- Lesson Details
In this lesson, master illustrator Mark Westermoe will show you how to take a plaster cast drawing to completion. You will begin by laying down a flat mid-tone to establish the shadow shapes. Then, you will use your knowledge of value and form to add the final touches to your drawing.
This lesson belongs to the course Beginner’s Guide to Drawing. It is a 12-week course designed to empower new students with a structured approach for learning how to draw. Join instructors Steve Huston, Chris Legaspi, Heather Lenefsky, Bill Perkins, and Mark Westermoe as you learn the fundamentals of perspective, rendering, and composition. After completing this course, you will develop a solid foundation in drawing.
Throughout this course, you’ll have access to the NMA community for feedback and critiques to improve your work as you progress.
Transcription not available.
And on one of those three lay ins, the one of Brutus I'm going to go ahead
and take this to completion and finish.
We see that we have a front view head just slightly above eye level.
We have a simple light and dark pattern, which I mapped out.
We have an almost triangular shape of light here.
And this side of the head is almost - so basically it's light punctuated
by dark on this side, over here, it's dark, punctuated by light.
I'm going to put down one about a middle gray value.
That's 50% between black and white, and then I'm going to also make
adjustments on the edge between the light and the shadow as I go.
But I'll also come back in and do more working on the edge later in the drawing.
I've kept the drawing light so that I can make any adjustments,
changes, improvements, corrections.
So don't go too dark, hold back.
Reserve your darks.
All right, this is a 2B Conté à Paris Pierre Noire conte pencil.
It's a hybrid containing both wax and charcoal.
I'm holding the pencil down the grip and focusing on the angle near the tip.
And I'm drawing along at the form, you see here, as opposed to against the form.
That can be done instead of this.
But I really think this is a better approach.
We can draw across the form.
Once we've really established our light and dark pattern, as we choose.
Harder edges will suggest overlaps or cast shadows.
just a little bit of the upper lip is in shadow.
The rest of it is going to be fairly dark half tone.
Just overlap your strokes as though you were vacuuming a rug, don't
leave gaps between the strokes.
There's an overlap.
So I keep a harder edge at the bottom of that shape.
Here's a cast shadow over the upper eyelid
and we pick up just a sliver of light on that lid beneath which we get a
shadow cast over the ball of the eye.
Cast shadows tend to have hard edges.
So don't leave that too soft.
This plaster cast doesn't have really any suggestion, just very slightly,
over that the iris of the eye.
So what you see here is not the iris, but the shadow cast over the ball of the eye.
I'm gonna raise that a little bit.
I'm going to curve this a little bit in a concave manner, like, like that.
I don't want it to be confused with the iris.
When we're drawing just form, not coloration, such as the iris or
darker complexion maybe on the beard,
which we often find in a male head.
You know, I've mapped everything out already, so I can actually skip from the hair
to the neck, to the ear lobe and so on.
As I choose.
This eye is entirely within the shadow pattern, so I
don't draw any of its details.
I merely place it in the world of the shadow.
You really have to look hard to see the construction of this eye.
But at a glance, you don't even have to squint in this case, but
just right at a glance so you can clearly see the shadow pattern.
So that's what you'd focus on.
That's what you'd give your first attention to.
Just making some minor
adjustments, design changes to this shape of the shadow and the light right here.
Notice my stroke leaves a hard edge at the bottom of it because we have an overlap
of the two cylinder, lower teeth, above the - above the top point of the chin.
You've had an exploration of line in these lessons.
Now we must think in terms of planes
Line by itself does not represent form, but planes are the very thing form.
I'm still keeping things pretty geometric in their design.
I think you can see that.
Try to keep that shadow nice and even.
So again, here I have a hard edge on the right side.
Not on the lower side.
So I've just moved my pencil over and I come from a hard edge inwards.
This is a rounded edge or a soft edge because the form is rounded.
That's to say the frontal prominence of the cranium.
Florence as well as other Italian city states in the late Renaissance
or the mid Renaissance 15th century and beyond we're really, really
asserting their independence.
This was a big theme for them.
They had been under the domination of foreign powers like France and Spain.
They had been under the domination of the Papal states, Papacy.
And so when Michelangelo sculpted Brutus, who was considered one of the great
liberator's in Roman history, after all he was one of the leading participants
and shapers of the assassination of Julius Caesar, who it was feared was
either formally or just effectively going to establish a sovereign autonomy over
the Republic in the first century BC.
And he went down, having raised an army and led it to Greece and there fought
Mark Antony and Octavian, the future Augustus, those who later did establish
the empire and did away with the Republic.
But Brutus was a hero, especially to people who are, you know, looking for
models for their own independence.
So he has a determined
look, we see the same thing and Michelangelo's David who
after all slew Goliath, and
not only defended the Hebrews and the Old Testament, but
established an empire of his own.
Both of these David and Brutus was symbolic then and had a lot of meaning
to the Florentines of their day.
So when we think of that, it gives attitude, purpose expression
to those two sculptures.
And we don't want to lose that in the process of a rendering.
Notice I pay great attention to keeping my dark field of value even.
