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Finding Your Feet

Lesson 7 from: Introduction to Figure Drawing: Essential Gesture & Structure

Amy Wynne

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Lesson Info

7. Finding Your Feet

Giving your figure realistic weight and mass on the page conveys the fact that they have life and soul. Discuss where the weight should be falling and why a sense of balance is key.
Next Lesson: Adding Core Volumes

Lesson Info

Finding Your Feet

a really important aspect of figure drawing even in the starting stages is establishing the feet on the ground. Maybe the feet are always on the ground depending on the pose, but when they are, if we can't make a believable sense of contact with the lower leg and the feet on the ground, it's virtually impossible to imply any sense of weight or balance. Sometimes you see people gesture drawing and they just, you know, don't really address the feet at all and just at least planting the weight bearing foot can really make or break the illusion of balance and that sense of really um solidifying what's going on with the weight of the body. So we're gonna practice that. We're actually pretty much going to be exclusively focusing on the feet right now. And it does relate to everything else we've done because we do need to still understand what the essential energy of the poses and also where that energy ends up which is on the ground with the feet. So we'll talk about foot placement in a way ...

that's almost like tracking dance poses, like where the feet might move if you're learning a new dance step. And then we'll also talk about the space between and around the feet. So, in this image here, which is a detail of a larger drawing, there's a sense of where the feet are hitting the ground. Um and there's also a sense of the space around the feet, we're gonna be working with both of those ideas. So the moment Sarah's going to be taking about, I think about seven different foot positions and I'm really just gonna be focusing on trying to get the angle of the foot to the ground, actually, both feet together to the ground in relationship to each other. And I'm just going to be making some very um simple marks on my page. So let's give that a try. Alright, so right now here's the first pose. I'm literally just really looking at her um mid shin down to the ground, so I'm going to make a little mark for sort of the region of the mid shin and then I'm going to notice that right now, what I'm doing is I'm holding my pencil along the inside edge of her, her foot, that's on the left. And I'm noticing that that that foot is on an angle, which is that. So what I just did is I cited the angle of that foot against the ground and then I took that sighting and I brought it right to my page and then I could literally take that angle and place the angle of the foot. So, citing the angle of the foot in certain positions, can be a really great way to establish that foot in space. So this is the foot on the left and then the foot on the right, the shin is slightly on an angle, it's planted a little bit further forward than the one on the left and right. Now this, the angle of this foot is a little bit more like that and then I could even sort of establish the front of the toe, so that's one ft to the other, just establishing their placement on the ground. Alright, let's try another foot position. Great. Alright, so here again, I'm just gonna notice that the angle of the shin is is it's not straight up and down, it's this is the shin is coming down on a little bit of an angle, and then I'm gonna cite the angle of the foot to the ground which is doing that a little bit, it's a little bit upturned, so I'm going to place that foot here and then the foot on the right, I'm going to place the angle of the shin and then the foot itself is coming in a little bit more on that sort of angle. Great, let's try another. Super! All right, I'm gonna start on the left again, the shin coming down and then the foot is almost at a 90 degree angle off of that. So just noticing saying yourself, oh this is almost a 90 degree angle, this is almost parallel to the ground plane. Great. Good to know that because that has to do with establishing where the foot lands. And then this foot in relationship it lands a little lower in space, and you can barely see the toe, barely see the toes, sort of back in space, but we can just notice the right hand edge, let's shift again. Great. Alright so foot on the left angling down and then the heel hits the ground and then the toes come out an angle like this coming over this way we got the toes against the ground, then the foot angles up to the heel and then we come up into the shin, so there's a sense of the weight is falling here, and then the foot comes up and then comes up into that position. Let's try three more. Great! Alright, we're gonna go a little faster here. So now you have the idea of it coming down to the region of the toes and then this one is pretty close in coming down and then again a 90° angle. Great, let's try again. Alright, a little challenge here. So we're coming down the shin into the region of the foot, the toes just sort of comes straight up, and then this foot is turned in the toes meet almost meet the other toes, and then we can come up into there and let's try one more great. All right angle of the shin, this foot angles back a little bit, and then this foot comes a little bit forward and then the shin comes up from there. Great. So those sorts of dance steps, like finding the angle, finding the way that the foot hits the ground is the first step, so does it speak to really finding our feet. So now we're gonna take it a little bit further. And not only talk about where the feet hit the ground, but the space that happens between and around the feet. And in doing this, we're going to practice something called negative space drawing. And