- Lesson details
In this series, master artist Steve Huston demonstrates his approach to long pose charcoal drawings at the NMA studio. He’ll share with you his techniques for preparing materials, mark-making, drawing warmup poses, arranging the model (Amy), and rendering a finish, all while explaining his thought processes!
Steve Huston is an internationally renowned painter and draftsman. Huston was born and raised in Alaska. He studied at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, while working construction each summer to pay his tuition. Even before graduating with his BFA, Huston began illustrating for such clients as Caesar’s Palace, MGM, Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios among others. Huston began teaching life drawing and painting, composition and anatomy; first at his alma mater, then at the Disney, Warner Brothers, and Dreamworks Studios. He began his career as a fine artist in 1995, winning top prizes at the California Art Club Gold Medal Show that year and the following. Huston continues exhibiting his work widely.
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I’m going to show you my long form style of drawing.
We’ve got a model in the studio.
You’re going to see me set up the pose, kind of collaborate with the model to do that.
Set the lighting so it’s just right.
Then we’ll sit down.
I’ll take you through the materials and how I use them a little bit.
Mainly, you’re just going to get to watch me draw and try and push around the charcoal
and have fun, and really it’s a great foundation for painting.
If you’re a little intimidated by color.
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.
He has taught drawing and painting at Disney, Warner Brothers, Blizzard Entertainment, and
If you love realism this is a great way to go.
There are lots of possibilities.
It’s lots of fun.
It’s one of my favorite techniques, and I’m so happy I can share it with you.
using and how we use it.
Then we’ll be able to do some really fun things with this.
This whole drawing style is not really the style.
I draw the way I draw, but the technique is based on looking at Sargent charcoals, those
beautiful, rich charcoal drawings he we do.
I found the contemporary materials that best matched that,
the richness of those charcoal drawings.
So the basis that I’m working with is the alpha colors.
You can find others, but what they are is a nice square.
This is broken a little bit.
They’re a little bit longer.
It’s a nice chunk of charcoal and it’s nice and soft.
So when I lay it down there it puts down a lot of pigment quick, and it gives me the
ability to blend and work it and turn it into these rich values of dark, darks and light
lights and beautiful, smooth, rich kind of buttery gradations.
I just love them; they’re great.
And they’re cheap.
I love them for that too.
You can actually get them in any color.
I’ve got the black here, obviously.
You can get them in white which we won’t need.
We’re going to use an eraser.
We’re going to use an additive process.
We add pigment and then with the eraser we will use a subtractive process, taking some
of that away.
I won’t use it today, but you can actually use an electric eraser to kind of zip back through.
I’ll show you some play that we do with the erasers.
Anyway, alpha color.
When I do some of my lessons, my New Masters or Art Mentor lessons, you’ll notice me
doing big drawings oftentimes in the lecture stage of a lesson, and I’ll be working with
big colored chalks and creating two-tone drawing of an eyeball or a torso or something.
I’m using alpha color there too.
I’m just using a package that will have a rainbow set of colors.
There will be different packages of different color types.
I’ll use those.
But for now, black.
The other black tool I use is Conté of Paris.
Let me show you the package on that.
They come in—this is a multipack.
You can get little packs of just two charcoals.
They come in different colors: White, various versions of sanguine, and a rusty orange and
black and brown, so in kind of that limited range.
This is an old standby material.
If you look at Watteau drawings and Boucher drawings, you’ll see Conté drawings, basically
two-tone black and sanguine.
Again, we’re just using the black as opposed to the browns or whites on them.
But anyway, great stuff.
The difference between, so one of kind of the helpful parts of the technique, this alpha
color is pure charcoal.
This Conté is chalk, and chalk is a slightly waxier version.
It’s charcoal with a binder, basically.
It’s a waxier version so when you use it it’s not going to blend as well, and it’s
not going to smudge as easily.
It will a little bit, but it’s a littler waxier.
So for really tight detail, if I have to dig in under an eyelid or if I need—mainly for
contour line I will use that.
Anyway, I’ll create my rich shadow shapes and values with the alpha.
I’ll do some of my fine detail and my contour lines with the chalk.
There are my two additive tools, my pigments.
I should say a little about the paper.
The paper itself is Strathmore.
It’s a high-quality and pretty expensive paper, and it comes in a big sheet.
They are packaging a little bit differently now.
It used to come in loose sheets, and you’d have deckled edges, so kind of torn edges,
kind of torn edges.
Now they’re starting to put them in small packs.
This came in a pack of four, and I don’t even know how much it cost in US dollars,
but it’s pretty expensive.
It’s a few bucks a sheet.
But you have a nice big one.
Oftentimes, I’ve got it on camera filled up here, but oftentimes I’ll fold it in
half and then work in a smaller format, or you can just cut or fold it in half.
Then you can get four sheets out of this maybe.
That’s the paper.
It’s Strathmore 500 series.
What we want from a paper is something that has a little bit of a tooth.
You can see as I lay down the charcoal, you can see the texture in here.
Now, as I start to render and blend, I can force that pigment down into the fibers and
lose the little white coming through, background white, and so I can dig down into the fibers
and into the valleys of this surface.
This is a Bristol finish.
There is hot press.
There is cold press.
Hot press is plate finish.
It’s called that sometimes.
Cold press is kid finish, and kid finish will work.
Bristol is slightly smoother.
If you use the plate it’s super smooth and it’s so slick the pigment won’t hold.
You need to have a paper that has a little bit of tooth to it so it will hold the pigment,
and then I can blend out so I can render it so that I lose the surface texture.
The paper doesn’t destroy the illusion of the gradation.
I can come back because it’s got good texture.
Come back with darker pigment on top of it, and it will hold a ton of pigment.
We want that tooth just to be able to get our deep darks in there.
The other thing I like about it is notice when I don’t render it, don’t blend it
super aggressively, then we’re going to get a little bit of the pores of the paper
coming through, and that feels a little bit like the pores of your flesh to me.
It feels more alive than just a clean airbrush gradation from old airbrushes or in computers,
Creating that slight texture to me is critical to kind of bring humanity into your drawing
so you get this really lovely sense of the pores of the flesh if you’re doing a nice
big head or whatever.
So that’s that.
Now, let’s see here.
Let me show you two of my supportive tools.
Just any kind of sandpaper.
What I’ll do is I’ll take my alpha color and I’ll just scrub it against the sandpaper,
and it will let some of the pigment come off, and I’ll take what’s called a stump.
A lot of you have probably heard of it.
But a stump is just a pencil.
Instead of a pencil with lead or charcoal in it, it’s a paper that’s just rolled paper.
By kind of rubbing it into or dipping it into that little of pile of pigment we’ve created,
now I’ve created a tool where I can make marks like the Conté,
but they can be much lighter.
And they are in the charcoal as opposed to in the waxy chalk.