If it gets too textural, it can become distracting.
The two smaller lay ins from the plaster cast, the dying
slave and the Venus de Milo.
I filled in like this too, but in this case, we're going to go further and take
it to the next step, which is to put in some key halftones, which will be light
grays and then place our darkest darks.
And then ever careful of the edges between the planes.
Again notice that there is a lighter shadow value under
the jaw and above the neck.
And that is the under plane of the head.
And that receives some reflected light from the neck and the pedestal.
And so between the two.
They caused that underplaying to be lighter than the rest of the body of the
shadow at this stage in the drawing I'm not that concerned with it, but just as
I'm going to punch in my darker darks within the shadow for his other eye,
later I'll place darks around that under plane of the head so that we can see
where the head actually overlaps the neck.
After all, it just doesn't grow out of the neck in the same plane as the neck.
So I'll go ahead and complete the shadow cast over the neck, just
as though we're the same value as the shadow beneath his jaw.
I will have you look at the cast carefully now, and I want you to see
that if you squint that plane beneath his jaw fades away into the shadow itself.
Only when you open your eyes fully, does it appear different.
Now, one of the reasons for this is that direct light is always
stronger than reflected light.
So the light here or here or here, here, here, any of this is always going to
be a lighter value than any reflected light within the shadow pattern.
So one way of thinking of it is that nothing, not even the
lightest light within your shadow
can be as light as the darkest, dark within your halftime.
Nothing in your light can be as dark as the lightest form in the shadow.
Oh, but that looks just as light.
You'll say, when you look at it with your eyes open.
Squint and you'll see, it's not.
And it cannot be because after all, how could reflect the light equal or
surpass the light value of direct light.
At most, the reflected light is only a reflection of direct light.
There are little tricks.
We could play various reflective plastic and metal surfaces
and so on, but that usually is somewhat destructive of the form.
It doesn't reinforce it.
In, in our case here, the plaster cast has no such reflectivity in the first place.
You'll see here under the cheek, there is a halftone plane.
I guarantee a good number of students will get fooled by that and draw it
as dark as if it were a light plane.
No, it's still, it's still lighter than even the reflected light under the jaw.
I know you've studied how to put down nice flat or texture feels of value here.
It's a flat field value that I'm going for at this stage.
Oh, you can get this with a wax pencil.
You can get this with graphite or pastel.
It's not what charcoal, it's not unique to conte, but conte is one of
the most effective mediums to do it.
This head is just under life-size.
So it takes a little longer to apply your tone, but you still must do it.
The simple plane that's been carved at its side and we'll leave that just white,
like the paper or off white, in this case, newsprint doesn't really go pure white.
And that's something to remember too, because If you do have something
that goes pure black and pure white, that can be helpful and expands
the total range of values between your lightest and your darkest.
I'm using a slip sheet, which is just a blank sheet of paper, preferably white
or transparent, smooth acetate, clear acetate is a good substitute because not
only will it protect the drawing from smudging as your hand goes over, it, it
also allows you to see what's underneath, can make sure that the relationships
with your values is accurate.
So I'm going to do a couple things.
First of all, I'm going to take a light gray and pass it over
my important half tone areas.
So the whole far side of his head, although it's getting light, he's
getting it at an angle, therefore it's defined as a half tone.
Another thing, you'll see that the cranium with the hair is lighter.
Even though the jaw is receiving light, it's receiving it a greater
distance from the light stand and also at something more of an angle.
So I'll put it in the planes like that here.
For instance, remember now I cannot get as dark as for shadows.
If I do the drawing will suffer from what we call over modeling.
Typically that means the halftones are drawn too dark.
Almost verging on the value of your shadow and that will not work, but I am
looking for the major half tone planes.
Here he's chiseled the hair.
There is a suggestion of texture to the hair, but still it's broken down
into chiseled, even angular planes.
So here I'm really just drawing with the weight of my pencil.
No need even to push.
This side of the hair mass, it was analogous to this side of the facial mass.
So it falls into a half tone.
Here this plane is furrow above the root of the nose here and
the side plane of the temple.
Here, the turning away from the light still is in the light, but half
tone for this side of the cranium.
So I'm putting down a light gray family of values for my halftones and I'm
trying to be pretty uniform about that.
Not lighter or darker with this light gray.
I was like, proceed toward the finish, I can take that
and make it slightly darker here, slightly lighter there, but the family
that it belongs to is a light gray.
Here, we pick up the side, plane up the bridge of the nose.
That's almost too dark.
The human eye's capable of seeing the closest of value changes.
Therefore the bigger risk is making your value jumps too great.
Not to settle with the exception of the core of value change
from the lights to the shadows.
Those can be quite strong, but within the shadow and within the
light, that could be very subtle.
Notice here this plane, the under plane of the brow turns diagonally
away from the light over the eye.
So it falls into a half tone.
It gets smaller incidents of light. Then the forehead here or here,
I talked about this plane beneath the cheek where the zygomatic process
and how it's a dark half tone.
Well, you might not see it that dark if you measured it against that, but
because it's surrounded by light planes, it appears darker than it really is.
