A COURSE OUTLINE and MANUAL (free download)
These drawings are by high school kids. One before any instruction, the other after about 15-20 classes. Really.
They are typical. NOT the exception. The usual. (student gallery for more evidence) Intimidated by the scary reputation around learning or teaching life drawing? These examples represent what routinely happens when perceptions and skills are built in small bites, in an orderly step-by-step process. (buzz) This manual gives you a detailed class-by-class guide of how to do this. Learning and/or teaching this is much easier than you ever thought possible. Go slowly. Build a bit more each session. You'll be amazed
Almost all students attained enough mastery within 5-6 hours of work to proceed with confidence, able to produce convincing basic figures. Even though life drawing is considered to be extremely difficult, I found it to be easier for students than other art courses I've taught. It’s not hard to teach or learn, it just seems intimidating. With this guide, I hope that what I’ve learned might be useful in some way to other teachers, and to anyone who wants to learn about this on their own. I know this manual is too long and specifically detailed. Only because I think too much information from which to choose might be better than not enough. Skim, pick and choose.
Students quickly become keen observers and understand the fundamentals of human structural anatomy. This gives them a base from which to experiment and explore with confidence. Success comes from carefully sequenced small steps, each built on the previous one, and from initially focusing on only one aspect of this very complex task at a time: structure, line, mass, proportion, tone, movement, composition, mood and character. This way skills are built on a solid foundation that equips students to develop their own visual language.
THIS IS NOT A HOW-TO-DRAW-PEOPLE MANUAL
IT DESCRIBES A SEQUENTIAL SERIES OF STEPS THAT ENABLE PEOPLE TO DRAW. To be followed loosely or viewed as suggestions. The “DAY 1” format refers to a 4½ week course, 5 days a week, each class 1’15” or 1’30”. I’ve also adapted the same sequence to a one semester span, 5 days a week, 41” each class. And to 3-hour classes once a week.
The level of success will be raised as these are lowered. Concentration should be as absolute as possible; this will occur naturally as students work; the only sound usually is charcoal on paper. Any sound will distract---voices, doors and, yes, music. The best work is always accomplished in an environment that will maximize the possibility to concentrate uninterrupted.
All students regularly feel great excitement and accomplishment quite quickly as they develop mastery of this complex process. They should be told that bad starts, mistakes and failed attempts are a necessary part of the process and are not important. Successful drawings are NEVER due to luck or accident. Note: of all the exercises here, these always produce the biggest jump ahead: big ENLARGEMENTS, drawing with all STRAIGHT LINES, and TONE-ONLY GESTURE.
Good ones avoid distracting energy and focus attention. Wasted time is reduced by posting a daily supply list (always in the same place where thereís easy access). In classes that have homework, ask students to always tack it up on entering, to be discussed when the model rests. This way, all will be quickly equipped and ready to work. For far better achievement, all must stand, with boards propped at a slant when using tables. Or they can straddle "drawing horses" (You'll need more 18 x 24 newsprint than seems possible. Students can put discarded used papers in a box labeled "one side used"; your daily supply list can specify when to use these for quick exercises.) Because you will never, ever draw on a studentís drawing, place tracing paper over them and demonstrate corrections on that. For different exercises specify certain drawing tools, to be sure that everyone becomes familiar with them all.
Homework assignments (always in writing) are helpful as a kind of enforced sketchbook. They can reinforce concepts explored in class, serve to prepare for the next principle focus, or stimulate free experimentation.