Sunday, 27 April 2014

Henry Yan Workshop - Jan 2014


Henry Yan with the last demo he did of the workshop.


So when I heard that Henry was doing another workshop I jumped at the chance to go.  This is my 3rd workshop and I find that I get more out of them each time I go. Henry imparts so much information that it is good to refresh and remind myself of all I have forgotten.  This was really fun and a great boost for the start of the year.


Day 1 - 10.1.14
Henry always starts his workshop by explaining how to sharpen the Generals charcoal pencils he uses.  Then we all practice making thin and thick, soft and hard lines. This sounds simple but I think sharpening the pencil and holding the pencil to control it to make the right type of line takes many hours of practice.  To build soft lines used to show the muscles and anatomy in quick pose drawing you need to start lightly then go over and over to build up the tone using the side of the lead.

Demo notes: Use soft lines to show direction and capture initial gesture and angles of head, shoulders and hips. Use centre line from pit of neck to judge and work out perspective for width of torso. Indicate centre line for angles of legs, feet and arms. Use overlapping lines to show 3D form. Establish core shadow first with soft, thick light lines then draw darker plane changes with the shadow area by going over the lines to build them up. Cast shadow has harder edge. Use thin pulled hard line to draw contour.


4 x 5min poses - anatomy study


Demo/Notes: When doing quick poses choose what to practice either gesture to capture whole pose or anatomy study. In anatomy study choose parts of the pose that are your weakest of dramatic areas that show muscles.  When you get good you can combine gesture and anatomy study. Work towards 2 min for gesture and 3 min for anatomy study.


4 x 5 min poses - anatomy study

Demo notes: Quick pose drawing is good for practicing core shadow edges. To create dramatic core shadows on the model place the light on the opposite side of your view. Exaggerate and push your gestures from 80% to 120%.  To make a good drawing focus on shapes, perspective and proportion.

First approach start with angle of head, mark top and bottom. To find the shoulder angle look at the relationship with the chin. Find centre line of torso then look at hip to heel of foot to find leg line. Then arm angles, upper arm to elbow and elbow to hand.
Second approach find shape of hair and neck. Find overlapping lines for compressed body parts.


4 x 10 min poses - gesture study

Demo notes: After blocking in the gesture focus on drawing in the shadow shapes. Use light soft lines. Look for the edges of the shadow and start with the obvious shapes. Block in shadow shapes with a single tone.  Look to join all core and form shadow shapes together.
Do this using soft thick lines with no gaps in between, don’t go do dark at first.  Then go over comparing areas to see what is darker and build up these lines softly.


20 min Shadow shape study

Notes:  All of todays drawings are done with 6B Generals charcoal pencil on smooth newsprint.


40 min Shadow shape study

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Day 2 - 11.2.14

4 x 5 min warm up on newsprint.

Talk notes: Henry started of reviewing the techniques he had done in the evening demo. Use smooth to medium tooth paper for this type of drawing technique. Start off blocking in the gesture and shadow shape with the 6B charcoal pencil. As charcoal pencil is difficult to erase you can start with vine but be careful to not use too much as it can cause problems later when blending.

Create a dark base with charcoal pencil in a single tone first fill in your shadow shapes. Use vine charcoal to go over and darken your core shadows and shadow shape area. Use a folded piece of kitchen roll (paper towel) to wipe from the dark to the light to create the mid tones. Use charcoal in the background around light areas where you need to wipe. Pick out highlights with a putty rubber.  You need to have wiped tone lightly on to light areas to do this.  Finally use a 4B/2B charcoal pencil to add final details with cross hatching and sharpen shapes where needed.

Henry also talked about the importance of composition and placing the drawing on the paper at a size that will fill it. I mucked up my proportions on the first long pose so I didn’t manage this.




My initial proportions were well off, Henry came along and sorted me out. He said to be careful about the length  underneath the chin where it joins the neck.  It is a common mistake to make this too long. Henry uses Strathmore smooth drawing paper for these drawings.  I was using Windsor and Newton’s smooth cartridge paper for mine.


1hr 20 mins Wiping technique. 




2 hours wiping technique.

Henry came and added a lot more charcoal to wipe over the knee area and add the highlights there.  I ran out of time to sort the face out and soften the edges.

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Day 3 - 12.1.14

All to quickly we were on the last day of the workshop. We went over all that we had done on the previous days.

4 x 5min & 2 x 10 min warm up quick poses



20 min quick pose


Gesture and shadow shapes blocked in.



2 hour wiping technique.

Again I got my placement on the paper wrong, too low this time and as I took time to get the proportion right I was rather slow. Henry suggested that I quickly block in the shadow shapes as a single tone and then focus the rest of my time on the head and torso area.  Our model was magnificent to draw and come the end of the day I didn’t really want to stop.