Drawing & Painting the Head 1: Light, Shadow & Mid Tone

Online Drawing & Painting Workshop

15th & 22nd September 2020  |  18:00 – 20:30

Northern Realist Light, Shadow & Mid Tone Workshop

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This workshop will help you to understand the structure of the head and how to draw or paint its form convincingly.

The workshop will introduce you to ‘mass drawing’ which uses tonal value to represent three dimensional form using light, shade and mid tone.

You’ll complete a 3 tone value study of an ‘Asaro’ head as well as learning how to deal with the transitions between the tones necessary to make your work look convincing. All this will give you a strong foundation for your portrait drawing or painting.

The workshop can be done in paint, charcoal or pencil, it’s up to you. The tonal principles remain the same whichever medium you feel most at home with.

Tonal value is also the foundation for colour mixing, so a strong grasp of these principles will help you go on to paint in colour. Problems with colour often have their roots in the tonal values so getting them right is half the battle in avoiding muddy looking paintings.

During the workshop you will learn to how to recognise which tonal family each of the main areas of the head belongs to. You’ll work from an image of an ‘Asaro’ head, a sculpture of the head specially created to demonstrate its key planes. This make it much easier to isolate the tonal value of each plain and decide which value family it should belong to.

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What you’ll learn

  • How to use a 9 step tonal value
  • How to use tonal families of light, shadow and mid tone
  • Basic proportions of the head
  • Key landmarks of the head
  • Placement of the features
  • How to render the planes of the head using ’mass drawing’

Whether you’re looking to learn fundamental principles or brush up existing skills the workshop will have plenty to offer. The class is limited to 8 students giving everyone plenty of feedback.

How it Works

The workshop will be done using Zoom, you’ll be emailed a materials list, preparations and a reference photo plus a link to the session after booking via Eventbrite.

You’ll need an internet connection and webcam and the following materials depending whether you want to draw or paint:


  • One sheet of white pastel paper
  • a few sheets of cartridge or other drawing paper
  • HB, 2B pencils and a craft knife if you’re drawing in graphite
  • B, HB and H Sticks of Nirtram Charcoal if you’re drawing in charcoal
  • Putty Rubber
  • Hard Eraser
  • Sanding Block
  • Small Bristle Brush (about 1cm)
  • Blending stump


  • 3 pieces of primed canvas or canvas paper
  • 2 medium bristle brushes
  • 1 house painting brush
  • Cold pressed linseed oil
  • Turps/Sansodour/Zest It painting solvent
  • Painting palette
  • Palette knife
  • Dipping cup
  • White spirit or turps substitute for brush cleaning
  • Titanium white oil paint
  • Ivory black or blue black oil paint
  • Rags and kitchen roll


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Essential Info & Booking

  • Date: Tuesdays 15th & 22nd 2020,  18:00 – 20:30
  • Location: Online via Zoom
  • Price: £55

Questions: Use Contact Form above right or visit the Contact Page or email info@northernrealist.com

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