- Lesson Details
In this video lesson world-renowned painter Steve Huston will paint a torso, showing how the human can be expressed in terms of basic forms, the torso being mainly cylinders and ovoid or egg forms. Steve will go on to demonstrate the use of tone, value, and rendering to create simple forms with shadow patterns, half-tones and gradation in order to bring your painting to life.
- Gamblin Artist Grade Oil Colors
- Simply Simmons Paintbrush
- Canvas Panel
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You will see that the human can be expressed in terms of basic forms,
the torso being mainly cylinders, ovoid or egg forms.
Steve will go on to demonstrate the use of tone, value, and rendering to create simple
forms with shadow patterns, half-tone and gradation in order to bring your painting to life.
We’re going to use tubes and balls, basically, and those are two of the two shapes we looked
at during the last two lessons.
We looked at how to draw and egg and paint an egg.
How to get a tube in a box.
How to get a value scheme that makes it look like it has form.
How to get the paint and materials of brush and paint to do what we want to do.
Now we’re going to put it to a little more practical application and see if we can’t
get a basic torso.
The torso and back view reclining torso because that’s going to be the simplest view of
the figure that we can get at this point.
The hips are going to be one big ball shape, basically, and eventually two balls and the
rib cage and waist area.
We might get into a little bit of the shoulder girdle.
It will be a big tube shape.
Two basic shapes.
We might get a little blocking forms.
Depending on far we get, we might get some variations on those themes.
But two very simple forms hopefully will have a successful attempt at putting them down.
And so what I’d like you to do is make sure that you’ve looked at and done a little
bit of studying and practicing on those last two lessons where we did the egg, talked about
all that nature and materials stuff with the paintbrush and all that stuff.
Then the second lecture when we painted a little bowl shape, as I said, with the cylinder
and the box explanation.
Alright, so this young lady is laying this way.
What I would like you to do also is sketch along with me, watch the demo.
This is my suggestion, of course, if you see fit.
Draw along with me after you’ve done a read through of this or watching it.
Just draw with pencil and ballpoint pen or charcoal, whatever you’re comfortable with.
Just draw these simple shapes with your drawing instrument
as I’m drawing them with my paintbrush here.
Of course, I’ve just thinned out the paint with a little bit of solvent, thin enough
that I can get down my basic drawing.
Look at how simple these shapes are.
Just simple lines, no wobbles to the lines.
I’m completing the form.
Look at the completion of this form.
This is a shortcut, I should explain in my mind, of a little tube that has an accordion
quality to it.
It bows out around the base of the shoulder blade, black into the skinny neck, out, back
into the skinny waist.
Notice also that I drew that shape, and what was I thinking?
What was I thinking?
I’m thinking of a basic tube.
I’m just going to tip this tube in one direction.
This is what I was thinking for that.
Instead of just drawing that, I wanted to do something as simple as possible,
the simplest possible choice I chose was a tube.
Now I want to make a more refined tube.
I’m not going to make it a tube that’s just going one way.
I’m going to make it a tube as I said that is bulging in 2 directions.
It’s just a simple a tube as it always was, but it’s a more refined position, and now
it’s bowing like a kinked garden hose a little bit, rather than just going in one
Then the other thing I did is I decided that it would be more characteristic tube
if I bowed one side.
What we want to do is get the simplest shape we can to replace the anatomy that we see,
but not just simple, simple, yet characteristic.
As simple as we can make it and as characteristic as we can make it.
Then I drew the spine.
There is a slight twist to that just like a rope.
Not as dramatic but the same idea.
It gets a little farther here, a little narrower here.
For a clear explanation on all that, go to my beginning drawing lectures, and they’ll
explain to you how to get these basic shapes, the theory behind those shapes.
In drawing we call it the structure.
How those structures fit together is called the gesture.
I have several hours discussing just those points.
That is the rib cage and waist.
Then the hips are just a miniskirt shape.
I think of a miniskirt like this or a ball shape.
Let’s make this a much more perfect ball to keep it in that character.
Let’s make it a little less sophisticated.
What I did is I kind of flattened the sides and slightly squared the ends.
That’s quite a bit more sophisticated shape.
Notice that I’m using ball shapes or tube shapes or I can use boxy shapes.
These are the 3 shapes that we learn to render in our last two lectures.
