- Lesson details
Join Ukrainian-born artist Iliya Mirochnik as he passes on a 250-year-old academic method preserved at the Repin Academy in Saint Petersburg, Russia and seldom taught outside of the Academy and never before on camera.
The Russian Academic drawing and painting approaches were uninterrupted by the modern art movements that transformed representational art in the West, and as a result, they provide a unique and clear lineage to the greater art traditions of the past. As a powerful approach that is both constructive and depictive, it combines the two methods that prevail in contemporary representational art.
In these three drawing Courses, we have set out to condense the entire program, spanning over eight years into a logical, step-by-step procedure. We have made improvements and added resources and exercises to explicitly drive home the concepts that are required to work in this approach.
We have also structured the course so that it is not only useful for professional and experienced artists but also artists with no drawing experience whatsoever.
The first course: the Fundamentals is our most comprehensive beginner-level course to date, including everything you need to get started.
In the final lesson in the Fundamentals course, you will be combining all of the concepts and training you have learned thus far. Using the stretched canvas that you made at the beginning of this course you will draw John Asaro’s planes of the head sculpture from the photos provided. You will focus on turning form, establishing clear planes, clearly showing your light source and developing proper values and value relationships.
The New Masters Academy Coaching Program directly supports this Course. If you enroll in the coaching program, you can request an artist trained in the Russian Academic Method including Iliya Mirochnik himself. Click here to enroll in the Coaching Program.
- Graphite pencils
- Kneaded and Hard Erasers
- Sanding Block
- Utility Knife
- Roll of Paper, Smooth Sketchbook paper
- Staple gun
- Light source
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into practice all of the principles that we have
been talking about up until now,
let's take a look at the head in front of us.
John Asaro sculpted this model that he calls the planes of the head
and it gives us an idea of what the
structure of a head might look like
if simplified into planes.
I think that this assignment is going to be a perfect
segway into the more complex assignments
to come, as well as allow us
to practice and reinforce the principles that we have been
practicing up to this point.
with the stretched paper up on my easel. This is the first time that you'll be
working with stretched paper on panel.
And you see that the way the paper
tightly stretched on
a panel will react differently to the weight of your hand,
pencil and especially your
eraser. But you'll experience all of this
when you start working.
in front of us we have just a
slightly - a slightly
version of everything that we have
been doing up until now. So we're going
to begin this the exact same way.
So I want you
for the most part everything except
the head. And
begin to just pencil in
the outlines, the angles that you can clearly
see along the contours.
start putting them in entirely from observation
and then go back in and use
all the tools that we have and all the techniques
to see if you were on point.
So I'm just going to start placing
but we're not gonna take it all the way down
because our assignment here is not
necessarily to analyze a head but to just
see how everything that we've been talking about applies
to what we have here.
So once you have everything in place, in terms of the outlines,
I'm gonna go back
in because I feel like the
line that I have here is actually more at a tilt. But I'm just going to make sure.
I'm gonna use one of the needles as a horizontal
constant, take the angle, bring it over, and I
was correct in analyzing my own mistake, which is good.
So we're gonna take that out a little bit more.
to do as soon as possible is essentially to begin
constructing the head. And so a way
that you could begin is if you look for the
point of intersection between this plane of
orbit of the eye and
this plane of the head,
this plane of the forehead. And then find that same point
on the other - on the side that is
closest to you. And so, for this
I would also establish
that connection using
the knitting needles.
And so that is the angle. And take that angle
all the way across. And then
let's see if you were right. And then the next
I kind of arbitrarily - I place that point but
now is the time to also take a proportional measurement
so I'm going to go from the back of the head
to that point and then from that point to the
right side. And
I'm going to see how many times
this part that is in front
fits into the side.
And it's just slightly under
it's slightly under
So it's clearly
even without taking a
measurement. One and two.
And then if we slightly pull back on the back of the head,
the occipital bone, we aren't
getting into any of the anatomy
right now but I just wanted to
call it what it is. And I think we're much closer.
So from this point
you can see this arch.
Which is an important plane that signifies
all the planes that are on - so if you were to think about -
it's easier to show sometimes - if you think
of the head as a box
from this point to that point is
the - is one side of the box and everything
off of this edge is the side
plane of the box.
So once we have that in line, I
am going to -
I'm going to
find a line
and I'll take it all the way across for the
plane that we have up here on the forehead.
And now if we cut
this in half and we find
line, a line that will
divide everything to the left side of the face and the
right side of the face or the left side of the head and the right side of the head
then it'll allow us to take a point
that we find on one side and
then transfer it over to the other
while keeping the illusion
And keep in mind that you might
have to - there are corrections
that are going to be made the whole time. So if you have this axis here
you're going to have to move that axis
the entire head.
So if I were to simplify this once again into a
and after we establish our
central line which, on a box, is easy to do by simply
crossing the diagonals as we have
if you establish a point here, understanding
perspective will allow you to
take these lines
across and having them slightly converge into
a vanishing point. So for here
all we have to do is extend
that - so if you
imagine this as completely flat
working within the box.
Then everything here is a side plane,
everything here is a front plane and you have now
adjusted this central line on the plane of
a box to be the center line on a more organic shape.
So let's continue.
So there are a number of these
planes that we see in front of us that run perpendicular to our center line.
And we need to get them all before we move on.
So here we have the top of the forehead, here we have
this part that moves up. I don't want to explain too much
about anatomy or the construction of a skull because
we're going to get into that.
But I think you can -
you can already see how everything
that we've spoken about is beginning to apply.
So I'm just continuing all the way.
That's the plane of the lower lip,
that's the plane - top of
the chin. That's a plane
where the chin comes out and then begins to - this is a plane
that moves back in. And so here we have just established
a few of these points.
And then it so happens
that the plane that we see extending
upwards from here,
the top of it is perfectly
horizontal. It lines up with my
eyes, which happens to be
our horizon. And so
now that we have that plane and we've sort of begun to work out
the plane changes along the front of the face,
we can start to see where there is some connections.
So, for example, there's this curve and you can
see the angle between the end of - the corner of this plane rather -
the end of this arc and then you
can take this arc in again and then you can
also connect from this point to this point.
And now you can
see a structure beginning to appear on the
cranium. Now I just want to
establish this very important
front plane of the forehead.
And see we haven't even done anything with eyes or any of this stuff.
So from here
a small, like a small
change in planes, a small edge, but if you establish one edge on one side -
on one side of our central line, then we have
to try to find it on the other. And then
once we have them, we take them across.
Even though that's not a plane change, you still want to align everything
according to...Right so, this'll apply to
every single part. So if you're working on the socket, on the
socket of the eye, you start on one side and you
immediately go to the
other side, even before you complete it on one side.
You have to be constantly
working on both sides
of your center line. So here
now I'm going to move this in
and we are nearing the bridge of the nose.
We're not gonna take that any further right now.
Always go back and see if
these lines that we made - always
go back and see if they are
parallel to one another.
Or slightly converging.
So we're going to ignore at the moment
all of these bumps
and changes in the front plane of
the nose because we're more concerned with the angle of the nose
and the placement of the line in general.
So from here -
and as you see I'm taking you through all -
I'm taking you through this approach exactly the same
way that we did
as well as our
still life composed of multiple geometric structures.
we're beginning to structure the head without
tonality. So I have that line, I must have this line.
And I'm going to erase that line simply to
avoid any kind of confusion.
Okay so let's move on. So from
this point here we see
some changes in plane that correspond to
the socket of the eye and it's important -
to make sure to mark all of those changes. And we might have
to change them. And then you can see that this is
kind of a little softer curve because
everything here is one plane. But the important thing right now
is to just see where the height of this is in relation to
base of -
the base of the nose. And so, if you've noticed I'm still not
too concerned with the proportions.
I want to get something on the page even if
it's wrong, before I go in and start thinking
about the proportions.
So for example here
obvious to me that what I have here
is a little bit off. So my central line here actually is off so let's move it over.
Okay. And so some of these angles we're going to have
and then also, let's
begin thinking about some of these proportions. But
spending too much time on them. So all I want to see is the distance
from the bottom of the chin to the base of
the nose and see how many times
it fits when I move this up.
So from the base of the chin to the base of the nose and I move it up and it hits
in this head to slightly above
the plane that we have here.
That's right, I think we're good. So
the only proportional measurement that
I'm going to take at the moment. So
without moving into these smaller structures and planes
I'm going to actually begin to move out
towards the back of the head. You can see how this line
can be - they're actually connecting
with this arc that you saw. Now the arc itself -
I think I have a little too -
these angles, I'm questioning them.
I think this angle, this line, comes out more
which might actually put the arc into its proper place
and then here I think there's more of
a curve, more of a sweep. And by moving that point out
I'm correcting it. So a lot
like when we are
adjusting our shadows after placing half tones,
a lot happens here that when you simply move a point
over, or a line, you're going to have to go in and
change a lot of the lines around it. And that's just part of
the process. So now that I'm beginning to have
this line of
the jaw. I just wanna see
if I - I wanna see an angle between the point
of this area known as the angle of the jaw and compare it to
a point that I already have. So I'll just
I'll go with the point we have right here.
Moving it over, I see it
as right here. And then
what I would like to do is just to
place my needle so that it's
on that point that I just marked
and then I place it completely horizontally and see where it ends up
in relation to
the front part of this place. Okay so it should hit -
and I just keep that line and it hits pretty much around,
like right underneath,
the lower lip. So we're gonna have to keep that in mind.
And, of course, you can
place that right now or you can just
keep it in mind and move on.
It's a good exercise to train your
So I see a few curves there, I see - and
so and as you see it's
just as if we are working on a slightly more complex
soccer ball. So
I'm not going to do anything else right there just yet.
I see that actually where I placed
the neck might be off.
But I do want to place the sort of the underside of the
And then take the point of intersection
between the underside of the jaw and far side
of the neck that I see here and just take a vertical up
and see where it lands. And it's gonna be a little bit in
from this point right here. And then you can just place
that line here and
so yes, I do have to move the neck
Okay so i think it's coming -
it's beginning to look a little bit more like the head
in front of us. And it's feeling quite structured,
mainly because we're spending so much time thinking of
each of these planes. So
in a head a lot of times
in order to place the ear
you take the top of the ear
and you see where it lines up with the eye, for example.
And you take the bottom of the ear and you see where it lines up with
the base of
the nose or the upper lip or any of that. Here, we can use the
angles that we already have. You can see how this line right here,
which is extremely important
and we'll talk about it when we're
talking about a skull and a human head, but we can
just use that to place our ear.
We might though
have to take a line across and see where the bottom of the ear -
and I feel it's approximately in between the upper lip and the base
of the nose, so somewhere here. Let's not get into any
of the planes in the ear
just yet. So as you see we're focusing mainly
on the larger, structural
planes of the whole head and then we'll slowly
start to carve in and focus on
the individual planes of the ear,
the mouth, the nose,
and so on. The eye. So here I see a nice
arch sweeping all the way in but there's a bit of room
We can take that in from there.
if we can see this line of the back of the head,
it's a plane that has a curvature so we're going to see a little before the
it begins to turn around and away from us rather.
And you can see a little bit of a plane. And so I think
with all these exercise and especially the one
we're doing now, is allowing you to see is that
the contours are not arbitrary
but they're describing the structure of the form and they're
giving you a plane. So obviously if you were to
copy a line here it would give you
a line that might even be perfectly accurate. But if we really analyze -
and this head definitely helps us, you can see that
these lines all correspond to
different planes at different orientations.
So we're gonna take this
all the way and I'm sure by now you can see
how much easier it is, at least I find it easier,
to work on this piece of paper
that's stretched on panel.
We haven't done too much of the -
work with our eraser but
you'll see how much easier it is -
you see how much easier it is to erase
anything you might want to erase and have the paper
and might want to stay in one place.
see the advantage of this when we start
working a lot larger.
So here's some lines
of the forms of
the neck. I will
take them down up to a point but I'm not so concerned
with the neck at the moment.
Okay, so I think
it might be time to start
inching closer towards some of
the smaller planes.
So let's start with
the nose. So the overall
structure we can
before we move on, I think it's important
all of these
changes along that line because they
correspond to a plane that's in here.
So we're taking - we're just
observing them at the moment but we are taking them across
so that you keep a symmetry.
And then here we have a
change of plane as
a plane that's angling upwards
begins to angle downwards.
And then you can make the corrections as you go.
So if we now look closely
we can see what each of these lines
corresponds to inside of the form.
Inside of this area that might be a little harder to see because primarily it's
in shadow. But we're not concerned with shadows
at the moment. But they are inescapable
fact of life.
and if you are interested in seeing what's really happened
you can just come up and look
or look from a different angle
because you want to
understand what's in front of you.
And this is a change of a plane.
So we're going to just
take our time and keep
at it. So I need to look around a little bit.
So you're almost thinking like a
sculptor where he'll constantly be
walking around the sculpture
in order to
understand it from all sides. Now this is a plane
and you can see how each of these
changes along this edge corresponds to a plane.
Even these small ones.
And if you need to make
adjustments to the angle,
you might as well,
there's no point
stopping yourself from making
especially if you feel that you've - if you've put a lot of
energy into something and then you find out its wrong, it's sometimes hard
to just kind of erase the whole thing and start again but I assure you
it's worth it.
