I simplified this dialog to the drawings. This started off as a rant against the HUGE problem with every one of my anatomy students these days, the problem with drawing feet.
Somewhere out there is some misinformation, or alternative truths that seem to be popular to the newbie art student, but need to go missing forever please. I have created some pages of useful information that need to be put out there into the system. But first, let’s start off with some wonderful drawings from the Russian Academy. Who can resist the amazing studies from that school. So much character, so much charm.
Anyway, my diagrams are nothing in comparison to these beautiful drawings. But diagrams are not meant to be beautiful drawings. They are meant to help you learn and clarity is important. So I do apologize if the drawings are not totally clear. And if they are not, please help me by mentioning that in the comments.
These are more excerpts from my soon to be figure drawing book, but since that is taking as long as it is to complete I am putting these notes out there now. I also realize I have a lot of them so I am only going to post so many. If there is something that feels like it is lacking, the book will have taken care of that.
Here is what I am seeing quite a bit of lately, both the drawings and the bone structure. I have no idea where this is coming from, but the land of drunk socks and bigfoot must be steered clear of during your training. Go back to it if you must stylize your feet, but, these are not good quality representations of real feet.
There is also a trend of missing heels. Someone has gone around and removed the heel from the foot design and replaced it with a “Weeble Wobble” style foot design. I guess the world isn’t already dangerous enough as it is, let alone giving us unstable feet.
There is also this interesting trend of giving everyone bow legged qualities. Shin bones are straight with curved accents. They are not curved. Sorry.
A descent starting point for the foot is the door wedge. It helps check the perspective of the leg and assures that the feet are grounded to whatever surface they might be attached to. This wedge is the ideal shape for the 3 points of the foot, ankles, toes, and heel.
The foot is a shock absorber for the body, it makes sense that the ankles, and the leg are positioned over the arch of the foot to take that impact, from walking to running and jumping. Thank the feet for that arch, that we need to put the leg over and not behind.
The ankle bones are the tibia and the fibula together, and combined they form a wrench like structure that holds the foot bones in place as the pivot point for the foot rotation. The bones are side by side medially and laterally, not in front and behind. And each leg mirrors each other, they are not the same orientation to each other.
Here in profile view the door wedge is broken down into two shapes to help support the design of the foot when the toes are bent. The toe wedge is removed from the front of the bigger foot wedge and is rotated to its new orientation. This now becomes the new position for the toe details.
Here are the simple door wedges converted to planar structures to help design in the change of surface from one bone set to the next, over muscles and the orientation of the toes and their segments.
And while talking toes, here are the planar stair steps both in primitive form as well as fleshed out a bit more with the big toe and the second toe. In addition, because our toes are smooshed together in shoes a lot, and because our feet our well designed, the toes fit together nicely, but are over exploited into ugly distortions of the design because our shoes mold our feet to the constraints of their size and build. But, our toes are all uniquely shaped to fit together and the diagram on the left shows how they fit together.
And here are the folds in the bottom of the foot common with all of us but not the same length and exact orientation between any of us. Note that the big toe actually has 3 fat pads in it within its wedge like shape.
Add character to the body of the foot. There is a lot going on in that space, but the foot won’t often times show it, especially in photo reference. I used hatch lines here to explain direction of some of the sub planes (anatomically rooted). These would be represented in half tones being that these feet were directly lit.
These last few pages are for those of you who do not know anything about perspective and are surprised when you find out that the body is loaded with it…because all forms are in perspective. I do not understand how students think that they can avoid perspective by just figure drawing. LOL…I mean that with kindness.
I know they are not pretty, but I hope they help. Now, please share these with all beginning students you know and hope to make careers with their art skills and to those who think they understand feet but we have had a hard time explaining to them that maybe they should practice them more often. Or do what I do and hide everyone in mist so you can avoid feet, lower legs, upper legs, pelvises, and more thanks to that wonderful fog stuff. Any time you have a hard time with something and you to meet that deadline, just fog it up a little. Gonna duck into that fog now and get back to the work load. Comments, please leave em, until next time, creative success to you and happy arting.
Ron Lemen is an illustrator/painter, educator, and designer.
Ron's career first took off in the Action Sports Industry working as a board graphic illustrator, layout artist, logo and product designer. From there he turned to sequential story telling as well as doing book covers, interior illustrations and the newly emerging market of concept design. During this time he went back to train, found and graduated from the Atelier System. He was also mentored by Sebastian Capella, Spanish portrait virtuoso.
Ron has been a concept designer and art director in the video game and film industry for 15 years with dozens of clients including Harmony Gold, Amazon, Sony, Activision, Ubi Soft, Mattel and more. Now freelancing full-time, his clients include Upper Deck, Dragon lance, White Wolf, Time Warner, Wizards of the Coast, Image Comics, Birdhouse Projects, Ride Snowboards, Disney, and more.
In addition to illustrating and Portrait Painting, Ron has been an art instructor for nearly 25 years, teaching for X-Train, LAAFA, CGMA, Gnomon, Studio 2nd Street, Park Blvd Studios, Sony, The Art Department, and Rev Art Academy.
These notes are so cool! You explain the form and the function which most books don't touch on. Thank you. Looking forward to your book!
Excellent post Ron! Now my characters feet can finally see the light of day.
“Or do what I do and hide everyone in mist so you can avoid feet, lower legs, upper legs, pelvises, and more thanks to that wonderful fog stuff.”
Or… Rob Liefeld?
When does this book come out? I need it in my life. I learned so much this morning on my way to work from your post!
Lol, I love this article. Those weird foot shapes at the beginning… Thanks for posting and for inadvertantly reminding me I need to get back to figure studies 🙂
This was super helpful! The T perspective “clicked” really well for me. Now I'm just curious how you could use the T's for hands, but I suppose I just need to keep an eye open for your book!
THIS! Thank you for this post. You've shown examples as to exactly why I'm studying anatomy.
I like how methodical/didactic your approch to any subject is. You are a great artist and a great teacher!
Man I love your articles! Always a pleasure!
Very useful article, thanks.
“Feet are the same length as your forearm” is how I remember not to make feet too small (learnt from my mother as a quick test as to whether socks would fit)
It was a very nicely written article. I like to read it. It was totally informative and topic you covered here, I am totally agreed with you. I must say that I have learned so many things from it.
Thank you for sharing this article. Keep writing. Thank you so much.