My ref­er­ence-based draw­ings look stiff and bor­ing. What’s the so­lu­tion?

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - ImagineNation -

Paul Lim­par, Swe­den

An­swer Tony replies

Well, the short an­swer is to not ac­tu­ally copy your ref­er­ence, but use it as a guide. I know this can be daunt­ing when you’re just start­ing out, but the key to cre­at­ing a dy­namic pose from a model or photo is be­ing com­fort­able push­ing, stretch­ing and mov­ing bits around to make the drawing say what you want.

Part of this is just some­thing that will come with time as you build up fig­ure drawing mileage, but know­ing what to strive for is half the battle. For this ex­am­ple I want to re­ally em­pha­sise en­ergy and mo­tion, so I’m drawing the singer, dancer, actress, mil­i­tary spy and Le­gion of Hon­our re­cip­i­ent Josephine Baker.

The first sketch I’ve made – the left-hand one of the two draw­ings be­low left – is a di­rect copy of the ref­er­ence photo. Though I’m still mak­ing a lot of de­sign choices in re­gards to line weight and what I leave out (that’s just sort of drawing in gen­eral), shape-wise I’ve made no at­tempt to stray from the source im­age. With this as a start­ing point, I’ll show you how I push the pose to con­vey an idea. My goal is to use ges­ture, struc­ture and tech­nique to tell a bit of story with the drawing.

The fin­ished sketch has some value added in to sep­a­rate the fig­ure from the back­ground. Even your brush­work be­comes part of

the de­sign. Hope­fully the sec­ond drawing has a bit more gusto in it than the first, which copies the source di­rectly.

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