What are foundational skills and why do they matter?

Does this sound familiar?

“I more or less understand what I’m supposed to be doing, but when I start drawing, it doesn’t come out the way I imagined”

I experienced this and it was a real struggle. My knowledge was further ahead than my skill level. I understood principles and techniques that I saw or read about but couldn’t apply them properly. Teachers did a good job explaining the ideas, but understanding alone wasn’t enough!

“I want to work on gesture but I’m pre-occupied with the proportions being off”

What I always found difficult about learning to draw figures is that you have to learn a mixture of skills simultaneously. Normally tutorials and lessons are focused on one thing at a time, but figure drawing doesn’t let you work on one thing at a time.

Build the skills for beautiful, expressive drawings

4 weeks of learning and practice integrated together

We will go through drawings together, finding the important things in the pose and building our drawings step by step. Most of the program is structured not around individual techniques, but around the drawings. We’ve designed this more like a training program for an athlete than a course that only conveys information.

In each drawing we will use a variety of techniques, because that’s how drawing works. We’ll establish structure, tones and good proportions, develop our observational skills and much more, but we’ll take it slowly and make each step doable and we will go through it all together.

Kenzo & Mayko

Kenzo & Mayko

Your Instructors

We love life drawing, but more importantly we love helping people become good at life drawing. It's been amazing to help tens of thousands of people navigate the tricky path to beautiful figure drawings through Love Life Drawing and Figuary. This programme is our chance to work more closely with a smaller group of people.

How it will work

The program will run for 4 weeks, but you can go through it in your own time because you'll have lifetime access to all the content and materials.

Every week, for 4 weeks, you’ll get 5 videos:

  • 2 main lessons
  • 2 practice sessions
  • 1 group video feedback video

There’s a community area just for students of this program that lets you share your drawings to get feedback, ask questions and discuss the lessons. Enrolment will open on March 1st 2020 – make sure you are on our newsletter to stay up to date.

2 Lessons each week

The lessons integrate teaching with practice. We won’t just focus on one technique in each lesson, instead we will focus on one drawing that brings together techniques.

We will break down the subject, look at how each technique such as alignment, anatomy, gesture, negative space and so on can be used to help you draw that pose or part of the figure. While we explain and demonstrate all this, at each stage you will be given time to do it yourself. These lessons will be around 30 minutes including time for you to draw.

2 practice sessions each week

We’d like to encourage as much practice as possible, so we want to add some extra practice sessions which you can do if you have the time. These practice sessions will include a short warm-up, explaining the goals of the session and some things to look for in the poses you’re going to draw. From there, we’ll select a series of reference photos for you to draw depending on what we are working on that week.

1 feedback video each week

Sometimes drawings are a struggle and you’re not sure why. This is where feedback can be so valuable. If you sign up for the feedback version of this course, you’ll receive a concise, personal feedback video each week on your drawings. I will also use the most relevant examples from those to create a group feedback video that everyone can watch and learn from. Last year, some students told me the group feedback videos were as useful as the lessons.


There is an important community component to the Foundational Skills program. Whether you’d like to share your drawings or not, seeing the community posts and feedback on people’s drawings is really useful. You can also ask questions, talk about drawing topics and get clarification about anything that is confusing you.

What the 2019 students said


I absolutely loved the course! I could tell you poured your heart into it ... Most courses I've done were just a collection of videos you pay for. Not this one, and that's because you gave feedback and were actually very, very active in the forums.


This was an amazing journey for me. This has helped me in very many ways... This program gave me confidence in my drawing skills and immense encouragement to continue this creative journey.


Now I feel like I have tools to work with, and my drawings are starting to show improvement even with the live model. Your gentle encouragement without pandering to us was the perfect motivator.


It's amazing how you could cover so much in so little time. I'm very happy of the course because it taught me a lot and made me understand where I can improve my lines and my whole approach to the figure drawing.

