Will This Work Even If I Hate Geometry?

6 Mar 2012

Cube figures allow me to focus on the basic shapes of the body. This can lead to a better understanding of the body's form and the creation of works that are incredibly natural, such as Lea Colie Wight's drawing, Kate, conte on paper, 17 x 23.
Cube figures allow me to focus on the basic shapes of the body.
This can lead to a better understanding of the body's form and
the creation of works that are incredibly natural, such as Lea
Colie Wight's drawing, Kate, conte on paper, 17 x 23. 

I was always the kid who was great at multiplication tables and terrible at thinking spatially, hence my dread of geometry in high school. (Sorry, Ms. Newsome, you did your best!) But the one situation that has proven the exception to my loathing is when using pencil drawings of cubes to help me figure out drawing the head and the body.

In fact, going a little cube happy is one of the best exercises I've ever used to explore figure drawing because, first of all, it abstracts the body for me so I'm not so worried about how weird looking the shape of an arm is, or how off a torso is. Instead, I can focus on how discovering how a head sits on a body and how a body, well, actually sits.

Figure Study by Luca Cambiaso, 1527-85.
Figure Study by Luca Cambiaso, 1527-85.
Putting the head and body in cube when doing a first round pencil drawing unites the forms and allows an artist to use perspective of a "simple" shape to understand how the forms work together. For example, when the head is tilting upward, both the front and back of the head are affected by this movement and lean up on the same tilt. And, if you think back to the cube, the bottom and top of the head are positioned along the same angle as well. Then you can mentally add and extend the perspective lines on the cube to further comprehend how the forms recede into space. Once you've got this foundation in place, you can begin to draw an actual pencil portrait or figure drawing with confidence.

Drawing methods like this are where an artist can always find equilibrium and balance, because you know that if you have these, you are starting from a strong place to begin any artwork. For additional pencil drawing lessons and approaches that will give you the balance you may want, you can now have an entire year's worth of Drawing magazine in one place with our latest annual Drawing CD Collection. Enjoy!

 


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