- Lesson details
Learn the fundamentals of oil painting with acclaimed artist and instructor Charles Hu.
This course breaks down the entire process of oil painting and is intended for beginning and experienced artists alike. Charles explains the important concepts of gesture, shape design, and composition. You will also learn what materials are needed, how to get set up, and the techniques used to apply paint.
After taking this course, you will be on your way to oil painting from life using a variety of different subjects and palettes.
There are a variety of concepts involved in guiding the eye and telling the story that you want to tell. In this first lesson, Charles thoroughly explains these concepts by demonstrating a series of compositional studies.
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Painting is basically telling a story. You have to
say something about it, like a movie director you have to direct what comes out,
what goes back, what you don't want to see. You are controlling
this whole 2D image.
I'm gonna start by introducing the material, the brush care,
the color, the way I set up my palette, the process of my painting, how
to establish the value relationship, how to create interesting composition.
We're gonna start with a black and white just to learn the paint applications,
get the value correct, and then we're gonna start using limited palettes
Eventually we're gonna get to the full palette, working with
nude model, costume model, and even costumed outdoor with landscape.
It's not just putting down paint, it's
explaining, translate that humanity into your work.
I'm actually gonna lecture, demonstrate the importance
about compositions and also how to establish the
value relationship, how to create the interesting compositions,
what you should look for, the gesture within the compositions,
all those are very crucial, you know, before you pick up those paintbrushes. Because once
you pick up paintbrushes, all this knowledge I'm gonna be doing here
is gonna apply and then on top of that, you have to think
about color mixing, color temperature, color intensity, right.
So I wanna make sure all the drawing aspect, the design aspect, to kind of
be, you know, to have that under your belt so when you're dealing with colors,
like I said you just need to focus on the color
relationship, the paint applications. Because what actually
you are doing here are basically taking this black and white video and transferring
that into the color. So you need to make sure this is the value, the edges,
you know even understanding the gesture will help you to make decisions
where you want to apply the brush strokes, the direction of the brush stroke, how you want to design the shapes.
Okay. So let's start from some of the fundamentals
about drawing, then we will proceed into
the painting later. Okay so I have
a model that's selected here and we're
gonna explore a few different, you know, poses. And I'm not -
the poses that I select are not gonna be a super action
kinda actions poses because usually when you're painting figures, especially in your studios
settings, you know, they're not gonna be able hold an off balance pose for
long period of time. So the pose that I pick is more suitable for
painting scenarios. So usually what I'll do
okay - actually when I draw on a canvas it's
gonna be a little bit looser to what I'm showing you here because when I paint I can
actually I have the freedom
to paint over the drawings, I will come back in
and try to block in the color relationships. So I don't want a drawing to kinda take over that.
But what I actually now I'm gonna show you, my drawing is gonna probably feel a little bit more
tired and I'm actually gonna do it on a canvas. And so, but
I will explain all the process and
so when we start working on a painting,
when I repeat myself you guys will understand, you know, what I'm talking about.
Okay so now I have a picture plane.
Okay, in this case this is 24 by 26. We are gonna
be working on a 16 by 20 canvas. It doesn't matter what size that you use.
But you probably wanna have a plan how you want to compose
you image on this picture plane right. So
it's different in quick sketch, you know, you do a quick sketch you start from the head and
you just kinda expand it out and whatever
the feet ends is where the figure is gonna be.
But for something more constructive we can
really do that, we need a plan. For example if I do want the whole figure
to fit onto this page I might want it to, what I call like
block in the frame almost like a blue print. In this case for the pose like this
So now we can see
kinda based on this kinda diamond shape
layout. And that's what the pose gave me. I'm looking
for the corners. Like the top of the head, the fist, the
other fist, and his foot. You can pick out you know those corners.
And they give you that main - kinda main design of the pose. And then like you
can shift. Like I say if you don't like where the position
is, I can still move them. You look at a -
you also compare the negative space as well, not just the positive space.
So and also in this way it gives me also an idea
the major relationships. How the head to this hand
this hand drop lower than this, how this in relationship to that foot.
So it helps me to think more graphically. I usually when I do this, if
I'm using charcoal I tend to hold my charcoal pretty far back so it allows me to draw with my arm
and so it helps me to draw more linear, more straighter
lines because I don't wanna get too curved. Okay.
Okay so let's get started.
Again I'm just blocking the major relationship and the large shapes
before kinda we move on but again that just that big eye socket.
Don't worry about the pupil of the eyes. I'll be aware of the relationship, the eyebrow to
the ear because I'm looking underneath him.
And when things kinda get out of hand, look for straights. Like for example
like the sideburn, that's kinda pretty straight, I can use that,
you know I can use that to kinda get a sense of the alignment.
Right. And how much the face versus how much the back of the cranium is.
I got this nice angles coming down from this ear
like this so I can use that every time.
I like to do it, so I like to look for that active relationship,
even those are all kinda diagonal relationships. So that's why
you know to ever perceive those relationships I need corners. The only way to get corners
is when two planes meet. Right so you get that, you know, you get an eight pack.
And that's also reason I don't like to use
round shapes although if I'm doing like very quick sketches, like
three minute quick sketches I probably tend to be more round because we're looking
for a different outcome. But if I want to establish a little bit more accuracy
I prefer to chisel, you know, chisel out your
the mustache comes back. Again all diagonal
Sometimes I do kinda draw through
to get a sense of the overall volume.
Again but when I paint I don't do that, you know,
when I paint I don't do that. But
for drawing, like I said, it can help me to get a sense of
how to search for the proportions.
I'll also be aware of the contour because contour
is what's, you know, people are
gonna read and also what people will follow with the contour. Even the
chin transition into this neck and swings out into
the pectoralis and into the arm so to me I
wanna be concerned about how I wanna carry the viewers, almost like
a car ride, how I wanna carry that ride.
So that means, again, this is the gesture. Swing this
way, right. Neck back here might swing over this
direction. But I'm always concerned, even
line I apply, every shape that I apply, where it goes.
Where the gesture of the shape goes. It's not just a shape, it's what the gesture
of the shape that's taking me to.
So in that area I'll keep it loose first and it
can come back and refine it.