So one of the things you're going to run across in drawing figures or anything
really is you'll see something like this
and you'll have a question, you'll ask yourself, well, is
that shadow or is that half tone?
If you squint it helps, you could see it masses with the lights, it fits
together with those values, but there's another way you can make a judgment.
Ask yourself is it surrounded primarily by light planes or is it
surrounded primarily by dark planes?
If it falls into a region where it's primarily surrounded by
light planes, then you probably want to treat it as a half tone.
A good example in figure drawing is the navel.
It's almost always surrounded by light planes.
And so you don't want to draw it too dark.
Sometimes even when it's in shadow, you'll want to draw just as a half tone.
Everything as I said in our previous lesson is about making decisions.
That's what makes you the artist or the draftsman.
You're never going on autopilot and just copying once again, if you were
just to copy, well, I guess you could go out there and get some measuring
device and you would have about a billion different values just on this head alone.
And if you want it to copy each one, There you go.
You don't have to make any decisions anymore.
Freedom from choice, but that's the opposite of what a
painter or any artists does.
It's all about choice.
In fact, without making those choices, we get a completely
different yield for our efforts.
Photography, a form of art in itself, of course, but it's not inherently
prone to making those kinds of choices that a painter would.
I use photography a lot, all the time in my work, but I don't use it literally.
I take advantage of it.
I can see certain things.
I can speed up a process with a portrait or an illustration, so
on, but it's not the same as the choices a painter has to make.
Having said that, photographers learn a lot when they take drawing, tonal drawing
or painting, and painters can learn a lot by understanding photography too.
So I'm not elevating one over the other.
I'm just making the distinction.
That's very important and clear and obvious.
So now here, later on, when you study finished head structure independently
of texture, line, or tone, then you come to understand what some
of these forms represent, hereto
that'll help you.
That will help save you from just copying.
In this case this is the under plane of the zygomatic process, the zygoma, is
the anatomical term for the cheekbone.
See, I got a little incidental accent right there in the process
of applying a value to it.
So I'm pretty ruthless.
I take it out now.
I don't leave it for later.
Every little mistake you make that's left on the drawing or on
the canvas, it will affect your following work on the same drawing.
So you have to try to correct them when you see them.
This is a really important form in the structure of the head.
It's called the muzzle, it wraps around the whole front of the head
or the face, but that doesn't mean it presents itself as a very dark form.
That depends on the lighting.
In this case, it's a subtle form.
And behind it, the jaw remembering that the head is a box, it has a
front plane and two side planes.
Well, this region is the side plane of the jaw, so
it's falling off in value.
And the next two you'll notice it's not nearly as light as the forehead.
So we apply a relative value to it.
In this case, a half tone.
There's a slight graininess, even with smooth newsprint and conte.
So before I finish up, I'm actually going to duck over to some charcoal pencils,
which are finer and use those too.
Typically your darkest darks will be cast shadows or changes in local
complexion, like a dark eyebrow, which we don't have to deal with
here or what we call the core shadow.
There are two kinds of shadows.
There's a form shadow like this where the form turns away from the light and
there's a cast shadow like this, where the brow is casting a shadow over the form.
The core shadow applies only to form shadows, whether they're spheres or cubes
or the bridge of the nose or the turning of the cranium from light to shadow.
Those are form shadows.
The core is the darkest part of the form shadow.
And the reason for this is at the point where the light turns into form shadow,
we're getting the very least if any reflected light.
The reflected light you notice comes in from the side here there's
atmosphere, even in a room like this with a black background, there's
distance between the cast, the background, and there's some ambient
light that comes in from, since we're not working in a perfectly black room
and I couldn't see my drawing if we were.
So that's one reason.
Actually I guess that's the only reason why it is, but that's very critical.
Here we have the wing of the nose up close against the form of the face.
That doesn't allow for too much reflected light in the cast shadow
here along the septum, which is part of the nose that turns under
from its front plane or top plane.
So here, underneath the wing of the nose, You want to emphasize
certain amount of angularity.
Don't make it too mushy or too rounded.
That might be good for Santa Claus, but it's not really the way
it's kind of the way my nose is.
But other than that, give it more angularity.
As for the most part we have here.
So I want to make sure my shape is satisfactory before
I apply that dark value to it.
So you'll see me carefully restate
that whole passage until I'm happy with it.
One of the reasons the entire upper lip is not completely in shadow is
because it's overlapping the lower lip and getting reflected light from it.
But there are passages along the way that are deep enough that they don't
get such an amount of reflected light.
We see this commonly in the living model too.
Notice there are lots of little dimples or chisel strokes on the cast.
We're doing a study of the forms of the plaster cast.
Not so much the textures
Let's establish to our satisfaction the shape of this eye socket and
its darks, that is to say shadows.
And once we've done that, then we can go into the other eye socket and
drop in accents within the shadow.
And once I've got that completely to my liking, then I'll go back in and suggest
the construction of the other eye.
Remember in the light, as, as a rule, we want to describe the form.
In the shadow you merely want to suggest the form.
