construction lines

Positioning the Feet on a Standing Figure

In drawing a standing figure, we aim to capture the essential gesture of the pose and the balance and rhythm of the model.  This is achieved through capturing the diagonals that represent the inclinations of the weight-bearing leg, the torso and the head.   In doing this, it is essential to locate the feet of the model accurately in vertical relationship to the torso and especially the head.  An accurate placement of the feet is critical to achieving balance.

There a number of exercises that the student can do as homework to train the eye to depict feet.  The first one is an exercise to hone our skills in planting standing feet firmly on the ground.

From many perspectives, the base of the model’s feet are not exactly horizontal, and the natural inclination for so many people, is to exaggerate the diagonal base line of the feet.  This gives the viewer an uncomfortable feeling that the model is standing on tippy-toes or even levitating.

The following are examples of feet exercises done by some of students in Florence.  I’d recommend for anyone attending drop-in life drawing sessions where the early poses are very quick, to concentrate on doing such drawings.

Block in the feet and draw in the legs up to the knees.

You can also draw a box around the feet to knee section and tone in the negative shape, in order to use the latter to check the positive shapes.

Focus on the base line of the feet (indicated by the red lines).

And secondly, focus on the distance and horizontal relationship between the two feet (indicated by the green lines).

The next post will look at exercises to be done from mastercopies.

Shadow Shapes: Examples from Life Drawing

As a follow-up to the last blog, with examples from mastercopies of Pierre-Paul Prud’hon, with their corresponding shadow shapes, here are some examples from one of my Florence students, Randy, of shadow shapes from the live model.

In all three cases, we did not take the drawing further into the realm of a finished drawing, that is, put in the fall of light and big form modelling.  Rather, these drawings are sketches, which is to say: measured porportions, proper balance and composition, construct, well-articulated and refined shadow shapes, some modeling of structural half-tones in the lights, and some accents in the shadows.  This is the goal we are aiming for in a one-evening pose.

Centre Line on Portraits and on Figures

In the second stage of both portrait drawing and figure drawing, we are concerned with the construct of the internal anatomy.

The first and most important element to capture is the centre line.  Some of us can benefit from clarification of what this is.

In both cases, it is a construction line.  By construction, I mean that this line does not exist in reality.  We need to understand what it is, why we need it, and where to put it.

In Classical Drawing, any line that is referred to as a construction line, is one that one doesn’t exist in reality.  “Construction” means that such a line is one that we must deduce from observing clues, and that we place this line into our drawing for the purposes of placing correctly smaller forms in the right perspective.  Eventually after placing our other forms correctly, we will be erasing these construction lines.

Let’s look at these diagrams to get a better understanding.

– Andrew Loomis, Drawing Heads and Hands

These diagrams show the same head at various angles and in various perspectives.  The centre line on a portrait is that line which divides the left side from the right side of the mask of the face.  It intersects the widow’s peak, the bridge of the nose, the philtrum, and the cleft of the chin.  When placing this line, those are the anatomical clues that we look for, and in placing this centre line, we are immediately capturing the angle and axis of the head.

The centre line does not need to intersect the ball of the nose, as that protrudes out from the front plane of the head.

The centre line, then helps us place, perpendicular to it, the eyeline, the brow line, the nose line and the lip line.

Here are some further diagrams to help us practice locating the centre line on different tilts of the head.

Gottfried Bammes, Die Gestalt des Menschen

The centre line is equally important on figures.  It divides the left and right portions of the torso and helps us locate symmetrical forms in their proper perspective.  It also enables us to capture the gesture of the pose and the major change of direction of the torso in a contraposto pose.

After placing the centre line on the figure, we can locate accurately the line just beneath the pectorals and the iliac crests.  The centre line on a torso can be traced from the pit of the neck, down the sternum, down the linia alba, to the belly-button and then to the pubic area.

Here are more diagrams from Bammes, displaying that all important centre line on both the front pose and the back pose.

Gottfried Bammes, Die Gestalt des Menschen