Tutorials from the russian renaissance tradition(explicit nudity and bad language!)
I'm drawing in the tradition of Boris Kazakov, one of the greatest russian professors and teachers in the 20th century. I was taught these techniques at the drawing academy Viborg - http://www.animwork.dk/Default.asp?ID=655
This is a strict renaissance tradition - drawing from the inside out - creating light/shade from imagination, building planes.
A day at the drawing academy would pretty much be 3 hours bone drawing, 3 hours model study. Model study would usually be 3-15 hours, and one day with short poses.
I will be transforming the studies I have done into tutorials, by taking photos from start to finish and recording my thoughts along the way.
At some point I will be making specific tutorials about the theory of form, perspective in figure drawing, rendering, etc.
This is a very complex system, I still consider myself a beginner, especially since I follow the russian tradition of comparing ones own work to the best works ever created - the masterpieces of the renaissance.
And I'm not kidding - back at the drawing academy the instructor(a crazy russian btw) would put your shitty piece of shit next to a Michelangelo!!! Imagine how that would make you feel! (like shit!)
Last edited by Sepulverture; March 31st, 2010 at 11:25 AM.
Now this is perhaps the most complex of all the bone studies there is - but since it's the only tutorial I have prepared let's just start with that. Good news is that for a bone drawing it doesn't get much harder than this!
This is the model I will be using
And the beginning outlined sketch. You don't have to be 100% accurate, the point is to learn the structure, not to study proportion. You can leave more room at the sides of the paper if necessary.
Also get the inside spinal column - this is very important as all ribs are attached to this. You need to have it fixed in 3D space.
Build the major perspective lines - this is crucial as EVERYTHING you draw should be aligned with these. Consider the horizon line (straight red line) and build the top and bottom - then later you simply put all other perspective lines in between these.
Then consider the green perspective lines - 90 degree lines going the other way. Remember that all parallel lines goes to the same vanishing point. But also consider that you are no computer - perfect perspective is for a robot! Just do your best! And if it works, if it looks good - nobody really cares about "perfect" perspective.
The orange lines are the perspective lines of the breastbone - these goes to the same vanishing point as the red lines. You want to draw the breastbone NOW - because drawing it later will be more difficult! As you improve you find your own ways, but trust me on this one - easier to do it now!
I will be using the box form throughout - this is the best form suited for building a solid perspective. You can test this yourself - draw a box - and you know where it is in perspective, draw a sphere, and you know nothing at all!
Continue building with a light line - you don't have to use so much presure in the beginning.
As you go along you'll be using more and more tone - and in the end you can render something with 100% values. That is for later, now is the construction.
You should consider the bend of the breastbone - it is NOT straight! You can build it by drawing a long boxed bend at the middle - 5b
The red line is the midline of the box , sometimes it helps to draw the midline.
Now you want to start the construction of the actual ribcage - 11th and 12th ribs are not included in this major form!
I indicate the attachments of the 11th and 12th ribs on the spinal column, but just so that I can figure out the attachments of all the remaining ribs. You can always do this - just indicate without drawing it, or just draw it very loosely.
When building the ribcage consider the bottom of the two 10th ribs.
When drawing symmetrical forms we use twin or sister or symmetry points.
These points are mirror points that are always located on the same perspective line. It will take a while getting used to this perspective kind of thinking - but it's worth it!
You want to attach this major ribcage to the breastbone and spinalcolumn - breastbone is more important now because it will be difficult to draw this later.
I suggest you use the box form like myself. If that is too uncomfortable then go ahead and build tubes. But you could always round out the box when you get to the rendering.
I start by building the top and bottom ribs first, that way you can easier figure out where to put all the remaining ribs.
Using fixed 90 degree non-symmetry points. I look at the ribcage from the side and choose two points that are at eye level, remember where I saw these points on the ribcage and mark them off on the drawing - then I know that they are located on the same 90 degree perspective line.
Marking these fixed points. You can use strong perspective lines in the beginning - it is just a study!! You don't have to be able to erase them completely.
