Category Archives: Stage 4

Miscellaneous sketches

Sketches from life drawing classes or practice sketches which didn’t fall under any course headings:

HandP1010055 Quick charcoal sketch P1010060 P1010057P1010089portraits013portraits011

In the second to last sketch I messed up the eye when I tried to add it in without reference to the person I was sketching. The last sketch was also an interesting one. I was actually trying to capture the gaunt look of this woman, but have made her younger and prettier!

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Project – Self portrait

Exercise – Drawing your face

Several five-minute sketches of my face describing different angles of my face and head:


The second sketch looks like a character from “Guess Who”! This exercise has come during Movember, so my attempts to grow a dodgy moustache gave me some added interest to capture! The last of these was the best in describing the angles as I haven’t got distracted into adding detail.

Five more quick sketches concentrating on the overall shape of the head without the neck:


I think I have quite an angular head!

The shape of my neck:


Exercise – A self portrait

First sketch using pencil:


I drew my face straight on here. The chin isn’t right and should be more angular and the nose and lips are too far apart, despite putting them closer together than was recommended in the course notes!

Second sketch using charcoal pencils:


This time I drew my face at the angle I was facing to complete the drawing, which made it easier to jump between looking and drawing. Despite that, I have managed to elongate my head and given myself a bit of an alien appearance!

Exercise – Portrait from memory

I chose to draw my wife’s dad for this exercise. The drawings were carried out in a bar whilst he listened to a show. He had his eyes closed a lot of the time which simplified the drawing of the eyes.


I particularly like the left hand sketch where I only managed to capture the eyes.

Unfortunately the lights were turned down when the show changed which made it very difficult to continue with these sketches. I looked through my photographs assuming I had plenty of him but could only find two shots which were group shots so didn’t have much detail when zoomed in.


The sketch looking down looks a bit like him, but the frontal view looks nothing like him.

I decided to move on to the portrait from memory using these sketches, rather aware than my source material was a little thin!

I decided to use the eye sketch mentioned earlier so going for a three-quarter view. I started out sketching in a head and adding features using the generic proportions as detailed in Betty Edwards book.

Adding in the features I came to a portrait, but not of him!


The glasses are too small, the face too full and the hair too dense. This is a very hard exercise to do without a model to measure off and without detailed enough sketches to work from.

Research point

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-69)

Rembrandt was prolific in his self-portrait drawings and etchings. It seems to be unknown why he did this, whether it was due to wanting to record himself aging, testing out expressions, building public recognition of himself, or due to market demand. However, having done a couple of self-portraits myself, it could just be that the model is always there and willing, so it is easy to get going with them.

Self Portrait, 1630 (etching)

This etching shows Rembrandt with an expression of surprise or shock. It has great use of line and hatching to depict his face in a clean style

Self Portrait, 1630 (oil on copper)

This painting shows a more pensive expression, or perhaps like mine he was concentrating on how to get the drawing right!

Self-portrait as a young man, c.1628 (pen, ink & wash on paper)

This is a more abstract image using bold brush strokes to depict the tone and hair, with sparse use of pen lines in the brighter areas.

Vincent van Gogh (1853-90)

van Gogh painted self-portraits due to a lack of money to pay for models and as practice studies to perfect his style. His intention being “to show that a variety of very different portraits can be made of the same person.”

Self portrait, 1886 (oil on canvas)

This is an early oil painting of himself with muted realistic colours.

Self Portrait with Felt Hat, 1887-88 (oil on canvas)

This is a later, very bold and colourful depiction of himself and I love the use of colours you would not expect to see on his face (blues and greens) but which work so well.

Lucian Freud (1922-2011)

Freud drew and painted a number of self portraits

Self Portrait, 1981 (charcoal on paper)

This image is very bold and not exactly complimentary to himself!

Reflection (Self Portrait), 1985 (oil on canvas)

This is also a very honest depiction of himself and it is very interesting to see how he has included so much detail from using blocks of colour.

