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"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

"I really enjoyed my time in this class. Robert's style of teaching is very encouraging and patient. Having never studied anatomy before I found it challenging but really rewarding when I saw the results on paper, having an understanding of the bone structure and muscles was really helpful and allowed me to experiment with my drawings. Each model was exceptional also, all of them very different. I am looking forward to progressing onto the intermediate course, I had such a great time, I would recommend it to anyone!"
Angeline
from Australia, after completing term4 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
 

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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.

Materials

At it's simplest, you really just need something to draw with and something to draw onto. I would like to keep this part simple. So I will only talk about some basic drawing mediums and paper.

Paper
There are so many papers out there it can easily make your head spin. I am going to list a few essential categories, but before we get into that, I would like to say with all honesty – I've been there and this is how it is from experience– if you are just starting to learn to draw, the type of paper you use will not make any difference whatsoever.
Well actually, it will make a difference – a negative one. If you are on a budget, buying expensive hand made paper for $7 a sheet will just lock you up. You will be worried about wasting money and will not dare to swing the hand and create some mess. Which is the only way to learn. Naturally, if you have loads of money and don't worry how much you spend, good for you, the nice paper is just that. Nice. Nice to touch, nice to look at. How much will it improve the look of the drawing on it? Not much if at all.
I have seen masterpieces drawn on photocopy paper with a ball point pen. The material helps only once you know what you are doing. Then it adds to the presentation. It will not replace skill or technique or mask the lack of it.

The basic types of paper.
I will not mention paper for wet use – any type of painting, aquarell.... I will also leave out printmaking paper – dry point, etching, lithograph... I will only talk about paper suitable for drawing. That simplifies matters quite a bit. Apart from the tint (colour) of the paper, thickness (weight, described as grams per square metre – "gsm". As a quick guide, an ordinary photocopy paper is 80gsm heavy.) and size, the most important feature is the roughness of the surface. You can judge that fairly well just by looking if the light is favourable, however, the best way to choose drawing paper is by touch. To feel the surface. If the paper in question is an expensive handmade specimen, you would ask the shopkeeper for permission to touch it. If it is your "run of the mill" sketchpad, touch away.
The rougher the surface of the paper, the more of the drawing medium (pencil, charcoal, chalk...) will rub off and make a mark. Now, if your hand is light enough to draw really subtle values, this is not an issue. If you are just starting with this stuff, the really rough surface will probably cause frustration.
Past a certain smoothes of the paper you can start using a pen and ink for your drawing as well. The smoothness of the paper just means the nib of your pen will not get caught in the fibre of the paper. If it does, the flow of your line will be interrupted, an angry blotch may follow and in the worst case scenarion you can throw away the nib. Not a big deal if you are using a traditional pen (like the one on the banner at the top of this page), however, if you are using a technical pen and it gets damaged, you're looking at $30.00+ loss.

So, on one end of the scale you have the really rough paper which is drawing medium hungry. It also tends to be thicker and more expensive. Then you have the middle of the scale with paper used in most of the bound and ready made sketch books. Feel for it, even among these there are variations in roughness. Then on the other end of the scale you have the really smooth, pen and ink type paper. Some of these are advertised as "bleed proof". What that means is that the paper will attempt to soak up as little of the ink as possible. This will cause for the ink to stay wet longer and if you are not careful, you may accidentally smudge the lines already drawn.
Once your drawing gets better and you will want to keep some of the drawings you may need to consider buying "acid free" paper. The acid in the paper is a serious contributor to "yellowing". Over a period of time the colour of the paper itself will turn yellow. A good example of this is to leave your daily newspaper in the sun for a few days and see what happens. The best thing to do is to buy any paper you will not be too precious about and use all the drawing mediums you can find in the house to see what happens, what kind of marks can you make. Continue with what you like and forget the rest. Lot's of fun.

Over a period of time everyone finds their favourite paper and then stick to it. You still experiment, but you know what you like and what works for you. There are 2 papers I like to use more than most. One is the 200gsm Fabriano Academia which has a nice amount of roughness but at the same time, if I really want to use it for a pen and ink drawing, I can get away with it. The other one is smoother, it is the 225gsm Simili Japon. This one I find ideal for my style of pen and ink work, but it has just enough roughness that I can use everything else on it. In a way, I can use both papers with any drawing tool I like.
I also like to tint either of them myself. Just gives me the control over the colour I want rather than working with the limited range of colours that come from the shop.

