Figure drawing can be daunting to attempt at times, and poses where the body is somehow twisted, bent or contracted can be the most difficult. One way to combat this, however, is by first making a gesture drawing -- one that simplifies the body's pose into a few central lines and shapes. While this may seem simplistic or elementary, gesture drawings can in fact be incredibly rich, sophisticated and beautiful, and can also serve as the framework or study for more detailed, polished works.
Drawing the Bending Figure
Observe the figure first. Note where she is holding her body weight. She may be supporting most of the weight with one leg or with both equally. Note the curve of the spine as the figure bends over and the length of the limbs.
Pick up your vine charcoal. Beginning with the weight-holding foot or feet, draw a single, curving line mapping the body's curve from the supporting heel to the crown of the head. This line may not encompass all of the other limbs, which is fine. It should trace the body's primary weight and slope in this pose. Check your work and adjust as needed.
Draw a single line with your vine charcoal that encompasses the curve and placement of the figure's torso and arms. If the figure is leaning over as if to touch his toes, this line might resemble a narrow, inverted horseshoe. Check your work and make adjustments as needed.
Draw the figure's head with your vine charcoal, avoiding extraneous detail and retaining the angle and primary shapes only. If you feel that you need to include the jut of the brow bone or chin, that is fine. Check your work, making adjustments as needed.
Draw the line of the figure's other leg with your vine charcoal if you have not already. Plot carefully the base of the heel and how the leg interacts with the main curve of the body. Check your work, adjusting as needed.
Trace your existing lines with your heavier, stick charcoal, using a darker line to give emphasis to certain parts of the figure. Remember to define the intersections of limbs and the acute angles of negative spaces formed by the body with darker applications of the stick charcoal. Use your eraser to get rid of smudges or mistakes.
Make a few different gesture drawings to capture the essence of the bent figure.