Category Archives: Graphite

Figure Drawing: Pencil on Dura-Lar (Acetate alternative)

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.

Russian Academic Figure Study

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.

Figure Study Progression 2

Figure Study Progression
Figure Study Progression


This figure study took about 4 hours, over multiple sittings. I could have spent more time rendering the forms, but I normally devote only 4 hours for long studies.  This reference gave me the opportunity to study light and shadow on the figure. This reference has a strong chiaroscuro effect and that is why I chose it as my study for today.  I found that modeling forms within shadow can be quite difficult.

I really wanted to hunker down in the blocking stage , since I tend to rush through that stage and to later berate myself for getting the proportions all wrong. However, given the nature of the reference, I had to lay down some tone from the start, to establish separation between and within the forms. For example, the left forearms and upper chest.

Please let me know what you guys think.

Okay, onto the next!

Materials used: Graphite, Smooth Newsprint, and kneaded eraser.

Disclaimer: This is not an original work, but a copy of an Russian academic drawing used solely for education purposes.

Figure Study Progression

Figure Study Progression
Figure Study Progression


Figure study. Graphite on smooth newsprint.  The reference was taken from a 1950s Russian training art manual. In it was a number of drawing plates to copy from. In this particular study I started with an “envelope”,  a few gesture lines delineating the overall height and with of the figure.  I then proceed to do the initial blocking.  In my blocking stage I map out the shadow areas, in addition to developing the contour lines. Each step thereafter was just refinements. Also, this time around I decided to draw bottom-up instead of top-down.  It wasn’t too  bad doing things in reverse order.

I used a HB graphite pencil for the initial blocking and 4B pencil for the shading. Even with the HB pencil I still find I go too dark in the early stages of the drawing. I find myself pressing hard with the pencil, when I should just switch to a softer pencil to get a darker tone. To be honest, I am always pressing hard, regardless of the hardness of the pencils. 🙁 Suggestions?

My shading and edges still need some more work, though. Proportions were off.  However, overall I am pleased with this study.  Onto the next!

Ruben’s St. Sebastian Study

Old masters's Copy
Old master’s Copy


Charcoal, White Chalk and Graphite on watercolor paper.

I have been working on this study on and off for a while now. Decided to come back to it today for about 30 minutes.  I swear I have redrawn that head at least six times! The only part that is drawn in graphite is the head, which  I did today, again. 🙁

Figure Sketch

Figure drawing
figure sketching practice

This was about a 3 hour figure sketch, multiple sittings.  I chose this particular figure to draw because of its expressiveness.  The model legs spread apart,  a slight lean in the torso, and the right elbow resting on his right leg conveyed power, stability and boldness.  I wanted to capture all these intangibles in my drawing. I believe I accomplished what I set out to do, but of-course there are always room for improvements.  For example, the proportion and perspectives are slightly off.  The lights and shadows values are to close; I could have pushed the darks a little bit more to separate them more from the lights.  Well, now I know what to improve on for my next figure sketch.  Feedback is always appreciate, so let me know what you guys think.