You don't want equal description between both or that too will destroy
your effective light and shadow.
Now having said that if this head were predominantly in shadow and a
smaller percentage where in light, you can flip it, you can then
describe the form in the shadow and just suggest the form and the light.
But the bottom line is you don't want to describe both the light and
the shadow with equal definition.
Here's a very strong edge, almost a hard edge, fitting into the Valley
between the eye and the nasal bone.
Here's the tricky area.
This is a small dark shape, a shadow, but it's surrounded mostly by lights.
So we may revisit that a little later and tone it up in value a little,
but for now, I'll put it down as is.
You know, I'm still employing just my three basic shapes.
Straights, C curves and S-curves.
Which goes to point out that they are not exclusive to one family values or another.
And they are not always hard or soft edges.
Those are the three variables.
We have shapes, values and edges, and the shapes I'm just using those three
basic straight, C curve, and S curve.
Now, if I didn't vary the edges of those, it would undoubtedly look
mechanical, plastic or too mushy, either of the above, but by varying those
edges, we can use simple, very heavily designed simplified shapes and still
have a naturalistic effect to them.
There's a shadow cast by the hair over the forehead.
And then here we get one of our harder edges.
You also notice I'm not going to dwell on this at this stage, but just so we
can reinforce what I've been saying earlier, this is a lighter shadow than
the others because it's reflecting light from the plaster here next to it.
It's actually very, very good ultimately necessary that when you make variations
in value within your shadow, where your light, that you can ask yourself, well,
why exactly is that a lighter area or why exactly is that such a dark half tone?
So keep focusing on these changes in value and that every turn, ask yourself
well, what's causing that?
That will really help you with each succeeding drawing you do.
It will also help you if you're making up heads, some figures or any objects
called imagination, because we can expect these particular variations.
We understand what causes them.
We know for instance that a rock line on the ground often has its under
plane lighter than the rest of the rock, because it's reflecting the dirt
or the sidewalk or the other rocks.
We also know that clouds sometimes are lighter underneath than at the top,
depending on circumstances, because they also reflect light from the ground below.
Okay. I'm going to digress for a moment.
But importantly, this is the silhouette.
This is where the sculpture overlaps the background, in the shadow here.
And the light here, you cannot leave your lightest light such as that
at the silhouette, because the form is turning away from the light.
And therefore it rolls into a halftone.
If it's left as the lightest light, it will appear thin, but cardstock.
And by the same token with your shadows, you cannot have your darkest
dark within the shadow, right at the silhouette where the form ends and
the background begins because there's always some reflected light into it.
We can work on the conditions in a studio or for photography purposes, but
in life, that's the way things work.
If they are three-dimensional or if they're to appear three-dimensional.
And it's a very simple, basic rule.
And, but it seems a little bit harder for people to comprehend or at least take in.
Cause I always find even very advanced students overlooking that pair of rules.
So try to observe that right off the way you're drawing school will have more form.
So one of the few, little dark accents within the light patterns, there's
one here, there are a couple here.
Try not to be too repetitive with those shapes, make some, a different length at
different depths of curvature, whatever you can do to avoid that kind of monotony.
So let's now go back into this eye socket and suggest the
construction of his left eye.
If we go vertically on a plumb from the wing of the nose, that's standard for
where we're going to find the teared up.
That doesn't mean it will be there, but let's start by going that way.
Here's a recessed area that gets less light than the rest of the shadow.
So I'm going to push it down to the same value as the core shadows that had the
cast shadows that I've been designing.
Remember, this is not going to be a plaster cast about eyelashes and irises.
It's going to be about pure form.
Then if I follow a line across the eye socket, I'll find the point at which
the upper lid overlaps - I'm sorry, the plane of the brow overlaps the upper lid.
And then in between those two points
we get the angle of the upper lid
on the whole try to avoid too many hard edges within the shadow because
that's a little too descriptive.
And remember, we're going to be describing the form in the light while
only suggesting it in the shadow.
I'm trying now to find the outside of his upper lid.
And to do it.
I have a few friends I can call upon.
One of them is lining up the turning to the side of the facial mask here.
If I put my pencil down as a plumb line, I can see whether the Island
overlaps the socket to the right or to the left of that, of that point.
That's why I mentioned earlier, if you find that your shape is erroneous,
then correct it now, because you may need to rely on it later.
And how can you rely on something that's false?
Yeah, that's getting darker than my other darkest darks.
So I'm going to tame it, knock it back.
Do not try to go in with the eraser, which is after all a drawing tool.
But don't go in and erase the lower lids top shelf.
Don't go in and erase the upper lid.
Just go darker around those forms.
Otherwise, you're probably going to be breaking up your shadow pattern and then
violating the rule we talked about, which is that nothing in your shadow should
be as light as your darkest halftone.
I remember when I was studying an earnest, that was one of the things
that really helps me once I began to observe that that practice.
So I don't want to go too dark or too light in my shadow.
You have to lean back or better yet.
I mean, I'm sitting at a drawing bench with a camera behind me, so I
tend to just lean back when I want to get a better view of things.
And when I do that, I get the proper relationships.
