Gesture Drawing I with Chris Warner (Otis College)

>My name
is Chris Warner and today we are going to be demonstrating Gesture drawing here in the
Life Drawing studio. Gesture drawing is essentially summing up the figure in totality and a holistic
way in the first few moments of your drawing. So typically a Gesture drawing might only
be two or three minutes at most and the idea is to convey the action, the movement, and
the attitude of the figure. I’m going to sort of breakdown the process where we do it very
quickly and gesture it so I’m going to break it down bit by bit here. Shirley is going
to give us a pose here, a classic pose, we call it the contra-posta pose, which means
all your weight is on one foot, on her left foot, on a the right hand side of course.
What that means is, it’s raising the pelvis on that side higher, and her shoulder is dropping
to meet it so there’s kind of a compression on her weight-bearing side. This the dynamic
if you will that we want to try and capture in our gesture. I’m going to start the drawing
as we’ve talked about with a mark that simply indicates the top of the composition but doesn’t
define the scale of it, and then I’m going to try to find a mark that flows all the way
through to the bottom of my composition. And I’m already putting in something called a
vertical reference mark, which has to be parallel to the vertical edge of the page. But the
next step would be to take that total length and divide it in half and so we’ve got the
axis of the shoulders and the axis of the hips. What do I mean by axis? An axis is simply
a line between two common parts or points across a figure, and I establish it by literally
putting my pencil across her shoulders and transferring that angle or that direction
to my drawing. You notice those marks are nice and wide, the body will be something
less than that. And them I’m going to come down and make the same analysis of the tip
or tilt of her hips, which I see as being that – the axis of her hips. And now, knowing
this axis of her shoulders determines that her sternum is going to be at a right angle
to that. That is going to be the major axis of her rib cage. So as I begin to gesture
in that egg for her rib cage, that’s the orientation. Very very important. And then we are going
to try and honor the axis of her hips and draw a bowl form that is a simplified description
of her pelvis, and the bowl is going to tip or spill forward if you will according the
structure of the pelvis and the spinal column of the back. I want to wrap her rib cage a
little bit, maybe indicate a little bit of her thoracic arch. And also I want to indicate
as I see any indication of one side or the other. You notice here I came in and found
the near corner of her hip because I’m catching a little bit of that depth dimension here
on that side. And in this case I’m catching just a little bit on this side, so I’ll bring
that indication of that near corner there and I’ll allow her neck to drop well below
her shoulders into and near clavicles, okay. Sternum. I’m going to look for her linea alba
or her white line which is her center line. And again the posture is very helpful here
is indicating it is moving in this direction. Okay. So sternum through the navel about here
and into the pubic synthesis. The head or skull raised up on that lovely neck, and then
is a blocked form. And what you will typically find in a contra-posta pose is that everything
else is having various angles of change. The head itself is very erect and straight. Just
a center line and a horizontal mark might just indicate the position of the features,
just a little bit, very generic of course. Nothing to dark and nothing within any sort
of concern for detail. So what we’ve done so far is to draw the rib cage, pelvis, and
her skull. And those are the three great structures of the upper half. And we know from the cannons
or proportions of the human skeleton that from the top of the head to the bottom of
the foot, if you divide the skeleton in half, you’ll find the pubic synthesis and that of
course is parallel to the great trochanter of the femur, which are slightly broader than
the lip of this bowl, so okay they are going to flow out a little wider. Now we are going
to check up on our leg length by simply multiplying this by length times two. And what I’m finding
is that actually my legs need to be just slightly shorter than my initial assumption there.
Now the next thing is to find the position of that length relative to her head, and when
I do that it comes right through this eye, so I’m coming from this eye straight on down,
and it’s landing here, and that’s going to be the position of that weight bearing foot,
which I will now sketch just very lightly, entering inner and outer ankle and a little
arc here between the two, and an indication of her large toe should just about do the
trick. Halfway from here, I’ll pull a line out of her great trochanter or pubic synthesis,
that’s that halfway mark, and I’ll pull that down to the bottom and then divide that in
half to find the position of her knee. So, rib cage, pelvis, skull, weight bearing foot.
Notice I didn’t draw the knee on my way down. And now I come in here and find the position
of the knee and this is just in terms of efficiency you aren’t going to be redrawing or resketching
the leg length, having to resketch the knee every time you’ll get it pretty close the
first time. Now what we know about the tibia or shin bone as you can see has a a nice flow
from the center of her knee to the inside ankle. Will invest the leg, the skeletal analogy,
with that flow right of the bat which is very very important it has that swing to it. Now
we can draw with some freedom and describe the position of the off weight leg. I’m using
an angle sight between a toe and heel here to position that. Coming down and finding
that knee halfway. You’ll notice that this is a little bit lower. When I angle sight between
both knees, sure enough this needs to be a little bit lower as well. Now I have a profile
view of that tibia which yields a straighter angle, a straighter line than this nice curve
here that I’m going to catch here. Now the arms and hands are last in our process. That’s
because of their relative weight, being light. So they don’t really affect the dynamic of
the pose like the other heavier elements do. So we are going to lay those in after everything
else is in place, looking for the hand here. Little indication of her thumb and maybe just
a mitten form if you will for that hand, nothing detailed at all. You might remember to draw
that a hand a little thicker than it needs to be because typically we want to make those
things too small. I’ll come down and draw this hand in isolation. It’s position relative
to her pelvis and so on. A little indication of her thumb, and then pull it back up, find
that elbow. Make this analysis from elbow to elbow, just to make sure. So this just
quickly is the step by step process. Now what I think I can do is a quick gesture. What
I would normally do for my own kind of drawing in a situation like this, based on that method. Oh I broke my rule didn’t I, put that knee in too early. Well it turns out in drawing
these rules are made to be broken, but I think its really important to have a method. To
have a sequential step by step approach to things. So I hope this has helped you to understand
a little bit about gesture and how important it is. These finished drawings, which are
beautiful in their completeness and their detail, rely so importantly and so completely
on that initial summation that happens in the gesture phase. The first three minutes
of the drawing are so important in order to capture that actual movement and that attitude
of the model.


