Drawing Basics… It’s Almost Here.

The "shape" of the light mass on a sphere, with the light arriving from the upper right.

This project began in earnest back in April. The goal was to put together an online version of the introductory drawing course that we’ve been teaching in the studio for years. This is the course in which we teach many of the foundational drawing skills that students will need as they proceed to tackle complex subjects like figures and portraits, and is our suggested “starting place” for anyone new to drawing in general or new to our studio in particular.

We began offering the in-studio version of this course because we recognized a problem among our incoming students enrolled in our figure drawing classes. Many beginners, despite being enthusiastic for the material, simply lacked the manual skill and conceptual framework to execute a figure drawing successfully, no matter how carefully we detailed the procedure. Simply drawing lines that are on-target, or building shapes that are in proportion, or identifying contrasts of value correctly and orchestrating the transitions between them – these abilities are usually beyond the reach of most beginners, and there’s no time to address them adequately in the context of a figure drawing class where the model is posing… and the clock is ticking.

As a result, Drawing Basics has become our “foundations” drawing class, where we suggest students start building their skill set. In a sequence of exercises, students gradually gain confidence drawing lines and shapes, and proceed to developing value scales and “progressions” – gradual transitions between different values. Simple forms are then introduced, beginning with the cube, where students learn to apply their new-found skills to drawing real objects from direct observation.

Once completed, students emerge from Drawing Basicswith a new grasp of the foundational skills required to draw anything, and a better sense of what they need to practice. We’ve noticed a stark difference. Students who have completed this sequence of exercises are better equipped to handle the challenges of drawing casts, figures and portraits – which is why we continue to advocate for this kind of training at Vitruvian, even after 8 years of operation.

We’re pleased to announce that the online version of this course is nearing completion. It’s been a long time in the making because we wanted to be sure we got this right. Concepts are thoroughly explained in videos featuring plenty of visuals – diagrams, motion graphics and 3D animations. These concepts are then applied in extended drawing demonstration videos that include nearly every pencil stroke. This online course material is presented with a level of detail unmatched anywhere – even in our in-studio course, where time constraints limit the length of our demonstrations.

Drawing Basics – The Online Course will be available for pre-order on our website on Friday, November 28th, 2014 and will be accessible to students two weeks later, on Friday, December 12th, 2014.

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I recall reading in a post from your blog in April that you were developing a collection of drawings – one being the still-life, ‘White Pitcher & Nautilus’ – for the ‘Drawing Basics’ online course. I wondered if the aforementioned drawing, along with the others you were developing, will still feature in the ‘Drawing Basics’ online course as exercises and will be accompanied by instructional videos and information on how to create these drawings from beginning to end?

    Kind regards,

    1. Christopher, thanks for asking. The process for developing the still life drawing you’re referencing isn’t featured as an exercise in the upcoming course. Instead, “Drawing Basics” is what we call a “skills course” that focuses on the rudiments of drawing, with exercises meant to develop confidence in the following areas: drawing lines at specific tilts on the page, replicating shapes of various sizes and proportions, matching values and contrasts, and organizing value “progressions” of different rates and ranges.

      These skills are then applied to simple form studies of cubes, cylinders and spheres – volumes that embody the building-blocks of form. Universal concepts of light, form and perspective are discussed repeatedly along the way, and the demonstration videos are complete, with nearly every pencil stroke included.

      It’s important to understand, however, that the emphasis of this course is not on completing a single, finished “work of art”, as in the portrait drawing course. Instead, the focus is on technical exercises that develop the foundational skills and command of the materials required to draw anything beautifully and with confidence. “Drawing Basics” is really a universal foundations course in drawing, and isn’t limited to a specific genre (i.e. Still Life Drawing, Cast Drawing, Portrait Drawing, Figure Drawing, etc.) Courses in those specific disciplines will be added to our catalog as they are completed.