- Lesson details
We are pleased to share with you a 10-week long class brought to you by Art Mentors. In this class, legendary illustrator Mark Westermoe teaches figure drawing using the Reilly Method. In this 7th lesson, Mark will continue the hand drawing from the previous lesson by showing how to properly introduce shape and shadow to the rendering. He will then elaborate on the differences between the back view of the hand from the front view of the hand, and later analyze works by Sir Frederic Leighton.
- Smooth Newsprint
- Scrap Paper
- Artist’s Tape
- Conté Charcoal Pencil
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legendary illustrator Mark Westermoe teaches figure drawing using the Reilly Method.
Okay, so tonight I’m going to draw the back view of the second hand, and I’ll take it
just about as far as we did with the front view.
I’ll also show you a couple of paintings and drawing by some of my favorite pre-Raphaelite
artists, and that would be Frederic Lord Leighton.
We started with two hands last week.
I’ll take it just about as far as we did with the front view, palm view.
I’ll also show you a couple of paintings and drawings by some of my favorite more academic,
in this case almost pre-Raphaelite artists.
That would be Frederic Lord Leighton, who was the head of the Royal Academy Schools
in the late 19th century, and so we’ll look at his work.
This was our demonstration last week along with the lay-in of the second hand.
One of the things you’re going to notice is that the fingers are longer, or they appear
longer in the back view, starting with this knuckle above the metatarsal bones.
Here the fingers seem shorter because that knuckle is overlapped by the knuckle pad.
That’s one of the first things that you want to remind yourself of.
We still looked for that original arc here or here, and again the fingers curve inwards
and also curve. They’re not flat.
These metacarpal bones are arranged in a curved manner like the ribbing on a ship.
Now I’m going to go ahead and just tape a sheet of white paper here on top of the
hand that I worked on last time so that in the process of drawing the other I don’t
smear away what I did in charcoal or Conté.
There we go.
I can draw here without disturbing this hand.
Well, first let’s try to tighten down our shapes.
No point in applying a light and shadow to a shape that you’re not really satisfied with.
There is the overlapping proximal phalanx,
and then behind it the distal phalanx of the thumb.
Then the proximal phalanx turns from light into shadow just before the silhouette.
There’s the base of the index finger where it joins to the second metacarpal bone.
The first metacarpal bone attaches to the base of the thumb,
and then you have the index finger forming the second metacarpal
attaching to it, rather, and then you have
the middle finger attaching to the third metacarpal.
You have the ring finger attaching to the 4th metacarpal,
and then you have the little finger, the 5th digit attaching to the 5th metacarpal.
It works the same way on the toes except it’s not known as the metacar—it’s not known
as the metacarpal but instead the metatarsal.
Now, you can draw the silhouette, which I will do here, of the index finger,
or you can start instead by drawing the form shadow of that finger, and only then, after
that, begin drawing the silhouette beyond.
In particular, because I want to make sure I have the right width and proportion of this
digit, I’m going to start with the outside.
Here is the tendon leading up to the finger.
Here are the condyles at the knuckle which cause change in direction
of the shadow on a simple shaft.
That happens with the next knuckle too.
Skip any description right now, as a rule, of the nail bed.
Some of the half-tone planes might help as well
as we develop the structure of the hand.
I will record several of those as I work.
We see the knuckle pad beyond the back of the fingers right here.
And so you want to draw those tendons quite straight.
Here at the proximal medial joint, the finger goes, the finger ends bow outwards.
When you draw the silhouette of the middle finger, be conscious of the width of the index
finger because the two should be just about the same.
Here is the condyle—I mean, here is where the knuckle, the condyles of the metacarpal
and the 3rd finger come together.
Make sure to taper that last phalanx.
Let’s take to make sure that our scale is conforming to the scale of the other hand.
Instead of using white paper like this to mask the already drawn hand,
you can use tracing paper, and That allows to you to see that hand while you draw the other.
