Figure Drawing: Value & Shading

Value refers to light and dark. The more control you gain over the use of value the more realistic your work will appear, and the more choices you will have in the finished result.

value scale

A direct way that you can do it is to have drawing pencils in a variety of softness/hardness. The softer the lead is the darker the mark it leaves. From hard (F) to soft (B) the leads either get harder or softer by the number.

figure drawing value

You can also make different types of markings to create a variety of values. It is a good exercise to create a value scale from different mediums and methods.

Below are examples of how basic shapes can be made to appear three-dimensional, by applying values with shading.

drawing value

drawing value

It is a good practice to keep a sketchbook and capture items showing the differences light can play on an object. The simplest shapes can have the most interesting value changes.

A well known trick is to squint your eyes when looking at an object to see the strong contrast in values. If you map out your value areas BEFORE starting to put in any details , it will help you have a more cohesive drawing.

Drawing Challenge Header


Figure Drawing: Facial Muscles

Awareness of the facial muscles is much like a builder having the full information about a foundation. You would not want someone to start putting up the walls to your house without knowing what was beneath it.

figure drawing facial muscles
Full frontal view of facial muscles
Figure drawing facial muscles
Profile view of facial muscles

The drawings here were created by me to gain a greater understanding of everything that composes the human face. If you want to do studies yourself, feel free to use these shown as a reference. If you wish to dig deeper, you can refer to medical texts/image/links for reliable information.

I strongly suggest if your goal is to create figurative work that you take some time to study the muscles. It helps to develop a strong foundation of knowledge to build.

Think of each band of muscles reacting like a rubber band, stretching and bouncing back into shape.

Next time we will look at the different methods of shading

Figure Drawing: Previous Posts

Figure Drawing: Building Shapes

Figure Drawing Proportions

Figure Drawing: Tools and Supplies

Figure Drawing: Resources

Figure Drawing: FREE Offer

Receive a FREE guide today of the body’s skeleton proportions and critical areas when doing life drawing. figure

Figure Drawing: Building Shapes

Figure drawing doesn’t have to be complicated. We can construct the entire human figure if we break it down into basic shapes.

Figure drawing shapes
Quick sketch broke down below into basic shapes.
figure drawing shapes
Having basic shapes in mind can help when building the initial drawing and also with shading.

figure drawing shapes

figure drawing shapes

To begin, think of each part of the body as a shape: either a tube, circle, cone or block.  Build them one on top of the other. The torso is a long tube, bent in any direction. The arms long tubes or cones. The head begins as the shape of an egg.

Figure drawing shapes

Think of each shape as a soft, pliable material that is pinched. Notice the push and pull on the shapes. Where do they push inward? Outward?

Next time we’ll look at muscles that create the face.

Figure Drawing: Previous Posts

Figure Drawing Proportions

Figure Drawing: Tools and Supplies

Figure Drawing: Resources

Receive a FREE guide today of the body’s skeleton proportions and critical areas when doing realistic life drawing. figure shapes

Figure Drawing: Proportions

Figure Drawing proportionsProportions

Each part of the body is related in size to its other parts. In the image above the entire human skeleton is shown in relation to the size of the skull. Seven and one-half height of the head equals the whole human body in traditional proportion.

figure drawing proportions


When drawing children, the proportions are different. You will notice in the example above the head is equal to just over a fifth of the entire body. Younger children have an even more significant head to body ratio

figure drawing proportionsFacial

When you divide up the facial features, the eyes are usually at the midpoint between the top of the skull and the chin. Nose-width is equal to the space between the eyes. Each edge of the mouth locates in line with the center of each eye. Of course, each is unique and different, but these guidelines are a classic example of perfect facial proportions.

Next time we will explore basic shapes you can use to build the human body.

Figure Drawing: Previous Posts

Figure Drawing: Tools and Supplies

Figure Drawing: Resources

Receive a FREE guide today of the body’s skeleton proportions and critical areas when doing realistic life drawing.

drawing figure

Figure Drawing: Tool and Supplies

Drawing Skull

First and foremost in drawing you do NOT have to spend a fortune on supplies. The goal here is that you are learning to see and duplicate what you see on paper. If you have archival paper and professional supplies that is great, but if not you can also have plain white copy paper, a 2B pencil, and an eraser.

With these simple tools, you can spend a lifetime learning to represent the human body, and still not know all there is to know. The information provided in this series of lessons is just a tip of the iceberg of what is possible. In the future, we will delve deeper into specific areas.

Basic Drawing Supplies

The Basic Drawing Supplies:

You need paper, a 2B pencil, a paper towel or tissue, and an eraser. My current preferred tools are a mechanical pencil 0.5, a blending stump, and a kneaded eraser.

Making Marks:

If you wish to experiment, set yourself with a variety of tools, below is a sampling of the type of marks each will make. The light area on each is where I used the kneaded eraser to see how easily it removed the mark.

Drawing Marks

Pencil sharpeners relatively easy to come by and are very inexpensive. Myself I have an electric one in my studio I use regularly. If it I am working away from the studio I will take a small, inexpensive sharpener along.

Additional Drawing Items:

Below are some supplies you may want to try.  From left-to-right: A wooden skewer, a sharp knife, a sandpaper block, a white pastel pencil, a hard eraser.

