Sketchbook Thread of bkkm


Hello everyone,

I am new here and have begun to teach myself figure drawing about a semester ago. Lately, I’ve been studying Bridgman, Vanderpoel and Hale’s books to understand human anatomy and how masses relate to each other. Below I’m posting a study I did after Prud’hon. I was aiming not so much at reproducing the original faithfully in all details as at construction and anatomy, while trying to understand the masses better. I’d appreciate any criticism and comments (feel free to make all the necessary critiques), especially regarding anatomy and volume construction. Thanks a lot!


p.s.: I’m not sure if I should have posted this in the WIP Critique forum instead, but if that’s the case please feel free to move it there. Thanks.


After noticing some obvious mistakes in the first drawing (the back, the left lower leg, the weight of the body and overall posture), I’ve attempted a second study of Prud’hon’s Seated Female Nude. I can still see many mistakes in it-- for example, the left tigh seems either too narrow or too long… Also, this time I tried to work the values a bit better, but I’m far from happy with the result. For the first study, I used a conté crayon; for the second, a sanguine carbothello pencil. I’d really appreciate any critiques on either study. Thanks!


Below is Prud’hon’s drawing:


Hi there,

I’ve moved your thread to the Sketchbook section where you may get more critique.

I highly recommend checking out Anthony Ryder’s book and website and studying his method of blocking in forms with straight lines. This is the method I teach to my students and it is a very straightforward and masterable method. Here are some of their results using Ryder’s method from the same Prud’hon reference:

Welcome. :slight_smile:


Hi Rebecca,

Thanks a lot for moving the post to a more suitable place and for your suggestions regarding Tony Ryder’s block-in method. Would you say, then, that the main problems in my drawing (the reasons for your suggestion) have to do with proportion? I know it is all interrelated, but what bothered me most (but I can’t seem to pin it down) was the weight-line and how some mass (the rib-cage, for example, and the cylinders of the lower-leg) fit in and relate with the others. I’m also by no means happy with the way I worked with value even though I was not really trying to focus on that, but I know this is a very different problem…

Thanks again for the comments. As always, any critiques and suggestions are more than welcome.



Overall I’d say it’s a nice, sensitive drawing, but that the planar shifts are too simplified. Try a graphite pencil straight line analysis of the original and you’ll see what I mean. Basic shapes like cylinders will better fit together when the form is better delineated in terms of angle changes.


Nice start to your sketchbook thread. Looking forward to more…


To get the sketchbook going, I’ve decided to post some studies & charcoal works done either from reference or life from the beginning of the year.

Honest critiques are more than welcome – I am mostly self-taught, and apart from myself and books, critiques & suggestions from others are about the only way I have to learn and improve. Critiques regarding anatomy, proportions, mass conceptions & value control are especially welcome.

Thanks a lot in advance!


From life, using vine charcoal:

Study of (my) hands, on graphite:

And the following two were done on vine and compressed charcoal from reference:


Some skull studies, on graphite. As always, critiques are more than welcome.


Great use of the charcoal in the thread #7 for those gentlemen…nice contrast between shadows & lights…that’s fine.


Thanks for stepping by and for the positive comments, stridiggio. But please do not spare the negative remarks, since it is from them that I can really learn and improve. I’d be even more interested to know what you think about the drawings you didn’t like!

Again, thanks!



Some quick (30s) hand studies. The closed fist is from Bridgman; the rest from imagination, after browsing some Bridgman and Hogarth. I was trying to make them as expressive as possible. Critiques are more than welcome!



hi Brenno,

Thanks for visiting my SB. So glad you can see the influence of my teachers. I took 2 semesters of Kevin’s analytical class and it made the difference in my understanding of construction & volumes. I’m indebted to Kevin & his explanations. His class & a workshop with Steve Huston combined are a landmark in my jump to the next level.

My 1st teacher is Glen Orbik who taught me how to lay in a figure & instilled in his students the importance of design in every aspect of a drawing.

You have good work here. I can see you are observant. Lay down the master study as Rebecca suggested with a sharper pencil. Longer lines of direction & less dabs. And think simple shapes for areas of the body. Such as an egg for the head. Can apply simple shapes to all areas of the body to help define the form.

