If you want to become adept at drawing people or doing portraits, “quick studies” offer a way to focus on what’s important. If you’ve never done it, now is the time to start!
Beginning with gesture and motion, focusing on the way a person’s body leans and moves is critical if you want your images to look vibrant and alive rather than just plastic replicas of stick people or flat uninteresting copies. Gesture is what makes each image unique. Exaggerating those gestures makes for a more interesting pose.
Once gesture and movement are identified, then form comes easily. The form makes the figure three-dimensional. Here the weight of the image and the likeness are developed. Completing your gesture sketches with more fully developed drawings of form gives you a foundation on which to build a likeness and imaginative scenes with complex characters.
Practice makes perfect. Some of my sketches are out of proportion. As I become better, the proportions should become more natural. Sometimes I have to slow my drawing hand down to the same level as my brain. I’m hoping my brain will soon catch up to my hand.
Portrait studies can be done in the same way. These quick studies force you to see shapes and values before getting into the details. Unless the foundation is solid, the details will still look flat or cubist. If that’s what you want, great! But if likeness and a portrait is your goal, your details need to be placed on accurate solid forms.
|Notice the slant of the shoulders|
My favorite online teacher is Stan Prokopenko or “Proko.” Here is one of his videos. Practice along with Stan and check out his other videos. If you’re new to portraits or the figure, you need all the help you can get!
TIPS: Use soft vine charcoal for smooth lines. Make certain you have extra sharpened sticks nearby (they dull quickly). Also use inexpensive drawing paper. The perfect size is 9x12. If you use a larger size as I did below, and try to cram more drawings in on one page, your proportions will end up way off and you'll run out of space to draw.
Online Contest Winner -- First Place for "Hearts Afire"
Online Contest Winner Second Place -- Title: "A Joyful Heart"
Pastel 9x12 on Bristol
Pastel 9x12 on Bristol