Sorry for disppearing on my own thread there folks. My computer went kaflooey. It's back and so am I.
To answer Justin's questions about how big the drawings are, I tend to draw models close to the size that I see them. This means that the drawing is the size it would be if I was tracing the image on a piece of glass through which I was viewing the model, plus maybe ten or twenty percent to give me some room to swing my arm. The closer I am to the model, the bigger the drawing. If I work much bigger than that I find that I have to conciously dope out proportions, rather than being able to rely on instinct. This approach comes straight from Robert Fawcett's "On the Art of Drawing," about which I've raved on this very board.
In practice this means that the drawings never get over 14 by 17, and often fit neatly onto 11 by 14 paper. I use a fairly hard charcoal pencil for most of the drawing. Sometimes I rough things in with whatever filth remains on the paper stumps that lurk around the bottom of my art bin. Often I'll go in at the end with some juicy vine charcoal or black conte to lay in the really dense areas of darkness.
My chief goals in life drawing are to keep my eyes fresh and open to what people actually look like. Sheer enjoyment plays a part too, as does my continuing aspiration to suck less tomorrow than I do today.
Skinshark- it isn't always clear, but Mark was indulging in bitter, bitter sarcasm with his photo advice. In purely practical terms, I'm sad to say, he might be right. When I go over someone's portfolio at a convention, I often split my advice between "what you should do to get better," and "what you should do to get a job."
Robert: At the Kubert school our life drawing teacher, Ben Ruiz (who had been a Burne Hogarth pupil sometime after WW2) taught us that the key to drawing the figure from imagination is memorizing a series of simple three-dimensional shapes. These shapes, which were quite precise, serve as a simple way to orient bony land marks in constructing a skeleton, to which you can then attach muscles, fatty tissues and skin. If you want a short cut, put down an action line or simple gesture drawing. Divide it into the rough proportions of your model sheet, then build the figure as a group of tubes and boxes going forward and backward in space. Once you have a decent mannequin constructed, the rest is just drapery. (Assuming you're working with clothed figures.) Given time, you will begin to find subtleties from your life drawing and studies of photos appearing in your constructions.
I know this is almost insultingly didactic, and I apologize for that, but there isn't much more to drawing from imagination, except for the part that requires fucking up a couple thousand times until you get the hang of it.
My web page: www.geocities.com/SoHo/Museum/8914/
Preview of WHITEOUT #1 at www.easystreet.com/~kodiak/Whiteout.html
WHITEOUT #4 now in stores. An on-going follow-up series is in the works.