Part 4: Project 1: Fabric and Form

Research Point 4.0: Depictions of the Human Form throughout History

Please click here for my findings in this research.

NB: I have merged two of the research points together due to their similarities. These research points are 4.0 and 4.1.1.

Exercise 1: Drawing Fabric using Line and Tone

For this exercise, I did as was asked in the course textbook and draped the closest I had to drape a plain sheet across a chair to create some folds with shadowed areas.

Chair with draped towel

Line Sketch

I used a page in my sketchbook to create a sketch in line of the draped towel. I decided to draw the outline of the chair in pencil so it was somewhat invisible compared to the charcoal, but was still there to provide a guide as to the weight of the fabric draping downwards. I decided to use charcoal due to my growing ease with this medium and its flexibility with movements across the page. I have discovered it can easily be smudged out (though not completely) to allow you to correct your measurements etc when using it to draw in line sketches.

Line sketch in charcoal

I enjoyed this task as it was nice to focus purely on the lines I could see, regardless of the concept that there are no actual outlines in real-life, so it was nice to look beyond so many ‘rules’ and just draw the lines I could see. I found it a little hard in some places to ‘read’ the lines correctly and work out if I was placing them in the correct position. I think I did a believable sketch here, however, I do think there are definitely sections in which I could improve my sketching skills. It was my intention to put across a believable sketch for the viewer to be able to see clearly enough what it was and where it was going.

I think I have been successful in creating a believable fold over the top of the chair and in creating the sense of folding within the material with my use of the line. I also like the tonal change for the tassels at the bottom of the towel. I think I have been able to understand the underlying structure and successfully recreate an accurate measurement of the chair and that this has helped translate the draping better as a result.

Tonal Sketch

I then used another page to create a similar sketch but this time in tone. I, again, drew the chair in pencil first and then moved on to using charcoal due to its deep tonal contrasts and ranges of tonal values. I concentrated on the broad tonal patches in the piece and then I used a rubber to lift out all of the lighter areas on the towel. This exercise really is very different to the line exercise as there is so much more to consider in terms of the tonal ranges, light fall etc.

Tonal sketch in charcoal

I really enjoyed doing this exercise and think it will come in very handy for future exercises, especially when considering the structure underneath the drapery and how essential it is to first have an understanding of that structure and its weight and placement etc to be able to ‘read’ the exterior correctly.

Whilst creating these pieces, I found myself losing measurements of some of the folds as I was moving along and that some had to be eliminated or redirected to assist with continuing to create a believable illusion. To have avoided this, I think I would have been better off trying to measure the the main outline or ‘shapes’ within my subject and then building this up from there as opposed to just working my way downwards from the top of the piece. Also, I think I should have stopped every once in a while to remeasure things and correct things as I was going, as opposed to leaving it too late.

This exercise has also deepened my enjoyment in using charcoal as, when I first began this course, I did not really enjoy this media and could not really control it very well. Whilst I still think I have a long way to go compared to some people’s talent and skill, I think I have also become a lot more capable in terms of my use and capabilities with charcoal.

Exercise 2: Emphasising Form with Cloth

Emphasising Form with Cloth

For this exercise, I had someone sit on a chair with a length of plain material wrapped around them. I tried to work relatively quickly, but still took my time on the overall sketch. I worked solely in line and worked through the layers as required in the course textbook. I tried to concentrate on the fabric and overall shape of the subject as opposed to the finer details of the fingers and eyes etc. I decided to draw in some guide lines of the head and indicate the direction in which the subject was looking.

I really enjoyed this exercise and think I have done quite well considering I had not used any grids or other guides and had only really spent approximately five minutes creating the sketch’s layers. I found it quite interesting to create the folds and weight in the piece, but do think my overall balance is slightly off somewhat – especially in relation to the chair leg to the bottom right which does not appear to sit correctly. I also noticed that, if focusing on the outline more so than the general placement of each part as a whole, it is rather easy to lose the overall structure of the subject and to have one point correctly line up with another part.

This exercise has taught me the importance of seeing the basic shapes of the overall subject first and to then build on it with the details and folds etc. It really does become clear that the underlying structure is just as important – if not more so – than the outer detail in creating the final piece, whether organic or man-made. It reminds me of telling a story; you have to create the character’s background first and then build upon this within the story to make it believable and to be able to relate to the characters and see them as a whole.

Research Point: Depiction of the Human Form throughout History

Please click here for my findings in this research.


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