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Image showing illustrations from each of the FORCE Drawing fundamentals - Basics, Form and Shape, and the book cover:

How to Improve your Drawing Skills with FORCE

Posted on: July 28, 2020

‘Learning to draw is the first and most important step to becoming a skilled artist’ says Michael Mattesi, creator of the FORCE Drawing method. Having developed a method that can change how you approach art, Mattesi has taught FORCE Drawing to thousands of artists at the top entertainment companies in the world and to individual artists at home.

In this article the authors' describe their different journeys into FORCE Drawing with examples of its three fundamentals - Basics, Form and Shapes, and snapshot video tutorials for each.

What is FORCE Drawing?

FORCE Drawing is a unique approach that teaches you to understand what you are looking at and how to better see it, leading you to drawing from reference and from your imagination with great skill and comprehension.

Mattesi has a series of books and online resources available to aid his FORCE pupils. The latest title, The FORCE Companion , is by Swendly Benilia who shares simple and tangible tips and tricks to understanding and drawing FORCE across hundreds of drawings. They show how and why the FORCE drawings are successful. In showing this, it increases the artists ability of achieving the same level of excellence.

How Mattesi came to develop FORCE Drawing

“FORCE drawing developed from my mentors in school, my time at Walt Disney Animation and then years teaching students while performing many experiments to see how to define a system that was inspirational and understandable. Ironically, the first book that I self-published came from my conviction to stop teaching.  I was burned out and wanted to share with others what I had created as a new way to see, think, and draw the figure.  Now, almost thirty years later, after many years of working in different genres of the entertainment industry, mostly as an art director, I now teach full time once more...and I love it!” Mike Mattesi

What attracted co-author Swendly to FORCE Drawing above other artistic styles?

“FORCE Drawing attracted me for three main reasons.

First, I grew increasingly frustrated with not being able to easily pose my characters from imagination. I did tons of gesture drawings like I was told to, but it still was a big struggle when I had to invent functional poses. This was even more frustrating when I had to design characters for clients. I lost a lot of time trying to correct dysfunctional poses. At some point I had enough of it and went on a journey to master gesture drawing, and the FORCE method gave me the understanding I needed.

Second, I reached a point where I saw the energy and effort that the figure drawing models put into their poses but couldn’t manage to capture that in my drawings using the methods I learned up to that point. Imagine my satisfaction when I came across a drawing method that focused on capturing the figure’s energy!

Third, coming from an industrial design education, I was very good with drawing form. However, drawing with shapes was still a mystery to me. And I was aware that I needed this skill to become a better designer. FORCE Drawing was the first method I came across that seamlessly combined form and shape while still maintaining the figure’s fluidity.” Swendly Benilia

Why FORCE drawing applies beyond animation

“A portion of FORCE drawing was inspired by animation, yet the concepts found in the approach can be used by any artist. It helps artists understand something we cannot ignore, gravity, and how our bodies are defined by this FORCE.  If you ignore gravity, you ignore the fundamental FORCE that defines much of the functional design in the world. Since this is the case, artists in any field can use FORCE!  I teach students that are beginners to the most prolific professionals as well. Any artists can improve their visual and cognitive skills with FORCE Drawing and thus will empower them to create more FORCEful, dynamic drawings.  This is now accomplished with the FORCE library of books and DrawingFORCE.com, where students can find online drawing tutorials.” Mike Mattesi

What the latest publication The FORCE Companion: Quick Tips and Tricks offers its reader

“Our students keep telling us how valuable it is for them to see how we use what we teach in our own work. This book is part of our effort to satisfy that need. The FORCE Companion Book delves deeper into the material taught in the 10th Anniversary FORCE Book and does so with over 200 examples on how to apply the different aspects of FORCE Drawing.” Swendly Benilia

Below are some examples of the tricks Swendly shares:

The fundamentals: Basics, Form and Shapes in FORCE Drawing

Force Basics:  

Gif showing 3 examples of Force Basics from the book The FORCE Companion Quick Tips and Tricks

1) This figure’s arms are under an insane amount of tension to hold his whole body in position. Look at all the Applied Forces.
2) When you do motion studies, pay special attention to the Leading Edge in each frame of action.
3) FORCE is about function. The primary function we look for in the figure is balance relative to Gravity. The position of the model’s right leg is very important to support the weight of his bending torso. If he removes that leg from underneath his torso, he will lose balance and fall.

Force Form:

Gif showing 3 examples of Force Form from the book The FORCE Companion Quick Tips and Tricks

1) The first step to draw Form is to learn the basics of Perspective. Look at the image showing boxes in One, Two, Three, and Four Point Perspective.
2) FORCE Surface Lines help me show the Forms and direction of movement of this body builder’s arm.
3) This martial artist’s leaning action has a clear Leading Edge. The FORCE Surface Lines on his upper torso help accentuate the direction of movement.

Force Shapes:

Gif showing 3 examples of Force Shape from the book The FORCE Companion Quick Tips and Tricks

1) The first row shows examples of symmetrical or UnFORCEful Shapes. Avoid these in your drawings. The second row shows asymmetrical or FORCEful Shapes. These give your drawing a sense of energy and movement.
2) I look at the Negative Shapes for placement and to create a clear Silhouette while I draw this martial artist.
3) Observe how I fill the FORCE Shapes of the lower arm and palm with Form by drawing their Turning Edges.

How to apply your FORCE Drawing skills in the real world

From drawing human anatomy to animal locomotion and design concepts , having developed their skills, artists of the FORCE drawing approach move on to many different careers in the arts. Whether you are an illustrator, animator, comic book artist, or student, you'll learn to apply the FORCE fundamentals to bring out the life in any subject. Meanwhile some enrol simply to improve their drawing skills as their personal hobby.

Full of dynamism and energy, this book is an expellant companion to the FORCE brand since it delivers hundreds of FORCE drawings with succinct notations about how to improve your FORCE drawing skills. Watch the book trailer here: