A fun and educational exercise? An excuse to go to the zoo? Acceptable creeping? The fastest way to fill up your sketchbook?
Yes, yes, yes, and yes!
Gesture Drawing is one of the most easy, low-tech, valuable, and fun exercises an artist can add to their healthy habits. It applies to animal forms, human forms, landscape, archetecture, and more!
How To Get Started
- A pen
- NO PENCIL (If you can erase your lines you may have the tendency to spend too much time "perfecting" your drawing. This is not about making a polished image it's about learning and relaxing!)
- A nice big drawing surface (I usually use a large 9x12" sketchbook).
I mostly go to the zoo to practice gesture drawing. It offers me many animal forms to study (I buy a membership every year so I can go as often as I like). Public areas such as cafes, parks, and transit are popular places for human figure gesture drawing. Cities, historical sites, and churches are great places to study architecture. Beaches, rural areas, or your backyard are great places to practice natural forms.
How to do it:
- Stay as loose as possible, keep a light grip on your pen.
- Try to represent your subject in as few lines as possible, focusing on angles and curves rather than detail.
- Show weight distribution in your drawing. Is the subject walking forward? leaning? Sitting? How do their limbs accommodate for the way they are postured? How much weight is on each limb? A limb that has more weight on it will typically be straighter than the others.
- Don't get frustrated by moving subjects! Try blinking to take a mental snapshot of a subject in motion and draw that snapshot quickly before it leaves your brain.
- If a subject is still do a very quick gesture drawing, followed by a slower, more meticulous one.
- Try seeing the negative space around your subject to visualize the shape.
- Using a brush pen allows you to quickly switch between thick or thin lines for quick symbolism.
- Using a fine tip pen can help you stay simple and not get lost in trying to show texture or less important details.
- Give yourself a time limit if you find you're tendency is to spend too much time on a drawing. Wear a watch or set a timer if you need.
- Try rapid fire drawings of the same subject!