Masters: If you want a book…Pt. 2

My previous post goes into the information that Glenn Vilppu has given me through his book “Drawing Manual.”
The difference between an illustrator and an animator are explained as are the different approaches when it comes to observing a model.  Where an illustrator would try and copy the model, an animator would approach it from a more technical point. We study and research the model in order to gain understanding of the form and its movements.
The idea of simplicity, thinking in sequences rather than the subject as a whole leads to the next part of Vilppu’s Drawing Manual.


I have mentioned “gesture” before, but what is it?

Gesture is the single most important element in the drawing.
-Glenn Vilppu.  Drawing Manual.

When we speak of gesture, we mean the body language of a model.  The way they move, their attitudes, those small differences that make a character.  It is how we differentiate one from the other, even if their appearance might be the same.
The importance of gesture is that without it, even a well rendered drawing will be nothing more than an academic exercise. Gesture is the attitude of a model, the core of a form.

Vilppu’s breakdown of a complete form might look simple, but they are the building blocks that create the whole figure in the end.  It helps you to see what you are drawing and understand it in the process.

The main mention before the exercises start and one which is often touched upon is the importance of practice. Observing everything and everyone around you even when you are not in class.  Practicing to look at a model and drawing it from memory, if you’re on the bus, out and about, home watching tv. To understand what you see and finding the gesture in a model’s action.  It is important to look at the action and knowing what you see before you put down the first line.

The breakdown.

In my previous post I mentioned that Vilppu explained the approach regarding a whole figure.  The man on the moon from “The Roots of Civilization.”  in which Alexander Marshack discusses that the event as a whole -, sending a man to the moon,- seemed impossible, but if you break it down into a series of smaller steps, it’s suddenly possible.
Forms and shapes are what Vilppu then touches upon, small exercises which seem simple, but are ever so important.  To pass up on practicing these simple shapes, you will pass up on understanding -why- they are there and it will hold you back in the end.  Thankfully they are simple enough to doodle away, the shapes have their own rhythm which, if practiced enough, will become a simple form which muscle memory can easily hang on to.

Building up the form.

Illustration 1.  Shows the forms used for a head.  The dot on the form indicates the top of the head, the horizontal line indicates the eyeline.
Illustration 2. Half moon shapes are a practice through which you can show in a simple manner how a torso is placed. If it’s upright, coming towards the camera or leaning away from it, but it also can show if there’s a light twist in the torso.
Illustration 3.  Whilst it looks like a simple gathering of circles, this exercise actually allows you to freely roam your page, doodling away the circles which you later on can connect. It gives further understanding of Illustration 2.  Call it the step 2 of illustration 2.
Illustration 4. The bean.  The bean is another upgrade, a level up of Illustration 3.  Where you connect the two circles and create the form of the torso.  I find this one the most important one, if the torso isn’t observed properly the whole gesture can fall flat.
Illustration 5.  Shows Illustration 1 put into perspective. Simple lines that show the gesture of a form, well enough to be read as, in this case, a human.

These are the very basics of the start of gesture drawing, but so far it has helped me to observe models in a different way.  It helped me to see how a body forms and already has added much more life to my practice pieces.


All illustration are from the Vilppu Drawing Manual.

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