A sharp skewer can be used in a method to score into the paper before shading, leaving a white mark visible. The knife and sandpaper block are so you can sharpen your pencil to a preferred point. Having a white pastel pencil on hand helps in creating value in your piece, mainly if you use a toned paper. And lastly, a hard eraser will take more of a mark away than the kneaded eraser usually will.

Extra Drawing Tools

Drawing Paper:

Paper comes in a wide variety of shapes textures and colors. As mentioned before using plain white copy paper will do fine if that is what you currently have access. The point is to be learning; the tools themselves aren’t as crucial in this case as what you do with them.

We could do an entire series on just the types of papers available. So, for now, focus on getting what you can afford and feel the most comfortable using. If you are a beginner, begin with a white or cream that is about 90lb.

Drawing paper

Next time we will explore the traditional classic proportions of the human body.

Figure Drawing: Previous Posts

Figure Drawing: Resources

Receive a FREE guide today of the body’s skeleton proportions and critical areas when doing realistic life drawing.

drawing figure

Figure Drawing: Free Lesson Resources

Free Drawing the Human Body Lessons
“George” is going to help us through the coming weeks.

Over the course of the next three months, I will be posting free lessons on drawing the human body. The following areas are covered:

  1. Intro/Resources
  2. Tools/Marks
  3. Proportions
  4. Building From Shapes
  5. Value
  6. Drawing The Portrait

Each lesson will come out on Tuesday, every other week. This post will start you off with a few resources for those wanting to get their feet wet right away. (Note: They are not affiliated links.) The suppliers below are only an option; you will be able complete the lessons with a standard sharpened 2B pencil (or mechanical pencil), a good eraser, and plain white copier paper.

Drawing Human Body Supplies:

Drawing Human Body Books:

Drawing Human Body Online:

The lesson on tools/marks will be available January 23rd, 2018.  I hope to see you then!

Classical Drawing Inspiration

Classical Drawing Inspiration
“Lessons in Classical Drawing” by Juliette Aristides, book with DVD

Maybe you have noticed my blog posts are spaced differently than usual this month? I will follow a regular posting schedule after the first of the year.

Drawing is the topic I want to focus on at the beginning of 2018, so I am digging up extra inspiration. I am a big believer than drawing skills are the foundation of all visual arts.  Learning to see and interpret what you are looking at is a huge game changer for any aspiring artist.

“Blocking Your Knitting” eBook Is Here!

Blocking Your Knitting eBook Is Here!

blocking knitting cover

Learn to block your knitting and take it to the next level. Twenty pages packed with information/images and tips. All the information you need in one place.

eBook includes:

  • Why Block Your Knitting?
  • Blocking Different Fibers
  • Basic Blocking Tips
  • Blocking Methods
    • Tools
    • Spray Blocking
    • Wet/Immersion
    • Steam
    • Pinning Your Blocking
    • Blocking Lace
  • Making a Homasote Blocking Board
  • Swatches Compared
  • Resources
  • About The Author

Drawing Facial Proportions

Drawing Portrait Supplies

The primary focus around here when it comes to shopping for the holidays is our six grandchildren. The theme this year seems to be art supplies. At least two (five and six years old) have them at the top of their list.  Drawing the human figure is such an essential part of one’s art skills. I had already decided I needed to stretch my drawing muscles, and their gift lists are icing on the cake. In the coming months be on the lookout for drawing content of all sorts.

Drawing people has always been my favorite subject. So below I revisit a post from 2013 where I discuss drawing facial proportions.

Facial proportions can vary according to ethnic background and gender. Traditionally men have more angular faces and more pronounced brow just above the eyebrow line. Examine the images shown to see how the eyes fall in the middle of the entire skull, between the tip of the head and chin. In-between the eyes is a space equal to the width of one of the eyes. Halfway between the eyes and the tip of the chin is the line where the mouth opening will fall. Although the model on the left is a young adult female, the proportions are the same as an adult. Her features are merely softer and less angular than seen in an older mature looking individual.

drawing portrait female proportions

Remember these are merely guidelines and will need to be adjusted to fit the subject that you are depicting. Below is that of a middle-aged male’s profile. When you are drawing a subject keep in mind where your light source is coming from, the same rules apply to drawing a human being as to drawing anything else. The trick is to be objective and to draw what you see and not what you think you know. Look at the subject carefully and try to look at the person more than the paper you are drawing on. Always work from life whenever possible, if you can not find a model or do not feel comfortable doing so as of yet, just use a mirror and do a self-portrait.

drawing portrait male

This post originally was published in 2013 here.


Planning For 2018

Planning Artist With Frankenstein Shawl
Tip: Showing your knitting works well to hide behind when you have not put on makeup.

It is now November 2017. It is starting to get chilly, and I am sitting here all cozy in my “Frankenstein Shawl.” I am also in full planning, scheduling and list making mode. So right now I am looking at 2018 and thinking of all the things I need to get completed by the end of the year.

Tomorrow was supposed to be the deadline for my ebook “Blocking Knits.” I have decided to push it back a couple of weeks to enable me to develop a few things behind the scenes stronger. Thank you for your patience and understanding!

In case you are wondering I am going back to the basics, my branding, what I offer and how I offer it. So I am reviewing EVERYTHING from the ground up. Some things will stay, some will go. It is exciting to think and plan all that is possible. :0)