3D Figure Drawing

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"Puppet", drawing by Spankart (2008).

3D Figure Drawing is a technique for figure drawing without a model (drawing from imagination), in pencil on paper, in which figures are constructed by putting 3D objects together, in a way as if modelling a sculpture from clay.

Whether an artist does figure drawing in comic, manga or realistic style, the results are much improved when the figure is constructed with 3D objects in mind.

The principle of development[edit]

Think sculpturally.

The fundamental idea is that the overall figure, as well as every part of the figure, is not drawn in 'final lines' but developed. While doing so, the artist will draw many light, sketchy lines that are not 'final' but will be erased in later steps when they are no longer needed. Those lines include contour lines that were drawn to see if they please the artist or not, as well as surface lines that help him/her 'see' an object in 3D. These lines run along the surfaces of 3D objects the figure is composed of, such as spheres, ellipsoids, and other shapes.

The 3D Figure Drawing technique presented here makes heavy use of the special features of pencil drawing — notably, lines can be drawn very light, can be erased without a trace as long as they are light, and can be gradually darkened as they become 'surer'.

The same technique can also be used when drawing in digital with a pressure-sensitive graphics tablet.

Drawing as decision-making[edit]

The technique also goes gradually from blurred, rough, simplified shapes towards more concreteness and more detail. The idea is that drawing is decision-making, and the artist should make the big, important decisions as early as possible and the minor decisions on details as late as possible. Big decisions are those that, when changed, affect large parts of the drawing, meaning that any details that depended on this decision must be redone.

For example, you can change a figure's facial expression without affecting the rest of his/her body. So the face is a detail saved for a late phase in which the artist is already satisfied with the body's pose. Decisions that are best made first are typically those of the viewing angle, horizon, and a figure's torso size and position in relation to other already established figures and objects.