Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It's what's on the inside that counts...

I get asked a lot if I use photo reference with my work. That's a mixed answer because I do use photos for specific items in a story. But I dont use reference on my people or figure work. And that's even a little bit of a lie.

First off, typically I will read through a script and underline or highlight everything I don't know how to draw off the top of my head. I then go and find some kind of visual reference or photo that will give me a better description. I talked about this some already when I posted about environments and researching.

For my figure work though, I have taken quite a few figure drawing classes. Then at S.C.A.D. (the Savannah College of Art and Design) I had a very intense figure construction class with professor Paul Hudson. This guy is simply a modern master, in every sense of the term. In his class we were given 3 foot medical skeletons and then proceeded to draw and then sculpt every muscle of the body onto the skeleton, then draw it again. We were tested on their medical names and placement. It was a very indepth study on the skeletal and muscular structure of the human body. I liked the class so much I took it twice when I had an available elective.

Now it's one thing to know this stuff, and quite another to draw it accurately and apply it to my work. Through years of practice I've gotten to where I am now. I know I still have a long way to go, and constantly make mistakes.

In general, I build up my figures using basic forms for the head, rib cage and pelvis. Those give me the landmarks to then place the limbs and musculature over it all proportionally. But it all starts with knowing whats underneath.

I avoid taking direct photographic reference because, while accurate, I feel it looses a bit of dynamics and life in the drawings. If I ever use reference for a figure its for a specific hand gesture, facial expression or dramatic lighting on a face. I get that reference by just doing it in the mirror and taking a picture of my reflection with my phone. I can then look at my phone for the specific lighting or pose that I need.


  1. Awesome! Im hoping to get some classes with him before I finish.

  2. Be prepared to work if you do. I use what he taught me everyday, with every figure I draw. Its worth the instruction, but you have to apply it and learn as much from him as you can while you have the chance.

  3. It is intresting to see this and the training you received at SCAD. I know all about studying the human body and how hard it was to memorize names and placement of all the muscles. I am glad I never had to draw them, can you really draw muscles on a stick figure? (my drawing skill lack)