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3rd Pen and Ink Drawing Lesson

The objective for this lesson was to use ink washes in various tones to shorten the drawing time, even out the values, and pulling the elements together into a cohesive artwork. Pen and ink stokes were to be used mainly for details and texture. Students were to use 8 x 10″ black and white photos for their subject.

All first made a good drawing of the subject on sketchbook paper either free-handed or using a grid. Four small cups were set out with a little water in one, a little more in the second, more water in the 3rd, and the most in the 4th. We put a drop of India ink in each cup, thereby making 4 different values, plus the white of the paper and undiluted ink for the darkest tone.

We worked light to dark with a round watercolor brush, and made sure to let each value dry before adding another. Layering of values could also be used. When all the values were laid in, students used their pens to complete the painting. These really turned out great!


The homework assignment was to draw a still life composition with bottles, vases, etc. but instead of developing the positive shapes, students were to break up the negative shapes with patterns in pen and ink, thereby making the still life objects the negative instead of the positive.  Here’s my example of this assignment:


2nd Pen and Ink Drawing Lesson

The second class on pen and ink drawing got serious about making strokes to indicate value, shape, and texture with several sizes of pen and ink nibs.  Some students used Rapidograph refillable pens while others used disposable Hybrid Technical pens in .3 and .6 sizes.  I first gave them papers with four bottle images that I had drawn.  They were to practice using hatching, cross-hatching, stipple, squiggle, or contour line to value the outlined bottles.  Here’s the image I used for this exercise:

After completion of this exercise, each student selected either an object brought from home or one of those supplied to draw in an 8 x 10″ size.  We reviewed the steps to drawing from life:

  1.  Draw the large shapes first
  2.  Map out the secondary shapes (including shadows, highlights, reflections)
  3.  Look for connecting shapes
  4.  Use the negative shapes

Really good drawings were made of these objects using a variety of strokes:

Here is my example:

They were to finish their drawings at home and bring an 8 x 10″ photo to work from next week.  We will be using ink washes as well as pen strokes to complete these drawings from a photo.


farmlandWell, I’m going to teach an art class again — thought I was finished with that, but guess it’s in my “blood.”  Beginning September 15 (Thursday) from 1:30 – 3:30, I will be teaching a class on how to compose a work of art at the Maumelle Senior Wellness Center in Maumelle.  This is a seven week class, and will include examples, critiques, information, exercises, and perhaps occasional homework.  Students will use their own materials, as well as materials provided by the instructor.  I’ve had many years of experience teaching this subject, both in high school art classes, children’s classes, and adult classes.  A lot of the lessons will be based on the blogs I’ve shared on this site.  Cost is $45, and there is a maximum of eight students so call MSWC as soon as possible, if you want to register  (501- 851-4344).   I’m looking forward to seeing you and sharing my understanding of composition and design principles.


It’s been a while since I blogged — had a lot going on in my life lately.  Today, I’m merely passing along some information about drawing the human form that I’ve gleaned from books and magazines.  Unfortunately, I have no idea WHAT books and magazines I got these from.  Suffice it to say that my students learned a lot from these charts.  The first one is about the growth of children. You can see from this why babys’ heads and eyes always seem to be so big– they don’t grow as fast as the other parts of the body.  I apologize for the darkness of the example — it was on colored paper!

 Growth chart

This next chart illustrates how the different sections of the body can be seen as basic forms: cylinders, spheres, wedges. It is much easier to draw figures if you think about various parts as simply shapes and forms.

shapes of body

In the future, I probably will not be posting drawing/painting lessons from my classes.  Instead, I will be sharing the artwork I have finished lately, or working on at the present.  I may be hanging up my apron as an art teacher!  At least for the summer!  Happy drawing to all of you!


The ancient Greeks studied real human proportions in order to make their statues more ideal.  The Roman architect, Vitruvius in the 1st century BC also studied the relationships of the human body and used these in his buildings.  Leonardo DaVinci is known for his “Vitruvian Man” which he got from Vitruvius’ writings.  He used the human head as his comparison point and based his measurements on an ideal proportion of  8 heads tall.  This is pretty convenient in that the figure is 4 heads tall at the lower part of the torso, and can be divided into quarter points at the chest and knees.  The arms are usually divided into half at the elbow as will the legs just below the knee.

But the human body is different in everyone.  Most artists now say that the figure is 7 ½ heads tall, as in the following example.  This was developed by a 19th century anatomist, Dr. Paul Richer.  The half-way mark is just a little below the pubic bone,  and the third head is at the belly button.

In the example below, see that the human body is basically 7 ½ heads  or 7 heads tall, based on the length of the head.  Males and females are the same, which means, of course, that the female head is smaller than the male.  See where the arms come to – the waist, the knee, the pelvic bones.  This is only a guide, because you have to look closely at your model to see his/her true proportions.

The illustration below is taken from Anatomy and Drawing by Victor Perard, 13th printing 1948 – one of my most prized drawing books.





If you really want to learn how to draw the human body, draw from photos, magazine pictures, and any time you’re sitting in a waiting room with others.  Keep your sketchbook and pencil handy.  One caveat, however: If you draw from fashion models, realize that the rule of 7 1/2 heads does not apply.  Fashion illustrators and photographers enlongate the female figure so as to make the clothes look better.  CHECK IT OUT!



