5 SECRETS TO DRAWING – Fundamental Principles and Techniques of Classical Drawing

5 SECRETS TO DRAWING – Fundamental Principles and Techniques of Classical Drawing


My name is Florent Farges. In this video, I am going to give you 5 secrets
that will help you be more accurate and more expressive in your drawings. These secrets are 5 fundamental principles
that underlie the success of any drawing, no matter what method is followed. These 5 principles work as a foundation to
any drawing technique, whether the artist is conscious about it or not. I’ll use this demonstration to unveil these
secrets and show how they apply… This portrait drawing was done with charcoal
and white chalk on toned paper, you’ll find a list of the material used in the description
box if you’re interested. Without further ado, let’s reveal these
essential drawing principles. In any subject, there is a line of action,
a line that seems to capture the movement of the person or the essence of the thing
itself. In the block in stage, at the very beginning
of my drawing, I start by establishing the main lines with a soft piece of charcoal. I try to find lines that convey the emotion
that I’m trying to express with this pose. It’s important to give enough consideration
to these first few lines, because the rest of the drawing depends on it. You have to aim for expressivity before you
start thinking about accuracy. The first couple of lines don’t have to
be perfectly placed, what matters is that they display the level of clarity or harmony
that you’re looking for. You have to feel that these lines convey the
liveliness of the entre drawing. Avoid working on a single part too early in
the drawing, this could make you forget about the coherence of the entire subject. During this stage, very early in the process,
don’t check for proportions, not yet : make sure that the overall composition is harmonious
first. Right here, I’m tracing the diagonals and
the midline to make sure that the center of focus is where I want it to be. Find the main angles. Which lines are dominant, which lines are
supposed to guide the eyes of the viewers ?
The harmony of the pose is essential, it’s better to capture it entirely. The composition has the follow the energy
of the subject, not the other way around. In this drawing, I kept the angle as wide
as possible for a long time to make sure that the gesture was right, so I drew the arms
and the entire hair but in the end, I decided to crop it and I chose a different type of
framing. One last thing, as I said earlier, these lines
are not supposed to be perfectly placed, and you’ll probably find out later on that they
need to be moved, or changed to adjust the proportions. But it’s ok, the energy these first few
marks bring will spread itself into the additional lines you’ll add around it and soon you’ll
be able to start working on the proportion without losing their original dynamism. The second principle has to do with proportions
: The secret is to simplify the shapes and keep the subject geometric for as long as
possible. The real object you see in front of you has
no real edges and lines are just a creation of your imagination. The reality of the visible world is that lights
and shadows intermingle with other constantly, there is an infinite variety of complex forms
inhabiting the three dimensional world : you need to simplify that ! The secret is to turn
the three dimensions your eyes perceive into a juxtaposition of flat geometric shapes. Simplify by delineating the shadow shapes
and try to turn them into flat objects. Keep thing geometric : What I mean by geometric
is that you want to avoid tracing curves for as long as possible. It’s much harder to get an accurate curve
than a series of straight lines. You have to work step by step and start drawing
curves when you’re sure that the straight lines are accurate enough. Like a sculptor, start with very broad planes
at first, and then slowly cut the angles and refine the lines little by little. I work step by step and I start drawing curves
when I’m sure that the straight lines respect the proportions. You have to understand this concept first. Your drawing needs to start simple and go
towards more and more complexity as you progress. If you try to do the shading and work on the
three dimensional aspects of the drawing too early, it can easily throw you off and disrupt
your representation of the proportions. Simplifying is key but the next step is to
translate the flat drawing back into three dimensions. This happens later in the drawing when I refine
the edges and start working on the transition between the lights and the shadows. It happens very naturally as soon as you start
rendering. The next secret is to find visual landmarks
that help you navigate through the project. The reality of the object or the person you
want to draw is infinitely complex, it is absolutely necessary to find things that can
be easily grasped. In this drawing, my main visual landmarks
are the center point of the surface, the left eyebrow, the ridge of the nose and the bottom
line on the chin. These key points are elements that I consider
easy enough to locate. I choose the elements I can be certain about,
and I rely on them to locate the rest of the features of the portrait. These visual landmarks depend on the subject,
they also depend on your strategy going into the drawing. Choose three or four noteworthy points that
you think you can draw with confidence. It’s always interesting to look for acute
angles and sharp edges. Relate the rest of the shapes to these landmarks
and try to articulate everything. The opposite strategy is to keep some lines
flexible, keep a side of the drawing open, so that you can adjust it to have the right