And this line is actually a little more curved so I'm gonna get a little more
specific with that change. Okay so
we've come a little bit closer to -
come a little bit closer to
the forms on the side place of the nose
and let's move from these planes
into the eye. So we already
have the sort of
the line of the brow in place but,
once again, each of these changes along that line
corresponds to a plane change. So
the plane that we have right here
from the point
that we have here, there's going to be a change in plane from here to here.
And so, it's easiest
to kind of - to analyze
and think of the planes at the same time as you're beginning
to insert the eye. And -
and I'm - and also I
start by working from the outside in this case
but I'm trying to be as aware as possible of what each of those
I actually feel like maybe this point is too high. I'll
take it again, I'll look. That point to the
base of the nose
seems alright but it feels off so I'll bring it down
If anything I'll move it back up again later.
Okay. So where are we?
now there's some
plane changes that are obvious. And here you have a number of points
that, by connecting, them
you will establish the changes that you need.
This actually pulls out a little bit more and then this pulls in
and there we have that line. So we can see
the changes along that form.
now let's carve up, essentially, the eye.
by finding all these plane changes.
So we have a few planes there.
We have an angle here that's giving us a plane that's
turned away from us but we can still see it. It's turned towards our
light source - oh and there an eye begins to appear.
And then we pull it back.
Okay so it's coming together.
Now the other eye - and so
I have turned the head in a way that the planes are
more simplified. This head is
designed in a way that you have simplified
planes on one side and slightly more complex,
divisions on the other. I wanted to stick
with the more simplified planes
for the purpose of this exercise.
So - but I am going to begin to place the other eye, the other eye
already looks like an eye, it's not only a form, it has an upper lid
and the eyeball itself and all of that stuff.
But we hardly see it so I'm just going to
kind of hint at it but just make sure it aligns.
So you take a point and you find that point on the other side.
And now I think this line isn't as dark as it should be
and so just going to - I'm going to
connect them so that we have
the planes on either side of our front plane.
Okay so it's time
to move on, to erase this line because it's
sort of throwing off our axis
and I'm going to not start from the outside but I'm going to
take the plane
right here actually a little further from
the wing of the nostril
and I'm going to just inch towards the upper lip.
And it's important
to get every point
that you can see on one side and transfer it to
the other. There's a lot of lines there so I can't
Hmm. Nope. I'm going to pull
this further back. So I'm going to
go from here and then into
here so that should be where -
so here I went completely by eye. I just - I lined
up that line with where it intersects with the nose.
And then from there,
I can begin to structure this
this plane in the center.
Now all of these parts have a name but I'm
I don't want to confused anyone with added
terminology. I think we
just need to approach this
the same way that we did our soccer ball, as best as we can.
So some of
the planes of the lip, some of the
lines and then just thinking about what they mean
and then make your corrections.
beginning on the lower lip. And then we have a
front plane, which is one that has to align with all our other,
it's not so much - well, it's a front plane but it's
a line that's perpendicular to our center line.
All of these -
so we have to keep in mind
and these are the ones that we have to treat
very carefully so that we have proper alignment
Okay. Okay we're getting there, we're getting there.
So from this change of plane between the
front plane of the lower lip and the planes that are turning away, the side planes
you can see there's a corner on the plane here on the side
there's a trapezoidal
that is curving in
right before we hit the top of the chin.
And if you look from the side,
it's not only trapezoidal but it kind of -
the corners turn down a bit to accommodate
the curvature of the chin. And then we can
go from there and establish sort of the continuation of our side plane here.
this point to this point to establish the, sort of the front plane of the top of the
Can we see - we can slightly -
the other side of that plane. That's about it.
And we're gonna
move the chin up a little bit, mainly because -
so I'm not even going by the overall proportions, I'm just going by the proportions
of the height to the width of the plane of
the chin. So I'm
kind of going over everything piece by piece, but at the same time
thinking of the whole. So then
let's reinforce some of these lines before we make sure our perspective -
our proportions, my apologies - are correct.
Make sure to have
that point, that change, see where it is in relation to, say,
that point, what is that angle?
There's a slight tilt, I feel it's more like
this. I think we're good. it might be even a little bit closer.
It's fairly minor.
now we need...
We have this plane, move this up and then there's also a small
plane on the curvature
of the jaw that sort of
curves around and we'll
talk more about
all of those anatomical specifics
in the future. And here
well see - and you can even see
how like just the change in this line corresponds to the change
that you see on the forms of the neck.