You can use clear acetate, which is a very good, useful paper to have around the studio
for lots of reasons.
Okay, this is a vein and that does not move in one straight direction.
Always in the direction of the tendon.
In fact, that’s a vein, too, but it’s fairly straight.
The tendon is roughly parallel to it and is here.
It’s going to run over the knuckle and then along the finger itself.
It runs almost exactly halfway between the two sides of the hand straight.
And there is the ring finger overlapping the knuckle pad,
arching toward the center, which is the middle finger.
Treat all your shadows, once again, as though they were the same value as each other.
This is a hard edge because this is an overlapping finger, and this is a hard edge because there
is a cast shadow from the middle finger over the ring finger.
I drew along the shaft bones that make up the finger this way.
When I fill in the shadow I can draw it along the form, across the form.
It really doesn't matter.
You may need to move closer to the tip of the pencil to fill in such slender
shadows as these.
You’ll notice on the tendons and blood vessels,
I keep the bottom edge harder than the top edge.
The top edge is firm, but this is hard because it overlaps the plane next to it.
I don’t think in a tonal approach, I don’t think you can succeed at a hand drawing
without having a good command of your edges.
Next time you do a figure drawing or a head drawing, focus on your edges.
Next time you do a hand drawing focus on your edges.
Next time you do a still life, focus on your edges.
Head drawing is the great laboratory for that, and if you can become consistent in your head
drawing you will be able to draw anything.
That’s not an exaggeration.
Sometimes an old student catches up with me,
and they may have been a beginner when they started.
They certainly improved quite a bit, but I hadn’t seen them for a long time since.
It’s really astonishing.
Until now I’ve seen so much of it.
I can take a long view of this because I’ve been teaching for over 30 years.
And so at first...
At first, the first several years I would see improvement if I ran into them,
but after 10 or 15 years, it’s just really mind-blowing to see what they’ve
gone on to do in any and all realms of visual art.
But they all started with head drawing and then moved on to figures.
Just as with the head, you wouldn’t want to draw a poor head and spoil and otherwise
really nice figure drawing.
No one is going to be impressed by that.
You also don’t want to spoil your figure drawing by a poorly drawn hand or a foot.
Other than that, you should be full on into figure drawing.
And then here is, I guess you might call it a bump, but it represents the condyle
of the radius bone, which is the second bone of the forearm.
I call the ulna the first bone of the forearm because that’s the one that actually articulates
with the humerus bone to form the elbow.
Now, remember, there are three extension muscles at the back of the arm.
There is extensor carpi radialis on the radial side of it.
There is extensor carpi ulnaris, which hooks up to the base of the ulna, and then there
is here, the extensor—let’s see, what do they call it?
It’s the extensor carpi—it’s the one that spreads out into the tendons that attach
to the base of the fingers and then beyond onto the finger.
Yeah, extensor carpi communis, meaning in common.
There is a little bit of a ridge here along the outside of the ulna.
Don’t make it too deep of a curve. It’ll look grotesque.
The light is coming from above and to the right side.
Since the bones are arranged like the ribbing on a ship, they would curve away from the
light source, and then they would fall into a half-tone.
To get that effect, I’m merely putting down an ambient half-tone, which means overall.
If I really wanted to carry this to a very rendered finish,
I could come back in with my eraser.
Some of the planes that come forward out of this ribbing, I could lighten them,
but I’m probably not going to bother in this instance.
I’m just going to focus on construction instead and staging.
Remember, if you’re sending in homework,
you can send it in the form of just a verbal question.
It’s not necessary to even do a drawing.
Sometimes I really like when live students ask questions when I draw.
In fact, I always like that.
So, when you send them in, there is no such thing as a bad question.
Don’t be shy about that.
That’ll really help me tune my instruction also to what I gather are your needs.
Naturally, if you do a drawing, all the better, and you can accompany that
with questions or comments as well.
We’ll probably get to the female back view next week.
