Category Archives: Video

[Video] Tonal Painting Exercise in Burnt Umber

Many years ago, when I was first I was looking for work as a Concept Artist, one of the skills that helped my portfolio stand out from the crowd was the way I used color. My approach to color was something I learned by first practicing a simple and powerful exercise. Understanding the principles of this exercise not only helped me get a job as a concept artist on the Star Trek Online MMO video game, but helped me get a cover illustration for Star Trek The Magazine.

star trek magazine illustration by Chris Legaspi

This color exercise is tonal painting. It’s the first exercise that I recommend to anyone who wants to learn how to paint in color. In this lesson, I’ll cover tonal painting using watercolor and I’ll paint several different examples. I’ll start with simple shapes, then a cool skull still life and finally a figure study. Don’t worry If you’ve never used watercolor, or are not comfortable drawing skulls or figures. Instead, focus on the principles, concepts and the process, because the principles and the process applies to any subject and any painting medium.

The videos in this lesson demonstrate the tonal painting in Burnt Umber process. In Part 1, I cover the principles and concepts and also talk about the materials I recommend, specifically the brand of watercolor I like and use the most. Part 1 also has a full tonal painting demonstration of a cool skull still life.  In Part 2, I demonstrate a tonal painting of a female torso. By focusing on the torso, I can spend less time on drawing the figure and more time and energy on the painting.

PART 1: Skull still-life

PART 2: Figure studies in watercolor

tonal painting video lesson part 2 thumbnail

Part 2 of this video series, along with the full article with detailed process images and a text breakdown is available only to subscribers of my monthly Newsletter, Private School. To watch Part 2enter your email below to subscribe…



Why Tonal Painting and Why Burnt Umber?

burnt umber monochrome lesson by chris legaspi

If you’ve never painted before, this is the best place to start. Tonal painting is really the process of using drawing techniques and principles in a painting medium. For the demonstration I will be using watercolor, but any painting medium of your choice will work. Gouache or acrylic are two other mediums that are good for beginner painters. If you are more experienced and have used oils or just want to try, then these concepts will also apply. The reason why I am recommending watercolor is because it’s inexpensive and easy to find. I’ll go into more details in the materials section below.

The reason why we’re starting with Burnt Umber is because it’s a color that has two unique properties that make it great for beginner painters:

#1. It can get a nice range of value from dark to light. In a way Burnt Umber is a lot like using ink wash or any black water based medium. It doesn’t go to a full black, but it still gets really dark, especially when contrasted with a bright white paper.

burnt umber value range

#2. Burnt Umber isn’t a saturated brown. This means it is not as colorful, rich or intense as other colors like a pure Cadmium Red or Cadmium Orange. Using a less saturated color will allow your eye to start to see and experience color without being too distracting or intimidating. See the image below for a comparison of Burnt Umber to Cadmium Red and Cadmium Orange.

burnt umber swatch

The brand I am currently using the most and recommend is M. Graham. There are other “fancier”, more expensive brands, but I keep coming back to M. Graham. The pigment they use produces a nice temperature of Burnt Umber. This means that it’s not too orange, not too red or not too blue. It also gets dark when used more opaquely or thickly.


Recommended Materials


M. Graham. is an American brand and can be ordered online or found in larger art stores. For those outside of America, another brand I recommend is Holbein. Since I am currently based in Asia, I’ve been able to find Holbein at many art shops I’ve visited.

Holbein is a lot like M. Graham in terms of color temperature and pigment quality. It’s also less expensive that most brands and is great quality paint for the price.


click the image to buy Holbein Burnt Umber watercolor paint…


If you can’t find either of these brands, don’t worry. Start with whatever is available or whatever tube of Burnt Umber you can find. The important thing is to just start painting!

Process Images

In this section I’m going to break down the process in text form to help you review the material from the video lessons. The full article with the detailed process breakdown is available only in the November ’17 Issue of my Private School Newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will not only have access to the detailed process images, text breakdowns, video demonstrations and lessons, but you will also get access to the archive of past articles and video lessons.

To subscribe, enter your email below and click the blue button to join…


tonal painting process by chris legaspi

Gesture Drawing Demonstration

Gesture drawing is the most important tool in a figurative artists toolbox because gesture is the beginning of any great figure drawing. This is true not only for fine artists and art students, but also  for illustrators, animators and anyone who wants to invent figures that are dynamic and life-like.

