- Lesson details
The New Masters Academy Beginners Program helps aspiring artists start their artistic journey on the right foot. Your expert instructors will gently guide you to an understanding of drawing fundamentals. In this sixth lesson of the series, renowned illustrator and educator, Mark Westermoe, will teach you the time-honored practice of plaster cast drawing. You will learn about the history of the tradition, and why it’s a great way to use your understanding of basic forms to draw complex structures. Mark will conclude the lesson by bringing a drawing to full-rendered finish.
- Conté a Paris Sketching Pencil – Black
- Kneaded Eraser
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on the right foot.
Your expert instructors will gently guide you to an understanding of drawing fundamentals.
In this lesson, famed illustrator and educator Mark Westermoe will teach you the time-honored
practice of plaster cast drawing.
You will learn about the history of the tradition and why it’s a great way to use your understanding
of basic forms to draw complex structures.
Mark will conclude the lesson by bringing a drawing to a fully rendered finish.
I’m going to give a lesson on drawing from plaster casts.
This is something that we studied, and my primary instructor studied, and most of the
other artists from whom I learned also studied.
It goes back hundreds of years in Western art.
It’s something that’s very useful in the development of your skills and your eye.
This goes for people who are illustrators like myself or portrait painters, especially
in this case since we have just the bust of a head, Brutus by Michelangelo.
What are the advantages?
What can we learn by drawing from plaster casts?
Well, if you draw from still life, unless you’re doing floral arrangements, strictly,
then you’re going to have a concentrated study of form and volume, whether it’s a
ceramic vase or a basket or any other element, a statue that you might place in your still life.
In the case of plaster casts, we’re doing the same thing.
We’re drawing from a three-dimensional object or set of objects, so we’re studying the form.
We also notice that this is a plaster of Paris cast which does not reflect light.
It doesn’t show a lot of highlights and crest lights, which can kind of confuse the
issue at this stage.
It’s got areas that are nicely simplified, in the case of Michelangelo
being such a great artist.
It doesn’t have changes in complexion, which we encounter when
we’re drawing from a live model.
It doesn’t have changes in the color of the hair.
The shadows that are cast are even and clear and can’t be confused with, say, dark sideburns.
In the end, we’re going to have about four values, four families of values that we use,
and that would be middle gray when we’re doing the lay-in, and then that will turn
to a dark gray.
We’re going to have black, and we’re going to have within the light pattern, not just
white, but plains that are half-tones.
Those are the planes that are receiving direct light, but at an angle.
As opposed to planes that are getting the direct light almost at a right angle.
Let’s go a little more into the history of plaster casts.
Classical sculpture was at its time painted, but over the centuries, of course, the pain
has given away, so we unearthed, excavated busts of heads, particularly Roman busts,
and Greek and Roman copies of full figure sculpture, large than life in many cases.
So, they present themselves to those of us alive today, and when many of them were unearthed
in the 1500s as pretty much a plaster cast, they have veins in many cases, obviously,
to the marble, or there were actually more bronzes then probably marbles that were produced
in the classical era.
Those present a little more difficulty in terms of drawing from them.
But, if you lived at that time in the 1500s, the late Renaissance, it was very exciting
what was being uncovered.
For instance, the Laocoon set of three figures done in the Hellenistic period in ancient
Greece, it was unearthed in Michelangelo’s lifetime, and confirmed him in his interests
and inspired him.
When we look at a sculpture like this, of Brutus, which was done more than a thousand
years after the height of Roman portrait sculpture, it’s done in the vein of
both the Greeks and the Romans.
It’s a specific head, but it’s also not since we don’t really—Michelangelo didn’t
really have Brutus to sit for him.
He had to imagine Brutus from the literature of the time.
In the 19th century, a study from plaster casts was at its pinnacle, its heyday.
The French government sponsored art school.
Not for everybody.
You know, people who went to the schools, called the Royal Academy first, and then after
the revolution they were called the Ecole des Beaux Arts,
which is just the school of fine arts.
They wanted through their art to glorify the empire.
This would be true of painting, especially in the Napoleonic period
and the revolutionary period.
It would be true, also, more particularly in the realm—I shouldn’t say more particularly,
but in the realm of sculpture as well.
For a time, students were discouraged from drawing from life at all.
Not even allowed, so they worked strictly from plaster casts.
So, the plaster cast was a staple in all of these programs, other schools too.
What the Russians studied in Paris they brought back with them.
Eastern Europeans and central Europeans would go to Paris too and study.
That’s not to say there were not also ateliers in Germany and Italy and elsewhere, but this
was really the beating heart of it.
The Royal Academy of England was formed by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
That was something like the 1670s or 60s.
It produced some of the most remarkable portrait painters, ever.
In fact, I think that is possibly England’s brightest light in its entire painting history.
The Royal Academy schools graduated about 11,000 art students in the 19th century, from
a country with a relatively small population.
In fact, one quote from earlier in this period of academic figure drawing was that anyone
who can learn to write can learn to draw.
That didn’t mean everyone had the privilege of being able to go.
First of all, a lot of the youth had to spend their time working—speaks for itself.
So, it was often the upper crust who attended the academies, pretty much exclusively.
What continued the tradition of academic figure drawing and painting was actually illustration
in the United States.
These were the people that studied with Bridgeman, like Norman Rockwell.
These were the people that studied with Reilly, like James Bama, John Asaro.
They were schooled using both plaster casts and figure drawing.
By the time in the 1930s that Frank Reilly that succeeded to the lead position in teaching
drawing and painting at the Art Student’s League, by that time
illustration was in its golden age.
Illustration was preferable to photography because the technology of the day allowed
for easier printing of a painted image than of a photographic image.
This changed in the late 1960s, 70s, and has changed ever since.
So now those processes are so good that illustration as such has whittled from
down considerably what it was then.
We can look back on almost any artist and find a period where they
studied from plaster casts.
One of the great benefits from drawing from something like that is that it is a human
head, but it’s been designed by a master artist, and so that’s why I used to like
to draw from Bernini in my books on his sculpture.
When you draw from an artist who is producing a 3-D sculpture, it’s kind of like you are
what you eat, you’re imbibing what that artist’s sensibilities are.
It’s not just something straight out of a magazine or a newspaper clipping.
So that’s a little bit of what I know about plaster casts, and I have used them in lieu
of a model or in conjunction with a model, which is great.
I wish it were a little easier to find inexpensive plaster casts, but I know that there are some
that’ll be coming up soon because that’s changing a bit now.
I’m going to do my best to do a good study of Brutus.
We’re going to change the lighting on him so that it’s a single source of light.
Makes it dramatic.
Makes everything quite clear.
So, before I draw the finished plaster cast study, I’m going to start off with two or
three drawings of how to lay in these forms.
I won’t finish these first few, but I want you to get a good understanding of how to
approach laying in a subject like this.
We’re looking at a fully front view just above eye level of the head.
I just want to draw a front axis that goes between the eyes, down the bridge of the nose,
the middle of the lip to the jaw.
Don’t draw this larger than life, but don’t draw it too much smaller either.
The hair adds a little bit of height to the head.
I’m going to find the brow line, the distance between the scalp and the bone of the brow
overlapping the eye socket.
Notice I’m drawing fairly light.
Then I’m going to draw a point halfway between the brow and the base of the jaw.
That’ll be the bottom of the nose.
If I take that distance, jaw to nose, and divide it in half, that’s the bottom of
the lower lip.
These are standard head proportions, but we’re going to look for variations in each individual.
Remember, the head is not an egg.
It’s more of a box.
It has a front plane and two side planes.
Here at the temple the form of the head turns back to the side plane.
If I take another line halfway between the brow and the base of the nose, on average
that gives us the bottom of the eye socket.
You’ll notice how the light describes the form as it streams over the form.
So now let’s see.
Here’s the angle of the keystone shape above the nose.
And here is the angle of the septum at the base of the nose.
And here the bridge of the nose, separated into three distinct sets of planes.
That’d be the nasal bone, the bridge of the nose and the septal cartilages.
Here is the corner of the wing of the nose on each side.
Remember, I said we’re going to separate the light pattern from the shadow pattern.
That’s where they break at the base of the nose.
Here is the septum of the nose with the wing of the nose next to it.
Here is where the nose joins the front of the face.
Here is the shadow cast by the nose over the barrel of the mouth, and then here is the
shadow continuing along the side plane of the nose and essentially just a vertical shape.
Okay, now, when drawing the mouth, I try to simplify everything, but in this case, one
of the best strategies is just to draw an ellipse out of which we’ll draw the geometry
of the planes just as we did with the nose.
You’ll notice it can get a little tricky.
Is the upper lip actually in shadow, or is it part of the light pattern with a couple
shadows here and there along the way.
One thing I know is that the shadow from the nose casts over the lip, and then we find
here the overlap of the peak of the lip above the lower lip.
Then here this is the wing of the lip.
There we are drawing from the peak to the corner or wing of the lip.
The shadow continues over the lower lip.
The lower lip turns under about here.
This is where the chin is overlapped by the plane beneath the lip.
If you look at Bargin you look at how he breaks it down to simple geometry,
that’s the stage I'm at here.
Here is a cast shadow over the eye socket.
It runs just above the cheek.
Here is the bottom of the plane beneath the eye socket.
Here is kind of an S-curve shape.
I’ll break it into two shapes for the brow as it overlaps the eye socket.
And then this is the shadow continuing over the cheek here.
This is the turning of the form known as the tooth cylinder surrounding
the entire upper and lower teeth.
And so here we see the cheek turning into shadow, leaving a light shape like this.
You can look at the shape that you’ve yielded in drawing these shapes.
In fact, you should because that’s a good way of seeing things with fresh eyes.
Here is the shadow cast over the chin.
Here is the front of the chin.
Here we see it turning away from the light.
One of the things I’m doing is I’m holding up my pencil at least mentally at 90 degrees
to the ground, and when I do that I can see that the wing of the nose lines up just about
with this part of the shadow over this chin.
If I don’t do it, I might hit it right, but I haven’t really tested it.
So, it’s a safe thing to do.
You can do the same thing by holding your pencil horizontally like that.
Then that way you can compare, well, here’s the base of the septum, and here is where
the plane changes from diagonal to vertical.
And does it line up above that point or below that point, so this is equally important.
We’re comparing both vertically and horizontally, how forms lie on our subject.
There is a shadow here beneath the brow.
All of the forms inside of the eye socket are in shadow.
I’m not even going to draw them.
I’m just right now focusing on the light and dark pattern.
Here is the brow ridge turning from the light to the side plane.
Here is the frontal prominence of the cranium.
That’s the angle between them.
There is the angle of the cheek or the zygoma.
On this side, let’s have a look at how to describe the eye socket.
There is the overlapping muscle above the eyelid.
There is the shadow beneath the eyelid, which you’ll notice is thick.
The eyelid has depth. It is three-dimensional.
Here is the shadow cast over the eyeball.
We study this shape a little more carefully now.
A little later in the demonstration I’ll conclude by drawing Brutus to a finish.
When I do that I’ll have him turned to a three-quarter, not a front view.
You’ll notice, of course, when I do it that the approach will be identical.
Only the angle and possibly the light will be different.
But the thinking on the approach will be identical regardless if the head is positioned in profile,
back view, three-quarter view, or front view like this.
