Sketching – some examples and discussion of my technique/methods

Rebecca, blogger of Cup + Penny, commented on my last post and asked if I could do a tutorial on my sketching method.  I don’t generally think about what I’m doing when I sketch, so trying to explain it to someone else is a bit of a challenge!  However, there are a few methods that I use consistently, as well as some general principles that work well for me when drawing human figures and clothing designs.  

I’m going to start out with my general step for drawing faces and figures, and then will go more into the style and method for the sketches seen in the last post.  

 

This first example demonstrates the steps that I take when sketching a face (an imaginary face in this case, but similar to what I do when drawing from a photo or from life):

1)  Eyebrows – I do these first because they are simple to draw, yet give me a sense of proportion for the rest of the face.

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2) Next, I add the eyes and figure out where the end of the nose should be:

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Then I add lines for the nostrils and bridge of the nose, draw the lips, and mark where I want the chin and temples to be relative to the face.

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Now, I finish the face outline, add ears/hair, and fill in detail in the face.  I’ll also go back and correct proportions at this point if not working in ink.

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A lot of art instructors advise doing the face outline first, and then filling in the features, but I actually find it easier to space things properly if I start with the eyes.  There are tons of “how to draw faces” resources out there, so if one style doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of other options to try!

For figures (such as in the singlet sketches), I try to use the underlying anatomy to inform my proportions and body shape.  Here’s an example of a torso and arms with the main shaping structures (front part of the shoulder girdle/clavicles, the rib-cage, and the top of the pelvis) highlighted in red:

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My knowledge of anatomy also helps with shaping the arms and torso – sometimes it’s easier to get the outline right if you think about what’s going on underneath (muscles, bones, etc).  Here’s another torso drawing with some of the superficial muscles emphasized:

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One of my favorite figure drawing anatomy resources is actually a weight lifting/fitness text – the illustrations do a great job of showing how the muscles and bones are positioned in a variety of positions and movements:

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Ok, so now for more of the drawing style.  For the sketches of my singlet design, I used fine-tip permanent marker for the outline, regular permanent markers for the shading, and colored pencil for finer shading, detail, and color.

Here’s a step-by-step demo using the face drawing from above:

1)  Shade with a sharpie marker  – basically just adding a line wherever shadows will fall

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2)  Fill in with a light colored pencil – this just provides a base layer other than the plain white paper.  It helps bring out the white of the eyes and disguises gaps in the subsequent colors layered over the base.

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3)  Add shading with a medium tone colored pencil

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For sketches, I generally leave the colored pencil marks visible, rather than trying to get a really smooth color.  It adds some texture and life to the drawing, plus it’s faster 😉

4)  Add color to the cheeks/lips, any make-up colors or highlights

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5)  Lastly, I colored the hair with a dark brown and black colored pencils.  For really deep black hair, you can use a base of dark purple, while lighter hair shades (blonde, brunette) look good with a yellow, orange, or light brown base.  Have fun and experiment 🙂

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Lastly, I converted this face sketch to black and white on my computer to look more like the running singlet sketches.  If I am taking photos with my phone, I’ll also use the SketchGuru app to change colors or emphasize different components of the sketch.  The app has some pretty cool filters to change the style of the original photo.

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As far as sketching the actual clothes, I usually draw a rough outline of the body/torso and then sort of ‘fit’ the clothing onto that, adding details as I go.  After I get the figure dressed, I’ll finish the arms/legs and add a head and face if I feel like getting a more “big picture” idea of how the article of clothing looks on a whole person.  For concept sketches I generally leave the body unfinished (just a torso or lower body with clothing idea).