- Lesson details
Beginning Figure Drawing represents the culmination of decades of instruction to studios and professionals around the world where Steve has honed his teaching philosophy down to a fun and efficient experience. This is Part 3 of the series, check out Part 2 here!
Despite his impressive bona fides, Steve specializes in making complex information easy to understand for everybody. Having watched Parts 1 & 2, your understanding of gesture, structure, and the parts of the body provide you with a foundation upon which you’ll project light and shadow. In this third and final installment of the series, Steve will give you a thorough lesson on the Laws of Light and show you how to follow and manipulate them in order to create graphically pleasing shadow patterns on your figures. To master the laws of light you need to begin to think of the forms of the body in three dimensions, and make decisions about values based on a given form’s relation to the direction and location of the light source. Steve will reflect on the decision making of the Old Masters, do multiple demonstrations to drive the points home, and render completed drawings both on his drawing pad and the lecture board.
- Sharpie Markers
- Conté à Paris Pencil – White
- Carbothello #645
- Strathmore Bristol 500
- Conté à Paris Chalk
- Charcoal – Alphacolor – Char Kole
- Conte a paris #1355
- Paper Stump
- Sculpy Kneaded Eraser
- White plastic eraser
- Sand Paper
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We’re going to look at light and shadow, how to break the figure down and all the body
parts down into the shadowy shapes and the light shapes.
Steve Huston is an internationally renowned painter and draftsman, who has worked for
such clients as Caesar’s Palace, MGM, Paramount Pictures, and Universal Studios and has taught
drawing and painting at Disney, Warner Brothers, Blizzard Entertainment, and Dreamworks Studios.
As the shadow comes out into the half-tone that’s flowing off the thigh
and it’s going to integrate these.
It’s going to be an out that takes us back into the next structure.
Let’s see how we can now create more reality, more nuance,
a little bit more technique in there.
Let’s get started.
We’re going to look at light and shadow.
How to break the figure down and all the body parts down into the shadowy shapes and the
light shapes, and let’s see how we can now create more reality, more nuance, a little
bit more technique in there, and let’s get started.
We broke down the basic structure, but it was very basic, and so we need a little bit
We really need a lot more information on each body part to understand how to capture it
in structure, and, more importantly really, to feel how the gestures move through that.
Each of these structures is going to be working on that fluid design line.
Remember, the gesture is what composes our figure.
It’s what makes it art in effect.
Otherwise, it’s just pieces.
That old adage, it’s not six peaches and apple; one still life.
It’s not a bunch of characters in 64 scenes.
It’s one story.
It’s not the steps.
It’s the dance.
Each art form is working on this binary logic, this binary process of the separate part in
relationship to the whole.
The reason is does that is because that’s our experience in life.
Our experience is what I am, whatever I am, is inside this shell.
This shell separates me from the world.
I have to reach out to touch the world.
As I feel like I’m getting wiser, the shell starts to dissipate.
It starts to become less functional.
And so, there is this real emotional, kind of disconnect and contradiction in life that
we struggle with moving from stages from childhood to adult, from achiever to old age where things
start to drop away, and we start to lose all the things we’ve gained in life.
All that kind of stuff creates a certain mindset in our minds, and it has since we were cavemen,
and it will when we’re spacemen.
It’s always been there.
Art tries to deal with that.
And so, our experience is, I am separate, and yet I’m trying to connect to the world.
I’m staring at a camera here, trying to connect to people all over the world that
I’ve never met, for the most part.
That’s a good metaphor for life.
We’re always in that position of being disconnected and yet wanting to plug back in.
Plug back in is maybe a bad metaphor in today’s world, but reconnect.
Art is trying to deal with that.
We’re really on a tight rope.
We’re walking a razor’s edge, as they say in poetry, basically.
We’re trying to balance between what we need as an individual and what the group needs
to allow us to fit in.
And so ideally each part has its own beautiful character, and yet makes the whole better
by its participation.
We’ll see that in painting.
If the color is too garish, it doesn’t fit into the composition.
It doesn’t harmonize.
Yet, if it’s too much the same as the other colors, it gets muddy and loses its beauty
and its character, and the whole suffers because of that.
That balancing act is what we’re trying to do.
We’re trying to find that balance between how things need to have their own individual
We have to understand how we move over the form, how it comes out of the paper, how the
light and the shadow patterns, the color harmonies work on it, line and tone, and all that kind
And yet, how it respects fits in and amplifies, glorifies, and builds the whole; gesture does
that in a very deep way.
So, we can’t let, as we start now getting more into the rendering, more into the detail,
we can’t allow the gesture to drop off.
We’ve got to keep it with us all the way through.
So, let’s talk laws of light.
Almost everything I talk about in these kind of lessons, workshops, classes, I’m just
making it up in a sense.
Oftentimes, usually I’m making it up by what the greats made up.
I’m just drawing from that deep well.
It’s all just convenience.
To say that this is a tube is not true at all.
In fact, it’s a downright, dirty lie.
But, it’s a convenient truth.
It allows us to get control of this.
What we find in art is reliant all the time, really.
This is a flat piece of paper.
We are not creating, we’re not capturing the likeness.
We’re not creating a bulging ball or head.
The chiaroscuro does not turn the form.
It stays flat, but we create the illusion, the idea of it.
The illusion or idea is really a lie.
It’s a concept that’s not real.
But, it has the relationships that reality has, and so we buy into it.
You can say, well, that lie is bad, but the right kind of lies can be very useful.
Metaphor is very useful.
If I want to talk religion and tell you about God, my God, I can talk about all day long
and bring out what I say is proof, or you can say I’m not going to talk about God
because I’m going to show you he or she doesn’t exist.
We won’t get very far.
But, if we use a metaphor, we can say God is a rock.
Or, you're sly as a fox.
We use these ideas because if we take something that we understand, we can use it and compare
it to something we may not understand or trying to get a handle on.
I understand rocks very well.
Rocks are solid, firm, they last forever.
You can build on top of them.
They’re a little bit dangerous.
All those qualities we can associate to something we don’t understand and get an end to it.
So, art on the poetic level and the deep-meaning level is working with metaphor.
It’s working with symbols, and so the light in a Rembrandt is not light that describes
the form—well, it is.
Of course, there is no form, so it isn’t on that.
Now I’m confusing myself.
But, the reason for that light is not just to turn the nose, make the nose pop off the
page, it does that—it has that idea.
But, Rembrandt’s light is this glorious religious light.
He was a Calvinist, basically, and in Calvinist’s theory life was corrupt.
It was all going to decay and die.
We’re all going to be worm food.
And most of us we’re going to hell.
It was pretty bleak.
But, the few chosen, if you’re lucky, if you’re pious, if you do good works or think
good thoughts, or if God just decided to pick you out, boom, you’re enlightened.
And so that Rembrandt light is this glorious light from this mystical above, this mysterious
aboveness that takes that rather homely flesh.
Rembrandt didn’t do good looking classic figures.
He was creating Aphrodite and Apollo.
He was doing these people with pock-marked skin and chubby faces.
It wasn’t aesthetically beautiful, but it was gloriously beautiful because of that light.
The beauty was not in the flesh, in the form.
The beauty was in the light or in the enlightenment on the form.
That painting of light and shadow in a Rembrandt was a metaphor to speak to a deeper idea.
That’s what it does for us.
As artists, I guess unfortunately, in a way we lie all of the time.
We make up things for convenience.
We have all sorts of good excuses for doing it.
But, the laws of light, that’s actually science, so in that sense it’s really true.
Usually art is dealing with the truth here.
Right now we get to deal with it right up here.
We can go into a laboratory and we can prove this stuff.
What we want to do then, what we really want this to do for us is show us what is in light
and what is in shadow.
I want to find the light and the shadow on the form.
And to really understand the laws of light, we need to put the object in an environment.
We’re going to have a foreground/background relationship.
Usually in a sketch class drawing the figure for five minutes or so,
we don’t have to do that.
There is no need.
It just is floating on the paper.
But, to understand laws of light, we need to put it into an environment.
Usually if we’re going to do some rendering, if we’re going to do picture making, we
have that basic foreground/background relationship.
We’re really dealing with two contrasts here.
We’re dealing with the light and shadow.
What’s light, what’s shadow, and what’s foreground and what’s background.
And so, we want to have an object.
We’ll put that object on a simple tabletop, simple environment.
We’re going to want to find what’s in light and what’s in shadow.
We’re going to assign values and actually a little bit of color.
All we’re interested in is value.
The reason we’re interested in value—well, there are these laws, of course.
We don’t care about that.
That means we get to lie for a living.
We care about values because value gets the idea of structure.
We’ll also find a little bit later it will give us the idea of gesture.
Value gives us those picture-making tools that we need.
It also creates the illusion, the idea we can fool the eye, the chiaroscuro, the Trompe-l'œil.
We can get the idea of real form, of things coming out and going into the page in a powerful
way and in an illusionistic way.
If we do it right for at least a little bit of depth, we can really fool the audience
into thinking it’s real if we wanted to, but we certainly can get a powerful feeling
of depth in there.
Notice when we do a lay-in like I’ve done here, like I’ve done here, that gives us
the idea of depth, but it doesn’t get us the feeling of depth.
We don’t feel it in our bones.
We just understand it intellectually.
Value is going to, on the deepest level—and of course color would too—on the deepest
level, it’s going to give us that sense of structure.
As I’ve said, value and gesture too.
We’ll just worry about structure.
The reason value does that is for a very simple reason, a formula.
Every time, because we’ve lived in this world, and this world has a consistent light
source, the sun in the sky and nowadays the artificial lights and the interior environments.
We’ve been conditioned to see this since birth.
Every time we see a different value, say on the skin, we look at the skin, it gets lighter
here and darker here.
We’ll see different values between and different colors between different objects.
Local values, local colors.
I’m not talking about that.
In the human figure, the flesh, the white young lady, the black young male or whatever
we’re drawing, we’re going to see a certain value.
We’ll see it consistently get lighter as it turns up toward the light source and consistently
get darker as it turns away from the light source.
What we see is different values.
Every time we see different values we see different planes.
Different value equals different plane.
What we’re going to find is as painters, as renderers of reality through value and
color, there is going to be several formulas that pop up that we’ll need to do with.
These are nature’s laws, basically.
We can measure them.
Different value equals different plane.
If we can map out the values in the correct way, the audience will feel, not just conceive
of it, but feel deep in their bones that volume, and they’re going to get the deep sense
that it’s coming out of the page or going back in the page because of its character
or because of its position.
So, there we have it, that’s what we’re after.
Let’s get started.
What we need is a light source.
Whenever you start doing any kind of rendering in light and shadow, make sure you’re very
aware of where the spotlight or the sunlight is coming from.
You can actually draw a little arrow to point that out if you need to.
Everything that turns up and to the left is going to get lighter, and everything that
turns right is going to get darker unless it’s blocked, like the table is going to
get blocked a little bit from catching light because of the ball on it.
That will be our consistent idea.
That’s what we call science.
That’s all I know about science.
What we need to find here is how the form turns away from that light source, and at
some point, that form by its own character will turn so far away from the light source
it becomes what we call shadow.
Everything before that is what we call light.
That point, that moment becomes a border around the whole form as the whole form has rolled
away in this case.
It could have just stepped away.
In this case it rolls away from our light source.
Everything beyond that becomes shadow.
When we render, we have a two-step process.
It’s really a three-step process, I guess.
We want to find the shape of the form.
Shape of the object, shape of the form.
We’re going to render into a three-dimensional form, but it’s going to start two-dimensional
as a shape.
For example, I want to find the balls, the shape of that sphere I’m going to beautifully
What I need to find at least on that ball is two opposing sides.
I can’t find the whole silhouette, but I need at least two sides of the ball, two opposing
The reason for that is I want to know how it begins and how it ends.
If I’m finding—let’s say the ball here for the thenar eminence, I want to get its
true volume, its character, the illusion, the idea, the different value/different plane,
all that good stuff, to sculpt it on the page, get the idea of this volume.
That form is also going to bump against or morph, blend into other forms.
Notice as we draw down the figure, we have a very defined width to all of our structures.
That’s where background begins to our foreground.
But, as we go down from end to end to end, that’s chasing our long axis gestures down.
As we go down, we’ll find that form almost always blends in some subtle way into the
The structure blends into the next structure.
You might have one big structure for the forearm, and you might have five or six or seven little
structures, little cable structures or knobby structures set into that bigger structure.
All those have to be rendered and dealt with, and they have to build up into light and go
down into darker half-tone or shadow in a very complicated way.
If we can find the two sides of the form, and the sides is what we want.
Then we’ll figure out the ends as they build and blend together.
So, two sides of the form.
In this case we’ve isolated it out to make live easy on us.
We’re just going to draw the whole thing.
I’m going to tend to do this.
I’m going to tend to draw two sides of the form, and then I’m going to render across
as I need to.
And I’ll do the next form, two sides and render across.
That’ll allow me to blend together.
So, back to our process.
Find the shape of the form.
Find the shape of the shadow on the form.
That’s what I did there.
In fact, let me bump it a little darker so we can see it.
Shape of the shadow on the form.
Then give that shadow shape a dark value.
When I saw a dark value, it just has to be substantially darker than the light side.
Depends on the lighting situation, how close the light source is, how strong the light
source is, the character or the form, how reflective or matte, absorbent the form is.
It just has to be substantially darker.
In other words, if you squint at it, you see two values.
What we’re going to do is we’re going to render in a two-value system.
We’re going to break any object that we’re trying to render into two basic values, the
light side and the shadow side, just as we have here.
There might be subtle differences.
I made the border subtly darker.
Let’s play that down.
There can be textural differences.
Maybe I cross-hatched in stuff, but when we squint at it, it looks like two values, a
light value and a dark value.
We don’t want to make it dead black because that’s going to make it feel like it doesn’t
breathe, and we’ll talk about why if you don’t already know exactly why in a second.
We don’t want to make it dead black.
It looks like a graphic cartoon.
It doesn’t look real.
So, shape of the form, shape of the shadow on the form.
Give that shadow a value, that shadow shape a value.
Usually the ground, the white paper, the toned canvas, the tinted paper in this case will
default as the light side value.
If you’re painting opaquely, alla-prima, you can mix in two specific
values for each side.
Then squint at it. Make sure it separates.
So, now we have the beginning...
By drawing the shape of the form, and then the shape of the shadow on the form, we have
the beginning of the shadow.
We have the end of the shadow.
The beginning of the shadow is called the form shadow edge or the core shadow edge,
or the beginning of the form.
The end of the shadow we can call the cast shadow edge.
That will be the ending of the shadow on the form, or if the form is big enough it may
well block one or more of the forms around it from receiving light, and so the end of
the shadow will spill onto, in this case, the tabletop.
So now we have the end of the shadow being the end of the form and the spillage onto
the tabletop, both.
That’s all shadow.
We call that cast shadow.
So, core shadow or formed shadow edge, cast shadow.
Beginning shadow, end of the shadow.
When I do the beginning of the shadow, I want to make it a somewhat soft line.
Now, when you’re dealing with a lot of your mediums you can blend it at any time.
Oil paint, watercolor you can blend for a while.
Acrylic you can blend for a little while.
Chalks you can blend any time you want.
Other things like ink, pencil without an eraser you may not be able to blend.
Start with a soft edge.
What I’m doing to get a soft edge is I’m taking my pencil or my chalk—we’ll use
a pencil here.
Taking my pencil, nice long tip there.
If I hold my pencil at a right angle to the stroke I want to make, I’ll get a nice,
If I turn my pencil in the direction of the stroke, I’m going to get a crisp edge.
I’m going to use the crisp edge as a metaphor for cast shadows.
It’s either foreground or it’s background.
It’s either on the ball or it’s on the table.
It’s either in light or it’s in shadow.
But over here on the form shadow, remember it’s slowly
moving from light into shadow.
And so, we want to show that slow transition.
When you want to show a slow transition in tone, you use gradation.
We’ll talk more about gradation in a little bit.
I want to set up for my rendering, gradations.
If I’m going to get control of any medium, pastels, oil paint, whatever it is.
Pen and ink, the fountain pen we use.
I need to be able to create hard edge shapes with whatever value I want to put in there,
and I need to be able to create gradation.
So, pen and ink, I’d have to use cross-hatching to build up my darker values.
Tighter hatches for darker values.
But anyway, that’s what we want to be able to do, create hard edge shapes and gradations
between those shapes.
That gives me the shadow.
It gives me the beginning of the shadow, the end of the shadow.
I give it a value to plug into the shadow.
This is all I have to do to get the idea of form, of structure, the idea of light and
However, it’s not going to be a full illusion.
It’s not going to fool the eye.
It gives us a good job, especially if I make that beginning form shadow edge, the beginning
of the shadow a soft edge.
If I do that, notice that does a tremendous amount of work for us, doesn’t it?
That’s all we have to do.
Likewise, let’s get rid of these lines.
Rub this out so it’s a little more rendered.
Notice that any form that I want to blend, I just go along the border between the two
values, and I do zigzags.
That’s going to blend them and eventually gradate them.
No matter what medium I want.
The more aggressively and doggedly I do that, the more rendered it will appear.
Having said that, what I’ve got now is, and let’s do a shadow here, or the front
of the table, say it’s in shadow.
What I have now is really this, don’t I, on that tabletop.
It’s light yellow.
Forgive my smudges.
It’s light yellow on the top, and it’s a scene on the front.
It’s light on the top, it’s dark on the front.
That’s what I have on here too.
Despite the construction of my shadow shapes and my contour shapes, all I really have here
is this all the way through.
Then it comes out here and goes down.
In terms of rendering, I haven’t explained how the tabletop separates from the ball and
shadow so it cuts all the way through.
The audience can make a very educated guess about what it does, but I haven’t delivered
Same way here.
I’ve made all that top, left section of the ball flat.
Then I’ve given a little gradation, a little soft edge to the beginning, and so it does
Likewise, I could soften this edge.
Like carpeting a stairstep, it would roll over a little bit, or a lot depending on how
much gradation I give.
I haven’t given any information on the light side, any specifics, and anything on the shadow
side I’ve just separated the values.
I’ve found the shape of the shadow on the shape of the form.
I’ve given it a value.
I’ve softened the edge a little bit to set up for my rendering.
That’s all I have to do.
Usually in a sketch this is all we do, but we’re going to take it farther, of course,
because we’re going to be rendering ninjas today.
That means if I want this form to have more realism, a better idea of volume, then I need
to talk more specifically about what’s in the light and what’s inside the shadows.
In the light side, we’re either going to have highlights, or we’re going to have
Anything that is not a highlight, and highlights are pretty easy to pick out, aren’t they?
They’re just that splash of light.
Anything that’s not a highlight is a halftone.
That means the halftone can have a value that’s almost as light as the highlight, and it can
have a value that’s almost as dark as the halftone.
I’m sorry, almost as dark as a shadow.
Let me say that again.
The half tone can have a value that’s almost as light as the highlight.
It can have a value as almost as dark as the shadow and anywhere in between.
Let’s go back to the beginning of the shadow.
What’s the beginning of the shadow really doing for us.
It’s a form shadow edge.
It’s a core shadow edge.
Those are just names.
They don’t really tell us anything.
It’s function, what it’s really doing for us is the beginning of the shadow is a
Notice what we did here.
We did that.
We did that.
It’s a corner.
It might be a soft corner or a crisp corner, but it’s a corner.
That’s why it’s so valuable to us.
If we can get that corner we’ve got great structure there.
I’ll show you later why it’s also a great gesture for us.
But for now, let’s just think structure.
Anyway, that becomes a corner.
That helps turn the form.
Corners is structure.
It helps us move correctly over the form.
That’s the reason.
Different value, different plane.
That’s the reason that the laws of light are so valuable to us.
That’s the reason that when we put down smudgles on paper in the right way we get
a very clear idea and a real gut feeling of that underlying truth, even though it’s
Alright, so that means we have a highlight some place in here.
