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Gesture Drawing Help
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Sun Sep 18, 2011 3:08 am
For my introduction to drawing class, our homework for class next Tuesday is 5 sustained gesture drawings of trees.

I still don't quite get gesture drawings. We learned using mass and line gestures. It's not too hard to draw the stump and branches and stuff, but the leaves part is really difficult for me.

Could anyone give me any advice on how I would go about portraying a tree? Some example images would be great.

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Kiyo Ayanami
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Sun Sep 18, 2011 3:41 am
I recommend looking at comic book trees. There are several different ways to represent leaves
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Sun Sep 18, 2011 4:52 am
I supose it also depends on what sort of tree you want to draw, and what season its in? Using pictures as refence is a great way to go.
also "identify a tree species" books are very useful because they show you leaves and branches and bark details and often how theyre arranged on the tree.
You can also take and press leaves to draw from later so you can get a good close look at the shape and veining and colouration.

One thing to remember is trees have open spaces where the cannopy doesnt cover fully- so add a little sky here and there around the edges, and through the branches- or other trees some distance away to give perspective.

Another way to draw a tree is using "negitive space": you don't draw the tree itself, you draw in all the things around it- the sky between branches, grass and bushes around the roots and you get a tree-shaped "hole" that you can tell is a tree.[ive never been good at negitive space XD but its fun to try]

Evergreens I find its good to use a reference- theyre usually pyramidal, oten asymetrical. stagger the branches in a downward facing upward motion- ost evergreens do that. the branch is a mat of needles, very close together and dense so the space in the tree is wherethe less thick branches meet the trunk. remeber to draw in the branches on the other side of the tree.
If you want to draw it in winter use a darker green then you would in a summer/spring picture- theres no bright new growth, and snow is a high-contrast to put in scene. The snow will sit on top of the branches in clumpy piles- fill in the branches below and define where the top of the snow is then have it fade into the branch-mat. [ive found watercolour does this admirably, but you can get the idea across with art markers]

If you want an "abstracted" leafy tree put inthe colour first [watercolour works great for this] then using the colours as a guide draw in the trunks and branches, either with darker paint after the colour is dried, or with an india ink.
http://deathlesslord.deviantart.com/art/Green-Trees-5-in-a-series-21766944

I don't draw leafy-trees all that often.[plz ignore elves] i find markers do a lovely job of winter aspen:
http://www.freewebs.com/rosemadder/WinterVacation.jpg
Watercolours work great for a distance-blurred grove:
http://deathlesslord.deviantart.com/art/Q-whats-harder-to-draw-then-72155837 http://www.freewebs.com/rosemadder/dragonsofwintertwilight.JPG
Sometimes you can by with just trunks and branches:
http://deathlesslord.deviantart.com/art/quot-Gloriana-quot-22647556

Or just a back-lit silhuette? you dont need much detail to indicate "leafy tree": http://deathlesslord.deviantart.com/art/quot-Zinfandael-s-Escape-quot-22612051

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Last edited by Zinn on Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:03 am; edited 1 time in total
Amurita
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Sun Sep 18, 2011 4:53 am
I've only taken an art class in high school, so I don't know much about gesture drawing except that it's suppose to be fast and show the spirit of the drawing. I also skimmed some web pages and they said it's suppose to be under 2 minutes and it's good to have natural references. So I'd suggest going out and picking 5 trees to draw, a max of 2 min each. So just look at them quickly and try to transfer that snapshot in your head to paper as fast as you can. No erasing/correcting as it's not suppose to be perfect, just for learning and practice really. I'm not sure if there's something different you're suppose to do with 'sustained' gesture drawings though.

I also quickly checked deviant art to see if there's tree gesture drawings: http://browse.deviantart.com/traditional/drawings/?q=gesture%20tree
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Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:24 am
OMG, DUH!

I should have checked DA first. That really helps, it shows me so many different gestures and ones that look like what we are supposed to have our pieces look like.

Thanks for telling me about that. It totally helps. I study some of the drawings before I try to draw again tomorrow.

