Figure drawing is done best when you’re fully immersed in capturing your subject. A good way to stay present for the full length of your drawing session is to prepare your workspace ahead of time, and eliminate as many distractions as possible.
First, ensure you have the tools that are right for you. Some common figure drawing supplies include hard and soft charcoal sticks; graphite and charcoal pencils; kneaded erasers; and low-cost non archival paper, such as newsprint. As you do more figure drawing, take notice of which materials you use most. If you’re constantly running through sticks of soft charcoal and pausing the session to replenish them, avoid breaking your concentration by making sure you have plenty of charcoal sticks at your workspace before you begin.
If you have an easel, adjust it to a comfortable height and position so your arm and shoulder won’t tire during the session. If you’re sitting on a small bench made for drawing known as a “horse,” make sure to have your drawing board fitted into one of the surface’s grooves, instead of holding it on your lap. This will help keep you from hunching over, which could lead to back and neck strain.
Grimaldi advises that you hold your pencil (or another drawing tool) at the opposite end of the tip, which will loosen your grip, help your posture, and prevent arm and shoulder tension. In addition, your paper or canvas should be angled slightly away from the model, so that your easel does not interrupt your view of them.
One of the most important steps in setting up your workspace is checking in with your model. Holding one pose for an extended period of time can be a feat of endurance. A kind artist will make sure that their model’s position is dynamic enough to draw, while still being comfortable for the model to hold. Lastly, be sure to agree on the duration of the pose, and set a timer so you both are aware of the length of the session.