Day 4: The squashy, folding, stretching middle

We talked about the story of the pose and how it’s really useful to observe the curve of the torso centre line or spine and the angle of the shoulders against the angle of the pelvis. To continue that idea let’s look at the sides – the outlines on each side of the torso.

So very often, especially in poses where the torso is twisting or bent, it’s really useful to see the curves and sharp angles created by the big ribcage mass, the pelvis mass and the squashing and stretching part in the middle.

What you’ll very often find when there’s a bend in the torso is that one side is smooth and the other has a sharp angle. In these poses, there’s a bend in the torso. We want to capture the side of the squashy middle that is squashed and folding over and not shy away from the sharp angle, and capture the side that is stretched and make it a nice smooth flowing curve.  

There are other bumps and details, but most can be filtered out because the curve and sharp angle are interesting enough. But when there is a sharp angle, go for it! Look at this right angle! It’s very easy to reduce this strong angle. In fact, almost everyone we’ve asked to draw this reference reduced this angle.

Lets have another look at an example for the great life drawing student Kasem. He was underdoing these angles, so we wanted him to push these as well.

His first attempt was like this. The sharp angles and simple curves were there but still being reduced. 

His seconds attempt things really started to come together. Notice how much more he is letting the torso outline come in and then turn on a sharp angle and come out again. And on the other side, how nicely he has put in that curve – taking out anything unnecessary. Now the curve and angle he’s using does justice to the original pose.

This angle is important to the story – emphasise it! At least keep that 90 degrees. See how close the ribcage and pelvis edges can become in a contrapposto pose. That’s the drama!

These curves and sharp angles are created by there being the mass of the ribcage, the mass of the pelvis and then the squashy bit in the middle. That creates big stretching smooth lines, or squashed and folded sharp angles.

So, when the torso is twisting or bent, look for these angles and curves and make decisions about what will be smoothed out and a few things that will be emphasised and kept jagged. Go for it!

The Croquis Cafe practice session is here.

Day 5’s tutorial is here.

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