How I Practice Gesture and Figure Drawing

What is a Gesture Drawing?

A gesture drawing is a very lose and fluid sketch that attempts to capture the form and movement of a subject. When you are making a gesture, drawings think of long and curved lines. Consider the action lines. Gesture drawings are not limited to the human figure. You can make gesture drawings of still lives, animals, landscapes, etc. The key is to limit the drawing to 1-5 minutes. 

What is Figure Drawing?

A figure drawing is a drawing of the human form. It attempts to capture the shapes and forms associated with postures, stances and the like. 

Difference Between the Two

When I think of gesture drawings, I consider the actions of the figure. When I think of Figure drawings, I consider the overall form of the figure. 
Depending on who you are you may consider form and action one and the same. In this case, I challenge you to think of it like movement (Gesture Drawings) versus structure (Figure Drawings). 

Today, I will be going over figure drawings in relation to gesture. In other words, I will be doing gesture drawings of the human figure. I will be attempting to capture the movement of the figures. For my warmup drawing routine, I use a website called Line of Action. This site allows access to figures nude and clothed. It also sets a timer for the images so that when the time is up, it goes onto the next image. This allows me to stay focused and on my toes. 

Drawing figures helps me make my characters more realistic and proportionate. One of the best ways to learn how to draw cartoons is to first understand how the human figure works. After that, you can stylize it to fit your hand. When I do my routine, I make a note to do it all on one page so that I am able to keep a solid record of my progress. It also helps me to indirectly work on composition and placement. I do my best to do drawing exercises 4 times a week.

Whenever I am going exercises, I do them in a sketchbook, however, I am moving away from sketchbooks when it comes down to actual drawings. For my actual drawings, I will do them on copy paper and save them in a binder, that way if I choose to do anything with them in the future, I can take them out of the binder, trace them via my light board onto another medium and go from there. My entire drawing routine can take up to 30 minutes a day, though the sketches themselves only allow for 24 minutes of drawing time.

For the sake of this tutorial, I will be drawing on standard copy paper.

My Warmup Drawing Routine

  • First I will limit myself to stick figures in 30-second sketches for 4 minutes.
  • Then I will allow myself more time to build on the images and allow myself 2-minute sketches over a period of 10 minutes.
  • Then I will allow myself to do one full sketch for 10 minutes uninterrupted.

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