Sketching People on the iPad Pro

Lady in Red (from Sktchy)

While my backyard and the entrance to my studio were inaccessible due to construction I did more drawing and painting on my iPad than on canvas. The 12.9″ iPad is just the right size for me and the Apple Pencil makes it just like drawing with a great pencil or pen except so much easier to erase or start over without fear of “wasting” paper. Here are a few of those sketches from TV and photos.

 

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Portrait and Figure Drawing: Online Classes and Resources Reviewed

Skull drawing practice #1, Conte pencil on paper, 24x18 inches

Skull drawing practice #1, Conte pencil on paper, 24×18 inches

I wanted to improve my people-drawing skills, learn about anatomy and be able to quickly sketch a head with some degree of accuracy and fluency. I was looking for information, instruction, and explanation of how the skull, features, and muscles all work together to make each of us look like individuals.

I began exploring resources for learning online and I found one that met all of my requirements: New Masters Academy. It is affordable ($19 to $29/month), has excellent teachers, an abundance of classes in portrait and figure drawing and painting and more, plus great resources for artists including thousands of high-resolution artist model reference photos and timed portrait and figure drawing sessions.

What initially convinced me to become a member on New Masters was the free, 3-hour YouTube video below by one of their many excellent teachers, Steve Huston. This is just a small part of his Structure of the Head course in which he explains in great detail about the planes of the face, the shapes and functions of the muscles, and each of the features (eyes, nose, etc.) in a very user-friendly way.

The YouTube video by Brandwynn Jones (below) introduced me to the Reilly Method Abstraction, an interesting way of conceptualizing and constructing the head. Mr. Jones is a student at the Watts Atelier, another online artist training program.

Before I found New Masters, I regrettably signed up for an expensive month ($99/month) at Watts Atelier Online, based on what I saw and heard in Mr. Jones’ videos and on fellow artist Chris Beaven’s blog, who was trying out the Watts program too. But after watching the head drawing course “taught” by Mr. Watts, I requested and received a refund for the remaining half month. The course consists of videos of him drawing, while he talks on and on–what he calls “bantering”–with very little actual instruction or explanation and it just didn’t meet my needs. Chris later wrote this review of Watts Atelier Online.

Skull drawing practice

Skull drawing practice #2, Conte pencil on paper, 18×24″

Another great source of figure drawing instruction videos (for free) can be found at Stan Prokopenko’s website, Proko.com and on his on YouTube channel. His sense of humor and high production values makes them fun to watch but I find they fly by too quickly for me to retain the information. He offers expanded versions at reasonable cost. In the video below he clarifies and summarizes the Andrew Loomis approach to drawing the head.

Over the past year I’ve watched several good instructional videos on Craftsy.com but I prefer the comprehensive courses on New Masters. One plus for Craftsy is that the videos you “buy” are always yours to stream on demand; on New Masters they’re available to stream as long as you’re a paying member.

Sadie Valerie offers both in person classes, video and online classes at Sadie Valerie Atelier in San Francisco. Sadie is an amazing teacher, very kind, positive, generous and detailed in her approach. I’ve studied with her and her associate Elizabeth Zanzinger in person and via Sadie’s videos and highly recommend them as teachers.

For quick and detailed anatomical information where you can switch from skin, muscles, skeletal or even organ views, I go to Innerbody.com, where I found the resource for the drawing below. I wanted to know more about the muscles that we see through the skin.

A free 2.5 hour figure drawing course based on the Reilly Method is available from Udemy.com.

Croquis Cafe on YouTube offers free figure drawing sessions with artist models (mostly nude) posing in real time, just like you are in a figure drawing session with timed poses and music. They also have reference photos to work from and some paid classes, which I haven’t explored.

Pixelovely.com is another source for figure drawing practice that provides timed photo references of nude and costumed models in interesting and unusual poses as well as instruction and tips on figure drawing.

PoseManiacs.com also offers thousands of digital images of figures in motion or still, without skin so all the  muscles are visible.

High resolution photos of the Asaro Planes of the Head model in 22 different positions are available to download here.

Reilly Method class notes by one of his students are lovingly offered on The Reilly Papers blog.

Glen Orbik was another master figure and portrait drawing teacher. Free clips from videos of his lectures are available on YouTube here. The full course is available at Zarolla Academy but is expensive.

Fred Fixler was another of the great drawing and painting teachers who has passed on but on this site you can download his Reilly method handouts and some great drawing and gouache painting tips.

To find figure drawing classes, workshops and open studios in your area, visit ArtModelBook.com.

 

Figure and Portrait Drawings

Figure drawing wall in studio

Figure drawing wall in studio

I just made a big leap in my understanding of figure and portrait drawing so wanted to share previous sketches and paintings before the new work. Above is a photo of the “figure drawing wall” in my studio. I’d covered this wall with black non-fade bulletin board paper to avoid reflected light when I’m at my easel (that stands just to the right of this photo). Then I hung black metal grid panels that I got super cheap on Craigslist and use little magnets to stick the drawings to the grid wall. Now it’s easy to add, move or replace drawings with better ones as my skill improves and I can hang framed paintings from it with grid wall picture hooks.

Below are assorted figure and portrait drawings from past Friday Figure Drawing sessions. Click on any image to go to slide-viewing mode and click through them using the arrows on each side.

Learning to Draw Heads: Practice and Study with Skulls and Loomis Method

Smiley Skull and Smiley Guy study, HB pencil, 4x6"

Smiley Skull and Smiley Guy study, HB pencil, 4x6"

In preparation for my Alla Prima Portrait Painting workshop with Rose Frantzen next month, I wanted to work on my drawing skills so I can keep up in class. Although I draw all the time, I discovered I really had no understanding of head and facial construction.

Skulls and Faces, HB pencil, 11x9"

Skulls and Faces in the Same Positions, HB pencil, 11x9"

I usually draw what I see, compare shapes, angles and plumb lines to try to get some accuracy, but I don’t worry about it too much. That wasn’t cutting it when it came to drawing heads.

So I turned to the great book by Andrew Loomis, recently back in print, Drawing the Head and Hands. His books are also available as PDFs here on the web. There is an excellent explanation with clear examples of the Loomis approach here on Stan Propopenko’s blog so I won’t go into it here. All of my drawings in this post started with the Loomis ball divided in thirds with the jaw then added on.

Skulls and Muscles from Loomis book, 11x9"

Skulls and Muscles from Loomis book, 11x9"

I worked through the Loomis book and when I came to his skull and muscle drawings in the book I tried copying them (above). I also tried some other books’ methods of constructing heads (using an egg shape, a block, double ovals, etc.) but none worked as well as the Loomis approach.

I wanted to do more than copying sketches so I started drawing skulls and people I found on a Google image search, drawing the people in about the same position as the skulls (the two pics at top of post and the one below). Read More

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