The Frank Reilly Illustration Drawing Method

In this drawing course, the late Mark Westermoe teaches you the famous Reilly Method of drawing the head, hands, and figure. The Reilly approach is a constructive/graphic hybrid that emphasizes line and shape design and clear value control. This approach has become popular among professional illustrators as well as for fine art applications.

16 Lessons 42h 4m 45s of videos

Level 1

Mark introduces Frank Reilly's abstraction: a rhythmical representation of the shapes and forms of the head. Internalizing this model will give you an excellent starting point for any portrait or head drawing. Mark first explains a little bit of the history behind this abstraction, then moves on to show you how it can be applied to any given drawing or photo. Following that, he uses the abstraction and some tracing paper to demonstrate some portraits from the NMA and Drawthis! model reference libraries.
Mark begins with some general rules and tips for monochrome drawings-- designing the shapes, the values we assign to them, and the edges between them. He then moves on to draw three shadow patterns on three heads based on the Reilly Abstraction. He incorporates three different lighting scenarios on these heads: form lighting, ambient lighting, and rim lighting.
Mark demonstrates an approach called underpainting or imprimatura, wherein the first layer of paint on the canvas serves as a base tone for the rest of the forms painted on top. In this lesson, Mark shows you how to apply your understanding of the planes of the head and the laws of light to make even the simplest of paintings "ring true." In this case, he paints a portrait of the notoriously bullish financier J.P. Morgan.
Mark diverges from the curvilinear rhythmic approach and shows you how to conceptualize the head by using planes and connecting lines. Many art teachers harp on the need to focus on construction, without pointing directly to what they mean by construction. In this lesson, Mark takes direct aim at this concept so that you have an adequately solidified mental model of the head before moving onto more difficult angles in the final lesson.
Now that you've internalized the fundamental techniques and concepts related to Frank Reilley's rhythmic abstraction of the head, Mark encourages you to tackle more nuanced angles, poses, and expressions of the portrait in the final lesson in his series. He demonstrates various approaches using toned paper and colored pencils, as well as a technique for creating rich blended tones using a combination of wax pencil and mineral spirits on a printed vellum copy.

Level 2

Here is the final week’s recording from Art Mentors’ 10-week class in which legendary illustrator Mark Westermoe teaches figure drawing using the Reilly Method. Mark finalizes a rendering of a standing female figure by resolving the shadows throughout the entire body. He also refines the half-tones and demonstrates how to design the foot. We hope […]