Describing Mass (Mass over Shading)

There are a couple of points here.

Ok, this isn’t a great picture. But it is only about 15 minutes and what I am concentrating on here is to learn

  1. why I hear/read so often that drawing from magazines/photos is harder than from real life
  2. how to draw mass
  3. what lighting can do to mass
  4. how to draw lines instead of always only building up tonal values by shading
  5. how to keep my mind/eye off cast shadows


First off: yes, drawing from photos is now a lot harder, perhaps nigh impossible currently. I used to just copy “tone value” by “tone value” and get a nice copy of the picture in the magazine. (Could have photocopied/xeroxed it).

Now, I’m looking for mass, trying to display the forms and variations in the mass with contour lines, or any lines, but not by building up or copying shadows with tonal values.

But photos of models like Heidi here are lighted brilliantly (glaringly) from the front. So the face looks pretty (slip of the tongue there) flat.

By the way the contour lines I made on the sausage (above the eye) and the lower eye lids are not the eye lashes. The lashes and the eye brows have no mass, so they’re not in my drawing. See also Leonardo Da Vinci. You won’t see many eye lashes or brows in pictures from the Renaissance. As did  Leonardo, I also added a bit of cast shadow to the iris leaving an “impression” of eyelashes.

Lines: attempting to not correct my bad lines too often. The first line needs to sit well. That is the goal. Not there by miles yet. Flaring of the line, or perhaps better put: “feathering of the line”, obviously works better for me if I begin at the feathered end and draw towards the darker point. I haven’t got the control of this line yet, but it exercising this skill looks promising.

I noticed in my “finished” product, that I didn’t copy the cast shadow of the head on the neck. And that I kept the contour lines on the neck nice and decent, quiet and light (at least the ones I made towards the end of the drawing), which allows the neck to move to the background. Just where we need it.

So, not too much of a loss here. Need to practice more. Practice. Practice. Practice.

And a few hours later … here another practice session. (both drawings are using a 8B round tip pencil, not especially sharp.)



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