There is no one right method, but there are better and worse methods. Reilly looks like a good one, although I don't know how it differs from what I have been taught. I'd also check out Bridgman and Loomis, to add variety to your method.
I'm not familiar with the Reilly method either. The basic building of the form is honestly not different from anything I learned, although my education might be different than others on this forum. That is, using shapes and guidelines as you begin to block out the form. There are probably some different methods of doing this, but what I'm seeing is not vastly different from what I was taught, and it's pretty consistent throughout life drawing. Guidelines are often very important in portraits and figure drawings, since the human form is more or less consistent and once you know the basics you can generally draw a believable looking human without reference (though learning from a reference is best).
The more distinct feature of the method seems to be the building of form through the shapes of light and dark. The concept itself isn't particularly unique, but it's still fairly distinctive. Thing is, I kinda used the idea myself without being aware of a particular method. I did find a quote where a student of his mentioned that figure drawing is very much about understanding the relationship between the parts. Again, not entirely unique, there's a long history of this idea. Kinda takes me back to classes with my favorite figure drawing professor, who was always emphasizing distribution of weight, balance of form, and so on.
Again, not knowing the method in a formal sense, I'm probably missing some particular area that's a hurtle for you.
Sorry about the late reply! Thanks for providing such a thought out response.
For some reason I initially thought the Reilly method was the only form of guideline artists used to draw figures so I was a bit miffed about having to learn it (as it was very confusing). Now I'm exploring some other methods and I'm also learning to integrate elements of the Reilly Method as well.
I like when you quoted "figure drawing is very much about understanding the relationship between the parts"; I always found that this is one of my main weaknesses. I'm always singularly focused on one part of the body and never really relating each part to the other. This is where the Reilly Method helps too.
I guess it goes to show how flexible art can be and how there is no one true way to draw.
I looked up the reilly method to find out what it is... never heard of it before. From what I can tell, his "method" is basically the normal way to draw figures, or anything else really. Start with basic forms, gradually add details, and don't forget your subject is three-dimensional. You don't need to get too caught up in a particular way of drawing the figure - as long as you follow the basic guidelines you'll work out a method that's best for you.
No, it's not just the "normal" way to draw figures. I was in a class where the teacher taught it and it was like pulling teeth to get all of us onboard with it. It's definitely a departure from the standard figure drawing class way of doing figure drawing! This book (which I now have! LOL) teaches the method in more depth: [link]
I can't say I really draw figures just using his method—I'd say maybe 10-25% of how I draw is derived from what I learned in that one class, yet it has left a mark on me. The rest of my figure drawing education has been the more standard Loomis/Hogarth/Bridgman type of figure drawing. Reilly is different from all of those guys. I am not saying that the first three guys are inferior, not by any means, but they're different, definitely different!
I studied it a bit in college; I admit, it was hard, but somehow it stuck with me. I find myself still using some of the things I learned from it in my figure drawing today. I say give it a shot and integrate it with other forms of studying the figure and anatomy.
Thanks for replying! Integrating it sounds like a good idea! I think the Reilly Method on its own might be a bit out there for me or more likely because I'm so use to one way of drawing figures it just seems so alien to me. I love your figure sketches so I'll be sure to give it another shot!
Thanks! Yes, what I'd recommend is that you not give up on Reilly, but not feel obligated to study just him. I think he's got a lot to offer, but I am glad I studied other methods as well. I wish you good luck in your figure drawing studies.