For the last few months I have been obsessed with figure drawing and shading. I’ve been doing a lot of short, 20-30 figure studies and mainly experimenting with shading techniques using graphite or colored pencil. What I’m really searching for are ways to go beyond technique, and add story, emotion and meaning to my drawings. We’ll talk more about that in future videos and lessons. In the meantime, check the demo video above to see a recording of one of my morning exercises.
This is a two part series. Part 1 shows the drawing process, also known as the lay-in. Part 2 shows the shading and rendering process. I’ve also written a detailed text version with two high-res handouts in this month’s Newsletter.
To watch Part 2 and to read the detailed text version, sign up for my free Newsletter, Private School. Newsletter subscribers will get access to more exclusive content videos, high-res handouts, my personal reference library and more. To join, enter your email below to get started.
This video shows a brief look at my thought process as a I draw a short, 30 minute figure study. The reference is from a New Masters Academy timed figure drawing session.
If you want to read a more in-depth text version, I wrote a full breakdown for this drawing and a head drawing in this month’s Private School Newsletter. Subscribers also got access to a high res handouts to download and study.
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These drawings were done while watching the Daily Life Drawing Session #17 from the New Masters Academy youtube page. The images were timed so it simulates a live life drawing session. The poses are 1 minute (x5), 2 minute (x5), 5 minute (x2) and a 10 minute.
The medium I used are carbothello black pencil, smooth newsprint and kneaded eraser.
Life drawings part 1, 1 minute, 2 minute and a 5 minute pose (lower right)
Life drawings part 2, a 5 minute pose (left) and a 10 minute pose
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These drawings were done while watching the Daily Life Drawing Session #20 from the New Masters Academy youtube page. The images were timed so it simulates a live life drawing session. The poses are 1 minute (x5), 2 minute (x5), 5 minute (x2) and a 10 minute.
The medium I used are ballpoint pen, Strathmore toned paper sketchbook and white carbothello pastel pencil.
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Fantasy in the Wildis the latest video tutorial by Illustrator and author James Gurney. This article is a brief review, starting with the content, then the format, and finally the pros and cons of this new instructional video.
Fantasy the Wild is video tutorial that is over 1 hour in length. The most surprising thing about the video is that there are 2 full demonstrations. The first is of a fantasy/surreal painting with a car and the second is a concept painting of an imagined robot.
Both demonstrations have a detailed, step by step breakdown of his process fully narrated by the artist.
In a lot of ways Fantasy in the Wild feels more like a TV drama or a documentary film then an ordinary painting lesson. That’s because James Gurney is more than an ordinary art teacher, he is a storyteller. The very first opening scene, James pulls you into his world as you follow our artist/hero on his journey.
One of gurneys strengths is his compelling presentation style and this video continues in that tradition.
My favorite part about the video is the concept of painting concept art on location. It’s very refreshing to see an illustration tutorial that is shot outdoors, on location AND using traditional media. This is nice break from the usual computer screen recordings that are commonly found online.
Other things I liked:
Excellent, high level information on the illustration process and painting techniques
Clean and concise editing, no ‘fluff’ or ‘filler’ content
The painting process and design process is clearly explained each step of the way
This video is so well made and the material is so well presented, I don’t really have any criticism. However, as a content producer myself, my only concern is that beginners may find the material difficult to follow along. So I would not recommend this tutorial to a anyone who is new or inexperienced in drawing and painting. But if you’re a fan of Gurney’s blog or have his previous tutorials then you probably already know that some drawing and painting experience is needed to get the most out of his lessons.
The other comment I have is not really a negative, but more of a personal reaction. As a pro concept artist, I felt like a lazy slacker after watching this video. Seeing the amount of planning and preparation that goes into Gurney’s illustrations is both intimidating and inspiring. Gurney leaves no detail to chance and puts hours of research, drawing, sketching, erasing, un-doing and re-doing into every square inch of his canvas. I have admired his work for a long time but now I know there is no surprise why he has achieved so much success in his work and career.
Despite my personal reaction, I think it is invaluable for students and up and coming artists to see how one of the world best illustrators works and to see the level of professionalism required to be successful.
Because of his wonderful presentation style and professional editing and production, this tutorial is fun to watch and makes learning fun. I would highly recommend Fantasy in the Wild to any serious art student who wants to improve their design and illustration skills. I would also recommend this video to professionals and seasoned veterans who want more story, narrative and greater levels of quality in their work.
Skin color is one of my favorite things to paint. It’s also one of the most requested topics I’ve encountered. The burning question I hear over and over again from students, friends and artists is: “How can I make a good skin color palette?”
