Sunday, August 15, 2010

Identifying your shapes

Something that's very common to read in any sort of book about drawing (at least books about drawing comics/cartoons), is about the importance of identifying your shapes, i.e. breaking everything down to simple spheres, cubes, cylinders and cones. When I was younger, I used to disregard that. I mean, it sounds so boring, doesn't it? Who wants to draw shapes; I wanna draw characters and COOL stuff. Not geometrical shapes.

However, the more I've practiced to draw, the more I've realized what a huge favor you do yourself by breaking down everything into shapes. I now feel that identifying your shapes is one of the most important things you do while drawing, so I'm gonna go over and show how I do it.

1. I start as usual with a circle for the head, so I can measure up the head to body ratio. As I've said before, I usually do a 1/5 ratio, which in real life is the aspect ratio of a child, more or less. I like too keep the head big though, even for adult characters. Anyway, I then do a simple stick figure to get all the parts out quick.

2. I then flesh out all the lines and work on the silhouette. It doesn't take more than a few minutes to get this far, and approaching the drawing this way, makes the silhouette very defined (or, at least easy TO define), and it gives you a very good base for the finished drawing. You can basically see if anything is out of proportion all ready and fix it, so you don't have to deal with it later.

3. This is where the shape identification begins, and thanks to the well defined silhouette, this is also the FUN part! I basically just go over it and get all the lines out, joints makes for circles, legs and arms becomes cylinders (or just lines connecting the joints). Be careful not to ruin the silhouette or create tangents. When doing things like the legs, I find it easier to do the joints first, and then connect them by drawing in the legs.

4. And that's basically it. I filled in the lines one more time, cause I like to have a well defined sketch to go by when inking, but I guess there wasn't to much reason too. Though, I had to add clothes and a face to the sketch before inking it too, obviously. So, a few details later:


gonzalexx said...

Pretty cool, Ras! I like the way you broke it down, process-wise. The last few days I've been trying out Andre Loomis' book on Heads and Hands, and yes, shapes it is. Also, previous books used slightly different shapes for the same features. For heads, previously using ovals, and Loomis uses spheres, to which he "attaches" bones and surface, basically. BUT, the best thing you point out is, no matter how boring, it is the best favor you can do yourself to use shapes in drawing construction. I'm glad you posted this, gives me another viewpoint on construction shapes (I like the circle idea for joints.... it hints of proper movement/motion, which one should have in mind during the whole drawing process). Thanks so much for sharing. I hope lots of artists drop by. They'll have something to think about, and maybe comment.
Great post!

Rasmus said...

Thanks Jose, I'm glad you found it useful! I've heard a lot of good things about Loomis' books, and been thinking about acquiring them. When I'm drawing a portrait I always start with a circle that I flesh out with a jaw and stuff, but I'm so used to drawing heads by now that I didn't feel the need to this time.

gonzalexx said...

A sphere to start with is Loomis' way as well. I had started using ovals as prescribed by a contemporary art teacher, but when I started exploring a different type of constructions I realized how much the construction affects the final outcome. I'm sure there are other methods, and I'll enjoy exploring them as well. I'm beginning to see how one little construction line dictates the flow of the rest, even if one doesn't recognize it in the beginning. I think its worth exploring.
Thanks again for sharing!