Here’s a sketch I made of the interior of a cafe a while back. This is OCF Cafe in Fairmount (Philadelphia). I did it in purple ballpoint pen, but this scan is black and white. It was a challenge to draw the people because they kept moving, or getting up and leaving. Overall the perspective is off, but I still like the atmosphere of the drawing.
This is a fairly large piece (like 14″x17″) and I haven’t taken a proper photo of it, so here’s a screenshot of the Instagram pic I posted. Jeez. Can I get my act together?
The piece is in conte crayon, graphite, and brush pen; it is copied from a photo in a catalog, where I get most of my art references from, much to some people’s amusement. This didn’t come out exactly as I’d hoped, but the guy certainly looks even more brooding in my drawing than he did for H&M, even if his face is a little lopsided. A quick practice, overall.
I’ve done a lot of figure drawing for a really long time – over 15 years at this point. The key, in my opinion is strict observation. By this, I mean looking at the figure as you’re drawing, rather than looking back and forth too much. I almost always start with a contour, although I’d like to branch out into mass and gesture more than I currently do at some point, for the challenge and variety.
My method is to begin with contour strictly observed from the figure and often a little “off,” but more true to what’s actually there than a meticulous start. You can easily get off proportion if you spend too much time putting details in the face or torso before getting to the legs. It’s better to get a rough idea of the shapes first, then go in and start adding basic detail like large blocks of shadow, and finally some selective smaller details. I often am working at a time limit of maximum 15 minutes, so I really have to prioritize which details I put in. I try to think of what’s most significant and most representative — what will allow me to convey what’s there in the fewest lines or shapes possible? It’s better, I think, to imply what’s there than put in every detail — leave some of it up to the viewer to infer and put together.
This is a figure drawing from a 2013 art class on watercolor and mixed media, done in ink and white gouache. The ink is obviously both pen and brush. I started first of all with a pencil, but sometimes on other drawings I do the contour in a Sharpie marker so I force myself to observe carefully from the very beginning rather than depending on being able to make corrections later. It’s both restrictive and freeing.
I also appreciated the shape of the model in this session. People who model tend to be, while usually not perfect (I did run into a guy whose email was greekgod@ before though), smaller. This model was a completely different kind of person from what I am used to working with and it was a delight.
A girl I drew with a pen that has a brush end. It’s 10×14 or so in real life, so I had to photograph it and it got all gray. I filled in the background with white and then ended up liking the effect, so I have left it this way. I drew this without a reference and was pleasantly surprised with the result.