Expressive Drawing For Beginners | David Miller | Skillshare
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8 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Expressive Drawing Intro

    • 2. 2 pencil layout

    • 3. 3 Rendering Definition

    • 4. 4 Charcoal Shadows

    • 5. 5 Values

    • 6. 6 Marker Flourish

    • 7. 7 Highlights With Various Media

    • 8. Expressive Drawing outro

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About This Class

One of the greatest struggles beginning artists have is developing a drawing style that feels natural to them.  Through this expressive build-up method, we use a variety of drawing media and methods to find a common ground that could be your natural style.  

As this is expressive drawing, we won't be focused on realism or perfect proportions.  This is about creating art that is stylized and personal to what your hand wants to create.   

Tools used in the class:

6h pencil

2b pencil

colored marker

Manga pen

Black dry erase marker

black charcoal pencil

white charcoal pencil

Liquid paper


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

David Miller

Multimedia Artist For Primordial Creative studio


I'm David, a multimedia artist in Phoenix, and my studio is Primordial Creative.  


I have always been interested in the visual arts from an early age- drawing, painting, and clay- but around my high school years I became interested in photography for the social aspect of involving other people, the adventure inherent in seeking out pictures, and the presentation of reality that wasn't limited by my drawing skills.


One thing in my work that has stayed consistent over the decades since then is I have an equal interest in the reality of the lens next to the fictions we can create in drawing, painting, animation, graphic design, and sound design.  As cameras have incorporated video and audio features, and as Adobe's Creative Cloud all... See full profile

