November 17, 2011

Class demo sketch

.Here's a demo sketch I did for my head drawing class, I thought I'd pass along a few pointers to those of you interested.

First, simple but accurate construction drawing then massing the light and shadow, this should be as simple as asking yourself what's in direct light and whats in shadow. Then addressing the turning forms within the light and shadow and designing hard and soft edges.

This overlay shows how a simple construction drawing lays the foundation. Though it may seem a bit abstract, it helps place the larger masses of anatomy within the whole, it maintains the symmetry of the head and helps convey the simple three dimensional nature of the head (like longitude and latitude on a sphere).

Always look for the simple statement as shown in this photoshop paint-over. If you put anything (and I mean anything) in your drawing that varies from it's simplest shapes and values you'd better have a darn good reason. Variations in shape and value that don't convey form to the viewer (even if you believe you're really seeing them) are the first and fastest step to drawings that don't hold together. Remember that your eyes want to find as much information as possible and tend to notice variations and contrasts more than they notice the overall value and shape relationships. squinting your eyes down to cut out all the surface details to see the simple massing of shape and value isn't just a good idea, it's a necessity.
Let me repeat it because this "simple statement" paint-over describes the most important thing I know about drawing. So few people ever master drawing because they don't know or are not willing to find the simple masses and relationships underneath all the complexity they can see. Everyone notices how the parts contrast from the whole, but you have to forcibly train yourself to do the opposite, to notice how the parts most simply relate the the whole as described in this final image.

Good luck!


David said...

Thanks Nathan, this is a very useful post! :) And the outcome is great, really!

Logan Pearsall said...

This is what we're working on currently in class. Well put.

Lydie said...

Thanks so much to share this.

Tim Shirey said...

Simple and clear explanation of basic principles and process that's so often missing.
Good demo and example!

Masles Roy said...

This is cool of you, thanks!

Sally said...

thank you very much! this is really helping me. :)

Kim said...

Wow. What a drawing Nathan. Thanks for stating it like that. It's what my life drawing teacher always tried to pound into us. I can still hear Anne saying (in between sips of coffee): Feel the masses!

Geoff Wheeler said...

Thanks for the Post, Nathan...I got a lot out of taking your quicksketch class this past summer...and posts like this are a great reminder.

Eric Haddad said...

This is a great post! Thank you for sharing it. I think I might write that last statement on my drawing board so I have a constant reminder.

Dylan said...

Great post, lovely picture too I really like the hair in the second stage pic.

chris said...

Thanks so much for these! Step-by-step WIPs are one of my favorite things to look at.

Jason Cheng said...

Bravo, Nathan. I always get a kick out of seeing your step-by-steps.
One thing that has resonated with me strongly is how much one has to resist drawing the superficial and the obvious, and how much art is a selective filtering process. Thanks for the reminder!

stefan marjoram said...

Thanks for the advice - I think I understand what you're getting at - though sometimes, when the lighting isn't very well defined, i think it can be very hard to put into practise.

stefan marjoram said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zépa said...

You work is amazing! I ever take a look, congratulations!!

Rose said...

Nice features

Deborah Elmquist said...

May I quote you? My students don't get it no matter how I try to explain it. You have done a masterful job.

Daniel said...

When discussing seeing the larger shapes and conforming everything to those, would you say you considered the larger mass of the head to be an egg shape and applied the tones to the entire head accordingly? A smaller detail, eg, the nose being considered a square column but still adhering to the tones of the larger egg form? I am just trying to gain some understanding of your process.

Thanks for the demonstration. It was very helpful.

estevaolucas said...

Very good Nathan, thanks for share this. Can you explain more about what you mean saying "then addressing turning forms"? Thanks fro your attention, very good.

Kendra said...

Hello! (: My mom found you online and suggested I check you out, and I'm so glad I did! These step by step posts are wonderful.. so great of you to share tips with your viewers! I often find myself squinting to look at my own work (especially my most recent portrait, I'm hoping to have it finished and posted soon) and now I see why! (:
If you have some free time, perhaps you could check out my own work..? I'm currently experimenting, perfecting techniques as well as trying new ones, and working on improving. I'm young, so I have plenty of time to learn everything I can. You can find me at

fredpalacio said...

its so seems so simple and there it is the little daemon in our head that want to take over !

The class demo was amazing ! Was nice to be part of it !

Steve said...

Excellent help in your post, I really need to practice more on this very subject, thank you for sharing!

