Drawing-Practice-Bargue copies

I thought I’d start up a new thread where people can post their Bargue Drawing Course efforts (and keep the Basic Bargue Plate Walkthrough thread clutter-free).

Please feel free to post…!!

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I’ve been working on Plate 1-3. I’m finding it to be a nice step-up in difficulty, yet not overwhelmingly hard.

  1. Comparing my efforts to the originals, I can see that I’m regularly drawing the shaded areas too big.

  2. The paper I’m using is not conducive to frequent erasing/re-drawing. If anyone has any recommendations for a robust paper that will allow me to erase then draw over the erased areas numerous times, I’m all ears…!

  3. Also on the lookout for a consistent, easy-to-use pencil sharpener!

(PS @martin, thanks for the encouragement!)

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Hi @SiBreen!

  1. If you haven’t seen them already - I would draw your attention to the Bargue Redux selection available here, along with a lot of other shape rep advice and observations, these simplify what you’re attempting to do and may make that step easier:- https://www.smartermarx.com/t/shape-replication-exercises/80 - I did a number of those after my shape reps and got a real improvement and enjoyment from them.

  2. Any heavier paper (pastel/charcoal paper) should be okay, in the UK I try to use the canson sky blue mi-teintes : pastel paper (160GSM), I think it’s called light blue in the US. You should be drawing your lines very lightly anyway, leave any mistakes intact until you’ve established the correct line, then you can erase any mistakes after your proportions are correct - if you want to. You should only be putting a line down when you’re confident it is going in the right position - as with everything mistakes should happen with less frequency the more you practice! Also - dabbing with a kneaded eraser rather than scrubbing helps preserve the texture of the paper rather than burnishing and smearing it smooth.

  3. I use a helix rotary desktop sharpener (around £12 or so in the UK) it deals with the general’s charcoal pencils brilliantly and gives a long tapered point, I’ve also sharpened some of the fatter conté style pencils with softer pastel cores without snapping them too. It is very quick to sharpen and with minimal effort.

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Post them up!

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I managed to get another copy done today. A reasonably good match, except for the eye and surrounding area.

The eye was the area I did last, and I think fatigue may have played a part - in that I became less and less inclined to return to my fixed viewing spot as I tired.

More discipline required…!!


Nice work!

So here are a couple from my LoD shape reps thread:- https://www.smartermarx.com/t/martin-shape-reps/966?u=martin

I checked out the thread you linked to.
It’s both encouraging and motivating for me to see how much progress you’ve made!

How’s the LoD coming along?
Have you done any more Bargues since the above?

Hi man wondering if you could show the beginning STAGE? DO you start blocking in, do you measure with a stick…?

I’ve not done any Bargues apart from those, I do really like the look of them but there’s a lot of time in that which I don’t have. The LoD early stages basically condense and focus all of the valuable info you would extract from doing a bunch of Bargue copies (and later cast drawings) but without the many hours of simply colouring in shadow shapes and backgrounds at this point, it’s all in on line accuracy and the actual finesse and control of gradients and values. It’s almost like the 19th Century atelier model is out of date :wink:

So I’m up to the gradation block stage of the program. My progress is extremely slow in the scheme of things, I keep getting derailed by work/home life and also doing the odd painting here and there. 99% of the time I am falling way short of the practice requirement for the mentorship program:-

Academy apprentices usually exercise a minimum of 4 hours of deliberate daily practice while keeping tabs on the level of concentration they are able to sustain

LoD is great though, I love the programme. So I’m just going at it whenever I can - however I am very motivated and I will get there, eventually. I’m sure you can do it far faster if you’ve the time and the inclination!

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Hi Sow!

I’m not using any implements to measure, just eye-balling. I sometimes hold my pencil out horizontally in front of me to make sure things are roughly lined-up vertically.

I’m not sure what you mean about blocking in, but there’s lots of good information on the following page about how to start the Bargues:
Personally, I found Paul Foxton’s website particularly useful.

I hope to see some of your copies on this thread later…!!


An update on my Bargues: I’ve finished plate 1-3, and am now working on plate 1-6. It’s another nice step up in difficulty, with half-tones introduced for the first time.

During my first attempt at 1-6a, I had difficulties getting a nice dark shadow layer down. I was using a 2B on some soft cotton-like paper. This made it difficult to compare the shadows and half-tones on my print-out to my drawing (image 1).

So, I had a think and… decided to try again!
Again 2B, but this time on Canson Mi Teintes paper (image 2). It may not be apparent on the computer screen, but the shadow areas of attempt 2 are noticeably darker than attempt 1 in real life. The Canson Mi Teintes paper was really pleasant to draw on as well - not having drawn much before, this tactility is something I am enjoying very much.


You’re doing great Sib! I think the shadow pattern here looks very even and well-controlled. I think you can definitely call this one a win! :smiley:

I finished plate 1-9 today!
I’m learning a lot, and enjoying it a lot!

