Gregory Bean and Faculty Mentor: Robert Barrett, Illustration Department
The idea for this project arose from the need to provide BYU Design and Art Students with an appropriate photo reference for life drawing. Solid drawing skills have always been the foundation for most visual arts. For hundreds of years, artists have learned those skills by spending countless hours drawing the human figure. Even during times when figurative art was overshadowed by more abstract forms, BYU continued the traditional teaching methods in order to help young artists gain the skills needed for more figurative pursuits like animation and illustration. That tradition continues today; however, unlike most art schools, BYU does not employ undraped models, choosing instead to use more modest costumed models. (Instead of posing nude, BYU models pose in swimwear.) But only a fraction of the hours spent learning traditional drawing skills are spent in class. BYU art students are required to complete hundreds of homework assignments in the form of sketchbook drawings, sustained drawings, anatomy studies, etc. Until this project was completed, no high quality, BYU appropriate photo reference existed. Students were left to find resources in books or on the Internet—most of which were comprised of undraped models. The whole purpose of this project was to supply BYU art students with an appropriate and easily accessible reference resource for their homework assignments. Two thirds of the grant money was spent to hire 9 models. The rest of the money was used to purchase necessary supplies and hire two assistants to help with set up and photography during shooting (17 hours of shooting over two days). Photo
To maximize our time with the models and create the most useful photo reference possible, I modified the model stand to rotate on a pivot, making it possible to quickly photograph each pose from various angles, perspectives, and lighting schemes.
By using the methods described above we managed to capture more than 30 photos of each pose, resulting in a combined total of more than 8,000 high quality reference photos. The first series of photos has already been uploaded to a website where students can have immediate access. (Due to the large number of images, it will take months to edit and upload the entire library.) The volume and quality of images surpassed our expectations. On behalf of the thousands of students who will benefit from this photo resource, I would like to thank the donors who made this grant possible. This resource will greatly benefit BYU art students for many years to come.