Studio Mysteries

August 16, 2009

Drawing Stages: Now Slightly Further

Filed under: Drawing, Values — Tags: , — Anya Galkina - Studio Mysteries @ 8:19 pm

In my last Head Drawing post, I talked about the stages of doing a drawing from start to full finish, and how there are generally three. I haven’t learned how to get a drawing All The Way There yet, because in my classes thus far, I run out of time by Stage 2 or so. The last post, however, actually shows a drawing that is some way into Stage 3. So here is my revised list of drawing order:

Stage 1: The Blueprint. A linear drawing sticking down all the elements of the composition. Sometimes it’s called the block-in if only straight lines are used to describe the form, or a lay-in if it’s using curved lines.

Stage 2: The Cow Pattern. Defining light and shadow as 2D shapes.

Stage 3: (Haven’t named it yet, but that’s where the full value range and final finish happen.)

  1. Laying in a mid-range flat tone for the shadow shapes.
  2. Defining the dark value range by doing the darkest areas – those will have most of the dark range except for the very darkest tones.
  3. Defining the darkest value. It’s basically the opposite of the highlight – rather than a whole area, it’s a shadow anti-highlight. Usually, but necessarily it’s in the area of greatest drama. Usually, but not necessarily it’s in the area that receives the most light as well.
    (The area of greatest drama may not have the darkest dark, but it should have the most contrast.) <– that right there is one of THE keys to an eloquent painting or drawing.
  4. Defining the lightest value. Should be in the area of greatest interest.
  5. To be determined! (Very determined).


  1. Can’t believe I didn’t remark on your skilled lines in the last drawing – the kind of lines I’m aiming for; clutter-free, no mess. Envy turns me positively frog-like green at your mastery of drawing hands. Can’t wait to read what you name #3.

    You probably don’t fully appreciate how useful your posts are to us in artblogland.

    Comment by InkSplodge! — August 19, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

  2. Believe it or not, line quality is something I am still wrestling with, especially in quick sketch class. One of the helpful suggestions my teacher gave me was to kind of air-guitar the lines a few times first, drawing them with the pencil off the paper, just to get your hands to feel the movement first.

    The other hints are more along the lines of cheating! Draw construction/block-in lines very lightly, and if you are searching and restating, which results in many lines, erase them as soon as you found the right one and pretend they were never there. 😀

    Comment by Anya Galkina - Studio Mysteries — August 19, 2009 @ 7:21 pm

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