basically this little viewfinder um is a way to like a simple camera. What I'm gonna be doing is going to be like finding the space by looking through this which you'll see much more clearly when I have it up here by finding the space around the feet almost like cropping them with this. And I don't always use it but sometimes it's helpful to know my boundaries. And the other great thing about it using something like this is you can actually um create a boundary within which you could do a drawing. So it's dual purpose. Um So just with this post right here, this is actually perfect. I'm going to start rather than drawing. So I'm gonna show you what we're not gonna do and I'm gonna show you what we are going to do. So what we're not going to do is come in and make like thank you yeah an outer contour of the foot. We're not gonna do that. That has nothing to do with what we just did here either. Because this was really just placing kind of what the bones were doing instead of that. We're going to actually just imagine that there's sort of this like brown smoke that's emerging between and around the feet. And that brown smoke is this pencil and I'm going to start to um rather than outlining it first, I'm just gonna start by creating a little bit of darkness around the foot and and so the foot sort of becomes like almost like a white sock shape and I can do that filling it in. This is the negative space, the space in between, I can do that around the calf of the other leg, and I can notice the bottom of the foot where the bottom of the foot is placed and other side of the leg. And I can also notice that, you know, I actually need a little more room and drawing is always adaptable so we can give ourselves a little more space in order to establish the rest of the foot and then just go ahead and make darkness around the whole situation. But what this is doing is like really um synthesizing all the things that we realized with the blue pencil, we talked about the angle of the foot to the ground here to here, but now we're realizing the space that happens around them. So let's try another one of these just to get this sense of negative space if you practice this and this, the feet will just come together, the feet will just be something that you're like, oh, I got I got feet now, so this time I'm gonna do sort of a looser hand drawn sort of square shape to fill in, and then I'm going to work again, just sort of establishing, not outlining, like develop the bravery to actually just put the pigment down and and if you really look, you know, it's realizing this negative space is a huge part ultimately of figure drawing because you're drawing the figure, but you're also drawing the space between the body and itself and sometimes the space between the body and other things. So I have the foot now on the left and then I need to travel across to the foot on the right and I'm noticing the angle of it as it hits the ground. I'm noticing the beautiful shape that's actually happening between the feet and I'm noticing now I'm skipping to the other side and again, I gotta extend the composition a little bit in order to so different, you know, really different sense of shape and space. Let's try one more sarah, one more um negative space study for the feet. Yeah, that's great, That's great. So, again, just like a little boundary which might be changeable and you'll notice that I'm not, I'm using a pretty dark drawing tool, I'm using this content pencil because I wanted to be bold, I want it to be very graphic. I want to feel um I want to feel the energy of the shape. So I'm gonna come down around this ankle on the left and this is something you can practice. Like, you know, if you have a model or you're at a model session and you say to yourself, you know, I'd like to just practice drawing the feed, you could totally do this, you know, just at your own um, at your own pace with a particular post. Maybe it's a really long pose and you really want to get a sense of what the feet are doing, you might do this as a warm up, there's a lot of possibilities around that and then I'm gonna move this foot, oh, it's way over. So sometimes the negative space between the feet is a lot bigger and then I'm gonna come down around this calf as it comes down to that foot. And yeah, just add a little bit more and get that and that in the front here, this foot is pretty perpendicular, you know, actually parallel to the ground plane. So I can do something like that. And the silhouette can actually be very beautiful if you sort of pay attention to um what's going on with it. So, working mapping the way that the feet hit the ground. And also working in a way that has um, you know, this negative space and you're working with shape are two ways that can really create a very balanced and weighted figure. And the thing that I want to mention with this pose right here is that you still want to feel where the weight is falling? So in this pose, Sarah, would you say that the weight is fairly even or that it's feeling a little bit more on the back, slightly more on the front. So some poses are just saying that it's slightly more on the front. Some poses are really clear where the weight is falling. Some poses are a little more ambiguous. So we want to remember that like the weight is falling often on one ft versus the other. That sort of weight and heaviness. We want to relay that in the feet in the drawing as we go. So I highly recommend practicing this. It looks very gestural. I mean it looks very you know um you know these are like dance steps and these are just shapes. But this is a way to really solidify this idea of finding our feet and it will absolutely strengthen the sense of weight and balance in your drawings.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Figure Drawing Materials
Essential Gesture
Constellation & Joints Reference
Core Volumes
Core Volumes Twist