Timed Model Drawing Session 1 // Instructor: Steve Huston

Timed Model Drawing Session 1 // Instructor: Steve Huston


I’m Steven Huston, and welcome to the Life Drawing Session. This is number one, our first one. What we want you to do is draw through the session on your own first. Then follow me through and I’ll give you my tidbits
and bits of wisdom. It’s really on you. You need to draw from this and draw from it
often. We’re going to put out a lot of these, but each one you can go back to again and
again and again. They’ll always be new things to look at, new possibilities to learn from.
So I hope you have fun with it, and I’ll see you on the drawing page. Today what I’m working on is ledger paper.
You can use bond. You can use any of the papers you’d like to use, any scrap paper. It doesn’t
really matter. I’m using today CarbOthello and it’s 645, which is a nice brown color.
Now, real quickly, when I use the CarbOthello, I’m going to hold it like this. You may
be more comfortable holding it like this. Either way is fine. I would not recommend
you hold it like this. Here you’re going to dig in with the point. You’re going to
draw hard and sharp and dark. If you make a mistake you’re stuck with it. You’re
going to break pencil leads, although I do that even like this. Here I’m using my whole arm to draw. I get
more looseness out of here. These are going to be short poses so I’m not looking for
fine accuracy, meaning catching the contour. I’m getting the general truth of the pose,
the general sweep of the pose, and I find I can get it better this way. So experiment.
Try what you’re comfortable with. This is the way I’m going to do it. If I want to
get a soft line for maybe a core shadow that I’m going to blend into. I’ll do it like
that. If I want a sharp, more of a contour-style line, I’ll turn the pencil in the direction
of the stroke, draw it that way. Tending to draw light first and going darker later. That being said, let’s go ahead and start
on Session One. I’m going to do the left-side pose, and you can take your pick. And here we go. So I’m just looking for the simplest possible
shape I can come up with of the shape that’s most characteristic. I only have a minute,
and so I’m breathing heavy here trying to get through this scared I’m not going to
finish. Don’t worry about that. You don’t have to finish. You do as much as you can
making it ring true based on what you’re looking at. Notice as I draw my figure
is going to go off the page. Don’t try and pull it back and put little feet down here. Let it just flow off the page. Better to make my mistakes by making each shape too big as I roll rather than too small. As I have a little more time I come back and pick
up a little more detail or correct as I go. Pose number two. Simplest and most characteristic
shape I can pick up with, and you’ll notice that you’ll kind of, you’ll get in halfway
through the session, and then you start warming up. I’d recommend you actually sketch this,
go through the session yourself once or twice or 20 times, and then look at the way
I’m doing it and see how we agree or disagree. What works in my method you might not have
thought of. Notice I’m getting the long axis. I’m not getting much in terms of three-dimensional forms. I don’t have time for that. And this is a fairly flat in the picture
plane kind of pose. She’s not going in or out of the page. I’m using the left-side pose. I’m going
to do a real small one here, relatively small at least. I’m going to spend a little more
time on the head this time. That’s going to hurt me in terms of getting the rest of
drawing done all the way down to the toes, but I have a better fitting head now, more
characteristic of not just a generic head but a little closer to her head. Notice that
as I work on this I might end up getting caught up in detail I shouldn’t have or getting
baffled by an area, and it slows me down. And so again, I’m trying not to put pressure
on myself to finish it. That’s just going to make me rush and misdiagnose, make mistakes. I’m going to do the left-side pose again. Sometimes you want to kind of take a breath and get to know the pose. Look at the pose you’re drawing. I drew that head with several lines, several curves, several circles, eggs. That gave me a chance to slow down and take in the whole pose. Actually, as I was drawing that head I was looking over and kind of planning my strategy for the rest of it. I’m always looking for the longest line down, and if I have more time I’ll come back and get
a better connection between those two major structures or two major gestures, so that
the overall connectivity works. Okay, pose number five. It’s okay just to
draw right over an old drawing. Sometimes I’ll design them so I’m drawing over an area I goofed up, that I wasn’t happy with on the old drawing. But I try and kind of have a sense, just more intuitive, but have a sense of the composed page. If I have a strong perspective—there’s a little bit of perspective there— I’ll spend a little time on the end, end of the structure to get that to work there and maybe even get a little bit of the grounding there. Now, this next series of poses I’m going
to use a Sharpie. I love Sharpies. What I do is I get them and I use them for, you know,
marking packages and stuff, but when they start to get older they get dried out. And
you can see this is kind of dirty. They’ve been well used. Then I have a nice dark mark.
If we look down here and see—now that’s a gray line. I said a dark mark. It was a
gray line. I could push it darker, but it works almost like a pencil or the CarbOthello
used in the earlier poses, but I can’t erase it and it doesn’t smear. And so I’m committed
to it. It has a different feel. It flows nicely on a smooth paper. It works not quite as well
as on a rougher paper. So in general in these sketching sessions, I’d suggest a smoother
paper so you’re not fighting the texture. But this works beautifully, and there are
all sorts of different markers you can use. But let’s switch to that now. Alright, now we have a two-minute, so let’s
get started here. So I’m going to slow down a little bit. I have twice as much time. Two minutes isn’t much, goodness knows, but I’ve got more time to work out not just the simple shape, but a character. You’re trying to in some way, not really tell a story.
I’m not big on storytelling in art. I want the audience to come and look at the piece
of work and tell their own story. But I want to give it a character, a personality, a uniqueness
