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Figure Drawing This Week

I've been figure drawing regularly since 1989. That's NOT including the four years of figure drawing in art school from 1983-1987. I think figure drawing is the cornerstone of good draftsmanship and design, and so I make an effort to attend figure drawing classes on a weekly basis. When I was in Utah, I also taught figure drawing, as well as participated in an open drawing lab.

Fortunately, Sony Pictures provides a drawing workshop with instructor Karl Gnass. Although I like his teaching, the poses are a little too short for me. Most of the time the model's poses range from three minutes, to five minutes. Which means it's very difficult to have any time to render shadows, volumes, and design shadow shapes. Rather than simply limit myself to doing line drawings with generalized volumes, I'm still trying to do what I normally do in a 20 minute sketch in only five or eight minutes.

On this particular image, the figure was drawn in eight minutes on tracing paper and China Marker.


the clownninja said...

beautiful drawing. i really enjoy your work.

Mark McDonnell said...

Very Beautiful Marcelo. Great design with value on the anatomy of the upper torso. It must hurt to oooooze that much talent.

As always,


A. Riabovitchev said...


Cedric said...

Very impressive! You do a lot of great tone in a very short amount of time. It inspires me to get out there and do more life drawing.

UrbanBarbarian said...

Love the shading on her leg... Great job. A friend of mine just got hired on Boondocks, I wonder if that class is open to him as well?

Drawn From Life said...

Really nice Work!!!

Henry Elmo Bawden said...

Nice Marcelo,

Even short, it is a beautifull drawing. You have really learned how to capture the essence of a person. It isn't just lines. It feels alive. Great job. I usually hate those straight standing back drawings because I always just have vertical lines on the model (usually bad lighting, and a really skinny model) But with the slightly weightier model and nice lighting it looks really good. Great work.


Ana said...

I love your work.

Do you mind if I link you on my blog? [I'd like to come back.]


Cooked Art said...

I really like your figure work!

I'd love, love, love to see more.

Marcelo Vignali said...


Please, you don't have to ask. You are more than welcome to put my link on your blog. I appreciate your interest, and hope to hear from you soon.

Marcelo Vignali said...

Cooked Art,
Thanks for your interest in my figure work. I haven't posted too much, for fear it might put some people off.

Figure drawing is an interesting dilema of sorts. There are two types of artists that draw the figure. One type draws by copying what they a sense, rendering like a camera. And, then there are those that draw what they understand and design the shapes. I would like to think of myself as the latter of the two types.

When I post some more figure work I'll describe the differences between the two a little more.

Hans said...

Hey Marcelo,

Looks great! Wish we had a setup like that here. I really need to do some more life drawing.
As I'm putting together my portfolio, I'm unsertain whether I should add a little Character Design section in the back to show variaty, or if I should keep it strictly as a Visual Development portfolio? Your opinion would be highly appreciated:)
How long have you been with SONY by the way? Did you also work on "Open Season"?

Take care and have a nice day,


Hans said...

Hey, and thanks a lot for the link on your blog, it's an honor:)


Marcelo Vignali said...

Yep, I started out doing Vis Dev for Sony's Open Season when I first moved back to California three and a half years ago. After that project moved into production, I started doing Vis Dev for Surf's Up. It was then I was asked to be one of the two art directors for Surf's Up, and have followed that project until the present time.

If you are trying to get a job doing Vis Dev or Layout, you need prove you have good draftsmanship skills. This means you should show characters and backgrounds, versatility, and a great imagination in your portfolio.

More specifically, your portfolio needs to reflect the type of work you want to do. Personally, because I do both characters and backgrounds, I include both in my portfolio. However, if you are good at Color, you need to include that into your Vis Dev portfolio.

As a note, I don't include those things that I'm not stellar vehicle designs, wacky characters, the Star Wars look, animation, or color. There are people that specialize in those disciplines, and if I put that in my portfolio I'm telling my employer that I don't see my own limitations.

(As you can see from my work, color is not a problem for me, but I know there are those that specialize in that field. Hence I’m willing to acquiesce that I am not that good.)

If I were you, I would add life drawing of figures and animals, but only at the end of the portfolio. This is sort of an academic way to telling your employers that you study your craft. I wouldn't add too much, but rather a couple pages of each should be enough.

Also, putting in some on-the-spot sketchbook sketches that you've done of architecture, boats, and cars is also good. This shows potential employers that you know how to draw the real thing because you've studied the real thing.

Jontxu said...

this kind of works have a lot of organic draw, i like it.

martin wittig said...

Marcelo, This is great! It's so nice to see some of your figurative work! Excellent as always!

Hans said...

Thanks Marcelo,

Can't express how much I appreciate the time you take to help out:)

I'm taking your advice and am planning a trip to the zoo this coming weekend, so I can do some sketching. Haven't done that for awhile, so I'm really looking forward to it.
I wanna work some more on my characters as well and am thinking I should probably try to incorporate more characters into my BG's.

I'm really looking forward to "Open Season". I like the look of it, almost like traditional 2d. I've been talking a bit with David Colman, whom I believe you were mentoring when he was at sony working on "Open Season", very cool guy.

I've been doing vis dev for a series of direct to DVD CG films the past two years, but would like to ask you, if you feel like there's a difference between working on traditional and CG films?

Thanks again and have a great day:)


Marcelo Vignali said...


It's my pleasure to help out when I can.

Yes, 2D and CG is very diifferent in many regards. As proof, not everyone that worked in 2D has been able to make the transition into the 3D world.

For visual development, the change hasn't been as drastic as it has in other areas of animation, but it has changed. As someone currently working on a CG production, the needs are very different. When I do my designs, I have to understand how the sit in a 3D space, and how to explain how they sit in a 3D space.

Having come from a themepark background, I think it's very similar to that. Designs have to be thought of in 3D, they have occupy a space, and you put the details in the places where close-ups will take place.

The biggest difference is in overall location design. If an artist creates a beautifully rendered store design in a main illustration, then the CG modelers will know where to put the elements. However, if the props aren't on style or poorly crafted, then it will not look like the main illustration.

In some cases, it's better to do a rough layout of the overall location, mood and lighting, but focus on the individual prop elements, walls and architecture.

Antonio Santamaria said...

Great sketch! I love your way to use the graphite or... well...the pencils!!! In this case, pretty good lighting!!!!

Matt J said...

Solid drawing Marcelo - with just 5 mins you've got it all down. Interesting feedback in the comments too. Look forward to seeing more of your life studies.

Lee-Roy said...

A while back I asked you about these sessions at Sony and if they were open to the public, but I didn't realize then that they were being taught by Karl Gnass. I've been taking his classes at the Guild in NoHo since the start of the year. I definitely try to be of the latter camp that you mention, but it can be a serious challenge. What are we without that challenge, though, right? After 13 years of figure drawing, myself (that's counting the college edjamacation), it's wonderful to have new challenges and learn new ways to see and think about drawing the figure.

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