Not that names really matter, but I consider myself an “illustrator,” and up until my last couple of years of college, I approaches art from a very “traditional” mindset, however it was the things I’ve learned from studying animation and concept art that helped me transition from making work that was meant to be readable to aking work that was meant to be beautiful and meaningful, here are few tips that helped me:
Drawing with Three-Dimensional Shapes Drawing from life or photo reference is an excellent way to progress as an artist, but you learn a lot more from it if you really understand what your seeing and make conscious choices about what you put on the page as opposed to just being a slave to the reference. When you break your subject down into shapes or masses you can wrap your head around it from all dimensions and understand why what you’re seeing looks the way it does.
The key to this is not to think in two dimensions but in three. This is the reason a lot of figure drawing books have people made out of a bunch of cylinders and spheres near the beginning. If you can break something down from simple three-dimensional shapes then you can draw it from every angle!
This puts you in the driver’s seat and lets you take the information you want from the reference and edit and stylize to your hearts content!
This is a great way to lay down structure, but, as you can probably tell, if you stick too closely to your model all your drawings will look a little like C3PO, stiff and mechanical. This is when design come in!
Straights, Curves, and Asymmetry
It’s a principal that becomes especially apparent when posing a figure that symmetry can be very boring and fell unnatural, that is why contrapposto was such a big deal: it’s amazing what just tipping the angle of the hips and shoulders can do!
But this idea is not only good for the over all pose, it also applies to all the smaller shapes in your figure!
One of the best ways to get an elegant, life filled drawing is to use an offset straight lines against curvy ones.
The pose adds some straights and curves on its own, but…
When you first started drawing the figure you probably learned the “proportions of the body” people are six to eight heads tall, the legs are about half the length of the body etc. I still think that is a good place to start, you need to know the rules before you can break’em, but I’ll give you a hint: no one actually looks like that and it would be super boring if they did. Having variation of size makes a drawing much more interesting!
There are a lot more great tips and tricks out there, but this is the stuff that’s helped me most. I hope it can help you a little too!
Keep in mind that none of this stuff is law; your goal is to create beautiful art, not something that can be academically acclaimed as “perfect”. Tools are tools: use them because they work, not because you’re “supposed to.”
Of course the best way to learn is just to practice and pay attention: look for shapes you like in life, the kind of lines you find appealing, the way your favourite artist design their drawings and most importantly draw, draw, DRAW! I promise it’s fun!