Understanding FORM

Since beginning life drawing classes last year, I have continually had to really strip back to basics in my drawing technique to try and understand the key concepts behind creating images. I have been used to drawing literally what I see in front of me; not what key structure and shapes lie beneath the surface. My understanding of the idea of form has definitely grown since starting classes with Michael, however, I know in myself there is much still to be learnt.

Burne Hogarth discusses the idea of form in his book Dynamic Figure Drawing by talking about drawing figures in deep space.

“Drawing the figure in deep space foreshortening is not a mere technical trick, not a mere problem to be solved; it’s the essence of figure drawing as perfected by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Tintoretto, Rubens, and the other great masters of the Renaissance and Baroque eras.”

Hogarth, B. (1970). Dynamic figure drawing. 1st ed. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, p.8.



This particular lesson by Glen Keane, one of my favourite animators of all time, really helped drive home the idea of creating images with form.



I hadn’t really thought about the concept of “sculpting” an image when drawing, or drawing around the shape you’re trying to create to make it have a three dimensional quality.

Following on from Glen Keane’s idea of “sculpting” a drawing, I decided to research how actual Sculptors approach making their work to see if I could implement any of their techniques into my sketches.

What’s great about this video is that it starts from the very beginning of creating a sculpture, just like we as animators, have to start with the most basic shapes before building upon them.

Having watched a sculptor work in the video, it was interesting to see how lighting  effects form. I came across the word Chiaroscuro. Oddly, it’s actually a word I am somewhat familiar with due to my interest in makeup artistry.

Chiaroscuro( from Italian: chiaro, “light,” and scuro, “dark”) technique employed in the visual arts to represent light and shadow as they define three-dimensional objects.


Although it’s not about painting on a page, the same technique of applying makeup to contour can be applied to drawings when thinking about lights and darks.

Researching makeup contouring techniques on the face and different parts of the body has helped me visualise more readily the effects of light on the form.


Some sketches I did to explore form:

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetProcessed with VSCO with t1 presetIMG_2779

Additional Reading:

Hogarth, B. (1970). Dynamic figure drawing. 1st ed. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications

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