I wanna get that, you know, get that center line
because I wanna make sure to get that gesture, the tilt of the body.
Looking for that nipple relationship.
See I noticed it's more straight here and
usually that happens, I know the outer side is gonna be more angled.
So look at this distance right here.
Here is your upper arm, that's where the upper arm breaks, where the bicep ends
and the lower arm begins. Again you can also use that
line diagonally to see about where his waist, where his ribcage ends and
his waist begins.
now I'm gonna get to that knee, compare that knee to that hand,
again I will make sure I still have that kinda
diamond kinda idea of the design.
more concerned about that silhouette because those two legs
I can just look at one unified shape.
Okay. My drawing
is somewhat loose in its structures, means I still - I wanna keep
losing those so I can feel the gestures, the relationship
but at the same time I still want to know which each shapes begin and
which each shape ends and how they fit to each other. Okay. Now I'm gonna
kinda continue that and refine some of the connections,
refine some of the shapes to see if I can push even more
of that, you know, to give a little more of an attitude to this pose. So right now
at this time I still feel like it's a little bit more stiff than how I want it.
to turn out. So I'll see if I can, you know, give a little more kick to it.
So I'll start from the head first. Okay overall,
like I said, always be aware of where the gesture flows. To me
it feels like it kinda flows this way. At least the top
portion will flow back. The bottom, that's his chin, recede, might
flow backward but the top, to me, flows back to his cranium. So
I wanna make sure that's how I wanna design it.
Again, you know, I got a few things going on
I got this little side of the
temple, the side temple of the hair, that hook over,
out, kinda up like this. Which it helps to show where that side plane -
again the side plane of the forehead. And right below that
I got a triangle or a hook shape
right here and then you can notice right below that
that we got something more vertical. So we got a nice
difference between a nice sharp triangle or a more exciting
triangle shapes versus something a little more calm
and subtle. And I like that, I like the difference, I like
you know, I always like to mix things up, the
unfamiliarity of the shape.
So I'm, again, the detail can be added within
once you have the largest eye socket in this case.
So this is how I would paint too. It's like - I
the planes and the structure first. If I wanna paint
the mouth I might paint the muzzle first, if I wanna paint the eyes I might paint the eye socket first.
If I wanna paint the nose, I might paint the planes of the nose first. Before
then before adding the nostrils or the lips
itself or the eyeball because all that stuff
is sitting within the large skull, the eye socket.
Or the boxy nose or the muzzle that the
lips sits over. So instead just draw - just paint
on the surface, which probably ends up looking flat, I'll paint the ball underneath or I'll paint the socket
and then I'll drop the eye inside the socket
to me that way it fits better.
Look at what I just did that, I'm not sure if I actually like
it but if I don't I'll correct it later. This shape
right here, which is his forehead shadow, which looks like, I'm gonna
zoom in a little, it looks like coming down like this, that
forehead that comes out. So all this actually is his forehead. Like -
and they're really quickly turning
to his corner of his forehead and then the hair on the temple line
that swings forward like this.
Again that is his hair. But anyway. So that
again suggests the front. That's good
that actually suggests the front of the forehead. And also if you notice
the shape that I did here.
The shape looks like this.
And that shape itself also besides suggests the front of the forehead
it also suggests a direction going back this way.
Or it can come forward this way. Either way it has a direction. That
direction taking us over his corner of the forehead and drop back into
this temple side of the hair. The part of
I was saying that I'm not sure if I want to keep it or
later I might change it because if you look
at this shape, these are back, back into this hair, comes in here
and when I look at -
when I just look at this light suggests here,
to me I'm also feeling like I'm trapped in there. Almost like it's a
you know almost got something like this, like dome, and my
eye is kinda trapped in there. I don't know if I like that but
now I might just leave it because I don't want to think too much at this point because I have a lot to do.
If I come back and I don't like it then I will change it.
But just letting you guys to know how powerful the gesture and the shape of the design will do.
you know or I can leave this here like this. I might move
somewhere else, change somewhere else, so I can still keep, continue, create the flow.
But again let's look at that later.
Because I already used that brown so I have to kinda
use that brown to make the value feels a little bit more cohesive.
Otherwise it feels like the brown will just kinda
stood out by itself and that won't look good.
You can see how powerful just in that dark
shape versus the light and then -
oh one of the things you're gonna notice, you can't see me when I turn away from the camera
I always squint my eyes and squinting your eyes is
a great technique to help you to separate the light
and dark mass. We look at things when your eyes
wide open we see all the details, we see all the necessary detail
at the beginning process. All we need at this point, squint your eyes,
minimize all the details. All you see is just a dark which is
shadow, light, no separations. That's all we want.
So you're gonna see me and probably a lot of artists squint their eyes. And that just
is like I said, it's a really helpful
method to do.
Angle, shorter angle - oh I probably - longer angle
here we go. Make everything a little different than the others.
Okay and push the diagonal, like for example I wanna push I could
afford to drop that ear a little bit lower. Just feel like we're looking more for
Can't really see much, it's just these big shadows
so I'm just gonna kinda pick
a dark spot and I just
kinda just drop it. I don't care to detail it. Okay. So I'm just gonna do that.
Maybe move on I feel like I've spent a little too much time than I wanted to
on this head but at least I get through some of my points. Okay let's move somewhere else.
The next important thing is how
you know seeing as how he has got a lot of stuff
the face I wanna make sure everything still works, you know, cohesively.
So now I got this dark shape with a mustache - the beard
flow into this shape, step down, step
back up, you know step down, goes into this big drop right here,
where the pit of the neck. Drop down,
rise up, comes back over to the pectoralis
and that's, again, that's what excites me, just this -
such an interesting
response of shapes and gestures. You got more angular shapes,
you got shape that drops to gravity, you got shape that's, you know,
they're fighting against gravity, shape goes around, behind the
structures. It's just - to me it's very exciting.
But, you know, if you don't get that crazy like
what I just did, you know, overall what that is.
Precise, squinting your eyes, drawing through,
move your arm. Also it's a great
for just finding the flow, the gesture, just finding the gesture,
finding the proportions, finding the
rhythm. See the shadow itself has -
the shadow itself has flow.
This flow, this flow.
