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Some Hints on Drawing From the Model

From "Figure Drawing" by Richard G. Hatton Hon. A.R.C.A. (London) London - Chapman and Hall, Ltd. 1904).

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8. Some Hints on Drawing the Figure from the Model.

THE drawing must be made in as long lines as possible, must be no patching together of little bits. Indeed must be done very much as writing, except that whole arm should be moved and not the wrist and The letter W is in writing as complicated a as we have, and yet he would be a sorry penman wrote it in little strokes.

The general mass and shape of the figure must first be up, 50 that the proportion and pose can be secured It is a great mistake to expect to begin at of the head and gradually work down to the in all the details, and with proper proportion No error is greater than to regard the of the figure as a waste of time. It is very nice to pass all down once, and have it get to something else, but not unfrequently such a proceeding results in an ill-posed and ill-proportioned figure, which has to come out after all. At the same time, the student must not omit to make many studies in which no blocking is used. For in these the blocking will really be done in the head.

Figure Drawing by Richard G. Hatton


Then in actually drawing the lines, they may be either placed in the order shown in Fig. 22, A, that is, first the two sides of the arm, then those of the fore-arm, and finally of the hand, or they may be placed as in Fig. 22, B, fixing the outstanding points first. Probably it is best to combine the two, first looking over the ground as in B, and then proceeding in the more structural method A. B is the better as regards proportion, A as regards the organic connection of part to part.

Fig. 23Fig. 23

The best method of securing proportion is perhaps to find the centres between noticeable points. Thus in Fig. 23 the draughtsman will see that the centre from the top of the head to the end of the foot is about the centre of the abdomen, as is indicated by dots. Then the height of the line of the thigh from the ground, marked by crosses, repeats at the eye. Then the distance from the seat, marked by a ring, to the elbow, repeats at the thumb. The same system may be followed down to the smallest detail. Thus, find the centre between the arm-pit and the chin, it falls within the arm; try then to repeat the width of the arm at the arm-pit, tip towards the face, the repeat falls at the end of the nose. This system of finding the centres is very valuable in simple drawings, as in the freehand copy at the side of the figure. It is also of great use in drawing drapery and hair, cases in which one is sometimes appalled by the mass of detail. Other examples of proportioning by repeating distances are exemplified in the standing figure (Fig. 23).

It must be understood that these measurements must only be used once, as the living figure is always subject to movement.

Fig. 24Fig. 24 Fig. 25Fig. 25

In guessing the centre between two points the thumb, finger, or pencil may be held before the model and moved till it is felt to correspond with the true centre, though the first guess should be made with the eyes only. Every measurement taken without previous guessing puts back the progress of the training of one's eye. Nevertheless when the centre is being found by semi-mechanical means, it is well to have it done accurately, and there- fore instead of the clumsy thumb or pencil method, a slip of paper with a few divisions upon it will be found much more reliable and satisfactory (Fig. 25). In taking the size of the head it is customary to take in the hair as well, as it gives a definite limit.

Fig. 26 - Slanting LinesFig. 26 - Slanting Lines Fig. 27Fig. 27

Another way of securing proportion is by taking slanting lines connecting prominent points, as is shown in Fig. 26. Somewhat in the same way as in the geometrical problem, the angles being equal, the figures are equal. In Fig. 27 two methods of starting are shown. In A the head is drawn first and the forms radiate from it. In B the first line drawn was the slanting line through the elbows to the foot, as base; then the two other sides of the triangle giving the knee. Then one elbow is seen to occupy about the centre of the base-line, which thus becomes divided into two halves. In the left of these the head occurs a little to the outside of the centre. These methods of finding centres and employing slanting lines may be used in drawing from imagination, for it is of very little use one drawing out of one's head if one does not see the figure lying on the paper almost as if it were verily present there. It only needs marking over.

FIG. 28.-Part of a Frieze. (By Clodion. )FIG. 28.-Part of a Frieze. (By Clodion.)

Fig. 28, which was drawn without any pencilling, was drawn in the way just indicated. Dots were first placed at the right side of the thigh, and the left of the nose of the dolphin, then on the hair above the forehead, and so a triangle encompassing. the whole was defined by three dots. Then the side of the ,abdomen near the umbilicus was seen to be about half-way along the base-line, and was fixed also by a dot. From it by slanting lines the arm and breast were reached, and so to the head. Of course it is much easier to do a shaded drawing in this way than one of rigid open lines. Thus the subject becomes a pattern of dark patches, and the process is impressionistic.

The draughtsman must always bear in mind the fact that the figure is a solid. As he draws each part he must remember that there is a part hidden from him as well as a part presented to him. He must endeavour to express the fact that there is air all round the figure, and that it stands free by itself, with a background distant behind it, and space on every side. How to represent this fact is almost beyond telling, but it is probable that whatever the draughtsman holds in his mind will find expression in some mysterious way in his drawing.

It is a fault, and a grave one, to allow oneself to regard a drawing of the figure as merely an assemblage of lines decoratively arranged, and to forget that a figure should never be drawn but to represent some one, some veritable person, which person will certainly be solid, and have air all around him.

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