Figure Fundamentals Volume 1
Lowbrow artist Van Arno uses his ability to freeze time in a beginner-friendly guide to drawing from life
Plenty of artists, particularly those who are self-taught, have never taken the chance to draw figures from life – and if you haven’t, then you’re seriously missing out. Van Arno’s video takes the fear factor out of what might seem like an intimidating undertaking.
In this first volume, Van goes through a series of poses with a female model (a second volume with a male model is also available to download). Van keeps the video about as simple as you can get, using each pose to drum home the basics and build on key concepts, referring to body parts in plain English rather than complicated anatomical terms.
Each drawing starts with a single line: the gesture. Van uses this to underpin the drawing with a sense of life, with each subsequent line supporting the initial gesture. Through split-screen video, you’re able to see the model at all times while Van draws, so you can see how the creative decisions he makes relates to the real human form. (You could also try drawing the on-screen model yourself.)
Van advises you to draw what you see, not what you think you should see. Occasionally he triggers a ‘stop time’, to freeze the model so he can explain effects such as foreshortening, where not observing the model correctly can lead to distorted proportions.
During later poses, Van also explains how looking at negative space can make some poses – like a hand on the hip – easier to draw, and why it’s important to pay attention to areas where one form overlaps another.
Van returns to the same core ideas with each pose, so experienced artists may find the video a little simplistic and repetitive. But for the less experienced, the format enables you to see how essential concepts apply in different situations. Next stop: hire a model yourself (or with a group of artist friends). You’ll never look back.
Van explains figure drawing from the very basics, like the use of the head size to measure other body proportions. ‘Freezing time’ enables Van to dwell on crucial ideas like foreshortening, and to show how they relate to what you observe.
In Figure Fundamentals, Van Arno sketches a model in a series of poses to explain important concepts.