Tips & Tricks 05FEB2012

This week’s tip is a two-fer since you didn’t get a proper tip last week.  One of the things I have been focusing on during my 5 minute nude series has been foreshortening.  If you’re not familiar, foreshortening is how things look when they are sticking straight out at the viewer.  Imagine the finger pointing in the old Uncle Sam recruiting posters.  Two things make foreshortening difficult when working from a photograph. The first is that photographs flatten the image.  Especially with digital cameras, photographs look for a common light element and will blunt the shadows and highlights of a foreshortened object, just barely blurring things that are not on the plane of focus.  This can be corrected to an extent by using a long range lens when taking the photo, and most pros do.

The other problem is your mind.  You expect to see certain shapes when looking at an arm, leg, nose… You are programmed to recognize these things and will easily see the patterns even when they are not there.  You’ll have a tendency to draw the thigh muscle, for instance, even when it is actually obscured by a knee cap.  You can disrupt these patterns by turning the photograph and your drawing upside down.  Not only will this help you to draw what is actually there, but it will give you a chance to check the balance of your composition as well.  However, compositional balance is a topic for a future tip.

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