Portrait Study

Head Study
Portrait Study

Portrait Study. Charcoal on smooth newsprint (Pro Art). The reference was a Russian academic figure drawing.

It took me a few hours to complete, multiple sittings.  I started out blocking the overall head. I then rough-in the features, no measurements (that is why my proportions are always off 🙂 ). At this stage I am using vine charcoal. It gives me  great flexibility in the beginning; I can make a mistake and it can easily be corrected. The early stages are the most scariest for me when doing portraiture, because it does not look anything like my reference. Whiles I am drawing, I always feel like I should just trash it and start over. This drawing was no exception, however I hung in there despite that overwhelming feeling to start over. After I am happy with the placement of the features, then I go over the drawing with a 2B charcoal pencil,  solidifying the features and darkening the darks.

I left the ears undone, blocking-stage. His mustache  needs more tone, to pop out more from this face. I will do that, but it won’t be reflected in this post, though 🙁 Already took the picture  and uploaded it. Also,  the width of his head can be smaller.

The biggest thing I have learned is to measure, check, measure, check, measure, and for good measure, Measure! LOL.

It took some time, but the drawing came together at the end with mistakes and all.  At least I think so.

Let me know what you guys think.

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. 🙁