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1. Expressive Drawing Intro: hello out there. I am David Miller, a Phoenix, Arizona, multimedia artist and educator, and welcome to my course on expressive drawing. Sometimes this is referred to as cartooning or abstraction. Essentially, what we're trying to do in this course is discover what your natural drawing style is. A lot of people struggle withdrawing, especially when they're trying to draw things that are really realistic or perfect. I know I went through this stage when I was a teenager. I had drawn most of my life and I wanted to up my game and be very realistic, like the comic book artists that I was reading at the time, and unfortunately, it just wasn't happening. So I turned to photography as an art form, and I discovered, When you take a picture, everything looks pretty realistic. There special effects you can throw in there, of course, but things are going to be in proportion. You're not going to have to worry about someone's eyes being to hire too low on in adulthood. I realize that the process that I went through it was very similar to what had happened. Two artists in the late 18 hundreds and the early 20th century, which was the camera had become ubiquitous. People were turning to that for their realistic artworks and realistic form of expressions . So the painters and the illustrators were becoming less realistic. There were coming impressionists. They were becoming surrealists dot ist Cuba's futuris and so on and so forth. Ah, lot of that artwork in itself was influenced by very ancient historical art from cave paintings. A lot of these were being discovered at the time that people like Pablo Picasso were creating their styles. One of the best examples I can think of expressionistic illustration is this Pablo Picasso work, which has multiple bowls drawn in variety of styles with various levels of abstraction. It's one of my favorite pieces he ever did, because it showcases something really integral about art, which is there is more than one way to interpret things, and also if it communicates even at a most basic level than its successful. They really adore this minimalist style that Picasso had worked in a the time, and it's not too dissimilar from cave paintings. As I said earlier, cave paintings are very special to me. These were artists who had no formal training. They had no benefit of all the history of art that we take for granted also did not strive for complete realism. They were very minimalist, and they still had emotion and flow of line that just feels incredibly natural. And so I love primary art in all its forms, but I especially love thes cave paintings. Now, the way that we're going to try to discover your personal style is we're going to use very loose drawing techniques were going to use a buildup style, and we're going to use a variety of media. So for this class to begin with, I encourage you to have some drawing paper. Also have a six H pencil and a few other pencils. It doesn't really matter what they are, as long as one of them has the letter B behind it. H is hard. Be a soft. If you've ever had a drawing class, you already know that. But we definitely are going to start with six h and then we're going to use other media. But I'm going to kind of leave it up to you what you have access to or what you're willing to try out. It could be charcoal. It could be marker. It could be eraser tools. If you watch the class and you see what I do, see what speaks to you and what's worth your time to invest in Fight your freedom. Experimental. In this class, you're free to make mistakes, and we're going to forget about any pretence of realistic drawing. We're trying to find out what your hand actually wants to make. The main reason for this is you as an artist will be much happier and more satisfied with their works if you create things that your body actually wants to create. When I wanted to make realistic artwork, my body argued with me and struggle with me and did not want to do it. And now that I'm an adult and I have accepted that there are some limitations to what my hand and my body can and can't do, I find it so much easier to draw. I enjoy the process of drawing much more, and I create works that really identify with who I am as a person as opposed to being a carbon copy of somebody else. Which isn't to say there aren't people out there who naturally draw super perfect, realistic work that maybe you that may not be you. We're going to explore that in this class there is a project first class. Of course it is to create expressive drawings, and I really want to see your works. So take a picture of them, post them to the project page, maybe give us a little description about your process, how you felt. If you think this is something that you want to pursue, or if you're going to go a different direction with your artwork, that out of the way, let's begin. 2. 2 pencil layout: landscape format. When I do photo reference for something that's an expressive drawing, I only keep the photo around as long as I need to, because I feel like if you have this with you all the time, you're trying to measure up to it. You're trying to equal the photograph of trying to bring reality into this, and that's not what we want to do it all. But rather than think of something straight out of my head, it is good to start with something that you have a reference for. It could be something you photographed yourself like I have here Could be something off the Internet. Doesn't really matter. I mean, three great thing about our versus say, Ah, mathematics or science is there aren't too many rules need to abide by so going to put him off to the side. And when I do my preliminary sketches, I go as fast as I can. This is the gesture drawing technique, and, um, I only want to know where things go so his head has to fit here. I don't want to head to crop up there. That's a good place to start is years glasses, eyes air in the middle of a head, so I'm drawing with a six h pencil. I'm drawing very lightly, So this will completely be covered up by the time that I'm done with my work. Working in layers is crucial to this technique, and it also makes it that you don't have to fear about putting down something so permanent that it's going to destroy the rest of your drawing. Okay, I get that. We have a track suit and the line that I'm doing is one continuous line. That's a contour drawing. Okay, And shading is gonna be here and my light sources over here, all shadows fall in one space, zipper. Now I