“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” — Bruce Lee
If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self to practice these basic shapes/forms. They’re the key to drawing from imagination. With that said and out of the way, let me share a few thoughts on this.
I have read many books, and they all say the same thing: Learn to simplify. Practice these forms. The disadvantage with being a self-taught is that you’re on your own, left to figure out the rest. Limbs can be seen as cylinders. But how do you begin practicing? From imagination? That’s what I thought. Yes, you can start from scratch and just do it from imagination, but a much better way to get there is with photos. I have never done it before until last night.
So far, I have practiced the cylinder 20 times (20 different pose photos). I’m aiming for 300, then I move to the torso. If you’re doing it from imagination, anything goes. If you’re doing it from photos, you have a specific goal, and mistakes can be identified and skill can be improved. So it’s better that you start with photos.
First, learn to walk before you try to run. Don’t try to be cool by curving your cylinders (using curve lines). You can do that afterward once you’re comfortable with straight lines (walk). When you’re starting out, your cylinders will look robotic and rigid because everything is straight, no curve. This exercise/practice will help build cylinder’s vocabulary and muscle memories. Keep practicing from photos and soon they’ll find their way to superimposed it into your memories, and become part of you.
- Pick a photo
- See the limbs as cylinders
- Draw the cylinders: Connect the ellipses together with straight lines
- You don’t have to draw the legs together as one body part. You can separate them. This exercise isn’t about having the proportion right or have the limbs attached together. It’s about simplifying the limbs. But for the legs, I recommend that you draw them together. If it’s too challenging, then do them separately until you’re comfortable and then try them together.
- Once you’re comfortable capturing the pose of the limbs, start being more expressive to give life to your cylinders. Instead of using pure straight lines to connect the ellipses together, use curvy lines.
Do that with a lot of photos. That’s it for now. I might write part 2 to this when I have time, explaining the mindset behind curvy lines.