M.R. Anand said...

lovely portrait and photoshop painting! thanks for the tips!

Rickie said...

This is key, keep shapes as simple as possible, and values matching.

adebanji said...

Amazing, just can't get enough of this!

oakleyses said...

tiffany and co jewelry, oakley sunglasses, michael kors handbags, polo ralph lauren outlet, prada handbags, cheap oakley sunglasses, chanel handbags, michael kors outlet online, true religion outlet, nike outlet, tiffany jewelry, christian louboutin outlet, michael kors outlet store, louis vuitton outlet, christian louboutin, coach purses, longchamp outlet online, oakley vault, ray ban sunglasses, louis vuitton handbags, longchamp outlet, tory burch outlet online, longchamp handbags, burberry outlet online, michael kors outlet online sale, gucci handbags, red bottom shoes, coach outlet store online, polo ralph lauren, louis vuitton outlet online, christian louboutin shoes, nike air max, michael kors outlet online, burberry outlet online, true religion, kate spade outlet, jordan shoes, louis vuitton, coach outlet, kate spade outlet online, prada outlet, nike free, coach outlet, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton outlet, nike air max, ray ban outlet

oakleyses said...

abercrombie and fitch, sac louis vuitton, michael kors uk, ralph lauren, ralph lauren pas cher, ray ban uk, hollister, true religion jeans, nike blazer pas cher, vans pas cher, ray ban pas cher, nike air max, air jordan, tn pas cher, nike free pas cher, mulberry uk, timberland, hermes pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, sac michael kors, louis vuitton, lululemon outlet online, louis vuitton pas cher, north face, burberry pas cher, longchamp, scarpe hogan, air max, louis vuitton uk, nike free, new balance pas cher, barbour, nike air force, lacoste pas cher, nike roshe run, oakley pas cher, air max pas cher, nike air max, nike roshe, michael kors canada, hollister, true religion outlet, chaussure louboutin, north face pas cher, longchamp pas cher, converse pas cher, guess pas cher

oakleyses said...

canada goose outlet, chi flat iron, asics shoes, vans outlet, giuseppe zanotti, ugg soldes, insanity workout, ghd, jimmy choo shoes, birkin bag, north face jackets, uggs outlet, abercrombie and fitch, hollister, north face jackets, replica watches, celine handbags, bottega veneta, wedding dresses, longchamp, nike trainers, new balance outlet, beats headphones, nfl jerseys, valentino shoes, ugg outlet, ferragamo shoes, soccer jerseys, p90x workout, nike roshe, canada goose outlet, reebok shoes, ugg, uggs on sale, mac cosmetics, lululemon outlet, babyliss, canada goose, soccer shoes, ugg boots clearance, canada goose outlet, mont blanc pens, marc jacobs outlet, nike huarache, herve leger, ugg outlet, mcm handbags, instyler ionic styler, ugg boots

oakleyses said...

moncler, nike air max, hollister clothing, canada goose, pandora uk, ray ban, louis vuitton canada, moncler outlet, karen millen, iphone 6 case, swarovski uk, moncler, wedding dress, parajumpers outlet, links of london uk, supra shoes, louboutin, uggs canada, thomas sabo uk, pandora jewelry, pandora charms, canada goose, coach outlet, hollister, ugg, timberland shoes, air max, converse, canada goose pas cher, converse shoes, moncler outlet, moncler, replica watches, swarovski jewelry, baseball bats, toms outlet, moncler, lancel, moncler, ralph lauren, gucci, juicy couture outlet, montre femme, juicy couture outlet, vans, hollister canada, canada goose, oakley

柯云 said...

giuseppe zanotti outlet
uggs on sale
uggs for women
abercrombie and fitch
cheap oakleys
louis vuitton outlet stores
uggs on sale
longchamp handbags
louis vuitton purses
ray ban sunglasses
cheap ugg boots
michael kors outlet online
ugg australia
michael kors outlet
coach outlet store
the north face jackets
louboutin femme
ugg boots
michael kors outlet
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton outlet
coach factory outlet
nfl jerseys wholesale
sunglasses oakley
mont blanc pens
louis vuitton outlet
ugg boots outlet
gucci outlet
tory burch outlet
michael kors bags
chanel bags
louis vuitton outlet stores
north face jackets
oakley store
chanel bags
louis vuitton bags
replica rolex watches
mont blanc mountain
michael kors handbags