We’ll talk about highlights in a minute.
Everything else is halftones.
As we said, that means it can be almost as dark as the shadow and can be almost as light
as the highlight.
So now I’m going to use my zigzag technique, and I’m going to blend that up.
The more careful—and in this case, the more aggressively I scrub to blend that chalk over
the imperfections of the paper and the smudges on the left mucking around, the more real
it will be, and so you start to get that clear sense of light and shadow.
That’s working better, isn’t it?
Rediscover our shape.
Okay, so that’s that.
Okay, so we’re getting the idea there.
Now, let’s talk about highlight for a second.
If we play pool, here’s my ball.
Here’s the pocket I want to put that ball into.
If I want to get that ball in that pocket?
How do I get it to go in?
I take my pool stick and I hit I here.
It hits that and bounces over there.
Depending on where the ball is, I’ll have to balance it at a different angle.
It’ll go in that pocket if I do it right.
This is light source.
This is the light coming from that life source.
This is the form that the light source strikes, This is our eye watching I happen.
So, when we look at something and see it become lighter on the light side and darker on the
dark side and all those in-between values, it’s because light bounces.
Light reflects just like a cue ball on a pool table.
If you strike it at just the right point, it’ll bounce and we’ll see that at the
That right point is the highlight.
Right exactly there.
However, if this ball, the light source stayed in the same place, but we moved way down to
the end of the table then the light would have to hit here.
The ball would have to hit here.
The ball would have to hit here to go in the pocket, and the highlight can move.
If we have a reflection on the watch and we do this, we’ll see the highlight on the
watch move a little bit because it’s bouncing.
This whole general area is getting splashed with light, basically the same amount of light.
It’s little packets of light, and so it’s like water drops.
If you do it here you might get wet from that water drop.
If you come over here you might get wet from that water drop.
This will be soaked.
This is soaked with light.
The gist of it is, the highlight, depending on where we’re at can move around.
It’s not going to move way down here, but it can be anywhere in this upper left area.
And since it can be in any of those spots, we’ll put it exactly where we want it eventually.
That’s going to be useful for creating really great form and really great design.
But for now, all we need to know is that light bounces.
And so, we have then another formula.
Everything that receives light is a source of light.
Everything that receives light is a source of light.
Since light bounces, it’s striking the ball and bouncing to our eye.
Well, it’s not just biased to our eye, it’s striking the ball and bouncing to everything
else that it can reach.
The light strikes this ball and bounces to us, but the light also strikes the tabletop
and bounces to us.
Where it becomes shadow, that’s by definition no light hits it.
The light source doesn’t hit it.
The direct light only hits the light side.
Since light bounces, the light source comes and hits the table.
The table bounces to us and we see it, but it also bounces up into the shadow into the ball.
As the ball turns under, it no longer receives direct light, but it can receive plenty of
this bouncing light.
Everything that receives light is a source of light.
Everything that receives light is a spotlight.
Here we go now.
The ball turns under towards the tabletop.
The tabletop bounces light up into it.
We’re going to get a gradation this way because as the ball slowly rolls up toward
the beginning of the shadow then into the light, it’s going to receive less and less
of that bouncing light generally.
And so, we’ll get a natural gradation.
And there you go.
Now, squint at that.
Doesn’t that look great now?
Guys, doesn’t it look great?
It doesn’t look great?
It looks lousy?
Squint at it.
Yeah, it doesn’t look very good, does it?
What did I do wrong?
Everything that receives light is a source of light.
The direct light hits the light side, bounces to us, we see the values.
As that form turns, more or less directly towards the light or away from the light,
it gradates in value.
Same thing happens in the shadow, but it’s receiving indirect light.
Nature really works with two light sources in effect.
That’s what the impressionists taught us so well.
That shadow side is catching light, but it’s catching indirect light.
A different kind of light, in effect.
It also, as it turns more directly towards that indirect light source, gets lighter,
and as it turns away it gets darker.
So, what did we do wrong?
We forgot our first rule.
Different value, different plane.
Now, there are a lot of planes in here, but the only two planes we’re interested in
are two initial values of light and shadow.
Remember where we started here.
We had a shape of form and then a shape of shadow on the form, and then we assigned one
value to the shadow.
We kept another value.
We just allowed the paper, in effect, to be the light side.
And so, we had a really nice, simple constructed shape or structure, and then we put a really
nice, simple shadow shape and two-value system on that structure.
And it was great.
Then to make it even greater to set up for our eventual rendering that screwed us up,
unfortunately, but it still set us up for all the hopes and dreams of the rendering.
We made that edge a little soft.
That worked really well.
That worked really well, didn’t it?
So, what did we screw up?
Look at what our process was.
Usually if you screw up your process is wrong.
What did we do?
We started out with a nice two-value system.
And then we started to render.
And when we rendered, what did we do?
We came in here and we started to make that nice light value, one of our values to our
value system darker and darker and darker with gradation.
Of course, we put a little highlight up there, but the overall body of the halftone got darker
and darker and darker.
We could still see the different between light and shadow, but it wasn’t as powerful as
it was before.
Our process actually weakened our idea.
Then we came in and we added light to the shadow again.
This was a direct contradiction to our idea.
Our idea was that shadows were dark animals, and as we rendered on this, we made the shadow
lighter and lighter and lighter.
As we rendered on this, we made the light side darker and darker and darker.
What started as a nice two-value system—here’s our two-value system—if I make the shadow
side a different value than the light side, a darker value.
Di9fferent value, different plane.
You see that box logic.
If I make the shadow side the same value as the light, it flattens.
What we want to do is make sure the shadow is dark and the light is light, and the two
We’ll know that we compete if we squint and see them working together.
Here we squint and it’s all one big mess.
Different value, different plane.
Same value, same plane.
Different value, different plane.
That’s what we want.
If we want some rendering then, we’ll make the dark plane or planes compared to the light
plane or planes, we’ll just put a gradation between the two.
But when we squint, we still want to see all of the shadows to be dark
even if they’re gradations.
They’ll be dark gradations.
We want all the light side to be light gradations.
We still want to feel that corner.
We still want to see the shape change on that.
And so, when we squint the shadow still has to stay a shape, despite all the rendering.
The light still has to stay a separate shape, despite all the rendering.
The squint test.
Let’s try it again.
We screwed it up.
Let’s try it again.
What I would prefer then, and it’s one of the reason I like toned canvas and tone paper,
is I’m going to start out with a darker surface.
You don’t have to, but it makes it easier.
Then I’m going to draw the shape of the form, shape of the shadow on the form,
whether it’s on the form or casting onto the next form.
Get the beginning into the shadow.
Make the beginning of the shadow a little softer or at least have the medium set up.
I know I can make that softer.
You can have any kind of painterly technique, we just don’t want it to be so painterly
that it creates a texture that distracts from our value.
It wasn’t before, but we’ll soften that a little bit.
There you go.
Notice this is kind of a minimal value.
This is middle light and this is middle dark.
But now watch what I’m going to do to render.
When I render now, rather than adding light values into the shadow and dark values into
the light, I’m going to do the reverse.
I’m going to go ahead and soften that gradation, so there I added a little bit darker value
into the shadow.
But still, we’re into the light side, but it’s still…appreciably the same.
God, what did that take me?
Four tries to do that, you guys?
But, I got that word out.
You hang in there.
If you’re a real artist, you stick in there no matter how embarrassing it gets.
That’s the most important lesson I can teach you.
Okay, so there I added a core shadow, and that’s why we can call the beginning of
the shadow the core shadow.
We get a core shadow.
What that core shadow is from is the beginning of the shadow is by definition where no direct
light hits it at all.
But, it’s where the least amount or none of the reflected indirect light hits.
And so on the form this is usually going to be the darkest part of that ball.
It’s going to be where no spotlight or sunlight can reach it, and very little of the bouncing
light can reach it.
It’ll get darker.
Notice what I did.
I made it nice and soft so we get the rendering.
And then what I’m going to do, if I want to show reflected light I’m going to do
one of two strategies.
I’m going to start from that core, and I’m going to gradate down from my very dark—notice
I rendered the shadow by adding darker value to it.
That’s reinforcing my idea.
I’m making the shadow as I render now.
Darker and darker and darker.
As I squint, I get a clearer sense of shadows as a dark, separate idea from the light side.
See how now my process supports my thinking?
It’s really important that we do that.
On the light side, I’m going to make it lighter and lighter and lighter.
I’m going to go now to the lighter halftones and gradate those down into the middle and
I cheated on my process just a little bit by softening that edge, so the very beginning
of the halftones did get a little darker, but the body of it stayed nice and light.
And as I rendered it got lighter and lighter and lighter.
Then I could put my highlight on there, and it gets the lightest of all.
Now, we haven’t finished the shadow, though.
As the light bounces up, it makes the underside of the ball lighter and lighter and lighter.
Notice if you want something to get lighter and lighter, you can make it lighter and lighter
We tried that.
That didn’t work.
Or, we can make—if we want the bottom of the ball to be lighter, I’ll make this middle
edge here darker and do the gradation.
Also, if I want that bottom of the ball to be lighter, I can make the top of the table
in shadow darker, because this shadow is receiving none of that bouncing light.
The light hits the tabletop and bounces off.
By definition, the light hitting the tabletop can’t hit this part of the tabletop.
It’s blocked by the ball from receiving the light, its shadow.
But, it can, and so it can, I should say, get very, very dark and help to separate that
bottom reflective area of the ball.
So, now I’ve made the ball much, much lighter on the bottom by making what’s next to it
If I want to look taller, I can hang out with short people or I can wear high heels.
I live in Montana so I can’t wear high heels.
We can always push that thing in the direction we want it to go, the contrast we want out
of it, or we can put something in opposition to it, to seem stronger.
Let me say that more clearly: If I want something to be light, I’ll make it lighter, or I’ll
put something darker against it.
If I want something to be round, I can make it rounder.
I can put something square against it.
If I want something to be detailed, I can make it more detailed, or I can put something
simple against it.
We always have two ways to go.
Now, since we’re dealing with a foreground/background relationship,
the environment is going to have a value,
so we’re going to give that background a shadowy environment.
Notice what happens.
When you start adding a value or values to the background, it can compete with the value
or values of the foreground, and you can lose the contrast.
Notice we get much more contrast out of the ball.
The ball really pops at the top area.
Where the ball was catching a lot of light, putting that shadowy
background into it is great.
It really pops it out, doesn’t it.
Likewise, where the tabletop receives a lot of light.
It really separates from the background.
Unfortunately, where the dark shadowy part of the ball met the dark shadowy part of the
background, it gets almost or completely lost.
We lose that part of the ball.
That’s actually a good thing.
That allows it to feel more real.
It breathes into the environment.
Remember, gesture is the movement between the forms.
How do we show the audience how we get from this to that, how they separate out as their
own character, yet integrate into the whole and become part of the group?
That’s what we want here.
We want the foreground to be different than the background, but not alien to it.
It needs to have a relationship with it.
And so when we can break the silhouette in our design, in our tonal composition it’s
called, when we design the whole environment, the whole picture in
light and shadow, foreground, background.
When we can break that silhouette, that’s a good thing.
So, there we have it.
Now, having done this, we can indulge and get a little darker in some areas of the light
and give up a little bit of that strong graphic contrast that we had in the beginning.
Our subject won’t suffer for that.
We can put a little dark in the light because we’ve designed it so well in the beginning.
Likewise, we can put a little bit of light in the dark.
But not too much.
Not too much.
Don’t do too much.
Use the squint test.
Make sure it’s restrained.
Less is more on that.
Okay, so we’re better off not putting any of that.
But, if you really need it, and sometimes you really need it,
you can go ahead and do that.
You can see how it can also create, start destroying silhouettes where maybe we shouldn’t
be destroying silhouettes.
So, be careful.
What I want then is a process that always reinforces my thinking.
So as we render we start out with the shadows middle-dark, and then we render them darker
and darker and darker.
Later we can indulge a little bit and break out that, go against that process.
On the light side, we’re going to start out only moderately light, and then we’ll
render it lighter and lighter.
That will reinforce.
The thing that worked nicely in the beginning becomes even clearer and more powerful at
Okay, so that’s what we’re after.
We’re interested in the highlights and halftones, and the shadows and reflected or bouncing
or indirect light that comes into those shadows.
Always to describe the character, the form.
If the form is square and flat, we can have little or no gradation and let that just be
the value it is, and it’ll be fine.
Keep a relatively hard edge, give or take what the rendered realism might suggest.
We could also use gradation on flat planes for effect.
We can have it gradate into the direct light.
For example, I might have a spotlight on the figure here, and it blasts the head in light.
It gets a little less blasting, little less direct light on the rib cage.
By the time we get down to the hands there is almost no light hitting it.
When we get to the feet it’s falling into shadows.
It drops off.
We can use the fact that unless it’s sunlight, that light source, artificial light will drop off.
It will weaken as the distance increases from it, as the object gets farther from it.
And/or, if we have a plane in space, a wall, ceilings, floor in this case, it’s going
back in space, it can drop away from the light source and fade out.
Or, the angle of reflection can change so you’re getting it glaring in the front and
less glaring in the back.
In any case, and you can come up with any excuse you want for this, I can create gradations
on the tabletop, and that gradation will help move the audience’s eye on that plane going
Anytime we have a plane that goes in and out space, in and out of the picture plane like
the pasture in a landscape, the tabletop here, the lap of a seated figure, we can put a gradation
on that, and that’ll help move it in space.
Then go light to dark or dark to light, whichever you want.
You can find all sorts of excuses to make it do whichever you want.
You can say I want it to go light to dark because I want the front edge of the tabletop.
Anything that’s closer to me and my world gets more detailed, stronger contrast and
maybe crisper edges.
Anything that gets farther from me gets soft and lost edges.
We can do it that way.
Or, we can reverse it and say anything that gets farther from me gets lighter and lighter
As that tabletop comes closer to me, it gets darker and darker and darker.
I can just do that because I want you to see the sharp, this strong separation of the background
I don’t want you to look at the front of the table, for whatever reason.
Notice you don’t want to both at once, though.
That would confuse us.
Okay, so that’s the basics of picture making.
And since these highlights move, we can push the highlights around
and even push the halftones around.
I can make this halftone flare up, or I can push the highlight over to the edge to make
a stronger separation of the ball from the background.
Nobody will ever question you.
We can move our tones a little bit for all sorts of nefarious reasons, for picture making
We can lie.
I love to lie.
Lie about those ideas.
All we’re doing is we’re doing a riff.
We’re just playing with these ideas, and as long as we’re consistent in our world,
and especially if we’re generally true to what our audience experience is, they’ll
buy into it.
We don’t even have to be that.
We can completely change it.
As long as we’re consistent, the audience will buy it.
They may not like it, but they’ll buy it.
That’s how we can create fantasies.
That’s what art is, in effect.
It is flat paper, but we’re giving ideas.
It’s how we can make stories about little boys who go to wizard school
instead of regular school.
It’s not real, at least as far as I know, but it’s consistent to the rules.
You walk into that world.
If we frame this, we look into this world.
If we’re consistent with our rules, we’ve got it.
the old masters did it because that’s who we’ve been stealing from all this time.
Let’s take a look at some beautiful drawings and start analyzing and see what we can learn
from those great old characters.
Here we have this beautiful Sargent portrait.
There are a couple of things I wanted to look at here.
Notice the symmetry and asymmetry.
We have this standing vertical portrait.
And we have light directly overhead, so we have just strictly drop shadows.
What is over here is over here.
What this eye socket and this eye socket are equally blocked out.
At the same time, we have an asymmetry in position.
He is off axis to us.
He should be here.
He’s over there.
That’s very typical of portraits.
They’ll play the symmetry and asymmetry.
We tend to think that symmetry is beautiful, and so if we show what’s over here being
equal to over here, and you can see even the hairstyle, it’s parted down the middle,
and it’s symmetrical, sweeps away and sweeps away.
You can see the boxy back of the head stepping out.
You can see the tones creating this symmetrical top against the sides coming down, all that
We tend to think if it’s symmetrical, it’s beautiful.
I think that’s basically because it’s healthy.
If you’ve got all fingers on both hands, you know it’s one of the things, the cliché
of the doctors saying, yeah, he’s got all of his fingers and toes when he’s born.
That means it’s healthy.
It’s going to have a healthy chance to survive in this maybe tough world.
And so, we find symmetry, really beauty is just mathematics.
If what’s over here is over there, it’s beautiful.
And so, most artists that are dealing with aesthetics, which are most artists, even today
I would say, they’re going to play that symmetry.
They’re going to try and make sure the shoulders are the same width from the center line out
on both sides, and the arms are the same length, and the ears aren’t—one isn’t high and
one isn’t low.
But then, that gets kind of boring.
That’s that kouros.
The contrapposto is playing things off position.
You turn things into a dynamic position.
If we have him straight on like this, and light him straight down like that, it’s
very formal and a little boring.
It might be actually a great way to go because everybody is doing things off axis.
In general, the head will turn into a three-quarter.
The lighting usually will be a three-quarter.
Not in this case, but lighting will be a three-quarter, or it’ll be in a front view and it’ll
still be a three-quarter.
You’ll get the little chunk of light over here and all that typical stuff.
Notice when we get any kind of asymmetry, asymmetry with lighting, casting the shadow
of the nose and the cheek over here, it’s very descriptive.
We get a clear understanding of the forms.
Or, if it turns off axis, it turns in an asymmetrical position, we start to see the silhouette or
at least the turn of the nose off axis.
We start to see better its shape and it’s dynamic.
You get more drama.
You get more—it’s like saying this is a tube or this is a tube.
When we get things off axis, we have a better understanding of the character
just in basic design.
All that is going on in these kind of portraits that he’s doing.
Beyond that, it’s just fantastically beautiful drawing and you wouldn’t expect any less
from Sargent, of course.
But, go back to the symmetry of the hair.
It’s symmetrical, but it’s not symmetrical.
Both sides of the hair curl away, but they do it in a slightly different manner.
So there is a symmetry, but there is asymmetry.
This is very square-ish and symmetrical on top, as I said.
But, the sides are actually asymmetrical.
This side rises up high and rounds off.
This side drops down low and stair steps off.
Again, symmetry and asymmetry.
Then the game is how far can you push that?
If you push things too much, the eyes are perfectly symmetrical given their more or
less three-quarter position.
I mean they’re both dropped symmetrically into these hollow shadow sockets.
Yet, it’s darker over here and simpler, and it’s lighter over here
and much more complex.
There is more detail in here.
You’ve got a lot of detail going on inside that shadow, whereas the other it’s much
Of course, we see the ear on one side and not the other.
Even the mustache has a certain quality to it that’s symmetrical and asymmetrical.
These swings up higher and shorter.
This falls down farther and longer.
The beard has its own little character.
I’m constantly looking for the difference, the lapels, the shoulders, high to low,
all that good stuff.
Really beautiful work going on.
As you can see with Sargent here, this is dealt with a capsule shape.
Let’s do it over here since that is not showing up so well.
Very straight on the sides, and it does what it does.
Of course, the beard ads to it here, and the hair mushrooms out on it here.
We have that wonderful capsule shape.
Notice how that tracks very nicely with the center line so we can really make sure.
Sometimes you do an egg, and the center line kind of tracks off, and you can’t quite
get it to feel like it ties together there.
So, that capsule is particularly useful for that idea.
Then we get the stairsteps of form going on there.
So, a lot of really good stuff.
Notice how where things are less interesting to him he starts going to line, so the form
starts to get destroyed.
This is just hatching here.
Here is just a basic plain that steps down there for us.
But, he goes to a lot of line, and even in the details like in the ear and such he’s
going for a lot of line, the wisps of beard which are a little less realistic than the
hair, a line becomes more of a conceptualized of the reality.
The tone gives us more realty, gives us more reality.
Gives us more real estate.