Then where I really use this is I can then use the stump to also do gradations.
They’re particularly useful if we have to get into a little area, you know, that that
big, chunky alpha color is not going to let us do.
It’s too big so I can lay that in there and pull that back and do subtle gradations.
I use my finger a lot to make corrections and to create gradations.
Again, the finger is a big, crude tool.
The stump is targeted.
You have a little point there and you can really get into little areas like so.
So sandpaper stump.
There are different sizes, different tapering that goes on.
There are variations.
I like this one but any of them will work fine.
And then to subtract, I have two different erasers.
I’ve got a kneaded eraser.
This is Faber-Castell brand but there are other brands.
Kneaded erasers and they come in wrapped cellophane or they’re starting to come in these neat
little packs like this.
It’s basically eraser clay you can turn into any shape.
And so you can take this and come back and drag it in there and create a little finger
of an eraser or pencil of an eraser and get in there and touch up.
You can see how you can make fine detail or subtle, just subtly lifting the pigment off
It’s a soft eraser so it’s not going to, I’m not going to be able to get this darkened
area back to white.
If I want to get in there and be more aggressive then I can use this.
I use the Staedler but any hard eraser would work.
Don’t get the pink ones because the pink pigment can actually stain your page.
Now I can come in there and erase back aggressively and bring it back close to white.
You can see how it’s dirtied up there.
Get it back close to white.
Then to get it to white I can use, as I alluded to before, an electric eraser, which I’m
not going to use today.
Or you can use any kind of razor blade or X-Acto knife and actually scrape it back.
Notice how I’m actually damaging the fibers of the paper to do that.
That will allow me to get back to a white highlight or something.
Also, the reason I got into using the razor blades and X-Acto knives, when I did the boxers
I would actually scrape back the paper to create highlights on the boxer’s flesh or
just on the composition, and to me that was kind of scarring.
I was damaging the paper as these characters were being damaged in their endeavor.
They were trading blows, getting punched for a living.
In some ways, in some senses it was kind of performance art in a way.
I was trying to create a technique that was wounding just like the subject matter was
wounding, so kind of a method drawing as opposed to method acting.
That stuff can get silly or it can be irrelevant, or it can be a great motivation
so whichever it is.
You don’t want to do it if it’s just going to be just kind of silly and obvious.
You do want to do it if it helps you get into the mindset of your work and to help built
the concept a little bit.
So that’s that.
The last thing I’ll use is a paper towel.
And so for the bigger areas I’ll just use a cheap paper towel and just work it over.
So that’s that.
In any medium, when you have any medium, what happens is if you can get a hard edge, a graphic
shape, let’s call it, of pigment, whether it’s oil paint, or in this case a pastel
If you can get a graphic shape with hard edges and you can get gradations, soft blended edges.
Hard edges, gradations, you’ve got mastery of your technique, basically.
Any material, if you can make beautiful gradations and you can make really solid, crisp, hard
edges, you’re in control of that material.
The only other thing you might want to do with that material is create textural differences.
For example, you might have a library of strokes
on how you put down the paint to show different material surfaces.
If we want to make oily skin I might use thicker paint, longer, looser brushes.
If I want to show kind of shaved hair on the scalp I might use a scrubbing technique or
even a wet-over-dry scumbling or dragging technique of the brush, so the brush stroke
might change quite radically depending on what I was trying to create,
burlap as opposed to silk.
Flesh as opposed to grass.
It might be a short little hatching, wispy strokes, maybe even splaying the brush out
There are all sorts of tricks you can do with the application that will help create a textural
difference within the piece.
That’s the only other advanced technique, but you can do just fine, and a lot of painters,
especially alla prima, wet-into-wet painters, kind of in the tradition of the Sargent school,
which is huge worldwide.
All the ateliers kind of come out of that.
That’s big and it’s been a big influence on me.
This technique is out of Sargent.
The knocks on Sargent’s work from the moderns, the impressionists and post-impressionists
was that everything looked like silk or satin.
Everything was so juicy and lush.
There was no surface differences in the paint.
In the rendering it all looked the same.
Silk had its different value range and it was tailored into the shape of the dress of
the costume and hair had its color choices and all that kind of stuff.
He would identify through the drawing and by the color and value ranges, but that was
a different, and by the context, that’s hair on the head.
That’s a mustache and not a lip.
That’s flesh and not costumes, that kind of stuff.
But the actual movement, the gradation of dark to light didn’t change really from
material to material.
It was all lush.
And Sargent did pretty well in his career.
You don’t have to have that third aspect.
You can just have hard edges and gradations.
You don’t have to do the rest.
But, I even alluded a little bit to the surface by talking about the pores of the paper.
It’s one of the reasons I chose this particular paper.
We’ll deal a little bit with that, but for the most part we’re just going to deal with
our two ideas: How do we create a hard edge and how do we create a gradation?
Now when we go back to our chalk, notice that it’s a rectangle.
It’s a little block, and so it’s got a corner that creates a nice hard edge.
If it’s not hard enough, crisp enough, we can come in with our Conté stick and sharpen
that right up and get a nice hard edge.
At any point, we can decide to turn that hard edge into a soft edge, and that soft edge
into a full-gradation and/or a lost edge by using the zigzag technique.
They call it the zigzag technique.
What that does is two things: As I go along the long axis of that tone, for example; if
I’m going to draw a tube here, then I’m going to go down the long axis of that tube
with what we call the core shadow, the beginning of the shadow and mark that off.
One of the hallmarks of this style and this lush range of values, these rich darks on
the white paper, is I’m going to have a shape of form.
I’m going to draw a simple construction of the form.
Then I’m going to draw the shape of the shadow on the form.
Specifically, I’m going to go to the beginning of the shadow, the core edge, and that’s
the point where the form turns out of light and goes into shadow.
I’m going to make a mark to find that core edge by the long axis.
Now, if I come back with any number of tools, in this case just my finger, and started zigzagging
back and forth along that long axis and slowly move, in this case, to the right as I do it,
notice what happens.
I get a beautiful, rich gradation pretty easily.
Now, notice when I go down that long axis it’s going to be pretty easy for my tones,
my blended tones to overshoot my form.
This is where the tube was supposed to begin and end, and I overshot it.
Of course, that will be then where I’ll do one of two things.
I’ll let another shadow shape hide that bleed that I didn’t want, and I’ll zigzag
into that to make sure the rough hatching of applying that value onto that end of the
tube looks nice and clean.
Then I’ll use my eraser.
Since it’s a dark against a nice, crisp light on kind of the non-background of the
paper, I’m going to use my hard eraser.
I do a lot of blowing to blow off the extra pigment and to blow off the eraser, spillage
of the eraser, the little bits that come off, like so.
Notice when I put in my shadow, I get a beautiful gradation, but I didn’t get good coverage
I might need to come back several times and in several different ways.
