Tracing

First layer (15% opacity): random scribbling or oval shapes. Second layer (100% opacity): sketching.

Have you ever sketched the shape of the head lightly, and then went over it more boldly? You were tracing, whether you realized it or not. Tracing in and of itself is neither bad nor good. Here’s an example of how tracing can be put to good use. This kind of tracing is highly recommended, but the kind where you trace to capture everything perfectly, with the intent/desire to improve your skill, then it’s not recommended.

In the examples above, the first two started off with scribbling. I didn’t have an idea for a pose and just wanted to see what randomness would give me. The last two examples, I knew the poses I wanted to draw, and used these ovals as rough guide. There are many ways to approach this. From random scribbling, to gestures, oval shapes, etc… The anatomy and foreshortening might be incorrect, but not bad for a 1-5 mins rough sketch done freehand.

Centerline and Planes

Last night while playing around with the bean shape, it suddenly hit me that I was overthinking it. No wonder why I was struggling with the Cube! Instead of starting with a plane, I was thinking of the Cube in 3D, trying to visualize all sides at once (not recommended if you’re just starting out like me!)

Obviously, drawing a single cube isn’t the problem. For me, it becomes a problem when I try to visualize the Torso as two Cubes, because now the perspective has to be right, whereas with spheres and cylinders, I don’t think too much about perspective. There are many ways to approach this Cube problem that I have found out since last night while playing around in Krita. Here’s what works for me:

  1. Start with bean shape with centerline, and then draw the Cube on top of it afterward using the bean shape/centerline as guide.
  2. Or, skip the bean shape all together and just draw the centerline and then use that as a guide to draw the cube.
  3. Or, skip all that and just think purely in plane, not cube, but PLANE. When you draw the plane, think of it as the “frontal” plane of the Torso. Once you have down the frontal plane, you can add depth/dimension and turn it into a cube as shown in the examples below:

I’m jumping ahead of myself with this post, but it’s something that finally clicked for me and I can’t wait to explore it after I’m done with my cylinder exercises. More on this later!

Pose Vocabulary

Top: Freehand, Bottom: Based on reference

Sometimes I can visualize a pose in my head and sketch it out. Other time I struggle with it. Then there are times where the pelvis or leg (started off as circle / loose cylinder) dictates the rest and everything just flows out smoothly without much thinking. I believe the reason for my struggle is not drawing enough different poses from references.

Quickly capturing a pose from a photo is a useful skill to have when you can’t think of an interesting pose [or] you have a hard time visualizing it in your head. I believe that the more you copy poses from photos, the more your mind will grow in this area, which will later help you to draw a variety of poses from imagination… that muscle memory will kick in.

Cross-Contour to Cube

A quick sketch I did earlier (freehand) to show how easy it is for me to visualize with cylinders.

Personally, I find cube hard to visualize freehandly at the moment. Currently I’m thinking with Cylinders and Spheres, but will eventually want to think with Cube to be more perspective-minded. I was experimenting with cross-contour and came to realize that this just might be the bridge to thinking in Cube!

Draw the Cube on top of the bean shape, using the centerline as guide

Freehand Cylinders

I find cylinder to be a lot easier (than the cube) to visualize (might have to work on cube sense later on). This is me taking a break from my cylindrical limbs exercise. I alternate between the two: cylindrical exercises (using photos) and then freehand cylinders (making things up with cylinders).

Make sure it’s not a fluke

https://www.deviantart.com/senshistock/art/Sink-or-Swim-Pose-Reference-352201872

Sometimes you’re in the middle of practicing in a state of relaxation, where you don’t think much. You might get something that looks nice, but find that it’s impossible to replicate the result. That certainly happened to me.

The purpose of practicing is to get better and to really improve your skill. We don’t do it so that we can say, “I have done it!” and then move on to the next target. Slow down and be intentional. Be aware of your thought process.

Once you got the essence of the pose, you can try it from memory.

Foreshortening

Based on this pose reference: https://www.deviantart.com/senshistock/art/Sink-or-Swim-Pose-Reference-352201872

Sooner or later you’ll run into this thing called foreshortening. It’s very difficult to draw poses that have a lot of distortion like this. Knowing that foreshortening is difficult and hard to get it right when you’re just beginning to explore it, I wanted to do more than one test to make sure that the first one wasn’t just a fluke. Don’t expect perfection at first. Aim for “just right.”

I started off with the right arm, then left, head and upward. I imagined the limbs as cylinders.

Check out this folder for foreshortening poses: https://www.deviantart.com/senshistock/gallery/790939/Foreshortening-and-Perspective-Poses

Slow down and Observe

I started off this exercise by rushing my way through. But on the 70th pose and onward, I decided to really slow down and observed my subject.

Top: What it looks like rushing my way through. Bottom: This is actually the way it should be, careful observation.

Practicing Cylinders

Taking a break from my goal of 300 pose photos. Only completed 60 so far, 240 more to go. After you do that photo exercise, things will start to click. For me to do these from imagination at this stage means that not everything is accurate (anatomically speaking). Accuracy is not what I’m aiming with these. All that comes later when I look closely at muscles and bones and how they attach together. In the meantime, I just want to be able to pose these cylinders from imagination, to make it look like a figure, good enough, but not necessarily accurate.