the creation of 'free form'
On December 4th, I released 'free-form: a Guide to Figure Drawing'.
To many of you, this guide may appear to be out of the blue.
Figure drawing? Where did that come from? How did she materialize 47 pages worth of content about it, when she doesn't ever post about figure drawing?
Perhaps this story will clear things up!
Figure drawing is something that I have always done, even before I really knew its value. At the end of every one of my weekly middle school art classes, my instructor would hand us all a clipboard, paper, and a Sharpie, sit down on a chair across the room, and say, "you have 5 minutes to draw me."
At the time, I had absolutely zero idea what the point was. And as I scratched out the lines of my teacher's dress, hair, and chin, I always thought, "I don't get it. It doesn't look right. I suck at this."
Years later, as I entered the internet's art sphere, I kept seeing this term, this practice, come up, over and over again.
What was that?
I learned, after a few YouTube videos and chat sessions with art friends, that it was a way to practice drawing poses which focused on capturing the essence of a pose quickly and minimally.
Okay, sounded right up my alley.
The first gesture drawing I ever did was a session on lineofaction.com , a website that randomizes a large library of pose photos and shows them in short time intervals. Sites like these are everywhere (just type "timed figure drawing" into Google, I guarantee you'll find one), and are a great way to get started.
The first pages of gesture drawings I created were...how should I put this? Abysmal.
Of course, not 'abysmal' at the time. At the time, I remember looking up at the end of the timer, looking down at my pages and pages full of poses, and feeling extremely proud. I could see the marked improvement between the first pose and the last.
I don't know about you guys, but improvement is a huge motivator for me. Seeing my improvement in such a short time period made me want to pick up my pencil and do it all over again.
And so, I did. I've consistently practiced figure drawing since then, and notably, really picked it up this past half a year. As I started sharing my process on my Instagram stories, questions started to roll in.
"Where do you find your poses?"
"How do you keep your lines so clean?"
"Do you have any tips on improving faster?"
I also got the chance to hear some of your guys' stories with figure drawing. Some of you had just learned of it, and were getting into it as well. Some of you had given up, because it felt too hard-- much like my middle school self.
Eventually, as I typed out responses, and had fascinating discussions with you guys about this one, specific art topic, I realized...damn, I have a lot to say about this.
The idea to congregate all my knowledge and thoughts into a single, cohesive place --a thing (I didn't know what that thing would be)-- hit me in August, 2021.
Maybe some sort of... guide?
I grabbed my sketchbook and made some little thumbnails about what the pages of my hypothetical guide might look like, and the more I made, the more my excitement grew.
The thumbnails evolved into a huge google doc, which later, I formatted in Adobe InDesign. The whole process --planning, writing, formatting, designing, drawing, and editing-- took months.
I made demos...
Dug out old figure drawings...
And of course...wrote. A Lot.
When I was finally done, I proofread it, sent it off to a friend to proofread (because I don't trust my own eyes), and chose a launch date.
The last step?
I spread the news a little on my Instagram and created a launch video. Nothing too over the top-- though I'll admit, more marketing wouldn't have hurt.
I still remember cranking out the preview page images the Friday night before launch, after making the last minute decision that I wanted to showcase a select number of pages on Instagram to raise interest (and lend some credibility to the guide).
When launch day rolled around, I pressed the publish button on my shop listing, updated the shop banner, and voila, we were live!
I am very, very thankful for the support that I got immediately after launch, and the support that has continued until now. Never once, in this whole process, have I felt that creating 'free form' was dull or meaningless. It has been a challenging, fun, and rewarding process, and I truly hope that it offers value to whoever chooses to buy it. ❤️
Free form is different than anything I've ever created in the past.
Within my Instagram and this website, I try to keep my voice non-polarized, neither fully teacher nor fully student. I have said this many times and will say it for the rest of my life: The process of learning is never fully complete. I am not an expert, nor I do not consider myself above any of my followers or readers. That said, I do have experiences and takeaways-- which I will always want to share with you.
Thanks for joining me, supporting me, or even, just taking the time to read this post.
If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, I'd love to hear them. Feel free to comment on this post, DM me on Instagram, or email me!
I wish you the best of luck with your figure drawing journey!
- elissa :)