You’ll see those several different ways as we get into our actual drawing.
I may need to come back in and add more pigment to fully cover.
What I’m going to do is I’m going to make sure that I’m designing my structures off
a two-value system.
The shadows are dark and the lights are light, and I don’t want the two to compete no matter
how nuanced, beautiful, expressive, artistic, whatever adjective you want to use.
No matter how much of that I put into it later in the rendering, I want to make sure that
it’s a two-value system.
The easy way to make sure it’s a two-value system is just to squint at it.
If I squint, I’ll notice that all of the shadows grouped together against the lights.
Notice that the way I’ve drawn this form, constructed it, it was a tube.
It was round across.
The way I’ve rendered it, it’s actually a box.
It’s square across.
I’m going to render everything like it’s a box.
I’m going to give it a two-value system, and I’m going to make sure that the core
shadow sits at the corner, the perceived or imaginary corner.
In this case, it’s an imaginary corner.
Since it’s a tube there is no true corner.
I’m going to consider it a corner, and I’m going to break it into that two-value system.
Then, if, as I almost certainly will, want to make it rounder, I’ll do that as a second step.
What I’m going to do then is I’m going to draw the shape of the form, the construction
drawing like I would in any 5-minute constructed drawing exercise.
Then I’m going to draw the shape of the shadow on the form.
Then I’m going to give the shadow a nice, dark value.
It doesn’t have to be dead black or super dark like it is here.
I’m just doing that for construction purposes.
It just has to be dark enough that when I squint at it I get that two-value system.
The shadows are dark.
The lights are light, and it’s clear to the audience which is which.
There is no confusion.
We use the squint test to double-check that.
Very simple four steps there.
Draw the shape of the shadow.
Draw the shape of the form.
Draw the shape of the shadow on the form.
Give that shadow a value, and it can be, notice it can be shape of the form, shape of the
shadow on the form.
It can be hatched in like a pen and ink artist or cross-hatch.
It can be in any technique, but that would be the—and then I squint to make sure that
this shadow value separates from that light value.
Even though this is very subtle compared to this contrasting statement, when I squint
all the shadows from the most part group together.
All the lights separate.
That’s all we want.
Once I have that, then I can come back to my core shadow, and I can use whatever tool,
the stump, my finger, I’ll use the paper towel in this case.
I’m going to do the same zigzagging technique and I’m going to slowly go into the half-tone.
By the time I finish those half-tones, I want to make sure that I squint again.
Make sure that now the dark smudges of the half-tones don’t compete with the light
side of the, the shadow side of that form.
I want to make sure that the half-tones, as dark as they are, when I squint at it and
I’m squinting at it now, when I squint at it, all of the lights separate from all the
Notice by coming back and forcing that border a little darker as I did earlier on and then
gradating out of that.
It started at the core shadow.
It leaves a little core of darkness which is truthful.
In nature we actually have not one light source.
We have two light sources.
We have the direct light and we have the indirect light.
The indirect light is the bouncing or reflected light that comes off the floor or the wall
in the environment that the object is in.
The light strikes the object.
It’s also striking the tabletop and the wall around the object.
Then that bounces light back into the shadows, but not as strongly.
It’s a secondary light, a much weaker light than the initial,
than the main direct light source.
Now what we can do is come back and give stronger reflected light.
Now, here is what happens with our kneaded eraser or any of the erasers.
Look at what I did.
I erased a little bit and it dirtied up my eraser.
With a kneaded eraser, what you do is you just fold that under and get a clean spot
and go again.
There we go.
It’s starting to dirty up again, isn’t it?
This time I’m not going to clean it.
I’m going to go ahead and start in the area of lightest shadow and then go towards the
Notice as I go toward that dark core shadow, more and more pigment dirties up my eraser
so the eraser can take off less and less pigment.
We get a natural gradation.
Let’s do it again over here.
I’ll start here.
I’m just going to keep erasing it.
I’m going to slightly lighten my touch as I go, but because that eraser gets dirtier
and dirtier, I’m taking less and less pigment off and I get a natural gradation.
There we go.
Now, here’s the problem.
When we start doing that, getting in our nice half-tones, we can get our background in here,
You can see very quickly a quite realistic statement.
It can also start to look metallic like a water faucet pipe and also get that same technique
of dirtying up my surface of my heart eraser and get a nice gradation.
Work it back and forth.
Notice that the lightest shadow is very similar to the value of the middle and darker half-tone.
That’s a little dangerous.
You can get away with it because I’ve got a really good core shadow.
There is no confusion.
I’m going to clean off some of that.
There is no confusion about what’s shadow and what’s light because I’ve got such
a strongly drawn shape.
In terms of the value range there is confusion because some of the shadow is the same value
as some of the light, and that’s going to start confusing us.
In nature that happens all the time, but since we’re not in nature, we’re working on
a flat surface and only giving the idea of form.
The idea of the form is that form is a two-value system.
The reason we’ve reduced all of nature to such a simple model is because our audience.
We understand as artists that our audience, as we, will see different values
as different planes.
So if I've got...
Two values here.
The audience is going to see two planes.
We can make—if it’s three values it can be three planes
Different value, different plane.
If we make them the same value, if we start to make the half-tone a similar value to the
shadows, it’s going to look flat.
We want to make sure that the shadows group darker and the lights group lighter after
all the rendering.
There are times where we can cheat on that.
There are times when nature won’t show us that.
But if we want to get the most bang for our buck out of our rendering of our flat paper
then make sure that the light side overall
looks consistently lighter than the shadow side.
So back off on your half-tones a little bit.
Back off on your reflected light a little bit.
Then it’s going to be, it’s going to read better.
You’re going to get a tonal composition where things separately graphically.
We won’t have a fully rendered ball with all the values against a fully rendered table
with all the values against a fully rendered background with all the values because then
they’re all going to compete for attention.
They’re all going to be wanting to be the main character in our story.
Instead I will design it so that if a dark ball on a light background or a light ball
on a dark background or a full value ball on a limited value background or vice versa.
Notice each of those designs stages the realism in such a way that the object, the foreground
has a different value or different value range than the background, and that creates interest.
We’ll do it in two or three value systems.
Then that’s going to give us the most bang for the buck.
That’s basically our technique.
Let me show you a couple other things, one that I neglected.
If you’d prefer not using a chalk, a stick, but you’re more comfortable with a pencil,
I’d still recommend you get the pastel chalk, the alpha color because you want to be able
to get coverage, fill in big areas of shadow.
But for the fine work, if you’re working real small or you get the contour lines and
those little detailed shapes, you can switch to any kind of charcoal pencil.
This happens to be Conté of Paris.
It’s brown but you’d want to get black.
Of course, you could absolutely get a brown alpha color and get brown pencil and do it
any color you want.
I don’t recommend bright colors.