If I don't, if I draw here at a couple feet, distance or less from
my paper, then I'm probably going to get sucked into just drawing details.
When we really have to draw relationships between values between curves or rhythms.
So I'm strongly recommend that, you know, you may get caught up in the drawing,
you'll really be enjoying it and then you'll look up and several hours have
passed and when you step up, take a little break, you'll go, Oh my God, you didn't
realize, you know, that was so long.
Or I didn't know that that was so dark.
So as you work, make it a practice of stepping back,
that goes for drawing from a live model, as well as for a plaster cast.
Now we're going to take a moment and I'll go back in erase some of the
smudges and then we'll start going in for our absolute black values.
And we'll also begin to suggest the underplaying of the head.
Any other important reflected lights, even though a plaster cast
is matte, it does still have a few reflective qualities to it.
And that's what your eraser can be used for.
So I create like a ledge or lip to the shape of my kneaded eraser.
That way I can draw with it almost as precisely as I can with the pencil.
Even if it's just making areas more clear, then that eraser
can be very, very useful to you.
So when two planes come together, they often reflect the
light source back at our eye.
And those are called crest lights.
So we frequently see one here at the bridge of the nose where the
top plane feeds the side plane.
One of the most common examples.
We also see them on the kneecap or where the top plane of the
lower lip meets the front plane.
But don't become dependent on those to describe form.
They just help to further the description.
Anatomy is helpful in drawing the head, ultimately for those who
want to go as far as they possibly can, it's unavoidable, but.
So far, I've only mentioned the most obvious anatomical forms because
what's even more important than the anatomy is knowing how to express form.
I've had orthopedics take my class and they certainly know
their anatomy better than I do.
Well, they should, but that doesn't mean they can draw well.
On the other hand, I've had students, high school students, they're obviously
not licensed doctors and they can tackle the most complicated passages of a
figure that are anatomical in nature because they understand how to draw.
I take my car to the mechanic.
I know nothing about auto mechanics, but my mechanic obviously does.
Might even be able to diagram the whole engine.
In my case I don't know anything about that.
But I do know how to draw form.
So I would draw the engine of the car better if I understood its
mechanics and it's how it's built.
But even though I tell them I can still draw it better than my mechanic could
draw it because I understand form.
I understand the key principles that, you know, we've been given across to you.
I still haven't made them as dark as some of them will be.
And that's my next step now even with the black background, it's hard to get
a white object to go completely black in the shadows, but there are areas
that are dark that dark at the core I mentioned that earlier and the body of
the shadow can go a little darker too.
Once I establish the darkest darks in the core.
So that's what I'm going to do now.
And to do that, I'm going to go all the way to black.
I wouldn't do that earlier on, for some of the reasons that I've mentioned,
but just from a practical point of view, if I did this earlier to go
all the way to black, I would have to put so much pressure on my lid
that would probably snap it.
My teacher used to say.
And I think it's helpful to think of this.
And remember it always is that it's not, what's important, what's in the
light or in the shadow, but the story is really told, the story of the
form, where the two come together, where the light meets the shadow.
So that's what I focus on.
Now, the darker I go in my shadow.
The darker that allows me to go in my halftones because I would still
keep an appropriate Gulf between the value of my darkest halftone
and in this case, my darkest shadow.
So I want to put that in now, if I start drawing or painting in my
halftones without having done this.
I could do all kinds of nice subtle work and it would be in vain because
the minute I put in these darkest darks, they would just blow away
all of that subtle halftone work.
So you always want to have your darkest, dark and your lightest light.
We already have our lightest light.
Those are the areas that I didn't touch.
Those are the values.
How's the news print itself.
Here at the base of the nose.
I I'm just going to disregard the reflected light under the nose.
It's just my own design choice.
I feel that it looks fine.
And so on massing perform shadow on the nose with the cast shadow
beneath it above the mouth.
I'm not going to do this for today's demonstration, but what's
a black background behind our cast.
Sometimes it's useful to draw that black background, put it in as
black, and that will also help you establish the values of your shadows.
So when we have two values that are next to each other, that are very
similar, we can mass them together as though they were one value.
And that would be the case here beneath the nose where the shadow
is cast over to cylinder or barrel of the mouth or what properly
anatomically is known as the maxilla.
M A X I L L A.
Make sure you keep the edge above the lower lip pretty
hard because it's an overlap.
The upper lip overlapping the lower.
Now, if you do want to show a little texture while you're conveying the
sense of form, do it at the edge where the light meets the shadow.
Just break up that edge a little bit, but don't let yourself do it
to the point where it distracts from or distorts the form itself.
This should be a soft edge.
So for some of these smaller areas, you'll notice I'm almost holding the pencil.
Like I would not.
That little Conté pencil.
Like it would hold a pen because I'm so careful not to disrupt compromise the
shapes that are troubled to design along that edge between my shadow and my light.
You should really work,
practice, do lots of homework, especially to the point where you can grade the
value of your shadows or your lights.
So like here, this becomes slightly lighter as we go up toward the
top of the nasal bone, but don't get too precious about that.