  • elsa Grace

    Oh my, this is so helpful!

  • NarpytheCrimeDog

    There are no rules; only tools.

    Could you cover construction over gesture? For some reason, I have extreme trouble constructing over my gestures.

  • 13Moondancer

    Marvellously informative video but get rid of the inane music.

  • muskndusk

    This is so useful for capturing quick gesture drawings of my cats. I paint exclusively cats (and some other animals).

  • Rose Orange

    Hello.. Great great video. do you know of a good anatomy, proportion figure drawing books i could buy? I just got one online and it is not very good.The one i got is Anatomy for Artists. Quite ordinary and very shy drawings or too robotic feel.

  • TheGamingIndian

    Amazing how the model held the same gesture for so long. Incredibly helpful thing to have in a model also this video is exactly what i needed.

  • Jrmasterton

    Really good video. Thank you. It has helped me a lot.

  • vaijanti singh


  • brandon lillibridge

    i’d love to see your approach on drawing someone in an awkward position like sitting or laying down!

  • Sylk Starks

    First girl is a bad biddie

  • Bong Shapiro

    Le why u do dis.

  • naly202

    Amazing video. Wish my teachers had taught me like this.

  • Dede Leither

    I watch this over and over to remind myself of the process. I always want more. You are an accomplished draftsman and can communicate your method with concise ease. Kudos

  • Bayron inter

    I was lucky to have Chris as my teacher at Los angeles citi college.
    Excellent teching techniques.
    Byron Ellis

  • Peggy Durant

    Beautiest! 🙂

  • bareknawaz farazi

    Thanks a lot sir u r the best❤❤❤❤

  • kalel 311

    Very helpful thank you

  • winson xie

    I think if I were to do this this would take me 15mins but would be more helpful then most other methods in helping me understand proportions and gesture.

  • Angel Station

    extremely helpful

  • Gabriel Benatar

    Excelente video. It helps me understand better the gesture drawing. Thanks.

  • Vercies

    Great video, really good to see it broken down step by step

  • natalija m

    lord this was helpful

  • Anthony Lemkendorf

    Hmmm ok . Trying too hard for accuracy in a gesture maybe ? Maybe I’m wrong?

  • Flux Standard

    Moby sunspot is the music at the start

  • U Fone

    This video deserves WAAAAAY more hits. Thank you for sharing this with us ?☺️?

  • Justa Lopez

    :'v yo apenas hago una pose de 3/4

  • John F Willis

    Does this sequence of steps apply to any pose?

  • Sandeep arts

    Thank you

  • fb pliegorrivero

    Excellent! Merci beaucoup

  • Auguste Comte

    Alphonso Dunn explains this much clearer

  • p r i s m

    This is extremely helpful & really well explained. Thank you for uploading this!

  • Stephen Greico

    This was very helpful
    You should do more


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