Depends how you wanna play it, you can play it a little more
while because this actually gets a little while,
it becomes a slightly comically, slightly animated
area. You wanna keep it calm or
chiseled a little bit then just looking a little more realistic. Again it depends
on the outcome that you want. I think it's good to
be able to do both because you also want to put some
of your interpretation into your work. Let me step back because my drawing's pretty big.
And if you do paint a large painting too make sure you always stand back.
And that's why I'm more of a standing painter
than a sitting down painter. Some people will paint and still, you know, sitting down.
So for some reason that never really worked for me well. I now work as - I just can't look at my
painting so close and I will screw up my
proportions. Unless today if I'm at the later stage, which
at the rendering stage which using the right sable brushes,
if I'm at the rendering stage then I have to sit down because it gets kinda tedious and it gets, you know,
your back is sore and stuff because you have to get very focused. But most
of the time, I would say 95% of the time I would be standing because I'm always
right now I'm what intrigued me a piece
of art is not the rendering part of it. I appreciate the rendering but I'm more
intrigued by the design of it, how the artist designs composition,
how he thinks graphically - keep other things more three dimensional
or how he plays with just the graphic design of it.
And that's something that's more, you know, more intriguing to me.
So I will make sure my designs are interesting.
And that means you have to step back, you have to look at the overall.
like I said, move on because this is not - ultimately
this is not a drawing lesson I just want to show you
some ideas that can translate to the painting.
Again, watch how the diagonal
relationship. I have the head a little far back
just like trim a little bit.
The reason what again
it's all has to do with composition.
How to deal with the balance.
To me, this head is more interesting over here.
The beard that swings out of that beard.
This kinda angle back, this kinda swing forward, takes your eyes out
To me this is more interesting. Right. This
will focus more. Again if I bring out the cranium this side
on the back too far, it starts pulling attention from my
face. And I don't want that. Alright. I want it to have that asymmetrical
relation in the balance. So by setting this further forward, again
it makes this feel a little more - give a little more
action to the front of his face.
And proportionally it looks a little
I want to angle this forward a little bit more than
what I had to help to push out that sternal
to push out that torso.
Push even more.
See I'm constantly moving my arm,
even the way I move my arm follows with the gestures.
exit, entrance, exit the other side.
So keep this.
I'm gonna keep this more passive and keep this side more active.
Alright. just kinda - I was talking about the head. Because this to me is more calm
and is hidden in shadow anyway, I want it then to come
mostly on this side.
Okay. I'll explain.
what I just did. Obviously that kinda
pretty much applies in all the shadows on the torsos.
It's not just about, you know, taking my Conté and just start painting
the shadows in there. First of all,
all these shadow shapes
besides it helps to suggest, you know, the perspective.
Which it can see it helped me
to get a sense of this.
And this. The volumes. You can
get a sense of the three dimensional volumes of this torso.
Also watch out the shadow edges.
I have some shadow softer and I have some shadow harder
which that's obvious, I suggest the cast shadow or the core shadow - cast shadow,
hard edge, core shadow soft edge. And also
look at the shape. Right here for example, look at this light shape right there.
This, you see how it paints
out over this way. Look at this shape right here, the oblique.
Points over here. Look at these all these little shapes right in here.
They all sit up
to bring your eyes over down to his knee, okay.
So this all has a reason, you know, to be drawn
that way. I got a little kinda unclear here, I can refine that.
So let's do that then.
You got a softer core shadow right here.
Again points over this way.
See. Look. Carry your
eyes over. Bounce, bounce, and bounce
bounce, bounce, bounce.
One of the things
you also notice, beside -
like beside now you can see the shadow gives you perspective, shadow
gives you gestures. Right, shadow helps you to connect
structure to structures. Shadow also can give you depth.
What that means, if you look at it,
the shadow on the thigh - I probably can make it a little more clear - is that you notice
the shadow is gonna start thinner and end wider.
Like this. Right.
Again I almost feel like a pathway coming toward you,
it's a little bit larger and goes away from you it's a little tapered. This idea
is gonna happen to many areas in the body. Depends on what the body is doing, depends on where
the eye level is. This can twist, like for example the muscle twists,
this is also will do that, this can be, you know, a lot of time will kinda twist off.
Doing things like -
like that. It kinda goes behind.
Look at this shadow right here. In this case
it's thicker here.
Tapered towards the armpit.
Take your eyes into the armpit or come out
toward the elbow. My point is do not ever
begin and end the shadow as the same thickness. It always varies. They won't be
I will do that
in painting too. Overall I can see from the calf
below the knee, the calf, the whole calf - the whole lower leg is a little bit
darker, almost start getting into more a half tone, you can
see. Kinda paint the whole thing - blocking the overall tone, like overall tone.
So what happens when you usually - what you're seeing is
imagine your figure is a cylinder like
this. Okay. Usually light source is from one side,
usually a three quarter. So what happened, what you get
in case the light source is on our right side, the first thing you get is you get this
big band of core shadow and you get this
whole shadow mass versus the light.
Okay. So that's - then what also will happen is also
the light source is above us, you're also gonna get a gradation. So
you have to besides thinking left to right, you also think about above and below.
So that means most of the time, in this case, the light source hits
right here on the side of his ribcage. Illuminate above, illuminate below,
but when we get to what's about the middle of his thigh we can see everything gets
a little bit darker. Which is good, it creates that focal point.
Creates that, you know, the central light.
of his ribcage.
Step back, still wanna check my
overall, my proportion, my gestures.
I want that little corner right there.
I want some corner right here.
I want that thumb pointing
back to his torso.
is also angled this way.
Again just kinda echo all the diagonal relationships
all the way to that smaller detail. That bellybutton all has to do this.
Look at this right here.
Again this right here, which I just
showed you earlier. All this.
I don't care that's the back of leg
back there. All I care is this nice triangular
shape that connects the stomach into my
thigh. Into my overall, that big gesture.
That means I can even stretch this longer.
It won't even hurt. So again if you
understand like I said the key elements of what ties in this pose
it helps you to know and how you want to design your
shape to reinforce the major idea of the pose. Again if you don't have
that idea you weren't able to do it. Right. So the idea
can be the gestures, can be the essence of the pose, how you want
to portray. Is the pose about
the perspective or is it about the strength, about this extreme
you know eye level about this cross light
compositions, how you want to say it. And again you can design your
drawings based on that.
