Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Thinking Gesture in figures and animals

Here is a short post on thinking gesture as it relates to not only people but animals as well.               

The focus of this post is to highlight an understanding of animal anatomy/drawing which will emphasize design. As always my hope is that the techniques used in drawing a figure are understood to be flexible and as such able to adapt to designing animals, characters, or creature(s).

Gesture drawing at its core entails the simple usage of line (shape, value, etc.) to capture a very complex reality about the subject being depicted. Specifically when using line, asymmetry and curves provide a visual pathway from which movement is exaggerated and the workings of passive and active anatomy develop (see below examples).

The intention of this is to build an understanding of how and in what ways, through gesture, figure(s) and animal(s) can be treated consistently. This is completely possible since through the process of abstraction, gesture highlights the same qualities in animals as it does it the figure. Further, for the purposes of drawing both animals and figures, gesture serves to initiate the image thematically/theatrically and lay the groundwork for the remainder of the drawings development.   

The drawing of animals and figures alike depend on a clear and purposeful idea to establish the integrity of that drawing as a instrument of communication – this could be a mood, emotion, narrative prompt, character/creature archetype, etc. Among other things, a gesture can allow for a more classical, studied interpretation of the natural design of the form. The latter will be the focus of our current study.

Figures and Animals can be compared within gesture by considering similarities in the following areas:

Story - (Idea!) The animal/figure should always become a vehicle for a establishing mood, emotion, expression, action, etc. I usually consider story to be concerned primarily with the narrative impact the drawing/design should take. 

Weight/Balance – Figures and animals alike need to feel as if they are drawn according to the influence of gravity. This is additionally an important theme in the construction/design of the 8 parts of each. A main difference is that figures are more of a vertical balancing act while many quadrupeds  show a variation on a bridge design.

Movement – An obvious and inherent quality to animals and figures. This becomes more important to analyze when studying the variety of animal types, qualities and types of movements, etc.

Proportion – the relative organization of the 8 parts

We might consider the act of making a gesture drawing the interpretation of these 4 categories as expressed through a rhythmic organization of the 8 major masses. Below is an image showing some basic differences (among the 8 parts) between the horse, big cat, and human. The goal in this initial survey is to understand the form entirely as the result of function.

Introduction to the Spine and differences between figure and animals

As the gesture is dependent on the positioning and or attitude between the 8 parts, this section will focus on the most important of the eight: the spine. Notice the varying lengths, height, and positioning between the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. 

The spine is the most important part to consider and where one should begin a study of comparative anatomy or gesture. What the spine allows us to understand is the inherent design of each anatomical form/machine. Each spine is built from the 3 groups – cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. However, each animal can have variation in these groups: through an increased number of vertebrae, angle, and or stability of the spine (bracing ligaments), etc. What is important to keep in mind is that the spine determines the kind of design we ultimately experience. An important principle, as it will allow us a technical constant in objectively analyzing a number of different types.

Gesture drawings begins with a studied interpretation of the spine, those qualities are then synthesized into asymmetrical rhythms. In the figure, the gesture begins with a very simple oval/sphere for the head and then moves from a line representing the cervical, through the thoracic, and finally into the lumbar. From this point the legs are integrated favoring the weight bearing side (if one exists) and lastly working into the arms. With this as a basic constant, an animal can be observed in the exact same sequence. Just remember to tailor the approach for variations to reflect unique differences such as direction of the spine, length of different parts of the spine, particular types of movements, etc.

Below is an example of the same sequence of lines used in a gesture drawing of a cat, horse, and human. See if you can match the lines used from one subject to the next to see the unity in the approach, but variation in describing types.

Notice when comparing the figure and horse the similarities resulting at this stage in the gesture. While the horse has the same 3 basic rhythms (cervical, thoracic, and lumbar) notice that the gesture has taken in to account the variations of those types by extending the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar as well as making this a horizontal passage. After establishing the torso, the rear legs are developed, beginning with the weight bearing side (if applicable), and then the forelegs.

Hopefully this helps in seeing continuity between these two subjects through a consistent approach to gesture. If you're interested in looking further into it, I might recommend checking out work by Joe Weatherly or Jonathan Kuo.


Michael Scofield said...
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forexbureau0 said...
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Anonymous said...
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teste said...

thanks for this!
are you still working on that comparative anatomy book?

Jr. Williams said...
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Anonymous said...

Would you prefer a person to start drawing on paper or on an electronic device e.g. tablet, etc. said...

Either. I see drawing as the same regardless of the media. So, whatever is more convenient.

Jhon Marshal said...
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