Introduction to Classical Drawing (Graphite)

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First 3 Lessons are FREE

This is not a general introduction to drawing: It’s an introduction to 19th century Classical French Academic drawing techniques. Learn how to draw accurate proportions and smooth shading in this 8-week course. Each lesson introduces exercises for developing hand dexterity and visual perception to prepare students for our Bargue Plate Drawing and Cast Drawing with Graphite courses. While Sadie’s lessons are accessible to the dedicated beginner, previous drawing experience is highly recommended. Mastery of these exercises results in dramatic skill advancement, but like musical scales, near-daily practice is necessary for advancement.

This course is also included free with purchase of Bargue Plate Drawing and Cast Drawing with Graphite courses.

Members get instant access all our courses with an affordable monthly subscription. Members can also share their artwork and ask questions in our community Forums.

The materials list for this course is in the tab at the top of this page.


How is “Intro to Classical Drawing” different from a “Beginning Drawing” course?
Many beginning drawing courses offer a general overview of a lot of different subjects, like still life and portraiture and perspective. In contrast, Introduction to Classical Drawing is a deep dive into intensive skill-building pencil exercises.

Just as a classical musician starts with learning scales to develop hand dexterity and tone perception, the classical art student practices essential skill-building exercises that develop hand dexterity and visual perception. Think of these lessons as scales for the visual artist.

Artists who devote at least six months exclusively to classical drawing find that when they return to painting, their painting abilities have advanced significantly: Far more so than if they had devoted that time to painting alone. The greatest painters of art history, from Michelangelo through Sargent, were first trained in Classical drawing.  

Beginners please note: This course is taught at an easel. It’s not possible to do the exercises correctly if working at a desk or drafting table. Easel recommendations are on our Help page under Home Studio Setup.

Course Duration
For those who are able to practice 5-10 hours a week, the course can be completed in about 8-12 weeks. However, for those with little experience with formal drawing classes, it can take longer. There are no due dates or deadlines for our courses, so students can start at any time and work at their own pace.

Course Sequence
For those who would like to follow Sadie’s recommended program of study, we recommend starting with Intro to Classical Drawing and progressing through completing at least one Bargue Plate with Graphite. At that point, continue on to Cast Drawing with Graphite, or any of the charcoal drawing courses, or any of the painting courses. For members who are working with our instructors, we are happy to help you decide.

Video Content Running Time: 3 hours

Course Purchaser Testimonial
This has been the class I’ve been looking for since rekindling my love and desire to draw and paint again some years ago. A method of progressive learning to see and to understand what I’m looking at and a means to break the subject into manageable steps and pieces a little at a time. I started [2.5 months ago] and already feel and see a change in my abilities and my confidence. I have also appreciated finding others that have the same desire to strive and achieve a level of realism, which has given me permission and validation to do the same. A feeling that I’ve carried throughout my life but have felt somewhat out of step with the creatives around in my community. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
— Michelle, Intro to Classical Drawing and Bargue Plate Course Purchaser

Become a member to access all our courses with an affordable monthly subscription. Members can share their artwork and ask questions in our community forum.