Let’s just make it a ball.
We won’t use any boxy stuff yet.
Then I’m drawing a tube.
This tube for the leg down here is a tapering tube.
It’s getting—I’m a little froggy this morning.
It’s just a tube that gets skinnier at the knee, wider at the hip.
Then I can say there is a little egg inside if I wanted to.
It wouldn’t even have to be sophisticated.
Alright, now, let me wipe away this.
I’ve got a little bit more room.
Let me do that.
I’ve got the room to show you something.
You can see that this toned canvas, if it has been dry for several days, and this hasn’t—I
used it yesterday—then when I do that solvent it starts to wipe through
and take that solvent away.
That’s fine with us.
But the toned canvas will work a little quicker as we learned in our last lecture.
It’s what I had.
I used it last time so I’ve got a clean canvas.
I thought I’d use the toned canvas.
Alright, let’s look at this again.
I’m going to take these two shapes, the rib cage and waist blended together in one
specific characteristic tube, and the hips, the two gluteal structures here back into
the hips as one big ball shape, and then I do a little split there
that corresponds to the spine.
Very simple shapes that I’ve drawn but very sophisticated theory of application.
One of the things we have to do is we have to look at the world and we have to translate it.
Specifically, we want to simplify it down so we can get control of it.
Making it simple does not mean it’s easier.
The real difficulties in art and the real goal as an artist is to translate the world
into something that’s clear, concise.
Not even necessarily concise, but clear and emotes somehow.
So when we simplify, when we distill down the world, we have to understand the world
pretty well to do that.
To make it simpler does not necessarily mean to make it easier.
It can still be very difficult to do.
Simplify means you leave everything out but.
We’re going to leave everything out about the upper torso except its tubular qualities.
We’re going to leave everything out about this hip structure except its ball shape qualities.
To be that clear about something takes some practice.
I want you to practice that.
One thing that you can do, and I’ve mentioned this in the drawing workshop, drawing lessons,
is create a sketchbook just of simple shapes.
Just draw simple shapes in all sorts of positions,
tube going this way, maybe a tube with a beveled end.
Maybe a tube with a notch cut out of it.
Practice drawing those simple shapes, and that’s going to serve you very well when
you get into the rendering process.
We can simplify down those things.
Now we’re going to learn these things fairly simple because we’ve
conceived of them fairly simply.
That’s going to make our life a little easier, but it’s not easy.
It’s going to be more manageable, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a breeze.
Alright, so let’s look at this.
I’m going to simplify this even farther now.
I’m going to make the tube just go in perspective direction rather than having a bulge.
That is really what we’re drawing.
The drumstick is the ball and tube merged together.
You’ll see it everywhere.
Not everywhere, but you’ll see it a lot of places on the human body.
For example, here is called the thenar eminence, and then we have the phalanges, the thumb
structures coming down in.
Notice that we have a big bulging end and a stick.
Notice that the thumb itself has a skinny center and this pad, this kind of lollypop
shape we have up there.
Notice the head into the neck.
The torso does it.
We’re going to find that the forearm does it.
Thinner into thicker down here.
We’re going to see that all over the place.
The thigh was starting to do it.
The upper thigh against the lower thigh.
We’re getting a version of that.
We’re going to see this structure everywhere where we have a thinner, bonier structure
going into a thicker muscular structure.
Or we’ll have a thinner muscular structure and tendinous structure going into meteor
Or it can even go from muscle tendon into bone as it does from the skinny neck into
the bigger head.
We get that kind of drumstick or lollypop idea everywhere throughout the body.
Again, I correct myself, not everywhere, but we’ll see it a lot.
When we have this conception, very useful.
Again, look at my beginning drawing classes and I’ll talk about this drumstick specifically.
You can learn all of the advantages and strategies for using it.
Let me put that down.
Once we have this conceived simply, then we have to just decide where our light source
is coming from.
Light source is coming this way.
Once we have that, then we know that since the light source is to the up and right side,
the shadows are going to go down and to the left side.
Now I’m going to take my tube of a torso, and I’m going to give it a shadow shape.
In this case, the light is actually quite a bit farther.
Let me do it a little bit this way so you can see it a little clearer.
It’s farther around in front coming down this way, like so.
Now let’s do our shadow.