Marking the same points on the ribcage, and you can also mark all edges(plane changes). Otherwise you would have to get up from your seet to actually figure out all those impossible to see form changes.
Build the end of the vertabraes on a constructed line - this line is important as it is an absolute midline of the ribcage. If you see the ribcage directly from the back, then this line will be straight!!!
Viewing this line directly from the side and it will bend according to the individual vertabrae.
When you have builded the basic 3d forms you can start to render.
The render system is the most complex I can think of. There are no fixed rules as such, only guidelines.
The point is to COMMUNICATE FORM.
Also consider these as structural studies. A logical way of getting to know all bones and muscles etc. Artistical considerations should be put aside.
In the words of a russian master - "Don't draw a pretty drawing for your mama!!"
13 and 13b
You will be using the box shapes and construct the tone according to a very basic system of a few different values. As your rendering skills increase you can add many more values to this, and your possibilites will increase.
You can also rely on cross-hatch as a way of communicating form - I prefer rendering, but was taught to use cross-hatch myself.
In the beginning you can use light values, just to help you figure out the construction and where the values should go. I go dark very fast, because I know exactly where to put the values.
The basic value system makes use of a guiding cube. A simple cube with 6 planes. Then you render the top plane 100% light value, and the bottom 100% dark and the side 50%. As for the remaining planes - who knows! Just try and use different values to show that these are different planes seen in perspective. And it has to work visually.
Thats pretty much the theory!
You can also try and throw the light from the bottom and make the bottom plane 100% light - or the side plane 100% light. And you can deviate from this basic system as much as you see fit as there are no rules, only guidelines.
In this drawing however, the basic cube will be seen from many angles, so I have to use many tones. This is because of the perspective - the top vertabrae will be seen from underneath and the bottom vertabrae from the top. As well as the symmetrical design of the ribcage. I think that there are planes in all directions!
Interesting tutorial. Thanks for posting it, this system seems very intriguing. I wish I had a skeleton and time to spend drawing it three hours a day.
I was wondering how much importance you place on learning the forms of every single rib and vertebra. I personally never bothered learning each rib and vertebra, as to me it does not seem to have much of an effect on the figure in the end. I would stop around post #4 in this thread, once the overall mass of the rib cage has been simplified and understood, and the spine gestured in. I visualize each of the vertebrae as a cylinder. So I guess I am asking what advantages you find are gained by learning it more in depth. Is it worth my spending time learning all the little forms of the vertebrae?
"Complacency is the womb of mediocrity. " -- Jason Manley
"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." -- Bruce Lee
Andrew Sonea - In the beginning it's of no importance, only the big structural egglike shape.
Robert Beverly Hale calls it a matter of refinement, I believe he's right!
You simply decide yourself how detalied you want to be - and if we are talking renaissance master kinda detailed then yes - every single rib is important!!
But there can be other reasons for drawing a rib in detail - it's difficult!
It will teach organisation of multiple minor forms in relation to major forms, strengthen your feeling of perspective, learning to work with a multitude of planes and tones etc.
Or if you want to pursue anatomical illustration.
Get in the habit of drawing transparently - this is to figure out the complete forms. Don't break the lines, just continue the lines behind other forms.
You'll be using a strong outline in order to seperate different forms in space.
Also remember that some strong lines can always be softened later on - be brave, subtlety comes with time!
16 and 16b Consider the symmetrical nature of the vertabrae - construct the twin forms on the same perspective lines.
Your own ribcage model may be crooked, then idealise if you can. This goes for all bone shapes.
The ideal of the renaissance was to be able to draw like this from imagination alone - no kidding! In order to be able to do that idealisation of form is necessary. Always simplify.
18 and 18b
The down plane of the vertabrae seen from below will have 0% light. This is not necessarily a 100% dark value, as other considerations must be taken - usually the 100% value is for the edges(line between two planes) and the outline.
At some places you will also be using reflected light.
The lack of rules makes this system very difficult to master! My own teacher just told us to experiment and if something works just do it!
