My First Bargue Drawings

My first three “Bargue drawings” done at the Toronto Academy of Realist Art.

Doing Bargue drawings is the common first step in drawing education at many art academies and is based on copying drawings made by French artist Charles Bargue as part of classical drawing course he made in collaboration with Jean-Léon Gérôme. The course is available in book form as the Charles Bargue and JeanLeon Gerome Drawing Course.

The idea is that it is easier/better for a student to first start by copying a master artist before drawing from life. By going through the same steps as the master to “translates” complex reality into drawing it will be easier for the student to attempt doing the same. This is about getting a solid foundation in technical drawing skills rather than originality. In classical drawing education individual style is something the artist develops only after mastering the foundations in art.

At the Toronto Academy of Realist Art the students have to four Bargue drawings of increasing complexity before they start drawing from casts/sculptures.

These are the first three master copies I did at the Academy. They were all done with graphite pencils and drawn at the same scale as the plates I was copying.

My Charles Bargue master copy drawing of Plate 8.
My first, simple, Bargue drawing (Plate 8).
My Charles Bargue master copy drawing of Plate 42.
My second, more complex, Bargue drawing (Plate 42).
Detail of my Charles Bargue master copy drawing of Plate 42.
Detail of my second Bargue drawing.
My Charles Bargue master copy drawing of Plate 59.
My third Bargue drawing with a high level of complexity (Plate 59).
Detail of my Charles Bargue master copy drawing of Plate 59.
Detail of my third Bargue drawing.

Drawing for animation vs Academic drawing

I’ve already been drawing for quite a while and in the last few years I’ve started to gain some confidence in my drawing abilities. But the academic approach to drawing with emphasis on accuracy is very different from the more “free” approach taken with drawing for animation and illustration.

Student’s starting out at the academy are expected to spend at around 50 hours to finish their first bargue copy. Quite different from the 1-hour speed painting approach popular in concept art. I found my first copy of Bargue’s drawing of a foot to be more challenging than I expected, and probably did spend at least 50 hours to get the correct look for the simple drawing. The second drawing went a little better, and after my third Bargue drawing I’m starting to feel more comfortable with the academic approach.

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