OCAD Studio: Figure Master Copy Part 1


Canvas or a panel

1 bristle of small to medium size


Raw Umber Paint

Burnt Umber Paint




Thinner (I recommend odourless mineral spirits (OMS))

Kitchen paper towel for wiping back and cleaning

Making a Wash Drawing

  1. Choose a figure painting that you want to copy and then get a canvas of equivalent proportions to the image. It can be any size, but I recommend something about 20 x 30 inches or so.
  2. Working from your chosen reference, begin lightly sketching in the main shapes lightly with raw umber thinned with mineral spirits. As always, begin with the largest proportions before refining the lines and shapes. Try to use primarily straight lines as these are easy to correct and look confident.
  3. It’s best to take measurements with your eye rather than with a tool, but if necessary, you can use a spare brush to check that the proportions in your painting match the reference or sitter.
  4. If you need to make any corrections, dip a clean brush into your pot of mineral spirits and use it to wipe away the mistake. If any marks remain (or too much mineral spirits) you can use a clean piece of kitchen towel or rag to wipe away the excess.
  5. Once the line drawing is loosely sketched in, you can begin painting in the outline of the shadow shapes on the figure and background.
  6. Then add a tone to the shadow shapes. This will help you to notice mistakes that you may have missed when it was a line drawing. Take the time to make any final corrections to the shadow shapes before leaving it to dry.


  1. Once you’re happy with the shapes, wash your brushes and palette and leave the painting until dry to the touch (at least 2-3 days).

Adding a Ground Colour

  1. Once the wash drawing is dry you can add a ground colour.
  2. Just dot a small amount of Burnt Umber straight from the tube onto the canvas.
  3. Spread these dots with a palette knife until the marks cover most of the surface.
  4. Then rub a piece of kitchen towel dipped in Mineral Spirits over the surface of the canvas.
  5. This will spread out the paint into an even tone.
  6. Make sure that the shadow shapes are visible below the ground colour. You can keep rubbing the paint to make it lighter if need be.
  7. Then leave the painting until dry to the touch (at least 2-3 days).



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