Canson Mi Teintes is very nice for the 2B pencils I’ve been using. The lead goes on easily, and the paper can take a lot of erasing.
For my last Bargue copy I used a Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2B; this time I’m using a Mitsubishi Pencil Hi-Uni 2B. The Hi-Uni is darker, goes on a little more smoothly, and has less of a shiny sheen when applying multiple layers; it’s still easy to control. I much prefer it. I’m planning on trying a Mars Lumograph Black 2B next, which apparently contains carbon instead of graphite - very exciting!

I’m finding that using layers to gradually build up darks is very important. Most of the problems I’ve had creating even tones (for example, to the left of the heel, and on the big toe) result from applying the first layer with too much force. This seems to crush the paper(?), and change the way future layers go on.
Almost all of my mistakes in terms of positioning of points are caused by my not returning to the “start position” often enough. I’ve put tape on the floor to mark where my feet should be, but it turns out I’m exceedingly lazy…
This is the biggest Bargue copy I’ve done so far. I’ve found plotting points more difficult on this bigger drawing, I think simply because the distance my eyes have to travel flicking back and forth is greater.

Gonna do a couple of hands next!
Criticisms welcome!!


Thanks, Anthony!
Any criticisms would also be much appreciated…!

So, I’ve been busily working away on more Bargue copies (pic of latest attached), but now I’m planning to take a short break from Bargue as I’ve identified some areas I need to work more on, and there are also some non-Bargue things I want to do:

  1. Improving accuracy of judging larger distances when marking outlines.
  2. Creating flat, even areas of the same value.
  3. Experimenting with different pencils and different papers.
  4. Applying the skills I’m developing to non-Bargue drawings.!
  5. Starting the Ani Drawing Course and, in particular, working with charcoal for the first time ever…!

As always, comments and criticisms welcome!

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Hey Simon,

I wanted to wait to respond until I was able to scan in the original. My only comment with the information presented to me here would be to consider the level of contrast. Your drawing (again, only has presented here) seems to be missing some weight on the dark end of the value range.) Now this may simply be a consequence of photography/imaging–but it’s worth looking at again. What pushes me a bit further towards the idea that the drawing itself is light-shifted, is your comment about the challenge of creating flat, even areas of value. In this context, from experience, I would speculate that you might err on the side of lightness to avoid potential problems in value “evenness.” When engaged in practice routines, generally speaking, try not to let your fear of a potential problem distance you from your goal. It’s the experience that is most important. I tell my students here that I would rather see a practice session result in an product that looked like it went through a battle, as opposed to one that looks pristine and pretty because it was never anywhere close to jumping into the fray.

Overall though I think your drawing is great in terms of proportion and linear structure. I mean, I did this overlay on the right and it lines up INCREDIBLY well. Bravo!

I’ve been taking a break from Bargue copies, as I want to apply what I’ve learned so far to subject matter of my own choosing. My basic plan is: 1. Bargue copies; 2. studies from photos (as I can make sure my measurements are accurate); 3. studies from life; repeat!

I’m following the same process for my studies from photos as for my Bargue copies, and it’s nice to have a process I can depend on:

  1. map extremities (top, bottom, left, right)
  2. basic outlines and shadow lines
  3. refine outlines and shadow lines
  4. even block-in of shadow areas
  5. taper shadow to light (half-tones?)
  6. darkest darks
  7. refinements

I’m finding it hard to simplify my subject matter in the way the Bargues have been simplified. There’s an orderliness to the Bargues that is absent from my studies - but I hope to develop this through repetition.

I’m enjoying the studies from photos very much. I like the feel of pencil on paper. I’ve also made a bit of a breakthrough when it comes to applying dark tones - by buying a new pencil sharpener!

The darkest tones in the left potato and right potato were both made using the same 3B Hi-Uni pencil, but the right potato was drawn after I started using the new pencil sharpener.

Next up: a couple of studies from life. I haven’t decided what to draw yet, but I’m intending to start easy - something as monochrome as possible. Probably some egg shells or lemons or oranges or something!

I’ve also recently started the Ani Drawing Core Program, but more on that in another post…

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Yes, I definitely erred on the side of lightness; I was hoping to give myself the “room”, as it were, to create an even shadow layer without too much risk.

Now that you’ve pointed it out, I can see how this stems from a fear of creating something rubbish. Thank you very much for this!

Wonderful studies here Simon! They absolutely have a “Bargue” feel. I don’t know that I would be so concerned with having your process in stage-match-synchrony with what is found on the sequential. development Bargue plates. I would argue that those models are more a path of consideration rather than realization. In other words, I see those stages as a representation of a “concern or focus hierarchy” rather than a product you should aim to match. I think chasing the latter may actually derail you a bit in terms of efficacy and efficiency in the long run. (Something to think about. ;-))

Do you mean at actual ani atelier ?