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Figure Drawing Critiques 7 – Shading

March 29, 20144 Comments

Hey guys, what’s going on. Stan Prokopenko here with Proko. Sorry for the long wait for new videos. I’ve been working hard to get the anatomy lessons out to you guys as soon as possible. There’s a lot to do to make this the best anatomy course ever, so I appreciate you guys being patient.

Today I have a critique for the Shading lesson and generally summing up all the figure lessons. Amit Shirole submitted two drawings. He did such a great job with this exercise, I think he’s a good example for everyone else and maybe an inspiration to do the same thing.

So, Amit emailed me and said:

Hello sir, I’m following your videos and this video was extraordinary! Here I’m sending you my work sir… Please guide me with your valuable suggestion. Thank u sir!!!

Ok, I will do my best.

First of all, you did a fantastic job with the study of my drawing and then doing one of your own in the same style. I applaud you for such a great effort. It looks to me like you understood most of the points from the shading lesson. And the best thing is that you actually did it. You did exactly what you’re supposed to do. Watch the lessons, study from the lessons, and practice what you learned from the lessons. It’s easy to just binge watch all the videos. But it’s those people that actually go and practice that will make the biggest improvements. So, good job man!

Now, if you don’t mind, and since you asked, I’ll give you few suggestions on how I think you can improve.

First Drawing

Figure Drawing Demonstration Finished - Yoniamit - figure drawing

YoniPhotoOn the first drawing you missed the gesture. Draw a plumb line from the right side of his head down to his foot. You’ll see that in the photo and in my drawing the line aligns with the left side of his right foot. On your drawing it’s farther to the right. This causes him to look like he’s balancing on his right leg. But, he’s actually leaning on his left knee. The weight is distributed evenly between the left and right side. Maybe you could review my video on Balance.

You seem to be using too many sharp edges to separate the muscles masses. It can be good to exaggerate that in some areas, but you’re doing it too much. You have the whole scapula region outlined. The trapezius is outlined. And the same thing on the other side. Notice how in my drawing I have areas where I show a sharp edge with a line, but then I fade the line and the edge becomes more vague. It’s softer and it provides a variation throughout the edges, that’s just a more appealing design. When you’ve indicated the beginning of the edge and the end, the viewers will connect the dots on their own. You don’t have to outline the whole thing. See how here you have outline, outline, outline. On mine, those areas are open.

The background is too messy. It distracts from the focal point. Overall I feel like the drawing is spotty. Lots of light and dark spots that don’t work together as a whole. You’re making every area in the composition the lead actor. Try to decide in the beginning of the drawing, what is the focal point? What is the secondary focal point? See how in the bottom of the right leg, the highlights are just as bright as the highlights at the top. The lights on the stick are glowing. See how I have the same highlights, but they are much darker. They fade as they get farther from the light source. And the background is clean and doesn’t fight for attention. I intentionally made the the upper back as the main focal point and the left foot as a secondary focal point. Hopefully it comes across that way. Squint at your drawing and see if anything sticks out too much that shouldn’t be. Ok? So, be more deliberate with the composition, the way you lead the viewer’s’ eye through the drawing.

Proportions – Not too bad. Mainly I think that torso is too short and head is too large. Everything else looks pretty close.

Second Drawing

IMG_2818-censored amit - figure drawing 2

Ok, let’s take a look at your second drawing. Actually, much better composition. The background is cleaner than the previous. You kept the lights on the bottom foot a bit darker. You faded the value of the thigh a bit as it goes toward the knee. When I squint I can see you’ve created a focal point at the center of the torso.

But! of course, there’s a but.. I think you still have room to improve the composition. The background could be more deliberate. I’m seeing spots that don’t seem to have a purpose. I think that they just happened as you were shading, instead of you deciding that you want them to be there. As you’re shading, think about how the values in the background can help tell a story, guide the eye, and create a sense of atmosphere. Any texture or gradation has an effect. So, take that into consideration and don’t let too many things be accidental. Approach the composition with intent.

