Basic shapes

Project 3: Form

Exercise 1 Basic shapes

For this exercise I struggled to find a time where I could have someone sit for an hour while being sketched, but I did apply some of the techniques I have been learning in life drawing sessions.

Once again, my housemate was happy for me to sketch him while he went about his work. I waited until he was settled into a comforatble position with his phone/laptop for these!

After a few attempts at drawing him, I then had a final attempt just focussing on his face, as I was not happy with how I captured his features.

I then sketched him while doing some desk work, focusing on form. I found this quite difficult, and found that despite measuring, the form ended up quite distorted, which I think was a result of being positioned too close.

I found I kept getting stuck into looking into detail too much, rather than looking at shapes. I then researched some techniques for drawing figures using basic shapes. A useful sequence I found for figure drawing was in Giovanni Civardi’s Drawing: A Complete Guide, which included the following methods:

  1. Overall outline
  2. identifying structural lines
  3. geometrising
  4. simplifying the organic form
  5. indicating the main areas of volume
  6. modelling surfaces

(Civardi, 2009: 380-1)

The book also had some very useful tips on measurements, building on some of the tips and techniques I’ve been trying to develop in life drawing sessions.

Another book I found useful when looking at drawing a figure using basic shapes was Andrew Loomis’ Figure Drawing for all It’s Worth (Loomis, 1943).

In the following drawings I used a Biro pen to identify the structuring lines, and then ‘geometrise’ the form before trying another full drawing of my friend playing video games.

I made the following notes on this exercise:

  • One of my main difficulties was in finding a pose where my model would have been happy to sit for an hour or so – I am still looking for a suitable life drawing class where I can do some longer poses, as the one I have been attending each week is more geared towards quick poses, with the longest lasting 30 minutes. As a result, I tried several poses, with a focus on finding poses that enabled my friend to continue in his activities (i.e. reading, laptop, phone, etc).
  • I found it difficult at first to simply block in the basic shapes – this is something I working through a combination of sketching, researching techniques and sketching an artists’ wooden mannequin.
  • I found that the measured unit I generally use for proportions and scale is the head, though for some reason after measuring, I nearly always have to adjust the size – I’m not sure whether it’s because when I initially measure I don’t include the hair, but hopefully this will improve when I work on drawing portraits.
  • Most of my drawings feature foreshortening of either the hands or the feet.


Civardi, G. (2009). Drawing. Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Search Press.

Loomis, A. (1943). Figure Drawing for all it’s worth. New York: Viking Press.


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