Friday, February 6, 2015

A different type of craft...

There has been less sewing around these parts lately, as I've been experimenting with alternative creative persuits, namely drawing.

Over Christmas I found a few free drawing classes on Craftsy, so enrolled in them both and then Darren and I completed them together. The first class was "Figure Drawing: An Essential Guide" and was a really great class. In the class Patricia takes you through the process of drawing a person using pencil.

Most times I've drawn anything in the last decade or so I have been frustrated that I couldn't get my hand to draw what my mind was imagining. My pictures would end up with weird proportions and not look like what I was aiming for at all. Therefore, I was surprised at the drawing I ended up with, finding her envelope technique really great for actually ending up with a picture that looked like what it should.

My picture from following along with "Figure Drawing: An Essential Guide"

We then went on to watch the second available class called "Draw Better Portraits". We didn't follow along with this class as we didn't have the required materials (charcoal and a more glossy paper). It was an interesting watch, but nowhere near as beneficial as the first class.

A couple more pencil drawings using the principles from the figure drawing class

After a couple more practices of what we learnt from the Figure Drawing class (above), we decided to investigate what other classes were available. After reading the descriptions and the trailer videos (which I wish more had clips of the instructor actually speaking to let you get an idea of their style) we ended up with quite a few in the wishlist, and one in my cart; "Radiant Portraits in Coloured Pencil".

My drawing from the "Radiant Portraits in Coloured Pencil" class

I have spent the last week working through the class, with a visit back to the art store in the middle to get more coloured pencils, and have reached a point with my drawing where I've decided to stop. I'm sure I could keep on going with the picture, but I have to decide to stop at some point.

I selected this photo by Sergey Stoylovsky to use as my reference photo:

One thing, not suggested in the class, that I found helpful when drawing the framework was to overlay a grid on the top of the photo. I didn't draw a grid onto my paper or anything, but it helped provide a base for the proportions and alignment of the different aspects of the image, which was a great assistance when I was drawing it onto the paper.

The below photos show the progression of my drawing. In the class Kerry has you start by drawing the framework of the image in a pale pencil, then you start building up the values in fairly neutral colours, then you start refining the colours and values.


I found the process incredibly relaxing, and enjoyed the challenge of working out how to build the colours I needed (particularly when I didn't quite have the colours I think I would have liked to use). It is so surprising how a colour behaves when you're using it on top of another colour, as opposed to straight onto the paper.


The paper we bought wasn't as dark as the one she recommends, so I had some challenges using the techniques that Kerry introduces in the class, but I worked it out in the end. We have since bought darker paper so I'm looking forward to using that for my next drawing.

My goal going into the coloured pencil class was to draw something that I'd be happy to frame and put on my wall. I expected this goal to take multiple drawings and much practice to achieve, but given that I keep being drawn back to the table to look at my drawing I may well frame and put up this first drawing! I shall have to try another picture to see if I have infact discovered a before unknown talent or if this was simply a fluke!

I'm not saying that my picture is perfect, it's far from it. There are many things I would change if that were possible, and I will bear those in mind for my future pictures. While her head isn't quite at the right angle, her hair is miles from accurate, her lips leave quite a bit to be desired, and some of the shadows aren't quite right, the fact that it is a very recognisable likeness of the reference picture has got me absolutely thrilled.

What about you, have you done any portrait or figure drawing? Please share pictures with me if you have.
Have you done any of the Craftsy classes? If so, which ones and would you recommend them?

Note: The links to Craftsy in this post are affiliate links. If you click on them and sign up to craftsy and/or buy any courses within the specified time limits I will get a small commission, and I will be very grateful. However, I paid for the Craftsy class I'm talking about in this post, and would have written exactly the same post even without the affiliate links (actually I did, I added the links after writing the post).


  1. Those drawings are beautiful! Thank you for letting us know about other crafts courses.

  2. Wow. Just wow. I love the Stoylovsky coloured pencil drawing, there is so much depth to it. You really are talented Rachel!

  3. This is just beautiful! The most I can draw is a stick figure so I'm super envious of anyone who can draw. I hope the kids inherit that talent from Corey. He is quite skilled in that department.

  4. Thanks for this wonderful non-sewing post! I really enjoyed seeing the progress shots and your final drawing is very true to the original - Well done! have bought the Couture dress and French jacket courses on Craftsy but have yet to begin them :( Anyway, my husband gave me a 72 set of coloured pencils for Christmas a couple of years ago and I have only dabbled in them. I think I will give these courses a look, especially the free ones.

  5. Beautiful, well done! You have a lot of talent. I know what you mean, I have been put off drawing by not getting the result that's in my head. I'll have to try again sometime though. Wonderful!


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