The Principles of Life Drawing from the Masters

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This course has no current classes. Please the waiting list.

This course seeks to systematically outline and guide you through, some of the fundamental principles that lead to a comprehensive proficiency for drawing the human figure. Each week introduces the student to a new aspect of competent figure drawing. Included with this is a brief analysis of human anatomy, starting with the major masses of the skeleton and concluding with an analysis of each of the major muscle groups of the body. The course also lays a strong emphasis on learning from the drawings of the Old Masters. Students will be assigned a weekly drawing(s) to copy for homework that relates to a specific principle studied during class.


  • Luca Cambiaso (1527 – 1585) – the figure as basic line and structure.
  • Luca Cambiaso (1527 – 1585) – the figure as line and structure.
  • Fundamental gesture and action
  • Tintoretto (1518 – 1594) - Gesture and action with basic anatomical masses, landmarks and limited convexed contours
  • Raphael Sanzio (1483 – 1520) – Basic anatomy and the figure as line and contour
  • Ludovico Cardi, il Cigoli (1559 – 1613) – Basic modelling and shadow masses
  • Andrea Sacchi (1599 – 1661) - The figure as convexed forms, basic shadow masses and modelling at the plane break.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Identify how the placement of the models weight coincides with the figures action.
  2. Begin to understand and grasp the processes of conceptualising, selecting and creatively inventing from the figure.
  3. Learn how to treat the figure as a “mannequin” rather than a static object to mindlessly copy and reproduce.
  4. Apply a basic knowledge of human anatomy to figure drawing, including the basic skeletal masses of the figure and muscle groups.
  5. Understand the basic principles of suggesting form with line alone.
  6. Make use of and/or inventing a light source to model form.
  7. Identify techniques and make use of Old Masters drawings within a contemporary drawing practice.


  • Oil-based hard sanguine red or black chalk pencil.
  • Kneadable eraser and Stanley knife
  • A3 sketch book
  • Two metal paper clips

IMPORTANT: Please arrive to the first class with all the relevant materials. A lack of materials is not just a handicap to you but to the ability to teach. Materials cost is not included in a course fee. In the event of a course being cancelled WEA cannot be held responsible for the purchase of any course materials. We therefore suggest you purchase your materials closer to the time of the course commencing.


  • The Art Scene, UNSW Art & Design Campus, Greens Rd Paddington NSW. Ph: 8815 1569
  • The Art Scene, West Ryde, Ph: 9807 6900 (incl. online shop)
  • Bondi Road Art Supplies 179 Bondi Road Bondi. Ph: 9387 3746. (Closed Fridays and Sundays)
  • Eckersley’s Art and Craft Store 93 York Street Sydney, Ph: 02 9299 4151. Also at North Sydney, St Leonards, Chatswood, Caringbah, Parramatta & more.

Enquire at your art shop for a Student’s Discount with your WEA course receipt.