how much figure drawing you recommend doing daily/weekly/monthly etc?
I would recommend doing a two hour (or longer) session once a week, as it’s good to get into a routine.
Now, I’m gonna talk about figure drawing sessions themselves in this ask as they’re not talked about much online haha. This will be quite long, so apologies for that!
Ideally you want to go to a real life drawing session, but they’re not particularly easy to find and they can be expensive so if that is not an option then there are a lot of alternatives listed in my gesture tag.
However! Figure drawing sessions are not actually just about doing shaded studies and gestures, there are actually a lot of exercises you can do to add variety and practice different aspects of art
important to remember though with all of these exercises is you are not aiming to create a pretty picture, you’re just studying.
Think of it as writing notes in a lecture vs creating an essay, at the moment you’re just taking notes so that you can create those pictures you love later on!
Most of these exercises are traditionally orientated, as such not all of them are possible on a tablet. So if you’re working at home then just grab your sketchbook. What you learn when working traditionally will still apply when you work digitally, no worries!
With that said, the following exercises are some good main ones to do, spend perhaps 45 minutes on these and do two drawings:
- focusing on the lighting by working on a middle ground paper (grey, brown, whatever) and using white chalk and charcoal (or similarly digitally!)
It’s pretty straight forward, you just use the charcoal to form the shadows and the chalk to create the highlights. Try to use the paper itself for the middle tones, and don’t use an eraser.
- or alternatively working on black and using only white.
Do not use outlines or an undersketch for this, you want to be focusing on the light itself!
it can be a little daunting at first, but just focus on how the light is hitting the model and draw what you see. Don’t worry too much about proportions, as this is an exercise for lighting!
Just pick out the highlights with the chalk, and you’ll gradually start to build the form out of the paper. This is one of my personal favourite exercises!
- another is focusing on colours using a limited colour palette.
Google “fauvism” (perhaps look specifically at henri matisse as there’s a lot of student work), and give it a go.
it’s kinda weird to look at and very abstract, but it’s a good way to practice colour relations! Generally you use the primary colours, but you could also use the secondaries. I’d use brown or grey paper for this.
- Another colour exercise which is very similar to the above but not quite is using a spectrum of warm and cool colours and assigning values to them.
This is a little closer to the palette memes, so you might want to use some of those palettes for this.
I recommend working on black paper for this one. Oil pastels are also your best bet if you’re working traditionally!
Spend around two minutes on these exercises, and do more than one!
- The first is blind contour drawing - this is where you only look at the model and draw without looking at your page. It will look awful! it probably won’t look anything like the model, i did one that looked like her leg had morphed into a broom once lmao
However! it’s really great for loosening up, and it’s extremely good at teaching you how to look at the model.
the brain is a funny thing, and we think largely in symbols rather than actually seeing what we’re looking at so this is an important practice. Give it a go before you do some gestures! Spend maybe two minutes on a drawing, and do a few of them.
- Equally good is drawing with your nondominant hand. These exercises are especially good at keeping you from getting too ‘precious’ with your work - if you’re drawing with the wrong hand you know it’s gonna look weird right? it’s good for relaxing, and again it helps with observation.
- Now this is an exercise you can’t do with your tablet, but you’ll need some ink… and a stick. You can use some craft sticks or i’d actually recommend getting some wooden lolly sticks and cutting one end into a point.
I suggest looking at Egon Schiele’s line drawings to get an idea of what you’re aiming for here. Dip that stick in your ink and get drawing friend, this is an exercise all about line economy.
- One exercise really simple exercise you can do is make a drawing entirely out of curved © lines, a drawing entirely out of straight lines, and a drawing entirely out of S type lines. Good one to do after some gestures. Spend only a few minutes on each!
Then take a look at the three drawings - which type of line works best for what? Make another drawing that combines all three types of line!
But as i said before, for all of these exercises you’re not aiming to produce nice drawings at all. That’s what measured studies are for! But those get pretty dull after a while, so mix things up with some of these exercises and you’ll be golden.
I suggest a general pattern of like five minutes doing 30 second gestures, followed by a few two minute gestures, and then you can pick and choose your exercises from there. Shorter exercises should come before the longer ones!
Aim to do your session for at least an hour, but dont stop if you don’t want to! do as many exercises as you like, they’re all good practice after all!
Most importantly of course, is to have fun!
These are exercises that will get you drawing weird things, so don’t worry too much about the outcome and focus on the learning. You can afford to mess up, go wild and try as many new things as possible.
This is your time to experiment and try new things!