Gesture drawing is a great speciality recommended by real-world comic book artists and illustrators for improving your drawing and getting good, quick. In fact, when it comes to gesture drawing, speed is always of the essence.
What is Gesture Drawing?
Gesture drawing is an attempt to describe a figure, animal, or even environment not in terms of its outline or texture but in terms of its movement. It’s a concept that becomes clearer the more you practice it, but in its essence it is a way to inject life and dynamism to our artwork.
In fact, if you capture the movement of a pose correctly you can often be forgiven for questionable anatomy or proportion choices.
A gesture is often the first thing captured in a pose drawing, as a single simple line. That line you may have heard be referred to as a line of action. Off that initial line can come secondary lines, directional lines for the pelvis and shoulders, and essentially the building of the various volumes of the body and even a smattering of details, such as shadows. But the line – often captured in mere seconds – is the framework that you hang the whole pose from.
Gesture drawing and speed therefore go hand in hand. The longer you spend detailing and fretting over a pose the more it solidifies and the vitality in your work diminishes. In its essence, gesture drawing is designed to stop you sweating the small stuff.
Indeed, you will likely learn a lot more from drawing draw one pose ten times in ten minutes than once over the course of ten minutes. After all, we learn through repetition, and speed in this game is your friend.
The best thing about gesture drawing is there are so many free resources out there to help improve! So, without further ado – get your pen to paper…
Video Channel Gesture Drawing and Quick Poses Resources
What i love about this Youtube channel are the diverse selection of (non-nude) models and the fact that the sessions are quite intensive. Classes last as long as two hours and in that time you’ll find the models sticking to dozens of 1-minute/2-minute poses – I think of completing a class almost like attending a gesture drawing bootcamp! The beauty of doing a class in real-time is that the poses, by and large, are refreshingly natural. No weird yoga contortions held forever in a still photograph; these are real people and real-time scenarios that translate great for character poses or progressing your skills. Also there are a few fun costume sessions thrown in; I particularly like Ryder the cowboy!
The problem with a lot of resources online is that they stick with nude/bodysuited models, when really if we are looking to progress we also need to understand clothing, characterisation, etc. Ges Draw Party is a fun Youtube channel great for a wide range of interesting and unique poses held by costumed individuals in real time. Class lengths average around twenty minutes, which is perfect for a daily warm up with a character outside of your comfort zone! Check out Mako’s session as a great place to start.
Available on Vimeo, Croquis cafe features nude models in real-time poses. They also have subscription options that give access to hundreds of videos and a diverse range of models. The classes again number around twenty minutes with a few warm-ups then a main 5-minute pose at the end. This is great for getting regular practice in at home.
Free gesture drawing websites (premium options available)
Line of Action
Line of Action features poses and pictures on a timer that you can set, so you can complete a session to your choosing. While figure poses are available, I think my favourite section is for faces and expressions. Let’s not forget, gesture drawing isn’t just about a pose – it also translates into the facial expression held by a character or person! I think this is a really fun way to improve your skills in this area, and unique in comparison to a lot of other websites out there.
For something a little different, this website features computer generated models in pose! This gives a lot of flexibility as well as hundreds of shots of characters that can provide great inspiration and practice. Figurosity also features a quickposes section so you can get that all-important timed practice in, as well as premium options for altering things such as camera angle which are really cool if you want to construct a scene in perspective.
I will always have a soft-spot for Quickposes as it was actually where I first learned about timed gesture drawing and including this in my regular practice. It features lots of femme fatales, manga-inspired characters; all real models who have been photographed in pose and costume (although there are quite a few nudes on there as well). You have options to change the length of time the poses are on screen, and what i really like are the simple features – being able to flip an image and display it upside down teaches you a lot about drawing a pose when it’s suddenly unrecognisable. It reminds me of that trick we use in digital to flip our work horizontally to identify problem areas our brains might have edited out.
Do you have any suggestions for free gesture drawing and quick poses websites I should check out? Please leave a comment below! I am especially on the look out for a decent user-friendly gesture drawing app so i’d love to have your recommendations.