that’s my figure or more of a portrait in the way that is this figure. You can see how
this is a more fluid mark, and it’s affecting the way I draw. As you pick and choose your
mediums, it’s going to change your technique, the personality of your work. Hopefully not
the complete style of it. You don’t want to be a chameleon, probably. But it is going
to affect it, and you’ll find that some mediums affect it for the good and some for
the not so good, and you’ll pick and choose based on that. Notice how I can do the same
side of the pencil or side of the marker in this case to pick up my shadow shapes, and the shadow shape I’m treating really is a long axis moved down. It’s creating a
bit of a corner—not a bit, a strong corner across. So in two minutes we get quite a bit.
Notice the screw-up here. It got too big as it went down, but that’s a much better mistake
than making it too small. Okay, right side. I’m going to do a little
tiny one here. Right-side drawing. Change the sizes up. Otherwise, you get really good
at drawing 10-inch figures, and if you have to paint a 25-inch figure you end up having big trouble. Better to work in various sizes. You’ll find real advantages and disadvantages
in the mediums you’re using and the technique you’re using and just the way you like to
work, your familiarity, all that kind of stuff. And those are problems you want to have to
work through. Sometimes I go, God, I have some extra time.
Let me redo that head and see if I can do a better head. In this case I’ll change
sizes so you can see it. There are those ears. I kept wanting to draw in more of a profile
for some reason. Not looking at my reference but assuming is the problem. So now I’ve
taken a moment to analyze. You’ll notice old masters do that a lot. They’re draw
their main drawing, and they’ll go off of the side of the paper and work out at a particularly difficult area. Redesign it, study it, all that kind of stuff. Alright, another two-minute. This one has
a little bit of perspective. She’s coming out of the paper headfirst, out of the picture plane. Again, getting something nice and simple and yet characteristic of her position, her
proportions, her character. A lot goes a long way with the hairstyle. You can use the hairstyle
to give a sense of the character. Is it a ponytail? Is it a buzz cut? You know, whatever
it is. In this case we have the faux hawk, a fun shape to deal with. Drawing through,
feeling through the connection. Making those long lines curved so we feel the life of the pose. Your graceful living quality to your art is going to be dependent by vast majority on that long axis curve. That’s where the life is. If you get that, you’ve got life
in your artwork. If it gets stiff it’s going to feel like a Frankenstein. Feel that gesture
on the long side. Measure on the short side. There’s the pinch of the hip. So there’s
the hip turning there and coming back this way. It’s going to come on out. Again, I
can measure on the short side here. Feeling it, knowing which way to screw up. Make it
too long rather than too short. Make several lines. I don’t have time to measure that.
I’ll do six or seven lines and let the audience choose it. We’ll do the right side. Everything is about sketching and working kinda quick. Sometimes you stumble into a new way to draw an eye
socket or an ear or a face shape because you’re kind of rushing. Don’t leave the area until
it has some ring of truth to it. That’s the overall message across, points that you want. Don’t worry about drawing right over the other. It adds energy to it. Gives that nice feel. I’ve sold many a pages to collectors because they covet that energy. Oftentimes a finished piece is carefully worked out. The technique is carefully executed, but it
sits a little flat. It doesn’t have the juice that a sketch can have. A sketch is
that idea, that energy, that dynamic excitement, the moment where you have the inspiration.
Things come out that you didn’t plan but are better for that lack of planning, that
intuitive solution rather than the premeditated same way you draw it all the time. All those
kinds of things. Sketching helps you learn but also helps you discover. You can learn
exactly how to draw this or that body part, but you can also discover fresh ways to get
there, and that’s fun. Alright, here we go again, another deep perspective.
So I’m really just stacking the balls on this. There’s a ball of the head. There’s
going to be the ear. It’s placing. There’s a bunch of stuff in the way, so I’m going
to draw through all the hands and arms in front of the bigger body part, which is the
shoulder girdle. Then we have that cuff hand coming up and in, knuckle line, fingers, that’s about all we’ll have time to do in such a short pose. This goes behind here, lays over. I’m just going to take a line out just to give that sense of movement past. Okay, that might take all my two minutes. That might take five or ten minutes. But if you have more time you take it further. Stack the rib cage behind that. The hips and the thigh behind that. This angle coming off that rounded hip, one of the few times where we see a stiff, straight body part on the body. That constructed tube is
stiff and straight, I made the shadow on the thigh a little more curved. Give a little
life in there. Coming back now and kind of taking the time to develop these shapes a
little more firmly, the connectivity a little more clearly showing some of the shadow shapes
casting across. So notice I’m depending on those long axis lines, simple shapes, connected pinches, shadow shapes to kind of tie it in and give it some texture and a little bit
of form. Alright. Pose 11, five minutes. Here we go.
Now, I’m just going to feel that hip. That’s the biggest form that’s closest to me. Head,
ribcage, hips. I’m looking for those to start. Those are the foundation shapes of
the body. The limbs are add-ons. They articulate off the body or help to support the body.
So I’m going to draw the head. Sorry, the hip and the thigh, feel a little bit of that
positioning of the calf coming off. This other leg is coming down here and flowing back.
This way notice there are long graceful curves, and depending on that to say this thing is
alive. It’s not mechanical. It’s not fixed. It’s holding that position for a moment. When the moment is gone it will be gone too. So you’re depending on the audience being
sophisticated. They’re going to know a lot about this stuff just intuitively. They couldn’t
