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Learning to draw, online.

Thought this might be of interest.


Students Learn to Draw the Human Figure in Professor's On-Line Lab

Many of Ralph Larmann's students at Southern Arkansas University are
apprehensive the first time they try drawing nude figures. So Mr. Larmann,
an associate professor of art, offers meticulous instructions in an
on-line Figure Drawing Lab
to help them understand the basics -- from
choosing the right pencil to developing hand-eye coordination.

"How to Get Started: A Primer," the first section of the on-line
laboratory <http://www.saumag.edu/art/figure-drawing/LAB.html> , explains
such essentials as what kinds of tools are best
suited for drawing the human form. Students learn to look for the number
indicating how soft a pencil is -- the higher the number, the darker and
richer the tone. They learn that conti crayon doesn't smear and that a
kneaded eraser is good for subtle lightening and softening. Even the type
of fiber in the paper can affect detail and character of a drawing.

Techniques for rendering the figure are also described. For example, in a
section on blind contour drawing, a set of exercises trains students to
start from a particular point on the body and draw it in one continuous
line. The student looks only at the figure he is drawing, not at the
paper, feeling his way across the page as the image is rendered.

"It's basically hand-eye coordination," says Mr. Larmann. "It takes a lot
of practice to develop your skill to replicate what you see, and your
ability to pick out slight nuances of detail."

Proportion is the most difficult aspect for students to learn, notes Mr.
Larmann. "Because we see faces so clearly, students will often place a
figure's eyes near the top of the head," he says. "But in reality the eyes
are halfway between the bottom of the chin and the top of the head.
Learning how to draw ideal proportion makes a student go back and check
what is actually there."

Using a technique called chiaroscuro, students learn how to create the
illusion of depth by properly applying light and shadow to a drawing.
"Chiaroscuro is a convention used to assume where light and shadow are
going to fall," says Mr. Larmann. "It is a technique that was often used
by the masters during the Renaissance." The site includes digitized images
of one of da Vinci's drawings to illustrate how light and shadow are

"Mastering light and shadow teaches students how to imagine where it would
fall on the model, even if the person is not present," he says. "In the
case of figure drawing, you can't keep a model there 24 hours a day, or
you may want to draw at a time when you want a model but can't get one."

In a section on proportion, students learn how to measure a figure
visually, using a pencil, and how to use elements of the skeletal
structure to draw well-defined figures. The section includes an animated
image of a man that flips from a front to back view, providing an
illustration of the muscle structure of the human form.

"The muscles define the body in its fullest sense," says Mr. Larmann.
"When one muscle moves, the rest of the muscles move too, no matter how
minutely." The ability to anticipate those movements helps students create
more realistic drawings, he says.

The information available on the site serve as a way for his students to
check their drawings, says Mr. Larmann. "All my site does is to reinforce
what someone should already be seeing."

Copyright ) 1998 by The Chronicle of Higher Education


Peter Verheyen, Listowner: Book_Arts-L

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