Don’t get a bright colored red pencil because the bright color confuses the eye of the viewer
Shadows are supposed to be kind of the absence of light.
Color is the presence of light, and so if we have a bright color in the shadow it can
happen, especially outside.
When you paint outside like the impressionists it can happen.
We’re programmed to think of shadows as kind of an absence of light.
And so if we take out most or all the color in the shadow it’s going to feel more shadowy
and we’re going to get a better pop of form.
If we put in a bright color in the shadow it’s going to feel like it’s the presence
of a strong light source, and our eye views bright colors as lighter in value than they
It’s going to steel away quite a bit of your value range, potential value range.
For that reason, when you’re doing these kind of exercises, work in black and white
or very limited Brown School colors, kind of rusty burnt umbers, burnt sienna, that
kind of stuff.
You can absolutely use a pencil instead for application and detail.
The other thing is—give me a second here.
When you get your Conté chalk, I want to turn it into a pencil shape, but it’s going
to start out as a brick, a block form like that.
What I’ll do is I’ll take my X-Acto knife, and I’m going to whittle it down just like
a would a piece of wood, and for a setup here I’m going to do it on this just so dust
doesn’t go in my lap.
I’m just going to scrape off those corners basically.
I’m going to start about a half-inch back.
You can start way back.
Some people start way back and make this long, tapered beautifully sharpened conical shape.
I always break those.
I’m too heavy handed to do that so I like to do about a half-inch or so.
It’ll get stubby and worn down.
This one is just beginning to be.
Then you just take a break from your drawing and keep sharpening it just like you would
a pencil in a pencil sharpener.
I’m just going to keep whittling that down.
If you push hard you’ll break it so you want to be fairly gentle.
Keep whittling and whittling until you’ve got it.
You can get it beautifully sharpened just with this technique.
Or you can get it roughly shaped and then switch to your sandpaper.
I just grabbed sandpaper from the hardware store, but you can buy little sanding pads—most
of you are probably aware of them—from the art store.
They’re just more expensive but they’re more convenient too.
They’re just several sheets stapled on a little flat stick, kind of a tongue depressor
type of stick.
I’ll just keep rolling this back and forth, just roll it back and forth as I’m sharpening it.
You can see how quickly I can work out a stubby or a long beautifully tapered.
There it ends up being about a quarter-inch, and that would be fine, too, for the way I work.
Then I’ve got my nice crisp line.
Notice I can start out really light like so.
Transcription not available.
But we'll try several - so just, we'll try and remember these.
Okay so, what we're doing here class is
we're trying to find a - you know they're all gonna be great poses. I'm gonna get
out of the way here - but we want to try and find a pose that
has all the nice shapes and we can get most
of it done in the limitation of the time. I'm not gonna be too worried about getting the whole
figure, I'll do as much as I can, but hopefully we'll get most of it in there.
But get something that's interesting. Sometimes I'll look at it and I'll go, that's an incredible
torso area. I'm just gonna do the torso and just work on that. In fact,
a lot of my pieces are just parts of the body,
not the whole figure. So that's great. So let's - come on
back to - you had this hand under your chin -
there you go. Let's try that.
That's really nice. Okay.
That's too easy. If we get it the very first time. So let's remember that though.
We'll come back to that. Let's go - lay on your back
and maybe kinda aim your feet slightly back into the
space so we're getting a little foreshortening. I'm gonna again get out of the way
so our audience can see.
Okay. And then do me a favor, can
we put those pillows under your bottom
so that you're a little elevated. And then
maybe even bring your head over into this area so we're getting more of a diagonal.
coming in. And
then as I set this up I'm gonna go back - here's my -
right down here is my board. So I'm gonna be drawing from this angle.
Basically underneath your camera view. So I want to make sure I'm not
looking at it from way off here, but I'm right in line with
where I want to work from. So typically you get up from your easel or
your bench, you come forward to the model and be in that same
position, and you can even get down to the same eye level, looking back,
and trying to capture that. Okay, so that's nice. If
we did that we'd want to change the light, which isn't an issue. But let's go ahead
and as you lay down, kinda rotate this shoulder
up. Kinda roll away from me a little bit. So like -
yeah, yeah, so there's a little bit of a torque there. Now as we're figuring this out,
if I get her all twisted up like a pretzel, she's not gonna be able to hold that for more than
five minutes. So we want to make sure it's something she can hold
with breaks for three hours.
That's kinda nice.
Yeah, that's good. I like that -
your thigh up and over, kinda letting that knee fall over
on a bent leg.
Let's try the same thing with our lighting.
Bring your head here and go at a diagonal that way.
Kind of reverse that. And it -
as we're playing with this, you're gonna have enough padding so that you're not
in pain in ten minutes on this hard surface.
Okay. And then just go ahead and lay that hip over again, away from us.
Okay, so nice. Now what I'm looking
for, I'm looking for an overall design of the figure. So we have this lovely
long, graceful curve. And then I'm
looking at shadow shapes. So as I play with that light source, am I gonna
get really nice shadow shapes. Right now there's not real good chunks of shadow.
So we'd want to move that light source.
But the overall flow is nice. Let's
go ahead and flip onto your stomach.
Okay, yeah bringing that
knee up I think is good.
You're gonna probably want a little padding under it.
Okay. Hey Dylan?
Yeah what's up? Can you switch the lights? Give me the upper
right instead of the upper left.
And in still
life painting, the painters are notorious for spending
two, three days setting up a still life. And they'll do
really all the work, all the design work just setting it up.
And then they'll just paint away in their tight style or
whatever style they're working from. But that
there's no hurry. We'll speed things up fairly quickly for our exercise
like this but you might spend half a day. And you might
think shoot I'm paying the model, I'm not getting to draw her, but it's not time
Okay, so let's
try a couple different things now.
Just so you know
Okay so let's try over
Okay. And then
let's trying laying over it that, some version of that.
There you go.
That's really nice.
Okay so I'm gonna move this
light, actually I have to move around a camera. You won't have that problem in your own studio.
So we're gonna get a little closer here.
And see how it goes.
Okay. Go ahead and look that way for me again.
I think I like that better.
Okay that's good. Let's
try, instead of the chin down, chin up.
Like that. Yeah, that's good.
Okay, and how about - can we
rather than doing this, do this.
Okay, yeah looks great. Now is
that gonna be comfortable for you?
Like would it kind of completely change it if I did this? Let's try that.
Yeah it does pretty much.
Can we find some compromise that's gonna - yeah try that. Try that with
the leg in front like that. That could be cool.
tell you what, we can do that, but rather than
being here, let's move everything here.
So yeah, then I get the back.
Yeah I think that'll work nicely.
Yeah, then your head like that I think is nice. Let's
just bring it back, just a few inches.
There you go, yeah let's try that.
Yeah, that's good. Try laying your head - yeah like that.
