Are you drawing with a correct body posture ?

Just like playing sports or the piano, when you’re drawing it’s essential to pay attention to the position of the body, especially the hands and fingers. Most people don’t realize it, but good posture allows you to draw faster, more precisely, and for longer periods of time.

You can always draw with bad posture, and maybe you can even do it well. But if you start out with good posture it will eventually become an automatic habit that you fall into without any extra thought or effort. Thanks to a solid basis (literally and figuratively), your skill level will rise more rapidly, and your drawings will be both more beautiful and more expressive.

Let’s compare good posture with the bad.


Good posture means:

  • Working for long hours with little fatigue.
  • Producing a balanced quality of drawing throughout the entire session.
  • Preserving your concentration.
  • Mastering your sketching.
  • Drawing faster.
  • Keeping your entire drawing and work space in view.

  • 1. A good posture is a stable posture – GOOD POSTURE

    Right-posture-straight

    Straighten your back, then lift your head up and lean it slightly forwards. This gives you a complete and clear view of the entirety of your work zone (which includes your paper and other materials like pencils and markers).


    2. Turn your paper, not your body!GOOD POSTURE

    Turn-paper-right-posture


    It’s not uncommon to turn a page 200 times in one session at the drawing table.

    When just starting out people tend to draw using the dominant hand’s wrist as their main axis of movement. In an effort to draw properly, beginners will keep their paper very straight and fixed on the table, perfectly lined up in front of themselves. Then, to sketch difficult curves, they attempt some pretty impressive contortions around the (still unmoving) paper. It’s a useless if valiant effort, as all the strange poses in the world don’t allow you to draw as freely and smoothly as simply angling the paper. It may seem like a simple solution, but sometimes simple works best.


    Try it yourself:

    Place the hand holding the paper steady at the top left corner of the paper. While the drawing hand holding the pencil moves, the drawing hand constantly and lightly brushes along the paper in order to steady itself*.


    Enhance the movement of your wrist by using your elbow and shoulder. For the really large strokes, your chest can come forward and back slightly as well.


    perroquet-trace-courbe* You will find more details and some practical exercises in the posts dedicated to drawing straight lines without a ruler and sketching curves without the aid of a French Curve (a drafting tool designed for tracing curves).


    Bad posture means:

  • Is bad for the neck, back, and wrists.
  • Invites fatigue.
  • Can cause shadows to fall on your work.
  • Hurts concentration and perseverance.
  • Causes skewed perspective.

  • 1. one arm “fencing off” the work zone – BAD POSTURE

     own-shadow-wrong-posture

    A leaning the body on the table with one arm “fencing off” the work zone. Sometimes we choose this position in an attempt to concentrate better. Instead, we end up with the opposite effect. The upper body has a limited range of motion, and thus all movements are limited. The arm that encircles the paper can also create an undesirable shadow over your work.



    Try it yourself:
     

    Open your arms to free the work surface and welcome the available light. Your brain will also become more open and creative. A bigger clear space will make your paper appear smaller. In turn, you will dare to draw bigger.


    2. One arm as a pillow – BAD POSTURE

    hand-on-head-wrong-posture

    Like the previous example, here’s another bad posture where the elbow rests on the table. Here, the head is propped on the non-dominant hand, which is thus rendered useless (except as a pillow). You cannot use it to turn your paper while you draw.


    3. putting the head down or snoozing on the table – BAD POSTURE

    lay-down-wrong-posture


    Due to fatigue, you’re lowering your head more and more, dooming your range of motion to become increasingly restricted. As this happens, your drawings get progressively smaller. You lose the correct angle from which to view your drawing and tend to slow yourself down by focusing too much on details. With your neck at an unnatural angle you’ll get a skewed vision of your drawing.



    Try it yourself:

    Slouch down and lean your head on a folded arm. Then, draw a circle. Sit up again and you’ll find that you’ve drawn a terribly wonky circle that looks like it might actually be a strange sort of ellipse.


    4. An untidy or overloaded desk? BAD POSTURE

    elbow-closed-wrong--posture


    In these situations, the elbows and the shoulders are sometimes held too close to the body.

    Wider, grander strokes are lost, and the drawings shrink as the body tenses.


    TIP:


    Keep only what’s strictly necessary at your work station. A drawing area is not for storing materials. If possible, plan a shelf for storing things like your pencils, markers, and books.


    5. The entire body is too relaxed – BAD POSTURE

    Back-curved-wrong-posture


    If you don’t pay attention you’ll risk falling into this position without even realizing it. The back bends, the head bows, the legs lose their supportive stance. After several hours of drawing, the body really just was to chill out and relax. However, the more you relax the more your effectiveness will be compromised. Once you really relax, it’s hard to get back into a good posture.