You have to figure out the foreshortening of some planes - this is why transparent drawing is useful - then you can see the planes in 3 dimensions, figure out the complete 3d forms.
The planar vertabra can ALWAYS be rendered smooth later on. This is a matter of having time at hand! The same goes for all other sharp edges in the drawing.
Nothing is ever totally sharp, not even the edge of a table! If the edge of a table was a perfect 90 degree angle, then you would start bleeding if you layed your hand on it!
Considering the light - you could also have a 100% light on the edges of the simplified box - aka on a tilted plane, it is just much much more difficult to draw!
The reason for the difficulty is that you would have to draw the construction lines and then later erase them completely.
With the use of a white pencil on dark paper it could be easier. But for the sake of convenience I just choose to make the top plane 100% light - that is, the light is comming directly from above.
There's no sufficient way to say thanks for posting all this, man. It's been extremely helpful and I can't wait to try a proper construction on my own (the one-hour mess in my sketchbook doesn't count ). Cheers to you, and hope you post more like this .
Thanks for doing this head, quite informative. The instructions seem pretty clear although sometimes I have a hard time seeing what each perspective line is refering to, perhaps an outline on the item in question like you did in the last picture would help.
We build 100% symmetrical forms, even though we do not see them like that on the model. This is a building system, an architectonic approach to figure drawing, well, later on figure drawing.
Simply consider that EVERY single point on a symmetrical object has a twin symmetry point, except the points on the midline.
Then when these symmetrical objects are turned in space, we can align their symmetry points by constructing a horizontal line as well as vanishing points. We build the perspective so to speak. It is not there to begin with - we build it! We build everything from scratch, like a computer system, using basic geometrical construction.
Green line = horizon line, eye-level.
Last edited by hummel1dane; February 1st, 2010 at 03:43 PM.
You show the beauty of anatomy pretty well! A ribcage and a spine is so beautyful. It looks like a machine but it´s in the body of everyone.
When I used to work as a lab technician I made (the translator tells me taxidermy with rat bones. It was so interesting but all the bones were so small. So the only part that I kept for longer was the skull.
There was this one scientist that had a lot of monkey skulls in all sizes - set up like an ancestral gallery. And he had frog and snake skulls. Perfect references for us artists.
Bjoern, thank you. Yes bones are very beautiful.
Unfortunately also too detailed to ever get a 100% understanding of the minor variations in the form, so we have to just figure out their simplification.
I would really want to get a collection of animal bones to study in the future. So far I only got the small cat you can see in the photo of the skeleton model.
Hope this ecorche model tutorial will be usefull.
The way of work is not different from drawing a life model, just easier to see the anatomical structure and it doesn't move.
If you have your own plastercast then you can mark the planes with a piece of charcoal - in that way you wouldn't have to get up from your seat in order to figure out the turning of the form.
The two most recommendable books are -
"Die Gestalt des Menchen" by Gottfried Bammes, and "Drawing lessons from the great masters" by Robert Beverly Hale.
Also recommended are the anatomy video tutorials by Glenn Vilppu.
You also DO need your own set of bones, a life-size plastic skeleton is just fine, just be sure to get the more detailed ones. The overly simplificated models are not very useful.
If drawing bones, also consider that the female hip bone is especially different from the male. You can buy life-size plastic female hip-bones.
Thank you very much Dorian. Yes a skeleton is definitely needed!
-- General theory --
This will be an attempt to theoretically describe the system at use. Don't take it too seriously though, a picture says more than a thousand words.
The difference between this system, and the system of say Vilppu, Bridgman, etc, is in the rendering. It is not just a system of construction - but a refined tonal system as well that was used most notably by Michelangelo in his figure studies, possibly in his paintings as well.
The model studies done in this system are in russia 15min - 15hour(I think 15hours is max) In viborg it's more like 30sec-15hours(although 15hours is rare, 6-9 is more usual)
But you can do longer studies if need be. In the beginning too long studies are not necessary, as you first need to build up the structural understanding of anatomy.
Perspective and construction.