Using a grid is the easy way to reproduce a photograph, and IT’S NOT TRACING!  Renaissance artists such as Durer and da Vinci used a standup grid to get correct proportions of a live subject.  In my last portrait drawing class, I showed my students how to use a 1″ grid on an 8×10″ photograph to draw their own self-portraits.  Here is the result from one of my students, Linda Keesee.  She placed the grid on the photograph and made another 1″ grid on her drawing paper, then drew from the photo square by square to complete the final product.  If you want to enlarge a photograph, either use a 1″ grid on the photo and a 2″ grid on your drawing paper, or a 1/2″ grid on the photo and a 1″ grid on the paper.  Either way, your drawing will be twice the size of the photograph.

Of course,  if you’re confident of your ability, you could skip the grid and draw free hand, but that could get you in trouble!  Also, some of you who have done this before might like to try the alternate method – making an x on the corners and dividing  each section equally.  If you do this, you’ll need to trace your photo and use the grid on the tracing.


photo                                            Linda



You may think the ear is hard to draw because of its intricate folds and wrinkles, but if you just get the basic shape right, it’s not that difficult.  If the head is drawn straight on, like a wanted ad, you can hardly see the ear, especially if hair covers it.  The problem comes when the head is seen in 3/4 view, or in profile.  That’s when you need to look carefully at the ear’s inner and outer shapes.  Here is an example of the ear seen in profile:


This is a man’s ear — a woman’s ear is more rounded, or course.


img002    Here is an older man’s portrait.





And here is a young girls’ portrait





Other examples:




Noses are very much unique to the individual.  They can be straight, crooked, with a big bump in it, have widely flared nostrils, slim, or large.  My mother had what she called a “roman nose — it roamed all over her face!”  Pay a lot of attention to the different shapes, angles, and planes of the nose. The bridge of the nose is a bone, while the edges are cartilage. There is a round ball at the end of the nose, and the flares of nostrils are wedge shapes.  The overall shape of the nose is narrow at the top, and wide at the base.

After the structural lines have been made, shading the nose is the best way to define the form.  If you’re drawing the nose from a front view, the only way to show the form is by the subtle variations of lights and darks.  Don’t draw lines on the side of the nose. The darkest shadows lie next to the bridge.  Drawing noses from a profile view is easier, because then you can ouline the nose.   Nostril openings face down and should not be overstated.  Because the tip of the nose is spherical, it usually has a highlight.  Look carefully at the light source and the reflected light.  The nose will also cast a shadow beneath it.

Here are some examples:



This example is from the Watercolor Artist magazine of June 1212.






One of the most expressive features of the face is the mouth — it can express a person’s age, gender, ethnicity, and emotion.  Everyone’s mouth is different, so look for the uniqueness in your model’s mouth and lips.  Generally speaking, however, the top lip is slimmer and more in shadow than the lower lip, because it recedes slightly backward.  Full lips look youthful, while thin lips look older.  The top lip has a little indentation in the middle and slants downward toward the edge of the mouth.  The lower lip seems to have two ovoid shapes on either side.  See example below:


Be careful if you include the teeth.  You don’t want them to look like pickets in a fence.  You can define an adult’s teeth by showing the gums at the top and a division at the bottom.  The teeth are shaded more as they recede into the mouth.  Children’s teeth are usually seen as individual, since their’s are not fully developed.

Be aware of the subtle shading of the lips.  There is usually a slight highlight on the lower lip.  Watch especially what happens in a three-quarter and profile view.   Remember also, that there is some shading under the mouth.  Since the lips protrude slightly from the face, there are several tonal variations in the skin and surrounding areas.  So be observant, and practice in your sketchbook.


Once you have the correct proportions of the face, and have considered the planes of the face as it turns away from the light, it’s time to put in the features of the face:  the eyes, eyebrows, nose, ears, mouth.  This is the time for careful observation, because even though everyone’s features are close to the same, it is the little differences that cause you to draw a true likeness.  Here are some pointers.

THE EYE:  The eyeball fits into the eye socket and the eyelids wrap over the eyeballs.  The pupil is quite large in dim light, and smaller in bright light.  The iris is darker under the eyelid because of the overlapping shape.  Be sure that the eyeballs are placed in the same position in the eye socket, so the model doesn’t look cross-eyed, and make sure that the highlights in the iris and the pupils are in the same place.  Light colored eyes usually have a darker rim (limbus) around the iris.  Eyebrows vary from individual to individual and help to contribute to a correct likeness. As the face turns or tilts, the eyeballs can be foreshortened.  Don’t forget the tear duct.  Pay attention to the lower eyelid, the wrinkles and shadows around the eye.  Shadows are darker close to the nose — these shadows often give structure to the nose.

A lot of expression can be put into the placement of the eyeball — for instance, if surprise or fright is to be shown, the whites of the eyes can be seen around the eyeball.  If the model is sleepy, uninterested, or even angry, the eyelids squeeze together – maybe even in a squint.  Careful observation is necessary.

Don’t make the mistake of putting in lines for eyelashes — simply darken about the eye to suggest them.  The eyelashes are thickest toward the outer corner.  The lower lid has a mild highlight along it’s edge.