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Drawing People: How to Portray the Clothed Figure
By: Barbara Bradley

My Rating:

In this book by illustrator and instructor Barbara Bradley you will find many tips to help you accurately portray the clothed figure. Many of her own drawings and sketches, all in pencil, are included in the chapters. Artists from novice to expert are sure to find something of use in this book.

Barbara Bradley begins with general drawing tips, such as explaining how to properly hold a pencil, and set up a workspace. Next, She moves discusses different body types, proper prospective, and creating accurate proportions. All this advice is excellent for portrait artists.

Everything is simplified, but conveys plenty of helpful information on how to create accurate sketches. Each page is filled with example sketches to help you on your way. One thing I personally liked about this book is that she illustrates the relationships between how the body bends, and it's affect on clothing. Different types of folds are described and pictured in great detail. Also included are exercises to practice the techniques. She discusses briefly how to experiment with different mediums and paper. While she does discuss light sources and tonal value, not much time is devoted to those subjects.

Her suggestions for drawing heads and hands are very helpful. Perspective and proportion of the head and facial features are discussed first. Then, she shows wonderfully how the position of the eyes and brows affect the emotion of a subject. This is a great section for the beginner, since she offers some general tips to remember, and shows many different sketches displaying varying emotions. Next, she elaborates on the different shapes of noses and mouths, which is an interesting study.

There are a full two pages devoted to drawing hands, that includes several tips, and drawings of hands in different positions. Pencil artists will also find the information she provides on how aging effects head and hands useful. One interesting sketch showed the progression of a woman's head from age 25 to 85. It beautifully illustrated how the facial features change.

Finally, she devotes an entire chapter to drawing children. Children have different proportions then adults, and she gives some tips for drawing them correctly.

The sketches throughout the book are enjoyable to see. They all have a lovely sense of movement. She draws many different types of clothing, from all time periods, and emphasizes how it should sit on the body. Also included are sketches of different shoes, hats, and more. One thing I was a bit disappointed in, is that the pictures appear to be somewhat unfinished sketches. As a result, they do not have a nice clean look, neither do they illustrate fully how the proper tonal values should be established for a realistic look. However, the information is still of great value.

In conclusion, definitely pick up this book if you want to expand your knowledge of proportions and improve in drawing people. The information she includes on basic shapes of bodies, facial features, and hands is sure to help any artist studying the human figure. Keep in mind this book does not delve into drawing figures with realistic detail. However, it gives you all the basic elements to master drawing figures, which is a great foundation to build on.


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