I’m going to spend a little time before we close out this lesson going over, as I
do each week, the work of another artist which is relevant to what we’re studying.
Today that will be the English, the late 19th century English painter Frederic Lord Leighton.
We will also refer to drapery and folds, an area, too, that like hands and hair and heads,
we cannot draw well unless we can do that.
I do some lesson before we’re done this term that does involve some elaborate drapery.
Just remember most of your professional jobs are not going to involve nude figures.
We study those figures for many good reasons,
but when we actually work we’re more likely by 100:1 to be drawing clothed figures.
I refer to some of the crease patterns that we usually encounter
when the fingers are extended like this.
Here, too, one edge of each crease will have a harder edge than the others.
You don’t even have to draw all the way across, just suggest that.
Do not draw too dark, especially here or between the fingers.
This is a pair of completed hands.
That doesn’t mean finished.
It doesn’t even go to black and the photograph certainly does, but they are fully constructed
and refined so we’ve done the spacing and placing and the refining and designing and
some of the completion, but they’re not finished yet.
I do not intend to do that because I have other material that I want to go over with you.
I may get a chance to start our female pose, but before I do, I want to take a brief break
and go over some relevant artwork by one of the greatest painters of the 19th century.
Again, that’s Frederic Lord Leighton.
Frederic Lord Leighton.
He first gathered the attention of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the early 1850s, and
they paid a huge sum for really what was his first serious commission.
Then he was a fixture in London society all the way until his death, and along the way
became the president of the Royal Academy Schools.
Let’s have a look at some of his work.
If you go to London or maybe you live in London,
there is a really nice museum called Leighton House.
It was his home and his studio.
He was a sculptor as well, so he built a great Moroccan garden.
He did do a lot of classical and oriental painting.
Let me find a good one to start with here.
This is the painting that I’m referring to.
It’s quite large.
When I was at Leighton House they had sections of the drawing he did to develop this.
You can see one over here.
Without convenient use of photography, artists would hire their models,
and they would light them.
Not with electric lights until later, but with skylights, etc., window light.
Then they would paint from those studies.
He’s great in terms of the focal points that he establishes.
Here, for instance, the subject is the woman, but you’ve got the drapery which catches
the eye first and leads you up to her head, which is a second read.
Rather than just be obvious like this one, try some different things sometimes.
I’ll show you other examples of the same composing that he’s so wonderful at doing.
Here is a nice composition.
That’s one of the Magi, and this is the Star of Bethlehem.
You can see he’s not illuminated in the head, but rather here in the middle of the
torso. It makes things very dramatic.
This is a color comp just like we do black and white comps with thumbnails for our monochrome
studies and paintings and drawings.
We do the same for color before you endeavor on such a large project.
These are two really interesting examples.
We’ll start with this one, Dante in Exile.
Notice that it’s almost like lightning—the light source is so hot, so high in value.
The form in shadow is really just suggested.
The drapery is exquisite.
It’s like molten gold.
The very center of the composition we see Dante, and notice almost symbolizing good
and evil, he is divided evenly into light and shadow.
This is all thought through.
In this case, the Painter’s Honeymoon.
Notice the brilliant drapery and the abstract design of it.
Where does it lead?
It leads us up to the couple, the newlyweds.
Notice that the detail is describes here, but they are just suggested.
They’re not the first read, but the first read leads up to them.
The first read is a synonym for focal point.
This one is similar in its conception.
Notice how he stages the dark figure against the light.
Background is almost never completely flat, one value or one color because the light spills
out over it and does not do so from corner to corner evenly.
We can make it do that with lighting, but that’s the exception to the general rule.
He did an awful lot of large murals like this one and the ones I’ve shown you.
He used a form of prepared painting where he would layer the color, and you would see
the light refracting through the layers, and it would really create a brilliant effect.
But for landscape, he would just use direct painting, or for certain furnishings and other
backgrounds this was real typical all the way up until the age of impressionism.
