So, as it turns out, not all those skills acquired over a few years of drawing bears – both teddy and non-teddy – are instantly and usefully applicable to the representation of non-bear based figures.
Once in a blue moon, it occurs to me to try drawing human figures. My imagination does stretch past cuddly-toys, you see, it’s just not always matched by my skills. If I can get past the fear of being branded “a bit of a perv”, I like to try rendering female figures; I already rather feel I have male figures…erm…in hand, as it were, and; I am of a male-persuasion and enjoy looking at women more than I do men. Sue me.
But then I actually put pencil to paper and try. Several times. After, perhaps, a dozen separate instances of trying to get the sketch right, I finally arrive at the above.
Now let me be a little immodest for a moment; not everything is a disaster – the general shape of the figure, the foreshortening, the balance and proportion is, mostly, pretty good. Endless practice at hands has left me reasonably confident in their rendition…although I’ve not spent the time on this sketch to move them from “ok” and into “good enough”.
A light hand on the shading has lent a decent sense of shape and depth and the composition is not bad. I like the tree – but I can’t claim credit for that – I simply follow the instructions handed down to me by a much more talented and experienced illustrator than myself.
But look at that face. Eurch. It is a bad Hanna-Barbera cartoon, photocopied and prit-stuck to a balloon. And here’s the thing…a secret, if you will; arcane knowledge that we drawing types have learned over the years but which you lay-consumers might not realise…faces are pretty important in the illustration of a human figure.
The same free-hand and broad strokes that can be applied to the expression of a bear, or even a sheet-clad-phanto-primate, are not applicable to an arrangement of features that evolution has spent several million years training your brain to recognise with unerring insight. It is much more difficult to hide a multitude of sins merely by making her chin a bit furrier.
It’s not like I don’t know the theory, the proportions, the skeletal whatsits and muscular underpinnings of facial structure…I just can’t seem to translate those pieces of knowledge into a rendering that looks like a person, rather than a…thing.
Ah well…woe is me. Please excuse my self indulgent whinge.
Also, please feel free to leave comment, advice and criticism. I am always delighted to learn from those with more skill than myself, or giddy to hear that someone had paid my scrawlings enough attention to actually have an opinion.