Russian Academic Drawing Approach

Join Ukrainian-born artist Iliya Mirochnik as he passes on a 250-year-old academic method preserved at the Repin Academy in Saint Petersburg, Russia and seldom taught outside of the Academy and never before on camera. This course represents our most comprehensive drawing program, with many lectures, examples, and step-by-step assignments to teach you this constructive and observational hybrid approach.

22 Lessons 67h 52m 55s of videos

Level 1

In this lesson, Iliya will train you on one of the most important elements in the Russian drawing approach: form. Using simple geometric forms, you will learn how to correctly describe three-dimensional volume in your work. You will learn how to draw the cube, cylinder, and cone from observation as well as how to construct these forms from imagination. Then you will combine both approaches and construct the forms from observation.
In this lesson, you will learn the essential elements of light and shadow. You will learn the components of light theory including light, shadow, halftone, the terminator line, cast shadow, and highlight. You will 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.
In this lesson, you will be putting 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.
In the final lesson in the Fundamentals course, you will be combining 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 the photos provided. You will focus on turning form, establishing clear planes, clearly showing your light source and developing proper values and value relationships.

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4

It's time to address a vital element of preparation for the final project: quick-pose drawings. Iliya works with his model to draw 13 short poses from various angles. First, he works with simplified construction, then contour, line, and direct tone. Drawing shorter poses from your live model or from reference will train your mind and hand, giving you the strongest possible understanding of your subject.
The next step in preparation for the long-pose figure drawing project is to draw a medium long-pose. Iliya considers this to be any pose that's worked on for 2-4 hours-- enough time to introduce some anatomical elements and to bring the drawing to relative completion. This slow build toward your long pose figure project is vital to the success of your drawing.
You’ve arrived at a pivotal moment in your curriculum. This project is the culmination of everything you’ve learned in the previous portions of this course. Approach it with a confident and newfound understanding of anatomy, a keen eye for form, and mark-making proficiency. Join Iliya in this execution of a long multi-figure composition from life. With the addition of another figure, elements of composition, and narrative come into play.

Common Questions

Why the Russian Academic method?

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. The training has been preserved from one generation to the next within an institution which has changed remarkably little over the last 250 years. The method provides a unique and clear lineage to the greater art traditions of the past. More than that, the artwork produced in this approach is impressive in its combination of constructive solidity and observational sensitivity.

Who is this course for?

This course is intended for any artist who wants to improve their drawing skills as well people new to drawing.

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 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.

Is this approach good for painters?

Yes! This approach is fantastic for painters and it has been tied to the Russian painting method which will be recorded in early 2020.

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 at:

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.

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:

Is there more information available about this course?

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