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"Taking Robert Stollar's Anatomy and Life Drawing course was essential to my growth as an illustrator. His course design and tuition made for a wonderfully enlightening nine weeks. His depth of knowledge of anatomy was demonstrated every week, as was his considerable ability to guide and instruct our class. He's a talented renderer of the human form, and a skilled teacher of same. He was enthusiastic about our class and our learning, easy to communicate with, and was keen to improve all our skill levels. Additionally his passion for the art and knowledge was quite contagious. I look forward to having the chance to study with him again."
Tim
from Australia, after completing term3 of the Masterclass

"Thank you very much for my membership to Figure Drawing Online blog! And thank you for the great lectures! They are exactly what I was looking for!
Your lessons are even better than the lessons that I have visited during my graphic design studies at the University.

Because of your teaching lessons I discovered the figural drawing again for me and I have the feeling to really learn something ... step by step. Thanks for that ;-)

In a few weeks I would like to progress to the Advanced Class."
Nicole K., Germany

"I was so impressed with the clarity of the beginning lecture and the lecture on the torso that I will be ordering all 13 lectures and advanced as they are produced. Great teaching!! I wish I was in Australia!"
Jack from USA
 

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Note: The links in orange are live and have content. The rest is coming soon.

1/ Approach To Drawing – a bit of theory that goes a long way

1.1/ There is no such thing as Multitasking

1.2/ Copying versus Creating

1.3/ The Only 3 Rules

1.4/ Grasping the Complex

2/ The Basic Set–Up

2.1/ Materials – paper, drawing tools...

2.2/ Environment

3/ Drawing Basics

3.1/ Why Standing?

3.2/ How to hold A Pencil

4/ Drawing Practices

4.1/ The Shapes

4.2/ How to Steady the Hand

4.3/ Basic Perspective

4.4/ Foreshortening

4.5/ Imagine It and Draw It

5/ The Drawing magic

5.1/ The building Elements – line, plane, mass and contour lines

5.2 Flick that Light Switch

5.3/ The rule of the Mass – weight, thrust, orientation
 

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Image of a female model and the drawing of her.

I also teach in person – figure drawing, figurative sculpture in clay and figurative sculpture in stone. Attending a class in person has it's advantages. If you wish to do so, find out where and when is the next class held.

The Only Three Rules

Now we are getting into the practical side of drawing. I keep talking about drawing the human body, but the same rules apply if you are drawing a landscape or a still life.

In terms of drawing, the human body is an extremely complex system of shapes and volumes. They constantly shift and change, not only within themselves but also in relation to each other as the body moves in the 3 dimensional world.
So how does one go about this business of craft? Drawing (no pun intended) on the recent history of, say....only the last 500 years, there seem to be three basic rules that will produce great results when followed. Please keep in mind that at this stage I am not concerned with shading and shadows. You have to get the following rules right first.

Rule Number One:
Know what the object you draw looks like. Doesn’t matter whether you are drawing a live model or a body from your imagination. Before you can draw it, you have to know it’s shape. This will entail anatomy as we need to know what a particular muscle looks like whilst performing its function in a pose. It might be starting on the back and finishing on the front of the body. Not knowing this, the drawn lines will not have the necessary tension and energy and the drawing will not be convincing. No amount of concentrated staring can replace this knowledge.

(To those who’s hearts just sank: Artistic anatomy is far, and I mean FAR less involved than medical. It focusses on simple practical approaches on how to represent the body. Fear not.)

Rule Number Two:
Simplify complex structures into simple geometric shapes. You only need a Ball a Cube and a Cylinder to represent any part of the human body. I’m not talking about a circle, a square and a rectangle. The shapes we need are three dimensional objects. Any part of the human body no matter how complex can be simplified and therefore thought of through the use of those shapes. In the next article: Grasping The Complex I will show you how to go about it.

Rule Number Three:
Relationships. How does this simple shape relate to that simple shape? Is it above or below it? Is it behind or in front of it? Is it facing this way, or that way? Relationships determine exact positions and proportions of the parts in relation to each other. This will entail perspective, foreshortening and alike.

And that’s it. Three simple rules. As simple as they sound, without them it is not possible to draw the human figure well.
These few principles are an absolute must. They are so important that nothing happens without them in figure drawing. Therefore, these simple few principles will be coming back again and again throughout any information on this site. It might seem repetitive at first, but soon they will become your second nature and be of the greatest assistance.

Summary so far:
When your drawing goes sideways, when you cannot see why is it not working, when you get confused and frustrated, go through the
Three Basic Rules one by one and check whether they point out something you might have forgotten about while drawing.
That is: 1/ Do I know what the thing I am drawing looks like? If you can describe in your mind the shape, where it starts and where it ends – you're ok with that one. Then ask yourself: 2/ What simple geometric shape can I draw that would represent in general the thing I am drawing? Again, if you can name the geometric shape (Use only the three above, a ball, a cube or a cylinder. Keep it simple.) and see it in your mind, you can draw it and you're ok with that one too.
Then you need to ask: 3/ Have I considered the relationship of this particular geometric shape to the ones I have already drawn? If you can describe the relationship consciously in your mind and it is correct, You're ok in this one.

If the drawing you are making is not to your liking, looks odd and unconvincing, going through the process above will find the reason why. And remember, keep it simple. It is very easy to get lost in the complexities of the human form.

If you found the free tutorials, articles and the
"A Drawing A Day" series helpful, please donate an amount of your choice. Your support will enable me to continue producing more free stuff to help the progress of your learning. I do appreciate your support.

Image of a hand making a pen and ink drawing of a figure

This site has a Blog which is the platform for announcements. This is where the news of any new article, video and / or tutorial is posted. It also publishes the "A Drawing A Day" series where I upload a drawing a day, sometimes with a bit of commentary to demonstrate some of the many points talked about in the free lessons and the drawing course. This may take on a form of a video.

 

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