This exercise requires three drawings of a person in standing, sitting and lying positions with primary focus on structure. Different media should be used and initial sketches should be made bearing in mind the angles of limbs, centre of gravity and foreshortening. I drew these from photographs; they are all of the same person. I wanted to see whether I could depict someone in three different poses and represent his build correctly in each one such that the three were recognisably of the same person. All were drawn in an A4 sketchbook and each took around 45 minutes.
Standing pose: I chose to use a fineliner. I had some difficulty in getting the position of his left arm and worked at this in the sketchbook. However, I misjudged proportions and both the arm in the sketches below, as well as the final drawing were somewhat squashed on to the page. The best proportions are in the more complete sketch on top right of the preparatory page.
For the drawing, I tried to vary the mark-making. The outcome is that he appears very hairy, which he isn’t! The figure, as drawn, is too stocky; his legs are too short for his upper body. He does, however, have solidity on the page.
Sitting pose: I selected a pose on the ground rather than on a chair. This pose offered some foreshortening in the arm propped on his knee as well as the leg folded on the ground. The biggest challenge was being aware of the angle that a line going through his right hand, his right knee and the inside of his left foot made with the horizontal. The arc made by his trunk in this position was easier to draw by focusing on the negative space that it created with his thigh and resting arm. A similar approach helped to position his right foot, which is folded under his crooked knee. He does appear to be sliding off the page – I will need to watch out for this…
I selected a limited palette of Derwent Coloursoft pencils for the drawing based around the model’s skin tones, with a deeper red-brown and brown shade. Although his proportions are better in this drawing, he doesn’t appear as solid as the standing figure.
Lying pose: This pose was selected for its foreshortened view of the outstretched leg, torso and head. I began with a gesture drawing before developing a sketch in colour using the same pencils as in the previous drawing. I under-estimated the extent of foreshortening in the trunk. The third sketch in pencil, in the middle of the page) shows foreshortening rather better but the torso is still too long relative to his thighs. This is true of the final sketch, too, even though I had resorted to measurements of angles by this time.
In the drawing, I tried to rectify the foreshortening of the torso. I created a dry wash background in pastel (although the sketchbook paper is really too smooth for pastel). I drew the figure carefully in pencil, within a broad framework on the main lines and angles (thought about photographing this stage but was into the drawing at that point and the camera was not within reach). I erased some lines but smothered others in pastel pencils, so little of the pencil outline is still visible (I can spot one line across his abdomen!). I like the way in which he is placed on the page but his toes don’t quite all fit in! The feet both require more detail, especially given that they are close to the viewer. His free-lying hand is better than it was but it could be a little clearer. I used some hatching but also a lot of smudging with a finger to create areas of tone in order to hint at underlying musculature. Finally, I added highlights with a putty eraser and also introduced more warmth into the background with a bright orange, to offset the cooler tones used for the figure. Overall, I find this figure more convincing than the sketches and better than the previous two drawings. There is a sense of abandonment in what could be a sleeping or sun-worshipping figure.
Reflection: I found drawing from photographs harder than drawing from life, not least because there is no connection between the viewer and the viewed. In life class, our tutor often keeps up a conversation with the model and we develop a social human context for the drawings, as well as a physical one. The main advantage of photographs – apart from availability – is that it is easier / less inhibiting to scrutinize the model as you try to work out an angle or proportion.
Are they all recognisably of the same person? No, but the drawings became more accurate as I went along.
There are some stronger areas of tone in these drawings. The graduation between areas of low and high tonal regions is best in the first drawing. The changes seem a bit sudden in the prone figure, above. However, in strong lighting conditions, which these were, such changes can occur.