What is it and why do I need it?

You've probably heard of gesturing, but here's a quick refresher. Gesturing is the process of quickly trying to capture an entire composition/figure with simple geometric shapes and lines, making a large number of mistakes while doing so.

Gesturing is the process of making many many decisions really quickly. Make a mark. Its a mistake, who cares? Keep making marks. Start from general (the pony is at this angle) and go to specific (circle head, oval body, lines for limbs) At any point during this, when you notice glaring errors, erase, re-mark a more correct line, or dont, but move on.

  1. The first task of gesturing is to get down whatever the composition is, however crappily, as quickly as you can. Look between the drawing and the reference back and forth and back and forth. Draw ovals and lines. Work with BIG shapes the whole time. Hair goes in this rectangle and the eyes are somewhere over near this eyelike shape. This is phase one of gesturing. Edit: this is also where you make your underskeleton eventually. A few circles, some ovals, a line or two. You're just feeling out the placement and pose.
  2. Phase two is refinement. Just a friendly reminder that this is still done quickly. Now you can move on to slightly more specific shapes. Use your reference. This is also a big time for correcting giant errors. you do this by taking a step back and looking at the composition as a whole for a few seconds. What stands out? What doesn't look right? You may have to erase the whole head, hair and eyes multiple times to get them in the right size/position/angle. But that's ok, because you've drawn it once before, you can draw it again. Faster and better each time.
  3. Phase three is detailsish. This is where you go slowly, right? Nope... still fast (wtf?). Irisis, eyelashes, getting more specific with the lines. Never, at any point think that you can't erase something that looks wrong. Erase that leg that isn't attached right, bring down the eye so that its even with the other, correct the whole pose a little bit.

These phases intermingle a lot. Work around, play with it, but never forget that you're working on the whole piece, not just an eye but the eye for now and a hoof in a little bit.

So why do this? What does it do for you and for the process?

First of all, going quickly like this helps mitigate fear, hesitation and overthinking that happens a lot in art making. You learn to make a series of decisions very quickly, while at the same time acknowledging that all of the previous decisions made were wrong. They just set a foundation for the future.

It avoids the part to part and thinking of finish this part first, then the next and the next which is the surest way to set in stone the mistakes you will make. Everyone makes mistakes. That's the point of gesture, is that mistakes are a huge (and fun) part of the process.

The whole process is built so that you don't get stuck on one part or another. Don't know what to do? F*** it, throw something down and move on to a different part.

Now, a lot of people think that the gesture process is just for the initial sketch, but that's not quite true. It can be a nice underlayer for shadows as well. The fact that a bunch of messy marks gives you an idea of what you're going to get with shadows is just awesome and that's all there is to it.

Feel free to post questions, concerns, clarifications, corrections, comments or anything that crosses your mind here.

Oh, and to all those stalkerponies out there... Pull up a chair. Join us!