proportions. Your visual landmarks aren’t supposed to
move, but the flexible parts can be moved or modified as the drawing progresses. In this drawing, the parts I keep flexible
are hands, the left part of the head and the neck. It seems trivial, but knowing exactly what
is a visual landmark and what is a flexible part can really help you build more confidence
and represent the proportions with more accuracy. You can see that I keep the eyes flexible
in this drawing. I take my time before I start drawing them,
there’s no rush… and it’s the part of the drawing I really want to bring focus on. In this case, using the eyes as visual landmarks
is risky, it’s better to wait and make sure that the entire portrait is coherent before
drawing the eyes, so right now, I keep the eyes blurry. I refine the shadows with a sharp point, I
try to fill the holes within the grain of the surface, and I shape my kneaded eraser
into a very fine point to remove the excess charcoal. Now that we’ve talk about expressivity and
proportions, it’s time to talk about values and shading. The secret to representing lights and shadows
in a drawing is to understand the surface. I try to avoid blending with my fingers and
do everything with the charcoal… slowly. The paper I use has a lot of texture, so everything
looks very scratchy right now when I press the stick of charcoal. I try to avoid blending with my fingers. I find that the result is hard to control
and can feel very washed out. I prefer to do everything with the charcoal,
I sometimes use an old brush to remove the excess charcoal and blend very lightly but
I use the charcoal as much as possible. Because I don’t blend with my fingers, I
see the surface as a juxtaposition of peaks and valleys. When you first drag a piece of charcoal on
the surface, it looks scratchy because the charcoal powder doesn’t reach all the peaks
and valleys evenly. Of course you can smudge everything with a
stomp or with your fingers, but it can make it hard to control the values in the drawing,
the difference can be very noticeable in the end : if you want accuracy and control, you
can’t just blend everything out. Achieving a smooth finish is all about helping
the charcoal cover the surface evenly. This takes a little bit of patience and more
importantly, charcoal that can be sharpened into a very fine point. Avoid vine charcoal with a hollow core, like
this. It can work in the very beginning, but it’s
almost impossible to draw the finest details around the eyes because it’s impossible
to sharpen.If you know me, you know I always use Nitram charcoal, it comes in different
degrees of softness : B which is very soft, HB and H which is very hard. Sharpen it with a piece of sandpaper. If the piece of charcoal becomes too small,
I use a charcoal holder called the stylus. It helps me sharpen small bits that would
otherwise be too small, plus, the length is important because it gives more control over
the pressure that my hand exerts. It’s the same if you draw with graphite,
you want to sharpen it into a fine point to have more control and, as I say, fill the
holes of the paper. I refine the shadows with a sharp point, I
try to fill the holes within the grain of the surface, and I shape my kneaded eraser
into a very fine point to remove the excess charcoal. I then start placing the highlights with a
Conté white pencil. Now it’s time to work on the eyes, this
is the crucial part… I work slowly, almost pixel by pixel in a
way. The distance between the eyes and the position
of the iris have to be adjusted with a lot of subtlety, so this is the first thing I
try to deal with. I try something then I step back and try to
feel it something is wrong, it doesn’t take much to make a cross-eyed look but the good
thing is that it’s easy to spot. Press lightly and slowly shape the eyes until
everything feels right. The final secret is to find a focal point
: viewers need a focal point to lead their eyes throughout the picture. But how can you create that in a drawing ?
First, let’s examine the difference between focal point and point of interest : a point
of interest exists outside of the drawing, it’s something that attracts attention in
real life, whereas a focal point needs the artwork and the decision of the artist to
exist. For example, the eyes are a strong point of
interest in any portrait, because the eyes are the first thing we consider when we look
at each other and interact with each other. But most parts of the face are also very strong
points of interest. A focal point on a drawing is created by the
decision of the artist to articulate the lines and values a certain way in order to bring
focus onto a specific part of the artwork. It is similar in a way to the focal point
a photographer can get with a camera. If your focal point is the same as your point
of interest, you’ll have no problem leading the viewer’s eye where you want, in the
case of the drawing in this demonstration, the focal point in on the eyes, so it’s
pretty easy. There are some principle that can help you
bring focus on any part of a drawing, whether it is a point of interest or not. In general, the part of a drawing where the
lightest light and the darkest dark meet becomes a focal point. It’s also a good idea to make the edges
sharper on the focal points and leave the rest hazy or unfinished. Alright that’s it for this video, of course,
there’s a lot more to drawing than what I mentionned in this video. It takes a lot of time to reach excellence,
and knowing a couple of principles is not enough, it requires a lot of time and hard
work. Don’t forget to subscribe to the channel
and watch the rest of my videos, if you’re interested in oil painting you can also check
out my last oil painting course. As always, take care and have fun drawing
!