The finished drawing will have both curves and angles, but this stage is going to rest
predominantly on angles.
We have several shapes here.
Don’t go into the little shapes, just the light and dark shapes.
This is the angle of the silhouette of his face in front of his ear and hair.
There is the angle of his hair above the ear.
Here is the part of the ear we see.
The rest is covered by hair.
There are a few small isolated shadow shapes on the light side of his hair,
but they’re not particularly important.
Alright, there is a point where the jaw changes from a vertical thrust to a diagonal, and
it’s called the angle of the jaw.
I’m lining it up here just above the chin.
If the head tilted back farther or tilted forward, then the position would be different.
In this angle, that’s it.
There is a cast shadow below the ear, and here the hair turns under into shadow and
then continues toward the neck.
Here we see the neck just off the vertical, and here we follow the angle of the jaw.
This approach yields a very chiseled kind of feeling to the form.
That’s actually not a bad thing, particularly in the male head.
There the chin ends and the underplane of the head, you can see it, it’s got a lot
of reflected light coming off of his neck and the pedestal.
Don’t pay too much attention to that now, but structurally I put it on anyway because
it helps me move on through the placing or spacing and placing of the forms.
In fact, this stage in a drawing, whether it’s from life or from a plaster cast,
I refer to as spacing and placing the forms.
How is it that I’m able to place my shapes and put them in in such a clean manner?
Well, see, if I have the position of this part of the neck, and then I’ve got this
place where it’s overlapping the trapezius muscle behind it, I can put point A and point
B lately on my page, and then draw directly from one to the other, so I don’t have to
scribble my way, feeling my way like that.
That’s not very economical, and it doesn’t yield the kind of clean spontaneous look that
I appreciate in drawings of the head, the figure, whether they’re plaster casts or
live or from photographs.
There is a cast shadow over the forehead right there.
I’ll raise the hair a little bit.
This is why we draw lightly.
It’s easy to make corrections, revisions, improvements, adjustments.
Then here is the underplane of the head as it overlaps the neck.
This is the shadow cast over his neck.
It may be hard to see because there are reflected lights and secondary shadows.
But, if you squint you should be able to see the main shadow itself.
Squinting eliminates distractions, and that is one of the main reasons we always do so.
And that’s the shoulder, at least out the clavicle behind the neck.
We don’t want to just give a feeling of totally flat forms.
You can see that overlaps can be helpful too.
So now we just clean up what we started.
Conté on charcoal do smear.
At this stage, it doesn’t matter.
We can just easily clean that up.
Do it now and you won’t have to do it later.
Don’t forget, the eraser is not just for correction.
In itself it is a drawing tool.
Notice I arranged the head in such a way that I described it from the inside out.
Yes, I laid in about a 3 x 2; 3, 2 egg shape.
Then I broke it down using a front axis.
If this were a three-quarter view, not a front view, the axis would not be centered like this.
But, I still started with that.
Then I made my marks, my divisions for the features and main planes of the head,
particularly the cranium, facial mass, and jaw.
Those are the three volumes of the head.
The features themselves won’t be affected if those volumes are drawn inaccurately
or not emphasized.
Charlie Brown has facial features, but his head is flat.
There is no distinction between any of those three volumes.
Of course, that’s what the cartoonist wanted, but here we don’t.
You want to always make it clear that the head has, most importantly, those three volumes.
I’ll now do the same set of strokes and understanding, I hope, with our next subject,
a plaster cast of Venus de Milo, the great sculptor Milo, and Athena,
or Venus as the Roman’s knew her.
We want to really get a sense that if I were to finish this particular angle on Brutus,
I would really try to push even more some of the determination that Michelangelo
expressed in the head.
We’re going to stop here at this lay in, and then I’m going to demonstrate a female.
You’ll understand that the approach is identical for adults, children, both sexes, for that
matter, drawing almost anything three-dimensional.
see as it develops in a minute.
It’s a three-quarter, almost profile view.
So, we’ve changed sexes and we’ve changed the angle, but the approach will be the same.
So, here we go.
I’ll do this one, and I’ll do Michelangelo’s famous dying slave.
When we’re drawing a three-quarter or profile, I have to add to the width of the head because
the cranium takes up two-thirds of the volume of the entire head.
It’s no longer a 3 x 2.
It’s almost a 3 x 3 relationship.
Now, the axis moves way over.
If it were a front axis, it would be here.
So, a good little trick.
Or, I hate calling things tricks.
But, a device you can use is if you take the distance from here to a front view axis, and
then you take that same distance and you add it to the back of the head here then that’s
where we get the width of the back of the cranium.
Now I’m going to draw from the top of the head here to the chin and divide the distance
in half or thereabouts.
I’m also going to indicate here the turning of the front plane of the head to the side plane.
Notice it’s a little more vertical, a change in direction from here to here on the cranium
and more diagonal on the face.
I’ll take the point of the brow to the chin, divide it in half.
It gives me the base of the nose just like the previous lay-in.
Divide that distance in half, that gives me the bottom of the lower lip.
And if you want to divide this distance from the brow to the base of the nose in half,
that’s where you’re likely to find the bottom of the eye socket.
These are my first moves, not even placing the neck or doing anything with the hair.
A word on the hair.
When we get into the hair there is an awful lot of texture.
Try to squint and just see the form.
With this texture you’ll see small, dark shapes in the light, and you’ll see small
light shapes in the dark.
But if you squint, you can mostly do away with those.
Form is far more important than texture.
In some ways, you can combine them and draw them simultaneously, but we’re not going
to be doing that now.
Here is the center of the bridge of the nose, and here is the tip.
My approximate angle is this.
Then I find the width at the bridge of the nose, and then I turn the septum of the nose
under beneath the tip. Here is the tip.
All of this is the septum.
Then we look at the angle of the wings of the nose,
only one of which is visible in this angle.
Remember, I’m going to be breaking this down with simple geometry.
Typically, the nose meets the face above the lip halfway from the tip to the wing.
Now, even if these standard proportions aren’t the case in any specific individual study,
at the very least, they give us a yardstick to measure against so they are useful in all cases.
Notice the utter simplicity of the brow.
It’s a slight curve, angling down from left to right.
That is to say from the nose to the cheek
If I take a line from the wing of the nose that’s parallel to the angle of the bridge.
That is the standard position for the tear duct.
Obviously, that can be very helpful.
In fact, important in describing the eye socket.
Another thing I look for is where does the nose overlap the opposite eye socket.
Here is the eyebrow and beneath it, a muscle known
as the orbicularis oculi, and that just means the muscle that orbits the oculus.
What’s the oculus? The eye.
That’s where the eye overlaps the nasal bone.
Here this is where the muscle overlaps the eye.
So, we’re already thinking overlaps.
If you convey overlapping form, then by definition you’re working in three dimensions.
Paper stock is just two dimensional. It doesn’t overlap itself.
This is a cast shadow which runs down just about to the upper lip.
Again, just using three simple shapes; S-curves, C-curves, and straights.
If you make a mistake or you need to erase or revise, do it.
Don’t wait until you’ve gone three-quarters of the way through the drawing.
That’s not the time for it.
Alright, to my point. Here we find a straight.
Okay, that’s the most basic shape.
Here is a C-curve.
Here is an S-curve.
You could find S-curves at so many places.
You can find them at the back of the thigh.
You can find them in the hair.
You can find C-shapes everywhere.
In the angle of the cheek, which we’re going to come to, or here in the turning of the
wing of the nose into shadow. Or here.
We get this shadow just above the wing of the nose.
Now, an S-curve can be a deep S-curve like this, or a shallow S-curve like this one.
The same goes for—I’m sorry, C-curve.
An S-curve can be a deep S-curve, and one part of it can have a deeper curve than the rest.
But still, it breaks down into a simple shape.
It’s actually, you can think of it as a composite of two C-shapes put together.
It’s simpler in the doing, thinking of it as a separate shape.
Among these three shapes, the fewest that are found in figure work are straights.
They are used sometimes for developing the angle of a shoulder,
or in the case of a Greek nose like this.
The bridge of a nose can be seen as a straight, but they’re the least common among the shapes
that we find in the head of the figure.
Let’s see, we get a shadow here at the inside of the nasal bone, and with the light coming
from above, you’ll see the socket turning into shadow, and then this shadow sweeps down
and unites with that cast shadow.
I could draw the socket.
I could continue and finish it.
Or, since I like to keep track of drawing the whole thing, I can find instead the mouth.
So there is the peak of the lip overlapping the lower lip here.
Let’s find how that works.
Here and then coming from beneath it here we pick up the lower lip, and then here is
the corner or wing of the lip.
Then there is a muscle coming up from the jaw, which joins the muscle surrounding the
mouth and creates this almost like a dimple shape.
That nose needs to be a little longer, so like I said, make your adjustment.
Here, coming from behind the peak of the lip, we pick up the lower lip, which is quite full.
There is a shadow cast over the corner of the mouth.
Then this is the turning under on the front
plane to the underplane of that muscle surrounding
the mouth, which is also what makes up the lips.
Take your time when you’re measuring.
You don’t get extra points for drawing or a painting that was done really quickly.
And you’re going to succeed much more often if you take your time and measure carefully.
This is really very much like the old saying that a carpenter
measures twice and cuts just once.
If you have to go back and re-draw the forms that are misplaced or that are out of scale,
that’s not going to make the execution of your work any faster anyway.
A lot of people get impatient, so then they start to rush, might not even notice that
that’s happening, but that is something to avoid.
In my classes, I tell my students, and they listen and do this, but I’d much rather
have a partial drawing at the end of a session that’s really nicely done than a drawing
that’s complete from head to toe in equal level amount of finish, but it’s an inelegant
drawing, or it just doesn’t work.
Your speed is something that will actually pick up as you practice over time.
It’s not something I really think of.
It’s not entirely true.
I do have sometimes an art director who will ask for something at 7:00 in the morning and
call me up a day and a half before and say I need it at 7:00 the night before.
Well, that’s the new deadline. That's all there is.
After you become a professional in any of the areas of drawing and painting, you will
need to have different gears, a faster and a slow, considerate one, and so on.
But for this, when I was studying from life and plaster casts,
there was no premium placed on how fast you did it.
Even as you get into more figure drawing and you have quick sketch poses.
Those can be as fast as one minute.
I don’t care.
Just draw that which you can get to as well as you can.
That just takes concentration.
Concentration suffers when you hurry.
Kind of like the tortoise and the hare story, and we know who wins that one.
In case you don’t, it’s the tortoise.
Okay, I’m just massing my darks together.
When I refer to massing my darks together or my lights together with each other, what
I mean by that is—well, let’s take a good example.
We have a form shadow.
That’s to say where the light meets the shadow and the form
turns into part of the dark pattern.
Beneath that, we have a shadow cast by the nose.
Here is the form shadow area.
Then this is the shadow you can see cast by the nose above the mouth.
That’s called a cast shadow.
And so I’m not going to draw a distinction between where the form shadow ends and the
cast shadow beneath it starts. You see?
I’ll mass them together.
There are plenty of other examples throughout the head too.
It’s the same with the figure, and it’s the same with drawing anything,
which is, after all, the purpose here.
We need to simplify our light and dark pattern.
Massing values goes hand in hand with that. Let me explain.
There are a million different values in this subject.
We can’t hope or even want to draw a million separate values.