Many artists and students struggle with skin color and rightfully so. Color is an incredibly complex animal that is difficult to control and must be handled with care. This is especially true when trying to paint skin color that feels “real”. Even though color is tough, painting skin can be a lot of fun if you have the right information and the right strategies.
These 5 tips are my thoughts and ideas on the topic of skin color. These tips and strategies I’ve learned through hard earned experience and years of intensive study on color, along with hundreds of hours of painting practice.
Instead of giving you formulas or pre-made skin color palettes, my goal is to teach you how to see color and then show you a process for making your own skin color palette for any situation.
There are 3 main parts to this article. In Part 1, I’ll examine the properties of skin color, or at least how I see skin color at this stage in my painting career. This section will examine what I see when I observe skin and how I simplify the complexity of skin color.
In Part 2, I’ll explore the 5 Tips for mixing and painting better skin color. These are the techniques and strategies that I personally use when I paint.
In Part 3, there are 2 detailed step-by-step painting demonstrations. The first is a study of light skinned male. The second demo is of a dark skinned african female.
A condensed video form of this article , including the first painting demonstration is below.
The second, 1 hour painting demonstration of an African female portrait is available for free on my Private School newsletter page. See image below for the finished painting demonstration.
To watch the full 1 hour painting demonstration and get access to even more exclusive content. Simply enter your email below to join.
If you want a more detailed breakdown of the 5 Tips and both painting demos, scroll down to read the full article…
PART1 – Properties of Skin Color
Property #1 – Red, Yellow, Blue
There is no such thing as a “skin” color. Skin color is essentially a combination of all 3 primaries: red, yellow and blue. That’s right. Red plus yellow plus blue. Sounds obvious and oversimplified, but allow me to elaborate.
Coming in November, my brand new color course will be available on Gumroad. The Laws of Color Vol. 1is an exciting new course dedicated to color. This course is designed to take the fear and mystery out of color so students can paint directly in color with confidence. If you’ve been struggling with color or are intimidated by color, this is the course for you.
The Laws of Color Vol. 1 is a self-study video course that will feature information packed lectures, step-by-step demonstrations and homework exercises. There are also many powerful bonus features including a detailed pdf guidebook, handouts and additional exercise videos.
For the first time, The Laws of Color Vol. 1 will be the first self-study video course to have lessons in both traditional painting mediums and digital. That’s right! This course will have section for Photoshop users. As a former Concept Artist and the current Digital Painting teacher at Gnomon, I see the need for good color information in today’s entertainment art world. The Laws of Color Vol. 1will finally deliver exactly what students, designers and concept artists need to make beautifully colored digital paintings and designs.
The official release date is Monday, November 2nd. If you want to get an advanced copy, I’m going to offer the course on Friday (October 30th) before the official launch to my newsletter subscribers. That’s right, if you can’t wait until Monday you can get The Laws of Color Vol. 1 early and start learning and painting all weekend long.
All you have do is sign up for the free newsletter and you’ll be entered into the private pre-launch email list. Simply enter your e-mail below and click to blue button to join.
For the last 3 years, I’ve been personally obsessed with color and painting. I’ve gathered some powerful information and knowledge both from hard earned experience and by mentoring with some of the top artists and painters like Steve Huston and Nathan Fowkes. Now, I’m proud and excited to share the knowledge I’ve learned with artists and students like you.
You can see some examples of my recent color and painting work below:
For the latest updates and course information make sure to sign up for the newsletter and get the latest updates until launch. If you have any questions or comments about the course, please leave a comment below.
My latest course on shading explains how to create realistic lighting using Photoshop. The beautiful part is that the information taught in the course applies to any subject and any medium. The shading techniques course is more than a slick demo or a Photoshop tutorial. It’s core, fundamental principles and concepts of realistic light and shadow.
In this article, I’ll demonstrate how to apply shading techniques to a portrait. See video below for a portrait shading demonstration from a recent ‘Draw With Chris’ Livestream. Photoshop is the medium used in the video. Oil paint is used in the demo for the text version below.
For complete, step by step breakdown, read on…
Portrait Shading Process
STEP 1: Smart observation
The first step is to make careful observation of the subject. In this case we have a female model with beautiful high contrast lighting. This lighting is the best for practicing shading, rendering and edge control. For more on lighting models and choosing reference, see this article on good lighting and choosing good reference.
This image is perfect for studying and practicing shadow because of the beautiful high contrast light. The shadows are nice and dark and clearly defined.