This is a public version of the members-only Art with Justin Bua, at ArtistWorks. Functionality is limited, but CLICK HERE for full access if you’re ready to take your playing to the next level.

These lessons are available only to members of Art with Justin Bua.
Join Now

The Fundamentals of Drawing
Building Skills in Drawing
Advanced Drawing and Painting
Bua's Master Lessons
Business of Art
«Prev of Next»

Art Lessons: Foreshortening

Lesson Video Exchanges () Lesson Study Materials () This lesson calls for a video submission
Study Materials
information below
Lesson Specific Downloads
Play Along Tracks
Backing Tracks +
Written Materials +
Additional Materials +
resource information below Close
Collaborations for
resource information below Close
Submit a video for   

This video lesson is available only to members of
Art with Justin Bua.

Join Now

information below Close
Course Description

This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Art with Justin Bua. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Art Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

CLICK HERE for full access.
of the most common questions that I always
get is, How do you foreshorten?
How do you make that look right?
Because every time I foreshorten it looks
Well foreshortening is a combination of
three things in my opinion.
Overlap measuring and direction.
So foreshortening is overlap measuring and
So let's review really quick about what
those things are.
So, overlap as we know,
is when one form overlaps another form.
Measuring is when we hold up our pencil
with our arms straight
to get our verticals and our horizontals.
So it gives us a straight line to measure
the figure against.
And direction is, what direction is the
form moving?
Is it going this way, is it going that
way, is it going this way?
And sometimes we don't know, our brain
kind of tricks us and
we actually have to measure.
To make sure we're drawing the right
So, let's take a look at her leg, and see
how we can understand foreshortening
in an easy simple three step way.
So when I look at her leg, obviously, we
want to take a measurement of that foot.
So I will hold the pencil like this and I
will gage the top of the pencil for
her toe, the bottom of the pencil to her
Obviously, you see this?
One eye closed.
That's going to get me a much more
understanding of that measurement.
As opposed to two eyes where my vision's
like [SOUND] one eye,
[SOUND] I could see it very clearly.
From my perspective, that foot is really
almost, goes all the way up from the top
of her toe.
So from the top of her toe here to here,
which is the bottom of her heel,
if I took that, the top of her toe would
go all the way above her belly button.
That same proportion that would be where
her belly button would be.
So that's how, that's how forshortened
this pose is.
So, at least we know that.
Now let's deal with knowing that from
from the toe, the direction goes that way.
Then is comes out.
Down, right?
We're measuring, constantly measuring like
And down, [SOUND]
This direction.
So now I'll try to do an accurate,
I'm trying to do an accurate proportional
drawing here.
We can make it pretty.
We can make it beautiful.
We can make it ideal, but that's later.
That's not really important especially if
we're painting.
You want to get the right proportions
before we actually start painting.
So this foot is going.
This other part of the foot's going in
this direction.
Like that.
So it basically,
Going that
I'm going to extend it up a little bit.
Toe is going this way,
this way, that way.
And that's the bottom of her thigh, here.
Bottom of her thigh comes to about here.
Like that.
Go straight here.
Bottom of her thighs here.
Calf comes out,.
Back like that,.
And then the, that knee is kind of echoing
a perspective.
And going back like that.
And then this is going this direction,
like that.
All the way up.
So about there.
And we see her bikini
come down about there.
Now, obviously, we could exaggerate this,
make it even smaller.
A lot of measuring though like if you
don't really have,
you don't take the time to get the
measuring right.
And you're just kinda be, you're gonna get
It's really easy to get lost with this
kinda stuff.
This is going around.
So this is, you know this is,
this is overlapping the thighs connecting
to the other side.
Once again, we are drawing through the
form picking up the pen, dropping it.
Picking up the pen, dropping it.
Dropping it, like that.
You see it, there's a roundness here that
A lot of measuring.
Kind of a lot of just really seeing what's
going on.
Because if you don't do that, you're going
to get into problems later.
Once again I gotta measure that foot.
Bottom of the heel to the top of the toe,
right there.
That's the indication right there, take
that same measurement at the top of
the toe comes to above the belly button,
right here.
So right here.
Right here.
And I'm above right there.
So, I'm off.
I'm basically I'm off.
You know.
I could see how, you can really spend a
good amount of time.
Especially if you're really working on a
painting, or a drawing, and
you want it to be accurate.
You've gotta really spend some time with
If you wanna do distorted stuff,
obviously you could kind of really take
that foot and make it this big.
Or make it this big, so it's like, looks
like it's coming right at you.
But that's based on how far you want to
push it.
For me personally in my own style I really
like pushing stuff like that,
cuz I find it really dynamic.
But as you can see it's coming from a
place of understanding.
Take, you know, it's taking from a place
that comes from nature.
And it's taking that thing in nature and
expanding on it, playing with it.
It's like the science of playing with it.
It's like GMOs but
in a positive way.
It’s not really about how does the foot
It’s really about where things are where
things are lining up.
And you could see, I'll just do the other
side just to show you.
But you could see how
dynamic you can be.
And how you can create that kind of
where this leg goes out, drops down.
And then there's little things like this
is overlapping here.
Like I said before this knee kind of
exaggerating the perspective on that knee.
Stuff like that really helps.
And that's foreshortening.
So once again to review foreshortening is
overlap, measuring, direction.
If you pay attention to those three
you will eventually figure out the matrix
of foreshortening.
It's not hard, you just have to see.
Anybody can do this.
Anybody can do this.
If you just take the time to follow those
three basic steps,
anybody can learn about foreshortening.
sometimes when you're doing foreshortening
it's not as
exaggerated as it is when I showed you the
other foreshortening exercise.
So, sometimes it's not just.
This is so in the foreground and it's like
a M.C.
Escher or Bua painting, but it's a little
bit more subtle.
So I wanna go a little bit into the
subtlety, how to break that down.
What we really need to do, as we know,
foreshortening is overlap, measuring,
And what we really need to do is break it
down into really specific shapes,
so we can really understand the subtlety
of some of that foreshortening.
So right now, we could see that, that arm
is really,
really, really, coming towards us.
Rib cage right here.
And we're breaking it down into a, into
just a simple shape.
[SOUND] And her rib cage is here.
Pelvis and that arm is so subtle.
Coming up.
And down.
Almost looks weird, like it's almost like
how is that even possible to draw that.
And you could just see little clues like
that elbow right here.
And that overlap here.
This actually overlaps all the way to the
other side.
And wraps around.
And that arm kinda fits.
Plugs right in there, like that.
Then the scapula comes out.
This wraps around the form.
Just getting some of this figure in here.
Bikini top's here.
Follow that center line down, like that.
The neck coming out.
But you could see that arm is so, so
bizarre that we
have to kind of like really start to, to
figure it out.
Just map it out.
Just map it out.
You could see that even such a bizarre
shape like this is handled.
Well, can seem okay.
And then that arms falling, raise it.
[SOUND] And obviously, as you
shade kind of going in the direction of
the form really helps, like that.
Little subtle things which will help.
You know, it's really like having a form
here that
we're seeing
under this form.
Like that.
And then, this form is going.
Like this.
A little bit.
So, as you could see, you could see that,
that's a very complicated arm.
And it is foreshortened in such a bizarre
way that it requires kind of slowing down,
breaking it into very, very simple shapes
and then constructing it.
So, overlap,
measure, direction.
Even for the subtle stuff.