Gestural Figures


This exercise introduces gestural drawing as a way of quickly analyzing and representing form. The human figure is an ideal subject for gesture drawing: proportion, movement, weight, expression, and power all come into play. Gesture drawing uses time limits to encourage a rapid assessment of the most necessary elements of the model’s pose to represent the figure clearly and expressively. Time limits also force us to practice laying
pigment down efficiently and confidently. Like with blind contour line drawing and de-skilling, surprising elegance can be found in these rapid gesture drawings, which aim to represent the human body with the most minimal of marks.

Desired outcomes: accuracy, confidence, efficiency, intuition

Methods: de-skilling, emotive drawing


  • 3-9 sheets of 8.5×11 paper (or larger)
  • various drawing media, the messier the better. ink, conte, charcoal, willow charcoal, etc. are all great.
  • source images of nude figures (can be found at New Masters Academy on Youtube)


  1. using the included images and time limits, complete a series of 8 gesture drawings. as you’re drawing, consider proportion, movement, weight, expression, and power.
  2. drawings can be placed together on a page or on separate pages. feel free to switch media between drawings, and to combine media in the longer drawings.

reflection questions

  1. What application might gestural drawing have in your everyday design practice?
  2. How did your experience change with the different time limits?
  3. How did your chosen media affect the quality of your drawings?


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