As an artist I’m always looking for ways to keep my skills sharp, and regular life-drawing classes are a must if you’re drawing the human figure. Nude models, of every size, shape and age, are the rule, but let’s face it, in the practice of our art we’re almost never drawing naked people, we’re drawing people with clothes on.
Depending on where you live, there may not be an opportunity for a real life-drawing class, but opportunities to draw people are all around. The only difference between the two is clothes, but the important concept that separates them is called “drapery”. Drapery is the term for depicting how fabric folds and drapes on the body, while knowing how to show the solidity of the body beneath the fabric. After the figure itself, drapery is among the most important elements in drawing people effectively.
So I was intrigued to see an ad on Facebook for an online costumed life drawing class! When we try to sketch our friends or family or folks at the park or mall, we take for granted their contemporary costume, the ball caps, sneakers, and the things we all wear all the time.
The appeal of a costumed life class is seeing costumes that you might see in the movies, worn by models in well-lit dramatic or appealing poses. The structure of the class was pretty standard, starting with shorter poses and working toward longer ones. In a screen inset was the host of the session, Aaron Blaise, a seasoned and topnotch Disney animator, in an over the shoulder shot, drawing and commenting.
As I’m working on a Victorian Era story, I’m interested in the full-cut, floor-length fashions of the period, and the drawing session did not disappoint.
As with any good drawing session, the intent is to indicate the large, simple shapes quickly and with a loose hand, then to work toward indicating and shading smaller areas or shapes. So the quick, short poses tend to look unfinished, but that’s the point. Not every drawing is fated to be finished or beautiful. A life drawing session is like working out, or batting practice.
The life drawing session was indoors so as to control lighting, but included in the subscription package was a substantial packet of jpegs emailed afterward, dozens of photos of the same models in outdoor settings, where drawing the dappled variations of daylight make more sense in a still photo. There are also a few photos of the women twirling their dresses, something hard to do in a live session, but invaluable reference.
With this great packet of photo reference, I’ve continued to work on sketching from it without the time constraints of a life session. The full video of the life class is still also online for the truly dedicated subscribers.
All in all this was a great investment of my time and money as a way to advance my skills with a well-organized online course.
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