Really honestly, it's almost best if you just kept everything
one shadow value.
If I take a pencil, a charcoal that is. This is a 4B and
I go back over when I'm done, it will, it'll darken it somewhat.
But what it will do essentially is it will even out the graininess, like this.
Let's take this area.
Short, brisk strokes, overlapping each other.
This is how I'll achieve a nice even non textual shadow.
You can sharpen this pencil just using a regular electric pencil
sharpener or a handheld sharpener, but I always prefer an electric sharpener.
Now for half tones
first of all, I can really tweak the edges here between my shadow and my light
switched from a 4B charcoal pencil to a 2B General charcoal pencil.
That's the brand Generals.
Generals is a very appropriate name for our subject Brutus
and his war
following Caesar's assassination. He is, his army was opposed to the army
of Octavion and his co-conspirator or tyrannicide Cassius Longinus, was opposed
with his army against Mark Antony.
Brutus pretty much crushed Octavion's army, the future emperor, Augustus.
Antony, on the other hand, was in the process of defeating Cassius.
These are characters you'll find in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar,
one of his great tragedies, but Cassius got the information wrong.
The information being that his fellow tyrannicide, liberator
they call themselves, Brutus, was defeated Octavian.
And then since he was getting the worst of it against Mark Antony and he assumed
the worst for Brutus he committed suicide.
And that left Brutus in a pretty disadvantaged position from
which he was defeated by Antony.
So in his own right, he was a pretty competent general.
But all Roman generals commanders had experience as all Roman - almost
all important roman statesman were powerful players in the
Senate had have experienced.
In some command position within the military compulsory military service
was demanded of every male for 25 years.
There was a, a yearning in the early 16th century for Italy to become
unified again, and even try to rival the days of the Roman empire.
Instead of being splintered into so many small
autonomous city states.
And so it was at the end of the second decade in the 15 hundreds
that Niccolo Machiavelli wrote and the book was published, the Prince.
The famous, or I guess sometimes considered enough for his treaties
on how a Prince ought to govern.
In other words, how an autocrat ought to cover.
And that was all toward this development, which did not
come to pass until the 1870s.
So in the early 16th century, we have Machiavelli publishing the prints, which
is his famous, or some people think infamous treaties on how to govern.
One of the most famous points he makes is well, is it better to be
loved or feared by your subjects?
And of course it's better to be feared.
His much larger work.
The discourses on Livy.
Livy was a great Roman historian living in the time of Augustus in the first
century AD and the last century BC.
And he wrote basically the annals of monarchic and
Republican and Imperial Rome.
A lot of the work is lost to history and archeology, but he inspired Machiavelli
as he inspires a lot of people today.
So this is kind of a thinking on the context that we have.
1500 AD the Renaissance, the middle ages are passing away.
So I keep this lead very sharp.
I think context is pretty important.
Not only do I find it interesting in its own, right.
But there is no art really, without context to society and culture
that which is surrounding it and came before it and leads beyond it.
I get students all the time who are beginning the course of study.
They may even be really good artists at that point, but Usually the
beginners are the ones who have a little difficulty with this.
I'll often ask such individual as well
who's your favorite artist or favorite artists.
And that will often lead to a, kind of an awkward pause because it
usually ending in a Michelangelo or well, Norman Rockwell or, oh, you
know, the French impressionists, then I'll usually ask them.
I'm not trying to keep them catch them aha, but I'll ask, well,
what impressionists do you like?
And there'll be another awkward pause and the answer will be
Oh, you know, all of them.
So that kind of level of well, I don't want to use the word ignorance,
but just, they have not explored.
Those who came before.
And those people, not just those I've just mentioned, but others, there are
teachers, they may be 600 years old, but they're still our teachers today.
And so it's very important to know your context.
Art history has a particular meaning to practicing artists and art students,
which transcends the meaning to historians or even art historians.
It's difficult to imagine somebody who wants to play guitar and they
don't come to learn who Segovia is or to put it in another realm of
guitar player, even Jimmy Hendrix.
So if you're not knowledgeable about such individuals, it's hard to form
your own personality, artistically.
There's a misconception out there.
And I think it's kind of, self-serving in many cases, people being a
little lazy and it goes like this.
Well, two of them, one is if I study that, then it's going to interfere with
my own individuality, my own creativity.
That'd be the first one ever to do that because everyone has studied predecessors
in the visual arts, any painter, any sculptor, any designer, any draftsman.
So no, it doesn't inhibit that it actually gives wings to your personal creativity
being exposed, not just to the very finest, but also to a variety of people.
If I look at Gustav Klimt and then on the next stroke, I look
at Frederic Lord Leighton,
well, they're so different.
But they're both premised on really, really good understanding of their
materials and even more so the principles that makes them good draftsman.
So how do two such varied individuals hamstring your creativity?
No, the ignorance of such people is what hamstrings your creativity.
The other reason that people will give for overlooking their study of art
history or specific artists is well, I'm so busy just studying drawing itself,
I'll get around to that later.
I don't have time for it now.
I try to do an hour for every hour in class I do an hour of homework.