Gives us more reality and so we can play those games.
Notice how, and we’ll see this throughout Sargent.
Notice how after he gets the strong tonal landscape then he picks out little details
with line, little corner of the nasal bone there and the bits of the beard and wisps
of hair and stuff.
Lays in and so it’s a nice mix.
Again, we get a contrast, a balance between the tone and the line, playing both for variation
and strength, letting them do their own jobs.
A line can pick up these little details like wisps of hair and wrinkled flesh or a little
subtle stairsteps in light.
The tone can big work of light and shadow, foreground/background; big, solid shapes that
cohere in terms of the tonal design.
In drawings like this you can see Sargent’s academic roots, the Italiae, really academy
He’s chiseling things out and then chiseling the shadow shapes out or a short hand laying
them in with broad side of the charcoal.
You can see he’s sketching that out.
He goes to that Italiae method, and then he’ll pick up contour, as I’ve said before.
You know, this is just all contour all down here, the fabric because it’s less important.
You can see that hand.
It’s hidden in the shadows, less important, the composition.
It’s just contour.
It’s not really structured out.
There is a slight structuring, of course, to it.
He uses these when he needs it.
But, there is a strong construction to this.
We can come and put our balls, boxes, and tubes.
We can find our gesture lines that connect to the right landmarks.
And so if you can get all that constructed truth just by this method and make it your
own style and not just the aesthetic copy in a way, just kind of the atelier style of
realism, or get this kind of freedom and energy, and feel the depth of form, the recession
of form, the movement over the forms, as well as movement down the form.
Realize that contour, with a few exceptions like a pinching stomach is just going to stay
on the edge.
It’s just going to stay on the contour.
So, all of the fabric here just tracks down the edge of the fold, down the edge of the
arm here for the arm over here.
But, if you can get what you need out of those, that’s great.
I love those styles.
I use a lot of both myself.
I’m looking at Sargent, whom I love and I’ve stolen a lot from.
He uses a lot of both.
But, in terms of why it works, if you want to analyze why a drawing works or why it doesn’t
work, gesture, structure is the only way I know to really get it other than just saying
this feels a little fat.
This feels a little thin, those kind of subjective ideas.
So, for example, look at how our friend here conceived of this
as a box right through the nipple.
Remember, that’s a great place to get the corner, bumps out that way.
You could think of this as a series of stairsteps too.
So, not just chiseling out the edge, that’s certainly helpful, but carrying through
and feeling how that edge becomes a plane, and the plane then turns in light or in shadow
to a new plane that gives us a sense.
Look at how that—see that serratus muscle right there?
That tone of the pectoralis, the pinch of the oblique and the stomach?
All are tracking.
Underside of the chest.
All are tracking exactly along our construction, the constructed truth there.
We need to get that.
We can intuit it or we can map it out.
We can do a little bit of both, but we need it.
Then notice how the values are picking up the whole planes.
We have the shadow shapes, of course.
Look at the halftones, how carefully they’re controlled.
This is that great painter.
This is why he was able to work so painterly because all those flourishes, all those bravado
brush strokes were tracking these plane structures.
You can find it on the contour,
but then you find it in the plane despite all the rendered detail.
The top of that chest area is very, very light.
There is some stuff mucking around in the collar bone, but it was conceived as this
light structure, and that stuff was put on later.
And then everything down on the front of the chest or on the nipples, that’s a dark plane.
And then the stomach steps out, gets light, and then the stomach drops down and gets dark.
The stomach bumps out but is thrown into shadow by the overhanging rib cage, and so it doesn’t
catch light again.
It becomes a cast shadow.
So, very strongly structured.
And there we go.
Notice how we have a nice curved upper arm and a nice curved forearm, but look at how
fantastically curved, how a curve that’s exaggerated happens with the shadow shape,
the core shadow.
That makes it even more curved, doesn’t it?
That’s breaking that contour idea, in effect.
He’s going inside to find an even more dramatic gesture.
Notice how the costuming, the hair or the fabric still pays attention to the…
the construction idea.
Okay, tremendous amount of information on there.
A lot of it we can just intuit, but when in doubt, go back to those bread and butter rules.
Or, if you really want to break the rules, not just in a wandering way with the contour-style,
things will kind of wander off, and they can be charming, and so you leave them, or like
Pontormo you re-draw them two or three times and allow them all to be there.
That, again, is charming and interesting and maybe is conceptual in terms of motion or
energy or something.
But you just let it happen.
You can do that, too.
You can let this construction distort, or you can break away from it and all those kind
of qualification statements that you’d expect.
Alright, so onward.
Let’s do the next one.
Okay, so one of the things we want to remember is what is the position of the form that we’re
drawing or forms that we’re drawing.
And what’s our position to it.
Our position to it is we’re down off the paper.
He’s feet are two, three, four feet above us, probably.
We have this great foreshortening that happened.
You can see how if you don’t fisheye things a little bit you don’t get that heroic stature.
In his nudes he didn’t play up the heroic stature like he did in the portraits.
You’ll get a little old lady that looks seven feet tall with the neck of a goddess,
this long neck and deep, sunken eyes and stuff.
In his nudes he tended not to idealize them nearly as much.
That head is pretty big.
This is a small man, it feels like.
He either made the head a little too big and he’s not such a small man, or he’s a small
man, and he didn’t idealize it.
You can see if we made that head 20% smaller then this body would receive much more.
So, if you want to really play up that three-point perspective where things are going away this way.
There is not only a vanishing point like this or like this, I should say.
There is a vanishing point this way.
You need to really reduce those proportions down.
But, this is just fine, of course.
You can’t criticize the masters.
Well, actually that’s not right.
You should criticize the masters.
The old saying, slay your heroes is important, actually.
Yeah, I respect, I love, I steal from Rembrandt, but there are things that I want to do that
are different than Rembrandt.
Until you do that, you’re just going to be a bad copy, a second, third, eight-rate
copy of your favorite artist.
But, if you say, well, as great as Rembrandt is, I don’t like those figures.
I want more idealized figures.
As fantastic as Sargent is, I want to play those proportions down a little bit.
I want to get a little bit deeper insertions, whatever.
You can see how the tones here,
the values are a little spotty in terms of light and shadow.
You’re not, we can’t tell exactly where light and shadow is all the time.
I’m sure that’s shadow, and I’m pretty sure that’s shadow.
I know that’s shadow, but I’m not sure where the shadow ends here.
I’m going to assume it’s here.
I know that shadow.
I know that shadow.
If I darkened it, it’ll be a little bit stronger.
I’m pretty sure on this arm where shadow is, it’s certainly the hand.
On this arm I’m not sure at all, but that’s going to be shadow, and that’s going to
be shadow. And probably that is shadow there.
This whole leg is probably shadow too, but I’m not sure of that.
Could be that some or all of that is catching light.
This is pretty clear.
So, you can see how I could get it more dramatic, more chiaroscuro effect by pushing that.
But, this was a study for a mural series, and so that was not meant to be exhaustive
in terms of form and allegianistic.
It was basically Cliff’s Notes for him to work out his paintings or designs or to reject
an idea for a painting and design.
It is what it is.
One of the charming things about a sketch is a sketch leaves things unfinished sometimes
and allows us to see the thinking because it’s a little more raw, and so sketch or
paint or in drawing, oftentimes, it’s not going to have that finished aesthetic.
It won’t have the goal to that.
But, if you want to, if you want to feel that strong kick of form, kind of that adrenaline
rush of strong form, then they’ve got to be complete shapes and—dramatic and—the
borders have to be slightly accented.
Then you can pull the halftone out of that.
Notice if we get this pretty strong accent and then these halftones blend out of the
core shadows and feel terrific.
You’re much safer not having lots of—and he doesn’t have lots of it, but just to
pick an area to simplify, if we can play down or remove those floating halftones, those
little chunks of debris, then it’s going to feel like a cleaner design, and in that
sense a better design.
But, you also then lose some of the energy, maybe, the nuances, a certain architecture.
It may make it too even.
If it’s simple everywhere, maybe you want things to be a little spottier or hatched-in
in some areas compared to others.
Okay, so that’s that lovely drawing.
Here we can see that—let’s put some of this here so I can grab it when I need it.
Here we can see the power of the silhouette.
Notice how descriptive.
There is not a lot of detail going on in the shadows, is there?
Or the darks in general.
But, just the design.
If we took black ink and just filled all this in, left everything else white paper, you
really still have all you need, don’t you?
Oftentimes, it’s conceiving of the whole shape, and then the whole shadow and the value
of the shadow on that shape.
Everything else that you think you need you don’t necessarily need.
Then maybe just a little bit of halftone coming out of that.
Having a little bit, dragging a little bit of halftone out of the body of darks, so out
of the hair show some of the ear.
Out of the eyes show some of that lower cheek meeting the nose.
Out of the chin and the corner of the mouth and integrate it.
It’s amazing if you conceive of things well, how much work is done for you.
Of course, there is very little work done in the shadows.
It’s all just placing suggestive information.
A few lines and a few good shapes to pick up eye socket and such.
Then he is conceiving of this as a three-value system, which every
good realist painter will do, and most good non-realist painters will do.
Three values allows you to have light and shadow,
light and shadow separation and foreground/background separation.
In this case, there is not a lot going on the background.
But still, we have a full value foreground and almost completely
limited single-value background.
There is nothing going on in the background, in effect.
There is a lot going on in the foreground, so complex to simple.
Full-value, limited value.
That creates a background separation.
But also, we have the foreground of the forehead and the background of the hair here.
You know, this bit of hair and down into the ear.
All of this is conceived of as a darker value and all the way into an eye socket, but especially
for that forehead is what I’m interested in.
Just separate that forehead subtly, but it separates it.
And so we have this nice, simple silhouette.
So, if you can design in silhouettes, design in silhouettes and assign a basic value to
a separate value to things you want to separate and assign the same value to things you want
This far ear and hair are almost exactly the same value so they group together.
The far ear here and the near nose and cheek here are the same value, and so they group.
And that creates a silhouette.
The more dramatic the silhouette, obviously the quicker you’ll see things.
Really dark figure on this left side against the light background.
Over on the right side we have a lot less separation.
It’s been done by line for the most part, but we get back up to that dark against light,
and wham, we get that strong read.
Anyway, as you’re working look at your silhouettes.
What’s going to group?
What work can I do structurally and gesturally and aesthetically just in the shape of the
shadow or the shape of foreground against the other shapes that is going to do a lot
of work and tell the tale.
Okay, so that’s that.
Let’s do the next one.
Here is a lovely example of how he uses tone against line.
Nothing gets real dark here.
Nothing big gets real dark.
We have dark and dark, under the lapel, of course.
We’re going to make the hair all dark with the parts of the hat that correspond.
We have the lesser darks.
More fragmented darks.
The smaller shaped darks.
And you can see how when I simplify that it overdoes it.
We use some of this delicacy.
We have the big shapes of dark, the lesser shapes of dark.
Those tend to happen as accents toward the end.
You catch that jawline right here.
You get that little accent toward the end.
What I’m interested in on this one is look at the beautiful line.
Give me a moment.
Notice how he made his big statements.
Got the major structure laid in like here and here and here and here.
Getting those major structures.
Then he comes in at the very end, brings out that delicate line work, the wispy eyebrows
and the marks of the lid area, all that good stuff.
There the chin, the far side of the mouth.
A little bit of the convolutions of the ear.
Of course, firming up the shapes of the costume.
Its’ a really beautiful balance there, isn’t it?
He uses the big broad, relatively broad strokes.
You can see these big brush strokes here for the relatively big sweeping strokes for the
highlights of the hat and hair.
Let’s bring that back now.
And then he gets finer and finer in the areas of interest or her bright lit eyes or her
open mouth, wondrous expression on the open mouth.
Grabs those little accents of darks and those lovely little delicate lines and the balance
between the relatively bold strokes and dark values and those delicate lines and light
to middle value is just terrific.
It really keeps us going in there.
Again, it’s that balancing act between materials and how they’re used, line against tone.
Here you can see how he sets up.
You can see how he would start rather light and then come over again like he would do
Come over with ever darker accents.
That’s what we’ll do.
We’ll build up… this forever youth, he’s dead and gone, ages older than we are.
Ages ago he was ages older, but he was forever youth here,
and we capture that moment of truth.
We can slowly build that up and pick out these secondary forms.
You can see how he could take that a little bit farther if we wanted to.
Not that we would want to.
You could also create a gradation all the way up and all the way down.
We could even let that gradation affect the shadows if we wanted to.
Like that and create some movement.
That’s a visual curve that’s going to help us move down that stretchy neck into
the deep base down here.
This is what Rembrandt would do, and most of the Brown School—Gainsboro, Reynolds,
Sargent, any of the indoor light, basically, you’re going to get that drop-off
or artificial light.
Now, let me show you how I’d actually draw it from reference from the figure, and how
to get it on the page and make it make sense.
Let’s give it a shot.
Okay, so now let’s take a look at our fairly sophisticated lay-in, and let’s put some
meat on it.
Let’s put some shading on it.
We’re going to use the same process we’ve been doing all the way along.
We’re going to do an incredibly simple lay-in or incredibly sophisticated lay-in, as much
as you want.
Then we’re going to add our shadow shape on there.
This is coming that way.
Now, as I have conceived the thigh as a simple tube, I’m going to have a tubular shadow.
If it was a perfect tube, it would be like this, but since it’s a tapering, complex
tube with a little bit of gesture, I’m going to pick up the shadow shape, which is going
to be my corner there.
It’s a corner whether I’m drawing a ball box or two.
I’m going to come back and draw two sides of the form, shape of the shadow on the form,
give it a value.
It doesn’t matter what my technique is.
I’ll slap that value in, or I’ll cross-hatch that value in.
Then I’ll go down a little farther.
Now, it wobbles down towards this finish of the quadriceps into the knee, and we pull
I’ll make it a little bit longer here.
Now I’ve got the shadow shape.
Now I’m going to go get the beginning, the end of the form.
Notice I can do this in whatever order I want.
This bumps down towards the knee, towards the corner here.
I’ll just do that little wobbly bump.
I don’t have to explain those little structures with little tones.
I just need the big ones.
Notice if I wobble it a little bit it seems more sophisticated.
I don’t have to really explain those wobbles if I don’t want.
Then this comes down here and takes off this way.
Now I’m going to bump over that corner.
Now, it gets kind of soft.
The shadow gets soft in here.
I know I have a corner.
I’m just going to bump it.
I’m going to make it a little wobbly again so it seems like it’s, basically so it looks
like I’m smarter than I am.
I’m going to make them think there is a lot going on there when it’s really just
a box like this that has shading on it.
That fits there.
Notice how as the shadow comes out into the halftone in whatever way you want to come
out, that’s a gesture line.
That’s flowing off the thigh back into the shin, past the knee, back into the calf.
It’s going to integrate these.
It’s going to be an out that takes us back into our onto the next structure.
That’s all we have to do.
Then I can pick up little contours if I want to and bring those inside again.
That’s a little gesture line that shows me how to get to the thigh into the knee or
the knee into the calf.
I can add all sorts of secondary information on top of this.
That’s all I need.
Alright, let’s switch back to this.
Okay, now I’m going to do a shape of the form, shape of the shadow on the form.
That’s the corner.
I’m going to get two opposing sides, and now since there is a clear separation between
the forms down here at that gluteal fold, I’ll get some of a third side there.
Notice how I want to make sure that shadow stays the strong border all the way along.
I don’t want it to be like this and then fade off this way and then pick up again.
That’s going to be leaky.
I want to make sure they bump together.
When these forms fight against each other to keep their own character like it’s happening
here, you’re going to get a zigzag.
When the forms like the upper hamstring into the lower halfstring get along pretty well,
it’s just a wobble.
Notice now this structure and this structure, this casts a shadow over that.
And so I’m going to draw the cast shadow.
I drew the end of the forearm.
Now I’m going to draw the cast shadow on the other side of the forearm.
Now, we can’t see this buttocks separating on this side.
Instead of using the bit here, I’m going to come all the way over here and feel this
I could have done that first if I wanted to.
There is the corner here.
I make it wobbly, matching the wobble I see because that makes it more sophisticated.
But I could have kept it nice and simple too.
I don’t have to describe why that wobbles.
I don’t have to describe that little subtle form, whatever it is that made it wobble.
I can if it want.
Notice how I can keep it hatching or I can let it go off the edge.
All that’s fine.
It just pulls up here as the big egg or miniskirt shape comes into the skinner waist.
Notice I can keep it more chiseled or I can keep it more rounded, more watery.
It wouldn’t matter which.
They’re saying the same thing.
It’s just a stylistic difference.
Think of wood carving.
You chisel it out and then you round it out later.
That pulls on down there.
In this case, I’m finding the other side later.
Whenever I get to this, and I should get to it early, but you guys have got me talking
about this over here.
I come back over here and feel it again.
The connectivity, the rhythm.
It pulls down here.
That’s a very subtle drumstick is what it is.
That’s usually the case in these meaty masses coming to the joints.
They thin out into a little more tubular.
So, there we go.
That’s all we need to do.
Beginning of the form, end of the form, shape of the shadow on the form.
Give the shadow a shape.
I get two opposing sides.
I go on and get the next two opposing sides.
Sometimes they break nicely together then I separate that third side as needed.
Get my zigzagging shadow continue on down.
The shoulder, no matter what the position is, should be a corner for the arm against
In this case, this arm helps to create that corner, that top to the torso.
Going to get a little bit of this.
This is slowly, like an accordion going in ever deeper perspective.
It’s a really beautiful pose.
You’ll add enough of the other structure to feel confident with the structure you’re
Now, notice how simple this can be.
Once I’ve done the ground work of setting up to attach it, gesture, structure.
Notice I laid it in loosely, got drawn away or not.
Then I come back and reinforce that idea
to make sure I’m clear and that I’m being clear.
That fits like that.
This elbow—notice how the elbow moves towards the center kind of like a missile or a little
wedge on the end like that.
It moves inside the corner.
Important when you get that really tightly articulating acute angle basically between
the upper arm and forearm.
That fits there.
Now, look at how simple the shadow shape is here.
Here is one side of the form.
Here is the shape of the shadow on the form.
Now, I don’t want to make the mistake of just doing a fuzzy edge even though it’s
a thin shadow.
I still want to feel the core a little darker, so I’m going to come back.
I’m going to make the contour darker so that I can make that the core shadow is darker,
which is our corner, like so.
If I want it to be more tubular I can add a little bit of halftone, just blending, and
I move along the border there, but that’s it.
I always turn my pencil against the stroke.
That becomes the beginning of the shadow.
Everything beyond that, whether it’s a little bit or a lot, notice that I can let that go
way off, and in this case it would set up the forearm being hidden in shadow.
Then I just use the line in the shadow.
That’s all the detail I need is the line quality.
I can do a fantastic, subtle line work, or I can keep it basically as simple lay-ins.
Notice I can keep changing my mind.
I can come back, push it ever darker, and what was here make it here.
I can keep working, working, working.
Okay, so here is the arm.
I’m going to take this farther.
I’m going to make this a little bigger.
The trick is, no matter how detailed you plan to get or end up getting, we want to conceive
of it as something very, very simple.
Then we refine on top.
We’ve got all the details here that I’m going to end up rendering.
Notice here is the shoulder.
Here I’ve made it boxier so I’ve got a sense of the top and the side.
Look to the shadow shapes.
We’ll see it here.
Or the highlights, we’ll see it here.
That will help you to find that natural corner for that structure.
It almost always becomes a terrific corner to use for your big simple structures.
This is pulling off this way.
This is pulling this way, and we could pick the hand up here.
Do a little bit on the hand and then…I’m just breaking it into a real simple series.
I’ll make it a mitten shape first, and then I’ll break out the
basic finger structures later.
We won’t probably do that for this, but we’ll do it later.
That gives you a nice simple kind of gloved or mittened version of the hand.
