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Contact Information

16926 Saticoy Street
Van Nuys, CA 91406
(818) 708-9232
(818) 474-8679 – Fax

In this 2 1/2 hour, full demonstration, renowned artist and veteran teacher Nathan Fowkes takes you through the entire process of Portrait Drawing in Charcoal. Nathan illuminates how to construct and proportion the portrait clearly and accurately and interpret the values of light and shadow to create the illusion of life on a two-dimensional surface. Learn how to design edges to create depth and artistic emphasis and render with the time-honored medium of charcoal. Nathan shows how to create nuances of expression and design the entire portrait composition.

All through the demonstration, Nathan includes tips and techniques to make the challenge of portrait drawing accessible to all serious students.

BIO: Nathan Fowkes is a veteran entertainment and fine artist. He has taught traditional and design courses for over a decade. Nathan was a conceptual artist for top 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, Shrek Universe, How to Train Your Dragon and The Legend of Puss in Boots. He is also a consultant for clients that include: Blizzard Entertainment, Infinity Ward, Disney Interactive, Riot Games, Ubisoft and Rovio. Nathan is currently a design lead at Paramount Feature Animation.

Course Curriculum

Section 1
Introduction to Portrait Drawing Demonstration FREE 00:23:00
Renowned artist and veteran teacher Nathan Fowkes takes you through the entire process of Portrait Drawing in Charcoal. After introducing the materials in the demo, Nathan begins by blocking in the figure with an orange Prismacolor pencil.
Section 2
Tone | Find the Simple Statement 00:25:00
Using compressed charcoal to block in the portrait, he finds the simple masses of light and shadow to make a clear statement and explains why it is so important to squint to see the relationship between light and shadow shapes.
Section 3
Laying in Heavy Darks 00:24:00
Using Cretacolor chunky charcoal, Nathan commits to applying a heavy dense dark tone to the background and fabric. Frequent cleaning of the work-space is needed when using your fingers to push the charcoal around the paper. Learn to use your fingers and a stump to model form and soften edges, maintaining simple light and shadow shapes.
Section 4
Model the Form 00:25:00
Use soft and sharp edges maintaining the silhouette of the portrait while working on the face area. Push and pull the tone to roll the form and emphasize the falloff of light on the forms of the face to help build the three-dimensionality of the drawing.
Section 5
Highlights and Cast Shadows 00:25:00
Continue to simplify light and shadows shapes drawing in charcoal and the kneaded eraser. Learn how to use a hand mirror to help make judgments on areas to adjust. Understand the importance of taking a step back to look at your drawing to help decide what is working and what is not.
Section 6
Finishing the Drawing 00:25:00
Emphasize drawing around the form to help communicate the three-dimensionality of the portrait and work around the whole image, making a simplifying pass and a detail pass to finish the portrait.

Course Reviews


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  1. Profile photo of pcar

    Portrait Drawing In Charcoal - Full Demo

    This is definitely a premium quality online class. Nathan Fowkes is incredibly organized and prepared — so the 2.5 hours is really crammed with detail and information. Each time I watch it something new “clicks”. I also really appreciated seeing everything unfold in real time while he generously talks you through his process for making artistic decisions – the big ones and the small ones too. The class combines portrait fundamentals (in the Reilly tradition) and his own unique techniques, so I think artists of all levels would learn a lot. The way he handles the charcoal and balances all those light and dark areas is remarkable. Of course, I’m also a fan of his artwork, so it is simply amazing to see one of his beautiful portraits materialize right before your eyes. As a bonus, Mr. Fowkes is an extremely personable guy, with a down-to-earth attitude. His straightforward presentation is very inspiring. Don’t worry if you’re not an artistic “genius” (whatever that is). Good fundamentals and technique (and lots of practice ) can take you really, really far. I think he genuinely enjoys teaching too – he delivers a lot. Highly recommended.

  2. Profile photo of Nikolay

    Pleasantly Surprised

    I was pleasantly surprised by the manner of presenting the material: its quality and professional level. Nathan Fowkes is a great artist and what is also important is that he is a great teacher. Well done!

    Thank you for being here.

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