    TRY IT YOURSELF:

    If you know you’ll be working long hours, plan regular breaks and include some simple stretches. It will allow you to keep a constant and high potential of effectiveness. 


    This list doesn’t cover everything. The point is to illustrate the importance of good posture while drawing. Adopt it to begin with and posture will simply become a helpful part of your routine.


    Check your posture. If it’s not correct, try to straight up your back, experiment and let me know the change in the comments 🙂
    Feel free to download the Designer Starter Kit to know more good habits to take when you sketch !

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    About The Author

    Chou-Tac

    If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my career, I believe that they can also help you to learn, and help you with your projects. Whether Design is a job or a hobby it doesn’t matter, so long as you do what is important to you.

    13 Comments

    • Krishna

      Reply Reply December 22, 2016

      Hi mr.Chou,
      I am preparing for common entrance exam for design. I am passionate about industrial design, especially product design. Currently I follow your tips and book with the help of an art teacher. She tells me that I should not rotate the paper according to my convenience. So that I should also learn my difficult strokes. but when I refered different product design books, I found that I need to rotate the book according to my convenience whenever needed.Output only matters. I would like to have your valuable advice regarding it..
      Thanks .

      • Chou-Tac

        Reply Reply December 22, 2016

        Hello Krishna,

        First of all, any teacher who will give you advice want your best – and they are definitely valuable.

        I see what you mean when you struggle wondering what advice to follow and form who.
        To make up your mind, ask yourself what is the background of the teacher. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about good or not, but how different it is. Maybe your art teacher is referring to draw on Canvas ? So you can’t rotate it ?!

        I don’t know, but it maybe a beginning of an answer. What I mean is his technique may be relavant but for you the context may be different.

        In product design, we look for productivity. So we need to throw the lines fast and efficient. (Like you could draw napkin sketches in front of a client) The best way to do so is to rotate the paper so you can draw with a “natural” way of movement of your arm. We like to make things easier, faster and smoother.

        Hope it helps !
        Cheers,
        Chou-Tac

        PS: Feel free to try her way as well ! As if you use a Wacom Intuos Graphic tablet, you can’t rotate it. On this case, it’s relevant hehe. (I personally prefer Wacom Cintiq tablet though – They are screen tablet and they give similar sensation to paper that most of them can rotate)

        • Krishna

          Reply Reply December 27, 2016

          Hi Mr.Chou,
          Thanks a lot for your advice ,It means a lot. I found out that in our context,its better to rotate page.Although we can master the difficult strokes without rotating paper, It takes time for practice. But I am getting hang of the ghost drawing technique.
          I feel like kissing the paper with pen lightly.. much more fluidly .
          I currently use a wacom graphire tablet(ancient) which was donated by one of my seniors.I cannot afford cintiq right now.I am planning to buy an intous now.But once I get into design college, I dream to use the one in labs.
          January 2017 is a crucial month for me , I have the ceed exam.
          Keep posting these tips,sir. Keep motivating us. Wish you a happy new year!!

          Thanks,
          Krishna

          • Chou-Tac

            Reply Reply December 27, 2016

            Hello Krishna,

            You don’t have to get an Wacom Intuos tablet if you already have the Graphire one. I also started with the Graphire, and there is no much difference !
            Ok, the spec sheet will tell you there will be so much more pressure sensitivity, but I personally never really feel the difference as the Graphire is already so good.

            The only reason you could upgrade, is to get a bigger format (and sweet nib made of felt.) 🙂

            Cheers,
            Chou-Tac

            • Krishna

              December 27, 2016

              Hi Mr.Chou,

              Yeah, you are right,chou.I personally liked graphire than intuos because eventhough the active area is less I find it comfortable with graphire.I am basically a left handed, So I kind of use my right hand for mouse(zoom) and left for drawing. I used intous 3 (one of my juniors) recently, It comes with buttons but I mainly use my mouse to do that job.The felt tip nib is good, but I don’t mind drawing with graphire pen. I would like to share some of the drawing that I have drawn with graphire tablet.I mainly use illustrator, sketchbook and photoshop. I saw your latest post.It means a lot to me.

              Thanks
              Krishna

    • LR Krum

      Reply Reply July 1, 2015

      I used this for my students in art class and it helped a lot. High school students have very poor habits and introducing this has really improved their work.

    • nascco

      Reply Reply October 3, 2014

      Nice article.

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