91 thoughts on “5 SECRETS TO DRAWING – Fundamental Principles and Techniques of Classical Drawing

  1. Simply amazing! This spoke to my heart since my charcoals come first and I know I have a long path of growth ahead of me. These are amazing pearls of wisdom. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. The best thing that ever happened to my drawing improvement is that I discovered you😍 the wonderful way you teach has helped me tremendously thank you so very much!

  3. These five ways that you have described are very simple and very good. I will definitely follow you on this 5th day, I will use it. I found it very interesting technique.

  4. What you said about having a few landmark points that stay in a permanent place, and other points around it can be kept more flexible and movable until the accuracy is found, was really helpful. I'm going to be keeping that one in mind. Thanks.

  5. Bonjour,
    Dommage que ton tuto magnifique soit qu'en anglais. Ce serais bien qu'il y ait plus de vidéo en français.
    Bonne continuation pour tes futures vidéo.

  6. Man … just … thank you so much, your videos are briliant! You are really huge inspiration for me.

  7. Thanks for sharing your Amazing techniques, est ce que vous avez à tout hasard quelques tutoriels en français, bien à vous

  8. This is the kind of videos I've been always looking for! Thank you so much for all the tips, your drawing came out gorgeous!

  9. Great tips that seems to help with most of my problems while drawing portraits! It really helps to keep those few secrets in mind, I love the aproach of leaving some parts of the drawing flexible. Also, this is a superb artwork, I simply love it. Thank you!

  10. Wow he speaks exactly like one of my friends.

    Only difference is, my friend knows fuck all, what he's talking about LOL

  11. Thank you very much for your very beautifull, and inspiring video. Its a joy to watch you draw and a true inspiration to draw

  12. Re "supporting your work." I didn't quite catch the part about going to your ?? profile. Can you clarify that in print?

  13. I just learnt a very helpful key from ur video ."every one has his own style" of shading. After being afraid of spoiling my drawing last night, this video just proved my fear …wrong…Thanks a lot.

  14. Also look at Nathan's Fowkes charcoal figure drawing if you want to learn about drawing. He has a book on it too. And also, of course, and without a doubt: Cesare Santos.

  15. "The esense of the thing it self" … what does this even mean? We are totally appreciate the effort of your vids but may i suggest to simplify them? You speak in such a "arty farty or too" way that to us the ones who are starting out find your lingo difficult to follow. Thank you 💕💕

  16. This video has definitely gave me stuff to consider when I start my fundamental of drawing class in college! So excited to show off what I learned here!

  17. It is important for us to see what you are drawing from the same angle that you see it.what is your reference? A model or a photo?

  18. Thank you Florent as you're given very useful tips about essentially geometrical shares, coherente ,landmarks as revérence points…l think it'll be a lot easier to do my portrait studies now!

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