Caio Locke (1980-)

Finally a self-portrait from a contemporary artist

Self-Portrait, 2002

Possibly deep in concentration? I don’t think I have seen an artist self portrait of themselves smiling – maybe it is too difficult to keep the smile up for any length of time?


Rembrandt van Rijn: Life and Work:

Bridgeman Education:

Van Gogh Museum:


Check and log

Which drawing materials produced the best results? Why?

  • I think both pencils and charcoal pencils worked well with the portraits, the pencils allowing more subtle tones and the charcoal pencils allowing a greater tonal range (which I used too much in the depiction of my thinning hair!).

Does your self portrait look like you? Show it to a couple of friends or family members and note down their comments.

  • Ish! My family’s comments where that my first self-portrait looked the most like me, but I have a squarer jaw. On my second portrait, my ears need to be bigger, I have less hair and my head is too pointed.

Did you find it easy to convert your sketches into a portrait?

  • Not really, but then I didn’t really have enough sketches to start with. If I work from sketches again, I need to have a lot more of them and I would supplement them with plenty of photographs.

Were your preliminary drawings adequate?

  • No, but due to lack of opportunity to capture them. If I had known how little time I had I might have approached the sketches differently.
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Project – The moving figure

Exercise – Sitting and waiting and Fleeting moments

I’m going to sound like a country bumpkin now, but I have a lack of access to groups of people to sketch as I live and work in a village, work in an office on my own with no communal area, and don’t even go to supermarkets!

I have combined these two exercises as I think they are very similar.

A rare training session involving a train journey afforded me the opportunity of drawing some of the passengers:

Train sketches 2Train sketches 1

The amount of detail I was able to capture depended on how long the person didn’t move for, or how long I could get away staring at them for!

Manning a gallery exhibition for a day gave me another opportunity to try to capture drawings of people:

gallerysketches003gallerysketches002gallerysketches001Gallery sketches 2Gallery sketches 1

You would have thought this would have given me plenty of time to sketch people, but it was amazing how short a period of time some people spent looking at the artwork!

And a sketch in the pub whilst waiting for my friend to arrive:


In all of these sketches I think I am trying to capture too much detail and need to try working more quickly.

Research point

People watching. I tried to approach this by doing some candid photography and then do some sketches based on these.

I tried to do this based on some photographs of my family on holiday:


A pen sketch


Then a few quicker sketches of people throwing (a welly if you are interested – don’t ask!). These are much quicker and when one works using quick lines (like the twisted body on the second page), this can work well.

As well as the difficulties in finding enough people to draw, this section is also a little sparse because this quick drawing didn’t appeal to me. I can’t seem to get the proportions of a figure correct without spending time measuring, so I am rarely pleased with the results.

Check and log

How well did you manage to create the sense of a fleeting moment rather than a pose?

  • Not very well, but best when I resorted to a very thick pencil and working as quickly as I could, otherwise I got into too much detail.

How successful were your attempts to retain an image and draw later?

  • I did this section from photographs instead as I know my visual memory is terrible!

Were you able to keep to a few descriptive lines to suggest the person’s movement or were you tempted to keep introducing more elements into your work?

  • I was always tempted to introduce more detail than I needed to.
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Project – The clothed figure

Exercise – Fabric with line and form

Drawings of overalls thrown over a chair:


Using an 8B pencil for a 15 minute sketch in line only


Using soft and hard charcoal pencils for a 15 minute sketch. I added lines to show the tone this time which worked better. It was very hard to get the proportions correct though as there were so many folds of fabric, so the proportions of both sketches are not fantastic.


Small sketches of sections of the fabric, the ones which have worked best here are the ones where I started out shading in the mid tone and removed/added onto that.

Exercise – Form and movement in a clothed ­figure

I drew my wife wearing a dressing gown and sitting on the sofa with her feet up watching TV (avoids the movement which comes from page turning if reading a book!).

