Artist Feature: Swendly Benilia 29 / 09 / 2015

I know it has been more than a year since I featured any artists but recently I contacted Swendly Benilia for a small Q&A. He is a Freelance Concept Artist & Illustrator based in The Netherlands. You might have seen his tutorials pass by in The Official Quickposes Thread on

Let's get started.  

Where are you from and how did you get into art?

I was born in the beautiful tropical island called Curacao. My love and passion for art became evident at a very young age. I was always drawing my favorite cartoon characters and inventing new ones. At first I wanted to become a comic book artist, but then I discovered concept art and decided to pursue a career in that area as a specialized character designer.

Are you a professional artist and/or how long have you been working/drawing as professional artist? 

I´ve been working as a professional artist for about four years now. The assignment that really launched my career was some character design I did for the 'Iron & Honor' miniature wargame by Red Turban Press. I Got a lot of work after putting those in my portfolio.

What were a few things you underestimated before becoming a professional artist or started drawing?

At first I did not realize the amount of knowledge required to succeed as a professional. Just being able to draw and paint well is not enough. You also need to know how to do business, communicate effectively with clients, marketing, negotiating etc. This all comes down to knowing how to deal with people. So I had to grow a lot in this area.

Ok let's talk about practicing the art of art :) 

How did you discover quickposes and have you been acquainted with gesture drawing before ? 

Yes, I've been practicing gesture drawing for quite some time now. I learned about the importance of gesture while studying Glenn Vilppu's dvd's and drawing manual. At first I was using another website. When that site went offline I googled for other resources and came across quickposes.

How long have you been doing gestures & have you started noticing improvement in your gesture poses since you started?

I've been consistently doing gesture drawings daily for around three years now. I've improved a lot but more because of reading a lot of books on the subject than just drawing. Once I acquired the right knowledge the process became quite easy and straightforward.

A lot of people mention after a while when they are in a certain 'flow' that they start 'feeling' the poses. Have you encountered something like that?

For sure! After a while experiencing the gesture that I'm drawing became second nature. I think your mind develops a sensibility for gesture.

Have you seen benefit in other areas of your work from doing gesture poses frequently?

The speed at which I can draw believable characters has increased tremendously. I used to have a very hard time posing my characters in a believable way. This is the reason I started doing gesture drawing. Now that problem is gone forever.

Next to gesture drawing. do you have other types of exercises/practices that you do regurlaly to improve your skills. If so, can you share it with us?

Yes, I do a lot of reading on drawing, painting and design. Like I mentioned before, I noticed more progress from reading than from just mindlessly drawing. Often the advice given to improve your skills is to 'draw, draw, draw!'. Personally I've found this to be only half true. Improvement comes first by knowledge. You have to know better to do better. Good drawing starts in the mind. Your arm is merely the output. You have to know what you should be thinking about and looking for once you sit down to draw. Otherwise you will not be using your time effectively.

So first you have to pursue knowledge of the basic principles, or fundamentals as they're often called in art. Then you have to spend time practicing to train your mind to automatically observe and think about these principles when you're drawing. Once application of the principles become second nature, you will be able to work faster. So basically I exercise my mind more than my arm and hand.

Do you have any tips for people who are practicing gesture drawing ?

These are three important aspects to consider while practicing:

1. Keep in mind that the purpose of gesture drawing is first of all to capture the gesture, not drawing details. So keep it very simple and straightforward to start with. Once you have captured a good pose you will have a strong basis to build details on. 

2. To get a good sense of weight and balance, remember that the human figure exists in a 3D space. So think about perspective and avoid figures that are just floating on the page (unless they are actually floating of course). 

3. To effectively capture the gesture of a figure, think about verbs and not body parts. Verbs describe action. Let the verbs dictate your lines and watch your gestures really come to live!


Ok that's it!

Much love to Swendly for taking the time to provide us which such great information about his practice and art!

Check out his work on his website.