Craft Ideas for Adults | 9 December 2016Using the Pencil Test in Figure Drawing Share article facebook twitter google pinterest The pencil can be used for more than just making marks. Figure Drawing for Artists shows you how the pencil test can help your figure drawing. For this, it’s best to use a tubular pencil, or marker, or such, something with a nice stripe of color or a metal eraser casing that clearly tracks around the width of the tubular structure. Now, set it down. We don’t need it . . . yet. Let’s start with the facing position. Look at the center- line of the face or torso in the figure below. Both are intuitive, but, sometimes, we flub them. It’s easiest when drawing the face in any kind of three-quarter position to look to the far eye socket. How much socket do you see on the far side of the nose? That’s where you’ll see the centerline very close to the far side of the head, and so you’ve nailed down the facing position. For a back view, how close does the ear crowd the front of the face? That’s about it. Profiles, front, and back views take care of themselves. We’ll save the more dynamic positions for later. The front, back, and profile positions of the torso are obvious. However, the shoulders can fool us in any kind of three-quarter view. Even in a profile, the shoulders can fool you into thinking it’s a three-quarter view. The trick is to look to the waist, as the turquoise arrows show. How close does the centerline (the spine or belly button to crotch) come to the far side of the waist? When you have to check proportions visually or otherwise, always measure on the short or narrow side. It’s easier. No matter how wide the shoulders get, you are only concerned with drawing a waist-wide tube for the rib cage up to the pit of the neck. And, of course, it can taper into the neck by way of the bottle shape if you wish. It is not affected by the width of the shoulder girdle. (We’ll look at this more carefully in chapter 9.) What about the limbs? The limbs will orient by the correct placement of the knees and elbows and by how they attach to the torso. That’s it for the facing position. For the leaning position, we do need our pencils. Look to the centerlines again, in this case, for the torso. Use the long axis landmarks as shown in chapter 3. Start with a convenient section if you’re dealing with a long axis curve, as you usually will be. Close an eye. Lean the pencil to match the lean of the body part you’re drawing. Bring the pencil down to your paper without altering the pencil’s lean. Draw the angle. It can be the centerline or one of the sides if it’s a tube or box. You can build out the full gesture, section by section, by repeating the steps. It will end with the curved idea, just a chiseled version. I’ve shown that on the figure opposite with the dotted red lines above and below the solid one. You’re done with the lean. The lean gives us our two-dimensional sides. With the tilt, we add three-dimensional ends. The tilt gives us the most trouble because we are telling, in effect, a lie. The paper is flat. It has no depth. And yet, we want our audience to feel the torso bending and tilting into that flat plane. As we build out the drawing, we want them to feel that muscle and bone bulge off the surface. We aren’t creating depth, space, or anything like that; we are creating the idea of it—curves and corners, my friends, curves and corners. Return to the figure at left. Close one eye. Line up your pencil with the top of the body part you’re working on. Tilt the pencil in the same manner that the body part tilts. If the pit of the neck is farther from you than the belly button, tilt the top of your pencil that way. It’s best to exaggerate the tilt a bit. So, when in doubt, err on the side of the more dynamic! Push it into a deeper tilt than you think it really is. I don’t expect even a New York art critic will complain that your drawing has too much depth, do you? (Right, they probably would.) Pushing your ideas, however, can eventually become the basis of your style! So, that is all three positions: facing, leaning, and tilting. Congratulations! You have deciphered perspective. Buy from an Online Retailer US: How often does an aspiring artist read a book or take a class on drawing the human body, only to end up with page after page of stiff lifeless marks rather than the well-conceived figure the course promised? Though there are many books on drawing the human figure, none teach how to draw a figure from the first few marks of the quick sketch to the last virtuosic stroke of the finished masterpiece, let alone through a convincing, easy-to-understand method. That changes now. In Figure Drawing for Artists: Making Every Mark Count, award-winning fine artist Steve Huston shows beginners and pros alike the two foundational concepts behind the greatest masterpieces in art and how to use them as the basis for their own success. Embark on a drawing journey and discover how these twin pillars of support are behind everything from the Venus De Milo to Michelangelo’s Sibyl to George Bellow’s Stag at Sharkey’s, how they’re the fundamental tools for animation studios around the world, and how the best comic book artists from the beginnings of the art form until now use them whether they know it or not. Figure Drawing for Artists: Making Every Mark Count sketches out the same two-step method taught to the artists of DreamWorks, Warner Brothers, and Disney Animation, so pick up a pencil and get drawing. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.