That's great, excellent.
So one of the things I'm liking is we're getting a really nice
glancing light. Her hair is partially covering her cheek and
forehead from catching light. But we have this nice zigzag.
over her brow and down her cheek and then back along that
masseter muscle. And so we get this lovely zigzag and I can pick up,
probably with the highlights, the zigzags in here.
Okay so we're gonna do - keep that pose, I think that's gonna be great.
And we're probably gonna light it this way, but -
and notice, I'm gonna say one other thing. We won't do that for this. So I just
complimented how beautiful the light is on the side of her face
It's not as exciting down her torso there. We just
have this nice ribbon. It's a nice form but we don't have any of that zig zag, any of that
action which I tend to like. But notice if we do this
now we're gonna get
more action down that core.
And I can keep pushing it even farther. I'm starting to run out of cable here a little bit. See if I
can take that.
So the farther I take that,
the more action we get on that side, that left side there.
But the more I lose on the face. So
often times what I'll do is I'll say well you stay there
I'll paint up or draw up the torso as it is
and then while you're still in your same pose, I'll sneak over when I get to the head
and I'll catch that perfect light, or I'll remember it, or
as she just did, she turned her head a little bit more towards the light
source and so we got that zigzag again. So i think we're gonna do that. We're
gonna have it there. So that's good for you Amy? Yes. Excellent.
So everybody's happy. Alright.
And then I'm not usually that careful, but
often times in a class like this, then you'd get out your tape
and you'd run a tape here and here on her foot,
over on wherever she's sitting down,
on her elbow and arm, so we could place that exactly right. I'm
never that worried about that kind of thing because I kinda redraw things anyway.
But you can mark it off very carefully
and then that's going to make sure when she
takes her breaks, you've got her right back
in the position.
a demo with my materials here.
And show you how I work it out and develop,
finish. So I spent really several
hours in real time, it was probably about three hours or so. And I'm just gonna
lay it in. It doesn't matter to me whether I'm doing a 30 second,
a five minute, or in this case a two or three hour
drawing process or whether it's on paper or it's
painting on canvas. I'll start exactly the same way. If I'm doing
something that's gonna go longer and I have more time,
I'll slow down and get a little more careful shape design
and a little more information, double check things, that kind
of stuff. So I'll be a little more free wheeling if I'm
working - if I have more time to spare, like
I do here. But I'll just get going and - in
paint as well as in this charcoal
system, there's a lot of lost and found. What I mean by that is I'll draw
in the constructed forms as I'm doing here. But then when I
come in with my rich, dark materials, like when I come in
with my rich, juicy opaque paint, I'm gonna end up
covering that lay in and have to rediscover it. So often times I'll lay this
thing in and then decide well I want the head a little smaller and
the torso a little bigger. Which is probably the way I'll go here actually.
And just go ahead and let that develop. And also, I always find
personally, it's just a quirk of the way I see things I think,
that when I lay it in in line and then switch to
full tone or full color, the painted
silhouette, as opposed to the linear construction, the proportions feel different
to me. And so as I lay in those masses
of color, masses of value, I'll actually find
I'll actually redesign the shapes and
tweak the proportions a little bit.
To me that's kinda the fun of it, is I keep constantly
reconsider, constantly change things as I go and so on.
very interested in the long axis curve, how things
flow because they're alive and watery and
I'm constantly interested in trying to build
space, depth. So
I go back and forth and get those
constructed in very carefully, just paint the stripes as I did there.
I'm interested, in this case, unlike a quick sketch
class probably, with the foreground, background relationship,
at least to some degree I kind of vignette out the background rather than
frame it out, but still it's a relationship of whether
the figure is lighter and the background darker, as it is in this case,
or a full value in the figure and a middle value in the background.
Whatever it is. So, all that kind of
develops as I go. And I try and have some of those big
questions in mind before I start. If it's gonna be a really contrasting
stark, [indistinct], or really
bright lights and rich, deep shadows,
that's gonna affect how I work. Or if it's gonna be really subtle
area or if it's gonna drop from high contrast down
into more ambient tones. All those things will have an effect
on how I begin or how I - not really how I
begin but how I delineate all that information.
And to me, it's getting to know a
acquaintance or a stranger
even. You know, we haven't met before but let's
get together and spend a couple hours, get to know each other and as
the conversation goes on you get more, better feel of who this person is
and what they're expectations are out of the relationship
and what they have to offer. And the same
way when I'm drawing any particular model or even
a model I've drawn for 30 years, which I've got quite few now.
What I want out of
this drawing, this particular drawing. So you can see now as I'm laying in the tones
and I start with that shadow shape
then the construction line that I've put in, somewhat carefully,
is completely lost. And that's good. Now I'll come back and adjust and say, well the head
needs to be a little smaller, or whatever it is. So
I do my construction with just a, you could use a Conté
chalk, as I did, or you could use even a
light charcoal pencil, or any charcoal pencil, or
a graphite pencil. You could use like an H
or an HB and just lightly sketch it in. Something that lays it in fairly light so it doesn't get
in the way of my rendered surfaces, basically those
hot lit areas. Excuse me. And
something that's fairly easy, you know,
to use. And then once I've got that construction line
then I have my constructed shapes and
then I come in right at the core shadow and I lay in
a nice, thick ribbon. Thick line of core
and then that becomes a basis for blending as I'm doing there.
Blending out to create that gradated
shape, or just that darker value shape. Whichever.
And I use the old zig zag technique. I go
draw that core shadow, or
whatever dark edge, I go down the long axis of that
and then I lay in a little bit of shadow
or I just go right to that core shadow and blend into the shadow.
And the zigzag goes along the long axis of the core. I go back
and forth and then scrub it in. If I want it to be really
realistic and beautifully gradated, and no
little hatching marks like we have along the elbow, then I'll really be
aggressive with my scrubbing. If I want it be more
painterly I'll be less aggressive. And you can see how quickly you can create a tube.
By just gradating out of that dark mark.
So it's really very, very quick. It's
completely analogous to painting. So it really -
there's the zigzag technique, back and forth, back and forth. And
you just zigzag it to blend it
or to fill in a even tone and then you
come back to the edge of that even shape and you
zigzag back the shadow, the dark
into the light. And then that gives us that half tone there. I did it again up in that
arm pit and shoulder area.
And I can make it very, very dark or I
can make it a little lighter. I like to be really aggressive and make it dark right away.
It's just black I put in there. That loads up that little ribbon on the
paper and it's very easy then to blend.
And you can see, I'll scrub with a paper towel or I'll scrub with my finger.
You'll see me a little bit later in these little fine areas, like in the ear,
or such, I'll use a little stump. And the stump is just a
roll of paper in the shape of a pencil. And that can get in
to those little nooks and crannies that my
finger's too big to get into.
