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Life Drawing: Light and Proportion (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

Tuesdays from 26th September 2023 (Code DP172-102) Tuesdays from
26th September 2023 6:30pm - 9:30pm • (10 classes)
G09 Thomson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Christine Frew BA (Hons) Drawing and Painting , Alisdair Richardson
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

This course is designed to develop students’ understanding of the human anatomical proportion and the use of light to sculpt body masses. Observing and drawing directly from the life model, students will use materials such as charcoal, conté and ink to explore and give expression to proportion and form. Over the course, students will be encouraged to extend their technical skills as they focus on proportion and light to develop a series of personal works.

Course Details

Special Information

This course will include a limited supply of basic papers and cards. However please do acquire the materials recommended for this course.

Materials you will need to bring to the first class:

  • A1 or A2 cartridge paper - 1 sheet

  • Charcoals - willow and compressed - 1stick of each

  • White chalk

  • Soft putty rubber

  • HB, B, 2B, 6B pencils

  • Graphite stick

  • Pencil sharpener or craft knife

  • Masking tape

  • Sketchbook A3

In addition to the course fee, students are expected to provide the following list of indicative tools, materials and equipment:

  • A selection of cartridge drawing papers

  • Masking tape

  • Sketchbook

  • Willow charcoal

  • Compressed charcoal

  • Chalk pastels or conte sticks

  • Black drawing ink

  • Small and medium brushes

  • Selection of pencils including HB, B, 2B and 4B

  • Graphite stick

  • Eraser

  • Fixative

  • Masking tape

  • A3 / A4 sketchbook

  • White acrylic paint

  • Sponge

  • Apron or old shirt

  • Craft knife

Content of Course

1. Short ‘warm up’ drawings to begin most classes followed by longer, concentrated and sustained studies.
2. Define shape, positive and negative space, depth, weight and form.
3. Perspective, foreshortening and scale.
4. Identify and define bone structure and muscle tone through light and shade.
5. Portray the figure at rest.
6. Consider mood and drama in historical drawings e.g. Old Masters’ use of techniques such as ‘chiaroscuro’.
7. Capture expression and identify key parts of the body as emotive and expressive signals.
8. Investigate the structure of the head, hands and feet.
9. Using knowledge gained to build body of work in own personal style and approach to life drawing.
10. Individual guidance to help students reflect and evaluate progress.

Teaching method(s)

The teaching will be based and delivered in specialist art and design studios or workshops and will typically include a range of practical exercises, introductions to techniques, processes and concepts, and set projects which lead to more focused and personal exploration. Over the course, students’ progress will be monitored and supported by the tutor.  Teaching will include practical demonstrations, one to one tuition, group discussions and critiques.

For work required to be undertaken after the class hours are complete, the course tutor will set students a ‘directed study plan’ which can be undertaken without the need for specialist workshops or access to models.

Directed study will include research into a range of suggested artists or designers and their associated movements to engender a contextual awareness of the figure in visual culture. The Directed Study Plan will include preparing evidence of research and practical work to form an appropriate presentation for assessment.

Students are expected to demonstrate how their research has informed their work through annotated sketchbooks, a visual digital journal and practical outcomes.  

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, the student should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the structure and basic anatomy of the human form through observational studies and research supported by contextual references.

  • Create a series of investigative drawings which demonstrate an understanding for light and proportion of the human figure, exploiting a range of drawing media.

  • Select, edit and present a body of drawings and research which demonstrate a considered and personal approach to the human figure.


Core Readings

  • ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS, 2018. Klimt Schiele Drawings, From the Albertina Museum, Vienna. Royal Academy of Arts, London.

  • MASLEN, M. SOUTHERN, J, 2014. Drawing Projects, an exploration of the language of drawing. Black dog publishing, London.

  • NATIONAL GALLERIES OF SCOTLAND, 1999. The Draughtsman's Art. Great Britain, BAS printers.

  • BAMMES, G. 2011. Complete Guide to Life Drawing. Great Britain, Search Press

  • STOBART, J. 2011. Extraordinary Sketchbooks,  A&C Black, Bloomsbury Publishing plc, London.

  • BRAMBILLA, D.2019.Human Figure Drawing, Drawing Gestures, Postures and Movements, Hoaki Books, Spain.

  • Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2017. Artists Working from Life, Royal Academy of Arts, London.

  • BIRCH, H, 2017. Drawn from Life, Contemporary Artists, Timeless Techniques, Hardie GrantBooks, UK. 

Web Sources













Details of the Art and Design assessment requirements can be found on the short course website. Please click on the following link for more information: Submission and Assessment Information

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.