So where's the time to study any art history?
Well, I'm sorry,
I don't agree.
To me, it's like a requisite and we can artistically walk
and chew gum at the same time.
It's really not a good reason.
Also it's inspiring.
And there are tough things, tough experiences, tough knocks
you're going to take as you try to develop as top rate artists.
And so when those experiences would occur with me,
I would just shift. I'd shift to a different area that I
really needed to know anyway.
So I would read a book about Sargent
or about Caravaggio or any number of artists from any number of periods.
And then I would get engrossed in that and I would find it satisfying.
And then I was able to get over whatever frustrations I had from that day's figure
drawing, and start up refreshed and renewed and a lot better informed.
So those are some of the reasons why, since we have this lifeless cast in
front of us, I want to give it life.
And therefore I talk about that.
So many of my favorite artists were themselves deeply interested
in history, literature.
Few of them were not.
This is true of music,
obviously we all know this.
Rossini in Italy and later Tchaikovsky in Russia, they were very nationalistic.
Rossini was among the ones who inspired
those who unified Italy
in the second half of the 19th century and Tchaikovsky was inspired to write the
Marche Slave and the 1812 overture in large part because of Slavic nationalism.
Mozart's work reflects the enlightenment.
So what's true for music and literature is true for the visual arts as well.
I know that this is a hard to the touch plaster cast.
I'm still gonna soften a few edges around the silhouette because we do
not see everything in even focus.
If we did, we couldn't possibly process all of it.
Our brain wouldn't work that way.
So I have to focus the viewer's eye and then relieve the viewer's eye in places.
This is the psychology of seeing or an aspect of it, which Velasquez
emphasized in his work and as ever after been understood and
used, whether it was by Rembrandt
or Courbet, it doesn't matter.
It's now part of the way painters manipulate the viewer's eye.
well I have this pencil sharpened again
because you see now it's gotten blunt.
I'll switch back to my charcoal, not my Conté.
And I'm going to use charcoal pencil.
It's less grainy.
And because I've gone so dark in my shadows, I have a lot
more margin to put down darker halftones earlier would have had.
Charcoal, I'm sorry.
Plaster casts are one way of studying other great painters.
But drawing and painting from reproductions, or if you can, from
originals of their painting, which you can usually get, you can do in the museum
And I really urge you to do that.
I was a little reluctant to do too much of that after a time, because I felt
well, I really want to focus on my art, but I mean, minute for minute hour for
hour time spent drawing from a painting, whether it's Jerome or El Matata.
Or whether it's normally Rockwell or JC lion's Tucker, that is as good of
a learning experience as time spent drawing for yourself or from my models.
It's just that you need some of both.
You all find, ultimately that drawing from life is crucial.
Drawing from casts supplements it or precedes it, but it's
necessary, but not sufficient.
Now, just because Michelangelo did not have Brutus to draw from life
doesn't mean that he didn't use models.
It's possible to a hire a model who looks something like what
you would imagine your subject looked or you want him to look.
But then you just take those traits of that model that you want to use
in your finished work of art.
Here with the half tones I'm not necessarily drawing in one direction,
I've even scribbled a few shapes.
You see that?
Just don't go too dark.
Do bear in mind if you do go too dark, you still have your eraser.
You haven't lost the day.
You don't have to kill yourself like Cassius.
You can always just erase.
You can erase it altogether, or you can lighten it or both.
see how much darker I can go.
Now on that upper lip, I couldn't do that when my shadows were just laid in and
light, but now the shadows are pretty robust and I can go ahead and do this.
That's a nice, good tip.
You're gonna need that.
Another great Italian sculptor of the 17th century was someone like gained a lot
from doing drawings, plates, reproductions of his, and that's John Lorenzo Bernini.
B E R N I N I.
Sometimes it's hard to draw from his images because they're bronzes.
Not all, but in fact, a great number are stone or even wood but the
bronzes have funny reflected qualities.
Even then a good reproduction you can draw from and learn from too.
The issue of the day for him and for his patron, the church, was the
reformation and the counter-reformation.
Northern Europe is where the reformation started with Martin Luther.
There had been predecessors, but they didn't make it too far
before they died or were killed.
But when Luther
reformed the German churches or some of them.
Visual art was something that was to be outright destroyed.
The alters in the Catholic churches were torn down.
Van Dyck, almost a century later had to leave a century later had to leave
Europe, central Europe, Switzerland to work in England because the
Anglican church would tolerate in fact, looked for a strong visual arts,
but in the South, yeah, we had Ribera in Spain and then Italy and many others,
but in Italy we had Bernini and Bernini his quality of his work and he was
also a playwright and architect, that would reflect on the church's grandeur.
And so in the North, in Flanders, we had Rubens and in Italy, there were
others, but Bernini made in the foremost among late 17th century artists.
Anyway, so drawing from his work I've I've learned his taste, his sensibilities.
I get a great sense of form woodworking from his sculpture, but at the
same time, it's not like drawing from a death mask or something.
Oh, that's not a bad thing to do either.