Clothed figure

I started concentrating on depicting the fabric before getting all the proportions of the figure correct and as a result her body isn’t wide enough (by about 50% I think), and her legs should be thinner. The fabric shadows and folds work best around her right arm where there are a lot of folds and where I have put in some of the background. They don’t work quite so well on the legs where there are less shadows and it looks a bit flatter. The cat distracted me a bit in this area also, but his presence wasn’t optional!

Check and log

Did you find it easy to approach the figure as a whole or were you distracted by details of the sitter’s dress?

  • I was distracted into trying to capture this before getting the overall shape correct to start with. I got my wife to wear a plain white dressing gown though, so there wasn’t distraction from colour or pattern though.

How did you create volume in the folds of fabric?

  • The shading creates the volume in the folds and I am starting (slowly!) to get better at using more dense pencil marks to increase the tonal range which helps define them further.

Does the finished drawing give a sense of the figure beneath the fabric?

  • I think so. It does seem a bit flat in the body which could be because I haven’t captured the background very well or added any to the right hand side.

How would you tackle a drawing like this again?

  • Probably in much the same way, although I would ensure the body outline shape was all correct before adding detail and I would put in a background around the whole figure.
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Project – Structure

Research point

Research anatomy images. I had to use the web for this as I had no access to anatomy books. I found a wealth of images on there though and did a few drawings of the parts of the body:

Musculature sketches 1 Musculature sketches 2 Musculature sketches 3 Musculature sketches 4

I can see how knowing the location and shape of the main muscles will help in completing figure drawings (although the rest of them may just confuse things), and I will try to use this knowledge in future sketches.

Exercise Three drawings

Three sketches using different drawing tools


I went straight to drawing the model with this drawing, using a background of charcoal as my mid tone and using a rubber to remove it for the highlights and adding darker charcoal for the shadows.



Initial sketch:


I did this sketch in the life drawing class, using pencil and again concentrating on getting the proportions correct. I was just starting to add some shading to the foot when the class finished, so didn’t get to include tone in this drawing.


Lying down

I did an initial quick sketch from the back of the model:

Lying down from behind quick sketch

Then went for a frontal view for a longer pose (the exercise called for a view down the model, but the options in the life drawing class were limited and this wasn’t possible). I used charcoal again for this (but a different method) and concentrated on using tone rather than line:

Lying down

I didn’t manage to do much in the way of preparatory sketches for any of these drawings as they all took place in a life drawing class where time was limited. so I mostly concentrated on the main image.

Check and log

How accurately did you depict the overall proportions of the figure?

  • Probably most accurate in the sitting sketch, followed by the lying down one and the standing the least accurate. I found it difficult to get the proportions correct when using the removal method, although it was getting close by the end of the session. I am pleased with all three drawings though.

Did you try to imagine the sitter’s skeleton and muscles? Did this help you to convey the figure’s structure and form?

  • Not for these drawings, but I will try this for some future ones.
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Project – Gesture

Exercise Stance

5 short sketches identifying the figures central axis:


Exercise Energy

3 sketches trying to capture a sense of movement:


I wasn’t really sure how to approach this exercise as I didn’t know how to capture a sense of movement by drawing a static pose?

Check and log

How well have you managed to capture the poses? What could be improved?

  • Reasonably well. It is hard to get a sense of perspective and therefore if the foreshortening is correct, without having more detail in the sketches which the time limits in these exercises didn’t allow.

Do you think that your figures balanced? If not where did you go wrong?

  • I think the centre-lines are correct, but the lack of detail doesn’t show the foreshortening/angle at which I drew the figure, which makes some of them look as if they wouldn’t balance!

How did you go about conveying a sense of energy?

  • I’m not sure whether I achieved this goal, but I approached it by using bolder lines and trying to show crease lines where the clothing showed twisting.
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Project – Form

Exercise – Essential shapes

Model arranged in a chair at an angle. I did these drawings of my wife sitting in an armchair reading. I took measurements and drew her from 3 different angles (by spinning the armchair around to a new location) and made some notes as I went.


