Reviewed by T. Michael Testi
In Drawing Fundamentals with Ron Lemen, you will learn about the fundamentals of drawing and shading and their use in dry, wet, and digital media. Your instructor is Ron Lemen, an award-winning designer with a career focused on extreme sports. He has worked for a variety of skateboarding and snowboarding firms and industry publications. He has also been a designer/director for various video games such as Myst 3, Whacked, Soldier of Fortune 2, and NBA 2006.
Drawing Fundamentals is geared to take you through the fundamentals beginning with the basics and on through some completed works. You will find out what it takes to turn drawings into reality. Drawing Fundamentals is divided into four classes comprising nine lessons lasting over four hours. I will break this down by class.
"Drawing Fundamentals" begins by taking you through the tools of the trade. Here you will learn about everything from sharpening pencils - graphite as well as different types of charcoal - different erasers, and using a sanding pad. You will see the difference between rough newsprint, layout paper, and tracing paper. You will see how to set up an easel and working it in to proper viewing angles, the proper posture, and movements from the shoulder. You will see why repetition is what you need to build dexterity and stamina; practice, practice, practice doing arcs, lines, circles, and more. You will also learn about spatial relations and line types.
"Form, Shape, Light, & Shade" now takes you from the 2D world into the 3D world. Now you move from working with contours to working with dimensions in space. You now will get more exercises in working with techniques like gradations, movement from dark to light forms, creating shapes like spheres and cubes, which helps to discuss lighting and shade. Getting a proper foundation in value, lighting, and shadow rules will help your drawing techniques become habit for when you are ready to tackle more complex drawings.
"Drawing From Life" attempts to show, by setting small goals, the creation of a complete drawing. Here the instructor breaks it down into about six steps. The first few are constructive and the last few are more about the rendering. Using a live human model, the instructor will show you how to go about doing a complete charcoal drawing of an individual. Here you will learn about the placement of features when portrait drawing, about shading and the creation of mass, and then the addition of the final details.
"Painting From Life" will now take the same model and add color. Here he uses gouache, which is similar to watercolor but not watercolor. Using the Zorn palette, he shows you how to work with a tone, a tint, and two hues. In this you will see how to use the palette and brushes to work with colors. Then he moves on to digital painting using a Wacom tablet and a digital value for the background. Here he translates the movement of color painting to a digital medium and describes the differences between the two.
Drawing Fundamentals is available as online training from xTrain.com. There are three ways to purchase it. An annual fee of $199 not only gives access to this class, but every one of xTrain's classes for a full year. You can select the monthly fee, which is $19.99; that gives you access to all classes for a month. Or you can purchase it by the course, which is listed at $79.00.
I found Drawing Fundamentals very well done and Ron Lemen is a very engaging instructor. I like the way that he takes his time and really gives insight to his reasoning for doing something. For example, in his first lesson, when he talks about one of the erasers he uses he explains why they come in the packaging they do, how they are not just for fixing mistakes, but rather they can work as the white paint when you are working in a limited tone media. When he talks about sharpening charcoal pencils he doesn’t just explain that you need to use a blade to sharpen, but goes further to explain the hows and whys an Exacto blade is not a good blade to use.
It is this kind of instruction that carries through the classes and make them work so well. Lemen's patience and calm manner make you want to learn more. If you want to learn more about the fundamentals of drawing and artwork in general, then I highly recommend that you get Drawing Fundamentals.