sit down and down, articulate, but they sense it. They’ll know better sometimes than an
expert or like I said, just a cheekbone feels funny. Or if you get somebody who’s got
the theory out, and they’ll get their calipers and say, “No, it measures out right, but
the audience will feel it.” So we’re trying to get that feel. That emotional truth which
is what art is so good at. Not the literary truth, not the analysis, not the facts, but the emotion. That’s how we really connect to things is emotionally. You know even news is even based on emotion
oftentimes. You know, it’s more powerful. We’re feeling that torso coming back and
then I’m going back to my hip. Get that connectivity in there. Now I’m going to come back on top of that thigh, pull that down and feel just simply, I’m just going
to simplify that front of the leg. Sometimes I’ll have trouble and I’ll say, what am I really
after here? Let’s just do a simpler version of what I’m seeing. That is what it is simply.
So that’s what I did there, just to simplify. It’s still going to ring true because it
speaks to the simpler form even though it’s missing some of the bells and whistles, missing
that kneecap structure. It’s just dealing with the thigh structure. But it gives us
the guts of it, the essence of it, and that’s all we need in these short poses, and we can
always build on top of that like a sculptor to add the more sophisticated secondary truths
or the subplot to our story or however you want to think of that. Going away, cast shadows are a great chance
to give us a contour to feel we fall off the calf and onto the knee structure, and then
we’re coming back over. Notice, I drew the shadow shape first, and now I’m going to
come back and build a structure on top of that. So I change the order of how I go, but
generally what I’m looking for is gesture structure, two-dimensional structure, then,
if I have time, three-dimensional structure. It’s nice to get a little shadow in there to anchor it. Notice the natural vignetting that was happening there. You know, in here
I didn’t put any dark lines. That’ll actually help to show the hips closer if I make this
a little stronger in technique. This weaker—it help fade back into the midst of the distance. Okay, so we got this long sweep here going
over, but I want to start with that head. If I start with that body with that head in
that tough position, I’ll never get the head to fit on there. So generally I’m going
to start with the head first. It’s what the audience will look at first in your artwork,
just like you look someone in the eye in the face when you talk to them, when you greet
them, or you look to see their expressions as you approach them to get a read on them.
Are they friendly? Dangerous? That kind of stuff. Same thing is going to happen with
our artwork with our audience. They’re going to look to that head first, so let’s get
that working. If the figure is a story, this is the first chapter of our story. It may
or may not be the most important chapter, but it is the first chapter. So I’m doing a lot of work on that because
it’s a difficult spot that it’s in. It’s upside down, and that’s hard. It’s out
of position of what we’re used to. The more upright the form is, the easier we can understand
it usually because we’re more familiar. Here’s that far shoulder blade structure.
I’m going to right through that head to feel that. And it may or may not correspond—I
can see the arm comes out near the eyebrow line, the bottom of the forehead. If I miss
that a little bit it won’t matter because I’ve flowed through. Always go back to the
source even if that source is interrupted. The jointed connection generally is what that
means. If you goof it up as oftentimes you will on these things in terms of proportions
and such, it’s still going to ring true because it has that movement back, that connectivity
here going through. So we feel from this point to this point it’s going to ring true to
us even if it’s out of whack a little bit. Notice we have a lot of curves, a lot of eggs
in here. I’m going to quiet all that stuff down with a stiffer, straighter shadow. I
can afford to put in a straight because of so much curvilinear action going on. Oftentimes in these really quick poses I’m
also planning kind of fundamental designs around the square, simple to complex. I’m
trying to compose as I draw. In other words, I’m not at the mercy of the material. It’s
raw material for what I want to talk about. So I’ll grab the components there, and I’ll
play things up, and I’ll play things down based on what I’m interested in talking
about. You know, I love that pinch. I love that simplicity. I love the long lines. I
love the light and shadow, whatever that is that motivated you to draw the piece. And of course, in these kind of planned sessions
you oftentimes don’t get to choose the reference. You’re kind of stuck with the reference.
But what attracts you to drawing figures? Is it the life in them? Is it the supple beauty?
Is it the complex of forms? Try and speak to that on some level. How do you reduce something
down like a foot to a line? Maybe it’s just the stop sign for the piece, and so I don’t
give any sense of the arch of the foot. Maybe this is a stop sign, but I need to have a
sense of that third dimension, that corner of the Achilles tendon back on the top of
that box because it’s at an obtuse angle. It demands a little more structured explanation. So you work those things out as best you can,
and you might well spend the two minutes just working there, just figuring that out, coming
over here and playing with it and drawing it six or seven times. The lovely thing about
this reference is that you can go back to it many times. If you’re doing it just once
you’re not taking advantage. Do it many times. Live it, dream about it. Have it on
your computer even though you’re working on something else so you glance at it from
time to time. Live and breathe this stuff. So repetition is the method for mastery, and
that’s what we’re trying to do with all these kind of courses. You’re immersed the
subject. You’re not just exposed to it. If you’re getting discouraged, if you feel
like this is too advanced for you, because when you’re working from a figure like this it is intermediate level oftentimes. If you need a little bit more foundational advice on how to begin,
maybe even simpler subjects to work with the figure, come to the New Masters Academy website.
We have a lot of content for all levels. I hope you’re drawing all week long. I’ll
see you next time. Good luck.