Even down to smaller
shape like that.
Take that out it almost looks like a hammer.
Or an ax. But this ax looks
like this. Right.
It's an asymmetrical shape.
Still this side takes your eye over here, this side takes you
your eye over here, but I want to make this
side a little more noticeable or extend this out a little bit further out because
I want - I rather you to look this way. And when I do that you will
look this way. It's just how our eyes will follow.
Just will follow more of that dominant shape. But this will still help to connect more
of something up there. So when I bring this up you notice you got that shadow,
the scapula or triangle, where the pectoralis
end and the deltoid begins, you got a little channel right in here called a
scapula triangle right here. One of my
favorite landmarks to help to find the shoulder because usually this gap
right here to the center of the neck
is not that far, right. Or sometimes you look at a contour
of the neck it'll take you right to where, you know, that pit is. And then you can - once you have
this, you can use this to see how far the arm's away from that. Because sometimes
the arm can be tricky to find, you know. You measure off on the head
or, you know, it's still - the problem is
the arms, the shoulders work independently. It's the only part of the body that works
independently. So you can see we can all rotate, go all over the place,
so sometimes it's a little trickier to find. But that's why
sometimes I like to use this
to help me to find where that should is next to it.
See drawing through.
So if I draw through here
we've got almost like a
chicken drum shape
that tells me here's round, here's a little more straight.
Look at the shadows.
Round shape, round shadows.
Round shadow connects to
a straight structure next it.
Okay stand back again.
you guys can read the flow. Alright, any organic
subject will have that flow.
And that's also what's kinda really
kind gets me excited, turns me on about human figure is the
contour, the shadow, the shapes, the shadow shapes, the light shapes,
all the way to the fingernail, they all had this
cohesive relationships. Which will find and
attract to show them all together that's the challenge,
that's the most challenging part of the figure drawings. It's easy to draw
that cylinder. If you've been drawing a lot
you probably were able to get the proportion down, you know, pretty good.
But again to make all the shapes
down to the smaller detail all work cohesively
reinforced the gesture and the rhythm. That's really difficult and then that takes -
again takes practice and doing a lot of live drawings
or drawing off of full references and do a lot of
short poses - both short and long poses because they all have pros and cons.
So, you know, obviously the short poses help you with the gesture a little more
than a long pose because again the long pose naturally the pose is a little bit stiff.
But even though like more of this kind of upright figure,
this pose, you can still find things that you can harmonize them.
back to the painting. This is like what
I would do. I don't necessarily have to
paint the shadow first. Some of the =
like say the figure painting class might ask you to start painting the light and
the shadow separation. Yes, it is true, I probably would do that,
you know, carefully on the upper torso because this is obviously more important
area. But when I get to that lower shin like what I did
before, I paint actually the overall gradation in this case
and then I paint the shadows over
on top. And so the shadow sits over
on top of that half tone. To do that
notice you need more
paint. Like I said I do use a lot of paint. If you just squeeze out
a little tiny bit of the paint it's not gonna work with the technique I'm gonna be showing you guys
because the way that you do it, you need to mix the paint on top,
you need to mix twice as more as the paint that's underneath. Okay. Especially
for oil. Because he's not gonna dry. So you have to paint, mix some more, and
lay over on top, But like I said you're gonna get these beautiful relationships which is -
things gonna merge. You're gonna feel like
how the shadow merges into the half tone. It will blend
nicely. And I like to blend and that's how you get
the nice flow. I mean one color into the next.
the nice flow. I mean one color into the next.
colors. But again that also is the tricky part. if you don't know how to do it
or do it incorrectly it'll get dirty, the color temperature's not right
or you know you mix the wrong color it could get dirty.
In a way
what I'm trying to say there's no one way how to paint. There's always
experiment and try different techniques
that works for you or if you feel like you can learn
something from it.
That's why I like to
Swing, swing, see how the hip has to
be lower than this bottom oft he stomach.
Set this back. Right now that's the leg in the back, you cover
Set this back. Right now that's the leg in the back, you cover else
not that important so I'm gonna
drop this down.
Check to see anywhere I need to give
a little punch.
Soften up some of the edges.
You notice I'm designing. I'm not
kinda labor over the accuracy of
the, you know, the reference. Okay. I'm not trapped by it
Although I do use it, obviously it has to
honor the model, the pose. But then
I'm using it to give my own interpretation, my story.
I always say to students like movie directors, how you want a guide of your
to look at your piece. Right now only dealing with the
figure. You can see, just within the figure itself we already have so much
knowledge ot it to create atmosphere
while not really atmosphere, perspective - there's a little bit
there's still some perspective. You create like the flow,
the read, the graphic - the graphic elements.
Things I wanted to keep more, again, more
graphic or more chiseled. Overall I want it to be more gestural, more fluid.
I want to keep more passive, more active. I love
to - like I said I like to play with those differences. Like same as color, I'll play with the
color temperature, I'll play with the color intensity. Because each plane will have
a different value, also will have a different temperature. A different color intensity. That's how
our nature works. Right. You got warm and cool and warm and cool and also
nature deals with reflections a lot, deals with relationships a lot. My
inside my arm, you know, probably gonna get some of these my blue
t-shirt. So you know it's all about what's
next to it, what's above it, what's below it. It's not just about this.
It's about this in relationship to the surrounding.
I know what you guys are thinking. But
like I mentioned before I started this sketch, apparently
that we are gonna be dealing with a lot of figure, which
is gonna be figure painting. I actually designed
the series based on the painting classes that I teach. The reason - the first day
is students didn't have the right supplies the first day like I just did, I
introduced the materials, I'm making sure students get the right supplies
the following weeks and so that first week just what I just did
I'll basically have them jump right into the paint. I'll have them to actually work
with the charcoal making sure they can understand what I'm
just telling you guys here. Okay. Figure
amounts to probably the hardest subject, you know, to draw.