There were a couple of exceptions like Frans Hals in the 17th century, and he painted directly.
Here is the color comp and here is the painting.
He’s always telling a story.
He literally is, in his case, but even if it’s just a standing figure, there is something
that he’s trying to say.
Here is a very Neoclassical painting.
It’s called, as you can probably guess, Daedalus and Icarus, and this is the color
comp that he did for it.
Notice again, this drapery.
This was very much inspiring to Maxfield Parrish and even before him and overlapping
to Alfons Mucha.
There is a period of people who did remarkable work with drapery.
Here are some of his studies from which he would paint.
Notice the focus on the degree of curvature and the elegance and the simplicity.
Here he has a shadow, but it’s very light with reflected light.
Okay, let’s just show you a couple of more.
Talk about drapery.
It becomes almost an abstract finish, so strong and powerful in this piece.
The drapery has movement.
It just doesn’t nearly show form.
It has direction to it.
It also, again, leads rhythmically from one form to another.
Here is a simple head painting.
It’s from a famous explorer, Sir Richard Burton.
But you have to be a good draftsman before you can paint that well.
Here, I think this is a real stunning example of doing drapery to the umpteenth degree.
You can tell the weight of the fabric.
It’s not a heavy fabric.
When we have a heavier fabric, the folds work differently.
But here, notice how the drapery describes the figure beautifully.
The drawing, again, is always impeccable.
Here is a great figure painting.
It’s called Elijah in the Wilderness.
He does with clouds what he does with drapery.
They’re very, very baroque or ornate.
See how these billowing clouds and these stratus clouds are linear.
We’ll throw in a couple last examples here, some really beautiful compositions.
There is a famous self-portrait.
Like I say, in England society pretty much revolved around him.
Then later in his career we see some of his more famous paintings.
This one is a nice composition.
This is a scene at dusk or almost nighttime.
We see the sun setting in the background, but the drapery once again carries it.
Leighton House not only carries some of his
really, really beautiful work, but has some others.
I think they have Tiepolo and a number of other really great painters.
Like I say, it’s off the beaten path, though.
Everyone goes to the National or to the Tate, but it’s really worth seeing.
Here is a standing female back view, nude, and that’s what we’ll be doing next week
I don’t know if it comes across very well in the video, but this painting has so many
colors in it, it’s astonishing.
The silhouette has not an even hard edge.
It has that, but it has a softer edge here, and there is a half-tone at the edge of the
figure, and that half-tone helps to describe the color, which otherwise would just wash
out into an alabaster.
But here we have pinks and greens and blues.
Many, many classical subjects.
There is a beautiful one with a billowing sky.
Your study of edges will serve you well when you’re painting landscapes.
I love this composition.
This one is simply called—I think it’s just called The Dragon.
The frame itself is fantastic, but the composition is so gorgeous.
Here we have the figure in shadow from the wing of the dragon and deep darks and high
contrast in the right places.
Okay, here are some more of the figure studies that he does or did before he actually painted
This is using a toned paper with white chalk as well as black.
Study of anatomy really helps, obviously.
Here is another one.
He specifically did hand studies for each of his paintings, too.
Drapery, head, hands, full figure.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it.
This is at the Tate Gallery in London.
It’s a very fine example of good figure draftsmanship.
All of this comes from learning how to do finished drawings.
These two are really beautiful compositions.
This one in particular I like, and this one.
This is maybe his most famous paintings.
It’s reproduced many times in books.
It’s called Flaming June.
I’ve seen this with more of a red to it, a yellow, and an orange.
It’s the same painting, really, obviously.
Okay, well, that’s a little taste of a really great painter.
Thank you for attending this class, our 7th session.
Next week we’re going to go over the standing nude female because so far we’ve only done
That should be very interesting.
I have the pose here somewhere, but I’ll show it to you next week.
Okay, well, have a good week and I’ll see you in the next session.