charcoal in different ways - a broad sweep using the side of the stick, or in a linear fashion. Draw with your whole arm, standing comfortably back from the easel. If working small, use as much arm and hand movement as possible.

There are two main approaches to appreviated form - internal and external. Take the internal approach by 'seeing' the skeleton first - just directional lines showing the direction of the spine and limbs, and indicating the tilt of ribs and pelvis, will be sufficient to capture the pose. Depict external forms by using minimal lines to indicate the main contours - keep them loose and flowing.

Ask the model to adopt dynamic poses, and convey that dynamism in the sketch. Remember, this isn't a finished piece - one of the sketches above barely has a head, but expresses the essentials of the pose. When you return to longer poses, remember the feeling of energy as you sketched these short poses, and see if you can re-create some of that sensation in a more deliberately observed drawing.

~Helen South


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