ONLINE | Nathan Fowkes Drawing the Portrait in Charcoal | Self-Study Course

Description: This 9-week online self-study course.  This is a serious exploration of drawing the portrait from life in charcoal.

ALERT: Nathan Fowkes’ Online Critique Course starts January 14, 2013 is now SOLD OUT!

Nathan will take you step by step through the practical application of:

  • Emphasizing the structure and planes of the head
  • Clearly rendering the values of light and shadow
  • Designing edges, create likeness and composition
  • Numerous drawing techniques, materials and approaches

Students Receive:

  • 9 Lectures/Slideshows
  • 9 Demonstrations
  • A library of other student critiques
  • Tips and exercises to hone your drawing skills
  • Free 3-month subscription to OnlineLifeDrawing.com

$495

In Stock

Class Description

Gallery
Testimonials

Delightfully inspiring and informative. Dave C

I felt like I learned a great amount in a short amount of time, and will continually practice the assignments to further develop my understanding of portraiture through charcoal and other mediums. Justin W

Nathan is a masterful artist and teacher. He helps you on your creative journey by sharing his life time experiences in a nine week course. What I learned, I will be working to perfect for a very long time. This class is amazing! Daniel H

This online course from Nathan Fowkes & LAAFA was extremely rewarding. The detailed lectures and demos managed to blow my mind every week with some new concept or insight. And unlike a real life class I could rewatch anything to make sure I grasped it. My drawings improved considerably in just a few weeks under his tutelage. This course has changed the way I look at faces, and also at drawing and learning, and I look forward to doing more online classes from LAAFA in the future. Victoria A

Nathan Fowkes is an extremely experienced teacher with a good understanding of the difficulties students face. His method of teaching is organized, clear, and effective. Apart from his excellent ability to teach, he is a highly regarded artist among the industry and the art community worldwide. He walks the talk and provides jaw dropping demos for you to set the standard and motivate you. It is a rare chance to be under a guidance of such a master; and one should not miss this opportunity. Ken M

I felt like I got personal attention, and was able to see and learn from the instructor’s feedback on their assignments as well. I felt like I learned a great amount in a short amount of time, and will continually practice the assignments to further develop my understanding of portraiture through charcoal and other mediums. Valuable and specific information was communicated by the instructor and he made it very clear if we were not hitting the mark, and helped point out the things we had missed, or misunderstood. Overall it was a great experience. Justin W

About Nathan Fowkes

Nathan Fowkes is a veteran entertainment and fine artist and has been a popular teacher of life drawing, portrait painting, color and design for the past decade. He attended Art Center College of Design where he studied traditional painting and entertainment design and graduated with honors. Nathan is currently a conceptual artist for animated films with notable clients such as DreamWorks, Disney and Blue Sky. He has worked on 11 feature films including: The Prince of Egypt, Spirit, several projects within the Shrek Universe, How to Train Your Dragon and The Legend of Puss in Boots. Selections of Nathan’s work can be seen at nathanfowkes.blogspot.com.

Lesson Plan

Lecture 1: Constructing your portrait

In my first lecture, I’ll give an introduction and class overview that will put you squarely on the path toward creating successful portrait drawings in charcoal. I’ll take you through the process of constructing your portrait with an understanding of the planes and three dimensional nature of the head to create a sense of life on a two dimensional page. This will act as a foundation on which you can render portraits that have both believability and artistry.

Assignment: Follow the steps I lay out for you in my demonstration and do head construction drawings from multiple views that emphasize the clear, three dimensional nature of the head.

 Recommended materials: Ritmo B pencil on newsprint.

Lecture 2: Advanced construction

For week 2, we’ll build on the foundation laid in week 1; I’ll do further demonstration drawings that show how to approach a variety of subjects both young and old, male and female.

Assignment: Continue to practice the principles of portrait construction as laid out in the demonstration, try to find new and various subjects to draw.

Recommended materials: Ritmo B pencil on newsprint.

Lecture 3: The values of light and shadow: Rendering form with light

It’s time to bring light and shadow into your drawings! In this lecture, I’ll take you through a simple process that will give clarity to your portraits through turning form with light.

Assignment: Begin your drawing with the same construction drawing ideas covered so far in the class. Next identify what is in direct light and what is in shadow and fill in the shadow with pure black and no rendering. Now render the turning forms in the light as shown in the video demonstration. Be sure to use a single point light source and eliminate any competing light sources.