In this case we just have a sliver of a shadow right here.
We have some stuff going on in the shoulder blade and the arm connection.
I’m going to go ahead and draw this, but we’re not going to render it at all.
Here is the shoulder structure here that’s pinching away from the rib cage.
You can see it bumping in the reference material that you’ll see in just a moment.
Then here is the shoulder coming off this way.
Shoulder line and then the arm takes off this way like so.
Again, the ease of doing this is in that conception.
The arm is just a tube.
The shoulder line is just a line.
The shoulder meets the arm at just a corner.
I’m going to shade this down just slightly for a second.
You can see that the back of the torso meets the side of the arm at a corner there that
would have to be dealt with.
These are all drawing problems that we’re going to basically avoid now again.
Go back to the drawing sections to work on this stuff.
One of the things, I’ve said this many times in the painting lessons, one of the things
that crucial, whatever you’re going to paint whether it’s landscapes, still lifes, figures,
whatever, the abstracts, the better you can draw, even in abstracts, the better you can
draw the less you have to worry about it.
Then we can just worry about the paint, all the beautiful colors.
In this case, all the beautiful values.
We’ve been taking color out of the mix to make life easier.
and know that if I paint and lose the drawing, I can rediscover the drawing, then I’m going
to be in very good shape to explore the painting.
I just have to worry about the painting aspect.
I don’t have to worry about the drawing aspect.
I want you to practice your drawing skills so that you’re confident enough that you
don’t have to fight it so much.
So there is our tube right there.
We’re not even going to do the ball yet.
We’re just going to render the tube.
Here is how the tube ended in this little arm structure.
I’m going to ghost it back.
It ended at the shoulder line.
The arm came off as a little corner connection.
I put that little tone there earlier for you to see it to conceive it, but we don’t even
half to do that.
On the outside the arm meets the shoulder at a corner.
The corner stops the eye and tells the audience
that something has ended and something new begins.
In this case, the arm has ended and the shoulder girdle and torso have begun.
On the inside we don’t have that kind of clean corner.
We have a little wobble at the armpit.
I’m going to put that wobble in.
When you put a wobble in any which way, what it does again is say something has ended,
something has ended and something else is beginning.
There is a change that’s happened.
I’m going to wobble at that armpit.
Also, you have to realize the audience is very familiar with the human body and they
are going to help you out in the conception.
If you give them any chance at all to believe you they will believe you.
If you can do things simply and cleanly but have them ring true, they have to ring true.
It has to suggest the truth of that arm and the truth of the position of the arm.
That takes practice.
These little tricks, these shortcuts are going to help.
Just a little wobble, armpit begins, arm has ended, now the shoulder
girdle begins on the inside.
That’s all we did.
Alright, so there is my tube, my characteristic tube with a little shadow shape on it.
We have a lot of construction lines on top of it that are maybe getting in the way of
a scene, what we want to see, and so now I’m going to cover this light side with a light
As I mix this paint, I turn the brush.
I keep rotating the brush so I get all of the mixture all the way around the brush and
not some chunk of dark or chunk of light on top of it.
Alright, so now I’m just going to, I’m going to go right over that shoulder girdle,
construction line I put in there.
I know I can find it again if I need it.
Now when I render these forms, I’ve got stuff going off this way, shoulder girdle
and head, I’ve got stuff going off this way—hips and legs and feet.
I don’t know how to do that yet.
I haven’t taken the time to analyze it and come up with a strategy.
I’m just worried about this one tube right here.
What I’m going to do is I’m going to make sure I’ve drawn the sides of the tube, the
top side and the bottom side.
I’m going to draw the shape of the shadow on the tube.
I’m going to give that shadow a value, and then I’m going to give
a value to the light side.
I’m not going to worry about how it moves into the hips or how it moves into the shoulders.
I’m going to let it fade out or just vignette out or just stop in my construction.
Now I’ve switched to a slightly darker value so I can get a little bit of a transition
into the shadows, and I’m just going to zigzag that darker value up
into the lighter value.
Or, I could have made the same value throughout
and not worry about a gradation.
Just do that.
I’ve done the most important things I’ve needed to do to that torso area.
I’ve created a value in light, a value in shadow, a very specific yet simplified shape
that suggestive of the real shape, and I’ve separated the light side from the shadow side.
