By Chris Legaspi
Get the most out of your life drawing sessions with these 10 simple tips for quick figures
01. Construct the torso
Once the gesture is established, separate the torso into rib cage, abdomen and hips. Then, indicate the openings for the limbs. Next, group the muscles using simple forms. Finally, suggest planes to give the torso structure.
02. Define the limbs
Start the limbs as long, tapering rectangular shapes that flow from the torso down to the fingers or toes. Next, add cross-sections to indicate their position and direction of movement. Finally, use simple ovals to add muscles and indicate kneecaps and elbows.
03. Simplify the anatomy
Starting with the torso, group the upper-back muscles (which surround the shoulder) into simple forms. Where visible, emphasise hip bones, knees and elbows. Finally, emphasise the parts where muscles overlap, as this creates the illusion of more detail and brings the drawing to life.
04. Begin the head
For quick head sketches, begin with the gesture and outer shape, making sure the tilt and rotation is correct. Next, add the major planes, such as the side of the head and brow. Finally, add in the features and define the neck muscles.
05. Sketch the hands
Hands can be complex, so start with either a box or oval shape, depending on how the fingers are arranged. Next, refine the shape, but keep the fingers grouped. To finish, separate the forefinger and thumb, or any finger necessary to make the hand come to life.
06. Sketch the feet
The feet are fairly easily to simplify since the toes are short and clustered together. Start with a triangle shape to capture the gesture, making sure to emphasise the contact point. Next, refine the ankle and shape of the grouped toes. Finally, separate the big toe, or any other toes as needed.
07. Exaggerate overlaps in side view poses
In a side view, much of the figure is hidden. To make the drawing work, emphasise and exaggerate overlaps. When available, the limbs are also great tools for creating overlaps at the torso. For more depth, exaggerate the top layers of anatomy, such as the shoulder muscles and hip bones.
08. Use overlaps in foreshortened poses
Similar to a side view, emphasise overlaps for foreshortened poses. If the torso is moving away, emphasise the overlap of the hips and abdomen. If the torso is coming toward you, use the rib cage and anatomy to create overlaps. If visible, the limbs drawn with good cross-sections can also create depth.
09. Focus on contact points in reclining poses
For reclining and seated poses, you can exaggerate the anatomy that makes contact with the surface. When visible, emphasise the hands making contact by adding more detail at the fingers and wrist.
10. Add tone
If the lighting is good, finish your sketch with tone. One way to do this is by blocking in the shadow and filling in the shape with a suitable tone.