It takes years of practice and consistency. The problem
with the figure is like the range of mistake is so narrow
it's like you can be the, you know, the best renderer,
you know you can be the most abstract colorist but the thing is if the
proportions are off or the value is not correct, it's instantly
just people are gonna notice that. So
you know, like I said again at the beginning, we're
gonna apply color on top of, you know, what you see up here.
And the color itself has it's own like it's own chapter and knowledge.
Like, you know, so we wanted to basically,
you know, to minimize over thinking and
just know if you have this under you belt - of course it doesn't have to be to this level
but at least somewhat like I said understand the proportions,
knowing what the gesture means, understand how to design,
you know, design shape and using edges, it will help,
you know, when you start a painting put a lot
of baggage out from you. Especially when you're painting alla prima. That means
you are sketching from blank canvases and works all the way from
live models or either from reference, that's what we're gonna be doing,
and from pure to sketch work all the way out to something beautiful.
I want you guys, you know, to understand what my process, when I draw,
same thing when I paint. This is the same process that's in my head.
Of course, it might be a little differently because when I'm holding the brushes the application
will be a little different. But make sure
you are, you know, spend your time practicing your drawing skill,
practicing your figure, practice your observations.
And again, once you have this that fundamental or solid that will
really help you to move you to the next step. And like I said, maybe later
when we start a painting, you're gonna hear me keep repeating myself what
we are covering just now. So like I said, even though
this is a drawing lesson, still I want you to understand how the composing
an image, how to analyze it, how to break it down, and then
on the next lessons we're gonna start applying paint on top of this.
Okay so hopefully you guys enjoyed it, I will see you guys in the next sections.
drawing series. So the last part what I did was I did a material -
I explained the material that I used and also I did a drawing,
I showed you guys that the thinking process that I'm producing, both
in drawing and paintings. So today we're actually gonna paint but before we start painting
I still want to show you guys some of the way that I design compositions
and so I'm just gonna do some smaller comps
and they're still gonna be done with charcoal.
Just wanna show you some more of the graphic elements that
proceed before I start painting.
Okay. So what I'm using,
what I'm using now, this is called Wolff Carbon
and I'm using a 4B Wolff Carbon pencil. It's
W-O-L-F-F-S. Wolff's - sorry - Wolff's Carbons. Basically
combining graphite and charcoal into this very nice, fine pigment
because it has graphite in this on the firmer side
so it's not something I would like to use for if I like to shade. If I do a longer pose drawing
today I will have another softer charcoal mainly for shading. This is
mainly for blocking in. But it's a little more cleaner than the
charcoal is more of a firmer medium. And for kinda study
purpose like what we're going to be doing now it's pretty good. And we use this for
also for quick sketch in the figure drawing, quick sketch classes. And
it's also pretty smooth. It's not as smooth as something like
Faber Castell Polychromos which also
has a wax base in it. But those are not erasable. This can
still be erased. And so it works really well on a nice
smooth surface and this is what we're using. This actually is
a marker paper so it's silky smooth. So I like it
and it's just because it gives you, again, that very buttery, very smooth
textures. It's, you know,
it's a very thin - actually if I lift up the paper it's almost see through.
For my classes we use for the figure drawings, like quick sketch
I actually have them to have a lay out, kinda lay out brown paper, which is a little bit thicker, less
transparent. So what will happen is you start seeing the drawing underneath
that can get a little disturbing and then - so but for
study, for study purpose like I like to use
a smooth paper. Okay. So let me show you a close up with the pencil. So again
you can see it's called Wolff Carbons and I
used the 4B. 2B is a little too light for me, I think. 6B is
fine but I just kinda only pick up a few and I always have been using 4B
especially if I'm working on a white surface, 6B
gets a little too contrasty for me so I 4B is something I like to
use. Okay so. And then
again this is the marker paper and so
let's get started. I'm just gonna - like I said, it's not gonna be
a large drawing like I did the last time, I'm just gonna be doing
a smaller, making a smaller frame.
You can see how the charcoal works really kinda smooth
on this white surface.
So okay so I'm basically just making a frame. Okay.
Kinda rectangular frame.
I dunno I might end up cropped up or end up, you know,
putting the feet a bit lower then I can readjust the frame. Because
that's kinda like a comp study. It gives me a better sense of how I want to translate this into my paintings.
I actually have the freedom, you know, to move around. And when you draw
frames I'm not doing a very good job you can see, but you draw that frame
first of all keeping it clean, keeping it straight and making sure I'm close to the corner.
So again you don't wanna do crooked lines and leave the corner open,
make it very clean, keep it straight as possible because
if your frames are crooked it makes your picture feel kinda off balance
too. So there's probably some general idea of a composition,
what's a good composition, what's a bad. So, you know, in terms obviously
in terms of textbook understanding of
a textbook, usually we try to avoid putting things
right in the middle. Okay. And again, yes, the rule can
always be broken but let's just learn the concept first and later on
maybe we'll do something else more unique. So if I have a -
so you always have a sense - you always wanna have a sense
of where that center mark is. Actually because again
like I said, I'm trying to avoid putting things right, split the page into two.
Same as the drawing I did last time, I always try to
find the asymmetry, right, because that's what's making it more interesting. An asymmetry has
a certain flow. We call it gestures right. And the pose
I'm gonna be drawing now is a beautiful pose, has
a sense of kinda graphic quality to it, the gesture to it, so usually I will look
at a pose and I can see, first thing I can get a sense of
is his gesture of this pose is running this way. Okay.
Or you can call this a line of action. We call it line
of action is that one single gesture line that ties from your head
all the way to your foot. Okay. Obviously that's - there's
gesture within the smaller, you know, smaller structure like the arm
the head itself, the body itself. But I'm talking about that one initial
one single line that's explaining from the head
to foot. Like I said if I'm bending my body this way, that line of action
runs this way. You know if I'm running like this, the line of action is gonna run this way.
Again depends on the pose so you can capture that one -
the essence of the line. Some poses it might be a little bit hard to see it but
like, you know, obviously when you're standing back this is a little hard to see because it's just basically
looking at a flat picture plane. But in this case it's pretty obvious you got a C curve
like this. Okay. So that probably tells me the momentum and
stuff is running this way. So if I'm smart
I probably won't put the figure to the right side of my
frame. I probably will put it a little more on the left side so that means I will put the head
side a little bit off to the left and off to the right because I can still feel that momentum
coming forward and instead of putting too much off to the right, the frame's
gonna bounce right back. Right. So
same as the last demo I did
I wanna get a sense of the overall.