Recommended materials: Ritmo B or orange Prismacolor pencil (as explained in the demo), Pitt soft charcoal pencil, Alphacolor compressed soft charcoal on newsprint or paper of your choice, blending stump, kneaded eraser and pen eraser.

Lecture 4: The values of light and shadow: Rendering form with shadow

Now it’s time to turn your attention to the shadows. In this lesson, I’ll take you through a simple process that will give clarity to your portraits through turning form with shadows.

Assignment: Begin your drawing with the same construction drawing ideas covered so far in class. Next identify what’s in direct light and what’s in shadow and emphasize the turning forms in the shadow as shown in the lecture. Leave everything in direct light the pure white of the paper; this is an exercise about shadow only. Be sure to use a single point light source and eliminate any competing light sources.

Recommended materials: Ritmo B or orange Prismacolor pencil (as explained in the demo), Pitt soft charcoal pencil, Alphacolor compressed soft charcoal on newsprint or paper of your choice, blending stump, kneaded eraser and pen eraser.

Lecture 5: Demonstrating the portrait from start to finish

Welcome to the halfway point! It’s time to put everything we’ve learned to the test as I demonstrate the portrait drawing process from start to finish.

Assignment: You’re ready to draw a portrait complete with light and shadow! Follow the process shown in the demo to create a fully rendered portrait with light and shadow. Be sure to use a single point light source and eliminate any competing light sources.

Recommended materials: Ritmo B or orange Prismacolor pencil, Pitt soft charcoal pencil, Alphacolor compressed soft charcoal on newsprint or rives lightweight paper, blending stump, kneaded eraser and pen eraser.

Lecture 6: Designing with edges

The design of edges can have a profound impact on the clarity and depth of your portrait. In this lesson, I’ll show you how to use edges to create both a sense of depth and artistic emphasis in your drawing.

Assignment: Follow the principles laid out in the lecture to strengthen your portrait drawing through controlling and designing edges.

Recommended materials: Ritmo B or orange Prismacolor pencil, Pitt soft charcoal pencil, Alphacolor compressed soft charcoal on newsprint or rives lightweight paper, blending stump, kneaded eraser and pen eraser.

Lecture 7: Designing with Light

How does skylight affect your portrait as opposed to direct light? How do you juggle the complexities of multiple light sources? For week 7, we’ll answer those questions so that we have a full arsenal of lighting possibilities to create different moods and character in our subject.

Assignment: For this week, use only an ambient, indirect light source to illuminate your subject such as a sky light or indirect window light.

Recommended materials: Ritmo B or orange Prismacolor pencil, Pitt soft charcoal pencil, Alphacolor compressed soft charcoal on newsprint or rives lightweight paper, blending stump, kneaded eraser and pen eraser.

Lecture 8: Building a likeness, drawing on toned paper

This lesson will center on how to find the likeness and character of your subject without getting lost in the nuances of anatomy. We’ll also take a look at alternate materials and techniques including chalks on toned paper.

Assignment: Follow the techniques and materials laid out in the lecture to strengthen your light and shadow through the use of toned paper and white chalk.

Recommended materials: Ritmo B or orange Prismacolor pencil, Pitt soft charcoal pencil, Alphacolor compressed soft charcoal on Strathmore 500 series storm grey paper, blending stump, kneaded eraser and pen eraser.

Lecture 9: Portrait composition

A strong portrait demands that consideration be given to its composition. Even a quick classroom study can gain a sense of artistry through compositional design. This week’s lesson will show you how to put the final touches on your portrait and how compositional principles can give your portrait a greater sense of presence.

Assignment: Follow the principles laid out in the lecture to strengthen your portrait drawing through compositional arrangement. Knock it out of the park on this one, really show us what you can do!

Recommended materials: Ritmo B or orange Prismacolor pencil, Pitt soft charcoal pencil, Alphacolor compressed soft charcoal on your choice of paper, blending stump, kneaded eraser and pen eraser.

Homework

The homework assignment will be a finished portrait that applies the subject of the week’s lecture.  It can be any head drawing from life, photographs must not be used.  Many students find self-portraits to be the most convenient means of fulfilling the homework assignment.

Doing the homework greatly increases your returns in this class and is crucial to your growth as an artist.  The most serious students will often do several additional drawings to hone their skills.  Other exercises that are exceptionally helpful are:

-Line drawings of highly structural objects such as a toy model or household appliance.