I’ve created a structure.
In this case, it’s kind of a boxy structure because I haven’t put any gradation in there.
Remember, from our last lessons gradation rounds the form.
It does several things we found out last lesson.
But right now we’re worried about just one thing.
It’s rounding the form.
If we have no gradation in here we have no sense of roundness.
The audience might bail us out or the linear drawing might suggest, describe roundness,
but the rendering is not supporting that yet.
That’s actually okay.
We could leave it like this and do just fine.
More than likely we want to take it a little farther.
We want to gradate it with roundness.
We’re going to use the half-tones, the darker half-tones to gradate them, gradate this roundness.
As the form slowly turns down away from the light source down towards the shadow, it starts
to take on the value of the shadow.
It gets darker and darker and darker.
You see the reference here.
You can see the simple conception of that reference material.
Now it’s rendered.
See how quick that was?
If you took away all my yacking, that took about 5-10 minutes at most, probably 5 minutes
to draw these simple shapes, these 3 or 4 simple shapes and to establish a value and
a little bit of rendering.
Notice the rendering is always the zigzag.
There are other ways to do it but this is the easiest way to do it.
Now, as that form goes around the backside, and notice what the toned canvas has done
for us here.
You might be thinking, well, Steve, you just replaced all the toned canvas with different
Well, I could have faded this lighter value into the toned canvas here.
I chose to cover it so we could talk about it.
But look at how there is no white in here other than my little construction conceptions.
No white and so as I paint this it looks like she is in an environment.
And so this background is giving us a foreground,
background relationship that looks somewhat real.
That’s hoping us get quicker in our conception and quicker for our audience.
If I had to stop here, if you’d start to feel that environment well enough.
Alright, so we’ve turned that form a little bit.
We might want to turn this back here.
It may want to fade back a little bit.
Again, look at the zigzag going back and forth along the border between the two values.
Now I’m going to drag that darker value into that lighter value.
It turns it again slightly.
Let’s go ahead and put in that nice dark background that our model was environed in.
I’m going to thin it out a little bit so I can move it along.
Added just a dab of solvent to the tip of the brush.
Now, always along the edge of the border.
Zigagging along the border between the two values, we have hair up here that we’ll
never get to.
She’s not going to have a head.
We haven’t done the hips yet.
We’ve got the shadows under here.
I can slightly refine or greatly refine if I need to, lose the breast into the shadow here.
If we have time we’ll come back and pick it out a little.
There is our environment now.
Alright, so it’s just that simple.
Now, we have a choice here.
We can keep working in that rib cage area, or we can move on to the shoulder girdle or
to the hips.
Let’s keep working on that rib cage area just slightly, just a little bit more because
one of the characteristic things about a torso from the back view is that spine.
The spine can really separate strongly.
There are erector muscles coming down the back on either side of the spine.
They help hold you up.
As you get from the midback, mid rib cage down to the tail bone, those erector spines
can really pop out and show themselves.
When they do, oftentimes it takes this big barrel or tube shape of the torso and turns
it into kind of a shotgun, double-barrel shotgun shape where you get two little tubes bumping
against. We’re not getting that here.
She’s laying down so those erector muscles have submerged and are not doing much work.
And she’s kind of stretched out here.
We’re getting just—there is the geese flying overhead.
I don’t know if you can hear that, our friendly geese.
My kids have named them Gabe and Guinevere.
They just went overhead.
There is the spine.
Now, notice when you have a long skinny detail in paint, you’re really just drawing it
If it needed to blend back you just zigzag or I’m just hatching it,
which is a one-legged zigzag.
Instead of pushing back I push one way and lift up.
Go back and push one way and lift up.
That’s all I had to do.
Let’s go ahead and do that shoulder girdle here.
Let’s take this a little bit farther.
There is my boxy conception here.
You can notice how the shoulders, their most important function, they are a mechanically
very tricky structure.
It’s the only part of the human body where it can be very useful to learn a little bit
of the anatomy, some of the mechanics of what’s going on, the structural, the anatomical structures
underneath because it’s so difficult.
But having said that, all it really is is a corner.
Unless the arm lines up straight with the shoulder, it’s always a little higher or
a little lower.
It’s going to be an interior or an exterior corner.
In this case, exterior, we have the far arm going down there, presumably in some support.
