Drawing the figure - gesture drawings.
Gesture Drawing

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Gesture drawings are very common, almost a default practice in most figure drawing classes. Gesture drawings are fun, and pretty simple. The model takes quick (quick, quick) poses, and the students quickly scribble out the "gesture"—the essence of the pose, in a few fluid lines.

Most gesture drawings are sloppy, inaccurate, and for practice only. That's what they are meant to be. They are to help the artist "loosen up" and not obsess on details so much. When an artist obsesses on details, they don't always get the animated, fluid pose of the model.

I have scanned in a few of some gesture drawings I did in a Life Drawing class. As you can see, they are incomplete as drawings. But, they do show how most figure drawings start—from the outside in.

Gesture Drawing - male figure  Gesture drawings from life

Notice that there are lines indicating the legs, arms and spine. These lines indicate the position of the limbs. And notice the scribbled "circles" for the hip area and chest area. This is to indicate the bulk of these areas. Also, there should be an indication of angle of the hips and shoulders.

These lines are always drawn first in a gesture drawing. Then, if there is time, the body is "filled in." You'll see on the figure on the right that I didn't have time to fill in the legs. The model had finished the pose before I was done with the sketch. And, notice that the figure on left only has little lines to indicate the arms—I didn't have time to finish them either. But the gesture and feel of the entire pose is still more or less there, because the lines are all there.

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