will dispense with the photograph. I don't want to have any more reality intrude into what I am doing with the six h. I'm gonna go through and make a more solid contour than this sort of wire frame. Look, I think Contour drawing is very critical when doing any sort of work because it has a continuity between all elements on your page. There is a relationship between the lines I put on his glasses and the lines that I put on his nose It just feels like it all goes together. I'm alternating pressure, of course. So if you look at the edges of his lips where these things are, there's a small connection between his lips and his Ah, what you might call laugh lines or smile lines, but it's It's a light one, and the pressure that I put down over here made them a lot darker. Normally, ears top out where eyebrows go and to fill in his hair. I'm gonna go and give him a little bit of contour patterns. It's just a particular affect I have in my own drawing thin neck. I'll knock the collar down a little bit, give him a crease in the shoulder. I'm gonna give his call or a little bit of a flare. I don't remember if it had it in the original Doesn't matter cause we're not beholden to the original at all. There are no our police. They're gonna come by and say, Hey, you made that collar flare out. One direction is supposed to go another, and I think all I left out is the fact that his nose would block part of this glasses 3. 3 Rendering Definition: erasers are something that I don't really advocate too much use of. And the reason is it's a crutch. Essentially. And if you spend so much time looking at this and saying we're gonna fix that, gotta fix that, got fix that it just doesn't get done. You end up doubting yourself. You need to give your art hand permission to put lines down and wants to put down. At this point, I'm done with six h I'm going to bring in, Ah, number two pencil, just just a regular pencil and I will do heavier lines with things besides number two. The heavier, thicker, darker line pencils are the ones with the B on and be means soft. But it's number two is fine for this. What I'm gonna do here is just do this shaded parts, the parts that I think should have a heavier, thicker line on them, and I'm holding the pencil at an angle. I don't bother sharpening these that much unless they're really at the end of their life span because, um, a sharp pencil only stays sharp for a short period of time. Anyways, I'm also shading areas that I didn't do a contour line at at all like the ball of his nose , the upper nostril on the other side. The area is under his eyes, reams of his glasses. I like drawing characters like this old Dan, because they have a lot of personality to them. A lot of times we do beautiful drawings of the young and the pretty. And, um, the thing that's missing is experience personality Now these lines, in fact, all my sketching. You'll notice I go over it more than once. There is a idea that if you try and draw a circle a perfect circle once, you'll probably mess up. But if you go over and over and over and over, eventually there will be, ah, decided upon circle. Based on the repetition of lines, you will get a perfect circle out of repeated motion where a singular motion won't get you that far. All of this is being done with singular lines. Is keeping the energy the electricity? It's not breaking the line. I'll break the line to move to a new section, of course, but and then his hair could be a little more random about it. Looks like, uh, least the character I have drawn. Didn't put a lot of time into styling his hair. He will gut the brush, his teeth. He is ready to go. He didn't do anything. 4. 4 Charcoal Shadows: now I'm gonna go in with a charcoal pencil. Charcoal pencils are fabulous materials. Uh, you can see the huge contrast in how gray regular pencil looks versus the charcoal. Anything I think really should be dark. That's what gets the charcoal pencil action. Not gonna go haywire with the charcoal pencil, though, because they still have other things I want to add, including, um, some marker work. The color flares. Sometimes you might want Oh, hang onto the charcoal work until you've added your color work. But I really want to define what the highlights and what the shadows look like. Before I had that other stuff in there. Um, the reason why you might say the charcoal for the end instead of what I'm doing, which is introducing the middle, is you'll probably have to spray this work with a fixative and some fix it. IBS lets you keep working on the piece and other fixative czar permanent and won't let you add anything else on top of it. However, I don't mind if my markers and my other materials get charcoal on them. I kind of like to have that mixed up messiness to them. So, uh, to me, it doesn't matter. I'm gonna do charcoal first, Put more charcoal on the shady side of his head for his hair than it will. There still be some here because they're still be shadows cast. But it's not gonna be as heavy is what's going on over here. When you have a crease on somebody, there's going to be a lighter part. Then there's gonna be the deepest middle where the creases and then there's gonna get it's gonna become light again on the tip of the crease. So instead of following the whole line, I'm just gonna put some deeply in the middle like this. His laugh lines definitely and the inside of his neck eyelids. Thicker lines go where things are dark, and they also go where things are heavy. So if I was drawing ah, piano next to a feather, the piano is heavy. I might give it a thicker line just to emphasize the weight of it, and I want his eyelids to be very heavy. I also want to make sure it looks like things air finished, like if I did lines in some parts of his glasses and not all of it it would look pretty unfinished. Bottom lip. She like heavy. Okay, A shadow under his chin. He's got sick lines in his neck. So far, we've used three pencils and a variety of mark making. 5. 