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Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:25 am
Ahh, tree Gesture drawings. my bad I thought you wanted plain old "trees" Razz

I used to use watercolour pencils for tree-gestures [they were what i was looking thru my devart for, I must not have saved them] You get a sense of the colours and they wont smear like a conte or charcoal drawing might, or leak like india ink would do. [but if you do use a pastel/chalk/conte/charcoal/graphite remember to use a workable fixative so it wont smear or crumble. Also if you ever want to frame it]

Later, if i had the time I would go in and paint out the leafy areas and a bit of the bark to make it a fuller "tree"- but if you dont want that bring a brown pencil crayon for the roots/trunk/branches and a green one for the leaves [or an orange for fall? Smile]

Amurita is right about the no fixing mistakes- and for a tree thats perfectly fine- trees arent perfect: theyre lopsided, crooked and gnarly. Sometimes theyre downright ugly. Smile

If you're having trouble with the leaves look at the trunk and look at the canopy. I start at the top myself [even though i usually want to start at the bottom and move up- starting in the leaves helps me build a better tree]
see where the leaves cover parts of the trunk and branches, and just give it a quick outline. add in any sky-holes around the edges notice if any branches or twigs hang below the rest of the leaves- add those in.
then go down and start adding the trunk, any knotholes from missing libs, any little sucker-twigs [note that on a sucker the leaves are usually bigger then on older branches] and go down the trunk until you hit the roots, or grass or bushes- whatever is at the bottom. then sketch those in loose because thats all you need.
thats a 2 minute sketch. if you have more time- 5 minutes or 10 you can go back and texture a bit of the bark, or add some leaf details, or shadows where one branch overlaps another: that sort of thing. Doing that will give the drawing a bit more dimensionality and make it look less "flat" then a basic 2minute sketch will. Smile
But sometimes a basic drawing is what you need- and works better then a really fancy one.

And perhaps more important of all: more then the kind of tree or how long you take or the way you draw it is:
HAVE FUN. cause if youre not having fun, what are you doing? Smile

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Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:28 am
I forgot to mention that we have to do it on newsprint paper with vine charcoal and the stick/compressed charcoal.
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Sun Sep 18, 2011 6:32 am
Ahh, okay Smile
Stick will work well for the trunk: thick, dark and solid. vine is good for grasses and leaves: thin, fine, wispy. If you're not quite comfortable witht he charcoal waste a bit of paper by goofing off with it- draw stuff near you, or people or make squiggly lines until you get an idea of what each sort does- vine is different then stick, which is differnt in turn then chalk or conte which is different from pastel. very similar mediums that can give very different results. Smile expirament.

Three things about that:
*newsprint tears easily so dont press too hard on the paper. Fasten your pad firmly at the top with clips [if youre working outside it might be good to clip the sides as well so the wind doesnt catch it.]Fold or remove previous drawings so they dont get smudged or torn. I've always found its a good idea to leave an unused piece between each drawing- that also helps preserve the art. [A cardboard portfolio is very useful to keep large artworks safe. You can buy them at art or office supply stores [5-15$] or make your own from 2 sheets of large cardboard box tightly taped together.

*vine charcoal is made of [usually] willow twigs [you can see the wood-texture on some of the pieces, its kind of neat] theyre fairly fragile so dont press too hard or they'll snap. It's also more uneven- the center area is a bit harder then the outside and could snag or scratch your paper. [just something ive noticed] It has a more greyish colour then stick.
Vine is good for thin small lines, detailing and light outlining [like when youre just starting and want a begining placement sketch]

*Stick charcoal is made of compressed charcoal powder- its very solid and will give you a nice thick black line. use it for colouring large areas and bold strokes. Its also the more likely to smudge when you use it. I've found wrapping maskingtape around the ends of several pieces before you start using them helps in both keeping the dust down and leaving fingerprints on the paper.

If you get powder or crumbly bits on your paper gently tap the back a little- never blow it as thay and the moisture from your mouth can set it intot he paper and its bloody hard to get off Very Happy
Try to touch the paper near your drawing as little as possible: the fine dust will collect where your skin oil is- even if you cant see it.

An easel or upright board is the best way to use newsprint-and-charcoal as it leaves both hands free, gives you a large area to work with and gravity pulls the dust down. Smile it should be high enough you dont have to bend or stoop to reach the lowest sections of the paper, but not too high you have to strain to reach the top.

Again, I recomend buying a spray bottle of fixitive there are 3 kinds on the market: "Glossy" which dries with a shiny finish, "Matte" which leaves a dull finish and "Workable"- the only kind i use- and the only kind you can go back and touch up any mistakes with. If you're making a large scale piece, or one thats very detailed or a lot of stick charcoal [or simply one you like and want to keep a while] fixing it is good idea. it'll prevent smearing and keep the picture looking good longer.
Also most frameshops will not frame an un-fixed artwork as static can pull the drawing material to the glass and cloud it over time. Smile
a good size can should be about 7-12 bucks. Always use it outside or in a well ventilated area [it smells awful!]

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Amurita
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Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:29 am
You're welcome! Hope you have fun with your sketches.

And wow, Zinn is full of arty knowledge x3
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