This is the front then it begins to turn away here
so that you can show that side plane of
the form in front, the -
we'll just call it an Adam's apple for now.
It's an important part of the cartilage of the larynx.
We'll get to that. And then
we go from there. And see,
occasionally I see a curve and I want to explain
that curve without
half tones or shadows.
I make sort of - I draw
a line around its curvature.
as you see here. And I
will be doing a lot of that.
But here since all of the
planes are right in front of us
there's not much need. Okay
so let's get into the ear.
Let's start with this sort of
this front plane here. The front
plane of this part of the ear that sort of just
wraps around. It has a name, don't worry about it.
And then the top plane there.
And then there's this
angle before we begin to move
This is a time to just compare that point to that point and see what the angle is.
I think we're close. And then
let's move this curve all the way until we hit
Just - let's make sure of the placement of the bottom of our ear again
just to be sure. I'm just taking it across. And
it's slightly higher than the halfway point between the base of the nose
and the upper lip. So it's somewhere there.
I think we're alright.
But I'm not even gonna
finish that right now. I think it's -
there's this, this is - you can kinda see
the attachment of the ear and that's a plane of its own
and then we're gonna continue into this
line that goes off of the cheekbone to the ear.
I'm gonna get the proper curve there.
I'm just gonna take that line,
that sort of the angle of the ear there. It'll help us place
the angle of the ear. I'll take it all the way down and I'll move
with this front plane and I'll place it.
And then let's get into some of these smaller ones.
There's a lot of them.
Then we hit that mark, change of plane.
I just wanna see what's happening
there. So, at times, what you - because it's
unavoidable that you're going to be seeing the shadows,
at times the shadow's gonna eat up a part of your plane.
And so you wanna really look and see
where the plane is if you were to disregard
So where are we here? And then here
I think proportionally I can make this upper part a little bit smaller
and then I'll move
this across and
see here I didn't even show the plane, I showed the
curvature and now I show the plane. So at times showing that curvature
can help with finding the plane itself.
Take this. And now
I'll complete this by taking it all the way down
the corner, this angle is a little more tilted.
And so now we have a little bit more of a placement on that ear.
It's - just kinda move your
head back between the
head itself and
your drawing and see what jumps out
at you as potentially incorrect.
This plane that we start with, I think it's narrower.
And is it properly angled? I'll check.
Look around and there is a little bit
that line on the other side. So that edge.
But it's not - it's hard to see, it's not
necessarily helping us. And I feel like
the plane here tapers.
becomes - so the amount of space we have here,
thinking completely two dimensionally
the amount of space you have here in this shape on your
page becomes smaller as you move up so
we're gonna keep that consistent.
with what's in front of us. And then we move back and I just would like to
take a look at the back and see where
this line - okay I see it. And there's this
point that we have and you can just follow this line
all the way to that point. And you see how simply taking a line
and observing a line can't always give you
You have to follow a line
all the way to its -
to what that line means, what it
represents. Okay. So I think
we're alright. I would
just do a little bit here to lock this in
place. I'm actually - I'm tempted to start -
sort of the
clean some things up here and begin with the shadows and then
if we feel it's necessary to continue some of the planes
of the neck based on the
on how everything begins to compose on
our panels, then we'll just go ahead and add a neck.
Okay so I'm comfortable with where everything is
at the moment. We've established the structure of the head
and the placement of the planes. Now
let's move on to shadows.
Transcription not available.
Transcription not available.
Transcription not available.
prepared at the beginning of The Fundamentals section
of my program. Using the photos of John Asaro's
planes of the head model, draw the head, making sure to work through the three
main steps in order. Begin with construction, apply
your shadows, and only then your half tones. If you run into any issues
remember to consult your program coach. I wish you
the best of luck.
Now you have the tools necessary to embark
on a study of the human figure. Make sure you have gone
through all of the assignments and that the techniques and procedures we have covered
feel comfortable, almost second nature, before
beginning the next part of the program. Thank you for spending this time with me and I
look forward to seeing you as we begin our exploration of the human figure.
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Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
51m 29s2. Planes of the Head Project Block-in Instructor Demonstration
43m 24s3. Planes of the Head Project Adding Shadow Instructor Demonstration
49m 5s4. Planes of the Head Project Half-tones Instructor Demonstration
1h 4m 18s5. Planes of the Head Project Instructor Demonstration Finalizing
32s6. Planes of the Head Project Assignment Instructions
31s7. Fundamentals Course Closing Remarks