Compression and gravity effects
Patrick J Jones reveals how to draw the effects of real-world forces on the body, resulting in more realistic-looking figures
Draw the effects of real-world forces on the body. Patrick J Jones is your guide.
Welcome to part three of my eight-part series for ImagineFX on drawing the figure. Today we’ll draw Alana and focus on the torso and breasts, particularly on how the breasts change shape due to compression and the effects of gravity.
On first impression these simple forms look easy to draw, and for that reason they’re often drawn poorly. A common mistake is treating them as solid globes, instead of shape-shifting mounds that move, fall, bounce and flatten out. Another common error is drawing them as if both are facing front like a pair of eyes, when in fact each breast sits on the curve of the ribcage. I’ve chosen this pose to demonstrate the changing shape of the breasts due to their shifting weight against a solid rib cage, and the pull of gravity, evident even on a young, physically fit woman.
The effects of shifting forms
Apart from drawing the illusion of soft flesh against a hard surface, we’ll also deal with relationships of form. Although the ribcage expands when we breathe, the hips and ribcage are basically solid, with all the twisting done by the abdominals and obliques (the waist side muscles). These hard shapes against soft shapes cause pinching flesh, most noticeably at the waist.
In the photo (above left) I’m measuring Alana for an online classroom. I measure the forms by eye, compare their shapes – their boxy or tubular nature – then draw the biggest shapes first and measure on the pinch side of the figure where shapes are closer together. Learning proportions is important for the figurative artist, but I don’t see it as an inflexible rule.
If we keep all these ideas in mind as we draw, we’ll create a fluidlooking figure that still feels as if it’s composed of flesh and bone. Above is a portion from a large oil painting featuring Alana, to show what can be achieved by learning how to draw the figure. Okay, let’s get started…
Patrick measures the proportions of his regular life model Alana by eye, for an online class. Detail from Patrick’s painting Oblation, which has its foundations in standing and reclining poses created by Alana.