Gesture vs. Proportion
Ok, I’ve received a lot of questions from you guys regarding gesture and proportion.
Gesture is primarily without proportion, but Roman is all about accurate proportion. How do I use each?
Well, first of all, gesture isn’t really without proportion. When practicing gesture, you shouldn’t be distracted by proportion, but you should still consider it. Ideally you will capture the gesture while staying true to the proportions. Though, that will take time to train your eye to see.
But I see what you’re saying.. Sometimes you’ll need to change the proportions or move things around to improve the gesture. But if you do that, you’re not being completely accurate according to your reference.
I think It’s a balance. Sometimes you have to lose accuracy to create a better gesture. Sometimes the job requires complete accuracy. It’s your decision how you want to balance it. Personally I usually exaggerate the gesture. Sometimes a lot, sometimes only a little. But rarely will I need to exaggerate gesture so much that the proportions look wrong. You can have both.
Moving on to another similar question:
At this point when drawing gesture should I be thinking about proportions or in the mean time just focus on gesture. Most of my gesture drawings have bad proportions. Is this something that with more gesture practice I’m gonna overcome? or I won’t get better at proportions until I start studying it?
As an artist you will have to learn a lot of concepts, such as gesture, proportions, structure, shading, perspective, composition, color… the list goes on. You will struggle with each until you have studied and practiced each. Gesture and proportions happen to clash in a way that is frustrating to new students. The answer isn’t as simple as “study gesture and then study proportions”. You will need to study both. Alternate them as you wish. And don’t forget that art isn’t something you graduate from like college. You will never be done practicing gesture or proportions or structure or composition or color. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep repeating this; drawing and painting is like a sport. You constantly have to practice to keep your skills up. So try not to get into that mentality that you can study a concept and then move on to the next. Instead think of it as if you’re adding a new concept to the soup of all the other things you’re already practicing. You can focus on one and then focus on another, but remember that you will need to regularly revisit them.
Anyway, going back to your gesture vs proportions question… It will be tough at first. Your gesture drawings will look disproportionate until you’ve trained your eyes enough to capture the proportion and gesture simultaneously.
You asked “I won’t get better at proportions until I start studying it?”. You will improve with proportion even if you don’t specifically focus on just proportion. A lot of drawing is observation, so as you observe, your eye is slowly tuning itself and you get better at seeing accurate proportion. But, of course if you focus on studying proportions and specific exercises for proportions, you will improve quicker.
Plug! In my premium figure course I show how you can practice measuring proportions and checking your own measurements. Getting feedback is critical in recognizing and fixing your mistakes. So, if you don’t have someone that is always critiquing your drawings, you need to do it yourself.
Struggles with Timed Gesture
I started seriously practicing gesture end of January. I’m still struggling with timed gesture drawing. I can’t seem to complete anything under 6 minutes, and when I do…there are key pieces missing and/or the proportions are out of whack.
Is there anything else I should be considering (i.e starting the gesture with “the bean”, etc) or do I just need more practice?
Cyd, you probably just need more practice. You’ve only been doing this for a few months. It’s normal not to see results immediately. If 2 years from now you look back and there was no progress, then there’s a problem. But month to month it’s hard to see a significant difference. It’s a very slow process that’s why you just have to enjoy it. You’re going to spend years doing this until you get some sort of satisfaction, so if you don’t enjoy the actual process, it’s going to be tough..
You asked if there’s anything else you should be considering like starting with the bean. You can start with the bean, or the robo bean, or with the simple gesture lines. Try all of them, and get good at all of them.
Don’t worry about the time issue. Take as long as you need. You will get faster. I know the feeling of the timer making you anxious. Especially when you first start doing it. Go ahead and give yourself a few extra minutes. There’s nothing wrong with that. The purpose of the timer is to prevent you from drawing too many details, not to make you move your hand quickly. So if you find yourself trying to draw quickly and you think you’ve simplified as much as you could, then its better to add some time. You will get faster as you practice. But, if you’re spending too much time because you’re focusing on too much detail, then you just need to simplify it more.
Different length sketches are meant for a different amount of detail. If you only have 30 seconds – 2 minute. You only have enough time to do a few simple lines indicating the main flow. If you have 5-10 minutes, then you can add the anatomy and details like I showed earlier.