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How to enhance life-drawing skills

How to enhance life-drawing skills

Question from Rima, Drawing Academy student

I am having difficulty with a life-drawing portrait. If it is a picture, I can draw, but if it is life, I am having problems. It is not working well. Please advise me what to do to enhance my skills in life-drawing portraits.

Feedback from Vladimir London, Drawing Academy tutor

Hi Rima,

Many thanks for your question.

You just confirmed that copying flat pictures (photos or artworks) and drawing three-dimensional objects from life requires different sets of drawing skills.

Why drawing from photos prevents you from learning good life-drawing skills is explained here:

http://drawingacademy.com/why-drawing-photos-is-treacherous

When copying, you are matching tonal values or colors inside flat shapes (outlines) that are duplicated by hand, traced, or scaled. This skill is absolutely necessary for a reproducer, which is fine, of course, if you want to work as a human photocopier.

However, if you want to become an original fine artist and be able to draw whatever you see or imagine, either from life or imagination, you need to learn constructive drawing principles, perspective, human anatomy for artists, proportions of a human body, and so on.

When drawing life portraits, you also need to know the step-by-step sequence of constructive drawing – from choosing the right composition to tonal rendering.

How to enhance life-drawing skills

How to enhance life-drawing skills

Here are just a few questions to test your ability of drawing from life:

– What kind of perspective is best suited for drawing human figures?

– When drawing human forms that are foreshortened in perspective, why does depicting outlines lead to awkward results, and what should you draw instead of outlines?

– What are the main five proportions of a human head and body?

I can continue asking similar questions all day long, but if you have some difficulties answering them, you would have a major challenge in drawing life portraits and figures correctly.

Drawing constructively means drawing what you know, yet the necessary knowledge doesn’t come from copying photos or artworks, which is based on drawing what you see.

If you don’t know the right anatomy, proportions, and techniques, you won’t be able to apply the missing information in your artworks, and the results will always look amateur.

I hope this answer the first part of your question, why you have problems with life-drawing.

How to enhance life-drawing skills

How to enhance life-drawing skills

And the answer to “what to do?” comes from the first part – you need to learn fundamental drawing skills listed above.

However basic they may sound, such skills are essential to realistic drawing from life or imagination.

You are a member of the Drawing Academy course. Watch the video lessons one by one. Do not copy what you see in those videos, but instead learn the principles explained and apply those principles in your own creative artworks.

How to enhance life-drawing skills

How to enhance life-drawing skills

Draw from life every day. Do not start with portraits; you have much to learn from drawing simple geometric and organic objects, still-life, draperies, landscapes, interiors, and so on.

Learn human body proportions and a human anatomy for artists – it is well explained for students like you in the AnatomyMasterClass.com

When you master the necessary drawing principles, then continue with figures and portraits. Start with classical casts and sculptures, do self-portraits, and with time, go to a life-drawing class.

Improving drawing skills is not a project; it is a life-long process. It takes time and requires effort.

I wish you all the success you deserve.

Best regards,

Vladimir London
Art Tutor

To learn human anatomy fast, visit the Anatomy Master Class »

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This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Gopi says:

    What a brilliant explanation. As always Validimir’s analysis is so clear and his approach is so real. I can vouch as I have started lessons thru the wonderful videos. Every aspiring artist must go through the Drawing Academy courses.

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