In the basic renaissance system you immediately set up perspective - you work in 3 dimensions right away! This is done to get the understanding of mass, construction, gesture. You idialize as well - that is, you construct a sort of idialized version of the model(this "ideal" can be as close to the model as you see fit, but as you are not drawing with a fixed light-source you cannot copy what you see, and therefore MUST construct.
You will be using your constructed perspective lines rather than the model(you can even exaggerate perspective if you prefer) You will have to look at the model from different angles - ESPECIALLY the side!
If you look at the model from the side, you will see where the up planes are located - you will be constructing the main light from above and any direction you choose. Sometimes from the side, front, and most rarely - below. Never from the back. (you do NOT set up any lightsources, you simply imagine where the light is comming from)
You will be modelling the edges - work on the edges to show the turning of planes. (Most shade on edges)
In this system an edge is the meeting of two planes.
You will be controlling the direction of the eye by using atmospheric perspective - what is most in the front - the highest contrast. (the difference in tone between what is in front and in the back might be extremely subtle. )
You will be using completely free lines, that are supposed to show the 3d form of the model, not all of these hatches need to actually follow the 3d-form - som can be straight hatches that functions to tone down a general plane of a major 3d basic(I will show this visually in the future, no worries.
The most important is loosenes and freedom and with time you'll get to draw like Michelangelo, that is, when you start to understand the form and perspective.
Your lines will automaticaly turn into shade as you work in layers, multiple lines. (layers explained later)
You'll use flow through lines, especially as a way to get good proportions and working with the figure as a whole.
You won't use eraser except later, when you are doing the light planes. You will be using your kneded eraser as a white pencil.
You won't measure, never(except in your mind). You have to understand mass and sort of feel the proportions. In the beginning your result will be horrible. But when you get the feeling of mass and perspective down as a 6th sense, it will be easy. The proportions will get better and better. (they say that sketching in the street gives the best understanding of proportion)
You never have to draw something exactly the way it looks. So in the beginning your horrible result is ok. Also it will take some time before you understand how to work in layers. Check out Michelangelos pen drawings. He is the ideal.
Your instructor will sometimes tell you to erase part of the drawing and start all over with this part.... You can have completed a whole leg, and then you have to move it, this happens if you have lost the feeling of the whole - focused too much on a specific part.
Draw transparent in the beginning - if one leg crosses the other - complete the behind leg. NEVER break a line that is going behind another form.
You want a mess of lines. When you decide which one is correct you just give it a darker tone - you don't have to erase the other lines. You will erase them only if they are on a light plane. If not you will probably shade over them anyways.
Use complete constructions. Complete all forms. Draw them through - continue them on the other side, like if you had x-ray eyes. (and always construct perspective) When you get better you might not have to do this anymore, but as a beginner it should always be done.
Often the old masters made a complete sketch of something that would acually be behind something else. This was necessary in order to think in terms of complete forms.
I think Michelangelo is seen as the one who achieved the most advanced results.
You will be using anatomy - constructional anatomy - 3d anatomy.
Draw bones - allways. When you look at the model - you'll be drawing the underlining bones. If you don't have them in mind and you are drawing, lets say an arm - just pick up the corresponding armbone, look at it in the same perspective as the arm on the model - and in this way figure out the bonal structure of the model.
About light and shade on planes - you will be using a guiding cube that you can put next to your drawing. One plane is 100% shade, another 100% light another 50% of each. This is Michelangelos school! (I think Leonardo suggests more softness, also Raphael is more soft)
But in the beginning all you care about is form!!!!! The other stuff is a later study.
Drawing is a communication of form. Therefore, DO NOT CONSTRUCT CAST SHADOWS YET. Learn to think ONLY in terms of planes. (when you master form you'll start to do cast shadows)
But cast shadows aren't neccesary to show form - so at least if you do anatomical sketches - dont use cast shadows!
Subdivide tone in the different planes (this is where the russian school differs the most from the american constructional system)
Study Michelangelo - he uses the most amount of subdivision.
In your light planes you will be lightly subdividing, in the shaded planes you will be subdividing with stronger tones.
