Since week one I believe that I have improved in life drawing. At the beginning I found it extremely difficult and felt that there was a lot to take in but as the weeks have passed I am getting more and more comfortable with drawing and taking on each new task as it comes. However; there are still areas that I am struggling with such as perspective. The photos below show some of my work from the first week of life drawing and some of the drawings from my most recent class (old work at the top, new work at the bottom).
At the beginning I struggled greatly with proportions and capturing the movement of the model, which was always pointed out to me during class. I really like how we get feedback/constructive criticism during the class because it helps me to understand what I am doing right and what could be improved upon. I decided that I would need to practice outside of class to improve at a pace I was happy with; so while I was looking at some of last years first years blogs I came across a life drawing website called Line of Action that allowed you a set amount of time to draw models. I thought that this would be perfect for helping me with proportions. At first I wasn’t entirely comfortable with drawing using Conte a Paris pastels so I started by practicing using pencil. It became clear very quickly that Conte were much better for drawing movement. I still enjoy drawing figures with pencil but try to practice mainly using Conté pastels because it’s what we use in class.
The images above show some of the work that I did at home using the Line of Action website. The pencil sketches were drawn very early in the semester and the pastel sketches were drawn very recently.
From week two of life drawing and onwards we were told to start off the sketch drawing the movement of the model using the flat part of the pastel. At first I found this very difficult and was told I was focusing too much on the outline of the model as opposed to their movement. The images below show some of my earlier work and some of my more recent sketches from life drawing. After practicing in each class and outside of class I now find it much easier to quickly capture the movement of the model using the Conté a Paris pastels. (Early work on the left and more recent work on the right below) I feel as though the earlier sketches are much more ridged in comparison to the recent sketches; which show a more fluid movement.
In the last few weeks of life drawing we were given different tasks such as drawing the model with a hat on or drawing them as cartoon characters Dirk the Daring and Madam Mim. I have found these classes particularly difficult because I have always had issues with drawing in perspective. One of the books on our reading list by Michael D. Mattesi called Force: Dynamic Life Drawing For Animators; is really helping me to understand perspective better. When talking about drawing the human face in perspective he states “know how to draw the right angles of a box in space and then how to squeeze those angles to give your drawings much more depth. Pay attention to the vertical and horizontal lines and how they need to converge to suggest a plane progressing back into space” (Mattesi, 2006, p.59). The picture below is from Mattesi’s book alongside this statement. He explains how by drawing the portrait in the box that it helps to keep everything in perspective.
We were given an ongoing homework; alongside weekly homework’s throughout the semester that were to practice drawing the Winnie the Pooh model sheet. Another one of the books on our reading list Advanced Animation by Preston Blair helped me with this particular area of life drawing. The book focuses on drawing very cartoony humans and animals. When talking about drawing the head of a character he states; “a correct perspective framework should first be drawn. Then the details constructed over this form” (Blair, 1949, p.1). He then goes on to describe the process of making sure that the head of the animal is in the correct perspective giving examples along the way. This really helped my drawings of Pooh. The images below show my first attempt at drawing the bear and my most recent one. I believe there is good progression (first on the left, most recent on the right).
Although I feel that I have improved since the start of the semester I know there is still a long way to go before I can comfortably draw figures in perspective. Moving forward I plan to practice more often outside of class with perspective and to research more into it using the reading lists as well as other books, video tutorials and other sources. Overall I am quite happy with my progression during this semester and am excited to learn more in the second.
Mattesi, M. (2006). Force. 1st ed. Amsterdam: Focal Press.
Blair, P. (1949). Advanced animation. 1st ed. [Laguna Beach]: Foster.