Art School Boot Camp: Drawing Dynamic Gestures | Christine Nishiyama | Skillshare

Art School Boot Camp: Drawing Dynamic Gestures

Christine Nishiyama, Artist at Might Could Studios

Art School Boot Camp: Drawing Dynamic Gestures

Christine Nishiyama, Artist at Might Could Studios

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10 Lessons (20m)
    • 1. Class Trailer

    • 2. Project Assignment

    • 3. Gesture Inspiration

    • 4. Forget Anatomy!

    • 5. Line of Action

    • 6. Straights and Curves

    • 7. Drawing Gestures from References

    • 8. Speed Drawing: Core Project

    • 9. Speed Drawing: Bonus Project

    • 10. Wrapping Up

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About This Class


Welcome the second session of Art School Boot Camp! Throughout this series, illustrator Christine Fleming will take you through the fundamental concepts learned in art and design school, from composition to color to gestures. In this 20 minute boot camp installation, learn how Christine visualizes action and injects energy and liveliness into her illustrated gestures. The class is broken up into two parts: Learning and Drawing. In the Learning section, Christine will introduce the three most important concepts to keep in mind when drawing poses and actions, including forgetting anatomy, line of action, and drawing straights and curves. Then she’ll take you step by step how to make a quick line gesture drawing from a photo reference including how to find the line of action, how to draw the gestures of parts, and how to fill out the body.


Then you’ll put that knowledge to work in the Drawing section where you’ll complete Speed Drawing exercises together. A photograph of a life pose will appear on your screen, and you’ll have 15 seconds to quickly sketch out a gesture drawing using the techniques from the class, simultaneously with Christine. At the end of the 15 seconds, you’ll see what Christine came up with, and then move on to the next pose. You can choose to just complete the Core Project and draw the 10 life poses, or you go for the Bonus Challenge as well and draw a series of quickfire gestures within 10 pose categories. This style of speed drawing is a great way to loosen up and get comfortable drawing gestures and actions.

By the end of the class, you’ll have a full set of gesture drawings that you can use as a reference for future projects, and a new set of skills for injecting life into your drawings! No prior knowledge of drawing or software is required. All you need is a piece of paper, a pencil, and 30 minutes!



You can see more about Christine and her work at

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Hope to see you in there! :D

Meet Your Teacher

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Christine Nishiyama

Artist at Might Could Studios

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Hallo! I'm Christine Nishiyama, artist + founder of Might Could Studios.

I make books and comics, and I draw a whoooole lot. I've taught over 70,000 aspiring and established artists, helping them explore their art, gain more confidence, and discover their unique artistic styles.

I've been drawing as my full-time career for over 7 years. My core belief is that art is good and we should all make more of it. Might Could is here to uplift and challenge artists in the exploration and evolution of our unique artistic styles and voices.


 Join #mightcoulddrawtoday, my free weekly drawing challenge for a creative kick in tha booty!

