School of ART News

Where Critical Thinking Meets Creative Expression

The Importance of Gesture Drawing

by | Mar 31, 2017 | School of ART News

What is Gesture Drawing?! This is a question I get all too often from students, parents, and even some seasoned artists! Gesture drawing or life drawing is a useful tool artists use to sharpen their skills and greater understand the forms they will be regularly drawing, humans! School of Art calls clothed life drawing (not nude) Gesture Drawing. The big difference between gesture and life drawing is that gesture models are clothed to not only study human form but also clothing and fabric, while life drawing models are nude. Important skills to make drawings come to life consist of perspective, highlights and shadows, proportion, and anatomical structure. By regularly performing gesture drawings from live figures artists sharpen these skills and ultimately improve in their ability.

“The obvious reason to go to life drawing class is to improve your ability to draw people and to create beautiful pictures of human beings. You’ll certainly become better at drawing people, which is one of the images we as humans find most fascinating. The life drawings of the ‘old masters’ like Leonardo da Vinci have a timeless quality to them – they don’t look dated at all. While art goes through various trends, drawings of the human form will probably always capture our imaginations. However, it’s not only for the ability to draw people that you should consider life drawing.

You’ll also improve your general drawing skills. Your cartoon drawings will get better, your drawings from imagination will get better, your drawing of ogres fighting evil elves armed with samurai swords will get better, your landscape paintings will improve. Why does life drawing help with all forms of art?”

Life drawing is also a key component in filling student’s art portfolios. These portfolios can be used to apply to art school or studios or art industry positions. Students send in their portfolios to various schools or jobs as a step in being considered for a position. According to, Life drawings from a model are considered “observational art” and are among the first and most important component in a students portfolio.

“…what the studios first want to see are figure drawings from life. They don’t want to see caricatures, cartoons, or copies of the studio’s characters. They want traditional, classical figure drawing.” – Glenn Vilppu

Gesture Drawing is also important to artists already in their fields. Mr. Vinny learned early in his career the importance of practicing gesture drawing and was fortunate enough to work for a company, the Disney Company, that offered classes for free. Many students pursue positions associated with Disney and that may be in part due to express quality in their work.

“Since 1932, Disney has been the only entertainment studio to continue an unbroken tradition of offering free life drawing classes for its artists within its studios. The idea is that understanding and capturing the anatomy and sense of motion from a live model improves animated drawings and gestures.” -Susan Karlin

School of Art Chicago recognizes all these needs and benefits for life drawing from live models and offers gesture drawing classes so their students may gain hands on experience and start to fill their art portfolios.