Life Drawing
Lesson I
Gesture -- The Foundation of Figurative Art

Refinements: Contour Center Lines


The human body has a left side and a right side -- anatomical mirror images of each other. At the intersection between the two halves, we can see a dividing line. On the front, the dividing line is a variably shallow trough, running down the chest and abdomen. For the neck and head, there is little troughing, but mirror symmetry points to the location of the center line. On the back, we see evidence of the spine.

Because the exterior center lines of front and back travel along an undulating (contoured) path -- over bumpy bone and muscle -- I call these exterior-contour -center-lines. Besides the center-line axes for the rib cage and pelvis ovals, there is yet one more kind of center line coming up in the next section on projection and volume augmentations.

It is important to notice that when the body is turned so it no longer faces you straight on (front or back), the exterior-contour-center-line on the ovals is NO LONGER IN THE VISUAL CENTER of the body! Check the above illustration to see what I mean. If you decide to draw the exterior contour center-line, but you don't adjust its location to match the pose view, you won't have an accurate sense of the true gesture.


Gesture Intro Page Skeletal Foundation
Stick: The following are the key elements for organizing a "stick" figure:
The line of action Three ovals -- Head, Ribcage, Pelvis Pivot points Long bones Tilts and angles Contour center lines of front and back torso, and face
Projection and volume augmentations: While good as a foundation, the stick figure does not adequately express projection of form, volume, or relative position in space. There is more you can do to express these important factors in the posing model:
The shortcomings of the stick figure Showing projection Application of the projection concept to the stick figure Simple volume solutions Relative position in space
Loosen up: Using the stick figure foundation with the projection and volume augmentations, you can loosely organize an expressive gesture sketch:
Compare the "contour" method to the stick-start method Importance of the free-going mark The line of action and stick are construction lines Adding relationship and rhythm



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This page created February 14, 1998
1998 by Rebecca Alzofon. All rights reserved.