Fundamentals in drawing with Stephanie Mills

Ref: D2D33829

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About this course

Learn or improve upon your drawing skills on this fundamentals course, which teaches key concepts such as values, light, form, proportions, modelling and material handling through simple exercises and working on a portrait master copy.

Course Description

Over this course, you will work on drawing exercises and a portrait master copy under the guidance of your tutor.

The course is designed to help those of you wishing to learn or improve upon existing drawing skills by introducing key concepts such as values, light and form to build upon this understanding when working on your own projects.

The first evening, we will discuss the plan for the course and you will prepare your paper, ready to spend the following morning doing simple exercises in graphite that are designed to improve your understanding of the drawing fundamentals, as well as material handling. You will start by looking at how to simplify value arrangements and create three-dimensional form.

Once these exercises are complete, you will spend the remaining time working on a portrait master copy where you will put these skills in to practice. Starting with a two-dimensional block-in, you will then work through to a fully rendered portrait drawing in either pencil and/or charcoal. Proportion, gesture, the importance of shapes in capturing a likeness, keying the drawing (establishing our darks and lights), form modelling, edges and line quality will be discussed.

You can expect multiple critiques tailored to your individual requirements, and you should come away from the course with a sound overview of classical drawing methods that you can use to approach future work.

Course Materials


On this course the College will supply paper, charcoal and drawing fixative.

What students need to bring

  • Graphite drawing pencils - 2B and H; any brand is fine
  • Craft knife and sharpening pad
  • Putty rubber
  • Tombow hard eraser pen
  • Small soft brush for moving graphite and charcoal around
  • Knitting needle (or something similar for measuring)
  • Something to carry work home in (suitable for carrying A2 paper size)

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Daily Timetable

Course teaching day 11am–5.15pm
Students arrive between 10.30am-11am (coffee optional)  
Morning teaching starts at 11am 
Lunch break between 1pm-2pm (lunch is not included)
Afternoon teaching starts at 2pm (15 minute tea break, 3.30pm–3.45pm)
Teaching finishes 5.15pm  

General Information

Short courses are open to anyone aged 18 and over. The course fee covers tuition and materials where stated. You will need to bring all other items listed under the ‘Materials to bring’ section.


Coffee and tea are included in the course fee, but you will need to bring lunch with you to eat in the refreshments room. There are also plenty of other local venues to purchase food.


If you have any specific access needs, we will need to know about your access requirements in advance. Please tell us about your needs in confidence by emailing: [email protected] This venue has steps to the front reception, with limited access via a side gate to the ground floor. There is a small lift to higher floors or stairs.


Short course students are required to sign a safety compliance form as part of West Dean Health and Safety regulations.

Refunds and cancellations

Please refer to our terms & conditions below.


The information given is accurate at the time of publication. However, West Dean College reserves the right to cancel or amend courses if circumstances require.

Terms & Conditions


Stephanie Mills

Stephanie Mills is a representational portrait and landscape artist. She studied and taught at the Barnes Atelier in London and exhibits her work in various galleries internationally.

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Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.