I am using Dura-lar film matte surface as my substrate. It has just enough tooth to hold the graphite. It is difficult to get rich dark marks with pencils, however you can use other media to achieve that. This leads into why I love using this substrate. You can use multiple wet and dry media on the surface, like oils, gesso, and acrylics. I have not tried pastels, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I look forward to experiment more with this surface and sharing my results.
Following along with Steve Houston at NMA. Charcoal on Stonehenge paper. This was a nice tutorial on rendering gradations. Started out with an initial lay-in, demarcating the light and shadow side of the figure. From the core shadow scrubbed in a smooth gradation working into the shadows and then the light side of the figure.
Ron Lemen’s Figure rendering process. A very analytical approach to understanding figure abstraction, construction, and rendering.
There are four videos in the series.
The first video discusses the “Armature Stage”, which basically is capturing the gesture of the figure in a loose manner: “Loose and lively in the line work”. The most important take away for me in the first video was when drawing from reference photograph we have to know where the camera is in our reference, our camera level as oppose to our eye level sitting or standing in a classroom or studio.
The second and third video discusses surface form rendering. The topics discussed were: Edges of shadow and light and the gradient transitions that links them, value contrast, and tonal progression (vertical and horizontal gradient)
The fourth video just recaps what he went over in the previous videos.
A charcoal figure study done on smooth newsprint. Reference obtained from New Masters Academy.
Oil figure sketch on 12 x 16 oil primed linen canvas. This was my first time painting on linen and I have to say, it was incredible! It was just the right texture and smoothness that I wanted. Erasing on oil primed surfaces is a dream, compared to the acrylic primed canvases that I have used in the past for sketches. The acrylic primed canvases soaks up the oil, thus making it difficult for making corrections. I have tried Arches Oil Paper for doing sketches, but they are even worse than acrylic primed canvases. Once the pigment is laid down, there is just no removing it, unless you cover it up with another pigment, which is fine if you are sketching with multiple pigments.
However, oil primed linen are expensive! I have decided, however, to use one oil primed linen canvas solely for the purpose of doing sketches. I will simply sketch, take a picture, and erase when I am done. I plan to get a lot of mileage out of it.
Your questions and comments are always welcomed.
I started out doing comparative measuring. I held my hand out straight in front of me with a knitting needle between my index finger and thumb. I measured from the bottom of the neck to the top of the head. This would become my unit of measure that I would use to compare everything else on the figure.
After roughly calculating the height and width of the figure, I did an envelope or lay-in of the figure that consisted of 10 to 15 straight and diagonal lines. Subsequently, I did my best to locate common figure landmarks, like the shoulders, sternum, navel, indentation of the inside of the elbow, iliac crest, etc. I have found that the more skeletal/muscular surface anatomy you know the better you are able to narrow in on proportions and depict the surface of the figure better. I highly recommend Anthony Ryder’s “The Artist’s Complete Guide to Figure Drawing“. He has a chapter devoted solely to depicting surface anatomy.
I did not focus on one area to long, I spread my attention around the whole figure, jumping from one figure reference point to the next constantly comparing one surface mass to the other, again hoping to increase my accuracy.
In conclusion, I have to say that this one drawing pushed my patience, concentration, and knowledge of anatomy to new levels. I consider this drawing complete (tired of staring at it), but their always room for improvements.
I am finished with graphite and charcoal for a while. Switching to oils to do my sketches. So stay tuned for some gesture oil sketches. Really looking forward to doing those.
Comments, feedback are always welcome!
Tools used: Plum line, knitting needle, kneaded eraser, Mono Zero eraser, Creator Color Monolith graphite, Stonehenge 11 x 14 vellum finish paper.
Stan Prokopenko went over several techniques that will help you measure more accurately.