We can actually see the forearm poking out here.
That shows us that other side.
That’s the only hint.
Here I’ve made this square or this contour, and it’s pretty square on her, actually.
Notice how this becomes a top plane here, and this arm becomes a side plane like a table
with legs or a table with arms, I guess.
I’m not going to worry about that arm.
We’ll just let that fade away like so.
Now we have this big shoulder girdle with all of its rotator cuff connective muscle,
trapezius teres major and minor, scapula, all this intimidating Latin-named rigamarole.
All it is is a little half-circle or maybe even a quarter-circle.
We can see how it goes into—I guess I better use the light here—goes into the neck up
under her hair, pinching neck over here.
It fades right up into there.
Again, notice that the detail I did here was just line work.
I just drew a soft line.
Once you have that line then you can render the line.
I’m going to put a little bit more of that dark paint on here that I drew the line with.
I’m going to wipe most of it off.
I’m going to come along this border.
I’m going to lay my brush pretty flat on it so a lot of that side surface is in there,
and then I’m just going to soften that edge like that.
This comes right down and just kind of poops out, just fades out there.
way, curving that way.
If it look behind it, I notice it gets much lighter.
I’m going to get lighter paint.
I’m going to come up right behind that lined out shoulder structure, and I’m going to
lighten my paint.
I’m just going to stroke it off and let it fade off.
I can be very careful.
I’m going to be very painterly or relatively painterly in this case.
Painterly works better in the beginning even if you’re planning to be nice and tight
in rendering because you can work out your big masses of value of tone.
Notice now as that turned away it got darker and then bumped out lighter.
We can see that happens in the spine here too.
Behind that spine, that erector muscle is getting a little lighter.
Notice we just did a couple little things, and all of a sudden it looks fancy.
It looks like it’s a pretty sophisticated beginning of the rendering.
There are a lot of lumps and bumps in here,
but all we’re going to do, I need a little darker.
I’m just going to search for that value.
All we’re going to do is we’re going to take this whole bottom section here.
Notice in the reference, notice from the photograph, the reference, that it just drops down darker.
It just drops down darker.
There are a lot of little lumps and bumps I don’t understand.
I’m going to leave those out.
When in doubt, simplify.
With practice you’ll learn to make better and better choices of what you simplify and
what you take the time to explain to your audience.
So there, we just turned it over.
Then we’re going to do the same thing with our armpit.
It gets darker here, darker here, darker here, darker here.
This gradated up to a lighter value.
This will gradate up to a lighter value.
Notice what I did.
I worked the gradation here.
I didn’t worry about how it went that way or that way.
Now that I’ve got that gradation laid in here, now I’m going to let it fade down
I’m just going to let it fade out.
It’s vignetting out because we’re not going to deal with that arm.
This is going to go back this way.
I’m going to turn my brush this way because the border between the lighter value and the
darker value, that’s what I need to blend together.
I’m going to do a gradation this way.
I’m going to turn my brush against that gradation.
With that light hand, there is not much on the brush.
I’m going to fade it that way.
Notice how very quickly we can start to get a lot of details or the suggestion of details.
I’m just looking for that value again over the shadows.
Now I’m going to—there is a little bump here.
I’m just going to do that.
Notice what this is really.
It’s a little leg.
Notice what this is.
It’s another little leg.
Notice that how I conceived of that shoulder structure with those two little lumps and
bumps was an egg and an egg.
That’s what that was.
This can even be another egg.
This just fades off.
I’m just going to feather away that separation there.
That just fades off, fades away.
You can see how very quickly we can start to establish that structural stuff.
Sometimes you’ll start adding stuff.
Oftentimes you’ll start adding stuff.
You’ll step back.
That’s what I want you to really do.
I want you paint a little bit and then get way back here and look at it.
See what it looks like from a distance.
Come back and say, well, that’s too much stuff.
All that little forms are starting to take away from the simplicity, the beauty, the
interest of the bigger forms.
When in doubt, simplify.
I’m going to get rid of that second little bump and maybe I’ll soften, kind of fade
out, ghost out that first bigger bump.
We’ll leave it that way.
Especially since we’re not finishing off up here.
We’re just giving an indication in what we’re really interested in, how this fits.
Now I’m going to come back.