Alright, so there we go.
Let’s just do a little bit of this.
Alright, now I’m going to come to shadow shapes.
Oftentimes, I’ll draw the shadow first because I can kind of make sure it’s a smaller distance
to whatever other side.
If I haven’t committed to those other sides I can move things around a little bit.
Now we’re going to come off the top.
I’m always conscious of corners.
The shadow is a corner, and then I want to see where that tracks into the next corner.
That shadow becomes a corner here, but also it’s helping me step from the top to the
bottom of that structure.
That’s what’s happening here.
We’re on top of the shoulders.
Now we’re on top of the back basically.
Now we’re going to come down.
Notice that it’s a floating shadow right there.
Now I need to come back and find the sides if I haven’t already drawn them.
I can refine the construction, or if the construction feels good, I go right to the finished contour
or anything in between.
Notice, again, we’ve got a sense of the top and the side.
We’re going to come over here to the arm pit.
One side of the form, the other side of the form, shape of the shadow on the form.
This is going to pull back here.
As this pulls back from arm to armpit, from armpit to shoulder blade, from surface of
the shoulder blade to the end of the shoulder blade.
Notice that this comes down here and picks up here.
I’m always looking for where these things are going to connect them back.
This goes off.
That’s all cast shadow there.
Notice how, although I didn’t draw it, I was conceiving that as a triangular shape,
very much like a profile of a head, some version of that.
Exactly how that tracks doesn’t matter because a lot of it would be covered.
We just really need that blade, in effect.
That puts the shoulder blade on top of the rib cage down in here.
This is all tying back up always towards or into the armpit.
Now, this comes down and the shoulder separates from the whole arm and ends up stepping onto
the whole arm.
We have this subtle change.
Notice how soft the shadows are there.
They really just kind of wander down, and there is some halftone coming out.
I’m going to look for the zigzag to see how those separate.
I love the shape of that.
It’s more dramatic.
It breaks up that arm into something more sophisticated and I find more beautiful.
That zigzag can be halftone that drags out someplace just like it can be halftone that
rounds over someplace.
We don’t need any of that at this point, and we don’t ever have to get that if we
don’t want to.
Notice even with the line quality I draw it several times, and that’s to keep the energy
up and to give myself an excuse to keep looking, and the audience then
can pick the one that’s right.
I’ve got three lines there.
They can pick out the one that they like.
To me it’s more beautiful.
Fechin does that.
I’m not a huge, huge fan.
I like him, not a huge fan of his painting.
I absolutely love his drawings.
I think he’s one of the great all-time draftsman in history, Franklin.
There is a little bit of the chest in front.
Here is the arm in front that goes down behind it.
We can make the line of the contour of the arm in front darker than the stuff that goes
behind it to make it feel like it fades behind it.
Alright, this pulls down here like so.
This pulls in here.
Double-check my construction, and it’s pretty good.
It gets a little big in the forearm, little small in the hand.
I can just leave that and say it’s quirky, but it works.
It’s a notation for a painting, it works.
Or you can correct it as you do it or come back and restructure it.
Notice how this wraps around.
What’s going on here is the forms are kinking up, and think of it as a garden hose that
you kink up to stop the flow.
That’s what’s happening there.
You get the same, you can get it here, basically.
It wraps around.
Here it wraps around.
In any kind of fabric it’ll do that, and that’s classic in that forearm bending at
an acute angle to the upper arm.
You get that wrapping effect here.
Make sure you keep that border strong.
No leaky lights into shadow.
This fades off here.
You can let it hatch out that way or something.
The technique doesn’t really matter.
As long as it doesn’t get in the way of the idea, and it stays fairly
consistent throughout the work.
So, this is just a wobbly version of the construction.
That’s all we need.
Here is the ulna, which is the little finger bone.
That side pulls in, and then this whole boxy hand is in shadow.
I’ll just do enough of that so we get the idea, but since we haven’t talked about
hands, we’ll save that for another time.
That gives us the sense of it.
And so whatever structure you’re dealing with, you can just make a simple version.
If it’s complicated, sophisticated like the hands certainly are, you can chisel out
those things, which is actually a bit of an atelier method.
Then we want to come right back and feel the construct at the ends.
Make sure it’s gesturally working.
It’s flowing or binding, fitting correctly into the greater whole.
But you can use whatever.
You can sometimes go to a contour style right away to work something out and then impose
your constructed truth on top of that.
On and on and on.
I’ll show you my materials here again.
Here is a CarbOthello.
It’s chalky, it’s like colored charcoal, actually.
This is actually CarbOthello.
It’s also Stabillo brand. It’s 645.
I have two of them so if I break one I’ve got backup, don’t have to stop.
And then this is Conte of Paris, but you could also get a CarbOthello white.
This just happens to be Conte of Paris, and it’s just the white.
The Conte you can get in the chalk sticks.
This happens to be a pencil form.
You can take your pick.
So anyway, that’s what I’m using.
Anything that’s not real waxy.
If you do wax with chalk they don’t mix well, so this chalk, I’ll show you when
I put it down it blends.
That can be helpful.
I’ll show you some variations.
Anyway, that’s what I’m working with.
Then this paper is Strathmore paper.
It’s a toned paper.
You can get all sorts of values and colors, but not all sorts of values.
Several different colors.
Get something that’s fairly gray.
This happens to be a grayish-green, kind of a solid green.
You can use browns or something.
Don’t get anything that’s really dark or really light.
Basically, what I want is a value that matches the middle halftone on a well-lit structure.
Anything that’s really dark halftone or shadow I go that way.
Anything that’s light halftone and highlight I go that way.
Notice that this is a pretty right red.
It’s kind of a brick red.
Don’t go any brighter than that, or it’s going to get kind of dayglo, and when you
put in heavy shadows it’s going to look not dark but intense in color.
I want it fairly gray.
Notice I’m going to keep these fairly soft as I go, and that means some of that gray
green will come through the red and kill it a little bit, kill the intensity.
Also, these papers, and there are several different brands.
You can use hands-on, it’s more textured.
You can use Ingres.
Anything of these are fine.
They all have two sides.
One side is rougher.
You can see this shows quite a bit of texture.
This is a rougher side.
It’s harder to use.
The other side is smoother, easier to use.
You won’t have the texture there.
If you’re having trouble, and that texture is kind of getting in the way, starting to
look like a pattern to you, go to the smooth side.
You can just go in the corner of the paper and just do this, and you’ll see which is
Alright, so let’s work with this torso.
This has a lot of complicated anatomy on it, and that’s why I picked.
What we want to do is make it nice and simple.
We’re just going to draw the rib cage.
Here is the arm.
It’s acting as the shoulder line.
Here is the shoulder blade in there separating.
That’s the top in here.
I just want a simple shape, simple tube, simple bean bag, these kind of profile views act
like a bean bag or simple eggs, whatever.
We’ve got that construction line.
The light is coming this way, and that means everything that turns to the left and turns
down is going to get darker.
Now, if we pulled an egg out and lit the egg, it would be lit like this.
If we conceive of the rib cage as a simple egg, the shadow shape should look quite a
bit like that.
Also, with wobbles and bumps on maybe, but it should look like that, and it does.
We know we’ve picked a pretty good simple shape.
It’s quite characteristic to what we see because the shadow shape tracks that.
That’s a good way to double-check these things.
If you get a shadow shape that’s close to that simple constructed idea, you know you’ve
chosen a good, simple yet characteristic shape.
Now I’m just going to bring this down.
I’m going to ignore all the lumps and bumps and keep it nice and simple.
There it is.
Now, how did I do that?
I turned the pencil not right in the direction, but a little bit against it or a lot against
That gives me the soft line.
I made sure the border was slightly darker than the interior, and then
I blended or hatched it in.
I’m going to come back now and feel my simple constructed idea.
I’m not going to worry at this stage about getting the subtle contours.
I’m going to keep it just a simple ball so I can practice constructing these values
onto the simple structures and not the sophisticated structures, and also that I can see past all
that fantastic detail to see the fundamental truths that we’re after.
So I’m going to do that.
Notice what I’m doing now.
I’m drawing the beginning of the form, the end of the form, the shape of the shadow on
the form, and then I’m giving that shape a slightly lighter value.
That’s my two-value system.
Then if I don’t have it there correctly, I’ll push that border a little darker so
that I’m accenting that corner.
That’s all we have to do.
Let’s go up to the arm here.
There is the simple tube there.
Here is the simple tube here.
I can just light it as a simple tube.
Now that tube goes into an egg here so now it’s wobbling over.
We’re getting the egg of the shoulder one side of the egg, the corner of the egg, the
far side of the egg.
Notice I can do whatever border.
I wobbled there, I shouldn’t have.
Whatever order I would like.
Again, if I pulled that out, we can see that that shadow would be something like that.
Notice when I know one thing is going to turn into something else, I don’t, which is almost
always the case in these things, I don’t finish the end like I would just an egg on
I leave it open-ended, and then it’s going to go on to the next shape.
Now we have a little tube here or a little box here.
However, I’ve conceived it, and so this is just going to come right down here.
Notice if I added a little tube into here—let’s do it over here—it’s going to come right
down like that.
If that egg really separates strongly from the tube, which happens sometimes then it’s
going to do something like that.
That’s close to what I have.
This arm is casting as shadow from the armpit over the egg.
There are all sorts of lumps and bumps, but we’ve kept those out so we’ll just do
Here would be the nipple there.
It’s a nice landmark to have.
Then this is a little triangular wedge that also has turned down from the upward facing
light, and so we get a little shadow shape there.
We can go on and on and on getting the smaller shapes or the bigger shapes.
Here is a little egg shape here that blends.
The egg blends right off into the bigger, so we only see the egg down here.
If I drew a little egg like this—in this case it would be a shadow shape like that.
Then there is another egg right with it, and that’s the hip.
The upper hip or the complete him.
That’s going to go right down there through those trunks there.
That’s what we want to do.
Simple as possible statements.
What you could also do is—and easier really—rather than trying to do whole or part of the figure—just
take out at this time simple shapes.
I’m just going to take out the tube of the thigh, and I’m just going to give it a shadow
shape and keep it exactly a tube.
Now I’m going to try it again, tube of the thigh.
I’m going to give it a little bit of a curve because it has a little bit of a curve, and
I’m going to let this shadow shape wobble.
Notice by making the shadow shape wobble, I’ve suggested to the audience, and I can
or may not depending, making the contour wobble by making it a little bit wobbly as I see
it in the reference.
It looks like a more sophisticated idea, but it’s still just a tube.
It’s just a wobbly tube.
So, I can do this and I can do this, reinforcing the border there.
Or, I can do this and I can do this, wobble it a little bit.
Or, I could do this and this.
I could wobble everything.
Any of those are fine.
If we just stick to the straight kind of stick figure or really simple mannequin idea, it
sometimes seems oversimplified, so by adding the curved gesture especially, but then adding
an egg in there or wobbling the tube, that’s great.
Notice, I’m not using the box at this point.
It’s just more work to make sure that interior corner is exactly right.
Tube works fine, and the only corner we really care about is the shadow shape anyway.
Notice I’ve done that all just with the dark pencil.
You can do this on toned paper and do it on white paper.
I recommend you do it on white paper, but I desperately wanted to show you highlights
Now, a caveat: When you do highlights they can get really bright, and you can start finding
They can get really spotty and destroy your simple truth.
We need a couple guidelines to use highlights manageable.
First, better to have no highlights than put in highlights incorrectly.
But, if we put in the highlights well, they’re going to help reinforce the structural ideas
in wonderful ways.
They can also come in and just bump the contrast.
You can come in and fill in with your lighter pencil all the light side just to make it
a stronger statement.
But, what I want to do is use in this quick sketch style my dark pencil for all the shadows
and the darker halftones, and my light pencil only for the very lightest halftones and highlights.
I want to try and keep the halftones away from the dark halftones and the shadow shape
away from the highlights, and I’ll show you exactly how that happens.
So now, if I want to use highlights, I can come right on and add a very subtle hightlight,
like a Piazzetta…anyway, Piazzetta might do, or I can blast it out or be stronger with it.
Take your pick.
Ideally what I would probably do is I would come in and I would use a little bit of halftone.
I can actually stroke in in a painterly way halftone, or I can do it as I did here and
zigzag it over, or I can use my finger and zigzag it over.
Notice as I start blending that the shadow gets a little bit softer, but all I’m doing
is I’m going along the border of the shadow where that core shadow happens, and I’m
blending it back into the light.
Now I have a little bit of halftone.
You don’t need a lot, but you can have a lot if you want, but you don’t need a lot.
Now I’m going to put the highlights right in.
I don’t want to put the highlights up against the core shadow.
That’s going to force it into being a sharp box.
It won’t feel rounded, which is usually part of the point of this.
It’s not giving us any more information.
We can put the highlight up against a cast shadow.
This arm and armpit is interrupting the chest and the egg of the rib cage from catching
I can push the highlight or the lighter halftone right up against—again, if I do that I can
I can back off right up against that interruption.
And this also is an interruption so I can push it up against that if I want.
That will accentuate, and I could actually draw a little line of light against the line
of dark to show that sharp contrast.
You can see how the pops of form makes it a little more sophisticated and can make it
kind of cool looking.
In general, I want to make sure the highlight stays away.
Here is where the highlight is the most useful.
Not for exaggerating the contrast.
That’s not adding more ideas.
It’s just rendering it a little bit more realistically or in a little bit more exciting
way, which is fine.
The highlights are most useful when we can add new information to the drawing by adding
them, and in that sense we want the highlights to be a brand-new corner, so remember the
shadow shape is a corner.
If I put the highlight out somewhere in the middle of that halftone area
and then let it fade into the—notice how I’m just turning it sideways.
I’m not using not the end but not the side of the pencil.
It’s why I sharpen it the way I do, and I can just ease it in there.
Now I’ve got a nice corner where two planes in light have separated.
If I pick it up here, instead of feeling this, I’m now feeling that idea.
If I put this down here on the hip, now I’m breaking that into an extra little structure there.
Highlights are structural, but also that again is a little corner, but also highlights
It’s moving down the long axis, and where these forms bind up it might come and go.
The highlight might zigzag down that corner to show that binding connection.
We want to put the highlights generally away from the shadows, at least away from the corner,
the beginning shadow.
We can push it up against the base of the shadow to show that interrupted light and
to pop that contrast.
But, where the highlights are most useful is floating out in the middle of the halftone
someplace to show more structure, a new plane change and where those highlights move down
the long axis to show the gestural idea.
So, highlights are both structural and gestural.
So are core shadows.
That’s going to move down the more sophisticated version, in this case, but down the long axis
gesture, and it’s going to give us the corner for the short axis structure.
Three-dimensional ends idea.
I’m going to be drawing with a Conté of Paris pastel, I guess 1355 is the number,
and then I’m using this Stablilo CarbOthello, just white 1400.
Alright, so I’m going to talk about construction again for a little bit.
There is a difference between doing five-minute construction drawings where we learn to translate
and learn to get energy and all that quick sketch stuff and getting something that we’re
going to keep building and building on.
There shouldn’t be a difference, but in our thinking there always is because we don’t
know any better usually.
What I want to do is make sure I’m doing a lay-in that I could then take to a finish.
This is how I start my paintings.
I can have a head that’s bigger than my head that I’m drawing.
I’ll still start it the same way.
We’ll need a process that’s opened-ended and useful on all levels, and for us we want
to be able to build our rendering on top of it.
Let’s talk about that.
What I want, the few critical points to this is I want to make it simple, yet characteristic.
I want to make sure that it’s speaking to what is in front of me and speaking to what
my intensions are.
What’s characteristic in the photograph may not be what’s going to be characteristic
in my art.
I may change things.
I may add muscles, build proportions, that kind of stuff.
But, I need it to be working on that level.
Just in terms of practicality, I want to slow down a little bit.
I don’t want to go into automatic pilot.
That’s oftentimes what happens here as we get a style, a technique we’ve been taught.
We just go on autopilot.
We don’t want to do that.
We want to make sure that it’s in surface of our purpose, our idea.
Ideally, when I go into classes where I’m going to sketch the model or my studio and
I’m going to work from reference, I’ve got this mindset also in mind that I want.
I’ve got my mindset in mind.
It’s going to be a good bumper sticker.
Do you have your mindset in mind?
What it also means is I’m going to come and be very careful in terms of my connections,
my jointed connections.
I want to really feel how they fit.
I want to really feel the proportions to the rhythms.
Notice you may end up having a style where you bounce around a lot.
There is a lot of folks out there who do fantastic work who kind of bounce, but it’s orchestrating.
You jump over and form the rhythm section about the brass section, and you jump back
over the woodwinds.
And so, I want this to fit really well.
So, as I’m drawing this now, however I approach it.
Gesture/structure or contour and then double-check, whatever the heck it is.
Outside to in.
Now I’m going to start feelings these rhythms.
Remember that gesture idea of breaking inside the contour to get those inner rhythms, that
I’m going to feel this.
Let’s just start on the rendering here now a little bit.
I’m going to draw this shadow shape.
I’m far more interested at the moment in getting that shadow shape as a visual arrow
than I am feeling once side to the other.
I want to feel how it works over here.
And so right here.
It doesn’t matter that I decided to be a contour artist.
It doesn’t matter that I decided to be an Italiae artist.
I still need to be a designer of life and life is always in relationship to the rest
of life, whether it knows it or not.
I’m going to feel that connection all the way across and all the way down…
and back up.
Notice what I’m doing.
Rather than sketching now, I’m blending.
I’m laying in a little bit of my tone, my shadow shape, and I’m blending it into halftone
to integrate it, round it over, and to make it flow back into some gestural rhythm.
I’m going to pick up this little bit, and I’m going to feel it come all the way over,
this little gestural bit all the way over.
That’s the technique.
I’m doing that here specifically because that’s what we’re going to use for our
grand rendering project with the Strathmore with the same process.
You put down the pigment and then you blend it over.
You can put it down subtly or aggressively.
You blend it down.
So, notice now I’ve got…
see how all these are flowing?
I’m flowing to there, flowing to here.
Notice how I can actually do kind of a schematic—not really a schematic,
but just kind of a roadmap.
I’m going to pick up this area here, and then I’m going to reintegrate into this
I’m picking up how I move from here to here.
I oftentimes think of it as a stream.
The water will flow down and will get caught in an eddy, and it will split around a rock
formation or go way looping around a fallen log.
It’s always moving finally down to that destination.
How we get from head to foot, in other words.
It can be this grand adventure, this great and varied journey.
How do we get from a jaw to a shrugging muscle?
You may end up losing all of that under the hair, but that gives you a sense of how you
got there, how you integrated this with that.
This is equivalent to the underpainting in your painting.
You may cover up that brown wash, but it will still have some effect on the color, and it
helped inform your thinking.
Notice, too, when I…
I’m just kind of bouncing as a talk.
Here is that little spot.
Here is that little spot.
Just picking out a detail as I saw it.
That’s actually bad form because I’m not thinking of the form, and I’m not thinking
of the gesture, the visual arrow.
I can come back in now, and I can find how it paths out.
I’m going to bring it into that.
I can come back and correct it or refine it to figure it out.
There are these little eddys happening.
We’re having to work around, and finally the water clears up and goes on downstream.
Okay, so that’s going to be our thinking now.
What I want to do is lay in things with a careful eye to character.
It doesn’t have to necessarily be this detailed, although it’s not a bad idea probably, but
it has to be detailed enough that you know exactly how it ends so that you can begin
the next thing.
Then how that ends so you can begin the next thing.
Even in this finished technique we can change our mind, and it’s just going to make it,
in my mind, more beautiful.
I’m going to pay particular attention to how things evolve from saying egg
into more of a box.
I want to show that binding up of material against that armpit.
I’m going to go now across the axis, and then I’ll maybe do my Sargent and go down
I pay particular attention to how things come together, where they things end so that I
can begin the next thing correctly.