Hands are good. Like that you are using overlaps to denote space.
Consider less lines to draw them. Easier to design.


Esmeralda: Thanks so much for dropping by! You’ve had wonderful teachers, and it definitely shows in your work! Thanks very much also for your comments and suggestions. I should indeed work more on my line – make them less, longer, and more rhythmical, as you say.

Below I am posting another study of hands. I’ve tried to work on my line quality, as well as to conceive of the complex forms in terms of simpler shapes, emphasizing their volume. Critiques are always welcome.



Hope you don’t mind I used one of your drawings to describe a few more suggestions.

Push the gesture. Pick up and keep the flow going.


Esmeralda: Of course I don’t mind-- on the contrary, I really appreciate it! I see how the rhythmic, flowing lines give a whole new life to the gesture. Thanks :slight_smile: I’ve attempted another study of hands, trying to emphasize both construction and rhythm – though I must confess I found it very hard to avoid the either/or, and as soon as I started to concentrate on construction I seemed to be holding the pencil in the air and interrupting the flow… Have you ever encountered this problem? How do you manage to find the balance between rhythm and construction? Should I try to thnk first of rhythm and then of construction, or is it possible to merge both approaches and construct rhythmically, as it were? Again, thanks so much for visiting and for taking the time to help me :slight_smile:

Here are the latest studies. Critiques are always welcome.


your values are nice, if the studies were longer they could have turned out quite well. just a bit too much white in your drawings. and too little definition in the shadows. a bit more time spent on each drawing would help i think.
as for the lines, since they are pretty accurate already, loosen up. concentrate on fluidity rather than accuracy. you can play around with varying the pressure and rotating the pencil, hold the pencil at different angles. but make as few lines as possible. its probably easier if you don’t reference from a photo. just doodle anything on paper you would have thrown away anyway. i do this a lot and its really fun. and if you dont like the result just throw it away. :slight_smile:


shapemaster: Thank you very much for your suggestions! In my next studies I will try to focus on more on fluidity – as you have noticed, I still do not feel confident enough to experiment with the pencil as I should, and I think following your suggestion and not committing myself to the “paper”, or to the end result, might be a good way to start doing that.

I tried to merge both approaches – working on a longer, more finished drawing, and letting my lines flow–, in my first real attempt at a self-portrait. I say “real” attempt because this time I was not referencing from a photo. I was looking at myself on a mirror, and I realized that because of that (because one’s head doesn’t stand still, and because one either looks at oneself OR draws), I spent most of the time in fact looking at the paper and making constant use of my memory and of whatever knowledge of how shapes interact with light I have. There’s little to none likeness in the self-portrait (the cheeks are too bony, and so is the chin, the lips are not like that, the ears are too small, the eyes have something off about them…). In the end I think I failed badly at getting both a more finished drawing AND a fluid one (the fluidity in particular was sacrificed for the sake of construction), but I think I learned a lot during the process, especially with regard to perspective as applied to the forms of the face & features. And yet I can still see many perspective errors – the eyes don’t seem to follow the cylinder of the face properly, and the mouth doesn’t seem to sit nicely on the mouth cylinder either… I can see something is wrong, but I can’t quite get myself to make it right. Any suggestions on this , as well as any other critique, are, as always more than welcome.


The self-portrait again, after correcting the ear and some other very minor adjustments. The more I look at it, the more the values seem off-- but that would ask for a whole new drawing, so I’m leaving it. Any critiques or suggestions on how to improve it are much welcome!


Another attempt at a self-portrait. I was trying to make this a value study, but it seems that the values are what turned out more problematic here… Critiques/ suggestions are more than welcome.


Hi Brenno :slight_smile:
Really enjoying your thread so far. I also like that you used a mirror instead of a photo for your self portrait studies…It just takes a few tries of using the mirror before you get a good likeness. Your particular and unique facial characteristics will register in your memory after a few tries, making it easier to get a likeness with each new try.
Here are a couple of pages from a book I have that might be useful to you as you do your studies.
Anyway, keep posting and progressing…Looking forward to seeing more of both.:thumbsup: