Monthly Archives: November 2013

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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Assignment 3 – Reflection

So, how do I think I have done?

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

Materials: I mulled over the use of a variety of materials whilst planning this assignment. Because I wanted to make sure the proportions were correct and the perspective was right, working in pencil first, followed by ink, meant that I could then rub out all the pencil guide marks I had made. Researching other images then led me to sticking with ink and using washes to complete the image. Using glued watercolour paper worked well and has meant that the paper has stayed flat and not stretched when the washes were applied (which happened with my assignment 1 piece).

Techniques: I was hoping to find a pen which would give me more unpredictable results to loosen up my style, but as it was, I ended up doing a detailed pen drawing. I did use different thicknesses of lines, but all continuous, with a number of different marks for the leaves and plants in the garden. My brush technique leaves a bit to be desired – my image is very detailed and exact, which isn’t mirrored by the application of the washes.

Observational skills: Because this was a detailed work, it was all about observation. I think I have measured and observed well and got the perspective right.

Visual awareness: This is similar to the previous category, but I guess would cover awareness of the different tones in the image. In some areas I think I have got this right, but others (the paving slabs and the receding wall in particular), I haven’t.

Design and compositional skills: I think the composition I chose worked well. The portrait format fits the image well, the door to the right frames the composition nicely and the table and mat provide foreground interest which leads into the image. The placement of the flowers on the windowsill also works well, although I haven’t made these large enough in my drawing.

Quality of Outcome

Content: The image falls down in areas due to the washes applied – I have got a smudge on the right hand door from ink on my hand, and I have used too dark a wash on the paving slabs and on the wall at the top of the image (although this does now frame the image quite well). I think most of the rest of the image works well, although the washes could have been more exactly applied where straight lines were needed.

Application of knowledge: I guess the main areas of knowledge from the course applied here were measuring, perspective and tone. I am very pleased with the first two of these, but need to continue working on my depiction of tone.

Presentation of work in a coherent manner: This blog is the main record of my work, with my accompanying sketchbook.

Discernment: Hopefully this shows in the final drawing.

Conceptualisation of thoughts: The thinking in this image was around the composition and what elements to keep and what to discard. I think the composition is strong and works very well. I also think most of my thoughts on what to draw and what to ignore worked well – the removal of the cat flaps and radiator both “tidied up” the image. I should have thought a bit more about the plant pots in the garden though as these look a bit flat and also removing items from the left hand window should have resulted in paving slabs then showing.

Communication of ideas: I think the choices made in composition and the materials used make this image (mostly) work well, and I think the image only really falls down on my technique.

Demonstration of Creativity

Imagination: I guess that seeing the composition of an image, placement of elements, working out what to include/exclude, simplifying elements, etc. is the evidence of imagination.

Experimentation: This was mainly in trying out different textures with pen marks and washes to see what worked.

Invention: I’m not sure how to answer this, unless to say ditto to the above?

Development of a personal voice: I guess I am developing this and it is leaning towards detailed studies, whether I like it or not!


Reflection: Overall I think this drawing went well. It could certainly be improved, but mainly through starting again and working better with the washes. As that would be the main thing I would do to change it, I guess I have made the right choices in composition, techniques and materials for what I was planning to achieve.

Research: Most of my research has been done whilst working through this stage of the course, although I did some research for this assignment when it came to deciding how to proceed after laying down the initial pen lines.

Critical thinking (learning log): This post and the others through this stage of the course covers this.

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Assignment 3 – View from a window or an open door

I chose a scene from my mother-in-law’s house whilst I was house/cat sitting there:


Preliminary sketches:


My preliminary sketches were pretty rough and ready as the options for varying the image were quite limited. The outcome of them was to go for a portrait format, close to the open door, with the door open as wide as it could go.

After mulling it over for a while, I decided to try doing this with pen and ink, so started out working in pencil to get the perspective right (the grid is matching the viewfinder I made myself out of a piece of plastic with lines drawn on it):


Despite thinking I’d measured everything correctly, once I put the doormat in, I realised that my doorway was too tall and thin.

