Stages of a Fully-Rendered Figure Drawing


Stages of a Fully-Rendered Figure Drawing
In Classical Drawing, we are not so much drawing the figure, as drawing the light and shadow, which will reveal the human form.  This is a step-by-step approach that employs layers of increasing refinement and sophistication at each stage.  The rule is always, to go from the general to the specific, to work from the big form, to the ever-diminishing smaller and smaller forms, but to always stay in the context of the large statement.
Different stages will require a different way of seeing, and a different way of thinking, and a different way of handling our material, all of which will be covered in class time.
I have used a drawing from an unknown 19th century Portuguese academic artist for this demo.  Please excuse the graininess.  As you will see in real life in class, the original demo drawings are much smoother and much more subtlely rendered.
1.The Block-In
Spend the first five minutes observing the model.  Specifically we are assessing the pose and how the weight is balanced in this contraposto arrangement.  With a plumb bob, we make mental or written notes of vertical alignments, and decide which plumbline to choose for this pose.  After making a small thumbnail (about 3” high in the corner of our paper), we then set about measuring the halves and quarters on the height of the model.
Then we start the block in of our drawing.  Mark the top and bottom, and with a ruler, draw the vertical plumbline and measured quarter marks on that plumbline.
Using comparative measurements, we block in the feet, then using vertical alignments, we work our way up the legs, to the knees, which should be in the vicinity of the first quarter.  Continuing with very general envelope-type bock-in sketchy-ghosty lines, we make our way up to the hips and the major changes of direction there, then the waist and eventually to the armpits. 
Once we have reached the armpits, we start from the head down.   First the head, then the shoulders and then the arms.
© Mandy Boursicot 2013
2. The Construct
The construct stage is fairly quick, but crucial.  We observe where the centre line of the model’s torso is.  That is a construction line that starts at the pit of the neck, down the sternum, down the abs to the bellybutton, and then down to the pubic region.  This construct line will give us the gesture and swing of the torso, as well as the division of left and right for proper perspective. We can then place a line across the centre line that is the bottom of both pecs or breasts.
We will also place a centre line on the head for the centre 
© Mandy Boursicot 2013
3. The Shadow Shapes
Just as we blocked-in the outer contours in a general fashion for the first stage, this is the stage where we block-in the general idea of where the shadows will go, and then place a light tone in the shadow areas.  This tone can be #2, or #3 value.
© Mandy Boursicot 2013
4. The Articulation
We are now in a position to judge all our shapes better, because of the light tone placed into the shadow areas.  The drawing has moved from a general line drawing to one that is concerned with masses.
First we should assess whether all the large shapes are right, and make corrections to the big picture first.  We assess whether our measurements for quarters and halves were right, whether our alignments and placements of hips, waist hands were right, and most importantly, whether that top quarter has been properly apportioned to the head and shoulders.
Once those major corrections are done, we can now go through form by form, with all the smaller undulations of the shadow areas, and their corresponding light areas.  We make those smaller articulations, and tone in that shadow area darker, to a value #5 or #6.
In this stage we are creating a two-tone light-and-dark silhouette.   The two tones are the white of the paper for the lights and the #5 or #6 of the shadows.
We make no differentiation between anything in the lights, nor anything in the darks.
© Mandy Boursicot 2013
5. The Fall of Light
This stage and the next one are concerned with establishing a context for the lights only.  Not the shadows. 
The fall of light is the idea, which can readily be observed, that the brightness of the light from our single, overhead light source, diminishes as it travels further away from that source.  So the top part of our model receives brighter light and then brightness gradually drops off the further down or 6 feet model that it travels. 
So we place a smooth gradation of tone from the ankles up to the bottom of the rib-cage.
Typically down by the ankles we can start with a value #3 and gradate slowly and evenly till we get to the #1 (the white of the paper) and the bottom of the rib-cage.
© Mandy Boursicot 2013
6. The Big-Form Modeling
This stage is also conceptual in nature.  We should understand our guiding principle, that we always work from the biggest form, the biggest idea, the most general statement to smaller and smaller ideas, forms and details.
In this stage therefore, we need to step back from the notion that we are drawing all the details of the model in front of us, and engage our conceptual brain, that is going to see each part of the model in its most basic geometric form.
Once again, we are concerned with creating a context in our lights (not the shadows). 
Right over top of the Fall of Light (above) we model the big forms of the cylinders (all the limb segments, and the torso), the sphere, or ovoid of the head, and the semi-spheres of the shoulders, and the cubes of some of the joints, such as the knees.
This stage changes the graphic look of the previous stages to one of a volumetric statement.

© Mandy Boursicot 2013
7. Variations of the Darks
Now that we have established the context for our lights, we turn our attention back to the shadows.  In this stage, we aim to bring all our shadows to a complete finish.
We deal with the absolute darkest areas first, that is the hair in shadow.  Then we move to the bed-bug line and the turning of the outside form away from us.  There may be some more variations in the dark areas such as the armpit or a continuation of some forms such as ribs, pelvis into the shadows. 
The tonal range in the darks should be minimized, so that the viewer’s eye is less drawn to the shadows. 
Reflected lights should not be erased out of our initial shadow value, but rather, they should simply appear by virtue of the darkening of surrounding bed-bug lines, turning of the form and cast shadows.
We should pay special attention in differentiating form shadows and cast shadows and use the rules which govern each of these separately.
And we should look for opportunities to include lost edges, and soften edges where edges need to recede.
Try to simplify the darks as much as possible.
© Mandy Boursicot 2013
8. Rendering of the Lights
This is the final stage of the drawing, and should be the stage in which time slows down, and we focus on rendering in order, the biggest forms, the medium forms, the small forms, the micro forms and so on.
Since we have already established the general context of the lights, it’s a good strategy to develop and render each form, segment by segment, to a complete finish.
In rendering these forms, we need to be delicate and subtle, and maintain the dominance of the governing larger volumes.  Small details must always be subject to fitting into a larger context.  For each form and subsequent smaller and smaller forms that are rendered, we need to turn those forms and ensure that within its own context each form has a light, a mid- and a dark value to create the illusion of volume.
In this way we can convey the entire breadth and complexity of the human form in one drawing.

© Mandy Boursicot 2013