You could have made the values of the shadow on the right leg here darker. Some of them are really close to being halftones rather than shadows.

I would have pushed the darker gradation toward the knees even more. On both sides. The tanned skin helps to push the eyes back up to the focal point.

As for the gesture, you straightened the body. You made it more vertical. That makes the pose feel stiff. I like the diagonal in the photo better because it’s more dynamic, a little more interesting to me.

A few things about the proportions..

First, his left leg. You did what most of us do when there’s foreshortening.. You un-foreshortened it. You made it longer. An easy way to check that is with a few plumb lines. If you draw a vertical plumb line from the inside of the knee, you’ll see it align with the inside of the pelvis here. Continue it up and it goes through about the middle of the head. When we do the same on yours, it aligns with the outside of the pelvis. So what you did was you swung the leg outward to show the length. Continue the plumb line up and it misses the head by a lot. Now that’s a combination of incorrect foreshortening and also the torso being more vertical than in the reference as I said earlier about the gesture.

But, down here the relationship between the pelvis and the knee. That’s completely a foreshortening problem. It’s a very common mistake. Our brain just wants to elongate foreshortened objects. We remember the body parts the way they look in their extended position, so we draw them that way. Using some plumb lines and approaching the shapes abstractly in the beginning will help overcome that tendency.

Another proportional mistake is the foot. It looks too big. Taking the length and stacking another on top of it reaches the bottom of this upper leg mass. On yours it reaches up to the patella. So, it’s too long. And the shape of the foot is too thick. I would cut into the side here, and here.

And the last thing I’m going to say about it is that you didn’t capture the angle of the head. Your guy is looking straight ahead, but in the reference he’s looking down. Make sure you’re wrapping the lines around the head like on a tilted cylinder. Notice how the placement of the ear in relationship with the eyes and nose is higher up. And the curve of the brow ridge shows that curve too. On yours, both of those indicate a straight on angle.


Soo.. What do I like about your drawings? Well I guess everything else, really.. The first thing that struck me when I saw it was how successfully you captured the style in which I did my drawing. When I compare yours to mine I can see that you analyzed it almost line for line. Every stroke in the shading is considered. And it’s that kind of attention to detail that will make you good.

The shading is done very well. All the forms feel 3d. You’ve got all the elements, highlight, halftones, core shadow, reflected lights.. And generally they’re all designed very well. I have a feeling you were paying attention during the shading lesson..

Your anatomy seems to be pretty close. Could be polished and designed a little better in areas, but they’re minor things.

And the main thing I really liked is your discipline. As I said earlier, you didn’t just watch the video and move on. You studied from it and you applied it. So, everybody watching, hopefully this inspired you to want to do a longer figure drawing of your own!try not to be intimidated about it. Just approach it in a fun way. Just go out, do it, see what happens. And then post it online, tag me in it. So I can see it.

Thank you for watching, everybody! Make sure to check out my premium lessons at I just finished the Figure course, but you can sign up for it at anytime and work through the videos at your own pace. Alright, thank you for your support everybody!

If you like this video pass it on to your friends and classmates. And subscribe to the Proko newsletter so you don’t miss any new videos. buh bye!

Filed in: Critiques / Q&AFigureVideos

Comments (4)

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  1. Malone Samuels says:


    Will your entire Figure Drawing Course be offered on DVD like your Portrait Course (which I have) and if so, when do you expect all of the lessons to be finished and the complete figure course made available for purchase?

  2. Hunter pollock says:

    I love these critiques, Teach alot. You videos have taught me more than ever, and my progression is a ton. Please continue doing the critiques and videos. Thanks

  3. Malone A. Samuels says:

    Dear Stan,

    Will the Fundamentals of Figure Drawing course eventually be made available on DVD like the Portrait Drawing Fundamentals?

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