We house them in categories.
The first most elemental category is light pattern as opposed to dark pattern.
With a plaster cast, dark pattern means shadows.
From there, we apply a tone to the shadows like here.
Now, there are shadows that get reflected light.
There are other shadows that are deep tucked in among each other so they’re darker.
They get the least reflected light.
Okay, when I start getting involved with that, I’m introducing too many values into my
composition and into my rendering.
We can always, as we draw toward a finish, and you’ll see that in my finished drawing
example, which is coming up.
We can always break it down into secondary and tertiary values, but we start off basically
with the light and the shadow.
And then within the shadow we look for the darkest points.
It would be moving from a dark gray to black.
Within the light we would be putting in some of the planes that are receiving direct light
such as this one under the eye.
But we would put a half-tone, which is a light gray over them.
We really start off by summarizing the head into its basic elements.
This is, by the way, when you’re really doing a lot of good figure work, how you can compose.
A composition is very important, as you know.
If you start off with a million little values, you can’t possibly do thumbnail compositions
to set your work, design your work.
You want to be able to express it quickly and cleanly.
By the way, this is how we see.
If you squint, which is your best friend, you’ll see the form, the figure.
Whether it’s a tree trunk or a head or hand or a pear, it doesn’t matter.
You’ll see it in the manner that we actually look at the world.
We don’t scrutinize the world the way a scientist would look at something
like a slide under a microscope.
That’s necessary for that discipline.
For us, that is not how we see.
We don’t see everything in even focus, and we see in a simplified set of values.
This is really part of the science of seeing.
It is true that a camera doesn’t make those decisions.
We as artist have decisions to make.
Everything I draw, everything you’ll draw is quite different from just going on autopilot
and copying everything you see.
We are the one who direct the viewer’s eye.
Every composition should have a focal point or what we call an illustration of first read.
In other words, when you look at the image within the frame, what is it that you first see?
Is it where you want to have the focus, or is it somewhere behind like a closet doorknob,
which you’ve lovingly rendered, but is not particularly what the viewer
would normally look at.
It’s necessary for us to understand our tools and manners in which to
simplify and express them
That’s what we do when we mass our values together.
We’re reducing the millions of values that are around us in our room or our landscape.
We’re reducing them to a handful of easily expressed values.
Then you can subdivide those infinitely as you choose.
Very few painters do that.
They leave a thing with far fewer values than nature expresses itself in.
We’re not drawing nature.
We’re drawing the way we see nature.
Titian and Velasquez were pretty much the first innovators when it came to drawing the
science of what we see.
Botacelli, others, wonderful artists—Botacell’s case he drew everything pretty much with the
same even edge and same level of detail as the main figures.
Where they were placed gave us a sense of the first read or focal point.
Other than that, they had uniform edges.
They’re beautifully designed figures, but they’re not naturalistic as such.
We can’t hope to focus our eye evenly on our environment, whether it’s lying in your
bedroom, or whether you’re walking along a sidewalk on a leafy day in spring.
I won’t process it that way. It’s just not made. Our brains aren’t made to do that.
We have to draw the way we see.
Throughout art history, there have been a number of very important—I shouldn’t call
them discoveries, but they’re pretty much that.
One of the most important was what I just described.
Another was making distinctions on how we illuminate our subject, the lighting.
Before Caravaggio, and he wasn’t the only, but he was big mover and shaker, we tended
to draw figures in ambient lighting, overall lighting that is, even lighting.
The kind of lighting you get on a gray day or in an office building with ambient light
all around you.
Well, Caravaggio developed the fullest expression until then of chiaroscuro, and that means
light and shadow in Italian.
To do it, he illuminated his models with a single source of light.
Not multiple sources, but a single source of direct light such as we’re using today.
And because of its effects, it’s simply known as form lighting.
It’s the best describer as a light source of form.
It gives you a very dramatic sense of the material as opposed to the atmospheric.
It’s been used as much as ambient light, the overall light ever since by painters and illustrators.
We can think particularly of Rembrandt and how he staged his models.
Single source of light.
You can actually use that light and dark pattern to get a really strong grip on the likeness
and structure of your subject.
This goes for still life as well as figure.
Now, I said I was not going to deal extensively with the texture, which we find in the hair.
Let me show how I would simplify that.
When I draw, here for instance, the hair at the forehead, I draw the relationship of the
two halves of her hair.
I don’t draw the hair itself. I first start with this arc.
And that’s how I draw torsos and arms, almost everything.
On that relationship, I draw the specific thing itself or things.
Imagine a pearl necklace. Would you start by drawing every pearl? No.
You would draw the arc among those pearls.
Then onto it you could add pearls or gems or whatever.
But you start with the relationship.
True of plaster casts. True of live models. True of still life.
True of a line of mountains and a landscape.
In fact, everything that we draw is informed by head drawing.
It covers every phenomenon that you’re going to encounter in all subjects artistic.
The only exception is deep space atmospheric perspective, like in the distance, the mountains.
Otherwise, everything is involved with the drawing of the head.
This is a cast shadow over the lower lip.
This is a form shadow turning under in an angular way the upper lip.
This is a shadow cast by the lower lip above the chin.
We’ll clean up some of these strokes which I drew lightly.
For my next trick, I will draw the head from Michelangelo’s famous dying slave.
It’s a bit more of a romantic expression as opposed to these.
Venus de Milo is very calm, and Brutus is resolute but fairly static.
In this case, there is real pathos in the sculpture, so we’ll do that one.
In our next step after that, I will do a finished drawing from one of these sculptures for you.
Before my demonstration of a finished drawing, I want to just back up a moment and remind you that if you
use the side of the pencil like I’m doing—
I haven’t sharpened this at all since I’ve done both of these lay-ins.
You can get the fine line just by drawing here with the axis of the lead.
Or, you can get a painted tone by drawing against the axis of the lead. That’s the main advantage in using a
pencil that’s sharpened to this degree and in this manner. It’s just done with a razor blade
to carve away the wood. Then it’s used with the razor blade to shape the tip.
If you like, you can go ahead and sharpen it with a sandpaper pad to finish it off.
Here we not only have three-quarter view, slight, but we have a very strong upshot.
We’re looking up into the head.
Just a couple notes: In a case like this, when the head is at eye level, the ear lobes line up with the base of the
nose, but because that’s the pivot point for the whole head on the neck,
when the head is above us, the facial features rise,
and so now the base of the nose is much higher than the lobes of the ear.
Here, too, sometimes when I have life drawing I’ll ask the model to close his or her eyes, and then we don’t get
distractions from the shadow under the lid or the lashes or even the iris. Then I’ll have the model open up after
the students have seen the simplicity of the form. Here we’ll see that. You’ll notice the left eye of the slave is
turning from light into shadow. His right eye is getting the light fairly directly.
As I go, we’ll make mention of some of these points.
For starters, since the head is tilted—we’re not only looking up under it,
but the head is tilted from one side to the other.
The head can rotate. It can tilt, and it can go up and down.
Now you’ll see, I realize I was making some of those talking points without a reference for you,
but now, here we go.
My egg shape is going to be angled,
and the front axis is not going to be centered because it’s not really a full-front view.
The chin is above the underplane of the head, attached to the neck.
Now I’m going to place the brow line and turn the head from front plane to temple or side plane.
We’re going to add a lot more width because of the hair. That’s just a reminder of that.
The base of the nose is still halfway from the brow to the base of the chin and the bottom of the lower lip
halfway from this point to this.
I could start a number of ways, but I think it’s easiest to start here where the brow meets the bridge of the nose.
Then I’ll pick up the angle of the nose and the width. This is just a half-tone.
The width of the bridge of the nose. I’ll place the bottom forms of the eye socket relative to the base of the nose.
Here is where the septum turns from its top plane at the bridge to its underplane
and then carries on to the wings here and here.
This is pretty much the same way I draw from a live model.
Remember, if you do find a good plaster cast and you’ve got it at home, you can position it at any angle,
light it in any way, and it provides a great resource for study.
Even if you’re taking life drawing classes, when the class is over the drawing shouldn’t stop.
You should be doing at least, I would suggest one hour of homework for every hour in class.
If you’re only taking one class or two you should consider doing more than that.
There is the shadow over the eye socket created by the bridge of the nose. Here is the side plane of the nose.
Here is the cast shadow over the tooth cylinder above the lips.
If we take Charles Barge, Jerome’s student, as our inspiration,
he doesn’t really at this stage distinguish between hard edges and soft edges.
He just maps it out. That’s fine too. For the most part, that’s what I’m doing with these.
Remember, we’re using basic shapes, straights, C-curves, and S-curves.
Is that the only way to draw? No, of course not.
It’s a harmonious way to draw. It’s really helpful in establishing rhythms, relationships between
different sets of shapes on the head, the figure, or anything.
Maybe we don’t want that. Maybe we want something that’s a nervous kind of, disorienting kind of an approach.
I think of Ralph Stedman who did the Hunter Thompson books,
or Egon Schiele who was Gustaf Klimt’s famous expressionist student.
It’s a little easier. It comes naturally to us to draw in kind of disjointed expressionistic way.
It takes a little more training in learning how to draw in what I refer to as an emphasis on harmony.
If you can do that which is harmonious and rhythmical, I do believe you can do
the eccentric and the nervous line, for instance, which I like.
I use that sometimes too.
Cast shadow over the chin. Notice how the shadows tend to echo each other.
Move in the same general direction. There is a simple reason, and that’s because we angle the light source,
which is no different in its effect on the mouth from its effect on the brow or the eye socket
or the side of the nose or the chin.
Speaking of the chin, let’s find the center of it and the side.
You’ll remember, we’re looking for this parallel angle to the bridge of the nose.
That’s going to give us the approximate placement of the tear duct.
Here is the underplane of the brow and the muscle overlapping the ball of the eye.
Not to be drawn too dark.
After all, it’s only half-tone and not a shadow.
This shadow is cast over the volume of the bridge of the nose, and then describes the form of the eye beneath it.
This shadow is cast, again, over the ball of the eye.
That’s what we’re drawing. Yeah, the lids are there, but they’re following the form of the ball of the eye.
To find the placement of the overlapping lid, it might help to put it half-tones of either side of that
sphere even with the sleeves of the eyelids over that ball, it’s effectively and essentially a sphere.
There is a shadow cast by his eye over his cheek and by his brow over his cheek.
Here is the bone of his cheek, the zygoma.
Here are the muscle descending from the zygomatic process to the corners of the mouth.
We don’t see the entire eye on this, the left side of his head, the right side as we look at it.
We do see in shadow the front plane of his lower lid.
I just slightly redesigned that cast shadow. You’ll notice I gave it an S-curve where it overlaps his cheek.
This hair is almost perpendicular to the ground.
Here we get a shadow cast over this forehead by the front of his hair.
Here is the entire relationship of the hair wrapping over his forehead like a cat.
Here we’re picking up the cheekbone and muscles coming down to the jaw and mouth.
Establish the same thing on the opposite side.
This angle is perpendicular to the ground.
Here we found the earlobe lining up just beneath the upper lip right there.
Drop down vertically toward the angle of the jaw.
Cast shadow over his locks here.
How are we going to do this? This is beyond the jaw, beyond the chin toward the jaw.
It actually turns from light to shadow with almost a lost edge. We have three kinds of edges.