-Sketchbook and full size studies from master portrait artists.

Material List
  • charcoal pencils (Ritmo b, 3b and Pitt soft are recommended)
  • soft compressed charcoal (Alphacolor char-kole and Cretacolor chunky charcoal are recommended)
  • pumpkin orange Prismacolor pencil
  • white or ivory Nupastel
  • white Carbothello pencil (optional)
  • Sepia Conte pencil #617 (optional)
  • blending stump
  • kneaded eraser
  • pen eraser (eraser stick)
  • newsprint drawing pad 14”x17” or 18“x24” (smooth or rough depending on your preference)
  • Strathmore charcoal paper series 500, storm grey
  • optional paper: Rives lightweight cream (paper choices will be discussed in more detail in class)
  • clip board for the drawing pad
Interview

Nathan has taught in all of LAAFA’s Programs for many years and is one of our students’ most favorite instructors.

1. What inspired you to become an artist?

I was the same as just about every other kid growing up. I absolutely loved to draw and paint; I just never stopped loving it.

2. When did you first realize you were an artist?

When I was in 7th grade I was on the school bus sitting across the aisle from a girl that I liked. There was this one moment when her blonde hair was backlit in the sunlight and I thought to myself, “that light on her looks so amazing, I wish I could draw a picture of it”. I have no recollection of what her name was, but I’ve been trying to draw and paint things that I think “look amazing” ever since.

3. How has your fine art background helped you in the entertainment art industry?

While I was in school in the early 90’s the big push was towards an editorial illustration style that was very dark and symbolic. Some of those designs were very interesting and compelling but I wanted nothing to do with it in my own work; it was a bit of a fight to keep from getting pushed into that trend. A few people I knew did very well with it and were successful in the short term but I’m glad that I focused my efforts on the basics: draftsmanship, drawing, painting, color, and design. It’s made all of the difference for my work in the entertainment industry. In entertainment art, artists have to have the ability to make their work believable. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have a high sense of inventiveness or fantasy, it’s just that you have to make the fantasy believable enough that people feel immersed in the world that has been created. So my background in traditional art has been tremendously helpful in my work in the entertainment industry.

4. What artists have had an impact on you, and why?

When I was 16, I got a hold of a copy of Western Art Magazine. The lead article was on an artist name Richard Schmid. I absolutely fell in love with his work because even though it was highly realistic, it was as if he was picking and choosing what was fascinating about his subjects and emphasizing that while editing out anything that might distract from it. In essence, distilling down what was interesting about his subjects. I’ve always had a love for that kind of artwork, something that’s realistic and believable and yet has some mystery to it as well as a strong sense of color and design. Some other art that I’ve very much enjoyed are the landscapes of James Reynolds and Randall David Tipton. The golden age illustrators like Dean Cornwell, Tom Lovell and Harry Anderson were absolutely mind blowing and illustrators from the 60′s and 70’s like Bob Peak and Bernie Fuchs are inspiring in their sense of inventive color and design. And the last thing I should mention is that I’m exceptionally lucky to work in an environment where we have some of the best artists in the world. My day job is doing concept art for animation, and all I have to do is walk down the hall and peek into a couple of the other artists’ offices to see examples of world class artwork.

5. What inspires you to teach and how do you keep the students motivated?

Every year, thousands of people go to art school and take art classes with high hopes of someday reaching a professional level of artistic ability. Some of those people end up finding the success they were hoping for. As a teacher, I have watched every single student I’ve ever had make the same series of mistakes as they learn to make art, especially in the process of working from life. So I have developed an approach where we address those difficulties right up front to get us through the gauntlet. We learn how to observe what we’re seeing and recreate it so it reads clearly and with artistry on a 2-D surface. So what is my approach that helps students navigate toward greater success? Well you’ll have to come and take my classes! But creating art and being inspired by life can be simpler than we want to make it and I love bringing those ideas across to students. As far as motivating students, let’s just say that I’ve worked very hard at developing my “I’m so disappointed in you” look when students tell me that they didn’t find the time during the week to do their homework.

6. How has your work developed throughout your career?

As artists, we’re very lucky that, for instance, we don’t have to be born with an athlete’s body and then have to give up our career in our 30’s. We can study and practice and make little incremental improvements day by day, year by year, and decade by decade throughout our lives. The biggest transition that I’ve gone through is the transition from traditional media into digital art. When I started my work in animation, all of our work was drawn in pencil and painted primarily with acrylics. But then the digital media came onto the scene, especially Photoshop. And I have to admit that the transition was hard for me, Photoshop felt counter intuitive and other people seemed to pick it up faster than I did. So I adopted the same approach with Photoshop that I did when I was learning to paint scenes with acrylics. I would mostly do quick thumbnails just trying to get a feel for the medium, for the color and the design of the painting. And after numerous thumbnails, I got more comfortable and more familiar and was ready to work a little larger and a little more polished, gradually getting better and better. I had to start simple to learn how to make that ridiculous electronic stylus tap and bang on a little electronic tablet to create artwork that looked the way I wanted it to look. But I have to say, I’m embarrassed at my initial reluctance because digital media has turned out to be a blessing for artists in its flexibility. When you think about it, all art is made out of the simple properties of color; it’s made out of color hue, color saturation and value (the lights and darks of the color). Everything that we ever see is made out of those things and the digital medium gives us the tools to manipulate each of those things individually or together to create the exact look and effects that we’re aiming for in our artwork. I honestly believe that we’re in a golden age of commercial and entertainment art and it’s the computer and digital media that has opened up so many possibilities to artists. But I have to add, after working all day at my job in Photoshop, I go home and I find a little bit of time (maybe even a large bit of time) to break out the charcoals and the watercolors and splash around those good old traditional mediums.

7. What is the best thing about being an artist?

The best thing about being an artist is being able to have a day job where I do something that I enjoy.

8. What advice do you have for emerging artists?

Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more.

FAQ

Nathan Fowkes – Drawing the Portrait in Charcoal Online Course

Artists from around the world teach at LAAFA.  We are currently in production to bring you future online courses with many of these artists.  Each of LAAFA’s online courses will vary in length and the method of delivery.  Nathan Fowkes’ Drawing the Portrait in Charcoal online course is pre-recorded and requires the download of a custom player that is compatible with Window and Mac users. Our video player will allow you to pause, forward, and rewind your class for a period of 112 days. You will be able to watch your classes each week at your convenience.  You must have high-speed Internet connection.

Types of courses: Critique and Self-Study

The Critique Course has set start dates and runs for 9 weeks.  LAAFA will release a new class every week. Classes include a weekly assignment which will be due the following week. Once you’ve have turned in your homework, your instructor will respond with a video detailing and discussing your personal assignment while showing you by drawing over your work. In addition, you will have the opportunity to view other students’ critiques.  At the end of the course, you can download your personal critiques for you to keep.

Self-Study Courses are independent classes and may be purchased at anytime.  Once purchased, you may start at your convenience.  This option does not include instructor critiques.

Refunds

We have worked hard to provide you with an excellent class viewing experience.  Please let us know if you feel dissatisfied with what you have learned in the class.  Our refund policy varies based on each individual course.

System requirements

You will be required to download a custom player that is compatible with Window and Mac users.  You must have high-speed Internet connection.

Once purchased, students will receive instructions on how to download our Adobe Players to their MAC or PC computers.

Windows

  • 2.33GHz or faster x86-compatible processor, or Intel Atom™ 1.6GHz or faster processor for netbook class devices
  • Microsoft® Windows® XP, Windows Server® 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista® Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise (including 64 bit editions) with Service Pack 2, or Windows 7
  • 512MB of RAM (1GB recommended)

Mac OS

  • Intel® Core™ Duo 1.83GHz or faster processor
  • Mac OS X v10.6 or v10.7
  • 512MB of RAM (1GB recommended)

Download Summary

The amount of time it takes to download your video will vary according to the size of the file and your Internet connection speed.

Length of video             Approximate size           5Mbit/s Broadband        1Mbit/s Broadband  

1-hour HD                            1.5 – 2.5 GB                    25-35 minutes                2 – 3 hours

Broadband speeds can range from 256 kbit/s and up. These estimates are based on both a 5 Mbit/s and a 1 Mbit/s broadband connection. Broadband is required for HD downloads.  If your system does not meet the minimum requirements, please contact us and we will try to arrange an alternative solution.

Contact LAAFA

The best way to contact us is via email: contactus@laafa.org. Emails are responded to on a daily basis. 

Terms of Use

Our instructors and production team work very hard to create these classes. Purchased classes are for individual personal use only. We have worked hard to provide you with a valuable product. Please support our instructors by complying with our terms of use.

 

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