See more testimonials from past students here.

The skills you'll build

How to see and how to build the drawing

Across the 4 weeks, we will build up our skills to cover:

  • Getting the proportions right with simple and quick tactics
  • Simplifying the light and dark to design an attractive value structure
  • Building the simple volumes in the figure
  • Understanding the main points of each area of the figure (torso, neck and head, limbs)
  • Starting to see and establishing the gesture

Who the program is for

  • If you love life drawing but you struggle with proportions, structure and making confident marks, this is for you.
  • If you are willing to put in practice time, this is the programme for you.
  • If you have seen our tutorials on YouTube or on this website and found the content has helped you, you will love this programme.
  • If you want to be able to design the light and dark tones in the drawing, this is for you.
  • If you want to know how to approach each area of the figure, this is for you.

 Who it’s not for

  • If you are an advanced artist who can confidently establish proportions, structure and values, it may be too basic for you.
  • If you are looking for ‘secrets’ that just by knowing them will transform your drawings, this programme is not for you. It only works if you do the practice.
  • If you want an academic anatomy course, this is not it. We will cover basic anatomy where it is useful for our observational skills.
  • We ask that only people aged 18 and over sign up for the course.



To me, gesture is one of the most important and magical aspects to life drawing. It is the thing I love most about it. But gesture’s also the most confusing part to actually start learning.

I believe that it is much easier to start building gestural skills properly once you’ve practised the Foundational Skills through longer analytical drawings. The main 4 weeks of this program focus on those analytical drawings.

Around a month after completing the main program, you’ll receive an additional week of lessons and practice sessions designed to help you start building your gestural skills. This gives you time to establish your foundations properly first, and you can then do these extra lessons whenever you feel ready.


If you’ve seen our videos and website, then you’ve undoubtedly seen the wonderful pastel figure drawings Mayko produces. They are full of life and colour.

What I love about her drawings is that even though they are longer drawings (around 30-45 minutes) she keeps them as vibrant and energetic as a quick gesture. Not many artists have that ability.

After the program you’ll receive access to 3 pastel full length demonstrations by her (2 figures and 1 portrait) and a trois crayons study which is a great way to start transitioning to colour. You’ll see her lay down her initial simple structure and then build her layers of colourful soft pastel on top, and you can draw along if you like.


How long will I have access to the program?

You will have unlimited access to the lessons and practice sessions for as long as you like – across any and all devices you own.

What if I am busy during the 4 weeks?

You don’t have to do the programme during the 4 weeks – since you’ll have lifetime access to the programme’s contents, you can do the lessons in your own time. It’s worth noting though that the community area will be most active during the 4 weeks of the program.

What if I am unhappy with the course?

We would never want you to be unhappy! If you sign up and are unsatisfied with it, contact us in the first 14 days of the course starting and we will give you a full refund.

Will I get feedback on my drawings?

There will be two versions you can sign up for – one with feedback and one without.
If you sign up for feedback, you will receive a concise, personal feedback video each week on some of your drawings to visually explain the things to focus on.
Whether you sign up for feedback or not, everyone will be able to participate in the community areas where students discuss and give each other feedback, and I will be active there too. This was a really lovely part of the 2019 classes.
I will also take the most useful examples from the personal feedback videos to create a weekly group feedback video for everyone to watch. Seeing the feedback given to other students is often really useful, with some past students rating these as useful as the lessons.

Is this the same as the 2019 program?

The main difference is that rather than trying to cover all skills across 10 weeks, we are now covering essential observational and structural skills in 4 weeks. We realised that packing in such a range of skillsets across 10 weeks was too much too quickly.

It was the initial observational skills lessons which had the biggest immediate impact for people’s drawings, and more time was needed for those skills to settle in before moving on to the gestural and other skills, so we’ll focus on those in this 4 week foundational skills program.

Enrolment for Foundational Skills Spring 2020 has now closed

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