We have hard edges like here. We have soft edges. Let’s see where. Let’s put it in now right here.
This is the underplane of his hair mass.
This is his head pressed against the neck.
Here is a beautiful S-curve.
You can see how I design using just a couple of shapes. The back of the hair.
If I have two shapes, I try wherever possible to reduce them to just one shape.
If I have three shapes I try to reduce them to one shape, too.
The simpler the expression the better, and certainly easier to do a lay-in like this.
There is the front of the neck at the Adam’s apple.
There is a muscle coming up from the sternum to the back of the head,
and here is just the base of the cast.
Again, S-curves, C-curves, and straights.
Alright, so essentially that’s it. I’m just going to take my eraser and remove some of the construction lines
or rhythm lines or construction lines. They generally, for me at least, serve all three of those purposes.
Let’s just talk about rhythm for a minute. We have three basic relationships in drawing anything,
but particularly people or animals.
One of those is spatial relationship. How far is it from the brow to the bottom of his hair.
That’s a simple spatial relationship. You can hit it just right or you could be off.
Either way, that’s a spatial relationship.
Next, we have anatomical relationships. Well, for instance, we talked about a muscle coming up here from
the jaw to the corner of the mouth. If that line or that short little angle is expressed or placed in a different spot,
you may have missed out on your anatomical relationship. It will look off.
You see, if you get both of those, the spatial and the anatomical relationship, you would think,
well, there we go. Say no more. No.
Just because a writer can write a manual for a piece of equipment, machinery, what have you,
and it’s perfectly accurate, it describes the workings of the machine. All of that is right on.
But, it still as not as good as somebody who has studied the final and telling relationship.
That is rhythmical relationships.
If I were to do a tracing on my own drawing, put a piece of tracing paper over it, I’m sure I could find,
I know, better rhythmical relationships among my forms. If we look at the work of Leyendecker or Mucha
or any number of other great artists, sculptors as well, oftentimes what separates an accurate artist from a truly
great artist is the third type of relationship. Not just the spatial. Not just the anatomical even,
but the rhythmical relationships. That’s what you’re going to find.
Even if you’re not really looking for it, you’ll sense
it in the work of almost all the artists whose names I’m mentioned in this lesson.
Okay, so that’s essentially where we are with this one.
Once again, just broken down into simple geometric lines. A few of the edges are softened.
Reminders to myself that if I were to carry the farther they would need different sets of edges.
Finally, I better put this in. This is where his hair changes from light to dark, i.e. from shadow to dark.
Don’t get caught up in the little rhythms. When drawing drapery, you draw the folds.
The creases come later because that’s the form. The crease is our texture.
When we’re drawing hair, we draw the form of it before we draw the texture.
down flat tones or fields of value.
We have here in my demonstration, a second demonstration, a map just like the first one.
Except I want you now to go in an apply an even value for all of your dark pattern.
When I do the next drawing, or I should say when I do the final drawing, I’m going to
do a complete range of values from black to white.
But here, I just want to lay down a tone that’s even from all of my shadows.
I overlap one stroke over the other.
You may want to grip the pencil like this, thumb opposite your middle finger, index for
pressure and direction.
Or, in this case, I don’t really want to smudge all this, so I pull back and hold the
pencil like that.
That’s not particularly a great grip for laying down your blacks and your darkest values.
For those you’re generally using more pressure, so getting close to the point is good.
Yeah, okay, we have choices.
When I put down the flat tone I could draw across the form.
I could draw against the form.
I could draw along the form.
This is where the form turns.
The most harmonious way to start off is to draw with the shadow edge along the form.
I don’t keep one side of the pencil to the page at all times.
That would tend to flatten out the pencil side.
Then I couldn’t use it for certain other applications.
Instead, I will—as I do it you’ll see I’ll rotate that, and that will keep the
lead nice and sharp.
Now, there are other mediums.
For instance, if I were using wax pencil, I might do something else, such as a chiseled
But here, I use the shape of a lance.
It still has not gotten dull after all the work I’ve done.
Just overlap your strokes as though you are vacuuming a carpet or rug or as though you
are mowing a lawn.
I don’t like to put the strokes down typically vertically or horizontally.
In other words, parallel to the picture frame.
I think that’s kind of static, a little bit boring.
You could, if you chose, in the finished drawing, and I’ll demonstrate a bit of this in my
second drawing of Brutus.
You could kind of burnish your value or your even tone using 2B or 4B General charcoal
pencils or Wolff’s carbon or some other brands of charcoal pencil.
Conté tends to have a slight grain to it.
It’s nothing for this exercise that bothers me.
I mentioned that there was reflected light under the head.
I also said I want to ignore that.
If you squint, the reflected light goes away, and that’s the way we really see the subject.
In a finished painting or drawing, you might want to suggest some reflected light.
But for this exercise, don’t bother.
Just simplify everything.
I simplify two shapes into one repeatedly throughout this demonstration.
And now I’m simplifying two shadows or more into one value.
You can slightly overdraw the silhouette you see.
It’s easier than trying to stop right at the edge.
It’s simple to go back then with your eraser and clean up any of that that you choose.
I recommend that you practice putting down even tone.
With any medium that you’re working with, whether it’s ballpoint pen, watercolor,
Conté, graphite pencil, pastels, charcoal, wax pencils; whatever medium that you’re
using, you’re going to have to learn how to put down a flat tone.
Does that mean you’re going to use a flat tone everywhere or all the time?
No, but when you need to you’ve got to have that skill developed.
Once with a new medium I figure out how to put down a flat tone, the medium is mine.
I own it because all the same principles apply.
Whether you’re working in casein or oil, acrylic, beeswax, airbrush; it doesn’t matter.
If you’re able to put down a flat down and you understand the principles that you’re
going to use and abide by, then learning a new medium is easy.
Now, I remember in high school art, which for me was centuries ago, I remember the emphasis
was on let’s get more supplies for our students.
We only had one art class for 3000 students.
So, what were we going to do?
How can we make it a better art class or program?
Well, let’s get more different mediums.
Let’s get pastels.
Let’s get watercolor.
Let’s get wax pencils, charcoal, graphite.
Let’s stock up on a lot of different mediums, and this week we’re going to do pastel.
Next week we’ll do pen and ink wash.
Next week we’ll do pen drawing, pen and ink.
Over the course of 20 weeks we will have encountered at least a dozen different mediums.
But at no time were we ever given instruction on the principles.
That would be like taking a writing class and in the first week
you write with a Crowquill pen.
The next week you write with a graphite pencil.
The next week you write with a typewriter.
Then you use a word processor.
Then you type on a computer keyboard, so you write on that.
But without any instruction in syntax, sentence structure, grammar, it doesn’t matter what
you’re writing with.
It could be a stick on a curb where you dip into the mud and then write with that.
Or, like I say, it could be a very sophisticated piece of technology.
It really doesn’t make any difference.
You should be able to pick up any medium.
This is a great thing to think about—it’s exciting actually—you should be able to
use any medium to express yourself.
I have had students who have come into my classes, and they’ve been doing pastel for
the last 30 years or watercolor.
Then I have one of my students who says, oh, that looks like fun, I want to try it.
Within the first session or two, they’re painting rings around the other student who
has all this specific experience with pastel or watercolor.
The reason why they’re immediately outshown is because they’ve got experience with the
medium but not with the principles.
The time spent with a medium is not equivalent to the progress achieved.
You have to draw with some understanding.
Alright, let’s go about the same process on the dying slave.
And this will also give you a chance to see how I can suggest some of the texture at the
edge of the form.
We’ll just vary that slightly.
One of the things that you’re going to almost always encounter is the issue of where exactly
does the shadow stop and the light start.
Let’s look here, for instance.
This is a very obvious example of that issue.
I’ll show you how I would decide that.
One thing for sure: Don’t leave it up in there.
You might not like your choice when you look at it a second time, but make a decision.
Don’t be waffling when you’re trying to draw.
That’s not something sculptors or draftsmen or painters can afford to do.
Just go out—there is no penalty if the person on the bench next to you
decides to do it differently.
Sometimes either way will work.
One thing that doesn’t is if you try to just split the difference.
That usually results in what we call muddy drawing.
I’m trying to change you to make decisions.
That takes us back to the different kinds of lighting, and the three basic kinds of
lighting are form lighting, that is to say, a single source of light like this today.
Ambient lighting which is a notan type of composition, where the light is pretty even
over the whole subject.
The third type introduces a second source of light as a rim light.
It comes slightly from behind or the side of the subject on the shadow side of the subject.
That’s really good.
It allows us to be quite dramatic, and it gives us a description of the form.
Not just from the form light itself, but from the opposite side.
It’s very effective.
It’s very dramatic.
When I studied, started off, the one that gave me the most difficulty, and I’d say
all my fellow students, was ambient light.
That’s where you have multiple light sources.
Frequently, you’ll be in a room with fluorescent lights all around, and so you don’t really
get a light and shadow pattern as such.
Maybe in some of the small areas around the lips and the eye sockets,
but for the most part, no.
In that case, I recommend starting off doing studies with single-source form lighting,
then also becoming pretty familiar with your subject matter.
Maybe it’s a particularly species of weed or something or an animal.
If you do that, then it’s going to be easier for you to draw in ambient light.
After all, there is a little bit less to draw in ambient light because for the most part
you’re dealing with overall lighting, and you don’t have to worry about setting up
your shadows or putting in light and dark pattern.
There is sometimes a sense that you’ve got a little more pressure on accuracy because
you’ve got so little that you’re using to describe that subject.
That’s one of the reasons I mentioned trying to become a little bit familiar before you
draw with whatever it is that you’re drawing.
That’s going to be who of you anyway when you’re doing figures and heads.
You can copy the light and dark pattern, but to really design it, you have to know it.
I actually find now that doing ambient light is easier than doing form lighting.
Quite the opposite of how I felt when I was studying.
You can suggest.
You don’t have to draw through on everything.
It’s a little softer, but not entirely soft.
That’s one of the keys.
It may appear very soft, but if it doesn’t have some hard edges to it’s going to go
quite mushy on you.
You have to become pretty adept at your design of edges.
Also, close values.
We’re not going to deal with close values on the shadow.
Even in the finished drawing, we’re going to keep the shadows simple for the most part.
A good rule of thumb is try to describe the form in the light and just suggest the form
in the shadow.
That’s how we see.
In this case, you’re going to have areas within the light that need to be suggested
rather than everything fully rendered.
It’s also very important to indicate, since you have nothing but a light pattern, to indicate
a fall-off in value, such as we talked about a little earlier where you’ve got the light
situated in such a way that the forehead, for instance, in our case, gets more light
and at a more direct angle than the rest of the head.
That makes that area the hot spot and the other areas darker correspondingly.
When we have ambient light that effect is not as strong, but it is there.
Without it, a form is likely to look flat.
When we draw and paint outdoors we’re going to see less of that effect.
The sun is 93 million miles away, so the fall-off is you have to measure it with scientific devices.
It’ll be so slight.
Indoor lighting is different.
That’s why a film that is shot indoors but is supposed to be depicting outdoor lighting,
they really have to play tricks.
The director of photography really has to know his or her business, and the equipment
has to be such, and the angle such, and the intensity of the light such; to say nothing
of the camera settings.
It really is a lot of work.
Just remember a couple things about outdoor lighting and ambient lighting.
