Friday, November 16, 2007

Figure Drawing, pt.8

Drawing men is a very different thing from drawing women. Particularly if the men show any muscular definition whatsoever, you are, for the purposes of drawings, practically drawing different creatures entirely. While the proportions and underlying anatomy are similar, what the skin reveals on each is strikingly different. A very slim and muscular woman I suppose could present the same issues, but they are by far the exception among artists’ models.

With women, you basically have an issue of usually smooth surfaces, and smooth arcs. If you use a smudgy technique like charcoal and stump you can use these to great effect in drawing the smooth shading gradients regularly found on women’s bodies. If you use pure line, the accuracy and suppleness of your lines are everything. If, like me, you like to hatch or scumble, you have quite a different problem. Hatching and scumbling (undirected rubbing of your drawing tool that doesn’t leave individual strokes) are rough and textured, and so it is a sort of unnatural technique for drawing women. Certainly they can be used well, and I hope I do. But these techniques lend themselves more naturally to drawing men. On the plus side, some things like arms and thighs become basically smooth cylinders with often little definition, making them relatively easy to get right.

When drawing men you suddenly are faced with muscles and tendons and bones and veins to a much greater degree, though of course this varies dramatically with the level of musculature as well. While a woman’s leg is a series of a few gentle curves, a man’s leg is often more varied in its line with sharper angles and more turns as the silhouette hugs the more pronounced muscle groups tighter. Lastly, hairy men have additional texture, and where a form turns from light to shadow, the hair will make the shadow edge look rougher.

Within forms, you can also have the problem of muscles creating more shapes within large sections that are largely planar or gently rounded in women. A woman’s belly, for instance, is a lovely sort of soft pillow shape, while on a man with musculature you have a pack of pillows one might know as the 6-pack You also have the “bacon-strips” of the oblique muscles, all adding a lot more intricacy to the torso. However, this quilt of light and shadow on men’s bodies means that hatching is a very effective way to indicate form. I wouldn’t say one is easier than the other, but they definitely each have their set of unique requirements.

Summer was rather hectic, as it always proves to be. Between finishing publication of my book, preparing for conventions, 3 weeks away from home for these, and illustration projects it was extremely difficult to continue many of my extracurricular activities. That included figure drawing, which I was attending regularly through the spring. This session was in early June, and I am sad to say it was the last session I’ve attended to this point. I had actually hoped to completely fill the pad I had purchased, before leaving, but it looks unlikely now.