And just play it over. And then
as when forms don't fit well together, as I'm demonstrating there,
you'll see the core shadow create kind of a zigzag action.
And the contour creating an
overlapping of two lines. And then that shows us that
two forms at least that
break away, that show off their own quality and not
get blended together. There I'm showing my fingers, how dirty
they are as I blend and what I want, I want those fingers to be
dirty because the oil in my hand will stain the paper.
And then you're in trouble because then that stain
will never come out. You'll never be able to get a good gradation. The fact that this paper is
nice and clean doesn't have any oily finger prints on it, means
I get nice, smooth gradations. And
that make life a lot easier. If you get any oil smudges
then you're constantly fighting those areas because the
oily spot will collect more pigment and
hold it. You can't erase it away and it will go darker than the
surrounding paper that's got the same amount of pigment.
And if you do happen to get a little -
you know you drip a little water on there or you
get a little bit of oil on there then you have to come back and grade
over it with your pencil or your finger stump or
whatever and then you come back with a little eraser and kind of dab around and try
and lighten the stain and try and push down with the stump
loading with charcoal. Push down the surrounding tone
so that you kinda hide that
flaw in the paper. But it's way
easier if you don't do that. Now here I'm adding some of these secondary kind of to
the upper hip area. And I'm
bringing - when I draw a new shape I want it to source off
an existing shape, if possible. The big shape
establishes the landscape and then the smaller shape is a little architectural element
on top of that landscape. So make sure you
reference the landscape. And so I drew that little flank area,
that upper waist and upper hip area
off the spine. And then of course it's coming off the contour
on the other side and so it has this nice egg like quality
but also that egg, that long stretched egg,
is flowing up into the spine and it feels connected. It feels
part of a bigger environment. It feels like there's an ecosystem.
And you can see I'm sitting there working. But you can
also stand. I actually like to stand a lot, really for the camera so that we can
have an overhand camera with my head, for the most part, out of the way.
We'll set it up this way. But standing actually is kinda nice.
Your feet, you know your heels get a little sore, the bottoms of you feet get a little sore
after a long day, but you have more energy, you're not
hunched over and your lungs are kinda
squished under your bad posture and you're leaning forward
so your neck gets a little bit sore maybe to look into the paper.
One of the problems I have actually is when the
paper is angled on my lap, or angled on an angled board
like this, you're seeing the image actually in perspective.
And so it's real easy - on breaks I will look at it
and we had a monitor in the studio off camera to the right
where I could look and see the image there that was in flat perspective.
Because right now when I look at it, the head's gonna look smaller and the hips
are gonna look a little bigger than they really are because I'm closer to the hips
and I'm farther from the head because of that tilted board. So you have to kinda
pay attention to those kind of things. And they can have a little or a lot
of effect. So now I'm getting ever smaller shapes.
As I want to render more, get a better half tone, or add a secondary shape,
I come back often times and load up that core shadow again.
A thick ribbon, a thick band, a thicker core.
Where the name comes from, of darkness. And then that's material on the paper
that I can zigzag, blend out of, and fill in
the shadows more or render back into the half tone lights more.
I want to have a sense of where the light source is in
this case the upper right. That means that everything that goes down and to the left gets darker.
And that means all - let's say all the hip -
all the back of the hip in light, well the
left side that's farthest from that light source is probably gonna be a little darker
and maybe sometimes a lot darker than the right side
that's closer to the light source. So often there'll be a dropping off
of the form, you can see it in the upper back for example in the rib cage, is a dropping off
in the half tones. They get darker and darker as they go left because it's rolling into
the shadows. But also a flatter area like the back
of the hips can get darker and darker and darker just because it's moving
farther and farther away from our light source. So you want
to pay attention. And I love putting gradations in.
The gradations coming out of the form round the form, so we take
it from kind of a boxy idea to a cylindrical or
egg like idea. That's nice. But also
gradations can move our eye through a flat plane. Say
the ground plane or the background, the seamless
behind plane. We can create a movement through and that's
dramatic. It literally moves the eye through the
that change. So you're gonna track that change, just like we like to track the
change, the emotional change of a character in a story. How they go from
shy to confident. How they come from
innocent to cynical or whatever
it is. That's the most interesting thing about the story, not really the
explosions or the sight seeing you do, but
how people change through those experiences.
That's what fascinates us. And so a gradation
is a tonal representation of that. It can actually have the
meaning of those kind of
emotional metaphors, but if nothing else it just moves
the eye. It keeps them going, keeps them interested.
And then you can kind of plan where the eye is gonna go. So
I'm just always starting with the shape of the
shadow and then filling in, whether it's a cast shadow as I just did there
or core shadow as I did a moment before, I'm always
looking for the shape of the shadow
and then I fill it in. You can see there I adjusted the core shadow shape
of the calf and then I wanted that calf to drop off into
more glancing light. Down and away from the light
source and starts to round under
because of that egg like calf starts to
slowly become every more glancing
form that just barely catches towards the end of the light.
Notice as I go
I don't necessarily always come back and
redraw the limits of the form. So when I put in the shadow
around that calf, you know I get that nice core shadow
and then I put in the tone and more than likely that
destroys my construction
lines. So then I have to come back and find them. I don't always
find them though. Sometimes I just leave them, let it just ghost out.
Rembrandt will do that sometimes and Sargent will do that, or almost
do that. Photographers, some of the photographers will do that.
So sometimes you can just let the information
go away, in a dark mist, a dark fog.
And you can't really separate. Other times you'll decide that it's really
important to separate and you'll separate it very strongly. And even maybe design the
composition so the values bump light against dark
and dark against light and separate very strongly.
So, just -
we can kinda ease into a solution and leave things out that's a
strict realist should be in. And sometimes we can make things a little bit more
interesting, more mysterious. Also notice when I do that core shadow
it's very, very thick. Or relatively thick
let's say. And I think of that as a little facet. So we've got the
shadow shape, that's darkness. We have the light shape, that's lightness.
We have those dark and light shapes, they're two values,
and so we
have a two value system. Different value, different plane. The darks turn down
and the lights turn up. The light forms turn up. But
by putting that thick core shadow there, we've got a third little
chiseled corner, basically a third plane between the two big planes.
Now that corner gives us a feeling of reflected light
without having to really work at it. I haven't rendered anything in the shadows
other than drawing a line every once in a while. Down a shin, an
ankle or down the front of a torso. But I don't -
I haven't done any detail there.
