Don’t have a life drawing studio near you? No problem.
As an artist, one of the most trying things to get a grasp upon is the human form. Where endless hours have been spent in capturing gesture drawings and “real-world” situations, I have found that there is still a bit to be gained from just studying the human form in an artistic pose. And where I would encourage anyone who is a serious artist to seek out a life drawing session at an art studio, such may not be realistic. For those who do not have access to such a studio, do not fret. You can still get life drawing practice through the use of 3D models. However, before you fire up your computer and start looking for a 3D model, here are a few things to consider.
Get an atomically correct model
There are a great deal of sites which are available on a number of sites. When you are looking for a model in which to practice your life drawing, it is crucial that you find a model that is proportionate and atomically correct. Where those which are not accustomed to an atomically correct may find that being presented with either male or female genitals, buttocks, and breast a bit unsettling, such is needed (not as a perverse application but as a means of understanding the muscles in how they correspond to each other). As live models would be presented in both clothed and nude models at most studios, it is advised that 3D models used for atomically studies be both clothed and nude.
Credit image: www.cgtrader.com. Copyright: Aiman Akhtar.
Choose a high poly model
When you look to find a 3d model, first ensure that the model is not skewed but proportionate. Secondly, the model needs to be high poly. High polygons ensure that the model has an ample amount of detail. The more detail, the more the polygons the model will have. If you find that a model has low detail but a high polygon count, check to see how the model was constructed. In many cases a low detail and high polygon model will be the results of a conversion from another program which was done improperly, or it will be the result of errors within the model. Both of these are not what you will want in your 3D model.
Get a rigged model
A rigged model means that the model can be moved around and posed. This will require that you have a 3D program for the model, but the results you will get in being able to pose your model is priceless. By being able to move your rigged character, you can stimulate the various gestures and poses which you would get in a studio setting.
Draw as though you were in a studio
When I draw from a 3D model, especially a human model, I treat my drawing session just as though I would treat a studio session. This means that I set my computer up in an area that can be easily seen from my canvas. In some situations, I wire the computer to my television to allow for a larger viewing area. After I have the set up completed, I allot a certain amount of time for gestures and warm-up. One way in which you can mimic the time constraints of gesture poses is to set up various poses within the timeline of your 3D program. For example if your playback is 29.95 frames per second, you can put a different pose every 300 frames for 10 second gestures.
Once you have the warm up and gesture drawing pose your character as needed. This can be either a preset gesture on the character, or you can create a custom pose. The good thing about the 3D model is that you can zoom in on the model to get details on a particular muscle group. Just ensure that you do not change the angle.
Studio or 3D model
It is always advised that you try to get a live model when you draw. Whether you are attempting to draw wildlife or the human form, real models are always preferred. Yet, when you cannot get a live model the 3D model is clearly the alternative over pictures and static references. Again, ensure that you have a model that realistically proportioned, is rigged, and one that does not fit into the “perfect” mold (as most people have a bit of a flaw here or there). If using 3D models, ensure that you purchase various ethnics, ages, sexes, and weights to help with the diversification of your skills. It is also advised that you try different mediums (such as charcoal or pastel) when sketching so that you can further focus on the anatomy and less upon the pencil, paint or pen.