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D R AW I N G P R O G R A M

Figure Drawing Phase I:


Basic Figure Construction
Geometric Forms

OVERVIEW
One can look at the body in all of its glory, possibly one of the greatest engineering feats ever, simplified
down into geometric shapes. For example, the rib cage, cranial mass, and pelvic section are simply
various sized ovals or ellipses; the arms and legs nothing more than simplified cylinders, and so on. You
will see in the lessons that follow just how simple it is to use these geometric forms to construct various
mannequins. This allows us to break down difficult anatomy in order to best arrange the figure. I have
designed four different mannequins varying in complexity, but all are built off of the fundamental build-
ing blocks. Get plenty of practice freehand sketching these various exercises as they will be the linchpin
for building more complex figures in the future.

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Geometric Forms

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D R AW I N G P R O G R A M
Figure Drawing Phase I:
Basic Figure Construction
Geometric Forms

ASSIGNMENT 1: BASIC FIGURE CONSTRUCTION

In this assignment you will learn to freehand draw the most essential geometric forms used in
breaking down the human form. Think about what you learned in drawing fundamentals.

Part 1: Watch the video demonstrating these principles. Then, refer to the handouts. This will not be
the most exciting exercise but pivotal to your ability to simplify complex forms.

Part 2: Copy the drawings I provided for you several times. When youve got the hang of it, continue
to expand by drawing other shapes around the house.

Part 3: On page 6 and 7, you will begin to see how geometry starts to come into play.

Note: Refer to the supplemental book list on the materials page for further resources to study. The
object here is to give you a working understanding of these essential concepts. True mastery of
these concepts will come over weeks and months of study. A suggestion would be to start each
drawing session with a 10 15 warm up of these shapes.

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D R AW I N G P R O G R A M
Figure Drawing Phase I:
Basic Figure Construction
Geometric Forms

It is important to remember that as we begin the journey to familiarize ourselves with drawing the human
figure, we must align ourselves with the tools necessary to not only draw it well but masterfully. We will
attempt to walk you through the most fundamental concepts all the way through advanced concepts like
figure invention, idealization, and calligraphy. As you watch the video demonstrations, rememberrepetition
is the key to success. If necessary watch them several times, and take your time. If you follow our lead and
apply yourself diligently, you will be wowing both yourself and your friends in no time.

- TIP -
Keep in mind the basics rules of perspective. 1) All objects
become larger as they approach you and smaller as they
recede. 2) All parallel lines converge at vanishing points
on the horizon. 3) The part of an object nearer to your eye
appears larger than the back of the same object.

Note: It is important to learn to draw the above shapes from every angle. Yes, I mean every angle. Most of
these simple shapes you can find around your house or studio. For example: a tall cylinder might be a mailing
tube, a small cylinder a pop can, a tall box a cracker box, and a small box or cube an Xbox. The ball could be an
orange or tennis ball. Take some of these objects and really observe them. Then, start sketching them from all
angles. Maybe use this simple foundational exercise as a ten-minute warm-up every time you draw. As you
become familiar with these basic geometric shapes, you will start to think more three-dimensionally as well as
improve your dexterity! I know it sounds basic, but all complex form can and should be broken down into its
most rudimentary components before being built back up into complexity.

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D R AW I N G P R O G R A M
Figure Drawing Phase I:
Basic Figure Construction
Geometric Forms

The above five exercises will assist you in conceptualizing the human form. Sketch these exercises in a variety
of angles and directions. As we begin to build more complex mannequins and ultimately abstractions, these
will prove indispensable. Whenever are you drawing, one or more of these principles will be used.

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D R AW I N G P R O G R A M
Figure Drawing Phase I:
Basic Figure Construction
Geometric Forms

Below you will find examples of simplified blocks and cubes being sketched. The exercises start out by drawing
simple cubes and blocks in space from various angles. You can find examples of these objects around your
house. Be creative and set up little blocks and cans and start freehand sketching. Once your hand warms up,
start inventing various scenarios by gluing two shapes together. These shapes are the most rudimentary basics
of the human form. As we progress into the various mannequins in this phase, they will be constructed of
essentially versions of these shapes. Keep your eye on basic principles of perspective as you sketch!

This is quite similar


to the ball and socket
joint in action.

Now, in your sketchbook practice gluing two forms together. Stick a ball with a tube, a can on a box. We are
simply gluing two basic shapes together in space. Sketch these shapes until they become second nature. We are
practicing the most essential shapes necessary to begin constructing more complex forms including the human
form. I know this seems a bit basic and monotonous, but trust me, developing a freehand drawing ability of
simple geometric forms is essential to long term drawing proficiency!

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D R AW I N G P R O G R A M
Figure Drawing Phase I:
Basic Figure Construction
Geometric Forms

- TIP -
These are examples of a
hinge joint. Start sketching
both the box form as well
as tube form. Notice how
the basic perspective affects
them. Also, take note as to
how closely these basic and
simple forms can look like
the elbow joint of a human
arm.

These concepts set the tone for creating the basic mannequin. Continue to practice this exercise as a warm-up
before drawing. Take about ten minutes or so, and loosen up your hand before diving into your more complex
studies of the human form. Remember, it is not a race to get through these exercises and videos. Feel free to
watch and repeat as often as you need to. Everyone will absorb these concepts at different rates. So, stay in
there as we move towards proficiency and mastery.

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D R AW I N G P R O G R A M
Figure Drawing Phase I:
Basic Figure Construction
Geometric Forms

The correct assembling of the parts or masses of the figure is much more important than an actual knowledge of
the bones and muscles. You will find it very difficult to put clothes on your figure properly without knowing the
action of the masses under the clothes, and the flexing and pulling of the materials over them from one part to
another.

When developing a figure drawing, think about the body


consisting of six fundamental parts. These are: 1) head,
2) spine, 3) arms, 4) pelvis, 5) rib cage, and 6) legs.
Utilizing these six components effectively will help to
communicate a sense of positioning and attitude. We will
be utilizing several more advanced concepts in subsequent
lessons. Practice these concepts frequently so as to make
them intuitive. Small steps taken consistently will result
in great progress.
- KEYNOTE -
Always start by drawing the gesture!
Approximate the gesture by using the
simplified geometric shapes (e.g.,
cones, spheres, cylinders) we drew in
previous exercises.

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The figures key elements will be des-
cribed using three general types of line.
These are the C curve, S curve, and
straight line, I. Try to identify these
types of lines in the drawings on this
page.

When it comes to checking proportion, try to begin developing an


estimation approach. This means guessing by using angles and
plumb lines (vertical lines dropped off key points). Try to avoid
doing slow, methodical measuring as it often stiffens the pose. The
art of gestural figure sketching is essentially a visual balancing act.
Try to draw through the forms, not around them. We will explore
these concepts in depth in future exercises. Be patient, and well
be drawing decent figures in no time.

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D R AW I N G P R O G R A M
Figure Drawing Phase I:
Basic Figure Construction
Geometric Forms

On this page are a few examples


of combining the previous forms
to construct more detailed
figure constructions. I know
these are a bit advanced, but
they are simply examples of how
gluing together basic principles
can quickly become the illusion
of complex forms. We will be
working towards such a thorough
understanding of these prin-
ciples that eventually you will
come to customize rhythmical
abstraction unique to the models
type or an invented type you
would like to come up with. What
seems to be fairly restricting in
the beginning will become quite
liberating as you stack simple
concepts onto simple concepts.
Before you know it, you will have
complex concepts.

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