Because there is so much light in the room and so evenly illuminating your subject, you’re
going to tend to get lighter shadows than you are in form lighting.
We think of two kinds of compositions: light on dark and dark on light.
But beyond that, we think of what we call high-key drawing or painting, and another
that’s a low key.
If you think of Monet, that’s typically high key using the lightest values.
Otherwise, since he’s a colorist, he couldn’t probably pull off some of his greatest work.
On the other hand, Caravaggio and Rembrandt really can’t be called outright colorists.
They knew their way around a color palette, but their emphasis was more on value and drama.
Their paintings tended to be what we call low key.
Sargent, some of his most famous work is high key, and some of also
his most famous work is low key.
For better or for worse, most painters tend to fall into one category than into the other.
Caravaggio would be low key.
These are generalizations, but I hope you get the point.
In ambient light, that’s one of the big differences.
The gulf between the value of your average light and your average shadow is a much narrower
gulf than it would be in form lighting.
You could come all the way from almost white on the forehead into a shadow with no reflected
light that’s almost black.
So, don’t go too dark on your shadows when you’re doing ambient light.
As I do this, I’m considering also the edges between the light and shadow.
If the form is rounded like here you can soften the edge.
That’ll give a sense of a round cross-section such as a sphere or a cylinder.
Then where we get overlaps like the upper lip above the lower lip,
your edge tends to be harder.
Overlaps are really critical in getting a sense of three-dimensional form.
Also, if you have a cut like this at the base of the cast, that’s going to be a hard edge
from his torso into the underplane of the cast because it’s thoroughly angular, as
you would expect in a cube or a beam.
Finally—well, not finally, there are two other kinds of edges.
One is a variation on a hard edge, and that’s called a firm edge.
We find that—you’ll find hard edges such as the bridge of the nose or the fingers,
the phalanges of the fingers.
You’ll also find firm edges.
It’s on the bridge of the nose and the cartilage beneath it have angular, hard edged turning.
But, because there is tissue—skin, fat, muscle—those edges on a living figure are
not thoroughly hard even though they might be on a skeleton.
It’s like taking a squared off table top and laying a layer of felt over it.
There is still angularity to it, but it’s no longer outright hard edge.
It’s now a firm edge.
It’s not soft and it doesn’t reach the level of hard.
It’s a firm edge.
Finally, we have what’s least common, but it’s here in this particular case.
That’s a lost edge.
If you go away from the firm edge of the chin, and you come up here along the side of the
jaw we see that because this is pushed against the torso, the edge has turned into a soft
edge, so soft that we would call it a lost edge.
A good example is the sky.
If you go out and you look at the horizon and then you turn your head ever upward toward
the very top of the sky, what you’re going to see is a gradation.
At the top of the sky it can be deep, dark blue, and then at the horizon
it can be foggy or light.
Then you ask yourself, alright, but where exactly did it change from light to dark.
There is no answer specifically.
It’s a lost edge.
It evenly transitions from dark to light, and we see that also in textures.
Sometimes if a person has frizzy hair then the silhouette of the hair will use a lost edge.
Sometimes if somebody is wearing a fur coat then the edge of the silhouette of that coat,
we can use a lost edge.
Anything more would spoil the effect of the fur.
There are a number of instances where we use it.
Also, for backgrounds.
If I wanted to put a field of value behind either of these heads, I don’t want that
to come forward.
I want it to recede.
Hard edges come forward.
Soft and lost edges recede.
That’s another way we can give form and dimension to our work by the use of edges.
I mentioned that there are three elements: shapes here, values, and finally edges.
Without the edges, everything could look cut out and plastic.
You should have a mixture.
A good drawing has some kind of a dynamic.
I don’t say balance because that implies that it should have 50% hard edges and 50% soft.
There has to be some balance.
If it’s all hard edges it looks mechanical.
If it’s all soft edges it looks flimsy.
The same goes for shapes.
There should be some kind of a dynamic between your angular shapes where two forms come together.
Even two C-curves can come together like this and create where they meet an angle.
At other times, they can come together like this, and it’s curvilinear.
You don’t have to put in just straights in order to create angularity.
You can create that between S-curves and C-curves and straights for that matter.
So, what I’ve done here with the issue I eluded to earlier, I’ve just used a lost edge.
If I use a soft edge then it may look like he has a rounded form, i.e. a jowl, and that’s
really not what I want to do for this subject.
I make a choice.
Everything we do is all about choice.
Don’t try to split the difference.
Make a decision.
Am I going to treat that a shadow, in other words a dark,
or am I going to treat that as a light?
Sometimes they’re so close that you’ve got to choose.
Sometimes as long as you try to make a decisive decision it’ll be a lot better than if you
try to create something in between.
Alright, so that’s the exercise.
Take a couple of these lay-ins and just not only separate the light and dark and distinction
between them, but go back in with a flat value.
I don’t recommend going in with a dark gray at this point.
You still want to be free to make some adjustments easily.
I put down about a 50% gray.
That makes it easy to change or improve or to correct.
By the time the drawing is finished, that is to say when I do my next study, which will
be a complete one, you’re going to have black and you’re going
to have a light gray as well.
Then your shadow, which I put down as a 50% gray, that’ll probably drop down to a 35%
gray, which is a quarter of the way down up from black.
White we call 100% because it is filled with light.
Black we call 0% because there is an utter absence of light.
That’s 0% for black.
That means the dark gray would be 25%, closer to black than it is to anything else.
That means that a light gray such as the half-tones on this head, a light gray would be about
75%, just 25% down from pure white.
We have shapes, values, and edges.
How we manipulate them, the options are enormous just with those three basic elements.
Okay, good, so the next drawing will be a finished drawing.
one of those three lay-ins, the one of Brutus, I’m going to go ahead and take this to completion
We see that we have a front view head just slightly above eye level.
We have a simple light and dark pattern, which I mapped out.
We have an almost triangular shape of light here.
On this side of the head is almost, so basically it’s light, punctuated by dark on this side.
Over here it’s dark punctuated by light.
I’m going to put down one, well, about a middle gray value, that’s 50% between black
and white and then I’m going to also make adjustments on the edge between the light
and the shadow as I go, but also come back in and do more working on the edge later in
I’ve kept the drawing light so that I can make any adjustments, changes, improvements,
corrections, so don’t go too dark, hold back, reserve your darks.
Alright, this is a 2B Conte a Paris Pierre Nior Conte pencil, it’s a hybrid containing
both wax and charcoal.
I’m holding the pencil down the grip and focusing on the angle near the tip, and I’m
drawing along at the form, you see here, as opposed to against the form.
That can be done instead of this, but I really think this is a better approach.
We can draw across the form once we’ve really established our light and dark pattern as
Harder edges will suggest overlaps or cast shadows.
Just a little bit of the upper lip is in shadow the rest of it is in a fairly dark half tone.
Just overlap your strokes as though you were vacuuming a rug, don’t leave gaps
between the strokes.
There’s an overlap so I keep a harder edge at the bottom of that shape, and here’s
a cast shadow over the upper eyelid and we pick up just a sliver of light on that lid
beneath which we get a shadow cast over the ball of the eye.
Cast shadows tend to have hard edges.
So don’t, don’t leave that too soft.
This plaster cast doesn’t have really any suggestion, it’s fairly slightly of the
iris of the eye.
So what you see here is not the iris, but the shadow cast over the ball of the eye.
I’ll raise that a little bit.
I’m going to curve this a little bit in a concave manner like, like that.
I don’t want it to be confused with the iris.
We’re drawing just form not coloration such as the iris or a darker complexion maybe on
the beard, which we often find in a male head.
You know, I mapped everything out already so I can actually skip from the hair to the
neck to the earlobe and so on, as I choose.
This eye is entirely within the shadow pattern so I don’t draw any of its details.
I merely place it in the world of the shadow.
You really have to look hard to see the construction of this eye, but at a glance you don’t even
have to squint in this case, but just right at a glance you can clearly see the shadow pattern.
So that’s what you focus on, that’s what you give your first attention too.
Just making some minor adjustments, design changes to this shape of the shadow and the
light right here.
Notice my stroke leaves a hard edge at the bottom of it because we have an overlap of
the tooth cylinder, lower teeth, above the, above the top plane of the chin.
You’ve had an exploration of line in these lessons now we must think in terms of planes.
A line by itself does not represent form, like planes are the very thing, form.
I’m still keeping things pretty geometric in their design, think you can see that.
Try to keep that shadow nice and even.
So again, here I have a hard edge on the right side not on the lower side so
I just move my pencil over and I come from the hard edge inwards.
This is a rounded edge or a soft edge because the form is rounded, that’s to say the frontal
prominence of the cranium.
Florence as well as other Italian city/states in the late renaissance or the
mid renaissance 15th Century and beyond were really, really asserting their independence.
This was a big theme for them.
They had been under the domination of foreign powers like France and Spain.
They had been under the domination of the Papal States, the papacy and so when Michelangelo
sculpted Brutus, who was considered one of the great liberators in Roman republican history.
After all he was one of the leading participants and shapers of the assassination of Julius
Caesar, who it was feared was either formally or just effectively going to establish a sovereign
autonomy over the republic in the first century BC, and he went down having raised an army
and led it to Greece, and there fought Marc Antony and Octavian, the future Augustus.
Those who later did establish the empire and did away with the republic, but Brutus was
a hero especially to people who were, you know, looking for models for their own independence
so he has a determined look.
We see the same thing in Michelangelo David, who after all slewed Goliath, and not only
defended the Hebrews in the Old Testament, but established an empire of his own.
Both of these, David and Brutus, was symbolic then and had a lot of meaning to the Florentines
of their day.
So when we think of that it gives attitude, purpose, expression to those two sculptures
and we don’t want to lose that in the process of a rendering.
Notice a great attention to keeping my dark field of value even.
If it gets too textural it can become distracting.
The two smaller lay-ins from the plaster cast, they dye-in slave and the Venus de milo, I
filled in like this, too, but in this case we’re going to go farther and take it to
the next step, which is to put in some key half tones, which will be light grays and
then place our darkest darks.
Then ever careful of the edges between the planes.
Again, notice that there is a lighter shadow value under the jaw and above the neck and
that is the under plane of the head and that receives from reflective light from the neck
and the pedestal and so between the two they cause that under plane to be lighter than
the rest of the body of the shadow.
At this stage in the drawing I’m not that concerned with it, but just as I’m going
to punch in my darker darks within the shadow for his other eye later I’ll place darks
around that under plane of the head so that we can see where the head actually overlaps
After all, it just doesn’t grow out of the neck in the same plane as the neck.
So I’ll go ahead and complete the shadow cast over the neck just as though it were
the same value as the shadow beneath his jaw.
I will have you look at the cast carefully now and I want you to see that if you squint
that plane beneath his jaw fades away into the shadow itself.
Only when you open your eyes fully does it appear different.
Now one of the reasons for this is that direct light is always stronger than reflected light.
So the light here, or here, or here, here, here, any of this is always going to be a
lighter value than any reflected light within the shadow pattern.
So one way of thinking of it is that nothing, not even the lightest light within your shadow
can be as light as the darkest dark within your half tone.
Nothing in your light can be as dark as the lightest form in the shadow.
