Saturday, March 16, 2019

Victor Perard's analysis of the figure

Victor Semon Pérard (1870-1957) was a Golden-Age American illustrator who trained at the École des Beaux Arts with Jean Léon Gérôme, and later at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League.

He also wrote many art-instruction books in the early 20th century. Pérard's book Anatomy and Drawing presents a sequence of steps for drawing a figure.


"1. Find the center of the paper by drawing lines from corner to corner. This is done to help center the study.
2. Measure with the eye or pencil to find the center of the subject and make a line at that point as related to the center of the paper. Draw a line at the head and another at the feet. With free lines, search for the rhythm of the pose, to help visualize the figure and to place it on the paper the size intended. Draw lightly so that the mental impression of the figure is not obliterated by a heavy drawing, and corrections can easily be made.
3. Decide where the pit of the neck should be placed, and draw a perpendicular line from the seventh cervical vertebra to the feet. Find the line of the shoulders, giving the angle of their positions. If a standing figure, first draw the leg on which there is most weight, to obtain the proper balance of the figure."

"4. Give the line showing the angle of the position of the pelvis. Indicate a line through the kneecaps. Draw the torso, indicating its bulk, marking the width of the shoulders, hops, neck, and head. Block with straight lines going beyond the intersections to obtain a better idea of the direction of the line and to avoid a cramped feeling.
5. Sketch within the lines a simplified skeleton, to check up on position of joints and bulk of chest. See that the pit of the neck, the pubic bone, the navel, the pelvis, the kneecaps, and the inner ankles are in proper relation to each other. Compare relative sizes of head to bulk of torso, hands to face, feet to hands, arms to legs, and thickness of the neck to that of the head, leg, and arm.
6. Go over the outline, perfecting it, searching for character and for grace of line."


"7. Indicate the outline of the planes and of the principal shadows.
8. Fill in the planes in large surfaces, and connect the shadows as much as possible.
9. Without losing their mass, model the planes keeping well in mind the direction of light. In drawing the head, decide on the bulk and draw in the planes of the face, then the eyes, the mouth and the nose last. It is easier to fit a head on a figure, than to fit a figure to a head."
Pérard's book analyzes the figure in many different ways, including drawings that show the expressive contours of action poses.
Books by Victor Pérard
Anatomy and Drawing
How to Draw Nearly Everything

Pérard is profiled in Walt Reed's book The Illustrator in America

5 comments:

RozendaalAstrolabes said...

Impressive how he captured the essence of the pose with so few lines in those last two pictures

Susan Krzywicki said...

I had no idea that the spot where the two lines crossed would be the pubic area - somehow in my mind I would have thought it would be the belly button. Would it be the same for a male figure?

RozendaalAstrolabes said...

Susan, I think Loomis put the middle of the body around the top of the pelvic bone. Realistically I don't think it's any different for the male figure, mostly the widths of the shoulders and hips distinguish the male from female figure, not the lengths of the body parts, though I do think some artists (especially in stylized work) purposefully make women's legs longer

A Colonel of Truth said...

... and longer necks flatter women; a Sargent approach.

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