Drawing Basics: Using the Egg to Draw Anatomy

Marjorie Forgues' figure drawing, day 1. Marjorie Forgues' figure drawing, day 2.
Marjorie Forgues' figure drawing, day 1. Marjorie Forgues' figure drawing, day 2.

Taking a painting or drawing class is always a learning experience, but often I find I learn a great deal from other artists in the class as well. This is especially true if I am able to see the other student's drawing or painting progress, or ask the student about the painting techniques he or she uses or the drawing ideas they have. Of course, it can be especially helpful when taking classes at organizations such as the Art League in Alexandria, Virginia, because the other students are sometimes teachers continuing to learn their craft from other teachers.

This was the case a few weeks ago in Robert Liberace's drawing tutorial and painting class. Marjorie Forgues is a monitor and student in Rob's classes, and has worked with Rob for years, but she is also an instructor teaching portrait painting and color workshops at the Art League. Recently, I watched her develop a charcoal drawing over two half-days.

Figure drawing by Judith St. Ledger-Roty.

My figure drawing in red chalk, focusing on
the torso as an egg.

First, she worked on the structure and construction of the figure drawing. You can see she kept lines that suggested the initial position of the model's right arm, which either changed during the pose or which Marjorie liked better a little lower for purposes of design.

After she was generally satisfied with the structure she had gotten, she moved on to better establish both the shapes and shadows, and the direction of those shadows.

Finally, Marjorie worked to model the form, in this case using hatching in predominantly straight lines to turn the figure.

Marjorie is an advocate of using the "egg" to draw anatomical shapes, like the head (2 eggs) and torso (one egg for the rib cage), in order to make clear the length and width and form of the underlying structures. Then she places other shapes, like the nose and breasts, on the eggs. Of course, there is also the time-honored practice of using a cube and rectangle as a basis for construction of the head and torso.  Which do you use?!!!



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