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Shadow & Light

a charcoal portrait class

Shadow and light – that’s all you need to draw faces!

With light and dark, also called ‘tonal values’, you can create the structure, depth and 3D effect of the face. It makes the face look real, alive. And you can create interesting atmospheres, moods and lighting effects, guiding the viewer to certain parts of the face.

The face that we’re going to draw in this class is slightly turned, into a three-quarter position. With a strong light coming from the right and slightly from above, this is a perfect head direction to practice working with light and dark. Part of the face is turned towards the viewer, in the light, and part of the face is turned away, in the shadow. This creates interest and atmosphere.

Shadow and light are our most important tools when it comes to drawing portraits, so that’s what we’ll focus on in this 2.5 hours charcoal portrait class!

Originally recorded for Let’s Face It 2021 with Kara Bullock, I am excited to share this class with you now.

You can download all videos and course materials, to keep forever. And since this is a self-study class, you get instant access so you can start whenever you like.

Let’s get started!

Click the button below to sign up now, or continue reading for all details and practical info.

The darkness declares the glory of light.  T.S. ELIOT

Inspiration for this Course

The inspiration for the portrait that we’re going to create came from Rembrandt. He was of course a master in the use of light and shadow, also called ‘chiaroscuro’ or ‘clair-obscur’. I’m always fascinated by his courage to work with strong contrasts and unexpected shadows, as you can see in this young self-portrait.

A painting is complete when it has the shadows of a god.  REMBRANDT VAN RIJN

Various charcoal supplies & techniques

Our main medium in this class is charcoal, which is great for tonal values. We’re not distracted by a multitude of colors, but can focus fully on the light and shadows.

Charcoal is also very forgiving and versatile. You can create many different looks and effects: from soft and smooth, to more grungy and textured.

In this class we will combine these effects, with the most detail and softness in the face, and more texture and looseness in the other parts of the portrait.

We’re going to use various types of charcoal, including regular vine or willow charcoal and charcoal pencil, in order to create the dark parts of the portrait. We’ll combine those with white pastel, white charcoal pencil and various erasers to create the highlights.

Class outline

I’ll teach you how I layer the charcoal, building up the portrait step by step, and how I create the softness of the face as well as more textured parts of the portrait. I’ll also show you how I draw the parts of the face that can sometimes be challenging, like the ear and the hair.

You will see me create the portrait from start to finish, so you can follow everything that I do in detail. I’ll also show you a system that I use to start my 3/4 portraits and get the proportions right.

What will you learn?

In this class we’re going to explore various techniques, which can of course be applied to any charcoal portrait that you want to create in the future. Some of the things that we’ll cover:

  • Sketching out a 3/4 face direction
  • Working with a focus on tonal values
  • Working with various charcoal supplies, including willow or vine charcoal and black charcoal pencil
  • Combining charcoal with pastel and white charcoal pencil to create highlights
  • Working with various erasers to create different effects
  • Creating a smooth, blended look
  • Creating texture
  • Building up the portrait in layers
  • Drawing the hair
  • Drawing the ear
  • How to make corrections, even in later stages

List of supplies

This is an overview of the main supplies that we’ll use (the links are examples). A more detailed list with some additional tools and alternative options will be available after registration.

What will you receive

2.5 hours of video lessons

2.5 hours of video lessons, recorded in high-quality.

Downloadable content

You can download all the videos and other materials, so you can keep them forever.

Step-by-step PDF

Downloadable PDF with photos and step-by-step instructions.

Lifetime access

You get life-time access to the course website, so you can do the class at your own pace.

Sign Up Now!

Self-study class

  • 2.5 hours of video lessons
  • Get immediate access to all content
  • Take the class at your own pace
  • Lifetime access
  • All videos & materials can be downloaded
 35.00
Sign Up Now

Prices in Euro will be used for the actual purchase.

There is strong shadow where there is much light.  JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve never taken an online course. How does it work?

If this is the first time you sign up for any of my courses, you will create an account during the registration process. You can access the private website of the course with the email address that you signed up with and the password that you chose for your account.

