How to practice drawing without models

How to practice drawing without models

Question from Michael

My name is Michael and I am currently taking the Drawing Academy course. I was reading the forum where drawing from photos is incorrect and can obstruct your learning and understanding of drawing. My question is how would I be able to practice drawing when I have no models to observe to fully study ? Thank you for your time and I appreciate all you guys provide for us students.

Feedback from Vladimir London, Drawing Academy tutor

Dear Michael,

Thank you for your question; it tells that you are a complete beginner and have never had any formal good quality art education.

You say that you “have no models to observe”. I hope they don’t keep you in a solitary cell without light; otherwise, you have models everywhere you can look at. To begin with, because you ask such a question, you are not ready for drawing portraits and human figures from life. Hiring models would not only be a waste of your money, but also waste their time. There is so much more for you to learn before you will be prepared to draw people from life with the necessary understanding of what you are doing.

Here is a quick test – can you name at least 50 proportions and alignments of a human body? How many canons of classical proportions do you know? How about listing 20 main proportions of a human head and face? Can you draw a realistic, anatomically correct and proportionate skeleton from memory in any point of view? How about muscles, can you name just 50 main muscles of a human body, their origins, insertions, and functions? What about the muscles of the head? Can you draw a realistic skull from any point of view and overlay it with facial muscles? Can you tell which of those muscles display different emotions on a face?

If the answer is “No”, then what would you be doing with hired models? Drawing without any understanding is called “copying what you see”. By copying, you won’t get good drawing skills. These activities are very different. So drawing live models would be premature for your level.

It’s likely that drawing anatomical artworks and diagrams of proportions is also too early for you. To make such high quality drawings, you need to know and use constructive drawing principles. There are 34 of such principles. Can you name at least half of them?

How about drawing in perspective? Can you name 16 different types of perspective and 21 rules of drawing in perspective? Good art won’t happen “by accident” because a proficient artist draws what one knows. Which type of perspective would you use for drawing figures and portraits? The answer is “Parallel” by the way; but do you know why? If a figure is in some interior, which perspective type would be suited for drawing rooms and buildings? The answer is “Perceptive”; have you ever heard of it? What are its main rules? Here’s another example why “drawing what you know” is more important than copying from observation – you will not see the aerial perspective in life when drawing shallow sceneries, but without it your drawings will lack depth and appear flat no matter how accurately you render tonal values.

Talking of tonal rendering, can you tell its main purpose? Many art enthusiasts “decorate” objects with light and shadows, but describing chiaroscuro is secondary; the main purpose is to reveal objects’ three-dimensional nature. One of the ways is by applying hatching along contours. Can you tell which contours of any object are better suited for this purpose and why? Do you know when contours outperform outlines? Can you draw a contour line that looks three-dimensional and describes the aerial perspective on its own? If you can’t draw a single line that follows the rules of aerial perspective, how would you apply thousands of such lines to render tonal values believably?

You asked “how would I be able to practice drawing” without models. I hope by now you see how. You need to cover many topics to get prepared for drawing portraits and figures.

Now, about models. You already have the most patient, always available and absolutely free model – yourself. How many self portraits have you done this week? None? How about drawing hands? How many hand drawings from different points of view have you sketched yesterday? Last month? Why do you ask about models if you do not use opportunities you already have? Models are not just people; anything you see around you could be a subject for drawing from life. How many fully-rendered still life studies have you done in the last 12 months? If less than 20, you have not even started. How many thousands of sketches of things you see in your everyday life have you done so far?

Good art skills depend not only on drawing. Sculpting is a very important way of learning anatomy, proportions and construction of a human figure and face. How many clay models of a human ear have you sculpted in your life? None? Then how would you draw an ear from different angles, if you do not have a tactile experience of anatomy of its cartilages? Have you sculpted a nose, mouth, eyes, human skull, hand, etc.? Why not? You do not need to hire a model to draw these facial features and body parts if you could make your own realistic models. Making and sketching such models will prepare you for drawing live people.

In the Life Drawing Academy Correspondence Course, we provide students with sculpting templates, so even a complete beginner would be able to make a realistic clay model from the first attempt. You can check how to sculpt some models here.

Your question shows that you do not know which level of drawing skills you currently have and what you need to know for life drawing. To self assess your drawing abilities, watch this video.

If you are serious about becoming a professional fine artist, consider taking the Life Drawing Academy Correspondence Course. It comes with a lifetime membership, unlimited one-to-one tutoring within 100 drawing tasks, step-by-step instructions and demonstrations, artwork critiques, ongoing assessment of your progress, and answers to all your art questions. By the end of this course, we guarantee that you will reach the advanced level of drawing skills.

I hope this fully answers your question, tells what you need to do and advises how to solve your challenge.

Kind regards,
Vladimir London

To get personal unlimited art tutoring, enroll in the
Correspondence Course »

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

To learn professional drawing techniques,

Enroll in the Drawing Academy Course:
Three Monthly Installments
Pay for the course in 3 easy installments
  • Receive 15 new videos monthly (45 in total)
  • Incredible discount – $4,164
  • Bonuses - Fine Art eBooks and Videos
  • Drawing Academy Diploma of Excellence after course completion in 3 months
  • Personal coaching by Drawing Academy Tutors
  • Lifetime membership. Free after the 3rd month
Total cost: $291 USD (3 x $97)

Add to Cart

Complete Course - BEST VALUE
Get all video lessons for a one-time payment
  • Immediate access to all 45 video lessons
  • Incredible discount – $4,198
  • Bonuses - Fine Art eBooks and Videos
  • Drawing Academy Diploma of Excellence after course completion in 3 months
  • Personal coaching by Drawing Academy Tutors
  • Lifetime membership. No more payments
Total cost - Only $257 USD

Add to Cart

Categorized: Ask Tutors Questions

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave A Reply