Again that graphic
relationship of the pose, of the silhouette. The head, the elbow, and the foot.
So again, now I can see how I want to
alter it if I still need to. I'm checking the negative space
and see something like this
to me might be a little too similar, these two sizes. Although here might be a little bit bigger.
But actually I'm not quite worried because this is the imaginary line because the figure
itself, the leg come straight, so this is not gonna be there anyway so actually that's okay.
I think most importantly is this elbow,
this has to be higher, this has to be lower to get that diagonal. So overall
if you're not looking at graphic shape, just look at linear relationships.
You got a diagonal angle,
C curve, vertical line.
It's just so, like again, it's so interesting.
Three different linear expressions. Angle, C curve,
vertical line. Okay so I'm trying to see those.
Learn and, you know, learn how to visualize those graphic elements and
also these linear relationships. It will be very helpful because
it will help you to see more of a relationship than, you know, than the details.
Okay so now I'm gonna go into...
So again, I'm
kinda chiseling my way out, looking for diagonal relationships.
So finding all those diagonal relationships again. If you have a corner
creates by two planes.
Right and this, you know, so you have that corner
line this to somewhere, like for example now.
I'm looking at this shadow below his chin and basically I see this big
kinda sail shape, an arrow shooting out to the right this way.
But how do I know exactly where is it. Is it higher, lower,
again I'll look for diagonal relationship of the chin.
Boom, right here. It's somewhere right there. Right.
Where does the back of his hair end.
Compared to that chin it's lower.
almost like a paper cut out.
Okay be over a corner. Like I said, also I mentioned
before, the landmark might not hit exactly
where you spot it at the beginning okay. But it's gonna be just somewhere
close to it. And so don't commit exactly, thinking exactly
has to be here or exactly has to be that corner. Again you have
the freedom to move it, to move around
if you want to.
Again diagonal relationships.
aware of the negative space as well, for example, that
little gap around his arm pit.
be aware of the shapes. You know there's so much going on with
his finger that's kinda tangled up but it just is a hard -
you know it's a hard thing to draw but again I'm doing a smaller
comp. I'm not trying to get every knuckle. All I want is
kinda shape that works with overall gesture.
just swings out, so maybe this finger swings up right like this.
You know is that a good silhouette. Right.
Don't worry about how the connection oft he figure. Just
the shape design.
relationships. How does this elbow
rise up to the forearm, drop down to the side of his
oblique, kick back up to his hip,
be aware of that silhouette. This triangle right here, this shape right here.
This most distorted triangle, right, because again
now everything starts to point down, probably gonna end up
the foot probably ends out to here.
the S curve, right.
An interesting - making sure the silhouette itself has
to be interesting. What's interesting mean? That's such a vague
term. Interesting means difference. Difference. Like I
said, active passive distance, to negative positive space
difference. This proportion difference, length difference, everything
is a little bit different than everything else, than what you draw previously.
Shorter, longer, more angular, more smoother, more
tighter, more open, right triangle shape,
and all that graphic idea. Not anatomy.
I'm not thinking about the lumbar contour
or gluteal muscle or hamstring muscle, no not that. Just like I said
just the difference of different design, different shapes.
Diagonal, look at the elbow, take a line through
to his genital area.
See that also has a
This kinda part is similar as the
large drawing I did. It's just a triangle shape right in here.
So now I'm gonna extend the frame.
The thing is obviously you don't wanna put the frame
right at the bottom of his foot.
There are also in terms of design things you usually don't want to do. For example
like tangents or unclear
cropping. Right you have somehow - the thing is, if today, if I
put that foot right at the frame like this. For example
I put the foot right at the frame. What will happen is
you know this is not really a tangent, tangent is really
two points meet and you get a sense of who's in the front, who's -
what's in the back. If I, you know, if I have any kind of
tangent well the foot there is I'll let you guys know
what happens in this is that you don't get a sense of dimension
anymore. You don't get s a sense of the floor plane.
Right because you put the foot right at the edge of the plane. We all know how much
is in front of this figure. You want some foreground.
Okay. So take the viewer, take the audience into the picture,
you know into the figure, towards your element.
Okay. So don't put that right at the bottom of the frame. Put it down a little
below. Don't put - usually
you want the bottom to have a little more space than the top.
Because it's just a natural way of balance, just more sense of weight at the bottom.
If you look at the books that's usually how the books are lay out. Usually the
article will be a little more, like the bottom where it says where the pages are
and then less space on the top.
As a painting we also have to be concerned
about - because once the painting is done, if you're gonna put a frame
over it, the frame might cover part of your canvas
so you also need to put that in consideration too because you know you don't wanna have the necessary
crop once you put that frame, right. So you also wanna be aware of
so maybe you wanna leave a little more space.
Okay. So I think so far this considered in terms of
if I'm doing the painting of just a single
figure study, I think I can live with this. Again, this feels
a lot bigger now, space is less - less space here.
This space is different in this, this is more of a longer triangle, this is
more of a narrower, almost looks like rectangle, right.
I like the foot to be right in the middle, which again gives us that symmetry
but then the top flows backwards, you have that swing
of the back. So you got that gesture swing back and come down
and come right in that middle. And so you would have that
symmetry versus asymmetry.
the large shadow shapes. Still
again still keep it as a graphic approach
paper cut out I was mentioning, that's exactly what you should think about.
You know take the construction paper and if you just do a paper cut out how
would you, you know, cut those shapes?
I like to keep my strokes,
see you can see because these type of
carbon pencils are a little bit firm, it gets a little
bit kinda give it that kinda streaky
strokes. Sometimes that can get a little bit annoying but for small study
maybe it's okay. But if you have softer charcoal
I would like to be, you know, have a little more smoother
blend and cover the area a little bit wider.
But I'm just - this is what I have, I'm just gonna use that for now.
I think maybe after I shade for a while I got more of a
flatter side then I can probably spread out that stroke.
A little bit more.
