Sunday, April 3, 2011

Are You Ready for Gesture Drawing?

Gesture drawing is one of the main focuses of Schedule One in Kimon Nicolaides ‘The Natural Way to Draw’. Schedule One requires fifteen hours of drawing and some light reading between sessions. A model is preferred for the exercises, but you can make a substitution if a model is unavailable. The real key is that you are drawing for the time allowed in each session.

Gesture drawing is, generally, a series of poses taken by a model and drawn in one minute or less by the artist. It is an attempt to capture action, movement, or feeling in your drawing. Gesture drawing will help you study the human figure in motion. You will gain a better understanding of muscle exertion, range of motion in the joints, and the effects of twisting in the human body.

Kimon Nicolaides stresses the importance of feeling the pose in your own body before you attempt to draw the pose. You may find, like me, that it will take some practice before you will be able to feel the pose. I have been known to actually get out of my seat and briefly hold the pose myself. I have found that it truly helps me capture the feeling on paper. You should give it a try during your next gesture session.

You may find difficulty in locating a willing model for your gesture studies. I have had great results using a couple of substitutes for a live model during my sessions. The first substitute is any sporting event on television (or real life). Football, boxing, gymnastics and baseball contain some fantastic live action poses. You could even try watching an action packed movie and capturing the various movements in your drawings.

The second substitute I use, most frequently, is an extremely useful website called Posemaniacs. I highly recommend this website if you can not obtain a live model for your gesture drawings. The website hosts a slide show that randomly displays 2 dimensional poses of the human figure. You can set a timer for the poses and even view them full screen on your computer monitor. The Posemaniacs slide show application is free to all users and can be accessed at

I have been working through Schedule One at a snail’s pace due to time constraints in my personal life. I have just completed session 1C and I already notice a slight improvement in my drawing. I still struggle with capturing the essence of the gesture quickly. Sometimes I find that I have spent too much time feeling the pose before putting my pencil to the paper. During a good session I feel that I have only a few great gesture drawings in the end. I thought I would include a few at the end of this post for you to view as an example. See you next time!


  1. That third pose is me coming out of an exam --> OTL
    Great stuff! I'm working through it at a snail's pace too, good to know I'm not the only one :)

  2. Found your blog looking for materials substitutes for the book. I hope you continued to have some success!