But - and then I render the
half tones out, but by having that thick shadow there - let me
correct that, thick core shadow there, then it
gives the feeling that I've got detail and rendering in the shadows
because I've got a couple values. I've got the dark core, then the lighter environment
or the relatively lighter environment of the
shadow. And so it makes it look like I'm working
harder than I really am. And then really all the rendering,
all the nuances, how light meets shadow through those half tones,
how rich of and quickly or slowly
and how we extend it, the gradation from
core shadow back into light. Core shadow through darker
half tone up to highlights if we end up putting in highlights.
most of the drawing just separating all the shadows
from all the light. Now I'm coming in and adding detail in the lights.
that out. And I'll either do it through line or I'll do it through half
tone. Or both. And
starting to make those calculations now. But this is lesser
information. It's less important than what we had done
And notice that
those ribs are getting pretty even, kind of monotonous. They're all about the same.
So I would expect that I could come in there
and make each one a little more individual. The top one that goes -
that intrudes the farthest, the
first zigzag I did, just below the shoulder blade,
and that structure, that I've changed. Now it has its own personality
that's distinct from those other rib-like overlaps.
So ideally each of those overlaps would be at least a little different.
And they don't have to be radically different but they need to be a little
different. In fact, they should all feel like the bending
of ribs, but each one, like
characters in a story, each one has its own personality. So you have this
team of action heroes that's gonna save the day, that's what they have in
common, but each of the characters has its own quirks.
He's gonna trickster, he's
always playing jokes on somebody or he's just a devil-may-care,
he doesn't care. He'll just go in there and if he dies, he dies, and just a
daredevil. Or he's always scared
but somehow despite his fears he gets the job
done. You know, that's typically what those things will do. They'll give each one a
personality, but they're all just variations of the same
warrior who's gonna ride in and save the day. So same with those ribs,
they're all the same, and yet each one has to have
at least a little bit different shape design. A little bit different
character so that it feels sophisticated.
So now I'm laying in the background. And ideally
I would have done that a little sooner probably, but I wanted to be able to
make sure the other side of the constructed
torso was in the right spot, so I didn't have to fight, move in dark tones
or something. And then I'll just rub over that, again making sure my
dirty enough that they're not gonna spread oils.
And then I'm just gonna rub that in, a little bit or a lot. I'll just
try and get rid of the white by rubbing over
those hatches of chalk. And then making sure I'm
driving the pigment down into the pores of the paper so we don't have
these little flecks of light.
And the more I scrub of course, the more I can
blend those tones together and make them perfectly smooth.
Just silky smooth. That's one of the nice things about
these materials as a realist tool
is they create these really buttery
gradations when you practice a little bit. And that
feels sensual. It feels like flesh.
So that's useful. You can see I had done a couple minutes ago a gradation from the shoulders
down to the waist, and so that make the upper
part of the torso a little less important than the bottom part because the upper
part is a little darker and so it's a little closer
in character, in value, to the
dark background. So dark shadows, dark background, and slightly darker half tone
all create a less of a contrast than
dark shadows, dark background, and very light half tone. Now I've
pushed the whole thing down. And when I do that, and you can do this in
painting too, all this can be opaque, alla prima paint, when I
do that I'm really kinda setting up for grouping
the half tones together, because now all the darker half tones group with
the lighter half tones because the light half tones are darker, or coming over
it with a an eraser as I just did.
And then that will dust back some of the darker half
tones since I erased it with the lighter half tones. But then I
end up here. And really one of the main reasons I did it -
I end up here with a half tone that's dark enough that I
can pop the highlight. So now I'm just zigzagging there
to turn that rib cage a little bit more. So notice the highlight becomes a corner
too. It's where the back of the
back turns and becomes
the corner of the back, or the side of the back. So that
highlight sits at a corner. So core shadows become corners
and highlights become corners. So both very structural.
We want to make sure we play it as a structural
statement. Now squint at that, you'll see how things group together.
That's actually what you want, you want to
keep squinting at it to make sure that you're
organizing your information. So no matter how much rendering I do
in the shadows, or how much rendering I do
in the lights, I'm still gonna get an overall, there's a monitor there,
I'm gonna get an overall two-value
system. But with the rendering it'll be two-value ranges. But I'll have a range
of light values that is distinct from the range
of dark values. And by getting that two value system, light against
dark. That's what's gonna give the illusion of form.
The idea of form. And that's gonna make
it pop and make it feel quite
convincing way it can, that this is actually coming off or going into
the paper. The illusion of depth. The illusion of specific
grounded structures. There now I'm coming back in,
redesigning those ribcage marks so they weren't so
equal. Because that's not good design to make them that repetitive.
You want to have those character changes.
Those shape changes from shape to
shape. Each finger has a different proportion, has
a different length, slightly different character and we want that to be true
all the way through. Now I'm picking out some
secondary forms. And they can be secondary forms that I carefully
observe on the figure and
bring out or they can be forms I make up. Like Tintoretto might
do or something a Michelangelo.
more things to do here, but looking at this
with a second, with a fresh eye,
stopping here more or less probably would have made this a more
successful - give or take, couple unfinished parts - a more successful
drawing. The drawing's pretty good,
I like it pretty well the way it finished out, but the half tone has too much stuff
going on. It feels just a little dirty compared to
the shadows at the finish I'm talking about. And
there's too much stuff going on. So it should have
now if you look down in the hips and that flank coming off the spine
there you have - you squint at that and everything's a nice tone so it feels like
it's tan flesh or it's dark enough it can catch a highlight.
We have that on the upper waist, lower back area that highlight,
that kinda key things. But also the darker details
stay ghostly. And so the overall silhouette
is really, pretty beautifully
realized. And then as I work on it I start adding more darks and doing it more
darks into the half tone, more half tones into the center of the
light area. And it starts - it just doesn't feel quite as clean.
So, ideally what you do is you do your
work and then you take a little break and you walk away from it and you come back with fresh
eyes. Or even the next day you come back and look at it with fresh eyes
and that way you're gonna
make sure you don't make, or have less likelihood of
making that kind of mistake. So
now I'm starting to push those half tones dark or I'm starting to bulge out
that lower back and flank muscle stronger
and I'm not sure it needed that. I think that's too much.
So it's - we all make mistakes
I'm just admitting one to myself, but
about myself. But it's really
nice if we can set up and have a fresh eye. Here Lana there,
this is Strathmore paper and another really good paper
is Lana, L-A-N-A, and you can either get 90
pound or 120 pound. And that comes in big roles, kinda
like canvas roles, when you buy canvas, you know,
56 inch canvas it's got 20 feet in it or something. It comes in
rolls kinda like that and so you can do really large size drawings as I used to.
My first show was a group show and I was -
I did these big drawings there. Same technique as
I'm doing here but it was on Lana paper. And that has a slight - it looks like
watercolor paper, real spongy etching paper, but it's a
drawing paper, it's tough and you can really get
dark darks in it but you can also erase back to a
white or close to it pretty easily. So that's unusual.
I'm now, I'm just adding in those secondary and tertiary forms,
little sacrum here. I make a mark and then I scrub it
down so it blends in nicely, so it's a little
subtler. Because when I rub it it loses a little bit of pigment, or spread its
own pigment into the surrounding area. And also it settles
it in. It's real easy to make a mark and it will
feel like it's actually floating above the ground tone.
