Archive for category Subject: Figure

Portrait Drawing (Pocket Art) || Miss Led (Joanna Henly)

There’s much to like about this fresh, and refreshing, approach to drawing portraits. The author is an illustrator by profession and this shows in the often stylised form of some of her completed works. This doesn’t detract from the nature of the instruction, however and, in fact, adds to the sense of this being something a little (but not too) different.

I will always take issue with small formats in this kind of book. It’s mannered, and you really don’t need to carry a portraiture manual around with you. It’s something you’ll sit down with when you have time. Yes, I suppose you could have a quick go on the train or the bus, but the results in a moving vehicle will never be satisfactory. However, I’m going to give this a pass partly because it’s so good and partly because of the flexible cover that makes it actually possible to see the pages.

The approach is very basic and covers the shape and form of the face as well as individual features such as eyes, noses, skin tones and hair. There are relatively few words and plenty of well-executed examples that show you both what you’re trying to achieve and how to get there.

The whole thing has a clear idea of what it wants to do and fulfils its own brief nicely.

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Figure Drawing || Miss Led (Joanna Henly)

This rather slight volume is actually one of the most useful guides to figure drawing I’ve seen. The style of finished work is relaxed and casual and has a much more up-to-date feel than many other books. The author, whose background as an illustrator can be guessed from the illustrations, brings a freshness to the art that makes for figures that look like real people rather than stiffly posed models.

There is plenty on technique, but this is light on technicality. Capturing body shapes as well as features such as hands, faces and feet seems as straightforward as it’s possible to get it. You’ll also find help with expressions – where the character comes from – and clothes, this latter looking natural without getting into too much detail.

This would make a perfect introduction for the beginner, but also has much to say for the more experienced artist, who should enjoy the spontaneous approach. My only quibble is that the small page size necessitates a rather small font that makes the text a little difficult to read.

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Fabulous Figures || Jane Davenport

If fashion illustration is your thing, this is the book for you. However, I’m not reviewing for that market, so it’s a question here of looking for anything that might appeal to the general painter.

Although this isn’t a guide to figure drawing, there are some handy tips on form. While the subjects are not completely realistic, certainly not likenesses, and the clothes the main focus, these are useful. When it comes to putting clothes on the body, of course, the book shines.

Jane has a basic technique of creating figures using heart shapes and this considerably simplifies the initial sketch. She’s also sound on things like hair and posture, both important elements in fashion, but also with broader relevance.

As an adjunct to a wider study of figure drawing, this has considerable appeal.

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Figure It Out! Workbook || Christopher Hart

Christopher Hart’s simplified method of drawing figures is based around simple shapes and lines that allow you to re-create any pose quickly and easily. This spiral-bound workbook provides the initial example, with a short explanation on the upper page and then a dot-grid below for you to copy it. Giving you points of reference makes sure that you retain all the proportions throughout for a perfect result every time.

The whole system is one of the best explanations of figure drawing around and should have you working with confidence in short order. This workbook is a welcome addition to the canon. It bills itself as “ a complete figure-drawing class in one simple workbook” and I wouldn’t argue with that.

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Drawing Using Grids – Portraits, Babies & Children || Giovanni Civardi

This new series from the prolific and always worthwhile Giovanni Civardi does what it says on the tin.

The use of grids vastly simplifies any composition that requires perspective or proportion and artists have been using them for centuries; it’s what the camera obscura was for. Giovanni’s method doesn’t require any equipment and he demonstrates how to draw up an 11 x 8 rectangular grid that contains your subject: in this case, just the head and neck. There are initial notes on anatomy, features and proportions, the bulk of each volume then being occupied by a series of worked examples that progress from the initial outline on the grid to Giovanni’s usual sensitive result.

With so many books to his credit, finding new approaches is getting tricky and there’s inevitably a degree of repetition to the coverage. However, Giovanni is an artist of great skill and always worth a read. In this case, the simplicity he has introduced is, I think, a welcome novelty.

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Drawing Human Anatomy || Giovanni Civardi

I always have to check the copyright dates very carefully with Giovanni’s books, as new editions are starting to come out. This one goes back to 1990, but the pages have a fresh feel to them that makes me pretty sure it’s a complete re-working. The older books were often of a smaller format as well so, all things being equal, I’m going to treat this as new. Even if you have a well-thumbed 28 year old copy, you might still want to have a look at this.

Giovanni deals with skeletal and muscular structures and looks at various components – heads, hands, arms, feet – in detail. He also shows how the body performs at rest, in action and under stress. It’s probably worth noting that most of the gendered figures are male and I’d say that the muscle illustrations probably are as well.

A lot of books on anatomy are either aimed at, or are at least suitable for, the medical student. This is aimed firmly at the artist and is all the better for that.

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Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from Life || George Bridgman

This is every bit as comprehensive as its title suggests. The fact that it’s the fifth edition suggests longevity and the preface reveals that it was first published in 1952. This does help to explain the rather odd hatching that appears in the half-tones, and which makes them look rather faint. Don’t let this put you off, though, as the publisher does seem to have been aware of this and all the necessary detail is there; this edition is fully re-originated, albeit, I think, from earlier versions rather than the original drawings.

What you get is drawings of every aspect of the human form: whole body, heads, legs, arms, expressions, poses – the whole caboodle. There are detail pull-outs, block diagrams, varied viewpoints and stressed as well as relaxed poses. Muscle and skeletal structure is covered as well. If you want an example guide to human anatomy, you’ll have to go a long way to find anything as comprehensive as this, and I doubt there’s anything to match it on price.

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