As I’m drawing and working this side, I’m going to always be thinking at some point
soon and hopefully often about the other side.
That’s the other side of the rib cage
and the other side, the opposing gesture.
Swing to swing to swing out here, so we get that rhythm throughout.
And as I’m going to think of the biggest and smallest rhythms
So, I’m juggling a lot of information, and I’m going to want to go nice and slow to
make sure I’ve got good control of that information.
Art is an idea.
What that means is when we render we need to make every mark count, which means every
mark we make is either a gestural mark or a structural mark or both, which is exactly
what we do when we do a beginning lay-in, when we do a gesture drawing, structure out
those basic tubes, boxes, and balls.
Every mark is functional.
It’s serving some purpose, and every mark is in relationship to every other mark.
That’s what the gesture does for us.
The gesture orchestrates all the pieces and makes it one idea.
One drawing, one figure, one pose.
One story, one dance.
Every art form works on this binary system of the parts in relationship to the whole.
As we know, to our great frustration at times, getting the parts is not all that hard; getting
them to fit together is difficult.
Now, as we render we can’t forget that.
We’ve got to build on that.
In fact, we have to work through that system, through that series of ideas.
What I want to do today is talk about some of the strategies for getting our marks to
do what we want them to do.
To show the gesture and to show the structure.
Here is what usually happens.
Usually we do a gesture drawing and we put some lay-in stuff on it.
The first gesture line we draw, whatever system we’re working in is beautiful and fluid
and alive, watery, graceful, all the things it should be, except it’s not a connecting
Now, when we add the structures, those very simple structures, they track that gesture line.
In fact, it’s one of the reasons I love the tube.
The tube is really just a three-dimensional gesture line, isn’t it?
We don’t lose any of the gesture by turning it into a tube, and we can do it if we’re
clever about it.
We can do the same thing with a box.
The box doesn’t lose any of the gestural quality.
As soon as we add an egg into it, notice now it starts to bump, and that beautiful fluid
movement starts to get disrupted.
We start to hit a pot hole in the road or a speed bump.
It starts to affect that lovely movement.
What seems to be the state of affairs, we seem to be stuck with the fact that as we
add more structure, more rendered detail, as we decorate it with our techniques, we’re
going to lose some of the gesture.
The best we can do is be aware of the gesture and maybe, if we’re really clever, we’ll
take that curved line, that tipping form, that twisting torso, and we will error to
the more dynamic.
And so when we do end up adding all the lumps and bumps, by overdoing it we end up a little
closer to the truth.
But that’s really kind of a desperate strategy isn’t it?
We know we’re going to ruin our gesture idea is what we’re saying, and so if we
overdo it, then at least we’ll still have some semblance of that idea left.
It will always be a poor representative of that first mark.
We don’t want to do that.
We’re visual philosophers, dog-gone-it.
If I’m a philosopher and I have a great idea, the more time you give me, the better,
the clearer, the more nuanced and more refined that idea should be, and that’s what we
want out of our art.
What we’re going to do is carefully plot out a strategy so that every mark we make
is going to make for a better and better gesture or a better and better structure,
or hopefully both.
And then if we want to indulge in some decorative things and some details that kind of go off,
that aren’t considered or whatever, that’s fine.
We won’t need those.
We can do a complete rendering.
We can fulfill or stylistic demands.
I can draw like me.
You can draw like you, and we can make those things work.
We can make every mark count.
Alright, so let’s talk about structure.
Structure is a little easier.
We’ll begin with that.
Structure is the movement over the form.
When we start adding detail, really it becomes a strategy for exactly how, in what clever
ways can we move the audience’s eye over the form.
There are several ways.
If we’re lucky, we can just use contour.
It might be a costumed contour like the sleeve, the wristwatch.
It might be the pinch, pinching flesh where flesh forms come together and bind up.
We see them work across.
It might be a cast shadow.
We’re casting a shadow of one form over the other, and the cast shadow will track
That can be true with form shadow.
Form shadow has a contour idea.
So, when this pinches, that pinching shadow shape and that pinching flesh can move us
over the form.
It could be the overlap.
It could be this in front of this, and we’ll feel the movement over the form just by how
it breaks over.
Or, better yet, it could be an interlock, interlocking forms.
And interlock is where one form inserts into the other.
It’s best typified by this drumstick idea.
Of course, this could be a wedge shape too.
Notice some of the sides and the end breaks.
In the overlap we just have the end.
Notice eggs and balls can only really overlap.
I mean you can put this way in like that, but it’s not as convincing.
This locks together like a crescent wrench around a nut.
We feel that connection.
This is what the body tends to do because of the muscular connections.
We have these muscles going from below to above the joint to tie those bones together
and articulate them, to have the pully-like leverage to move them.
That kind of thing.
And so we’re going to get these things inserting into and out of.
We we can do that interlock it’s like a super overlap.
It feels great, great connectivity to it, and we really do a lot of good work.
As I said, it’s very anatomically based, so it rings true on several levels.
It could also be the axis of a form.
For example, if I’ve got the torso here, and I’m underneath the rib cage, if I take
the nipples or the breast forms and conceive of those as egg shapes or elliptical shapes,
notice that the axis is doing this, pointing up and in to reflect the perspective.
We can have the anatomy.
In a way it’s just this.
But the anatomy can reinforce it.
And then the last one, which is really the most important one because it’s the sneakiest
and it’s probably going to be the most consistently used.
Whoops, I goofed up there.
I did the dot, dot, dot here.
This is closure.
That’s a triangle, isn’t it?
Well, it’s actually not a triangle.
It’s three dots.
But you, my helpful audience made it a triangle for me.
You did all the work.
If I point this way you’ll go an look for where I’m pointing to and try and make a
That’s coming off that idea that any line or shape or shadow is a visual arrow.
It’s pointing to something.
It either needs to point to the other side of the form, either around it or over it,
or it needs to point down to the next form.
In other words, it’s either going to move us over the form to show the structure, or
it’s going to move us between the forms to show the gesture.
This could move over the form or it could move between the forms from rib cage to stomach.
That kind of thing.
Okay, so closure is the idea that if I get something at or near the sides and something
at or near the middle, you’ll make the connection for me.
You’ll complete the circuit and get us going in the right way.
And I’m going to show you all sorts of examples of that.
But it’s really just plotting out.
It could be a couple nipples, the outside of the chest, or the connection of where the
chest meets the breastbone and maybe even some ribs.
You’ll do this.
You’ll make that connection for me.
If I can do something like that, use any of these strategies three times, something at
or near each end, something at or near the middle to move the audience over in the right
manner, in the right character.
In this case, the right roundness and the right perspective.
In this case, up and over.
We will feel our structure through whatever details we do.
Any constructed or rendered information we do that follows this pattern, this strategy
is going to make us feel the volume.
Despite all the organic stuff going on.
Remember, the anatomy, you have these oddball organic shapes, and they go down this way
and they go up that way.
That means some of the time the anatomy will reinforce the perspective, and some of the
time it will hurt the perspective.
This group of muscles reinforces the muscles of this arm going away from you.
But this muscle, the deltoid, hurts that perspective.
You’re going to find that all the time.
You’re going to find stuff that helps and stuff that hurts.
You’ve got to sort that out.
We want to find the information that reinforces and gets us to move in the right manner and
remember our perspective idea.
If you’re underneath a form, all that means is the detail at our or near the sides is
going to be consistently lower, whatever it is.
A contour or shadow shape, and overlapping or interlocking structure, the axis of those
structures, the anatomy of that stuff, and the gaps between will be taken care of by
You don’t have to go all the way to the signs.
You don’t have to be right in the center.
It doesn’t have to be exactly the right perspective.
It can be the same or greater.
Any of those are fine.
Notice that contour of the chest hurt our perspective idea.
We want to curve this way and we’re curving the other way on the chest and the ribs.
The axis of the nipples helped our perspective.
Let’s just do this.
The attachment of the pectoralis to the breast bone didn’t do anything for it.
But the position, the relationship of each to the other, and with the help of the audience
closing the gap, wanting to make the connection, we are wired to make these connections.
We can’t help it.
They’re going to feel that.
That can be detailed down here.
You can say why don’t they go this way or something.
Well, if we don’t do our job they might.
They understand what a body looks like.
They’ve been around bodies, and so intuitively they’ll pick up on
the clues that we present them.
As aesthetic creatures, as artists, we want to highlight the right stuff and play down
or edit out the bad stuff, pick out the good stuff.
But the fact is, if you’re underneath the rib cage, you are underneath the belly button,
the nipples, the chest, the breasts, the collarbone, all that kind of stuff.
In some way it’s apparent there.
We just have to parse it out, pull it out, and make it clear.
Okay, so this is going to be our strategy for getting the structure to work, and it
won’t matter whether we use line or tone to do it, so a line is a visual arrow, and
also a tone is a visual arrow.
So, the gradation can move us over.
That’s what we were talking about that halftone, tracking around, taking us around and, of
course, taking us over at times.
Okay, so let’s say we’ve got a rib cage here with arms out here.
Hips in here.
Alright, so let’s say we didn’t do it that way because we’re trying to figure
out where it went.
But, let’s say there is my gesture line, stretching line, or I can break it down a
little more complicated here into several stretches, and it can go all way up into this.
Get it that way.
As soon as I started adding stuff, a complicated spine, the barrel of the rib cage, as soon
as I started to refine my structure, my gesture started to suffer a little bit, didn’t it?
Let’s pull this out this way and make it wider.
That’s a problem.
We’ll save that problem for a few minutes here.
Let’s just worry about structure now.
What’s the strategy?
Now, my construction lines tell the tale.
They’re telling me exactly what needs to happen
all the way through.
We’ve got to feel the rib cage this way like that.
Then we get up on here.
Maybe the neck goes that way.
We’re not going to worry about the neck.
That means any time I have a contour, for whatever reason, that overlaps, high end to
low, that’s going to reinforce my perspective.
We have an overlap there.
We have an overlap here.
It overlaps the arm, helps put the arm away from us that way.
It overlaps the rib cage.
It helps put the rib cage under this way.
All those overlaps are great, and there can be a little tiny overlap, or they can be a
great and powerful overlap that extends a great distance.
We don’t really care too much.
Now, if I can get that overlap to insert in some of the side and the end to insert in,
now I’ve got an interlock.
That’s that drumstick idea.
Narrow bone, narrow tendon, ligament connections.
Thick muscle, sometimes thick bone like a skull or rib cage.
It inserts in and that’s good stuff.
That reinforces it.
Sometimes the axis, how it’s tilted, tipped or distorted, notice the axis of our shoulder
blade, let me lay it in here under all this gobly-gook muscle drops down.
Sometimes the contour itself—for example, let’s say the pinching rib cage, it pinches
all the way across against the obliques, pinching spine against the lower back, those erector
muscles in the lower back.
All those contours reinforce.
And then sometimes we can use closure so we can use—let’s see here.
We can use the triceps on top of that tendinous connection to the elbow, and we can use the
other triceps here and whatever little detail there and
something at or near the size, something at or near the center,
you’ll make that connection across.
We’ll see others as we move along.
Let’s do this.
Let’s pretend this is down on top so we’ve got the overlapping obliques.
We’ve got the pinching oblique against the sacral area.
Then we have the little tailbone.
I’ll just put it way low here, tailbone here.
Notice that’s way deeper than the real perspective, but that’s okay.
It gives us that sense of being on top of, and notice how the tones can help track, help
reinforce the closer and fill the gaps all or partially to make sure the audience is
moving in the right way, like so.
We can move throughout, and I’ll show you some more rendering.
Well, I guess I’ll do some of it now.
Let’s light this so that we can use line and tone.
Let’s say that we have a shadow shape on that spine.
Notice if I want that to be rounded, I’m going to use my zigzag technique, we’ll
use this with our great Strathmore paper too, same technique.
I want to make sure that I know where the beginning of the form is, the end of the form
is, and the shadow shape will be where the form turns.
That’s the corner.
I’m going to keep it open-ended.
I’m not going to render above.
I’m not going to render below because I’ve got to figure out how the rib cage morphs
into this shoulder girdle above and waste and hips below.
So, by adding some halftone, a little or a lot, I can now take that corner around the
corner. Also, I can complete the connection.
I can give you a sense of how the rib cage, the bulging rib cage separates out, builds
out from the surrounding forms of the waist and such.
I can come back and reinforce, make sure I reinforce slightly the corner, which is that
By reinforcing that, notice that it gives a feeling of reflected light without having
to render it.
It gives a feeling of that secondary light, that indirect light that fills and creates
its own reverse gradation of lighter shadow to darker shadow at the core, but it does
it without having to think about it.
So, by reinforcing the corner, we reinforce the idea of structure as a corner, but also
it takes care of a lot of the rendered detail.
We don’t have to think it through.
We don’t have to analyze it and work it out.
It takes care of itself more or less.
I can get this big form and then go on down and get another big form.
Or, I can get every single form or a lot of the forms across, however I want.
Basically, I’m going to take a section and work across.
That didn’t work very well, did it?
Take a section and work across and then go down.
Then take another section, work across and go down or go up.
That’s going to be how I make sure each form fits and flows and works together.
If the forms are pinching, binding.
If they meet on a gesture line that is becoming concave, going from convex to concave, that
S-curve, then you’re going to see that the forms are starting to separate and show their
own character, and that’s why I have so much tone
and shape change in the that shadow and maybe also in the contour.
Big, binding overlapping contours.
We’re going to have a big change.
We’re going to see this kind of zigzag action, zig and zag before it goes down again.
When you see zigzags, binding contours, zigzagging shadows,separating
that’s the forms fighting and out.
Let’s pick up here.
I can plot out every form like a little egg box or ball, or I can get the big forms and
let the little forms take care of themselves.
Here I’m going to let a little form take care of itself.
There is a little wall or some structure up in the shoulder girdle I’m not sure of.
I just know it wobbles like that.
As long as I’m tracking well the big bulging rib cage, working, working, working, working
together; I don’t have to explain the little imperfections.
I can just put them in there and let them make the audience think I’m smarter than I am.
Make it looks sophisticated.
There is a cast shadow.
This side of the rib cage is a big enough structure that it casts a shadow over our
receding structure, the other side of the rib cage.
Notice how I’m orchestrating, that’s my new favorite word lately, orchestrate.
I want to think like an orchestra conductor with the wand, this to this.
I want to bring this two instruments into harmony.
They need to be hitting the same notes for the same song on the same gestural rhythm.
Every art form has that problem of orchestrating the dance steps, the scenes, the characters,
the colors, the gestures into a greater whole, and we call that gesture or color harmony
So you can see how it goes.
And notice how if I’m moving with my zigzag, I’m moving along the long axis of the form
by rendering this way.
And so by going along the long axis of this form, I’m going to be able to get a really
beautiful rendered gradation that’s going to sculpt my structure in exactly the manner
I want it.
Also, I’m going along the long axis of the forearm so I’m rendering the gesture, aren’t I?
And so, notice these little marks.
These just happened, and yet they kind of ring true, don’t they?
They’re moving along that gestural edge.
All these imperfections are little visual arrows getting this to flow in the right manner.
Everything is, I’m in the flow on this,
where everything is working for me consciously and unconsciously.
My process, my technique is all serving each other.
I’m not fighting it.
That’s going to make life way, way easier.
And you’re going to end up getting these happy accidents like this, where the audience
will go that’s amazing that you were able to do that.
I can’t believe you understood those forms, made it work, and it just happened because
you were connected to your material and your process.
It comes out the way it needs to come out.
Likewise, you can just kind of wing it and say, well, my composition needs something here.
I don’t know what the heck that is in terms of muscle.
I don’t even know if it really is a muscle, but it’s going to track over my rounded
form into my titled perspective and move down my fluid gesture.
It’s going to feel right.
Everything has a connectivity to it.
Notice how everything is orchestrated.
Everything is tracked on and on and on.
Then we can take these lovely little creations here, say that zigzag there.
We can pull it down into the formed shadow of the erector muscle,
erector group of the spine.
In the shadows I can do the same thing in tone or in line.
Give me a moment here to fuss around.
Notice how we get now a new kind of connectivity.
Now we get an extra special interlock.
We’ll call it a Denny’s buffet interlock.
That’s incredibly good food.
It’s a meat and potatoes chain in America.
And notice how we didn’t get the old drumstick.
We’ve now got this tail of insertion.
Remember how muscles work.
They go down below, way below usually to anchor.
The farther it can go into the accompanying bone, the more leverage you have.
For example, the Achilles tendon on the foot starts at the heel, the calcaneus of the foot,
and goes all the way up into the muscle and above the end of the hamstring to be able
to lift all this weight off the ground.
And so, the farther you can take these structures—and in a little bit we’ll see gestures—the
more convincing and the more pleasing it will be.
It’ll just feel right.
It won’t matter if it really is right.
It will feel right because you’re following, you have a world view basically.
Everything is moving over the form if it’s a structure, and everything is moving between
the forms if it’s a gesture.
Even a little pinch, little series of pinches, each little pinch is its own little hose shape.
And yet, they’re all working back in that greater hole, every little pinch is tracking.
Of course, you can actually allow the technique to do the same thing.
We could hatch and cross-hatch as a Michelangelo and del Sarto, the whole Renaissance crowd,
the Renaissance groupies.
It can track over too, and the technique, the paint strokes can do the work too.
So, on and on and on.
Now, here is the problem.
Let’s say I did what I teach, and I started with that line there.
By the end we’re not even of it, but by the end of my
rendering process, look at what that poor thing turned into.
Instead of this lovely beautiful, graceful gesture, and my first gesture line here could
have been that into that.
That into that.
Instead of those lovely, gorgeous composing lines pointed altogether in this wash of beauty,
now we’ve got this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this.
Now, that’s great for structure.
I did a fine job.
I’m proud of myself.
If I could I’d hug myself for how well I did my structure.
But, it’s ruined my gesture.
So, what’s a guy to do?
What’s an artist to do?
Well, what we can do is a couple of things.
We can use the Ingres method.
Jean Dominique Ingres.
He had about six other names in there.
You can quiet them down.
That’s a good strategy, and it’s a strategy I would tend to use.
Play these down.
Instead of doing that kind of thing,
let’s do that kind of thing.
Now, it’s a little quieter than it was, isn’t it?
That helps, doesn’t it?
So, now it’s not near as bad as it was.
Again, that’s kind of a desperate strategy, isn’t it?
Especially if I need a certain key dynamic, tension-filled moments, dramatic moments
I need to show.
What I’m going to do is I’m going to break the contour, and instead of staying on this
edge, and instead of quieting it down or just quieting it down, I’m going to come inside
as often as I can.
They’ll still be moments maybe where it gets wobbly.
Almost certainly there will be.
Let me add in some of this stuff down here.
Alright, almost there.
Alright, what the heck did he just do?
Forgive that leg being a little out of whack.
Alright, so now I’m going to try and break the contour.
What I’m going to do is I’m going to look inside.
I’m going to see if I can’t find something to use closer with, to line up.
I’m going to use that.
This little gluteus medius.
I’ll use the fibers of the gluteus maximus.
I’ll use the cast shadow going across that leg there.
I’ll use anything I can.
I’ll even—I’ve seen the old masters do this.
I’ll even lighten the lineup, so I’ll ghost back that line.
I’ll make that bigger and that bigger.
And this just screws me up, doesn’t it?
It’s right in the way.
Let’s do a little bit of stuff here to be in the way.
All sorts of stuff going on here.
Whatever is going on there with the neck.
I’ll pick up there.
Maybe it’s—I’m off the page there, but maybe it’ll go back up into the skull, the
back of the skull or the temple line or behind the ear there.
Then I’ll see if I can’t find little places to pick it up in there.
But now what I’ve got is, through closure, something even better.
If I understand that early enough—let me take a look at my distorted figure from the
side, I can play that up over here so that it…there is my gesture.
I’m going to throw my tube way over here.