In the beginning, treat everything as if it was made of the same material, draw only form - A person with black skin will be drawn the same as a person with white skin. Form is the only thing truly important in this system!
This is the beginning - later you will learn to work with and master the different skin tones etc. But first your understanding of form, planes, construction and perspective must be build.
How to work in layers.
Working in layers is the way the crosshatch technique is taught, you just work your way into the figure(because you have no actual tonal reference, other than your tonal guiding cube) - you can do this method with pen as well...
There are two different layers - tonal and anatomical.
First layer is the overall anatomical structure of the big forms, the box of the pelvis and the open box/egg of the ribcage and so on, the flow of the middle lines(spinal column, sternum, linea alba...)
The ribcage/pelvis can first be drawn as one bean-like shape, and later be seperated into the 3d basics.
At the same time you will also go over the gestural flow in the body. Get the feel of an actual 3d figure in space, let the lines flow free inside and outside the body unifying these major forms. (also spend some time walking around the model, to get the feel of the pose, see the twists/tilts of the major forms)
Always keep both the sternum and spinal column in mind(draw it or think it - whatever works for you)
And the feet are the most important because they determine the weight and pose of the figure - force yourself to see them in perspective right away, get a feel of the plane they are standing on.
Second anatomical layer is the inner skeletal structure of all the bones and muscles.
You want to see the big anatomical picture, and then break this down into smaller forms, and break the smaller forms down into even smaller forms... and so forth(you'll even break bones down into different structural shapes...). But you always keep a strong feeling of connection. - all small forms belongs to a bigger form.
For example, the phalanges belongs to the finger, the finger to the hand, The hand, lower arm and upper arm belongs to the whole arm. The shoulder connects the arm to the body, and so forth. You will be drawing the bones first, then draw the muscles on top.
In the beginning a disconnected look of bones and muscles is normal - this is just untill you figure out the anatomical and structural connections.
The tonal layers.
The reason you do tonal layers are in order to explain general form and plane changes. An edge is a line between two planes. In general you model the edges to explain the change in direction of form.
Your goal is to communicate the form independently of light(sculptural). So you will create your own light source and sometimes move it around a bit freely to enhance the visual communication.
First layer makes us of 3 basic tones.(in light values - you will make them darker later...)
Make your own light source in your head! Think in terms of the big masses - crosshatch or tone down first the side and down planes(on a figure constructed in these basic shapes/planes)
Second tonal layer works together with the detailed anatomical layer, so that if you have decided to tone down the side plane 50% - you model the planes located on the side plane in similar values - like 30-70% following the anatomical bumps.
So all up planes located on the side planes would have like 30% and all down planes located on the side plane would have like 70% and planes turned in other directions will have other values in between the two, or something like that. (this is a VERY general idea, do whatever explains form)
And on the down planes you'll model in even darker tones...
And on the light planes you'll model in lighter tones.
In this way you'll keep the strongest feeling of the big boxes (about 3 basic planes, each subdivided into different tones). Because you can clearly distinguise the big planes, and the small planes located on these big planes. This is called the sculptural approach. Im still a beginner myself so it could probably be explained better.
Just study Michelangelo and you'll figure it out.
But there are other principles that change the amount of tone you'll use - like atmospheric lighting, atmospheric perspective, reflected lighting, constructed cast shadows. and so forth.
How to copy a master drawing ::
First understand the reason for doing a master copy - you want to learn how this master thought about the figure(a drawing is based on thoughts).
Remember he worked in layers, so it's quite likely that his construction isn't visible.
You will be drawing it as if it were an actual 3d object in front of you(use persepctive construction right away)
Sometimes the constructional lines in the master drawing wont be obvious. You should assume they are there none the less.
In order to do a perfect copy of a master drawing you'll need the same amount of anatomical knowledge and skill as the master. If your skill and knowledge is higher - you should be able to improve the master drawing. If your skill and knowledge is worse, you'll make it worse.
IN SHORT - you can't draw properly that which you do not understand.
Last edited by hummel1dane; January 20th, 2010 at 06:58 AM.