But if it's Bernini, if it's Houdon, if it's a Michelangelo, if it's
among the best Hellenistic art, then you're already looking at something
so beautifully designed that you can't help learn from it yourself.
So you can almost think of these as your quote unquote in-between values.
That's a little bit vague, but have you can get my point.
These are the values that you could not draw.
Until you clarified your light on your dark pattern very specifically.
If you enjoy meticulous, then this is a meticulous stage
There's a rhythm between this shape and the zygomatic process
we talked about earlier on.
This is probably the strongest or most obvious half tone on our subject.
I wouldn't use conte for this, it's a little bit coarse.
That's why I'm using the number two or rather 2B General charcoal pencil.
All these small gray shapes, they're not independent of each other.
They're part of a big sweep starting here and then ending here above the ear.
So knowing that means that we've got to tie them together.
They're not just random individual shapes.
now do you don't have to copy them stroke for stroke as though
you're going to try to do some kind of a forgery or something.
So if they vary or deviate from the absolute original doesn't matter.
Other areas do.
The facial features the big shapes of the cranium, face,
jaw, but little details of hair?
A lot of the time I get people taking my class and early on in the class,
they say, well, can you show me how to do the furrows in the brow?
I don't really feel like I'm learning it until I can draw the furrows in the brow.
We can do that.
But remember that's texture, it's not really form in the
sense that we use that term.
Try not to get confused about what's important in a drawing
of three-dimensional form.
Texture is secondary.
People travel from all over the country to the Southwest.
And as part of their trip, they want to come back with artwork
and they generally go right to pastels of Native American heads.
Well, that's fine.
But their attitude seems to be, well, the price of this particular
work is determined by the wrinkles.
The more wrinkles increases in that head the higher I expect to pay.
In fact, a very skilled artist of that subject matter is not that concerned
with wrinkles the get the form before they concern themselves with wrinkles.
And then they're selective.
They're not all over the place.
So don't be deceived by what that really shows the character of that head.
Look at that head has 300 wrinkles.
The one next to it, I'm buying the 300 wrinkles because
the other one has only 50.
I've seen a lot of those drawings, pastel paintings, whatever we call
them where the form is absolutely flat.
But the two dimensional surface is covered with lines, i.e.
or What passes for wrinkles.
Almost using my fingers like a fulcrum and then spinning off of it like this.
be darker than your darkest half tone.
I'm just about done.
I just have to paint on this last area.
I'm just using the most basic materials here, if you really want it to, but I
don't think you've studied it enough yet.
You could put down a pen and ink wash, that is to say how you mix
the ink with water and then you fill in with that wash your dark areas.
Having done that when you want to go back over with them and make them
really dark, it doesn't take as long because you already have a dark base.
Underneath the work you're going to do with content and charcoal.
And go easy on yourself.
Don't expect to do this all in one sitting.
This is like I say, pretty much life size head, and just to protect, you
know, your neck and your shoulder, take some breaks, then come back to it again.
All we're doing now is finishing up by going up to the edge of this.
I'm not leaving an absolutely hard edge at the silhouette.
Remember soft edges recede, hard edges advance.
So we want to take advantage of that.
So I want to be sufficiently dark beneath the under plane of his head
so that we do get a sense of that reflected light under the chin here.
Notice I did not lighten the reflected light.
I drew darker around the reflected light.
So maybe direction to my strokes, but I'm not trying to create any
kind of real movement to them.
When it's all said and done it should read pretty flat.
Now you'll notice I'm not doing this.
That's drawing what we call station to station like this.
If you fill in your tone, that way you can do okay, but you might
get a little choppiness to it.
So I'm just going like a plane lifting off a runway.
And my strokes go in one direction, not back and forth.
If you want a certain effect, then by all means you can do it station to station,
but that's not what I'm going for here.
There is no line on the edge of his neck, but I just feel the drawing makes more
sense if I put a narrow outline around it.
When I draw a head from life, I actually try to think of it as a plaster cast.
I don't go for a little changes in value based on complexion.
I just go for the form.
I do include changes of value due to the incidence of light.
And then at the later stages in the drawing or the study or the portrait
at that point, I look for changes in complexion or facial hair, et
cetera, but not now late in the stage.
Just by firming up that edge.
This looks softer.
If you do employ this device, the slight outline around that head,
um, try to keep it nice and clean
using those three basic shapes.
C curves, S curves, and straights.
This furrow is very light and it has its harder edge at the bottom where
it overlaps the furrow beneath it.
So make sure the edges are as they should be.
I could actually take this is kind of large.
They'll take a while, but I could remove all the texts, texture, all
the directions of the lines and take this to a very photographic finish.
And I hope you learned something from this that will allow you to do more
effective studies from plaster casts.
Transcription not available.
Reference Images (14)
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1. Learning Recommendation24sNow playing...
1. Filling in the Shadow Shapes and Defining the Planes of the Face25m 16sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Applying the Half-Tones8m 57s
3. Applying the Core Shadow19m 21s
4. Adding Contrast and Strengthening the Shadows29m 25s
5. Pushing the Halftones17m 58s
6. Refining the Edges and Completing the Drawing14m 33s