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1. Class Trailer: Welcome to the next session of Art School Boot Camp. I'm Christine Fleming an illustrator at Might Could Studios. In this series, I'm going to take you through the fundamental concepts learn art and design school; from composition to color, to gestures and more. This 25 minute session of Boot Camp focuses on gesture. Gesture drawing is a technique of quickly drawing poses. This exercise forces you to focus on movement and action as opposed to anatomy and rendering. This is the best way to inject life into your drawings. This class is broken up into two parts: learning and drawing. In the learning section, I'll introduce the three most important concepts to keep in mind when drying poses and actions; including forgetting the anatomy, line of action, and drawing straights and curves. Then I'll take you step-by-step how to make a quick gesture drawing from a photo reference. Then you'll put that knowledge to work in the drawing section, where we'll be completing speed drawing exercises together. Here's how it works. A photograph of a life pose will appear on your screen, and you'll have 15 seconds to quickly sketch out the gesture drawing using the techniques from the class. You can choose to complete the core project, or you can also go for the bonus challenge. This styles, speed drawing is a great way to loosen up and get comfortable drawing gestures and actions. By the end of this class, you have a whole new skill set for how to inject life into your drawings. There's no prior knowledge necessary for this class. All you need is a piece of paper, a pencil and, 25 minutes. Let's get started. 2. Project Assignment: The project assignment for this class is to draw a series of gestures while you watch these videos. You can choose to complete the Core Project and drag 10 gestures or if you're feeling up for it, you can go all out for the Bonus Challenge and dry a series of gestures with 10 action categories. There are two videos here titled speed drying, and these are rather project assignment will be completed. By the time you finish watching the class, you'll be all done. This assignment will help you explore how to draw a movement, action and liveliness and how the body communicates action. Whether you decide to complete the Core Project or the Bonus Challenge. You can upload your gesture drives to the project gallery by clicking on the start your project button on the community page. You can also check out the drawings I made during this class, admire your fellow students work and check out how they tackled drying gestures. I look at every project that's posted in all my classes and I'm always thrilled to see your work. Remember, the best way to learn is by doing it so, take a crack and join along with the videos. Now let's get started. 3. Gesture Inspiration: Gesture Inspiration. Before I get started, I wanted to share with you some gesture inspiration from other illustrators. Gesture drawing is a form of sketching. This will help you see how the technique can be used to improve your final artwork, and not just sketches. Here are a few examples from some of my favorite illustrators. 4. Forget Anatomy!: Forget anatomy. There's a wonderful book on drawing called Drawn to Life, 20 golden years of Disney masterclasses, Volume One, The Walt Stanchfield Lectures. Stanchfield was an animator at Walt Disney Studios and work done films including The Jungle Book and The Aristocrats. He led an animator training class series at Disney Studios, where he taught our current animator celebrities like Brad Bird and John Lasseter. Years after these classes, his lecture notes were published as a book, and they are a goldmine of drawing tips about drawing gesture and action. I'm going to outline some of my favorite tips here from this video, but I highly recommend reading the book if you're looking for some extra tips on drawing. Let's dive in. My favorite and most helpful tip from Stanchfield is something he states over and over in the book; Draw a gesture, not Anatomy. He says this in many different ways. Draw the whole pose, not body parts. Draw verbs, meaning actions, not nouns, and draw ideas, not things. Basically, when you're sketching an action, you want to focus on the overall concept and not on how to draw her fingers and shoes. You want to keep your drawing simple at this stage and get down the overall pose and action before diving into all the fun details. If the basis of your drawing isn't successful, all the amazing and unique details in the world will never be able to save it. Focusing on the gesture and action helps bring vitality in life into your drawing. Think of it this way, you are drawing a t-shirt, lifting a heavy object. You're drawing a girl lifting a heavy object who happens to be wearing a t-shirt. In the beginning stages of drawing, try to focus on drawing the energy of the action happening rather than the individual body parts or details attached to the body. 5. Line of Action: Line of action. The line of action is possibly the most important element in bringing movement and life into your figures. It's an imaginary line that extends through the action of your character. It's the flow of movement through your character. When drawing gestures, you want to draw this line and then draw the rest of your figure in a way that emphasizes that line, hence emphasizing the movement. So why bother with the line of action? Every figure drawing has a line of action, even when a character is standing motionless. By focusing on this line and making sure you begin with a dynamic and curved line of action, you can avoid a boring, stationary and lifeless pose. A curved line of action gives your figure life, action, movement, and personality. So before you do anything in a gesture drawing, you want to first draw the line of action. Remember that gesture drawing is quick and simple. So don't worry if your first few in any set are weird. Just keep drawing different lines of actions until you hit something that feels right. Another tip is that even if your character is standing still and the arms and legs aren't doing anything, you can still utilize the line of action in their torso. 