Remember, the tube is a three-dimensional gesture line,
and now I’m going to play this up.
I’m going to give this guy a bigger back.
That’s why you’ll see one of the reasons, you’ll see like a Pontormo drawing a bunch
of lines finding that rhythm, that connectivity.
Look at the work halftone does for us.
It keeps the gesture alive.
It integrates and makes that connectivity across the form as it flows through the form.
Now, pull that way over there, and now we’ve got this pushing even more.
And so what we had as a beginning gesture line—let’s put it over here—now becomes
And we can really play down all those lumps and bumps, or we can play up a major corner,
so now all that moves over a corner so it gets even sharper.
We’ll redo that corner so you can see it.
And it gets more and more dynamic.
And then if you need to add the lumps and bumps as you invariably will, even if you’re
Ingres, it’s not such a big deal.
You can also create this kinetic effect.
Notice we could have played this up here.
Now I’m going to come all the way around here and up and then behind the ear and into
the eye socket or cheekbone or up into the temple line.
I could have played...
it here as our cable muscles, or our hood pulls us back down.
That’s the shoulder blade, but the latissimus can come right here or over here
or back up here.
Notice now the wild rise.
We have an almost infinite way of moving and interlacing, aligning through closure, every
fibel of—I like that.
We’ll call them muscle fibels from now on.
Every fiber of the deltoid can be another rhythm, can’t it?
That’s what we did with our gluteus here, every gluteal striation of the muscle ended
up being a potential new rhythm going through.
Every tendinous connection down through the hand into the wrist and forearm could be a
And so this just is stuck but really not, huh?
And it can move into this and move into this.
And even into the hatching it can move around this way.
You can have all sorts of fun.
Lead your audience on this incredibly wild ride, so you can see the seductive power of
going Baroque, Rococo, big budget Hollywood blockbuster.
It can get so dramatic and, of course, so over dramatic, so melodramatic.
There is a lot, it’s a lot of toys to play with.
And so it takes actually, in my mind, I’ve spent a lot of years now playing with this.
In fact, I will actually, and you’ll see Pontormo, and you’ll see comic book artists,
that’s where I got it from, those folks.
You can actually see the speed lines where now those are kinetic movements, ghosted images
of time lapse.
But there are also rhythms that keep the eye going in ever new energetic, maybe nervous
and neurotic ways or heroic, dynamic, adventurous ways, however you want to do it.
And so everything that we draw is going to have a rhythm to it, an orchestration where
it is one thing.
It’s a shadow.
It relates back to the light through the half tone, through the contour.
The form relates to the gesture.
The gesture finds hidden gestures, hidden rhythms that show new and wondrous forms.
The technique is constantly moving along the corner of the form but potentially down the
length of the gesture at the same time, or it’s like a tap dance.
It’s a hop, skip, and a jump to make that move through hatching or painterly strokes.
If you look at the painters that are great draftsman, most of the time and especially
when there is a drawing problem,
they’re going to work down the long axis with this stroke.
Most, 90%, 92%, 92.6% of Sargent’s strokes are down the long axis,
because look at what we get.
If I go down the long axis of the nose with that highlight or core shadow, I’ve described
where the side meets the front.
I’ve described structure.
And so I can create these long axis ribbons of planes, like the long facets of a diamond.
You’ll see in Zorn’s paintings, he leaves those long painterly strokes there.
Sargent tends to blend them a little bit more.
But, they’ll move down the long axis.
If I’m going to go down the cheek I’m not going to go this way.
I’m going to go down the longest possible axis for that cheek,
and for any form I’m drawing.
Always down the long axis.
I can also move you across this way through a curve and S-curve to move over the tube,
over the other side for the dynamic and to show that moving off axis for that organic
form so it’s not too simplified.
As I show those structural planes moving from beginning to end of the form, I’m also,
of course showing the gesture flowing down from one idea to the next.
And so those long axis strokes are by far the most efficient and helpful and descriptive
marks we can make, and that’s why most of our realist painters, who know their drawing
skills will do that.
Not everyone, and sometimes the technique, the medium will have a say in it.
Dega pastels tend to be cross-hatched.
But, it’s incredibly seductive, and it’s why I don’t use long axis strokes all that
much in my paintings because everybody does it, and everybody wants to be a Sargent,
And so with everybody doing it, you better start looking someplace else.
I’ll use them when I need them.
I’ll make it chaotic.
Since my stuff is about bundled energy, I’ll let the drawing do all this work, and then
I’ll fill in with gradations within those shapes with this kind of quantum energy of
strokes, kind of almost a Jackson Pollack blasting splatter of strokes.
And I do it really, not because it’s the best solution conceptually for my work.
I can’t do the Sargent because everybody else is doing it.
I don’t want to be the same, but every once in a while I really need to draw something
correctly, carefully work it out where I just need that shape to go in that direction, then
I go back to that because it’s so incredibly valuable.
Okay, so that’s what we’re up for.
You don’t have to do a whole figure.
You can just pick an area.
Pick a couple, you know the upper arm and forearm, the rib cage and pelvis, and try
out some of this and see if you can’t work out those ideas.
You start the same.
Simple tube, box, ball structure, and then as you start building those forms, orchestrate
them so that you’re moving over the form through all of our strategies or a few of
You can just draw and then go back and see.
Why did that drawing that I just did look so good?
Oh, there we go.
I’m feeling the interlock of that structure.
I’m feeling the axis of those shapes moving up and over.
All my detail is doing down and under to show I’m on top it.
There is a lot of closure going on.
I start and I finish, and I get them to turn through that position.
As I draw that structure, I get a great out that takes me into the next gesture.
I’m going to try now to break the contour and see if I can hop, skip, and jump to make
a longer, more hidden, a sneakier connection
to hold the whole thing together to make it cohere.
Can I make it all work in a way that the audience will feel
but won’t really be able to nail down.
It’ll be that secret sauce that makes it such a great meal.
Why in the heck did I pick it?
Well, because as tricky as the pose is with all these beautiful lumps and bumps of muscle
and halftone and highlight and reflected light, it’s just a tube or an egg.
Let’s make it an egg.
Here’s the neck in here just so you can see it. Here is the arm over here.
Here is the other arm up around here.
All we’re doing is going to see that egg drop down and have another egg fit into it
and another egg fit into it and another egg fit into it, kind of like a slinky in a way.
So there it is.
Now, how about lighting it?
Well, if it was just an egg with another series of eggs from this light source, which is coming
in this way, then we’d have this, and all of this would drop on down.
Let’s make it a little closer to what we see.
And that’s not too far off.
But, if we look in here we see that this bumps, and we have a series of zigzags.
Any time we have zigzagging shadows, that means we have forms
fighting against each other.
That’s the old snowman idea, where you’ve got balls pushing together and bumping apart,
In this case, we actually have a ball over here and a ball over here.
That bigger ball of the torso, the rib cage splits at the spine, and we have,
in effect, two balls.
This, really here has a bump here.
That’s all we’re doing.
There and there, and they connect along the spine.
Notice they give a nice soft edge to where the egg turns, where the egg turns, and I
can give a soft edge or a hard edge.
I usually do a harder edge before the cast shadow because that’s where it abruptly
end sin light and something else pops up.
All that is shadow.
We have some lit areas here.
This gets lighter.
This gets lighter.
These get lighter.
These get lighter.
We don’t want any of that.
We want it all.
We want that spottiness that comes from an old drawing getting rubbed
and a little bit abused.
We want all that stuff to group nicely together, and we want it grouped enough that when we
squint at it, we get the shadow separating from the lights.
So that fits there.
This would go here, but we have another little egg in here.
Or, it can be a bulging triangle.
That can be a shoulder blade in there.
Shoulder blade unit right in there.
And so, we get a third zigzag.
One, two, three, and this all drops down here and casts a shadow over the thigh that we
did not lay in.
We did not construct it.
Fits in there.
Fits in there.
And that’s that.
Alright, this one we have Is not as intimidating, but it could actually be a little more difficult
than our last one.
Okay, this is our basic construction here.
We could do more, but that’s good enough.
Now, as always, I want to see or visualize out over here that rib cage, the egg of the
rib cage or the pickle barrel or the bulging box, whatever we’ve conceived of it as.
If that’s the shape, we’re going to have a light source coming this way, and we’re
going to have somewhere over here that form move out of light and settle into shadow.
Notice that you know it’s an egg shape that you should conceive of when either the contour
bulges for the rib cage and/or the shadow starts to come inside.
Notice how it’s intruding inside.
It’s not staying at the edge.
It’s starting to come inside.
That’s the mark of a—let’s continue that all the way through.
This is what a tube or a box would do.
And that’s what we have here.
Let’s take that back.
We have this bumping over.
The egg shape.
There is the egg in there.
There is our Coke bottle right there.
That fits there.
We’re picking this up now.
Let’s look at that again.
The reason it could be more difficult is look at all this lovely tone.
Again, especially with Conté drawings, drawings suffer over age.
They’re not quite as durable, not near as durable as an oil paint.
Oil paintings can fade in color and opacity a little bit, but they’re usually cared
for a little better.
They’re not set in drawers with tissue over them or other drawings over them.
We’ve got all these lovely tones here, and it can be very hard because it’s been blended
It can be very hard to know exactly where the shadow it.
I’m going to look down here, and I can see a clear separation between shadow and light.
I’m going to use that.
If I start going up I see it again here.
See it in here.
Now it gets—at that point it gets very hard to see and all that serratus and rib action.
But, we’re just going to pull it up here and use that tone.
We know it’s an egg in there or a Coke bottle.
If I conceived of it as a tube like this, that’s a little bit misleading if I have
to show the rib cage up in here.
There is no rib cage up in here.
Rib cage is over here.
Here it is here.
This is a simple conception of it.
I’m just going to give it a nice value.
It doesn’t have to be super strong.
It just has to pass a squint test.
I’m not going to finish the value this way or this way because I don’t know it fits in yet.
Here is the—let’s go down, but we could easily go up.
Notice I worked in a big area that I was able to see and conceive of simply.
There is the—here is the belly button.
The belly button there.
This comes down here.
Again, we’re getting a big, huge smudge here.
I’m going to put the shadow here.
Then it’s bumping out and then blending.
Anything that zigzags will blend in if we were to take it farther, but for now we’re
not going to take it farther.
Again, there’s a little egg there.
There is the shadow of it.
That also works as a spare tire all the way across, so I want that little egg to fit with
that contour and the shadow.
I want that big spare tire to also likewise fit with that little egg and big spare tire.
So that fits there.
Then we come on down here.
You can see it here.
I have no idea why it bumped that way.
I just couldn’t tell you.
I don’t have to tell you.
I can go ahead and pick that out and go on down the shadow.
Or, I can say, well, here is kind of a mini skirt or a slice of a cone maybe.
If it was just a cone it would do this in shadow.
That’d be the shadow shape if it was just a slice of a cone.
That’s pretty close to what it is, although it gets disrupted by this egg and this tube.
It goes into that egg.
See how the egg got squished.
If we took that leg off it would just go like this.
And then this, I have no clue what that is.
I’m just going to add that little bump.
Maybe it’s going around the top of the egg, the top of the cone.
Maybe it’s going over a smaller little structure on the bigger structure.
Maybe I can’t even get that clear of analysis of it.
It wouldn’t matter.
Get the big thing right.
Get that big thing right, and if you want to add a little weird detail, some little
form, some little quirk of accent of light causes that little deal instead of being this,
the audience will buy right into that.
No problem at all.
This comes down here.
Then maybe that egg...
pulls this way.
Notice I’m just working down one shape at a time.
I’m not doing any halftone.
I’m just finding one side of the form, other side of the form, shape of the shadow on the
form, give them the shadow value.
This bumps on over here.
In the beginning just do two or three forms, four or five forms.
You don’t need to do all of the detail.
Just leave it—get a few so that you start to understand what’s happening there.
You don’t have to fuss with all the figure, like is said, as you’re learning it.
At least not every time.
Here is a great opportunity to show off a pretty consistent truth about the rib cage.
If we treat this as a box idea, notice where the shadows are for the most part.
They’re right on the corner of that box.
Isn’t that convenient?
If we add the chest on there, the chest bumps out a little wider, and again just shade that
so we can be sure we see it.
It tracks along that corner.
Basically, he’s drawn the nipple here.
Basically, the nipple, wherever it is, is a great place to show the corner.
Nipples do this because that arm is lifting up.
It’s dragging that chest muscle up, and so it’s dragging the nipple up.
Nipples work great as corners.
When I’m dealing with shading and especially the shadow shape itself, but it can be any
of those things; highlights, halftones.
If I can think a little more boxy, that’s almost always a good thing to do.
The chest acts a wedge, and then you may well—let’s take this off now—you may well have the
pectoralis, the chest muscles move up this way as they do here.
But, we have this lovely stairstep of the big wedge on the smaller wedge, and the shading
is coming, the light is coming from above and from the side, and so anything that faces
down and turns to the right gets darker.
Now we add that ball of the belly in here.
Do a ball here.
If we like that ball, it’s going to get lit like this,
or it’s going to get lit like this.
Or it’s going to get lit like this depending on its angle to light.
In this case, that’s what it’s doing.
The light is far enough behind it that most of it is dropping into shadow.
Only a little bit is catching light.
And so we’re getting this bump here, and there is double bump, and it’s doing that.
What’s happening here, let’s take out that double bump for a second.
There is the egg.
There is the box.
And then this is casting a shadow over the box.
Casting a shadow over the box.
Now, because we have a little belly button,
we’re getting a little bump of light back in.
And we’re getting a little spare tire muscle.
Spare tire form.
It’s like a garden hose.
Then again that box is casting across it.
That’s why we get that little zigzag action here.
It doesn’t go very far but it does that and then comes here.
Then the egg kicks in like so and then actually drags up under.
So, you can see if you can conceive of that as a simple idea, the shading most of the
time, almost all of the time, will track beautifully on that simple idea.
If you draw a simple concept and the shadow shape does not track well, then you should’ve
have drawn different, should have drawn a different simple shape.
And this pulls down here into the hips and such.
The hips would be in here.
We could do a mini skirt.
We could a box again, whichever we wanted to.
Then notice up here, this builds out.
That’s because we’ve got that shoulder blade unit, the whole carriage for holding
the arms onto the body.
And so, the egg is in here, and this is back behind it like so.
Alright, we have Bernini here.
Not a bad guy.
Let’s go ahead and lay in some of this figure.
We’re looking right down here.
Pour a little bit on top of that rib cage again.
We can add all this in and try and get it just right, but what if it’s not just right?
Then draw through.
Feel that connection.
You may not draw that connection exactly right, but it’s going to be better than not doing
it at all.
It’s that and then this goes on.
Okay, and this comes down here,
and this comes up over here.
That’s good enough for now.
You can see how unsatisfying the way I laid that leg in there.
It’s a little unsatisfying here too—sorry, Bernini—because we’re not feeling any
sense of where that connects.
What’s really going on there is there is the hip in here, and it’s doing that.
What you could do is flatten it out if you wanted to, to show where it’s sitting.
That would be there.
It’s sitting something like that.
Then we’ve got this torso coming in.
Belly button in here.
Crotch in here.
Then then is blocking like that.
And so there is no place to see where that leg connects.
It’s kind of an awkward pose that way.
It doesn’t fit in very well.
But, it’s what we have to work with.
Now let’s put in the shadow.
We did all of our hard work to get the lay-in and the whole figure or whatever part of the
figure we wanted to study.
Then there are all these bumps all the way down.
Let me do this.
All these lumps and bumps.
Every time that bumps or lumps, what’s happening is we’ve got some little rounded form, so
in here and then in here and then in here.
Then in here.
That’s what is creating that lumpy, bumpy shadow.
We can simplify that, or we can put it all in there.
Let’s simplify these two.
It’s the arm casting a shadow over that latissimus dorsi and teres minor, I think.
Teres major, teres minor and infraspinatus.
Can’t remember which one is there right here, but that’s okay.
It’s this form turning out of light this way.
So, even if this stuff wasn’t on top, this egg would roll out of light this way
for the rib cage.
The fact is, though, this is bumping over and then bumping over.
There is a lot more detail in there, but I don’t need more detail.
I can just show that major structure or that medium structure, let’s call it.
Then that major structure there.
It ends like an egg.
And we have this little tube, and the tube turns out light,
and the tube rolls out of light.
It wraps around to the right and tucks under, both of which are catching shadow.
That’s where that awkward leg comes in.
So, that’s that.
This is over here like so.
You can see how simple it can be.
We could add more stairsteps.
We could explain them, or we could even add more stairsteps and not explain them.
Let’s add some of this detail.
We did just do that.
Let’s do this.
Show this major convolution and over something that we never explain.
The audience is going to be just fine with that because we explain the big thing, the
major chest structure and rib cage structures.
An egg is explained.
The fact that that major egg wobbles on a complicated organic form is not surprising,
and the audience just buys right into it.
They say, well, you showed me how the big thing worked, so I’m sure you know how the
little thing works, and I’ll trust you.
I’ll give you a pass on that one.
So, we get the big stuff, and the little stuff you can leave out because it’s not important
because you don’t have time, because you want to involve the audience and let them
do a little bit of the work for you.
Any or all those things or other things.
This right here.
I did that because that shows that the tube of the arm has ended and that connective tissue
for the shoulder blade unit has begun.
Then the arm itself is an egg that rolls over, and then it bumps.
It has the bonier elbow.
Let’s do that.
It meets the fleshier triceps.
We get a bump there, and we can drag a little bit of halftone out of that bump
if we want now.
We happen to have, we look at the contour, and we see that the contour bumps.
We have a big bump on the contour.
That means two forms are fighting with each other somehow.
One way or another, they’re not getting along.
They’re trying to show off their own character and not be swallowed up by the other character.
So, we’re getting this structure coming in.
Notice that’s just halftone.
We can treat darker halftone just like it was shadow.
How did I get that?
I thought of that as a wedge shape or an egg or a teardrop shape.
Notice in either case, the shadow shape would end up being pretty close to what we have
That’s just a smaller architectural structure on the bigger one.
Let’s do the next one.
I’m always terrible.
I’ve studied these guys for years and I read them and I don’t really pay attention
on how you say them sometimes.
Guercino, Gurchino, Guercino I’m going to go with.
There we have this lovely, delicate head.
There I’m drawing that.
I drew it from the outside in.
I better come back in, feel that pit of the neck.
Sometimes you draw in a different process than your venerable teacher told you to, and
then to not get in trouble.
You should probably go back and double-check to make sure that how you cheated on your
process didn’t screw things up.
I actually want you to cheat on the process at least some of the time so that you can
mix it up and figure out an order that’s useful to you.
Alright, so light is coming this way so we’ve got this side of our head in shadow and the
side of the neck in shadow.
All this gets blocked by the arm so it’s in shadow.
What did I do?
I did that.
That shows chest ends, something else begins.
The connection on the biceps, moving the arm.
Then a little bit of shadow here, a little bit of shadow here as that
form turns out of light.
Then I’m just going to pick up that tube, and it bumps.
You can see how simply we make this or can make this, wherever that’s at.
And it works just fine.
When it doubt, simplify.
The simpler you make it, the better in a lot of ways because then you’re getting the
Alright, let’s look at this in a slightly different way.
We have all this lovely halftone, and some reflected light.
So, make sure you can see what’s halftone and what’s shadow.
This is actually all light.
That’s a little harder to decide if it’s light or shadow, and it doesn’t matter.
You can take these little pinches out or you could leave them in as I have done.
Either way would be fine.
A really dark halftone could, if angled just slightly more, it would be a shadow so you
can go ahead and make a shadow.
That’s all shadow.
Okay, so that’s it.
Now when we look at the shadows, we see this bump.
If it’s bumping in and breaking into the contour, it’s an egg.
If it’s going down the contour it’s a tube or a 2 x 4 or a box, so here we can think
of this as little boxes.
