Fundamentals of Observational Drawing

If you're new to drawing & painting, or if you're looking to improve your foundational drawing skills, this course is the perfect place to start. In this beginner's course, Iliya Mirochnick will share with you a drawing approach that has been taught in Russia for more than 250 years. This course combines construction and optical (measuring and carefully observing) drawing techniques for a realistic approach that is beautiful and solid. Whether you want to do realist gallery paintings, or entertainment arts, this course will give you a strong foundation that will last a lifetime. This unique course includes basic, but challenging drawing assignments where you will use reference images, our exclusive 3D scan viewer and other resources to learn how to draw with confidence.

7 Lessons 11h 15m 18s of videos

Level 1

Level 2

Learn the essential elements of light and shadow, including the components of light theory: light, shadow, halftone, the terminator line, cast shadow, and highlight. Learn how to group your values correctly and how to turn your forms with tone. You will also learn how to describe curved and planed surfaced, and you will also practice rendering techniques to describe structure clearly and efficiently.

Level 3

It’s time to put together all of the skills you have learned thus far. Your project will be to draw a still life, consisting of geometric forms arranged in an interesting group. Your skills at construction, measuring, and building up value in order to create the illusion of three-dimensional form will all be put to the test. Iliya will demonstrate the project first and you will then work on your version from home.

Combine all of the concepts and training you have learned thus far. Using the stretched canvas that you made at the beginning of this course you will draw John Asaro’s planes of the head sculpture from our 3D scan or the photos provided. You will focus on turning form, establishing clear planes, clearly showing your light source and developing proper values and value relationships.

Common Questions

What is the Russian/Iliya Repin drawing method?

The "Russian" or "Repin" drawing method refers to the drawing approach taught at the Repin Academic Institute of Fine Arts (former Saint Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts). Seldom taught outside of Russia, the “imperial” drawing and painting method was uninterrupted by the modern art movements that transformed representational art in the West. This training has been preserved from one generation to the next within an institution which has changed remarkably little over the last 250 years. In modern parlance we  would describe this approach as a hybrid between constructive and optical or graphic approaches.

Which courses should I take before this?

This course is intended for any artist who wants to improve their drawing skills as well people new to drawing. If you're a beginner you can certainly start here! If would like more of an overview of drawing in general, we recommend doing the Beginner’s Guide to Drawing first!

Can I take this course if I'm new to drawing?

Absolutely! The Russian academic drawing method is a powerful tool for any new artist. The skills you learn in this course will last you a lifetime and set you up well for working from observation or from imagination.

How is this approach different from sight-size or other atelier/academic methods?

Sight-size is a primarily optical and observational drawing approach where the value patterns as they fall on the eye are transferred in 1:1 scale from life to the paper or canvas. The Russian approach is observational as well but it also utilizes construction which produces a more three-dimensional and solid look.

Isn't this part of another course on New Masters Academy?

Yes, this course is the first part of the Complete Russian Drawing Program. Because of the course's massive size we have split it into individual courses. If you want to do the entire Russian Drawing Program click here.

How does the coaching program work?

The NMA Coaching program provides professional art mentors to students. The coaches develop personalized curriculum and guide students in their artistic development. The Russian Academic Drawing Course integrates with this program in a special way in that Iliya Mirochnik himself is available as a coach to provide guidance to students taking this course. Availability is limited. Learn more here.

If I am not enrolled in coaching, what other ways can I get feedback?

If you're not in the coaching program you can still share your progress with other subscribers in the NMA Community Forums. We highly encourage students to work together on projects and help each other progress.

Is there more information available about this course?

You can read a description of this course by New Masters Academy founder Joshua Jacobo here.

If I want to study this program full-time, in person how would do that?

You would need to travel to Saint Petersburg and study at the Repin Academy. You can learn more here.

Can I take this course digitally (Photoshop, Procreate, etc)?

Like all New Masters Courses you can follow along digitally with a tablet. Because software and digital  drawing and painting techniques change quickly, you will need to decide how to interpret the information presented into your drawing application of choice. We recommend avoiding drawing layers, undo, automatic line straightening or clean up or other shortcuts for this course.