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Top Ten Figure Drawing Mistakes ... and How to Fix Them

 

Forgetting to Simplify

The best drawings suggest. Figure Drawing for All It's Worth and Successful Drawing teach how to simplify shadows.

Committing to Detail Too Soon 

It's a pity to draw every eyelash only to discover the whole head is in the wrong place.

Painting On the Details

 ... such as eyes, lips, and ears ... versus sculpting them from light and shadow. Learn the planes of the head from Head & Hands.

Stressing Over Perspective

Creating a big mental hurdle over perspective wastes your energy. Practice instead. Try the drawing the "boxed up" figure in Figure Drawing for All It's Worth.

Stressing Over Foreshortening

If you see a very large hand or fist coming at you, draw what you see. It takes practice to rely on your eyes rather than your notion of how a hand or knee should look. Studying proportions of the kneeling, standing, and sitting figure in Figure Drawing for All It's Worth is helpful.

Drawing the Head Too Big

Studying Loomis' proportions will help your brain start to trust your eyes.

Panicking Over Hands and Feet

Loomis says draw your own hand every day. See Head and Hands. Copy the drawings in Bridgman's Book of a Hundred Hands. The Human Machine is helpful for feet.

Forgetting to Relate the Figure to the Space Around It

As a beginner, struggling with drawing the pose, it's easy to forget that the figure exists in an environment. Figure Drawing for All It's Worth has excellent tips for relating figures to the horizon and everyday objects.

Skipping the "Design" in the Body

You know design when you see it: the day your drawing gels into a lifelike being, greater than the conglomeration of parts. Copy Bridgman's drawings. Pick up some tricks from Figure Drawing for All It's Worth, such as making sure lines are curved where muscle overlays bone.

Relying on Fashion and Advertising Photography for Practice

Fashion photos have little shadow -- us artists need strong shadow. You can try drawing people in ads upside down to stretch your brain a bit, but first consider drawing from plaster casts or pictures of sculpture.

Thinking I'll Never Be "As Good As" Somebody Else

The are no secrets to figure drawing. There are principles and tips laid out in books and by teachers that help you practice and become better. Keep in mind that no other artist will ever have your gift -- you bring your unique self to your work. Bookmark and Share

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All About the Great Teacher Andrew Loomis

Want to draw like an Old Master? Check out these books in the great tradition.