I like to redraw that shape that I’m going to work on again, in this case, the hips.
I’m going to work on the hips.
I'm going to come back here. I’m going to redraw.
Let me get it a little darker so you can see it.
I’m going to redraw this contour.
I’ll go right over the old or I’ll correct it as I see fit.
That was pretty good.
Here is the waist in here.
The lower rib cage and waist in here.
If I have something really dark.
Let’s go ahead and make this lost completely.
If it’s really dark I can’t get any darker really to see it.
I’ll come in with a lighter one and draw it like this so I can see it.
I’m reestablishing my drawing and I’m getting to know this area again
or with new interest.
New attention to detail.
Seeing things that I may not have seen the first time.
Now, the hips fit in here, and then it is a ball but it’s a flattened ball.
I’m going to flatten that ball out.
Flatten that ball out a little bit.
Then it rounds off nicely.
Now, as I draw this I’m going to feel over to this.
These have an intimate connection.
They have a rhythm, a dynamic roller coaster ride relationship, and this is only correct
if it’s in the correct relationship to this.
I’m going to draw a ball here.
There is a lovely side of the ball.
It’s the best side of the ball I’ve ever drawn.
Now here is my other side.
Here is my other side of the ball.
That’s the best side of the ball I’ve ever drawn too.
I’m two for two in terms of great side ball drawings.
But, it’s a terrible ball isn’t it.
The relationship is off.
Let’s draw that ball again.
This is one of the worst sides I’ve ever drawn, and this is definitely the worst side
I’ve ever drawn, but that is a better ball than that slick technique attempt over here
because the relationship of this side, as crude as it is, is just right in comparison
to the relationship of this side.
Both were poorly executed details, but because the relationship was correct it rings true.
These were beautiful slick details but because of their lack of correct relationship, it
does not ring true.
It is a bad drawing.
You did a bad job if you did that.
We want to do a good job, and so we want to feel this side to this side, and you draw
all the way through if you want to feel that.
You can break it into four shapes.
Then we can, we’ll split it into the gluteal separation there.
The hip is up here and right down here.
Sometimes you can draw through and not even really put a mark or much of a mark.
Sometimes you want to get a real strong drawing with a dark or a light bit of paint on your
brush to delineate it.
Alright, so now I’m going to start painting.
I’m going to go back to that same half-tone value, and I’m going to go ahead up.
I’m going to lose some of my spine to establish that connection.
Come back and build this out.
This starts to swell out from tubed, you can see that drumstick conception, I hope.
Let’s put it down here again.
We’ll put it over here.
We’re going from the skinnier waist out to the wider hips, skinnier waist out to the
That ball is to distorted as we’ve talked about, but it’s still just a ball.
It’s a very specific characteristic ball that’s suggestive of this young lady’s
hip structure and not anyone else’s.
Now I’m just going to get all of the light against all of the shadow.
Now, notice this time I started with the half-tone light side.
Over here I started with the shadow side.
It’s whatever is easier.
In this case, most of the back, most of the upper torso in light, and they are going to
meld through their light.
The shadow is more of a sliver.
They just, I can see how they fit together, how they relate through the light much more
easily than through the shadows.
Just bring that down, and then we’re going to draw our shadow shape.
This is a rather soft shadow shape.
I’m going to make it a firmer, darker shadow shape, and it can get kind of light.
I’m going to make it darker.
I’m going to screw up to the more dynamic.
I’m going to push it in the direction it’s going.
What I mean by that is shadows happen to be dark ideas.
If I’m going to screw up I’d rather make them too dark.
Look, I can make this shadow go over, bleed over the form and totally lose the hips in
That’s fine too.
All I really have to have is that light shape separating against that shadow shape.
I’m going to draw a nice border, but I’m going to make it a soft border,
soft edge border.
Now, if this were one big ball it would just go right up like this.
Because it’s two balls squished together, now we’re going to have this distortion
where one ball bumps up and binds up against the next ball, and so we have two little ball
or egg shapes here.
Then their ball shapes, round shapes, that means gradation.
If you want something to look round, the most important thing is designing round shapes
Let me finish this off as a simpler, boxier, simpler, chiseled out form here.
Now, if I want this to look rounder, first off I want to make sure where light meets
shadow it looks round.
Where we see the contour it looks round, relatively round for its character.