Oh, but that looks just as light you’ll say when you look at it with your eyes open,
squint and you’ll see it’s not and it cannot be because after all, how could reflected
light equal or surpass the light value of direct light.
At most the reflected light is only a reflection of direct light.
There are little tricks we could play, various reflected plastic and metal surfaces and so
on, but that usually is somewhat destructive of the form, it doesn’t reinforce it, it distracts.
In our case here, the plaster cast has no such reflectivity in the first place.
You’ll see here under the cheek there is a half tone plane.
I guarantee a good number of students will let fooled by that and draw it as dark as
if it were a light plane.
No, it’s still, it’s still lighter than even the reflected light under the jaw.
I know you’ve studied how to put down nice, flat or textured fields of value.
Here it’s a flat yield of value that I’m going for at this stage.
You can get this with a wax pencil.
You can get this with graphite or pastel, it’s not with charcoal.
It’s not unique to Conte, but Conte is one of the most effective mediums to do it.
This head is just under life size so it takes a little longer to apply your tone,
but you still must do it.
The simple plane that’s been carved at its side and we’ll leave that just white like
the paper or off-white in this case.
Smooth newsprint doesn’t really go pure white and that’s something to remember to
because if you do have something that goes pure black and pure white that can be helpful.
It expands the total range of values between your lightest and your darkest, but it’s
not significant enough to matter in this case.
I’m using a slip sheet, which is just a blank sheet of paper preferably white or transparent.
Smooth acetate, clear acetate is a good substitute because not only will it protect the drawing
from smudging as your hand goes over it, it also allows you to see what’s underneath
to make sure that the relationships of your values is accurate.
So I’m going to do a couple of things.
First of all, I’m going to light gray and pass it over my important half tone areas
so the whole far side of his head, although it’s getting light, it’s getting it at an angle.
Therefore, it’s defined as a half tone.
Another thing you’ll see that the cranium with a hair is lighter even though the jaw
is receiving light it’s receiving it at a greater distance from the light stand and
also at something more of an angle.
So I will put in the planes like that, here for instance.
Remember now I cannot get as dark as the shadows.
If I do the drawing will suffer from what we call over-modeling.
Typically, that means the half tones are drawing too dark, almost verging on the value of your
shadow and that will not work, but I am looking for the major half tone planes.
Here he’s chiseled a hair, there is a suggestion of texture to the hair, but still it’s broken
down into chiseled even angular planes.
So here I’m really just drawing with the weight of my pencil, no need even to push.
This side of the hair mass is analogous to this side of the facial mass, so it falls
into a half tone.
Where else, here this plane, this furrow above the root of the nose, here the side plane
of the temple, here, but turning away from the light, still is in the light, but half
tone for this side of the cranium.
So I’m putting down a light gray family of values for my half tones, and I’m trying
to be pretty uniform about that, not lighter or darker with this light gray.
As I proceed toward the finish I can take that and make it slightly darker here, slightly
lighter there, but the family that it belongs to is a light gray.
Here we pick up the side plane at the bridge of the nose, that’s almost too dark, you’ll see.
The human eye is capable of seeing the closest of value changes, it’s, therefore, the bigger
risk is making your value jumps too great not too subtle with the exception of the core
value change from the lights through the shadows, those can be quite strong.
But within the shadow and within the light, they could be very subtle.
Notice here this plane, the under plane of the brow turns diagonally away from the light
over the eye so it falls into a half tone.
It gets smaller incidents of light than the forehead here or here.
I talked about this plane beneath the cheek or the zygomatic process and how it’s a dark half tone.
Well, you might not see that dark if you measured against that, but because it’s surrounded
by light planes it appears darker than it really is.
So one of the things you’re going to run across in drawing figures or anything really,
is you’ll see something like this and you’ll have a question.
You’ll ask yourself, well, is that shadow or is that half tone.
If you squint it helps, you can see it masses with the lights, it fits together with those
values, but there’s another way you can make a judgment.
Ask yourself is it surrounded primary by light planes or is it surrounded primarily by dark planes?
If it falls into a region where it’s primarily surround by light planes than you probably
want to treat it as a half-tone.
A good example in figure drawing is the navel.
It’s almost always surrounded by light planes and so you don’t want to draw it too dark.
Sometimes even when it’s in shadow you would want to draw it just as a half tone.
Everything as I said in our previous lesson is about making decisions, that’s what makes
you the artist or the draftsman.
You’re never going on autopilot and just copying.
Once again if you were just a copy well, I guess you could go out there and get some
measuring device and you would have about a billion different values just on this head
alone and if you want to copy each one, there you go, you don’t have to make any decisions
anymore; freedom from choice, but that’s the opposite of what a painter or any artist does.
It’s all about choice.
In fact, without making those choices we get a completely different yield for our efforts.
Photography is a form of art in itself, of course, but it’s not inherently prone to
making those kinds of choices that a painter would.
I use photography a lot, all the time in my work, but I don’t use it literally.
I take advantage of it, I can see certain things.
I can speed up a process whether it’s a portrait or an illustration and so on, but
it’s not the same as the choices a painter has to make.
Having said that, photographers learn a lot when they take a drawing, total drawing or
painting, and painters can learn a lot by understanding photograph, too.
So I’m not elevating one over the other, I’m just making the distinction that’s
very important and clear and obvious.
So now here later on when you study head, head structure independently of texture line
or tone then you come to understand what some of these forms represent.
There are two that will help you, that will help save you from just copying.
In this case this is the under plane of the zygomatic process.
The zygoma is the anatomical term for the cheek bone.
See I got a little incidental accent right there in the process of applying a value to
it, so I’m pretty ruthless I take it out now, I don’t leave it for later.
Every little mistake you make gets left on the drawing or on the canvas, it will affect
your following work on the same drawing.
So you have to try to correct them when you see them.
This is a really important form in the structure of the head, it’s called a muzzle, it wraps
around the whole front of the head or the face, but that doesn’t mean it presents
itself as a very dark form.
That depends on the lighting.
In this case, it’s a subtle form and behind it the jaw, remembering that the head is a
box it has a front plane and two side planes; well, this region is the side plane of the jaw.
So it’s falling off in value and the neck too, you’ll notice it’s not nearly as
light as the forehead.
So we apply a relative value to it.
In this case, a half tone.
There’s a slight graininess even with smooth newsprint and Conte, so before I finish up
I’m actually going to duck over to some charcoal pencils, which are finer and use those, too.
Let’s go in now for our darkest darks.
Typically, your darkest darks will be cast shadows or changes in local complexion like
a dark eyebrow, which we don’t have to deal with here, or what we call the core shadow.
There are two kinds of shadows, there’s a form shadow like this where the form turns
away from the light and there’s a cast shadow like this, where the brow is casting a shadow
over the form.
The core shadow applies only to form shadows whether there’s spheres or cubes or the
bridge of a nose or the turning of the cranium from light to shadow.
Those are form shadows.
The core is the darkest part of the form shadow and the reason for this is at the point where
the, where the light turns into form shadow we’re getting the very least if any reflected light.
The reflected light you’ll notice comes in from the side here.
There’s atmosphere even in a room like this with a black background.
There’s distance between the cast, the background and there’s some ambient light that comes
in from, since we’re not working in a perfectly black room and I couldn’t see my drawing
if we were, so that’s one reason.
Actually, I guess that’s the only reason why it is, but it’s very critical.
Here we have the wing of the nose up close against the form of the face, it doesn’t
allow for too much reflected light in the cast shadow here along the septum, which is
part of the nose that turns under from its front plane or top plane.
Here underneath the wing of the nose you want to emphasize a certain amount of angularity.
Don’t make it too mushy or rounded, that might be good for Santa Claus, but it’s
not really the way, it’s kind of the way my nose is, but other than that, give it more
angularity as for the most part we have here.
So I want to make sure my shape is satisfactory before I apply that dark value to it.
So you’ll see me carefully restate that whole passage until I’m happy with it.
One of the reasons the entire upper lip is not completely in shadow is because it’s
overlapping the lower lip and getting reflected light from it, but there are passages along
the way that are deep enough that they don’t get such an amount of reflected light.
We see this commonly in the living model, too, of course.
Notice there are lots of little dimples or chisel strokes on the cast, ignore that.
We’re doing a study of the forms of the plaster cast not so much the textures.
Let’s establish to our satisfaction the shape of this eye socket and its darks, that
is to say shadows.
Now once we’ve done that then we can go into the other eye socket and drop in accents
within the shadow, and once I’ve got that completely to my liking then I’ll go back
in and suggest the construction of the other eye.
Remember in the light as a rule you want to describe the form.
In the shadow you merely want to suggest the form.
You don’t want equal description between both or that too will destroy your light and shadow.
Now having said that if this head were predominantly in shadow and a smaller percentage were in
light you can flip it.
You can then describe the form in the shadow and just suggest the form in the light, but
the bottom line is you don’t want to describe both the light and the shadow with equal definition.
Here’s a very strong edge, almost a hard edge fitting into the valley between the eye
and the nasal bone.
Now here’s a tricky area, this is a small dark shape, a shadow, but it’s surrounded
mostly by lights.
So we may revisit that a little later and tone it up in value a little, but for now
I’ll put it down as is.
You know, I’m still employing just my three basic shapes, straights, C-curves and S-curves,
which goes to point out that they are not exclusive to one family of values or another,
and they are not always hard or soft edges.
Those are the three variables we have, shapes, values and edges, and the shapes I’m just
using those three basic straight, C-curve and S-curve.
Now if I didn’t vary the edges of those it would undoubtedly look mechanical, plastic
or too mushy or either of the above, but by varying those edges we can use simple, very
heavily designed, simplified shapes and still have a naturalistic affect to them.
There’s a shadow cast by the hair over the forehead and then here
we get one of our harder edges.
You’ll also notice I’m not going to dwell on this at this stage, but just so we can
reinforce what I’ve been saying earlier, this is a lighter shadow than the others because
it’s reflecting light from the plaster hair next to it.
It’s actually very, very good and ultimately necessary that when you make variations in
value within your shadow or your light, that you can ask yourself, hmm, well why exactly
is that a lighter area or why exactly is that such a dark half tone.
So keep focusing on these changes in value and at every turn ask yourself,
well, what’s causing that.
That will really help you with each succeeding drawing you do.
It will also help you if you’re making up heads and figures or any objects with imagination,
because we can expect these particular variations.
We understand what causes them.
We know, for instance, that a rock lying on the ground often has it’s under plane lighter
than the rest of the rock because its reflecting the dirt or the sidewalk or the other rocks.
We also know that clouds sometimes are lighter underneath than at the top depending on circumstances
because they also reflect light from the ground below.
I’m going to digress for a moment, but importantly this is the silhouette, this is where the
sculpture overlaps the background in the shadow here and the light here.
You cannot leave your lightest light such as that at the silhouette because the form
is turning away from the light and, therefore, it rolls into a half tone.
If it’s left as the lightest light it will appear thin like cardstock, and by the same
token with your shadows you cannot have your darkest dark within the shadow right at the
silhouette where the form ends and the background begins because there’s
always some reflected light into it.
We can work on the conditions in a studio or for photography purposes, but in life that’s
the way things work if they are three-dimensional or if they to appear three-dimensional and
it’s a very simple basic rule.
But it seems a little bit harder for people to comprehend or at least take in because
I always find even very advanced students overlooking that pair of rules
so try to observe that.