And I was gonna say is
when I put the strokes down I tend to like,
beside I'm looking at a shape, I'm
also thinking about the
gesture of that shape. So when I apply that strokes I'm gonna kinda follow my arm.
Kinda follow with the gestures.
You don't have to do it
if you don't know, you can simply fill in the shape.
At the end it will still look find because as long as the dark and the light relationship is correct
Keep it simple
you know if you seem some like little, again
where the pectoralis meets the deltoid it looks like there's a little more
of this kinda wavy shadows. Cut it straight. Just again this is a study
you're not doing a masterpiece or a tight rendering piece
here. As long as you just get the big graphic relationships, the light
See even here how the hand drops down
kick out to the nipple.
Sometimes I have to experiment myself. What I'm thinking is
I'm not gonna put that shadow on the ground.
I kinda tend to want to do this. Put that
shadow, the cast shadow right at the corner of the frame.
Usually that's something you don't want to do too is like again if somehow I feel like
it splits the page diagonally this way.
But I think it might be okay, you know, for
I think because maybe the figure is kinda more of a vertical
So I think it's okay to throw this off a little bit. Or if
I'm concerned maybe I can bring over here it's fine too. But
I want to flow right into that corner. Again just play with symmetry
So as you can see
no half tone, nothing rendered. You know just
a light and dark, graphic separations.
Okay. Now you also have to decide what you're going to do with the background.
There's so many different, you know, different ways
we can design it. We can make the background really dark
to really pop out the light side of him. More like
the classical painting that you will see
something like Rembrandt liked to do, a lot of Sargent's painting also had this very
kinda dark background. Or you want a little more
luminosity, which you can keep, you know, keep - I mean not so
dark, maybe somewhat in the middle grayish
values. So you still have some part of the silhouettes that merge
out, alright, or you wanna play with a little bit of the
all sorts of luminosity in the background see as the light source is coming out this way
we can maybe we can have it as this side darker and the
background darker and when we get to this side we can kinda merge into
a little bit of the light that goes up on top. We can do that
and so, you know, there's so many different
options. And like I said or you can leave a light, very light
then make the half tone of him darker so you got a light background
versus a darker foreground.
This is important to have that idea
before, you know, ahead of time. Because that's a major separation. Background
and the foreground. In terms of what we're doing now, figure to figure,
just a figure and a flat background, that's all we have. So you want to know
what you want to do. You want a light or dark or middle.
When we go out to do
landscapes or have more complex, more objects, then also you have
more to think about each elements, how to separate them by
values, how to separate them by, you know, by shapes
and also but
the value's the most important. Okay so I'm gonna try
to give - if I'm not sure I'm just gonna try to give a darker
kinda gray, darker - not the
number ten dark but maybe just a - maybe like number seven.
And if I need darker I can go back in and push it more.
Double check, I'll step back and check to
see how does that feel. You know is it -
should I make it a little bit darker or, you know, should I do what I said like make this side,
left side, a little darker. Give it that luminosity to it.
Let's do that. I wanna make this eye maybe just a little bit darker
to group this background a little bit more closely to my
shadows to bring this out. Let's see how that looks.
If you don't want this - see that becomes too contrasty, the creates a lot of
tensions. Like I can tone it down a little bit but one thing I do want to concern is
I do want to have those floor separations because if I put the whole thing
and same value as this, he's gonna feel like he's floating into space.
So I do want those separations but maybe just a little bit darker.
You don't want too much contrast, soften the edges a little bit.
Sometimes I can throw in a little line like that, just to get a viewer sense
of where this ends, that begins. But don't draw all the way through. It's gonna
feel more - it's gonna feel artificial.
And also feel like, again, the hard lines,
it's gonna jump - it jumps forward. You want it to recede back.
Normally I would just stop at
this point. Which I could stop at this point.
But then if you also wanna get a sense of the light shining
on his - above, which in this case the light source is above him,
like I said on the light side, I already kinda get some smear
from my fingers, you can see
some grade to it, which that's what I intended to do.
So just tone this down a little bit. Now
you can feel the light is more, you know, hitting on top of him.
Okay. So maybe that's what you want. Again, that
Godish type light, that light coming above,
that hitting on his torso, this could be a focal point and the light illuminating it out.
Okay. So that's how - the way I planned my
composition. Let's try another one.
a strong line of action. So I think
the same as this composition here, I can see
I can put a frame down here.
Again you should - you guys
can do a better frame than, you know, I am.
That's still a pretty bad frame. So again when I look at a pose
I can see he kinda swings over this way. And then
his left thigh kinda shooting out towards the
right corner. Right it would probably make more sense also to put him a little more off to the left
than putting him off to the right because it ends up you might crop his knee
and you won't have the intention to do that. When I say crop again, earlier I was saying
usually when you crop, especially for figures,
you don't like to crop - you probably don't want to crop at
the joint. Okay, because somehow if you crop at a joint it's just an uncomfortable
place to crop, we tend to want to see where's the rest of the hand.
You know, so if you wanna crop, crop it halfway.
So if you're just gonna crop right at that knee that's gonna be an uncomfortable crop. You're better
off just cropping the whole half of the thigh.
And maybe I don't want to fill in this whole
frame. Like maybe I just want to give a little more space
on the top this time, seeing as our eye level is higher.
So maybe I just want to experiment that.
How about right here. Still I got -
still got different negative space. Actually I kinda like this negative space. Kinda
flow right into this figure.
quite the same, you know, it's not - this is a little bit narrower.
This is wider and this also is a little smaller. So I think
that's fine too. Again, be aware of, you know, these distances.
That's always the mistake I catch from students composition is intuitively
the student just, you know, tends to
make their design even and
a lot of times I just have to make sure, I know once I pointed them out
and I realize they kind of
start kind of repeating their shape or their sizes.
Probably gonna change that.
It looks like it kinda bumps into that frame.
Again that's tangent. The elbow touches -
like that point touches that frame, that's the
tangent. That was again the whole bottom of the foot touched
the bottom of the frame. Okay. And this is again the
point touched that frame. Again, if I wanna crop, I'd rather to crop out
the whole elbow or, like I said, I can readjust that frame. But
now I'm just gonna leave it. I'll get the drawing done, I'll decide
as you can see I did it a little bit faster, you know, just
you know because I'm thinking maybe I wanna do another one here.
