View Full Version : process (not really a tutorial)

04-16-2005, 06:23 PM
so, i thought i would share my process for sketching. if there is great outcry about this being here i'll dump it over into my sketchbook thread. but i thought it might be more useful here. for each step i'll explain what i do and then why i do it.

Step 1: Rough Out a Pose

I did these two out of my head. But I frequently use photo references for poses or portions of poses particularly ones that have a lot of overlapping body parts.

For this stage I just basically scribble out the general idea for the pose. I try to keep things more or less correct as far as anatomy and balance go but the point is to stay loose and quick. I'm pretty slow so these took me about 3-5 minutes each.

WHY: I find it immensely helpful to get a sense of the space the figure takes up on the page. So before I start that actual drawing I try to capture the whole shape of the figure. Notice that I didn't include details like clothes because they aren't necessary to tell me the full shape of the character. There are exceptions to this. If a character were wearing a long cape I might draw the cape at this stage because it would take up space. Notice that I drew the feet bootshaped for the same reason. (If I'm not certain what kind of footwear a character will have I'll just draw normal feet shapes.)


Step 2: Underdrawing

This consists of creating the basic skeleton for the pose I've already sketched out. I tend not to use stick figures a whole lot anymore but I included them anyway because they are useful for clarifying proportions. I'm more likely to start with a couple of general shapes: head, ribcage, pelvis. I almost always draw the head first, then place the neck with a line to indicate the spine and connect it to a line to give the general angle of the shoulders. The ribcage gets sketched in under that and then the pelvis. I connect the ribcage and pelvis with lines to indicate the shape and tilt of the middle torso. Next the legs are roughed in with oval shapes or lines (depends on the pose) and the feet are settled in relation to the knees (and hopefully in the same plane.) And last come the arms and hands.

WHY: Underdrawing, whether I'm using the stick-figure skeleton or basic shapes method is the easiest way not to "lose" the pose partway through the sketch. It is just to provide guidelines for the more detailed figure.

The reason I use a mix of stick-figure and basic shapes is that for some poses I don't need to do the stick-figure anymore. For others I need a little more clarification of angles and such before i start adding volume. Many times I lay down the guidelines for the legs with just "sticks" and don't bother with the basic shape. But for the torso I find it's vital to actually define the shape of the ribcage and pelvis, even if it's just roughly. This step usually takes several tries before I get a foundation that I like.


Step 3: Fine-tuning and Details

Once I have my basic skeleton (constructed from stick-figure or basic shapes) I start cleaning up and adding details. This means properly defining muscles, joints and contours. And adding clothing, facial features, etc. There isn't really a specific way I lay down the final lines over the foundation. Nudes are much quicker to finish as they usually follow the foundation pretty closely, while clothed figures require folds, accessories, etc.

I don't always wind up with a finished product that I'm happy with. This process is by no means fool-proof, it's simply the way I work.

WHY: It's always a good idea to try and complete as many sketches as possible. This doesn't mean I complete every sketch but unless there's so huge horrible error in step 2 then I try to "finish" every sketch. The more I practice the better I get. But I only get better at the things I actually practice.


So, that, in a nutshell, is how I sketch. I do that at least one hour every day (and the past three weeks I've gone to 2 to 4 hours a day).

I don't know if that's helpful to anyone or not. I always like seeing the way people work up stuff. If anyone has any questions or want more details about anything just ask and I can probably add on to this.


04-25-2005, 08:13 AM
that was NICE! thanks emma devoting some time,, that gave me some pointers on how to deal with my difficulties as a struggler. that was really helpful.

Non Existent IBW
04-28-2005, 07:50 PM
Emma just a tip, but try to study the skeleton and muscles too. This changed my whole process and my stick figures are more and more based on the skeleton now.

04-28-2005, 08:09 PM
Emma just a tip, but try to study the skeleton and muscles too. This changed my whole process and my stick figures are more and more based on the skeleton now.

heh. i know it may not seem like it some times but i do study the skeleton and muscles. whenever i'm in doubt about something i break out my anatomy reference book and check out those mysterious lumps and bulges under the contour of the skin. i'm still working on applying it all though. that's why i post here. :)