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

Northern Realist Light, Shadow & Mid Tone Workshop



Drawing the Head – Light, Shadow & Mid Tone

1 Day Foundation Workshop

Tuesday 16th August 2022 10:00 – 15:30

Blue & Berry Art Gallery, Knutsford Rd, Chelford, Macclesfield SK11 9BB

£120 including refreshments, lunch and a glass of wine.

What you’ll learn

This workshop will help you to understand how light reveals the structure of the head and how to draw or paint it convincingly with solidity and realism.

The workshop will introduce you to ‘mass drawing’ which uses tonal value to represent 3-dimensional form using light, shade and mid tone.

  • How to identify and use the tonal families of light, shadow and mid tone
  • Key landmarks of the head
  • How to render the planes of the head using ’mass drawing’

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

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.

Tonal value is the foundation for colour mixing, so a strong grasp of the principles will help you 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 about the tonal value families of light shadow and mid tone. You’ll then go on to look at they reveal to form of the head. To help you do this you’ll work from an image of an ‘Asaro’ head, a sculpture of the head specially created to demonstrate its key planes. This will make it much easier to isolate the tonal value of each plane and decide which value family it should belong to.

The approach is designed to build your drawings in a logical way by making one decision at a time, each stage informing the next.

By the end of the workshop you’ll be familiar with the main tonal values necessary to paint the form of the head convincingly.




Is this workshop for me?

This workshop is particularly suitable for people who would like to develop their portrait drawing abilities and will suit all levels. It’s well suited if you’re just starting out as we’ll cover basic principles you need to know.

If you’re more experienced it will offer you a chance to try a different approach and develop your existing skills.

If you’re interested in portrait painting, the tonal value principles covered provide an essential foundation for working in colour.

The workshop also provides a  chance for you to spend time concentrating on your portrait sketching skills with other like minded, friendly artists. Whether you’re looking to learn fundamental principles or push your skills from a more advanced position there will be plenty to learn and benefit from.

Places are limited to give you plenty of personal feedback and allow you to work at your own level and pace.

What you’ll need

Easels, drawing boards, paper or canvas boards are provided, just bring your favourite drawing or painting media to work with.


  • HB, 2B pencils and a craft knife if you’re drawing in graphite
  • B, HB and H Sticks of Nitram Charcoal or willow charcoal if you are considering drawing in charcoal
  • Putty Rubber
  • Hard Eraser
  • Sanding Block
  • Small Bristle Brush (about 1 cm)
  • Blending stump


  • 2 medium bristle brushes
  • 1 house painting brush
  • Painting palette
  • Palette knife
  • Dipping cup
  • Titanium white oil or acrylic paint
  • Black oil or acrylic paint
  • Rags and kitchen roll
  • Cold pressed linseed oil*
  • Turps/Sansodour/Zest It painting solvent*
  • White spirit or turps substitute for brush cleaning*

*Only needed for oil painting




Essential Info & Booking

Drawing the Head – Light Shadow & Mid Tone: 1 Day Foundation Workshop

Blue & Berry Art Gallery, Knutsford Rd, Chelford, Macclesfield SK11 9BB

Tuesday 16th August 2022 10:00 – 15:30

£120 including refreshments, lunch and a glass of wine.

How to Book

Bookings are made by paying a £30 deposit via Eventbrite, you will then be invoiced for the remaining £90 balance directly. This is due a week before the course begins. Follow the ‘Book Now’ links on this page to Eventbrite to pay your deposit.

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

email: info@northernrealist.com




What’s the refund policy?

  • No deposit refunds unless the course is cancelled, 
  • The invoiced remainder can be refunded up to 2 weeks in advance.
  • Full refund including deposit if the course is cancelled