I'm doing a little bit faster but still it's based on
what I'm just, you know, showing you guys. I'm blocking out that graphic separation of light and dark.
Now I'm kinda painting and drawing at the same time
versus instead I'm carefully laying in everything
kinda painting and drawing and kinda find my way by
you know, by painting and drawing at the same time.
Again, that rhythm. This to this.
So now it kicked back out this way. Look at the negative
So now, like I said, I wanna kick
out the thigh a little more because I keep this part of the knee
again is foreshortening so there's a little more coming out towards
the viewer, it's a little more flat. Then I can push this side out. So I kinda
almost like I keep this more passive, as this side more
calm, I'll push it to the side more.
even be aware of that negative space right there.
For some reason maybe I kinda liked how that elbow
kind became part of the frame. I probably could make it a little more clear,
see if I extend that frame down it just merges into that arm.
Almost like a comic book
that kinda you can see it got cropped, almost
feel like the partial of the arm actually extends outward from the frame but in this case
I'm just gonna become part of the frame. It goes up here
almost like - and take the viewer's eyes into the figure.
Because I guess maybe also is that the pose
I feel like he's trapping, right. This is not a -
it's a kinda more heroic pose like the last one. That kinda also gives a sense of
that trap. Again if you don't like that, you know, you can move
to the side or design another way that you like. That's what
these are comps for.
Maybe this time I won't leave my background darker, a
light, making my foreground which is darker.
So maybe he's all in the
Maybe this is what I want to do.
Now again, so now you I've got a different value structure.
Light against dark, dark against light.
You've got purposefully vertical tangent versus
diagonal kinda asymmetrical kinda
off balance action to it. This will obviously be more symmetrical
with that kind of a swing
up and on the top.
Okay. So let's
one more and then we will get to our paint.
a back view. And you can see this has a beautiful, graceful
quality to the pose. And let's make
a frame first.
And then again
for lecture purposes I make this frame quite large.
Normally when you do comps you just keep it small, keep it this size and
this one I kinda tend to
see I wanna draw a little bit larger. And then also let's start with
this. So again get a sense of where that center of
her hip is swinging towards the right. So you got
that gesture coming in and then the hip
kicks out like this. So the leg comes back in like this.
Okay so I can afford ot put her head, in this case,
you know a little bit off to the right.
ear, her hand. And
because her hand is part of a silhouette so I wanna be aware of how
her hand coming out so it kinda extends out
becomes more of a triangle.
Her spine's about right here.
So now I'm gonna be aware of that silhouette
where her hip kicks out.
See how this contour, which is her stomach,
is pulling back so it's not actually - it's not vertical we can see actually
you know step back a little bit, pulling back
onto her hip.
I can already tell I'm making her upper torso slightly long okay,
but I'm just gonna go with it. I'll probably end up - again, the foot probably
comes down a little bit lower. So the way to save that
you know probably the proportion will look more attractive
if you have probably longer legs and a shorter torso
right, that supermodel type proportions. So
besides I'm gonna make the legs longer to counterbalance that. I'm
also gonna make the hip a little bit larger, in this case because the hip
actually are protruding out towards us,
in perspective it should be larger too. And also in this case
we get more of this, again, the eye level is slightly lower. We get more of this
kind of pyramid. The pyramid gives us more of a nice, stable kinda balance.
versus this one is a little more - the waist
is more on the top.
This goes this way like this. For her it's actually gonna
come down more like this.
His is gonna be more like that. Right.
So I'm gonna, you know, probably gonna make her hip a little bigger to
help to bring this out, bring the hip out, and then make the leg
a little bit longer.
That also brings out the point
is there's room to screw up as long as you know how to,
you know, how to fix it, how to balance it. Everything is about relationships.
Right. If you know - if you're able to see, knowing what the mistakes
are, then like I said, then according to that
based on the overall, the essence of the pose,
or the story you are trying to say
it's, you know, this feminine curve, this
hourglass figure, then like I said we can still push that, we can still -
sometimes that might be
something more interesting than you try to copy exact or try to draw exact
and this way you also will learn something too.
Now I have to be aware how this leg can
balance with the torso, right, because
although it still has curve but it needs to have the sense of balance.
Get this long enough or tall enough.
I think it's alright.
Just keep that a little bit clean. Got a little messy.
what's our plan? So
there's still, you know, some shadow on her
upper torso. Let me block that in.
I'm gonna use
this side of the hair to frame where her forehead.
So what I'm gonna do, first thing, I'd like to give a gradation to the figure. Overall the figure
is light but I know the light source is more above her.
It does feel like most of the highlights on her side of the torso and her hip.
I'm still probably gonna do a darker background because I want the light torso
to merge. So let's give me a
This time maybe I'm gonna try really dark and just see how
ti look. Like somewhere in the middle, somewhere light. Let's try to
really dark this time.
I would like you guys to do in terms of the exercise you guys can work
on your own. If you can go to a workshop, that would be preferable you go to a workshop
where you have live models but if you don't access, you also can work off photo reference.
But what I want you guys to do I want you guys basically to work on black and white, just like
what I just did. Work with just only with pencil or charcoal. If you're in your house you might just
want to work with pencil because you don't get, you know, don't get dirty and
charcoal everywhere and if you go to a workshop environment then you can use charcoal. So basically just work
on small comps. So make a frame, so our little four by six frames
and just study how you want to study composition, how you want to set the figure,
learn how to design compositions, right, don't make your set up
too symmetrical. And then focus on value grouping. Just use
three or four values maximum, don't use more than that. And
that's because they are small and keep it simple. So knowing where your midtone, your shadow,
and your lights. Okay so good luck.
Free to try
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
30m 12s2. Overview of Visual Concepts
31m 50s3. Understanding Shape, Gesture, and Relationships
3m 13s4. Usage of Drawing Concepts in Painting
43s5. Compositional Studies Overview
18m 40s6. Negative Space and Graphic Difference
11m 58s7. Shadow Shapes and Asymmetry
12m 29s8. Rhythm and Line of Action
13m 45s9. Proportions and Counterbalance
1m 5s10. Assignment Instructions