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Fundamentals of Drawing

with Maria Lia Malandrino
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Join Maria as she introduces you to the foundational principles of drawing that every artist needs to know!
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Beginner to Intermediate
Maria Lia Malandrino

Your Instructor

Maria Lia Malandrino is an Italian illustrator and visual development artist working as a freelancer in Turin, Italy. Since 2017 she has been working for  prominent publishing houses and brands such as Oxford University Press, Hachette and Disney.

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  • Just a paper and pencil! (You can use digital drawing software if you’d like.) Maria uses Photoshop for this tutorial, but all the concepts apply to both digital and traditional art.
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If you are new to drawing this is the must have course to start your art journey!

In these 19 value-packed tutorials, Maria introduces you the foundational principles of drawing, that are essential for every artist (or aspiring artist) to know, including anatomy, perspective and figure drawing.

Whether you are a beginner and just entering the world of art, or if you already have years of experience and want to brush up on the fundamentals, this course is for you! You can expect a good mix of theory and practical demonstrations, by watching as she applies the theory to real life illustrations.

By the way, did you know that going to art school is not a must in order to become an incredible artist? Maria shares some of her personal artistic journey, having switched careers to pursue art, and gives you the encouragement to start out and keep practicing in order to see growth. It’s never too late to start!

There’s so much in store for you. Let’s dive in!

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What you’ll learn

  • The Loomis method for drawing proportions of the face
  • Structure of the body's anatomy using grids
  • How to draw hands correctly
  • Use the dot method to draw difficult body parts
  • Understand the theory of perspective: the five different point perspectives
  • Discover the essential aspects of gesture drawing, eg: Line of Action, Weight
  • Turn complex shapes into basic blocks
  • Draw realistic looking clothes on the body
  • Give your character's movement and flow with the directional axis
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Who is this course for

  • Absolute beginners who want to learn the foundations of art
  • Experienced artists who wish to review the fundamentals or enhance their skills
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This course includes

  • 3+ hours of on-demand video lessons
  • Exercise worksheets (JPG & PSD)
  • Reading List of Recommended Books on Art (PDF)
  • Full lifetime access

Lesson Plan

with Maria Lia Malandrino
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Welcome to the Fundamentals of Drawing!

In this intro video, you’ll get to know your course instructor, Maria Lia Malandrino, and also get a quick overview of what you will learn in this course. She is really excited to help you start your artistic journey on the right foot. Having entered the art world later on without formal education, be encouraged that it’s never too late to start! 

There’s so much in store for you here!


The Basics of Anatomy, Part 1


The very best place to start: Human anatomy!

Anatomy is such a broad subject that entire
courses are devoted to this topic alone. However, this lesson is a good starting point to guide you in drawing the human body and it’s proportions in an
anatomically correct way.


The Basics of Anatomy, Part 2


In this second lesson of Human Anatomy, Maria talks about three fundamental aspects of drawing a human body: muscle, fat and bone.

These three are the most visible elements of a person’s appearance. Without knowledge of the characteristics & structure of bones, muscles and fat, it’s harder to draw believable characters and poses.


Face & Head Anatomy


Preview class

Maria teaches the theory behind head and face anatomy as well as covers practical methods to draw faces with correct proportions (always keep in mind that heads are round, not flat).

You will learn a simply way to understand head shape and discover how to draw any head with ease in just 3 steps! 


Face and Head Proportions


When starting out, you’ll find the famous Loomis  method to be quite useful in understanding
the relation between the various elements in the face and where they are positioned. Maria breaks down and explains this method in detail, giving you clear guidelines so you no longer have to wonder why the ear you just drew looks a bit off. 🙂


Anatomy of the Hand


Whatʼs every artistʼs worst nightmare? Drawing hands!

But worry no more! You will quickly learn how to draw hands correctly using the Loomis method and also get some cool bonus tips from Maria’s personal experience of how to tackle drawing these troublesome body parts.