Then we’re going to use half-tone, darker half-tone coming out of the shadow.
I need to remix a load of darker paint.
There is my shadow color or value.
This goes all the way around.
I’m going to take most of the paint off my brush, and I’m going to gradate my ball
with its round tone.
A gradation is now a round tone.
Again, it does several things, but for us right now that’s what it most importantly
See how quickly, once we establish the groundwork, how quickly we can render that and make that
look fairly real, relatively real, at least ringing true, not maybe illusionistic reality
but the clear idea of the truth of her hips.
Notice it’s kind of hatched.
I did a little bit of hatching.
It can be perfectly blended.
It can be really energetic loose paint.
It can be kind of hatched like a pen and ink artist might hatch it.
That’s what I did there.
way to get it down.
That’s just a stylistic choice.
It might be the key choices that makes your paintings look different than anybody else’s.
But it’s not important to the audience in the sense that they just want to see that
simple shape with light and shadow patterns.
They are happy to see that half-tone happen to further describe the roundness.
You don’t have to have the half-tone in there.
It can be more graphic.
Many artists have done that.
That’s absolutely fine.
Now let’s come back and adjust a little bit more here, our values.
Now this ball is rolling a little bit lighter, darker, so I’m lightening up the back top
edge of this bottom ball, bottom ball to the bottom, I guess.
There we go.
Now there is tan lines here.
There are all sorts of little things.
If you want more form than that, there are two things you can do.
First off, let me get another paper towel.
You wouldn’t have to do anything else.
We could have stopped before the gradation, and it wouldn’t have been as realistically
satisfying, but it might well have been stylistically very cool.
You can get a lot of artists that will do just that, like a Vuillard wouldn’t put
in that gradation.
He would keep it much more of a patterned light shape against shadow shape against stuff
in the background.
Usually there would be all sorts of tapestries and patterns in the background.
He loved pattern.
He wouldn’t put in the gradation because that would take away from the pattern.
If we want this to be a little bit stronger in conception, then I can come back and establish—get
a little darker paint here.
Establish the base of the form in shadow.
It would be absolutely appropriate to let it vignette and fade out.
We’re going to let this vignette and fade out.
It makes it more mysterious, more interesting.
It saves you from having to do detail and maybe a difficult detail.
This breast in here, you might have tried it six or seven times and couldn’t get it
Just by fading it in to the dark, letting it fade away, you solved the problem.
It made it maybe more interesting.
Just picking up where the hips meet this dark environment.
That means doing a little line or pushing the dark drop cloth that she is on against
the relatively lighter flesh.
We can use that negative shape to refine the drawing a little bit.
We can come in and draw the gluteal fold against the leg and the other hip right there.
Notice in the shadows we can get away with just drawing.
At the contours we can get away with just drawing.
But many times, we have a sliver of tone, and that sliver is just a drawn line.
That’s the easiest way to do it.
That goes off that way.
This is actually a very light shadow down here.
We’re just going to fade that off.
That’s out of our realm of interest today.
We just wanted to get a couple of basic forms together.
Notice how I can draw, make those marks to draw and indicate where things fit in the
shadows, and a Sargent or a Rembrandt might do just that and leave it in a very finished
If we do quite a bit of rendering where half-tone meets shadow, where light meets shadow, it
looks super rendered or relatively rendered, depending on how we do it.
We can add secondary forms, or we can leave them out.
This read just fine.
Now, if we want a little bit more bite, a little bit more bump of form, I can put a
highlight in there.
In this case, the highlight sits right here.
That highlight can be a little dab as I just did, or it can be a soft flaring of lighter
value as I’m doing now, or it can be both.
Now, where I put that highlight was a very interesting spot.
Let’s just suggest this a little bit.
Notice how the hips are going from the skinny waist to the wider leg connection.
It’s bumping out.
Let’s draw that like a box.
It’s going from the skinnier right here to the wider.
Look where I put that highlight.
Let’s square this out a little bit.
Just get my angles correct so it tracks for us.
Can you see how this is this?
Let’s do that a little better.
This is this.
Then notice where the highlight is right here.
Let’s take out this line now and turn it from a two-dimensional idea
to a three-dimensional idea.
Can you see that boxy idea there?
That’s where I put the highlight right there, right there.
Now, if we wanted to, we could then come back and look at our tones under this boxy paradigm
and we would notice that the darker half-tone here—let me get the right value—really
played up all in here.
It’s going to take away from my bigger conception here.
I want that information there if I want it there.
If I want it I can have it but I want to suppress it a little bit.
I want to make it a little less important than it is in the reference or than I think
it should be when I’m fighting to get every form to turn in every direction.
I want to have a hierarchy.
What’s the most important thing?
These are the biggest possible structure.
It is the important thing.
This little swelling is less important.
You can experiment.
You can go a little bit stronger, little bit stronger.
Can I get away from that?
Nah, that’s a little too strong, I think.
Get away with that.
That’s better, I think.
You might leave it overnight.
Get out of the studio.
Go have dinner.
Wake up the next day and you might find that actually I think it could go a little slower.
You might spend three or four days going back and forth,
deciding just how strong to make that.
We don’t have all the subtle forms here.
We can feel erector muscle breaking through here.
We’ve got the striations of the pinching waist going around here.
We don’t need any of that stuff.
Let me fade this out here a little bit.
We just want that simple conception.
We can see we spend, I don’t know what it was, an hour or a little less doing this,
and over half the time I was talking about it rather than doing it.
In 10 minutes to half an hour you can establish something like this with two or three or four
or five, depending on how you want to break this down, simple shapes, really two big shapes.
This gets broken into two medium shapes.
Here is a medium shape.
Then there are several little subtle shapes and this whole bit was just conceiving the
subtleties on that bigger shape.
Just a ball, just a tube.
We came back onto the ball and we posed a little boxy idea.
We came back on the tube and posed a bit of a boxy idea.
We used all three of our simple forms that we looked at in the last two lectures, and
we applied now to a situation, a practical situation that we may want to do.
This could have been a still life.
It could have been a vase.
It could have been a landscape with a tree or a plant with a stem and a bulbous blossom
to it or cloud forms or whatever.
These simple basic shapes are going to play throughout nature.
How you fit them together, how you simply or carefully and carefully conceive them is
going to be everything about the success of your drawing.
What parts of it do you make important?
What parts do you fade away?
What parts do you edit out completely?
Then we can add edges on there.
We added line work on there.
There are all sorts of stuff that can go on top of it.
But the simple idea is a simple idea.
It’s going to be more difficult at first because you’re editing out everything but
the few things that have to be there.
Everything else is left to wait.
Now, if you take 40, 50 hours or 10 or 20 hours you can just render and copy the photograph.
That’s a darker tone, a little lighter, a little darker, that’s a little bit lighter yet.
That’s darker over there.
You can chase the values all over the place.
Eventually you’ll get something that’s fairly close because you just keep plugging
at it until you get it.
That’s not the best way to do your work even if you’re a photo realist.
You want to have a clear conception of what you want.
Do the idea, the tubular or egg idea in this case.
If it doesn’t work change your idea.
Within an hour or two, you can oftentimes have a real clear concept or clear view that
what you’re doing is working.
In five or ten minutes, oftentimes, or maybe a half-hour, you’ll know that quickly that
what you’re doing is not working.
And so what we want to do is pick something simple and apply that to the real world,
the simple concept.
That’s how we become stylists.
That’s how we create a vision of the world.
We take the world.
We translate it down into something that’s distilled and has a ring of truth to it.
It’s the easiest way to paint.
Finally, it is easier because you’re taking all that stuff of nature, and you’re just
picking a few things.
It’s two, three, five, 10 most important things about that rather than the billions
of bits of information that’s really there.
Alright, so you go have fun with this.
I want you to play it again.
Copy it as I do it.
Do a drawing of it.
Do a painting of it.
Do just one part of it rather than the whole thing.
Try it on your own.
Try doing your own concept.
You can look at the reference files on New Masters and get this exact same image.
Do your own realization of it.
If something goes wrong go back and look at what I did and compare them and see what you
did wrong or see what you did better.
See if you did something that is more interesting.
That wouldn’t be hard to do with a little practice.
Let’s stop there.
I will see you next time.
Thank you for your attention and good luck.
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview42sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Painting in your shapes15m 6s
3. Defining your forms & shapes14m 22s
4. Value and Shadows14m 20s
5. Finalizing your painting13m 40s