There's one more type of paper I want to mention. The cheap one. It is used for printing newspapers. It is quite thin (light) but has a bit of roughness so it is good for any pencil, charcoal or chalk. I wouldn't use it for a pen and ink drawing – it's way too absorbent. The best thing about it is, that it is cheap. You can go through a lot of it and be messy and learn a lot without spending too much. No limits in usage. That's the beauty of it. You can't get it in an art store, at least I have never seen it there. You have to go to the printers that print newspapers. What they usually do once the roll of the paper seem to almost run out, they start a new roll and the old one is thrown – let's hope they recycle. The printers like to sell these rolls and you can get 2 – 3 months worth of paper for $5.00 (five!). Of course the mileage will vary with how large you cut your sheets, how many drawings you do a day and how much paper was left on the roll, but it is an unbeatable value when you need to use a lot of paper and you're not fussy about keeping your mistakes for years.

Example of Fabriano Academia 200gsm paper

Fabriano Academia, 200gsm – you can see it has that roughness to the surface

Example of Simili Japon 225gsm paper

Simili Japon, 225gsm – great for my style of pen and ink drawing, but still good for anything else. The drawing above is done with graphite.

Example of a roll of inexpensive drawing paper

Example of a roll of inexpensive drawing paper, detail

The roll of paper the daily newspapers are printed on. A great source of inexpensive paper.

Example of a roll of inexpensive drawing paper used for large drawing

Example of a roll of inexpensive drawing paper used for drawing

The roll also allows you to cut the paper for large drawing. On the left I have it on a door, ready for a full size figure drawing. On the right, a quick sketch on the same paper. Good for pencil, chalk or charcoal.

Drawing Tools
First of all I want to say, so that it is all out in the open these days, anything goes. What you use for your studies is nobody's business. The drawing tools are not that expensive and if you want to get a feel for what they do, you don't have to get the most expensive imported stuff you'll be worried about wasting money by sharpening it. Speaking of sharpening, I like to use a knife instead of a sharpener. I can make the point as sharp and as long as I need. Flexibility. The best advice I can give you, is: experiment and see which tool sits best in your hand.

Erasers
In terms of erasers...hmmm... that's a tricky one. Ideally, you wouldn't use one. Apart from the fact that most erasing makes more damage than good, destroys the paper surface and in most cases you can clearly see the correction, the real basis for this advice is the fact that to learn to draw, you have to give it a good go. That means not being afraid to mess up lots of drawings. Once you make a mistake, you need to see and realise what is the mistake and why you made it. And for that process to run it's course you need to "preserve" the mistake. If you erase it, well, it's gone. Often, when you learn from your mistake, the discovery may be so new, radical and fragile, in five minutes you have forgotten what it was. And you're back in the old frustrating groove. That's when you pull out that mistake, making of which pushed you forward and get the knowledge again. So, yes, ideally you would not use erasers. Having said that, if your belief that you can learn to draw hinges on this one mistake and if it is gone your faith is renewed, well, then do it.

The other stuff
The above bits are the essentials. You need something to draw with and something to draw on. Apart from that, what helps, is an easel. You don't have to get the biggest and the best, made from precious wood. You should be able to get something nice for around $100.00. Do not order online, unless you know the easel well and tried it before. Get the feel for the easel you like. Can you work with it comfortably? Is it tall enough? Sturdy enough so it wouldn't threaten to collapse once you start drawing? Light enough for you to move it around. In other words, find out about the physicality of it.

If your aspiration lies in figure drawing and you really want to get there, you will need a skeleton. You can lay your hands on a decent life size, plastic skeleton for anywhere between $200.00 and $500.00. Just do a search for a skeleton in educational supplies. I spent on mine about $500.00 some 20 years ago and I drag it around to the classes I teach in person all the time and it is still in a very good condition. So, yes, it is an expense, but it will last for a long time and in terms of figure drawing it is a must.

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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