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Kestrel Michaud


Classically-trained Fine Artist and Fabric Illustrator


Figure Drawing: The Long and the Short of It

Figure and portrait drawing, particularly from life, is not something I've done since college. However, I remember thoroughly enjoying my drawing classes back in school and decided to get into the habit once again at the beginning of the year. I was admittedly quite out of practice back in January. However, I've had a ton of fun, and by this point in the year, feel confident that I've gotten "back in the groove".

(In an effort to avoid a giant wall of text and photos, I'll be using this post to talk about just figure drawing. I plan to have a separate post all about my personal style of portraiture, and will update with a link once that write-up is published.)

Our figure sessions are always broken down into the following segments so the model gets a break every 20 minutes (for a total of 3 hours including breaks):

  • Quick Gestures: 30 second and 1 minute poses
  • Long Gestures: 3 minute and 5 minute poses
  • Long pose: Four, 20 minute sessions of the same pose

Here are some of the sketches I've done this year, from quick to long. I cherry-picked my favorites, so there are multiple models, both male and female, in each image.

Quick Gestures: 30 seconds
Quick Gestures: 30 second poses

Quick Gestures: 1 minute
Quick Gestures: 1 minute poses

Long Gestures: 3 minutes
Long Gestures: 3 minute poses

Long Gestures: 5 minutes
Long Gestures: 5 minute poses

For the long pose, I like to draw the model from one angle during the first two sessions and from another angle for the last two sessions. That gives me 40 minutes for each angle.

In this first example, I've deleted the sketchy lines I use to block in the general form. I ended up with extra time, so I drew indications of shadow on the bodies.

Long Pose
Long Pose, example 1: Four, 20 minute sessions

In this second example, I've left the sketchy lines in the two images on the left and show the refined drawing on the right.

Long Pose
Long Pose, example 2: Four, 20 minute sessions

These sketches were all done digitally in Concepts. Please see my Tools and Challenges of Drawing Digitally blog post for more info on my iPad and the apps I use for drawing.