Rather than continue with this, I started again, measuring more carefully and it looked better:


I adding ink outlines to the sketch, doing a quick reference sketch to work out which lines needed to be bolder:


I forgot to photograph the image at this point, but I’ve gone all detailed again – maybe that is just my style and I have to accept it? I would like to explore more simplified abstract images, but always seem to end up going into great detail.

I stalled a little at this point. I was happy with the image so far, but how to continue with it? I needed to add tone and also needed to decide if colour should be introduced.

I had a bit of a look at pen and wash images on the web and looked at the following images:

Rural Landscape (pen and ink wash on paper) – Brill or Bril, Paul

Landscape with a lake (pen and ink and wash on paper) – Harden, John

Wooded Landscape with the Temptation of Christ (pen and grey ink, brush and w/c on paper) – Vinckboons, David

Cattle Resting (pen & ink on paper) – Hills, Robert

Landscape (pen & ink on paper) – Bruegel, Pieter the Elder

The Flock and the Star (pen and brush in ink over pencil and ink) – Palmer, Samuel

I noticed how the ink colour faded as it went into the background, so I used diluted ink to add the leaf textures into the background (beyond the wall) in my image.

I couldn’t find any images with small areas of colour, which would be what I was thinking about for the flowers, so I decided to stick with grey-black for this drawing.

I had a little tinker around with ink washes:


Along with testing the intensity of the wash before applying it, I started out with slightly diluted ink and kept diluting more and more as I went through the image. Unfortunately I ran out of ink so had to do this again which resulted in some of the tones which should have been the same, coming out differently.

My final image:


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Project – Drawing trees

Exercise – Sketching an individual tree

I chose a tree by the river for this exercise, which was to do four sketches of the same tree:

Tree study

Sketch 1:


In pencil, a simple outline drawing with vegetation shaded in

Sketch 2:


In coloured pencil, including some tonal shading this time

Sketch 3:


In pen with tonal shading (drawn as a continuous line), but no vegetation drawn in

Sketch 4:


Pen as with sketch 3, with vegetation in coloured pencil – a bit too luminous in colour and being able to see through the coloured pencil to the pen below looks a bit weird.

Sketch 5:


I did an additional larger sketch of the same tree in charcoal

Exercise – Larger study of an individual tree

I picked the tree on my patio to draw as I could do this comfortably through the patio windows:

Individual tree photo

I chose Letraset Tria pens to complete this sketch as I wanted to try them out.

Individual  Tree

The pens give a uniform colour no matter how much you go over the same spot with them, so I had to add tone through hatching on the trunk. There wasn’t really any way I could add this in the foliage areas though, but I don’t think the image suffers too much from this.

Exercise – Study of several trees

I found a suitable spot not too far from home which I thought might work well:

Group of trees

I decided to tackle this using charcoal:

Group of trees charcoal

I then thought I’d try adding some colour:

Group of trees charcoal and chalk

The chalk made an almighty mess! That and I seemed unable to get any control over them at all. So, covered in green chalk, I decided to try again.

Group of trees 2 charcoal

This time I thought I’d try coloured pencil to introduce colour:

Group of trees 2 charcoal and coloured pencil

This did work better to get colour in, but looking back on these images, they are very childlike images – mainly because they are uniform in tone. The trunks were pretty uniform in tone, but I think maybe I needed to use a smoother paper to get a dense black for the trunks and then rub out the few highlights? However would be the best method, I haven’t achieved it in these drawings!

Check and Log

How many different tree types have you drawn?

  • Three. The most interesting ones I find to draw are those which are dead or partially dead as the bare branches give the interest and they are not just a mass of green.

What techniques did you use to distinguish each type?

  • I’m not sure I’ve developed a technique for different types of tree, I approached each drawing with a plan to use different media or just to see what worked.

What did you do to convey the mass of foliage?

  • As detailed above, I mostly avoided this by drawing bare trees, and the drawings I did of several trees were not very successful.

How did you handle light on the trees? Was it successful?

  • Not very well. Some of the hatching I used on the study of the individual tree worked well, but apart from that I haven’t been successful in capturing this.

Did you manage to select and simplify? Look at your drawings and make notes on how you did this, and what could you do better?