So you could have a shadow and you put a core shadow in, if you don't do a little bit of
soft edges, they don't have to last long, but doing a little bit of soft
edges on the - how the core shadow meets a surrounding area, it feels
like the core shadow's actually floating above
the body rather than describing the
landscape of the body.
So look at all those secondary forms up in the shoulder blade
and upper ribcage area. They're just too strong, they need to be dusted back. And I don't
believe I did that. Maybe I will surprise myself and find I did
do that. And that flank, I kept adding to it, adding to it,
it's a beautiful shape I think, but it's just too strong.
It takes over the whole lower, or the whole
waist and hip area. Creates this
nice, connective rhythm from spine to leg
but it sacrifices the rest of the hip. And it sacrifices
the overall silhouette of the torso and
line I think. There I'm taking it back a little bit, so that's good.
Just pushing those gradations. And you can see as I rub on that
paper, it pulls up the pores, you know,
it kinda lifts the pores or the fibers of the paper
and so it feels like the pores of skin, it has
that smooth, yet slightly modeled texture, if you look
really closely. And so I like the
technique and I like the papers - the Lana and the Strathmore papers - for that. This is
Strathmore 500 paper. And it's like a 24 by
32 inch, or 22 by 32 inch
piece of paper. It comes in a 4 pack. They used to not do that. So
now I'm bringing out the accents. I didn't really need to do that either, and you can see now
that contrast gets even stronger and
now would have been a good time to get up and walk away and look at it
from a distance. And then I probably would have seen that those
little forms are getting more powerful than they should be and starting to compete again
the big forms. And we don't want to do that. We want them to
get lost into the bigger structure, not separate out
And you can see I really kinda keep working over those
fine forms on the bigger form, I'll
pop the contrast and then I'll dust it back.
The contrast by making things lighter with my eraser, or making things darker
with my pencil or chalks. And just back and forth. Shaped
design, contrast, more or less.
So now I've added a secondary form and a form I didn't really need. That really
shouldn't be there and certainly not that strong. So maybe we take that back a
little bit. And so I wanna - I'll do this
with masters too. You look at what they did and you
marvel at it or you enjoy it and
then you criticize it. Saying oh I love Raphael, it can't hardly beat him
but what would I have done different if I was doing
that Raphael and I had his skills and his experience for that style stuff.
What would I do? And so I'm
constantly kinda picking it a part. And it doesn't make me feel bad or anything, these are just
you know, they're just attempts. You do the best you can
and sometimes you do something that's way better than you ever believed you could do and other times
it's not quite so good. And
other times you go through a - you do a drawing and there's this kind of an ugly
stage where you kinda have to
wallow in it for a while until you reemerge on the other side with a really nice piece.
But it has to go through its struggles at first.
And as I said there's a
getting-to-know-you process. The model and the drawing itself, the piece of art
so really having to understand what the
art work needs. You know, I know what I see there, but what does
the art work need? You know, and how can I
So just back and forth, just
searching for the answers. Sometimes you just know and you whack it in there,
just knock it in there. Quite often you're not sure and you've got several
strategies for testing out and
a couple strategies for experimenting to try and get a
something that's surprising and different for you. And
just see if you can do it.
There's our model and set up again.
Going back in on that head. The head's not the
main part so I'm gonna keep it pretty simple, keep the half
tones pretty dark. But
I need to do a little bit so it doesn't feel like an unfinished head stuck on a finished body here
or anything like that. If I want to have an area that's more interesting, more
contrasting, more rendered then I'll have it slowly evolve
into something less usually.
I'm trying to get the head there a little bit. I've
changed that head a couple times and this is reduced to
size a little bit. I'm making it more broken shapes
so that it's less - there's an ear in shadow.
Just the back rim of the ear is gonna catch light. She's got really
bleached blonde hair, so it's
actually lighter than her skin. That's fun.
So when I get a piece about
this far along, everything's there but there's all sorts of things
we can redesign, or change, or a few things maybe. I can say
okay do I want to now come back into this. Often times I'll take a break and think
about it. Okay now, here's an opportunity. I can come back and really dial this
in. Really remove some of the little things or make
more subtle some of the little things.
And really make it something maybe that would deserve to be framed and put
in a gallery. Or I can say I did a nice study
I've worked on my realism, I got some of this
principals of picture making in and now it's time to
move on. I need to not try
and finish it out. I need really mileage and to do
at least a few drawings each week that are just for me. Just to build my
understanding and not to,
you know, rule the roost. And
be this great
piece that, how do I put it, that
you know, that has
great ambitions. Sometimes it can just be a very -
or quite comprehensive sketch. Where I'm gonna really try and render it out.
But only 85%.
And then I'll just let it go. There I'm using the eraser
in the shadows, just to stylize a little bit. That directional, mark
making gives us kinda the direction of that underside plane.
Pen and ink do that all the time. It adds a little bit of
energy and kinda pizzazz.
A little splash of technique on something that's pretty smooth and even.
You can see how you create kind of a
simple vignetted shape or cloud that's energetic around
the figure and that comes from art nouveau and early
illustration. They did that a lot in American illustration, paintings
and the pen and ink where they want to put it, you know do a
flat, white graphic page that had type or nod.
And so they'd create a shape rather than a square frame,
like a gallery they
create this interesting dynamic shape and the whole shape would have a personality. It would
be some film Noire murder mystery so it would have this kinda dangerous
personality, or it would be some
light hearted idea like Old Man Time bringing
in the Baby New Year. It would have a cute
kind of comforting
design to it. So anyway,
I'm aware of the shape that I've created around
the figure to make sure that whole shape has
the right personality to it.
Now I'm just kinda working in there, trying to decide,
accent it a little bit, but trying to decide just how subtle
things should be. How nuanced they
should be, how many little shapes should be in there with the big shapes.
Knock back that light hair just a little bit.
Redefine that shape. So as I do one thing I go back and kinda look at all the other
things I've done and make sure that the old things
still stay in line with the new things coming in. Rather than doing
one thing, forgetting about it, then going on to the next thing. It will feel piecemeal that way.
So I always come back to the old and reintegrate
it if it needs to into the new. Because if you put something new in, it's a new set of
relationships. And you have to go back through and compare that new
thing with all the other things you've done to make sure that
it's relatively correct.
If I want that hip to pop out a little bit more, I can lighten
it up against the dark background. Or I can push the dark background even
darker to make it relatively lighter.
So you always have a couple ways to go. If you want it to look more detailed
you can add more detail or you can put something simple against it.
Alright that was our demo with Amy.
It's so fun to actually have a body there and interact. It changes the energy
rather than working from just reference. I hope you enjoyed that
and I hope you stay tuned for my other lessons. We'll see you soon.