In this 3 part videos, you’ll see a demonstration of my gesture drawing process. The video was recorded live during a life drawing stream of timed poses. Not only will you see me problem solve in real time, but you’ll hear raw, and un-cut voice over where I describe my thought process and share tips, tricks and techniques for better gesture drawing.

life drawing part 3 thumbnail

Scroll down to see the final sketchbook images. Part 3 (2 minute poses) is only available to Newsletter subscribers. Newsletter subscribers will not only get access to exclusive videos like this, but also high resolution handouts, process images and articles and more. To subscribe, email your below to get started:


Final Gesture Drawings

I minute poses, ballpoint pen on paper.

1 minute gesture drawings by chris legaspi

1 minute poses, ballpoint pen on paper.

2 minute poses, ballpoint pen on paper.


Draw with Me at the Next Stream

The poses were streamed by who stream a free, life drawing session on Friday nights.  Make sure to visit their Facebook page to join the next live life drawing stream.

[VIDEO] Life Drawing Demonstrations #1

life drawing demonstrations by Chris Legaspi

Ever since I left Los Angeles (also known as the “mecca” of life drawing), it’s been a challenge to organize or find a regular life drawing group in my new home base of Thailand. Thanks to the hard working people at I finally got to draw from life again…well sort of 🙂

Every Friday on their Facebook page they stream a live model for 2 hours. It felt a lot like being there, except everyone got the best, front row seat in the house. As a traveling artist, this life drawing stream was much appreciated. I also got to record a video of the last two poses, a 10 minute and a 15 minute pose. See video below for the 10 minute figure study.

To watch Part 2 (15 minute head study), and to read the detailed text article with process images, subscribe to my free newsletter Private School. Newsletter subscribers will get access to exclusive content like videos, hi-resolution handouts, my private reference library and much more. To join, enter your email below to get started.

[VIDEO] Figure Drawing and Shading Demo

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.

figure drawing and shading handouts by chris legaspifigure drawing and shading handouts by chris legaspi

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.

[Video] Figure Drawing Process

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.

figure drawing handouts by Chris Legaspi

To read the complete article, download the handouts and get access to more exclusive content, enter your email below to join.

If you thought this video was helpful, please like and share this article. If you want to see more videos like this or have suggestions or requests for future content, please comment below. Thanks!

Shape and Value Fundamentals Workshop

Last week I had the privilege of giving a seminar on the fundamentals of Shape and Value, which are two core principles in my drawing philosophy. The seminar was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The purpose of the seminar was to introduce the principles and concepts of Illustrative Realism which is what I call the art style that I was trained in and used as a professional concept designer and movie poster in Los Angeles, USA. The knowledge and information I learned while studying and working in L.A. has brought so much value to my life and I want to share that knowledge to the next generation of artists and students.

The attendees of the workshop got a free handout that served as a visual reference for the information presented in the seminar. See below for sample images.

shape and value fundamentals handout

If you’re interested in reading more about the workshop, the full article is available on my new website If you’re interested in the information presented in the workshop, the handout is available for download in both English and Thai language versions.

To download the handout, subscribe to my free Newsletter and you’ll get access to the members only page. You’ll also get access to other great exclusive content and free updates on the latest workshops and event. Simply enter your email below to join:

[Video] Limited Palette Color Study

**This is a short preview of the full article. To read the full article, visit the new site:**

This article is about color and how to use a limited palette to paint a portrait. The palette I used was primarily 2 colors: Phthalo Blue (cool) and Quinacridone Magenta (warm). Hansa Yellow is also used sparingly as an accent for the lights and highlights.

Painting Demonstration Part 1 (of 2)

To see Part 2 and to read the full article, click the link below:

Life Drawing Exercise #3

**This is a short preview of the full article. To read the full article, visit the new site:**

Another round of life drawing exercises from the New Masters Academy youtube page. This reference set is life drawing session #32. For this set I wanted to focus on the head.

Unfortunately most of the poses in the set hide the head so I was only able to draw 2 heads. One thing I like about these timed reference poses is that it simulates real life drawing session. Part 1 (above) features 1 & 2 minute poses. Part 2 features 5 & 10 minute poses where I am able to demo some shading techniques using charcoal pencil.

To watch Part 2 and see process images and a written text breakdown. Visit the new site, Click the link below to continue reading the article: