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Having worked with digital art for four years, Concept Artist and Illustrator Mariette Jacobs wanted to jump back into analog drawing while improving her character art. In these four exercises, Mariette demonstrated how to make your references and tools work in your favor. Don’t miss out on this breakdown, which includes:

  1. Head Construction
  2. The Female Figure
  3. Muscles
  4. Hands & Feet

Hi everyone! My name is Mariette Jacobs and I am an artist from the Netherlands. I’ve been working as a 2D concept artist and illustrator in the game industry for four years on different mobile titles. Before that, I studied Game Art & Design at the University of the Arts in Utrecht. As an artist, I’m always eager to improve my skills whenever and however I can. Recently I started focusing more on character design and figure drawing, so I chose CGMA’s Figure Drawing: Anatomy of style course to get a better understanding of anatomy and to improve my skill and my style. I usually work digitally, but this course has brought back my love for traditional art.

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1. Head Construction

In the beginning, it was a fun challenge to work in traditional media. It was really refreshing to touch the pencil, paper, and chalk, instead of looking at a screen. In the game industry, everything is done digitally, so it’s easy to forget the traditional fundamentals.

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Patrick clearly demonstrated how to use these analog tools and make them work in your favor. He provided images you can work from. However, this didn’t mean you couldn’t use other references. It was even better if you are able to attend live figure drawing sessions!

Enroll in Figure Drawing: Anatomy of Style taught by Illustrator Patrick Jones to receive feedback on your own work.

2. The Female Figure

What was interesting about Patrick’s approach to drawing the figure is that he talked a lot about finding the balance between structure, gesture, and style. You don’t want the figure to look like an exact copy of the photo because it will make it look very stiff and unnatural. Understanding the figure is key to finding that balance to make it look how you want it to look. I always enjoy having some stylization within my work but at the same time, creating enough definition to make it feel real.

When I start working on a figure, I usually do a couple of warm-up sketches of the same pose to understand what I’m looking at. I ask a few questions too. Where are the angles? What kind of shapes am I seeing? What is my focus point within this figure?

Once I figured that out, I put down the landmarks of the body. Then, I could build it up slowly.

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The most challenging poses were definitely the foreshortening ones. It is important to understand how the overlap works together with proportions. Especially when working from a photo, the camera can skew the image quite a bit. Patrick helped us understand the image, then gave us the tools to conquer the pose.

Watch Patrick Jones’s full webinar, including his career origins, art philosophy, a live demo, and more!

3. Muscles

When it came to creating arms, I tried to see the rhythm within the muscles. One muscle folds into the other one, forming a constant overlap, which creates a flow within them. Knowing this helped me deconstruct and understand arm muscles. Overall, understanding how the body works helped me draw better. I believe this applies to a lot of aspects of art.

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Patrick shared his study sheets of how certain muscles and structures work in the body, which I placed all over my workspace so I always have my reference nearby.

Another trick Patrick teaches you is to use mnemonics for different parts of the body. For example, the deltoid looks like a heart, the ribcage looks similar to a braid, or the kneecap looks like an ice cream cone.

Explore CGMA’s Analytical Figure Drawing course for a deeper dive into surface anatomy.

4. Hands & Feet

Hands and feet are the toughest body parts to draw. All of the previous lessons helped me find the balance between structure and gesture. This is where all these lessons came together.

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Especially with difficult topics like the hands and feet, it is best to give yourself room to think and observe before you put down a stroke. It will actually make your drawings work better and your process much more enjoyable and faster.

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One of the things Patrick taught me was ‘ghost lines’. Ghost lines are areas in your linework where you leave an opening and let your drawing breathe. They are a great way to give your work more dimension and life. As a viewer, you usually don’t even realize they are there, because your brain is wired to fill in those gaps.

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Read “6 Ways an Expert Artist Can Enhance Their Figure Drawing” for another perspective on Patrick Jones’s course.

Final Thoughts

  • Feedback rounds are done in a live Q&A session with the entire group so it was easy to start a conversation not only with Patrick but with your fellow classmates as well.
  • Patrick also addressed a lot of problems people encounter throughout their art careers. These topics varied from low self-esteem issues to how to deal with a client.
  • For me, the biggest philosophy takeaway is understanding that if something looks or feels wrong, it probably is. Even though it is structurally correct; trust your own eyes and judgment.
  • My drawings changed drastically during this course. I have a much better understanding of the underlying structure of the body, as well as seeing the rhythm and shapes. I know how to work with tools like charcoal and pastel and bend them to my will. But most importantly, I gained more confidence in my own art!
  • This course did not only improve my traditional work but it brings another layer to my digital work as well. Patrick is a great teacher and I would highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to improve their figure drawing as well as improving on their own style!

LEARN MORE

CGMA provides comprehensive instruction for Art, Games, and VFX industries in a variety of courses for a range of students, from 2D and 3D artists looking to supplement their college studies to industry professionals looking to stay up to date on emerging trends and techniques in the field.

RELATED LINKS

Check out more of Mariette’s work on her ArtStation.

Enroll in Figure Drawing: Anatomy of Style taught by Illustrator Patrick Jones to receive feedback on your own work.

Watch Patrick Jones’s full webinar, including his career origins, art philosophy, a live demo, and more!

Explore CGMA’s Analytical Figure Drawing course for a deeper dive into surface anatomy.

Read “6 Ways an Expert Artist Can Enhance Their Figure Drawing” for another perspective on Patrick Jones’s course.