Right off the way your drawings will have more form.
So one of the few little dark accents within the light pattern, there’s one here, there
are a couple here.
Try not to be too repetitive with those shapes make them a different length, a different
depth of curvature, whatever you can do to avoid that kind of monotony.
So let’s now go back into this eye socket and suggest the construction of his left eye.
If we go vertically on a plume from the wing of the nose that’s standard for where we’re
going to find the tear duct.
That doesn’t mean it will be there, but let’s start by going that way.
Here’s a recessed area that gets less light than the rest of the shadow so I’m going
to push it down to the same value as the core shadows that I’ve, the cast shadows that
I’ve been designing.
Remember this is not going to be a plaster cast about eyelashes and irises, it’s going
to be about pure form.
Then if I follow a line across the eye socket I’ll find the point at which the upper lid
overlaps, I’m sorry; the plane of the brow overlaps the upper lid.
Then in between those two points we get the angle of the upper lid.
On the whole try to avoid too many hard edges within the shadow because that’s a little
too descriptive and remember we’re going to be describing the form in the light while
only suggesting it in the shadow.
I’m trying now to find the outside of his upper lid and to do it I have a few friends
I can call upon.
One of them is lining up the turning to the side of the facial mask here.
If I put my pencil down as a plum line I can see whether the eyelid overlaps the socket
to the right or to the left of that, of that point.
That’s why I mentioned earlier if you find that your shape is erroneous than correct
it now because you may need to rely on it later,
and how can you rely on something that’s false.
Now that’s getting darker than my other darkest darks so I’m going to tame it, knock it back.
Do not try to go in with your eraser, which is after all a drawing tool, yes, but don’t
go in and erase the lower lids top shelf.
Don’t go in and erase the upper lid, just go darker around those forms, otherwise, you’re
probably going to be breaking up your shadow pattern and then violating the rule we talked
about, which is that nothing in your shadow as light as your darkest half tone.
I remember when I was studying in earnest that was one of the things that really helped
me once I began to observe that, that practice.
So I don’t want to go too dark or too light in my shadow.
You have to lean back or better yet, I’m sitting at a drawing bench with a camera behind
me so I tend to just lean back when I get a better view of things and when I do that
I get the proper relationships.
If I don’t if I draw here at a couple feet distance or less from my paper than I’m
probably going to get sucked into just drawing details when we really have to relationships
between values, between curves or rhythms.
So I strongly recommend that, you know, you can get up in the drawing, you’ll really
be enjoying it and then you’ll look up and several hours have passed and when you step
up take a little break you’ll go, oh my God, you know, realize,
you know, that was so long.
I didn’t know that that was so dark.
So as you work make it a practice of stepping back and that goes for drawing from a live
model as well as for a plaster cast.
Now I’m going to take a moment and I’ll go back in and erase some of the smudges and
then we’ll start going in for our absolute black values and we’ll also begin to suggest
the under plane of the head, any other important reflected lights.
Even though a plaster cast is matte, it does still have a few reflective qualities to it
and that’s what your eraser can be used for.
So I create like a ledge or a lip to the shape of my needed eraser that way I can draw with
it almost as precisely as I can with a pencil even if it’s just making areas more clear
than that eraser can be very, very useful to you.
So when two planes come together they often reflect the light source back at our eye and
those are called crest lights.
So we frequently see one here at the bridge of the nose where the top plane meets the
side plane, one of the most common examples.
We also see them on the kneecap or where the top plane of the lower lip meets the front
plane, but don’t become dependent on those to describe form.
They just help to further the description.
It’s funny, anatomy is helpful in drawing the head.
Ultimately, for those who want to go as far as they possibly can it’s unavoidable, but
so far I only mentioned the most obvious anatomical forms because what’s even more important
than the anatomy is knowing how to express form.
I’ve had orthopedists take my class and they certainly know their anatomy better than
I do, well, they should, but that doesn’t mean they can draw well.
On the other hand, I’ve had students, high school students they’re obviously not licensed
doctors and they can tackle the most complicated passages of a figure that are anatomical in
nature because they understand how to draw.
I take my car to the mechanic, I know nothing about auto mechanics, but my mechanic obviously
does, he might even be able to diagram the whole engine.
In my case, I don’t know anything about that, but I do know how to draw form.
So I would draw the engine of a car if I understood it’s mechanics and its, how it’s built,
but even though I don’t I can still draw it better than my mechanic can draw it because
I understand form.
I understand the key principles that, you know, we’ve been giving across to you.
I still haven’t made them as dark as some of them will be and that’s my next step now.
Even with a black background it’s hard to get a white object to go completely black
in the shadows, but there are areas that are dark, that dark at the core; I mentioned that
earlier and the body of the shadow can go a little darker too once I establish the darkest
of darks in the core.
So that’s what I’m going to do now and to do that I’m going to go all the way to black.
I wouldn’t do that earlier on for some of the reasons I mentioned, but just from a practical
point of view if I did this earlier tried to go all the way to black I would have to
put so much pressure on my lead that it would probably snap it.
My teacher used to say, and I think it’s helpful to think of this and remember it always
is that it’s not what’s important what’s in the light or in the shadow, but the story
is really told, the story of the form, where the two come together, where the light meets
So that’s what I focus on.
Now, the darker I go in my shadow the darker that allows me to go in my half tones because
I would still keep an appropriate gulf between the value of my darkest half tone and in this
case my darkest shadow so I want to put that in now.
If I start drawing or painting it in my half tones without having done this I can do all
kinds of nice subtle work and it would be in vain because the minute I put in these
darkest darks they would just blow away all that subtle half tone work.
So you always want to have your darkest dark and your lightest light.
We already have our lightest light; those are the areas that I didn’t touch.
Those are the values of the newsprint itself.
Here at the base of the nose I’m just going to disregard the reflected light under the nose.
It’s just my own design choice.
I feel that looks fine and so I’m massing the form shadow on the nose with the cast
shadow beneath it above the mouth.
I’m not going to do this for today’s demonstration, but with a black background
behind our cast sometimes it’s useful to draw that black background, put it in as black
and that will also help you establish the values of your shadows.
So, when we have two values that are next to each other that are very similar we can
mask them together as though they were one value, and that would be the case here beneath
the nose where the shadow is cast over the tube cylinder or barrel of the mouth; or what’s
properly anatomically as known as the maxilla m-a-x-i-l-l-a.
Make sure you keep the edge above the lower lip pretty hard because it’s an
overlap, the upper lip overlapping the lower.
Now if you do want to show a little texture while you’re conveying the sense
of form do it at the edge where the light meets the shadow, just break up that edge
a little bit, but don’t let yourself do it to the point where it distracts from or
distorts the form itself.
This should be a soft edge.
Okay, for some of these smaller areas, you notice I’m almost holding the pencil like
I would the pen, the Conte pencil like I would hold a pen because I’m so careful not to
disrupt or compromise the shapes that are trouble to design along that edge between
my shadow and my light.
You should really work, practice, do lots of homework especially to the point
where you can grade the value of your shadows or your lights.
So like here this becomes slightly lighter as we go up toward the top of the nasal bone,
but don’t get too precious about that.
Really, honestly, it’s almost best if you just kept everything one shadow value.
If I take a pencil, a charcoal pencil that is, this is a 4B and I go back over what I’ve
done, you know, it will darken it somewhat, but what it will do essentially it will even
out the graininess like this.
Let’s take this area.
Dotsa, could you sharpen this up again for me?
You may need a blade, I’m not sure, thanks.
Short, brisk strokes overlapping each other, this is how I’ll achieve a
nice even non-textural shadow.
You can sharpen this pencil just using a regular electric pencil sharpener or a handheld sharpener,
but I always prefer an electric sharpener.
Now for half tones, first of all I can really tweak the edges here
between my shadow and my light.
I’ve switched from a 4B charcoal pencil to a 2B Generals charcoal pencil;
that's the brand, Generals.
General is a very appropriate for our subject, Brutus and his war following Caesar’s assassination.
His army was opposed to the army of Octavian, and his co-conspirator or tyrannicide, Cassius
Longinus, was opposed with his army against Marc Antony.
Brutus pretty much crushed Octavian’s army, the future emperor Augustus.
Antony on the other hand was in the process of defeating Cassius.
These are characters you’ll find in Shakespeare play, Julius Caesar, one of his great tragedies,
but Cassius got the information wrong.
The information being that his fellow tyrannicide, liberator they call themselves, Marcus Brutus,
was defeating Octavian and then since he was getting the worst of it against Marc Antony
and he assumed the worst for Brutus, he committed suicide, and that left Brutus in a pretty
disadvantaged position from which he was defeated by Antony.
So in his own right, he was a pretty confident general, but all Roman generals, commanders
had experience as all Roman, almost all important Roman statesmen were powerful players in the
senate, had to have experience in some command position within the military.
Compulsory military service was demanded of every male for 25 years.
There was a yearning in the early 16th Century for Italy to become unified again
and even try to rival the days of the Roman Empire instead of being splintered into so
many small autonomous city/states.
So it was at the end of a second decade in the 1500’s that Niccolo Machiavelli wrote
and the book was published, The Prince.
The famous, or I guess sometimes considered notorious,
treaties on how a prince ought to govern.
In other words, how an autocrat ought to govern, and that was all toward this development,
which did not come to pass until the 1870’s, but yeah.
So, in the early 16th Century we have Machiavelli publishing The Prince, which is his famous
or some people think infamous treaties on how to govern.
One of the most famous points he makes is, ‘well, is it better to be loved or feared
by your subjects,’ and of course he said, ‘it’s better to be feared.’
His much larger work was the discourses on Livy.
Livy was a great Roman historian living in the time of Augustus in the first century
ID and the last century BC.
He wrote basically the annals of monarchic and republican and Imperial Rome, a lot of
the work is lost to history and archaeology, but he inspired Machiavelli as he inspires
a lot of people today.
So, this is kind of the thinking and the context that we have in 1500 AD, the renaissance,
the Middle Ages are passing away.
So I keep this lead very sharp.
I think context is pretty important, not only do I find it interesting in its own right,
but there is no art really without context to society and culture, that which is surrounding
it and came before it and leads beyond it.
I get students all the time who are beginning the course of study, they may even be really
good artists at that point, but usually the beginners are the ones who
have a little difficulty with this.
I’ll often ask such individuals well, who’s your favorite artist or favorite artists and
that will often lead to a kind of an awkward pause because usually ending in Michelangelo
or well, Norman Rockwell or oh, you know, the French impressionists.
Then I’ll usually ask I’m not trying to get them, catch them, ha-ha, but I’ll ask
well, what impressionist do you like?
And there will be another awkward pause and the answer will be, oh, you know, all of them.
So that kind of level of well, I don’t want to use the word ignorance, but just they have
not explored those who came before and those people, not just those I’ve just mentioned
but others, they’re our teachers.
They may be 600 years old, but they’re still out teachers today and so it’s very important
to know your context.
Our history has a particular meaning to practicing artists and art students, which transcends
the meaning to historians or even art historians.
It’s difficult to imagine somebody who wants to play guitar and they don’t come to learn
who Segovia is or put it in another realm of guitar player even Jimmy Hendrix.
So, if you’re not knowledgeable about such individuals it’s hard to form
your own personality artistically.