Here we’ll think of this as a cylinder.
Maybe this will be a 2 x 4.
Maybe it’ll be an egg too.
There is a box.
Here would be...
the corner of the box.
This is a tube so you can see this as a wedge shape in here or a flattened egg shape, and
this other structure is casting across it.
So, really kind of analyzing what it’s doing and why it’s doing it can get really confusing
at times in the beginning especially, but it’s very, very valuable to do that.
That’s in here.
This is being cast upon by this, and then it drops out of light.
It’s the 500 series.
It’s a drawing paper.
You can get it in thick board, where it’s laminated onto board, or you can get it up
to three or four ply, I think.
This is one or two ply.
Anywhere in there is good.
Lesser ply, lesser money.
It’s Bristol, which is not the plate.
The plate is super slick.
Plate finish is hot press.
Kid finish is cold press.
You want the Bristol, the medium texture.
So that’s that.
Then I’m using Conté of Paris chalks, and I sharpen them down like pencils.
Then I can use a sandpaper to round them off, get a nice conical shape like a pencil.
You could use a charcoal pencil.
I just like those.
I’m using Alphacolor, black, of course.
But, these are the same things I use for my demos to do the big
kind of multicolored drawings.
I just get the color packet.
You’ll get a packet of a range of colors.
I’m using a stump, which is rolled paper, and it allows me to draw lines and smudge
and blend and get into areas that are too tight for my fingers or for whatever tool.
Then I’m erasing with a kneaded eraser.
They come like this.
It’s like a sculpt eraser.
You can make shapes out of this.
You can get it and around a nostril or in the corner of an eye or something like that.
You can get that.
When it gets dirty you just stretch it out.
See how lighter gray it is?
Get a clean spot on it.
Then just any kind of hard white eraser.
This is what was in the studio here.
This was one I brought just in case.
You can see when it gets dirty, come over here and erase off the dirt so you get a nice
clean edge there like that.
Here is the paintbrush.
Any kind of a house brush or this is a soft feathering brush, which I never really use
It was here around the studio.
And a paper towel, and I’ll use that to blend and smudge.
Now, as I begin I want to make sure my fingers aren’t sweaty.
If I get the oil of the skin on there then that’s going to stain the paper, and it’s
going to resist the pigment, and you’re not going to be able to get a smooth gradation
to that area.
So, I actually like to get dirty quick.
So, having this, if it’s—if you’re in a hot, sweaty, summer climb, you can do that,
and the charcoal more or less—give or take sweat factor—will seal it off, and you’ll
protect your paper.
When you’re working—oh, the last thing is sandpaper.
And when you’re working, if you get, if you grind that sandpaper, the charcoal, the
alpha color into it, or you get little dusted things like that.
Those are going to get hard to erase.
And so you want to be careful.
If you know you’ve got, you’re drawing the hips and the buttocks has this nice light
halftone and highlight area, you want to make sure you don’t get the smudges there because
you’ll have a tough time getting it off.
If you have access to one, I have one at home.
I don’t have one in the studio.
If you have access to an electric eraser, that will help, but it won’t get everything.
If I’ve got a real thick paper, I can actually sand this back and work it out there.
This is real thin so I won’t do it.
You can see it kind of starts to take it away and blends it out.
It also lifts the pores of the paper and creates a nice texture.
It actually feels like the pores of the skin, which is cool.
I’m going to start with my Conté, and then we have a figure.
I’m just going to do kind of the head and upper torso is kind of plan.
We’ll see how it goes.
I’m going to do a little head—it’s not going to be a likeness, but I want to get
the character of Rajeve here, the barrel of the mouth.
Notice I’m laying out not just the mask of the face—he’s got that great brow ridge.
I love that brow ridge.
Not just the mask of the face, but I’m laying out some of the features.
Not because it’s important I get those little details at this time.
It’s actually in a way problematic if I get too much detail too soon.
It’s going to make me focus on one area rather than the whole composition, the whole
But, I want to make sure I get the chin in the right area so that I can the body to attach.
I want to make sure it’s not a generic head since I am doing a bit of a character sketch,
I want to make sure it fits.
And then when I draw those shoulders, I compare it to the chin.
Typically it’s going to be below the chin line.
In this case, it’s above it.
If I didn’t look, I might have put it down here, which would be a mistake.
I’m going to compare the shoulders to a horizontal and realize that they lift up here
higher, high to low.
This is out here.
There is the shoulder or there is the shoulder.
I’m not sure.
I take a guess, though, just because I want to kind of practice training my eye.
I don’t want to measure so much.
I’ll do that to double-check.
If something is really throwing me, or I sketch something in like this and it bothers me,
it doesn’t quite feel right, then I’ll double-check it.
I’m going to add a little bit more chin.
That sinks him down into the shoulders a little farther.
That’s fine with me.
Then what I really want to do with these gestures—there are a lot of things I want to do with the
gestures, of course.
I need to simplify this shadow shape somehow.
I want to use the gestures to feel the connections.
And where on that torso is it perfectly vertical?
Certainly not for most of the torso it’s leaning, so it’d be better to lean too much
than to lean too little.
Then down in the lower stomach below the belly button it starts drawing, dropping down toward
the crotch in much more of a vertical.
Then we’re going back for the big rib cage back to the skinny neck.
The eyeline is about right here, probably on this camera shot.
It’s not a bad idea to play with these things.
Try getting that head and body laid out from above.
How would you go about that?
What would the shapes look like and the proportions and try and visualize that.
Working from your imagination is a great way, and that’s basically what you’re doing
You’re imagining this in a brand-new position so this is all but useless, really.
Working from your imagination is bad and good.
It’s bad because if you just work from your imagination you’re going to come up with,
if you’re really great, you’re going to come up with 15 or 20 kind of stock poses
and seven or eight stock characters to work from.
You look at comic book work, and that’s typically what happens if they’re not working
from reference, which mostly they don’t.
You end up with types.
The big thick-necked bully type.
The wide-shoulder, square-jawed hero type, the buxom babe female type, and then the evil
buxom babe female type.
Then you have the female buxom babe damsel-in-distress type.
Usually there is one type to the women in those things.
In general, they’re going to work with a limited number of types, and so that’s limiting.
So, work from life.
Even if you work in the comic book industry or some gaming or animation where you have
to make things up, work from life because it’s going to give you a deeper well to
How’s that for a metaphor, huh?
The good thing about working from—forgot my bigger point there—my metaphor threw me.
The bigger thing about working from life, the good thing about it, is should say, is
it teaches you, it shows you what you don’t know.
If you try and make up a deep perspective, can you imagine how that thigh goes into the
hips as it goes back on the page, if it’s laying down feet first towards us.
Can you imagine that insertion, that connection, the simple shapes,
what the gestures do to resolve?
If you can’t, next time you’re in front of a model or you go to your reference on
the computer or whatever, then work on that.
Can you articulate those hands?
Can you remember which way it overlaps, the folds here overlap from one side to other?
Can you remember that kind of stuff?
Of course, you are your own best model so you can look at your—animators will do that
all the time.
They’ll have a mirror and look at the expressions as they’re trying to get whatever the latest
character is for the latest movie to come alive.
Alright, so that’s good enough there.
Take our time and lay that in.
Then I can come in really painterly, or I can come in really carefully.
And this is a little bit more how Sargent would work.
We’re just going to rough in a little bit of it.
I’ve got to get my head out of the camera there.
Notice that wonderful insertion that happens.
Usually it’s great for this.
We’ve got the forehead doing something like that.
Then the cheeks, you can’t really see the far cheek because it’s hidden by the nose.
On this side you can see the cheekbone wraps around.
It actually does this.
It’s that socket.
This is in shadow.
You can see how—and it’s subtle here, I should say, I’m going to make it sharp
here—you can see how it steps around.
Again, we have that pinching insertion idea, the drumstick idea is locking in there.
We’ll go ahead and make that up just loosely.
We can lay it in like that, and then we can come back and refine those shapes either by
refining them with charcoal, or you can come in and you can refine them with a stump, kind
of settle them down in kind of like we were doing yesterday and refine those.
Just pulling off into the hair that way and start working that stuff out.
You can get these subtle, here’s the skull cap coming down into—take a look and see
what that’s doing.
Coming down into the brow ridge.
I want to feel this.
It’s landscape and I want to traverse it.
I don’t want to just skim across the top of it and just punch in a value on this surface
and fool you.
I want to fool myself.
I do it all the time.
Sometimes it gets me lost when I’m driving, but eventually it works.
I want to kind of get into that, the mindset.
It’s a mediation and
I want to feel these steps, and I want to know that I step over them sharply or I round
off, or they’ve eroded down or they’ve chipped away.
Sometimes you just, it gets a little too abstracted with simple shapes.
I’ll come in and actually draw some of the contour.
It gives me something to kind of aim at.
Sometimes it’s a little risk taking to see if I can make that ring true by the time I
finish all the connective work of my lay in, or I know I’ll change it maybe two or three
times as I develop it and I’m not worried about it because I’ll just keep drawing
those new lines as I chase after it.
I can go really slow.
Here is the slowest way to go.
This is the slow boat version.
Now you’re basically drawing with a pencil.
It’s like drawing with the side of your pencil on a typical sketch.
Notice how it’s going to be a little lighter, a little less rough.
Now I don’t have to fight the texture of those strokes.
When I use this across, the edges are going to catch, and I’m going to have strokes
that’ll have to tame.
That might be a problem.
Maybe you have a little bit of…I don’t know, maybe you have a little bit of carpal
tunnel or you’ve got a little bit of arthritis and you don’t want to have to beat it over.
You want to have a light touch.
You can do it with this.
Notice how it really is a light touch.
It’s a fencer’s grip.
In fencing you don’t hold the sword like this, you hold it like this.
Of course, if you drop it you die, but no pressure.
But, you’re going to be more nimble and you’re going to have more stamina.
Doing this, I’m going to wear out.
It takes stamina to do art, doesn’t it?
This is a lot of work sitting at a desk or at a table or at a mule in a drawing class
and thinking hard and looking hard.
You can do that slow.
Keep it nice and light.
The nice thing about doing that, again, like the watercolor, laying it in lighter.
I might get lighter and lighter and lighter.
Just let the tool just have less pigment to contribute.
That might end up being my vignette drawing.
You know, one of the things I want is the sketch to feel like it’s finished art.
I want the sketch to be a sketch, but I also want to potentially frame that.
If I could pick some of my favorite artist’s work, oftentimes it would be sketches and
not the finish from them.
I was trying to put my kids through college.
But, to me they’re more valuable and more beautiful because we see the energy and they’re
But the trick with unfinished is everything rings true.
You don’t do it.
There are no fillers.
I’m not sticking something in as a placeholder.
I’m not going to say here is the head and I’ll fix it later when I get to it.
I’m going to have be as simple and as characteristic, but simple as possible.
And so it’s simple, yet characteristic.
That’s the trick, simple, yet characteristic.
It needs to be both.
Usually when we’re doing the sketches we just make it simple.
Then it’s crude.
Then it’s sloppy.
Then it actually does damage.
It confuses the audience.
It confuses you in the rendering, and it teaches you bad habits.
You’re training your eye—or you’re not training your eye to really see the truth.
You’re just putting it off.
Well, if you give me a little more time, then I’ll do a really terrific drawing.
But then you’re just rendering your way out of the problem.
That’s what most of us realists do, and that’s what I used to do.
Render your way out of the problem rather than having a concept and refining that concept
with ever greater clarity s you have more time.
So, if I have to stop now, everything that I have in here ringers fairly well true.
That was poorly said, wasn’t it?
Fairly well true.
That’ll be my memoirs when I write my memoirs.
I’m not going to write memoirs, but if I were to write my memoirs, I would name it
fairly well true just because that’s such a dumb way to say things.
Okay, so you can see how I can draw this stuff and all those things will go
away in the rendering stage.
It would fade away with the eraser and the smudging and all that kind of stuff.
This is moving along fairly well, so let’s go back to our more aggressive style again.
Obviously, as I’m doing here, you can do both.
Now, when I get these zigzags because this form meets this form, I don’t want them
to get repetitive.
See how those are repetitive?
I want each one to be different.
I’m going to have one—well, just do it here.
One maybe cut over on a corner, picking up that nipple even though the nipple is in the
shadow I’ll bring it back out in the light a little bit.
This one will droop down over that rounded rib cage and then turn back up, curl this way.
Then this one will start to curl up but then fall down and go this way.
Notice how each of those has its own personality.
It’s its own character in our bigger story here, and that’s what we want.
Think of a character-driven story
where each character has to have his own wants and needs, and she has to have her own daemons
haunting her from the past and her own desires and all that good storytelling stuff.
Her secrets to be discovered.
Just going to let that settle in.
It takes a little bit of pigment, lightens the shadows.
You can see I can lighten them quite a bit if I want to create a natural vignette.
I could clean that up.
But also, it gives me something to build highlights into.
I’m going to do that, and I always basically do that.
It allows you to adjust so you can say, well, you know, this chest is, really I want it
a little closer to what I see in the reference.
I want that cut off.
Just let that nipple set down into shadows.
And so that way I can dust it back and I can correct my shapes or I can smooth out my gradations.
I can embed the pigment so it feels smoother and tighter and more bonded.
Also, it’s going to be a little more resistant.
Here, if somebody does this, no problem.
If they do this, we’re in trouble.
If you get too painterly with your tones and they’re going to sit in your drawers, and
you drag one drawing out over the other, you’re going to end up smearing your drawings.
That’s a bit of a drag, so this protects it a little bit.
You can use a fixative on them, a spray fixative.
Don’t do what I did one time.
It was actually for an illustration deadline when I was an illustrator.
Don’t spray—what is it?
It was a stick-em to adhere papers together, and I sprayed this spray stick rather than
the fixative, and I had this sticky drawing.
It was a comp, I think, for a movie or something, and I had to redo the whole thing.
It was very unfortunate.
The problem with fixative is it changes it.
It gets glossy.
It just more plastic looking.
It can change the values a little bit, actually.
You want to watch that.
Sometimes I’ll just keep working back and forth until we get to know each other.
The drawing and the reference and me have come together, but we don’t know each other
very well, so I need to warm up.
I need to decide really how I’m going to approach it exactly.
How painterly or how carefully.
Oftentimes, I’ll just kind of play around and end up treading water
and even backtracking here.
I’m a little less rendered than I was a few minutes ago, wasn’t I?
Just kind of get a feel for it, and that’s important.
You want to allow the piece of art to tell you what it needs.
What’s going to vignette and fade out?
What’s going to be strong?
Where is the eye going to look?
How carefully am I going to copy, render those shapes?
How much am I going to change them?
Am I going to make it build muscle on muscle as I often do, or I am going to simplify it out?
Am I going to try and work like one of my favorite Sargent’s, trying to follow Sargent’s
rule of aesthetics and stuff and see what I can learn from him by doing that.
Nothing wrong with that.
Then I can use this or I can use the Conté.
I want to feel so I’ll use the Conté on this side.
Now I want these halftones.
Notice that the sides will quite often, and other artists will quite often—Sargent does
this, because the material, the reference quite often does this, that keg idea that
I’ve talked about so much.
The slats, the details in the center are very wide.
Then as they go out here they bow, but they also get thinner.
If I have detail right at the side of the serratus or rib or something like that, I’m,
going to make them much more linear and much closer together.
Then I can open them up as they start coming in, and that’ll give me that volume idea.
We can do it in the shadows over here if I wanted.
It can be speed lines.
I can kind of show the ghosting of where it might have been or should have been or maybe
was until a correction.
Now, as I draw this, it’s only going to be correct if it’s in the correct relationship
I want to feel that.
I want to feel that and I might well want to draw through, and I might even want to
drag those tones to pick that up.
Notice how I’m thinking of the chest as one greater idea.
Then I can break it later into its lesser components, the two pectoralis.
I just said, I don’t have to be super careful with that eraser.
We can just settle it back in.
Let’s move along here a little quicker now.
You can see by going a little faster you risk, but also there is reward.
You might well get an interesting shape you hadn’t planned on.
Of course, you could leave some of the hatching in there.
You can let it settle down and maybe keep that.
It vignettes into the rougher kind of laid-in constructed tones, rather than the carefully
settled in, rendered tones.
Always looking for where each tone goes.
Does it go down into the next tone?
Does it go up to the other side to complete that structure?
In the next form, I should say.
Or does it follow through to complete the form?
And you can experiment with papers.
Like I said, I like the Lana paper a lot, but you can try all sorts of different papers.
See what happens.
Every time you change your materials, it’s
going to change the result of that quite a bit.
It’s a good idea to kind of mix up.
You get some a little different.
It’s going to go down differently, maybe do the same thing, but use a colored, one
of the colored alpha colors, just that much might give it a whole new flavor.
You could make it a whole career out of that.
You can see those little double marks I’m doing.
Those are to anchor the form to feel that anchoring where that form begins, where it
ends, where it turns, that kind of stuff.
You’ll see that.
It’s actually one of the pleasures of looking at a sketch.
You’ll see it in a Sargent sketch for the figures and such.
You see those little notations, and they clearly, usually we can’t, as an audience we can’t
They clearly spell out for us that kind of stuff, and so we feel on a deep powerful level
the confidence in the work and a clear explanation of the subject matter.
Sometimes it’s clearer than if it was carefully rendered.
I’ll work a little bit more on that, but first let me show you—
I went and sharpened this.
I’ve actually never done that before.
Just for the heck of it.
I’m really doing it like a Conté.
For more painterly, just a little more of a lot of Sargent’s sketches, I’m just
going to do a little section here just to show you.
I want to make sure that in fussing around with the rendering we don’t lose the big
Make sure we’re clear on what we’re thinking about no matter what our technique is.
I want the technique to be what it is, but it’s a reflection of thinking.
Even though I might fuss around in a little area I want to make sure I’m getting the
truth about the big stuff.
I can use a lot of roughed-in tone and then little subtle lines
to mark out things quite quickly.
Sometimes doing this makes it better, sometimes it makes it worse.
It’s just another way to go.
This can be this.
Whatever I’ve done here hasn’t kept me from doing this.
A lot of it is just how comfortable with the materials are you?
As you get more comfortable you can take chances.
You can speed along.
You can do shortcuts.
That kind of stuff.
This is more of a traditional—you look at the early illustrators like Christie and Flagg,
Montegomery Flagg did the “Uncle Sam I Want You,” the famous illustration.
This is how they’d work, and it was a very quick way to go.
It was all off the Sargent model.
You can compare this to the Italiae method.
The same chops are there.
The same information, the same intention in a way, but it’s having a clear conception
rather than a pure observation.
I’m always going to be trying to integrate.
Then there are a lot of finger smudges in this style.
So, Christie and Flagg were famous for doing this kind of stuff.
Then there would be a little bit of eraser work.
Of course, you could come back on this with forced darks.
We’re not going to take it that far.
Or, they’d leave it just raw like that, or they’d get
some little tool to do a little bit of work.
But, generally it’d be pretty raw.
Okay, so no matter what we do with that skull—I’m sorry, that hair—we want to make sure that
that skull is underneath, shadowed by.
We’ve got to have a sense of it not doing a right angle like that, but lifting up a
little bit in back.
His hairstyle, and a lot of long hairstyles will build up in back.
It kind of takes care of it, and oftentimes it exaggerates it.
So anyway, you can start out much quicker to get from here to there.
Of course, leave it as a sketch and anywhere in between.
Really a whole continuum of possibilities, and they’re fun to play with and try.
Alright, so that’s that.
Let’s get back to our fumbling around here.
Once we’ve got about this much, we can slowly build it up into this evermore beautiful,
hopefully successful, hopefully rendering, or we can use this as a base.
In a way what we just did here, but we just eased into it.
So now I’m going to come back and I’m going to finish off this head more.
As much as I’m going to finish it off.
But I’m going to do it mainly by accenting and line.