5 Values: Now we're going to start smearing and bringing it together could smear with their hand, of course, but you got paper towels we're not using. One of the things I have noticed in a lot of students is they assign white to the paper texture, so they would leave areas of him. Uh, why it and say, Well, that's the highlight. Where I didn't put any marked down, we're going to go back in and introduce highlights. So I'm not worried if his skin is entirely covered with this stuff. In fact, I prefer it. Everything should have some value to it. Meaning it should have some semblance of wider gray. When I get to his hair, I want to have that wild energy. So I'm actually pushing out outside of the lines. You can see. Um, it gets a little more manic there. His here. Okay. Going to go back in with an eraser and I'm going to decide what the highlights are, and I'm going to reintroduce them. So the eraser is now my de facto white. Wherever there's a crease, there's going to be a little bit of a bump where there's more of a highlight and People generally have highlights on their foreheads and their noses anyways on their lips because they're wet on their eyes cause they're wet and shiny on glasses, of course. Sure that the glasses air there, his cheeks on the edge of his jacket, his chin, parts of his hair brush all that stuff off. 6. 6 Marker Flourish: Now, at this point, I'm gonna grab some really random tools. Um, black markers, sharpies colored markers. It's all good. In fact, the more media you mix up in this stuff, the less it becomes about. This is a pencil drawing race, charcoal drawing of a person, and it becomes more. This is a representation of the person you don't address the kind of media. It is just my opinion. But I kind of like to see when things are super mixed up when it is just simply a photograph when it's just simply a charcoal drawing. Then, um, I I personally do you think more about the media and that one? I decided I'm gonna use my kids crazy art markers to add some color to this guy. And before I start putting lines down, I think I need to establish some rules about what this color is. Is this color literally the color of his hair and other elements of him? Is it going to be just the highlights? Is just gonna be the reflective parts is just going to be the shadow tones. What is red supposed to be? And so I think for this strong, I'm gonna set a rule That red is the color of the light that you don't see Red is the color of the light source, so it should only hit him on one side. And, uh, it should also reflect in anything that's going to be glistening like the lips and the glasses. So I'm gonna treat it really lightly, cause this doesn't have a nice, flat edge like a bigger marker would, And the work that I do I prefer to have a very limited color palette. I think that, um, three colors. Max is good. Five, if you really gotta push it. And I know there's art that's like a cornucopia of color, meaning it has tons and tons and tons of variety. That doesn't really appeal to me. And if you look at some of the traditional pop artists like Andy Warhol, they worked with a very limited color palette to so everything that's on this side gets hit with the red lights into this area. Never got blended, okay. And then I'm just going to introduce that light little bit into the interior of my subject . This that black markers. Ah, this is a simple dry erase marker, it will still work has very big bro. Well, this one's not as particularly broad as I thought it was, but ah, still can fill in space. Um, thes pigments sense Anyone's are manga pens there in a variety of sizes. And this one's kind of teeny tiny good for that kind of wiry stuff I might use that on his hair question comes up. Um, should you use media all across a drawing if you're gonna use a variety of it. And I feel like you should Because if I'm telling you, this defines the heavy shadow while there's heavy showers all over the place, right? And, uh, it here to do a painting and say, OK, I'm only going to have, um, watercolor and the right side of the painting in acrylic and the other I feel like it doesn't hang together as an entire piece 7. 7 Highlights With Various Media: So this charcoal work, I'm not going to smear as much. I really just want to cover up the markers, but I am going to tap it down a little bit just to soften it. I'm not gonna take it all over the place. That's as heavy as I wanted to be. I need to do introduce one other round of highlights on this. There's a couple ways to do it. One is using the white charcoal pencil. Once you start throwing that in there, it really comes to life. But if you want something that's super whites, I recommend liquid paper created by Mike Nesmith of the Monkeys. Mom, use that for streaks. If you have access to both, use both and some streaks and his glasses make his eyes pop a little bit on the lips. Track suit zipper A little bit over here. This isn't liquidy enough to ah fling, unfortunately, but if I had white paint or if it was full and fresh, he definitely recommend, like splattering a little bit here and there to emphasize the wildness of it. The number of layers we have total on this. We had three pencils, so the number of layers total. Um, once all of this dries there some areas where I think little darkness is called like eyeballs. I feel like this one got covered up a bit much. I'll go back in with a Sharpie or my manga pen and reintroduce some of those detail. In total. We used to regular pencils. We used a charcoal pencil. We used a white pencil. We used this dry erase marker were using the Markham got. Now we have white out, and we used a, uh, red marker. Quite a bit of material that we use. But building up the drawing made it so much better than if I had left it as a simple pencil sketch. And to me, this is a completed work, but, um, who knows? It's not in context of any other drawings. If this was a comic book, it certainly would have to have a background on def. You're unhappy and satisfied with having this pure white background A lot of times. What works best in portraiture is, uh, on abstract curious Skaro type of background. You see, in Rembrandt paintings, you even see it in school Portrait's when you take your kids to school on. They're not set up against the pure flat color. They're set up against something that has a little bit of, ah, tonality and texture change to it. 8. Expressive Drawing outro: guys, thank you so much for sticking with this class. I know there's a lot of drawing lessons out there on the Internet, and I know from my own experience that there is no one size fits all drawing lesson. But what we really wanted to do in this class was create something that you would be able to take into your own direction. So if there's parts of this process that you didn't like, that didn't feel natural for you, by all means don't do them anymore. Thank you for your time. Check out the rest of the tutorials on my channel. Have quite a few that are graphic design, adobe programs, photography, filmmaking, voice music, all of these fun, creative arts that make life worth living. See you next time.