Drawing Groups of Figures

Point to Point
This is an example of using the point-to-point process for drawing groups of figures going from one point to the next in order to develop the whole.

Drawing Groups of Figures - Starting Figure
Drawing Groups of Figures - Starting Figure

Above, you see the figure with which I started the drawing.

Drawing Groups of Figures - Reference Point
Drawing Groups of Figures - Reference Point

When I decided to develop the drawing further, I quickly added the wall and step behind her as a solid reference point in case she left.

Then I started drawing the seated man behind her. At this point she got up and walked away. Since I had the figure behind her giving me the scale for the other figure and the wall in reference to her, I was ready to continue adding to the picture.

The difficulty in composing a picture this way is placing other figures and elements in the drawing in such a way that they seem natural and not as if they are posing.

The two main points that I tried to look out for were, first, to get differences in the spacing of the figures and, second, to get a natural feel to the arrangement. As the crowd was passing by, I would pick out figures that I could use in the drawing. Since they were walking for the most part, I had to do most of the drawing from memory, imagining the figures as types.

Drawing Groups of Figures - Adding More Figures
Drawing Groups of Figures - Adding More Figures

As I added each figure, I paid particular attention to place them so that they had a natural feeling among the group. The architectural elements in the background were used to tie the figures together and help in getting the proper scale of the figures, one to the other. The addition of the paving stones helped to give a sense of space. Look at the completed drawing. The final large figures in the right foreground of the first picture, help give depth to the whole.

Drawing Groups of Figures - Final Drawing
Drawing Groups of Figures - Final Drawing

By Glenn Vilppu

This article was first published in June 1, 2001 Animation World Magazine. This article was taken from the seventh in a new series of bi-monthly articles about sketching on location. The articles are based on my Sketching on Location Manual. The manual was developed as a series of lessons that I use on my guided sketching tours of Europe, and that I use as material in my regular drawing classes. As such the lessons can be part of a regular course or can be used by individual students as a practical learning guide. In the last chapter we worked on “Pencil Technique. If you have not seen the previous lessons starting in the June 2000 issue of Animation World Magazine, it is recommended that you do. The lessons are progressive and expand on basic ideas. It is suggested that you start from the beginning for a better understanding of my approach. If you really want to start at the beginning open with the lessons based on the Vilppu Drawing Manual.

Glenn Vilppu teaches life drawing at the American Animation Institute, the Masters program of the UCLA Animation Dept., Walt Disney Feature Animation, Warner Bros. Feature Animation, Dreamworks and Rhythm & Hues Studios. Vilppu has also worked in the Animation industry for 18 years as a layout, storyboard and presentation artist, most of this time was spent working at Disney. His drawing manual and video tapes are being used worldwide as course materials for animation students. Glenn Vilppu has, in effect, either through teaching them directly or teaching their teachers, trained an entire generation of professional animators.

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