There’s a misconception out there and I think it’s kind of self-serving in many
cases people being a little lazy and it goes like this.
Well, two of them, one is if I study that than it’s going to interfere with my own
individuality, my own creativity.
Well, alright, then be the first one to ever to do that because everyone has studies predecessors
in the visual arts, any painter, any sculptor, any designer, and any draftsman.
So no, it doesn’t inhabit that it actually gives wind to your personal creativity being
exposed not just to the very finest, but also to a variety of people.
If I look at Gustav Klimt and then on the next stroke I look at Frederick Lord Layton,
well, they’re so different, but they’re both premised on really, really good understanding
of their materials and even more so the principals that makes them good draftsman.
So how do two such varied individuals hamstring your creativity?
The ignorance of such people is what hamstrings your creativity.
The other reason people will give for overlooking their study of art history or specific artists
is well, I’m so busy just studying drawing itself, I’ll get around to that later.
I don’t have time for it now.
I try to do an hour for every hour in class I do an hour of homework.
So where’s the time to study any art history?
Well, I’m sorry, I don’t agree.
To me it’s like a requisite and we can artistically walk and chew gum at the same time; it’s
really not a good reason.
Also, it’s inspiring and there are tough things, tough experiences, tough knocks you’re
going to take as you try to develop as a top rate artist, and so when those experiences
would occur with me I would just shift.
I’d shift to a different area that I really needed to know anyway.
So I would read a book about Sargent or about Caravaggio or any number of artists from any
number of periods, and then I would get engrossed in that and I would find it satisfying.
Then I was able to get over whatever frustrations I had from that day’s figure drawing and
start up refreshed and renewed and a lot better informed.
So those are some of the reasons why since we have this lifeless cast in front of us
I want to give it life and, therefore, I talk about that.
So many of my favorite artists were themselves deeply interested in history, literature,
a few of them were not.
This is true of music, obviously, we all know this.
Rocchini in Italy and Pytor Tchaikovsky in Russia, they were very nationalistic.
Rocchini was among the ones who inspired those who unified Italy in the second half of the
19th Century, and Tchaikovsky was inspired to write the Marche Slave and the 1812 Overture,
a large part because of Slavic Nationalism.
Mozart’s work reflects the enlightenment so what’s true and music and literature
is true for the visual arts as well.
I know that this is a hard to the touch plaster cast, I’m still going to soften a few edges
around the silhouette because we do not see everything in even focus.
If we did we couldn’t possibly process all of it, our brain wouldn’t work that way.
So I have to focus the viewer’s eye and then relieve the viewer’s eye in places.
This is the psychology of seeing or an aspect of it, which Palacos emphasized in his work
and has ever after been understood and used whether it’s by Rembrandt or Courbet, it
doesn’t matter it’s now a part of the way painters manipulate the viewer’s eye.
Well, I have this pencil sharpened again because you see now it’s gotten blunt.
I’ll switch back to my charcoal not my Conte.
Could you please sharpen this again, kind of from scratch, thanks.
Now we’re going to start pushing our half tones and I’m going to use charcoal pencil,
it’s less grainy and because I’ve gone so dark in my shadows I have a lot more margin
to put down darker half tones than I earlier would have had.
Charcoal, oh, I’m sorry, plaster casts are one way of studying other great painters,
but drawing and painting from reproductions or if you can from originals of their painting,
which you can usually get, you can do in the museum, is another way; and I really urge
you to do that.
I was a little reluctant to do too much after that after a time because I felt well, I really
want to focus on my art, but I mean, minute for minute, hour for hour, time spent drawing
from a painting whether it’s Jay Rome or Elma Tatama or whether it’s Norman Rockwell
or J.C. Leyendecker; that is as good of a learning experience as time spent drawing
for yourself or from live models.
It’s just that you need some of both.
You’ll find ultimately that drawing from life is crucial.
Drawing from casts supplements it or precedes it, but it’s necessary but not sufficient.
Now just because Michelangelo did not have Brutus to draw from life doesn’t mean that
he didn’t use models.
It’s possible to hire a model who looks something what you would imagine your subject
looked or you wanted to look, but then you just take those traits of that model that
you want to use in your finished work of art and you.
Here with the half tones I’m not necessarily drawing in
one direction, I’ve even scribbled a few shapes you see that?
It’s fine, just don’t go too dark.
Do bear in mind if you do go too dark you still have your eraser, you haven’t lost a day.
You don’t have to kill yourself like Cassius, you can always just erase.
You can erase it altogether or you can lighten it or both.
See how much darker I can go now on that upper lip, I couldn’t do that when my shadows
were just laid in and light, but now the shadows are pretty robust and I can go ahead and do this.
Now that’s a nice good tip, you’re going to need that.
Another great Italian sculptor of the 17th Century was someone I’ve gained a lot from
doing drawings from plates, through productions of his and that’s Gian Lorenzo Bernini B-e-r-n-i-n-i.
Sometimes it’s hard to draw from his images because they’re bronzes, not at all, but
in fact, a great number of them are stone or even wood, but the bronzes have plenty
Even then a good reproduction you can draw from and learn from too.
The issue of the day for him and for his patron, the church, was the reformation and the counterreformation.
Northern Europe is where the reformation started with Martin Luther.
There had been predecessors, but they didn’t make it too far before they died or were killed,
but when Luther reformed the German churches or some of them, visual art was something
that was to be outright destroyed.
The alters in the Catholic churches were torn down.
Van Dyck almost a century later had to leave, a century later had to leave Europe, central
Europe, Switzerland, to work in England because the Anglican church would tolerate, in fact,
looked for strong visual arts, but in the south we had Ribera in Spain and in Italy
and many others.
In Italy we had Bernini and Bernini, his, the quality of his work and he was also a
playwright and architect, that would reflect on the church’s grandeur and so in the north
in Flanders we had Rubens and in Italy there were others, but Bernini made in the foremost
among the 17th Century artists.
Anyway, so drawing from his work I’ve, I’ve learned his taste, his sensibilities.
I get a great sense of form when working from his sculpture.
At the same time it’s not like drawing from a death mask or something, oh, well, that’s
not a bad thing to do either, but if it’s Bernini, if it’s Sudon, if it’s Michelangelo,
if it’s among the best Hellenistic art, than you’re already looking at some so beautifully
designed that you can’t help learn from it yourself.
So you can almost think of these as your “in between values,” that’s a little bit vague,
but maybe you can get my point.
These are the values that you could not draw until you clarified your light and your dark
pattern very specifically.
If you enjoy meticulous, than this is the meticulous stage.
There’s a rhythm between this shape and that
zygomatic process we talked about earlier on.
This is probably the strongest or most obvious half tone on our subject.
I wouldn’t use Conte for this, it’s a little bit course that’s why I’m using
the number two, rather 2B General charcoal pencil.
All these small gray shapes they’re not independent of each other, they’re part
of a big sweep starting here and then ending here above the ear.
So knowing that means that we got to tie them together, they’re not just random individual shapes.
Now you don’t have to copy them stroke for stroke as though you’re going to try to
do some kind of a, a forgery or something.
So if they vary or deviate from the absolute original it doesn’t matter, other areas do.
The facial features, the big shapes of the cranium, face, jaw, but little details of hair, no.
A lot of the time I get people taking my class and early on in the class they say well, can
you show me how to do the furrows in the brow, I don’t really feel like I’m learning
it until I can draw the furrows in the brow.
Well, sure we can do that, but remember that’s texture it’s not really form in the sense
that we use that term.
So try not to get confused about what’s important in a drawing of three-dimensional
form; texture is secondary.
People travel from all over the country to the southwest and as part of their trip they
want to come back with artwork and they generally go right to pastels of Native American heads.
Well, that’s fine, that’s great, but their attitude seems to be well, the price of this
particular work is determined by the wrinkles, the more wrinkles and creases in that head
the higher I expect to pay.
In fact, a very skilled artist of that subject matter is not that concerned with the wrinkles,
they get the form before they concern themselves with wrinkles and then they’re selective,
they’re not all over the place.
So don’t be deceived by, boy that really shows the character of that head, look at,
that head has 300 wrinkles, the one next to it, I’m buying the 300 wrinkles because
the other one has only 50.
I’ve seen a lot of those drawings, pastel paintings, whatever we call them where the
form is absolutely flat, but the two-dimensional surfaces covered with lines, i.e. wrinkles
or what passes for wrinkles.
I was using my fingers like a fulcrum and then spinning off of it like this.
Remember no matter how light the reflective light seems it still has to be darker than
your darkest half tone.
I’m just about done; I just have to paint in this last area. Thank you.
I’m just using the most basic materials here.
If you really wanted to, but I don’t think you’ve studied it enough yet, you could
put down a pen ink wash, or as to say, you mix the ink with water and then you fill in
with that wash your dark areas.
Having done that when you want to go back over them and make them really dark it doesn’t
take as long because you already have a dark base underneath the work you’re going to
do with Conte and charcoal.
Go easy on yourself, don’t expect to do this all in one sitting, this is like I say
a pretty much life-size head and just do, protect, you know, your neck and your shoulder,
take some breaks than come back to it again.
All we’re doing now is finishing up by going out to the edge, notice I’m not leaving
an absolutely hard edge at the silhouette.
Remember soft edges recede, hard edges advance so we want to take advantage of that.
So I want to be sufficiently dark beneath the under plane of his head so
that we do get a sense of that reflective light under the chin here.
Notice I did not lighten the reflected light, I drew darker around the reflected light.
There may be direction to my strokes, but I’m not trying to create any kind of real
movement to them.
When it’s all said and done they should read pretty flat.
Now you notice I’m not doing this,
that’s drawing what we call station to station like this.
If you fill in your tone that way you can do okay, but you might
get a little choppiness to it.
So I’m just going like a plane lifting off a runway and my strokes go in one direction
not back and forth.
If you want a certain effect than by all means you can do it station to station, but that’s
not what I’m going for here.
There is no line on the edge of his neck, but I just feel the drawing makes more sense
if I put a narrow outline around it.
When I draw the head from life I actually try to think of it as a plaster cast.
I don’t go for little changes in value based on complexion I just go for the form.
I do include changes of value due to the incidents of light and then at the later stages in a
drawing or the study or the portrait, at that point I look for changes in complexion or
facial hair, etc., but not now not at the lay-in stage.
Just by firming that edge this looks softer.
If you do employ this device, this slight outline around the head, try to keep it nice
and clean using those three basic shapes;
C-curves, S-curves and straights.
This furrow is very light and it has it’s harder edge at the bottom where it overlaps
the furrow beneath it.
So make sure the edges are as they should be.
So I could actually take this, it’s kind of large it will take a while, but I could
remove all the texture off direction of the lines and take this to a very photographic
finish, and I hope you learned something from this that will allow you to do more effective
studies from plaster casts.
I’ve done two lay-ins, three actually and I’ve taken one of those close to a finished drawing,
particularly I’ve tried to explore carefully shadows versus light, half tones within the
light and to some degree reflected light within the shadows.
In all three cases it was imperative that we judge carefully the position and the width
and length of the facial features just as important, more so really, the treatment of
the cranium and the facial mask and the jaw.
Those are the three volumes of the head.
Plaster cast plays an important part, in fact, a historical part in our training and so if
you can draw from plaster casts you’re going to be very well served.
Our next lesson in this series is landscape with Bill Perkins.