So, what felt like kind of a lay-in, you know, I wenant back and father, and at times it
looked more realistic than other times.
More finished, I should say.
Actually, with just a little bit of accenting, finishing a shape here and there, all of a
sudden you’re done.
That’s kind of the Sargent magic.
He’ll do that in the oils.
He’ll set up—notice how most of the time here in our earlier session was setting up
I was getting the cheekbone, the eyebrow, the big framed mass of hair that we needed.
It felt like there was a long way to go, and there could be depending on what you’re
going to do with it.
But, it doesn’t have to be.
If I come in an anchor my darks with deeper darks, the corner of the eye.
Remember the older woman who was looking up?
She had the little hat on like that.
She was looking up this way with those hopeful eyes.
He did all this kind of nice work here, and then he came in with light little eyebrows
and hatching around, catching the eye, and he was done.
That’s kind of what we’re doing here.
Most of the work—in fact, there is a real famous story, and I suspect it’s true, of
Sargent spending 86 sittings with some patron.
I think it was an old woman, but it was whoever.
He got to really hate his oil commissions.
He was known for that.
He was rich for that, but he didn’t like doing them.
That’s where these charcoal portraits came from.
He tried to pawn the charcoal portraits off on people rather than having to do a full
Then he could take off to Capris or wherever and do these sketches with this friends.
He’d travel with a trunk of costumes, and they’d go hang out in hotels.
He never had his own place to live.
He stayed with rich friends or rented villas with friends, that kind of stuff.
But, he spent 86 sittings, I think it was, trying to get this portrait right and finally
gave up in disgust.
Oftentimes, Edwin Austin Abbey, a famous illustrator spent a few years sharing a studio, I think
it was in France, and they’d be painting out together, or they’d be doing their own thing.
And Abbey would hear from across the field, “This is unpaintable” and he probably
swore or whatever; they didn’t pass that knowledge onto us at the time.
He would just give up in disgust and just throw the canvas away or walk away and then
come back later or whatever.
But, this commission, it finally got to them and he just gave it up.
He didn’t give it up because he couldn’t get just the turn of the nose and just the
shape of the eyelid.
He gave it up because he didn’t get the structure, the overall concept right.
And so, that last session I spent just getting the structure.
This is big stuff.
Once you get that pretty well, and I went back and forth as we were talking and stuff.
Sometimes it’ll go much quicker than that.
Sometimes it’ll go much slower than that.
But, once you get it pretty well, then you can come back on with the details.
Oftentimes, that’s not so difficult.
I’m just going to anchor this stuff.
I didn’t really have any of that, so I’m doing a bit more work there, but you get the
idea, I think.
Then I can come back and erase, or I can get my stylus out with my Photoshop
and do backspace, undo.
You just fumble around with the details, and I won’t do a lot of that.
You get the idea.
It can go pretty quick.
Just anchor that.
Where the wing of the nose bumps against the cheek, I’m going to anchor that a little
bit, meaning get it a little darker here.
Under where the nostril is, I’m going to anchor that.
We can throw a little highlight on that if we wanted to.
I won’t bother.
Just going to use this end because it’s cleaner.
I’m going to smooth that out a touch.
Get my head out of the camera.
See that hair bleeding over.
The tone from the hair coming over and smearing a little bit.
It’s quite alright.
Alright, so anyway, that’s that.
Then come in and push the details painterly or
beautifully, whatever the art seems to need or your intentions were or the client’s
wish, whatever it is.
We don’t care about the clients.
They’re just the money.
Actually, one of the pleasures of doing one-man shows or group shows, you get clients, collectors;
or you get other artists, sometimes models, and they’ll have really insightful comments.
He’ll go, you know, I can tell how sad you were when you did that self-portrait or whatever
the comment is.
And you’ll go, yeah, I was really sad.
Of course, you weren’t sad at all when you did it.
You were thinking about how much money you were going to make and the Ferrari you were
going to buy and the South of France you were going to go on when you sold that big old
monster of painting—to your mother, probably.
They’ll have these insights into the work, and sometimes it’s just something like that
and it’s a throwaway, and it’s interesting to see what they bring to it.
You realize that they’re really bringing their own baggage to it.
That’s what is happening always.
You want the audience to take what you did in the studio for your own reason and make
it their own.
It becomes their story, and they turn it into what they needed it to be.
It’s got nothing to do with you, and it shouldn’t.
If they’re having to see what you see in it, you’re doing dead art.
It’s not living.
It’s not fulfilling its purpose.
The art there is like the constitution.
It should be a living document kind of idea.
It needs to be what the generation, the audience needs it to be at the time.
It’s really important that you leave room for the audience to get what they need out
of your work.
I’m very careful about not titling things in a descriptive way.
I give kind of nonsense.
If I could I’d just go with “Untitled Number 650” but that just gets unwieldly
in terms of cataloging.
Frankly, the audience would complain about it.
You can get away with it if you’re a modern artist doing abstractions, but not if you’re
a realist artist.
There is just no tradition for that, and so they’re going to feel cheated.
There is a certain etiquette in art.
Sometimes it’s great.
Sometimes it’s unfortunate.
It’s just one of those things.
You’ve got to name it something, but I’ll call it a “Shadow boxer” or “After Hours”
because it’s a night scene around the boxing, pretty nondescript.
Then they can read into it what they need, and that’s what needs to happen.
You do what you want, but I’d be very, very disappointed in each of you as a human being
if you don’t do exactly what I expect from you.
But no pressure.
Okay, so just going through anchoring things.
I think I interrupted myself.
That’s what Sargent will do.
He’ll get things working in this midrange right here,
so you’ll get a good shadow shape.
Good light, halftone shapes.
Then he’ll come back.
Let me take it a little bit farther.
And he’ll work out those biggest possible structures.
Always the big structures first.
You’ve got to get the big landscape before you get the little settlements of interesting
details on it.
It’s the big landscapes that it is going to make it a likeness, make it a solid structure,
all that good stuff.
So, you get all this working.
Let me take this a little farther.
All these wonderful shapes.
It looks like my nose there, didn’t it?
It’s my thumb.
It’s not my nose.
It’s my thumb.
I thought it was my own nose for a second.
It scared me.
Then he’d come in and accent, bump whatever he needed.
It could be just a deepest, darkest shadow kind of like what we did at the eye here
Or, it could be bumping that core shadow or coming in and picking up a dark
accent in the environment separated out.
You can see how it changes the character when you start putting in that background.
I spent about five or six years illustrating, and I realized I didn’t like it.
It took me about three years to figure out I didn’t like it.
But, when I was first doing it, you know, you’d have to paint werewolves and vampires
and spaceships and transistors, and whatever they wanted.
It’d be fantastic stuff or mundane stuff, horseracing or berries for a jam jar or whatever
the heck it was.
They’d do all that stuff.
It’s great training because you’re painting everything,
and you have to learn how to paint everything.
I’d have some cheapo video cover or movie poster.
I never did the big movie posters.
It was always B, C, D movie posters.
I’d do this nice figure.
It was painted out like this with just kind of a wash in the background, and then I’d
try and put in the background, and it wouldn’t work.
It took me a few years.
Nobody taught it to me.
You would think you would get it with eight semesters of college at a good college, and
Art Center was a good school, but nobody taught me basic picture making.
If they did, it went right past me.
Maybe I missed that day, went right past me.
It never sunk in, let’s just put it that way.
I don’t remember specific lessons about it.
And so I put in the background, and it wouldn’t work.
I’d have this great figure that looked great on a white page or a light washy background,
and I’d put in the full-value background.
I’d have a full-value figure and a full-value background.
It was just a mess.
Then I’d scramble like crazy putting in reflected light and making this much lighter
and that much darker and doing these gradations to separate stuff.
It took me several years, and it was really only until I had started teaching at art center
and I started sitting in on Dan McCaw’s class.
Dan, you can still, he’s still going strong.
He’s got a fantastic fine art career.
He does paintings.
You can find him online.
He’s got a really great book.
I think it’s out of print and very expensive to get a copy now.
It’s actually a silly title—he didn’t come up with it—“Making Masterpieces,”
kind of typical, overwrought title.
But, it’s a great book on basics.
I never had him as a student, but what I did is once I started teaching, it was one of
the reasons I started teaching, I’d go sit in on the best artists’, best teachers’
Either because they had models I could use for free.
They were nice enough to let me sit in.
Nobody ever said no.
They were all really great about it.
I’d go sit in and listen to them talk, walk them demo, and have free access to models.
So, Dan I spent a number of semesters—I don’t remember, maybe three semesters, four
semesters—sitting in on this classes.
He was great.
Then we’d have lunch together or whatever, and I’d ask him questions.
He taught me good tonal composition, color theory.
The stuff that I had had some basic color classes and stuff like that, but it would
never translate over for me.
Nobody took the color theory in color class where you painted swatches and stuff and put
it in figure painting class.
But Dan did, and it was a bingo moment for me.
It took me a lot of years to find that, and it wasn’t in my principal education that
I don’t even know why I started that story, but there it is.
Oh yeah, so anyway, when you’re working the background you’re not sure what’s
going on until you get the background in.
You want to conceive.
I’ve got kind of a middle-value figure here with some dark accents on a messy background
with some dark accents.
I want to conceive of it as foreground background.
The background has to be a different value or a different value range than the foreground.
Maybe the background is going to be all dark or middle dark like the reference is.
The foreground is going to be full value, very light and very dark.
If I want this to pop out now, I’m going to use my kneaded eraser.
I’m going to use the dirty end so it doesn’t take very much off.
I’m going to start dusting back.
If it was oil paint, I’d take white paint over a dry painting
and I would glaze over it.
Now I’m going to make all this a lighter version of its own self.
Dust that back.
And then the little accents won’t hurt anything, really.
I can come in and get little accents here.
But, because I’ve got the base down pretty well, I’ve got my information, the fact
that I muck around with the rendering doesn’t matter.
I’ve got the base of operations down.
The key big structures and then all those.
Then I can come in and get my little accents and contrasts.
One of the things I like about this medium, I’m going to do a bunch of rendered highlights,
let’s say I rendered all this out.
Once I have that nice rendered out and pretty well finished, it’s not going to do too
much damage if I decide, you know, I really want this to drop off like Rembrandt.
I’m going to come down here and I’m going to use the stuff.
If I have to, I’ll come off camera.
You know, I’m going to crop it here, but I’ll come here and I’ll use that pigment
to drag it up.
I didn’t do a ton of damage there.
I lost some of my dark accents.
I lost almost all of my highlights, but I can come back and get those pretty easily.
Or, I put in my wonderful highlights and they weren’t so wonderful, so I can start again.
I can dust over that as I had just done and be good.
Take our reference that we’ve provided. Let’s get the light and shadow.
We’re going to get the basic structure, the basic gesture.
Get that simple, yet characteristic form, get the long axis curve, all that foundational construction stuff.
Now put light and shadow on that. Just pick a couple of body parts. Pick the hip and the thigh.
Pick the rib cage and the hips. Simple.
Don’t do the whole figure.
Just get a couple and see how those shadows work and how they flow together.
How do we get that shadow to go from the rib cage to the pelvis.
Give it a shot.
[No further dialogue]
The skill that we’re developing here is how to see these simple
solids in this complex of form.
So, we’re having to call out a shape.
Start with the figure, the parts are mainly tubes is the easiest way to go.
Nothing is easy about this.
It’s the easiest way to go.
Get a sense of whether you’re underneath it or on top of it.
Remember, you’re drawing with the tube.
Just get a couple of shapes or even one shape.
Once you get a shape or two, now we’re going to come back and we’re going to try and
find two sides of the form.
Only two sides because we don’t want to separate this from this to this.
That’s not the way the body is working.
It’s flowing in.
It’s not always breaking away.
Take your time.
Look how long I’m working that idea to make sure it’s pretty correct.
This to this turns here.
We’re getting that idea.
As soon as we get that shadow we fill it in.
Now I haven’t committed to here.
That’s a construction line.
I haven’t committed to here.
Now it goes on down, or it goes on down.
It wobbles or there is a second structure in there.
It doesn’t matter which.
You can do it any which way.
If it’s just a slight wobble just keep the one simple form or
just keep the slight wobble unexplained.
What it really is, is it’s two eggs in there blending almost perfectly together.
We don’t have to explain that.
Just bring it right over here.
Then you can move on or move on.
Or, you can work across or get secondary forms.
In this case, the rear end breaks away so this now works with this
just like this worked with this.
Now we’re getting the shadow shape.
It not only broke away on the two sides,
now a bit of the third side is actually separating away.
And so we drag that shadow as we drag that construction over, and then it would go again
to the next form that we won’t get to.
That’s all we want to do.
Just practice in a little area.
Now, whenever you’re doing constructions,
you may not get a really great shadow shape.
It might be a little fuzzy.
You’ll want to make it a great shadow shape.
If you’re not quite right.
If you’re not quite true to the reference, it’ll usually be close enough.
But, if not, that’s just something to work on.
You can aspire to be better, and you can redraw it again.
Notice how the nipple, I may use that as a natural corner to think of this hip as a box,
or maybe I think boxes are too hard.
I’m going to think of it as a tube or an egg.
Any of the choices are okay.
Some will seem better than others based on what you’re trying to do.
Any of them will be fine as long as they’re nice and simple and generally characteristic
of what you see.
So now there is one side—that’s the overlapping hip.
Here is the other side.
Actually in here.
You can see where it lines up with that armpit is where I’m drawing here.
It lines up with the nipple.
Then we’re doing to feel this over here, that against this,
against that separating out.
Then we go up here.
Notice how I’m keeping this just as simple as possible.
Now it’s just barely showing the shadow shape, but it’s still there.
Notice how the shadow shape sits there.
If we were able to get that highlight, that would create that other corner and create
that nice connection.
The stomach separates a little bit from the hips, and so does the pubic area.
It starts to go into that ball shape again, so it bumps down.
There is the other side.
Here is the belly button.
We have that smaller structure.
Notice when it’s in light I just do a couple of lines there to show this idea.
In fact, it’s doing that.
Then you move on down.
Okay, I’m just going to do the shoulder into the arm.
Nice curved tube with an egg on it.
I can round that off later, or I can make it some kind of box.
It’s a little harder so I’m not going to do that, but that’s too hard.
There is the tube of the arm, and it’s going maybe slightly this way.
Tube of the arm bumping into the shoulder girdle, and all this stuff here that I might
have no clue on how it works, so I might not be able to do anything of that,
any of this stuff.
But just curling it like that is good enough.
That tells you the tube has ended and something else has begun.
Now I’m going to pick up the shadow shape in here, and notice what I’m doing.
Here is a—it’s just a simple ball.
This is the shadow on the ball in this case.
It’s curving that way.
I can do the shadow this way or I can do the shadow this way or I can do it back in like
that, or I can do this.
Or I can do this, this.
Any of those can be a shadow shape.
You can tailor it to what you see.
In this case, we see this, and then it kind of pulls this way, like so.
And then that becomes a shadow.
Faded off until over here someplace, we have
a cast shadow of the arm blocking the rib cage.
We don’t want that to go over our cast shadow, so go as far as you can until you hit light.
And then this goes down here.
This is just a tube.
Let’s take the tube out, just doing that.
Just doing that.
Make sure the border is a little stronger.
Zigzag, connect them together.
Usually soft, hard, soft, like so.
And that’s it.
We’ll just stop right there.
You can come back and you can decide that that egg should be a little squarer egg.
That egg should be a little square egg, or you can do another one where you do it squarish.
Make it a wedge shape and try that.
Make this a 2 x 4.
There is always a lot of choices.
Alright, so here is the head.
Now I’m going to try to be a little more complete.
We’ll do a little bit more of the figure.
I’m going to do a simple lay-in, exactly the way I would do it
if I weren’t doing any light.
There is that pinch there.
This is coming down here, and then we have the egg here down in there.
Up a little bit more.
When things pinch they get closer together.
Now I’m just going to say that the arm is on the side, and the back is on the back,
and the shadow is right there.
I can see it a little bit more like what a full figure would be.
The back is on the back.
The side is on the side.
The shadow is right there.
Come back sometimes, the breast is also in shadow.
Just use line in the shadow to describe detail that’s important.
Use line in the lights to describe detail that’s important.
Come back and correct or refine or restate or figure out, and then the zigzag pinches,
the zigzag pinches like that
and then continues on.
And then gee, I have more time, I’m going to add some more construction and more shadow.
This is all in shadow, just lose that.
This eye socket makes a great corner.
Everything to the left of that corner happens to be in shadow.
We call that the front of the face in this case.
The bangs are also on that same front idea.
There are the bands there.
The hairstyle is in here.
Ear is slightly on the side so it’s catching light.
I can always change my idea and correct things, maybe it a little bit bigger.
This goes up here.
I’ll just give it a sense of that.
Now, I’ve run out of time.
Change up the size a little bit.
Just simple shape for the head and the neck.
If you’re drawing a coffee cup you’re drawing simple shapes.
If you’re drawing a house, some little box shapes and triangle shapes, just simple shapes.
That’s what it is here.
It’s just these simple shapes are going to have long curved axis.
They tend to be tubes and boxes and balls.
I’m just picking out a few simple shapes.
Things tend to line up in a certain symmetry so when we do construction lines across, the
front of the symmetrical forms relate back to the sides with a real consistently, so
we can do construction lines that way.
It’s more important just to get the direction than the actual shape actually.
Then we’re going to come back and then we’re going to say here is the rib cage.
I can start wherever it seems easiest, usually big round forms I like to do.
Here is the beginning of the round egg of the rib cage.
Here is the end of it.
Here is the shadow of it.
Fill it in in whatever manner you can fill it in, and then move on down or come into
the center now and say here is a smaller egg.
It breaks into two shapes.
This bigger shape is breaking into two smaller shapes,
so now I’m going to get this smaller shape.
I’m not exactly sure maybe where light shadow becomes dark halftone.
Just group it all into shadow.
Just keep it a nice shape.
It moves down into the belly button.
Again, that’s just stairstepping.
Now, here is the waist adding on.
Here is the waist I’ve already picked up.
This cuts in, describing that ball shape.
Then there is a separation of the secondary ball shape.
Then a tube for a cylinder comes into that, and that has a certain character to.
It bumps in here.
Bumps in here.
Now we’ve got the beginning egg shape for those hips, and here is where it turns.
And that’s actually turning because the tummy area is affected.
Maybe I’ll pick up a little bit of this to feel that stomach on top of the hips, or
I may not know that, so I’ll leave that out.
I’ll leave this out.
Now, that egg of the stomach almost like a bullet shape is also some version of that,
turning into shadow.
Or, it’s a wobbly version because it’s organic.
That’s great too.
Just looking for balls and boxes and tubes.
The boxes are the hardest ones because they’re, you’ve got to find those corners.
So maybe you don’t draw the box in this case.
We looked at gesture and structure, defined those terms and then looked at the body through
the lens of those ideas, broke down every body part into simple structure and gesture,
learned to put it in space and 3-dimensional position.
Light and shadow.
We defined those terms.
We put that on the figure.
Now we’ve got the basics of any good figure drawing, any good figure painting, any good
This is the foundation.
You’ve gone through it.
You’ve got it.
I would encourage you to come back and look at it again and again.
You can come back tomorrow, next week, next year.
Refer to it.
Master it, repeat it.
It’s through the repetition that we learn to master our craft.
I hope you enjoyed it.
I’m proud of you for getting through it.
Thanks so much for your hard work and your attention.
I hope to see you again.
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview1m 10sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Lecture: The Laws of Light56m 46s
3. Master Analysis: Part 134m 50s
4. Demonstration One20m 22s
5. Demonstration Two31m 14s
6. Rendering Strategies16m 12s
7. Demonstration Three40m 57s
8. Master Analysis: Part 234m 42s
9. Demonstration Four1h 5m 44s
10. Practice Assignment26m 21s
11. Steve's Approach16m 47s