View Full Version : Figure study questions

08 August 2006, 06:10 PM
Hi, I'm looking to study Animation, and from what I've read, it seems that most schools require a strong knowledge or ability in rendering a human figure in action, amongst other requirements.

I marvel at how people can draw figures from imagination, in any pose, and I hope to be able to do that soon. How should I start, if I wish to be able to do that?

I've been reading up on a couple of anatomy books recently, hoping that it'll help me understand the human figure better. I think I can get most proportions right, but that's only in the usual front/profile/back views. I can't get it right once foreshortening kicks in. When I try to draw, lets say a 3/4 view of the human figure, everything just looks weird. How do I rectify this problem? I've read Burne Hogarth's "Dynamic Figure Drawing" and he mentions that I should try to visualise the human figure in blocks. But I just cant seem to get it right.

I was thinking of going for life drawing sessions, since drawing from imagination doesn't seem to be working too well. But I'm afraid I would only embarass myself if I made a mess out of the model. What do you guys recommend I do?

Please do help, any advice will be greatly appreciated!

08 August 2006, 07:27 PM

Welcome to CGTalk and to the Anatomy Forum.

Life drawing is really essential I think and many schools require this in portfolios.

I would recommend looking into some of Vilppu's training materials:

In particular, his gesture dvd as well as his Drawing Manual.

I marvel at how people can draw figures from imagination, in any pose, and I hope to be able to do that soon. How should I start, if I wish to be able to do that?
No one can do this without first building their mental stock of imagery by doing life drawings. This requires time and dedication, and is not something that can be done overnight. :)

Too often people want to be able to draw from imagination right away. In order to do so, it requires a lot of life drawing, drawing from Master Works, etc.

Master Copy Resources (

Check out this thread, and I recommend starting a Sketchbook Thread here:

Personal Anatomy & Sketchbook Threads (

Take a look at what people are doing and just jump in ~ you will learn a lot by seeing what others are doing around here. :)



08 August 2006, 04:40 AM
Thanks for the reply rebecca. I'll read up on the threads you posted.

However, I have one specific question. If I start copying from the Masters, or go for a life drawing session, how should I approach it? When I do life drawing last time, I find that I'm pretty much COPYING what I see. That isn't very good right? I want to be able to understand the form of the subject I'm drawing, to know what basic blocks form a complex figure. I believe that'll benefit me greatly in the long run.

So my question is: Should I COPY like what I do as usual, or should I try to construct the subject out of basic blocks, and refine?

08 August 2006, 02:00 PM

One resource which we have here on the forum which I recommend checking out is:

Beginners' Lounge (

Which contains basic guidelines regarding how to approach the figure. :)



08 August 2006, 12:37 PM
cool, thanks alot!

08 August 2006, 08:31 PM
The most improtant thing is to practice. It sounds patronising but it's true. If you keep a little sketchbook with you all the time and a biro and sketch people when you get the chance it should help a lot.

What I tend to find is that you cant be too precious about the drawings you make. I draw with a biro so that any mistakes I make can't be rubbed out. This way you learn which mistakes you keep making and it also keeps you on your toes mentally.

Drawing groups of animals is good too. If you go to a park and start drawing a duck you know that at some point it will move, in which case when it does move, start drawing another duck until the one you started drawing might have moved back in the same position. What this will do is force you to draw quickly without thinking too hard about the subject. You'll be suprised at how accurate the results will be even though you have to work quickly. You'll end up with a page full of ducks, most of which will be un finished, but the ones you have finished will be a combination of observation and a little imagination thrown in, which will help you when you want to draw from imagination. Try the same thing with people in a park, or horses etc.

Imagine you have a camera which takes photos that only last a couple of seconds and then fade away. This is basically your visual memory. If you glance at something you may only be able to see it mentally for a couple of seconds and all the while it will fade. The whole idea of working quickly helps your mind to hold a snapshot of something you have only glanced at. The more you practice the more information you'll be able to hold in this "snapshot" and your visual memory will improve and your lifedrawing skills along with it.

I'm sorry of this is a bit patronising, but I like life drawing and I think it's seriously underated.

I've got some examples of my biro drawings here:

Hope this was useful and not too much if a rant.

09 September 2006, 10:35 AM
drawing with ink.. wow that's like something I've never done before. I'll give it a shot, yea and I guess the key is to practice and practice.

Say, you're from the UK aren't you? Can you recommend me some good schools over there to learn animation? Thinking of going next year..

09 September 2006, 08:59 PM
Hmm that's a tough one. I've not been to uni for some years, so I can't remeber which ones are good.

I good idea is to ask for a wide sample of work from each course. There are some courses that have a great many students, but the quality of work is low. This means that one or two students will be very good, but it will usually be these student's work that is shown in a course show reel. This might give the impression that the work being produced on the course is of a higher quality than is actually the case. The rest of the wok might be quite low quality, but without asking for a general range of work you can't tell.

Ask for the CVs of the course tutors and ask how long they have been with the course. Also ask how big the tutorial groups tend to be. Smaller groups tend to mean you get more attention from tutors, larger one'e tend to mean people get missed out.

Also ask how long the course has been running. A lot of courses have only just been established and it has lead to complaints about the standard of tutoring as tutors on new course tend to be inexperienced. Make sure you shose a course with a good history.

The main thing is to look at the kind of work that is being produced and see if it's the kind of thing you'd like to do.

The full list of courses are available by searching this website:

Make sure you do plenty of research and good luck.

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