The lessons are taught in video format. You can watch me work and hear me explain what I do and why I do it. This means that you can follow exactly what I do, and if you want you can go back and watch certain parts again if you missed anything or something was unclear.

Since this is a self-study course, you get immediate access to all the videos and course materials. These will all be provided on the course website. You can watch the lessons online, and/or download all videos and coure materials so you can keep them forever and access them whenever and wherever you like.

Besides the course website you will also get access to a private Facebook group for this course. Some courses have dedicated groups, other courses get access to my general Facebook group. The Facebook groups are a fun and safe place to post your work, ask questions, and meet new friends.

Lifetime access, what does that mean in practice?

You get lifetime access to the course. In practice this means that the course website (including all videos and course materials) will remain accessible to you for as long as this course is being offered for sale. If this course at some point in the future isn’t going to be offered for sale anymore, you will have 6 months to download all videos and course materials if you want to keep them forever.

Can I download the videos and other course materials?

Yes, you can download all the videos and other materials of this course.

Is there a dedicated Facebook group for this course?

There is no dedicated Facebook group for this course, but you are welcome to join my Facebook group Juna Biagioni’s Art Atelier. It’s a great place to ask questions, share your work, and meet new art friends.

Can I get feedback from you on my work?

Self-study classes don’t include feedback on individual work. However, I am frequently available in the Facebook group if you have questions about supplies or other course related topics.

I am not very experienced in art. Can I sign up?

Yes, certainly! It’s no problem if you have no previous experience with the supplies and techniques that we’ll use in this course. All techniques will be explained and shown in the videos.

However, this is a short class. If you would like to get a more in-depth approach to portrait drawing, learning about fundamental concepts like tonal values, and working with a variety of supplies and techniques, then I recommend taking the course Drawing in the Soul.

I feel a bit insecure about my art and not ready to show it to others. Can I participate without joining the Facebook group?

Yes, you can definitely participate without joining the Facebook group.

However, you can also join the Facebook without having to post your work if you don’t want to. The group is private and provides a safe environment for all participants of every level. It’s also a place where you can get support, ask questions, and meet new friends.

I don't have a Facebook account. Do I need one for this course?

No, you don’t need a Facebook account in order to take this course. The course website is a dedicated website that you get access to after you sign up for the course. The Facebook group is optional.

However, if you do want to join the Facebook group but don’t have a Facebook account (yet), you can also consider creating a Facebook account just for this course alone.

I have never worked with charcoal before. Can I sign up?

Yes! It’s no problem if you have no previous experience with charcoal. All techniques will be explained and shown in the videos.

However, this is a short class. If you would like to get a more in-depth, foundational approach to working with charcoal and learn a host of different techniques, then I recommend taking the course The Many Faces of Charcoal.

Do you work with a reference photo in this course?

Yes, we will be working with a reference photo in this course. It will be available for download from the course website.

Can I get a refund after purchasing this course?

Due to the downloadable nature of this course, no refunds are given after purchasing this course.

Can I give this course as a gift?

Certainly! Just contact me via this link and I’ll send you all details.

How can I contact you?

You can contact me via this link.

Practical Info

Click here to read the practical information before purchasing this course

Access to the course

Once you have purchased your course, you return to a confirmation page with an overview of your registered courses. When you click on a course you should be already logged-in to the course site and have immediate access to the classroom.

If at any time you need to login to the site, you will need your username (the email address that you used to sign up for the course) and the password which you chose when you signed up. With your username and password you can always access your courses by clicking on ‘Login’ at the top of this website.

Practical requirements

This course will be presented online, so you need a web browser. I recommend Chrome or Firefox. Make sure your browser is updated to the latest version.

You will get the best results if you use a laptop or computer. You can use smaller devices (like a tablet) as well, but then the layout may change slightly.

If you want to download the videos, you need space on the hard drive of your computer, or an external storage like an external hard drive or a USB stick.

Other requirements:

  • A high-speed internet connection to be able to download the videos or watch them online.
  • A basic understanding of IT, like reading emails, watching videos online, reading PDF documents, and navigating websites like Facebook. If you’re having trouble with some IT related stuff some help can be given, but in-depth IT guidance cannot be given.

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