|Michael Whynot. Leg study in red chalk, 2013.|
I began this post by preparing to upload a recent leg study without much in the way of commentary, but then I took a moment to consider the process of what I had drawn. Achieving a sense of dimensionality in the figure doesn't just happen; and it certainly won't happen by slavishly copying the external contours of the figure.
The eye of the viewer must be coaxed inside the form and away from the external contour. The way to do this is by not placing a hard outline around your forms, which is exactly what most beginning draftsmen struggle obsessively to copy from the model. Line quality and line weight are tied intrinsically to this aspect of good drawing.
Where to emphasize or not emphasize an external contour is an aesthetic decision that really defies rules, so study Michelangelo, Raphael, Da Vinci and Pontormo to understand how it should look when done well.
To persuade the viewer's eye to dwell within the contours, you must give it something to look at. The nearer forms must be modelled upon those forms which are farther away; in this way, depth is achieved.
Creating the appearance of dimensionality of a three dimensional form in space upon a two dimensional surface is not easy, but the sense of wonder it elicits is magical and well-worth our time and study.