Posted in Coursework, Notes, Part 4

Project 4 Structure

Exercise 1 The structure of the human body


After many poor starts I managed to get some sketches of hands that I was basically happy with, based on online hand studies:

These drawings still aren’t perfect representations of the hands being sketched, but they represent a significant improvement from the experiments that went before. The main approach modification that lead to improvement was using a sharper pencil and much more lightly sketching the underlying structure then building slowly to the final line or shaded drawing.  The whole process is much slower than trying to go straight to a representation using a more gesture based approach, but is producing much better results.


I tried the above attempts at generic feet, and then decided to drawn from a photograph of my own feet:

The proportions are improving, to the extent that the foot is becoming somewhat believable. This is taking less tries than the hands did – which implies progress in observation and approach. I’ll test that as I move on to other body parts. I also feel that the work on improving tonal range with the pencil has started to show some payback.

I’m still overly dependent on outlines. Similarly, the texture of the under foot rug needs more effort to be compelling and interesting. I also need to spend some time experimenting with media other than the pencil with these studies – though that introduces some logistical challenges for some of the more interesting media.

Some additional work:

Research point: Body Structure

Figure drawing by Leonardo da Vinci from

When considering this question, the obvious artist to start has to be Leonardo da Vinci. He produced large numbers of study drawings focused on understanding the structure of the human form.  These seem to have been done both to support his work as an artist, and in a more general spirit of enquiry.

The approach of detailed anatomy study has continued in life drawing through the Art Academies, and can be observed in the work of contemporary artists. In an article on fascinating figurative artists, for example, there are a number that rely on the detailed rendering of the body, which depends on a detailed knowledge of anatomy and the structure of the body.

From Pinterest

An interesting example is the work of Tom of Finland, who created detailed (if exaggerated) studies of men. The proportions and muscular structures are detailed to degree that implies a strong knowledge of the structure of the body. Ignore the elements of homoerotic fantasy (which is somewhat challenging to achieve) and consider the level of anatomy study.

Less challenging to appreciate as studies is the work of Don Gale:

These are carefully observed drawings which are based in the study of the structure of the body.  His drawings seem to support his sculptural work, which in turn reminds me of the work of Auguste Rodin

This research point also lead me to the works of Camilla Marie Dahl, which was interesting. A strong example is Cocoon:

The pose on this piece reminded me of one of my study drawings from the last Project:

Camilla’s study, however, is carefully rendered, and I like the selection of colour used in depicting the model’s skin tones. 

I’m going to end this Research Point, if not the research, by noting Antony Gormley, as much of his work uses a deep knowledge  of the body’s structure. 

ROOTER, 2017 – 2018, Anthony Gormley

Exercise 2 Three figure drawings

Using different tools, materials and supports, work on three drawings of your model: 1. Standing; 2. Seated; 3. Lounging. The aim is to practise making interesting studies of the figure to show you’ve understood the basic structural principles, and are able to incorporate these using whichever style or approach fits your subject.


I decided to start on this exercise using the Line of Action practice tool, but with a long time to complete the sketch. My first attempt:

Line of Action sketch, A4 sheet in 4B pencil, 13/12/2018

There are things I like about the sketch, which required the proportions to be reconsidered a number of times. Oddly, the head seems tiny to me – but is much closer to correct than it looks on measurement. The legs and feet need work, as they are less detailed than the torso. Moving forwards I still need to work on getting the structure in place before moving on to detail. I had to adjust the stance quite late in the drawing, which shouldn’t have been needed. This has, in turn, lead to inaccuracies. An example is the arm and hand on the right of the drawing which looks acceptable, but it inaccurate to the original image.


First try after a bit of a break:

The Artist's Mother
The Artist’s Mother, 4B pencil, A4 sketchbook, 08/01/2019 approach inspired by Maggi Hambling

Not too auspicious a restart after a bit of a break, but as an experiment it has been somewhat successful. The face of both sitter and cat is well off, but the proportions of much of the scene are acceptable. The construction of the legs feels wrong, and so work is needed there in future drawings. Overall an interesting restart – but not one for the subject to frame on her wall!

In terms of mark making, I think I need to work on the periphery more carefully. If a mark is worth making it is worth making with purpose. Many of the later lines have been added relatively carelessly – and it shows through. The feet are definitely a case in point. Possibly acceptable in a sketch like this, but something I need to be very careful of in a “finished” work.


I decided to continue this approach into the lounging image, but switched to ink this time. In fact, it was the OCA roller ball pen. This was partly to follow the instructions of using multiple media, but also to practice drawing without using a rubber.

Daughter lounging
Daughter lounging, A4 in rollerball, 08/01/2019.

Another one I don’t think the sitter is exactly going to hand on their wall. There are successes in the image: It conveys a fair impression of the overall pose, and the proportions are reasonably accurate. As usual the face lets the piece down, and I’m still fixated on using border lines. It is also too difficult to read the cat sitting on her lap , which is caused by insufficient difference in line density and direction.

Going forward, I will continue to experiment with this approach. I still need to keep careful consideration of the lines, however, rather than descending into “scribbling”. Similarly, I need to consider how to build the image without the use of strong border lines.

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