A Flexible Life Drawing Method in Charcoal

drawing figure drawing

This is the 3 step life drawing method that my students learn in class and that I use when I am drawing the live model in long poses.

The biggest reason to use this method is that this is a flexible and malleable approach to figure drawing, so it allows you to continuously change your mind, correct errors, and cover mistakes as you gradually develop the shading.

No need to start with perfect proportions! Focus on the PROCESS and continually observing shapes and eventually the proportions will come together.

Step 1 is really the foundation of the whole process, and I usually take about 20 minutes in this step alone. It goes by really fast in this sped-up video but it is worth it to take your time and get a straight line block in to the best of your ability! 

I have been teaching figure drawing for more than 10 years and it’s my favorite subject to teach! In fact, I'm building an entire Figure Drawing Academy for dedicated students like you: https://www.schoolofrealistart.com/figuredrawingacademy 

Note: This method does not work well for short pose drawing. I recommend you try to have a long pose with a couple hours of drawing time. If you can't find a life drawing session with poses this long, try working from photographs. Over time, using this method will improve your sense of proportion as you're able to use your eyes to see the block in without actually creating it. 

Need references for figure drawing? Check out these Figurative Reference Photo Packs on Gumroadhttps://schoolofrealistart.gumroad.com/ 

Watch the video for details and to really see how it works, but for those who like to read, here are the steps:

Figure Drawing Step 1: Use Straight Lines to Block-In the Figure and Shadow Shapes

Why straight lines? Because they're more accurate than curved lines. If you try again and again to start a figure drawing with curved gesture lines, but the proportion ends up all wonky, you can see why!

Begin by using just a handful of straight lines to express a large abstract shape in the figure, get that proportion right, and then add to it or break down the shadow shape.

Figure Drawing Step 2: Fill In the Shadow and Light Shapes

You want to establish the basics of the form right at the beginning: Either the surface receives direct light, or it does not. Filling in the shadow with black charcoal and the light with white charcoal establishes this basic difference right from the beginning, and helps you maintain that form as you add information.

Figure Drawing Step 3: Add Darker Shadows, Lighter Lights, and Make Adjustments

Now that you have your base down, you can make corrections to the proportion at the same time that you add new information. No need to erase: If you have a good quality paper, you can jus draw straight over the top, making changes and adding darker shadows and lighter highlights. Gradually add half-tones, core shadows, and build up the form on the light side.

**Are you confused by terms like core shadow, reflected light, and terminator? I've got you covered! Download your Free Shading With Light Logic PDF guide, and you'll learn these terms and in which order you should add them in your charcoal drawing. Download it here: (Link coming soon!)**

Materials Used In This Demo:

General’s Charcoal Pencil Hard: https://amzn.to/367FUdo 
General’s Charcoal Pencil Medium: https://amzn.to/2TFJ31e 
General’s Charcoal Pencil White: https://amzn.to/2R8sRns 
My Favorite AFMAT Long Point Pencil Sharpener: https://amzn.to/3l9l46E 
Daler-Rowney Canford Card was originally used in this demo, but it's been discontinued. Instead try: Strathmore Toned Gray Paper, 14” x 11”: https://amzn.to/3CJELc9 
Winsor & Newton Vine Charcoal: https://amzn.to/3xa9k9P 
Faber-Castell Kneaded Eraser: https://amzn.to/3nESI6L 
General’s Charcoal Compressed Charcoal Sticks: https://amzn.to/3r1JQKQ 
**These are affiliate links and I may receive a commission from purchases. It’s an easy way to support my channel and help me continue to make more videos! I only recommend products I use and believe in.

More Figure Drawing Video Tutorials on Patreon

For as little as $10/mo, you can access hundreds of life drawing reference photos and real time figure drawing lessons. Check it out at https://www.patreon.com/SchoolofRealistArt !

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