6. Straights and Curves: Straights and curves. If you look at a photograph of an actual person, you'll see there are very little or maybe even no straight lines in the human body. Drawing a figure with straight lines for the arms, legs or any body part, feels stiff, lifeless and stationary. Instead, if you draw those lines as almost straight, your figure will look much more lifelike. Another tip is to not only slightly curve your lines, but to also change up the direction of your curves. This is seen most often in arms, like in this example. I just told you to never draw any straight lines in your figures, but I was lying. I was trying to make a point and now that you get it, we can add some straight lines back into our drawings. The best way to use straight lines is to pair them with curved lines. Straight lines are often seen up against bones in the figure, while curved lines will often be seen against the softer, fattier areas of a figure. Contrasting straight and curved lines adds interest, volume and contrast. 7. Drawing Gestures from References: Drawing gestures from references. Let's go over the steps to drawing gestures from photo references. This is exactly what you'll be doing in the upcoming speed drawing videos. So let's get ready. The first step is to find and draw the line of action. This will take some practice, but that's exactly the purpose of these speed drawings. At first, you'll just be guessing, trying to estimate the shape and curve of the line of action in each gesture. But the more you practice, the better you'll get, and it'll start to come more naturally. If you're having some trouble getting it right, a good exercise is to print out some photos and draw the line of action directly on the photo. This makes it much more clear if you've nailed it or not. Once you've gotten the line of action you're happy with, the next step is to focus on the gesture of parts. You should start out by finding the shoulders and hips and determining what angles they are in. This too will take some practice, and you can use the same exercise as before, drawing on top of photos, to get a good idea of how the shoulders and hips move together. Step 3 is to draw the arms and legs. The arms and legs will come directly out of the ends of your lines for shoulders and hips. Remember not to worry about anatomy and actual body parts here. We're still just drawing lines for now and focusing on the movement. So keep your lines loose and don't draw muscles. Step 4, fill out the figure. The extent this step is taking depends on how much time you're spending on your gesture drawings. By definition, gesture drawings are fast. If you're drawing the same figure longer than a minute, it's really not a gesture drawing anymore. You really just want to get down the head and torso to give the figure some volume. If you feel so inclined, you can add a little bit of volume in the arms and legs, but it's not really necessary. As you get more comfortable with gesture drawing and your ability to find the line of action and gesture parts is more accurate, you can step away from these basic steps a bit and start out drawing more volume-based gestures. But while you're starting out, this process is a good place to start. No matter what, starting your figure drawing with the line of action is a great idea. When you start out gesture drawing, you're probably going to be a little hesitant and your drawings will be a tad stiff, and that's totally normal. But as you keep drawing more and more gestures, try to push them really hard. Push the curve of your line of action deeper. Push the confidence. Twist your line of action. Push it until you've gone way beyond normal. You can always scale it back whenever you need to. 8. Speed Drawing: Core Project: Speed drawing core project. Now let's dive into the project assignment. This video is the core project where we'll be drawing 10 gesture drawings together using the process we just talked about. First, before you continue on with this video, make sure you have a pencil and a blank sheet of paper to draw on. After this slide, the speed drawing will begin. Here's how it works. A photograph of a life pose will appear on your screen and you'll have 15 seconds to quickly sketch out a gesture drawing using the techniques from this class. I'll be drawing the gesture drawings right along with you. At the end of the 15 seconds, you'll see what I came up with and then we'll move on to the next post. So are you ready? Let's start. Awesome job. Now go celebrate with some cookies. 9. Speed Drawing: Bonus Project: Speed Drawing Bonus Project. Great work with the Core Project. Now let's keep our momentum going and jump right into the bonus project. This video will work the same as the last, except instead of a photograph appearing on your screen, a category of action like jumping will appear on your screen. You'll then have 15 seconds to sketch out as many gestures and that action category as possible. Got it, ready, go, walking, running, skipping, sneaking around tiptoeing, practicing yoga. Enough for the basics, let's get real specific. Kicking a soccer ball, pointing angrily, ballet dancing, throwing a baseball, and finally, breakdancing. Fantastic work, now, go celebrate with the whole fries and pizza. 10. Wrapping Up: Thanks so much for taking this class, and I hope you learned some helpful techniques for joining gestures. Whether you complete the core project or the bonus challenge, you can upload your gesture drawings to the project gallery by clicking on the start your project button on the community page. You can also check out your fellow students' work and see how they tackled drawing gestures. I look at every project that's posted in all my classes, and it's super inspiring to see all your work. I really hope that you completed the speed drawings, and if you didn't, please come back and give it a try. As always, I love to see what you come up with.