Christopher Hart’s book, “Figure It Out!” is basically a beginners guide to drawing the human form. It’s not an advanced book of everything you ever wanted to know about drawing the human body, but it is a book that will get most artists comfortable drawing the human figure. He’s got his own techniques, and a few unique examples for demonstration, and the most important thing about this book is simplification.
Christopher Hart has built himself a virtual empire when it comes to How-To drawing books. If you search Amazon for his name, literally thirty or more titles will be returned, in the search. Go to any bookstore, and the drawing section will be dominated by his name. He has garnered a bit of criticism, however, due to the fact that his drawing instruction is geared more towards the comic artists, than those looking to represent realism. He’s also been criticized for not doing all of his own drawing. Many of his books are filled with the art of other artists. However, much of the art is superb. Hart himself is not a recognized comic book artist, and he will routinely employ artists that are. However, what he does well is he covers all of his bases.
For me in particular, the book, “Figure It Out!” took me from being very tentative with my drawing of the human form, to feeling like I could conquer just about any pose. His instruction begins with the head as a basic shape, and then moves on to the body. He states that the body is more or less all about nailing down the torso, and he gives a great analysis about how to layout the torso with a few main angles. He then goes on to demonstrate the process by showing human poses using only stick figures. Simplification is his key.
Remember when you were a kid, and you’d draw stick figures? Well, guess what? You were, apparently, right to do this. Hart demonstrates this by nailing down intricate stick figures of the human form. He shows that this is all that’s necessary to get the form down. One of the chapters, called “Body Dynamics,” is dedicated to drawing dozens and dozens of stick figures, and by the end, I felt like I had a handle on manipulating the human form. Each successive chapter goes into more detail on fluffing up the human form, as in adding the muscles and the clothing. The book finishes with some fairly unique poses, that demonstrate the human form in all sorts of angles, specifically showing things like foreshortening, and hiding appendages, and some other complex poses.
The book isn’t an end all be all book of drawing the human form. It’s a starting point to get the confidence for the hard stuff, and it was all I needed to help me get over the hump, and help me feel more comfortable about tackling what I had up until that point felt was the overly complex human form. After reading the book, there are still things that may be out of my reach, but I certainly don’t feel like I need to shy away from anything either. In fact, most poses, I can bang out fairly quickly.