44 thoughts on “Timed Model Drawing Session 1 // Instructor: Steve Huston”

  1. Thank you for uploading such a well thought out video of a life drawing session, especially for free. Greatly appreciated. 🙂

  2. This is great! Thank you Steve, I so appreciate your job you have done in this video. Also I want to point out, that I dont just like to see your methods, but to hear your point of view generally on art or this subject matter is really acquisition! Thank you.

  3. Great info, thanks for sharing!  The comment you made about starting with the head will be very helpful and explains one of my problems.  Liked and Shared!

  4. Not only is this extremely high quality in content and delivery, but you've also made it free for everyone to enjoy. You guys are a class act all the way.

  5. What a master.  Such a fabulous demo on life drawing.  I have been struggling to demonstrate the idea of "structural drawing" to my students and Steve Huston does it effortlessly and very convincing.  All great artist, painters, musicians, etc. make it look easy.  

  6. Can you do one with a 10 minute pose? perhaps just one ten minute pose? I want to see what you do with the 10 minutes.

  7. This may be a stupid question, but I'll ask it anyway: Is New Masters Academy a good service for beginning artists? There's a ton of great content on YouTube, but it's so disorganized. I'm looking for something that follows more of a step-by-step approach that features lessons that build on each other.

  8. Really am enjoying your Sharing 'your thought process" as you sketch out each pose. Your a great teacher. Thank you 😉

  9. Found this after reading a bit of Huston's Figure Drawing for Artists and wanting to see if I could find the author in action to gain a better perspective of his process. I'm glad I did. I am finding the book very useful as well, and would recommend it if you are trying to build your fundamental figure drawing skills as I am.

  10. Awesome resource. Been struggling lately on my figures so I'm gonna practice with this method. It also helps that he is left handed just like me 😀 Thank you so much for sharing!

  11. This is great! I did as you recommended- drew first, then watched you putting me to shame with your talent and sheer confidence and competence 😉 I feel like I really learned something, thanks a bunch for all this great content!

  12. Really really helpful! Thanks you! Never thought I could add those rings which defines the 3 dimensional aspect of the pose ;-;

  13. Really really helpful! Thank you! Never thought I could add those rings which defines the 3 dimensional aspect of the pose ;-;

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