In the first sketch I made the mistake of trying to draw in her face which I wasn’t going to be able to get right in the time available. For the subsequent drawings, I just marked in the position of the eyes, nose and mouth. I think I have captured the foreshortening of the body and the perspective of the chair quite well in these quick sketches.

Exercise – Essential elements

The brief was for six ten minute poses concentrating on tone and not detail. I was bound by the format of the life drawing class though, so below are nine sketches of between 2 and 5 minutes where I tried to concentrate on tone.

Essential elements 1Essential elements 2Essential elements 3Essential elements 4Essential elements 5Essential elements 6Essential elements 7Essential elements 8

I found that I needed to get in the basic outline first which took up a significant portion of the time and didn’t leave much left to put in the tone, so these are not as complete as I might like.

Check and log

Were you able to maintain a focus on proportion at the same time as creating a sense of weight and three-dimensional form?

  • With all except the second to last sketch, I drew in the basic shapes first before adding the tone, so I think the proportions are mostly about right. I would have needed more time to go straight into tone drawing on its own as I would definitely mess up the proportions otherwise!

Which drawing gives the best sense of the pose and why?

  • For “Essential shapes” I think this was the third sketch with the leg and foot very large in the foreground. I think it is the foreshortening which gives the best sense of pose in the absence of any tone.
  • For “Essential elements” I think this would be the first and last sketches as the proportions are correct and I have got the tone in more accurately and completely than for the other sketches, so they are more three dimensional.

Was there any movement or gesture away from the model’s central axis. If so did you manage to identify this and put it into your drawing?

  • In “Essential elements”:
    • Sketch 3 –  the model has a twist in the body but I haven’t managed to capture this very well
    • Sketch 4 – the model has a twist in her spine and out flung arms which I have started to capture crudely with tonal shading
    • Sketch 6 – the model has an arched back which I think has been identified better using lines for the creases in the back and shading
    • Sketch 8 – this is a very energetic pose where the tonal shading has made sense of the foreshortening
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Project – Proportions

Exercise – Quick poses

Quick (5-10 minute) sketches of different poses. These were done with a few different models at a life drawing class. The first in each series always suffers until I get into the swing of it.

Quick sketches 1Quick sketches 2Quick sketches 3Quick sketches 4Quick sketches 5Quick sketches 62 Quick Sketches 12 Quick Sketches 2

Exercise – The longer pose

Sketches of a longer pose. Again, I have done a number of these at the life drawing class.


This was the first drawing I did at the life drawing class – I haven’t measured properly in this image, especially in the location of the eyes.

Note:- Looking back on this drawing at the end of this stage, I have just read Betty Edwards book ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ and it is interesting that I have done what she found all her students doing in making the features too big on the face and positioning the eyes too high, because that is what the brain “sees” – if only I had read her book earlier!


My second attempt – a much more incomplete drawing because I spent a lot longer measuring for this one.

2 Measured

My third attempt – measured and getting closer to be a complete drawing, but still a long way off!

Check and log

Have you managed to make a complete statement in this time? What were your main problems?

  • No. The quick poses suffer from being quick and giving limited time to measure, and can only really be outlines in the time allowed. For the longer poses, I need to spend a lot of time measuring the parts of the body at the moment, along with making corrections, etc., so don’t have enough time to make a complete statement in the time.
  • Some poses I was trying to draw were not very easy to do as they didn’t have many points of reference, so this may have contributed to the incomplete drawing.

How well have you captured the characteristics of the pose?

  • I think I’ve captured them reasonably well with the longer poses.

Do the proportions look right? If not, how will you try to improve this?

  • I’m quite pleased with the proportions for the second and third longer poses. I spent most of my time measuring, checking angles, correcting, etc. + returning the model to the pose after the break didn’t fit perfectly to the position before the break which made it tricky.
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People sketches

My tutor encouraged me to do some sketches of people whilst out and about working through stage 3, so I thought I would include these in here:


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