  • Not really. The tree image which I think has worked best for me was the study of the individual tree in which I drew pretty much everything which was there, only simplifying in the mass of foliage. The only images which were simplified were the studies of several trees and I simplified them to the point of a child drawing! I’m quite disappointed with what I produced for the tree drawings as I was quite keen to get some good results with these. I definitely need to work on my simplification of images and on my tonal work.
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Project – Townscapes

Exercise – Study of a townscape using line

This exercise called for a couple of pages of preliminary drawings, then a study in pen and ink or drawing pen. By this point in the course I had left it too late to do much drawing outside as it has turned cold and wet, so I modified this assignment to do a pen sketch from a photograph.

The image chosen:

Townscape image 1

My sketch:

Townscape 1

Some bits of this have worked quite well, but I have failed to get any sense of tone in the majority of this image.

Exercise – A sketchbook of townscape drawings

I tried this exercise drawing the two 10cm squares for a detail and tonal study:



However, when I can to the full sketch I realised I had got some of the proportions wrong (the ivy is too small). I also got too cold drawing and lost inspiration for this view.

So I tried again using a photograph of another area of Grassington:

Townscape image 2

Townscape 2

I started this sketch on a background of light graphite rubbed into the paper, and I really like the effect this has had on the image. It also makes it quite easy to rub guide lines into the background once you no longer need them.

Exercise – A limited palette study from your sketches

Again, I had to modify this exercise as I didn’t have enough preliminary sketches and none which mentioned colour, so I worked off a photograph of Skipton high street:


I decided to work with the Letraset Tria pens and started out trying to complete it just using diaganol lines in one direction:

Limited pallette 1

I didn’t get on with this though, so abandoned that idea and started again:

Limited pallette 2

I rushed into this drawing too quickly though and didn’t get all the main angles worked out before starting to draw, so I only completed part of the drawing. Problems include:

  • The people are too small in the distance to the right of the car
  • Shop fronts too high (in taking out the cars parked in front of them, I have miss-judged the pavement level)
  • Background building wrong shape (in taking out the tree, I have got the shape of this wrong)
  • I drew the building lines in too far down before adding the car

If I get chance later in the course I might re-try this exercise.

Exercise – Drawing statues

I never realised how few statues I have near me until I went looking for them! However, I did find 3 in my nearest town and had to make do with them.

The first one I attempted was a statue of Freddie Truman in the canal basin:


Using pencil, I made the following sketch:


On a different day I tried to tackle the other two statues. First off was the angle on top of the war memorial. There was only one location in which I could sit and sketch this, which wasn’t the ideal profile:


I was also a fair distance from the statue (I zoomed in to photograph it), so I went for capturing the general outline rather than including any of the detail as I couldn’t really see it from where I was.

My first attempt in charcoal:


The statue here was very roughly sketched and the background too bland, so I had another go, this time using softer charcoal and attempting to capture some of the cloud formations:


Outlining the pillar on which the statue stands was a mistake, but I was quite pleased with the rest of the image.

The final statue was on the high street:


There was nowhere to sit nearby to be able to sketch this statue, so I had to do my drawing at home, choosing pencil for this one:


The pigeon didn’t work brilliantly on this, and his right hand went a bit funny, but I like the looming impression he gives.

Check and Log

How did you use a limited colour palette to create a sense of depth?

  • Only through the use of perspective and some shading with the black pen. The Tria pens don not allow for different tones.

Did your preliminary sketches give you enough information for your final pieces of work?

  • I didn’t manage to do any sketches from preliminary sketches due to the weather turning and needing to progress with the course. If I get chance later in the course I will re-visit this exercise.

Would you approach this task differently another time?

  • I think it is important to use rulers and get the main perspective shapes sketched in before starting drawing in earnest. I did this best on the image with a background of graphite and this is the one which has worked the best.

Have you got the scale of the buildings right? Make notes on what worked and what didn’t.

  • When I got the perspective right then yes. I struggled when trying to exclude things (e.g. the cars in the limited colour palette sketch).

Have you captured the colour and atmosphere in your studies? How did you do this?

  • I have worked mainly in pencil with these sketches, the only colour study being the limited palette sketch, which I think best captures the atmosphere as well. The drawing I am most pleased with is the one on the graphite background, but this does have a different atmosphere than the image it was taken from, as the drawing is much more moody.
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