How to Draw Gesture

Hey there, I’m Stan Prokopenko, thanks for
watching Proko. This is the first video of the figure drawing series. And it’s probably
one of the most important. In this lesson I’ll be covering “gesture” What the butt-munch is gesture anyway? Gesture,
rhythm, motion, action, flow – these are all words that are used interchangeably and they
basically mean the same thing. They all refer to the movement between things.
It’s not the contour, or the form, or the tone. It’s the movement that connects the
contours, the forms and the tones. For example if you have 3 balls, the gesture here would
be a c curve that describes the relationship of these balls. This would be the contour,
but this is the gesture. It’s simple to understand, but difficult to put into practice when you’re
actually drawing a human figure. We’re so tempted to draw the details of the anatomy
and all the little bumps of the contour because we think that detail will make our drawing
look better. But the reality is, the detail is nothing without the gesture. You might
accidentally find some gesture while you’re copying the contours, but I don’t like to
rely on accidents. A better approach would be to practice finding
the gesture of the figure so many times that it becomes second nature. Quicksketch is a
common exercise in art school that involves drawing the model from life within a few minutes.
A typical quicksketch session lasts 2-3 hours with poses ranging from 30 seconds to 10 minutes
per pose. Gesture is the primary concern. Doing this exercise will train you to see
the gesture immediately. You can feel it. Then you will be able to design the details
to complement the gesture instead of copying details randomly. Your journey of mastering quicksketch will
be a long but exciting one. There’s a lot to learn and every time you learn something
new your sketches will show improvement. During a normal session you’ll finish anywhere from
25 to 100 drawings. Think about that… You’re drawing the human figure up to 100 times within
a few hours. If you do this on a regular basis, you’re going to get better.. The best thing
about it, is it’s actually fun, if you don’t stress over it… In this video I’ll go over
all concepts you need to know for a successful quicketch drawing that focuses completely
on gesture. In future videos I’ll build on to that and introduce additional concepts
all of which come together. And in the end, with enough practice you can use all these
concepts to produce a completed quicksketch drawing in 5-10 minutes. So basically gesture is in everything around
us. It’s an approach to drawing that you can use to draw anything. Use gesture to tell a story by capturing the
body language. We use our whole body, not just words to communicate ideas and emotions.
This is what the gesture should capture. What is the person doing? What is he feeling? What
did he just do? Or what is he going to do? This can be told through just a few lines,
which the viewer will recognize as the body and can identify the emotions that person
is feeling just like we can intuitively identify emotions of the people around us. It’s a good
idea to exaggerate the pose to tell a better. As you become more skilled in exaggerating,
you will also improve in capturing the subtleties. You’re probably thinking, stan, is this another
April fools joke? Are you drawing another stick figure? no.. Don’t think of it as a
stick figure. Because that could make your drawing stiff.. They’re not sticks. They’re
not straight lines. They’re action lines. Observe the pose and analyze the movement.
It’s more about how it feels, rather than how it looks. Later, we will add more structure to these
drawings to make the figures feel more solid and real. So, for those of you who don’t find
this inspiring and are thinking “I don’t want my people to look like spaghetti” remember
that this is not meant to be a finished drawing. It’s a exercise to practice a concept. You’re
training your mind to see rhythm in everything you draw. You’re training your mind to consider
more than just the contours when you’re drawing shapes. It’s an important concept that needs
to be intuitive. In all these drawings that you’re seeing now the element of gesture was
applied to the anatomy to make the figure dynamic. Let’s go over some important concepts to remember
while practicing your gesture drawings. Longest axis When you look at a form and try to find the
gesture, look at its longest axis. Going down the length of the torso, down the length of
the leg, down the length of the arm.. It’s in the longest axis of each form where you’ll
find the fluid motion from one form to the next. CSI To eliminate the unnecessary information in
the contours and to capture that gesture the lines you use should be simple. Don’t use
anything more complicated than a c curve, s curve, or straight. You can use combinations of these curves as
you move down the figure, but attempt to do it in as few lines as possible using the simplest
lines, C S or I. Line of Action The gesture should be drawn with as few lines
as possible necessary to capture the idea. Start by finding the longest action line of
the body. Try to find a curve that could connect the head to the toes. Not all poses can be
efficiently described with one long line that connect the head to the toes, but there is
always one main line that shows the directional flow of the pose. This is called the “Line
of Action”. In this pose the line of action would be a c curve showing the major flow
from the torso to the legs. But this doesnt tell the whole story, so this pose would need
to be broken up into more parts. I think this sharp turn in the hips is important, so describing
it with a soft curve isn’t right. In this case, I would use a combination of a c curve
for the torso, and s curves for the legs. Relaxed and tense curves The “bendiness” of the curve you use changes
how the gesture feels. A longer, fluid curve feels relaxed and moves the eye quickly through
that flow. As you start to bend the curve more, you show more energy and more tension
in the gesture. Eventually, when it’s bent far enough you can use a zig zag. A zig zag
indicates tension, sharp corners, very sudden changes in the movement. Nature presents this very well with water.
When the water is calm the waves flow in an S curve rhythm. During a storm, when there’s
more energy in the water, the waves flow in a zig zag pattern. So, when you want to create tension, think
zig zag. When you want to show something is relaxed, use a flowing curve. Asymmetry of the body Consider the asymmetrical aspect of the body
from the side. The forms alternate in angle from head, ribcage, pelvis, upper leg and
lower leg. This causes alternating c curves that lead
the eye through the body. Like a river flowing through a stream… The tendency for us is to make things, but
this stiffens the gesture and makes the figure look like a snowman Next week I’ll show some examples of gesture
quick sketches and guide you step by step through the process. But, I suggest you attempt
to practice these concepts on your own before watching the step by step video next week.
You’ll have an idea of what it’s like and will be able to pull more information from
it because you know what to look for. You’ll have questions you can focus on, and you can
compare what you did with what I do. If you need reference photos, I have some posefile
sets you can get at If you want to see a more detailed explanation
and plenty of examples.. oh cmon! Really?! if you want to see a more detailed explanation,
plenty of examples and more premium videos check out For every free
video that I post during this figure series, I’m posting additional premium content on This week I have… If you like this video, share the wealth.
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