Through all the years I have taught adults life drawing one of the most common things people struggle with is how to represent the 3D human form with structure and depth on paper. So drawings often look flat and lack substance – as if there’s no skeleton or muscles.
The human form is much more structural than you might imagine so doing the first exercise drawing the figure as a series of geometric shapes really helped students to understand how blocky the human form is. They began to see that arms, torso’s, limbs, etc have sides and planes like boxes and cubes have. Other limbs are more cylindrical like a cone or tube and other limbs are a mixture of flat planes and curved planes. Reducing the human form to simple geometric shapes really helps this become self evident.
So the first exercise for the evening was making our ‘tin men’.
A second really important exercise is to make ‘slinky’ or ‘coil men’ by using concentric circles to draw the human form. Again a very simplified idea of the model but again so important to help get the idea across that the figure is 3 dimensional and each form or limb has a front, sides, and a back that you can’t see, but can imagine. This exercise is helpful to get students to draw lines that look as if they’re ‘going round’ the form. Impossible I know as you’re drawing on flat paper – but if you have the intention and have a method of trying to show the roundness of the human form – the drawing that results usually conveys what you are seeing. So here are a few of our ‘slinky men’.
We’ll use these ideas again in future weeks and learn how to apply the ideas behind the exercises and incorporate them in students’ own drawing practice.