The Basics of Perspective


Preview class

This lesson will help you grasp the basics of the five different perspectives, so you understand when and how to use them to give your artwork realistic depth. And since we learn best by doing, Maria also includes several perspective grids as homework files for you to practice on. How cool is that? 🙂


The Block Method


This lesson builds on what you learnt in the previous one. Follow along with Maria as she explains how to apply the principles of perspective to drawing complex character poses. It’s a great way to simplify the process, so even if a pose seems daunting – you can tackle it!


Hands in Perspective


It’s sometimes easy to forget that hands and fingers are 3D objects, so they end up looking flat. In this tutorial, you’ll discover useful tips for drawing hands in perspective, difficult angles or even just normal positions that somehow seem difficult at first — we’ve all been there! 😉 You’ll get the hang of this in no time!


Importance of Gesture Drawing


Gesture/life drawing is about force and movement – it means capturing the dynamics of a pose in a few short minutes and transferring it to paper.

Practicing life drawing regularly is the best thing you can do to improve your skills. Most of the times it is exactly like going to the gym: initially you donʼt feel like going, but when do, you feel great after! 


Lines & Blocking


Preview class

This lesson covers a necessary building block to life
drawing – an understanding of lines and blocking. If you draw a shape with lines that lack form no amount of shading will make it a stronger sketch. Watch Maria’s methods for sketching and blocking effectively to give your characters a realistic 3D shape.


Line of Action


The line of action is the imaginary line passing through the core of the body identifying the energy running through the movement of the pose. Learning where to place it and using it as the basis of a sketch will give your art more dynamic flow. You will also learn about the directional axis so your characters will be balanced correctly.


Mass, Weight and Rhythm


When masses are balanced in the body, it results a more harmonious figure. This sense of weight is very useful in figure drawing, making a character look more believable and real. Discover just how to achieve this effect in this tutorial. 


The Design


The last step in figure drawing!

Maria will show you how to complete your sketch by adding shapes to it. You’ll also get a quick summary of  the entire gesture drawing process. Additionally, Maria demonstrates how to create both a realistic and stylized figure and explains the differences. 


Sweet Lies


Creating great characters for a story is a bit like telling a lie—taking something mundane and transforming it into a fascinating and majestic work of art.

This video moves away from realism, and into the world of cartoons, letting your imagination and creativity take over. It’s great fun!


Drawing with Shapes (Demo)


In this practice video, Maria shares with you a fun exercise designed to take you out of your comfort zone and free your imagination!




Clothes are a big part of what makes a character stand out – what makes them unique. They not only identify a characterʼs culture, background and time
period, but they say a lot about their personality. Learn her methods and tips as Maria discusses this subject in detail.


How to Draw Clothes (Demo)


Follow along as Maria demonstrates her step-by-step process for drawing a character’s outfit. You can also look forward to some useful general advice for drawing clothes that will significantly enhance your illustrations.


Expressions, Acting & Composition


When a human being is happy or excited their whole body shows it and the face will transform to accommodate the expression. Their attitude and charisma not limited just to the position of the mouth, eyes or eyebrows. 

You’ll learn how to simplify human emotion with expression sheets and discover valuable insight for creating compelling expressions.




Hurray! You’ve made it to the last lesson! Now you have a solid foundation of the fundamentals of drawing. Well done!!! 

Join Maria in this last video for a quick summary of what you learned and a review of the most important points. As each individual topic could be explored much further, she also includes a reading list of recommended books that you can have a look at. Enjoy!

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About the Instructor

Maria Lia Malandrino
Character Designer, Story Designer & Illustrator
3 courses

Maria is an illustrator and story artist from Turin, Italy. She has a BA degree in Magazine Publishing from the University of the Arts London, has studied Traditional Animation at the International School of Comics in Turin and attended a masterclass in Storyboarding at the online school CGMA.

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Bonus Offer

Frequently Asked Questions

Which courses are included in the Masterclass?

Currently, the Masterclass includes the following 8 pre-recorded courses:

  1. Character Design by Kenneth Anderson
  2. Anatomy & Gestures by Warren Louw
  3. Creature Design by Kenneth Anderson and Loopydave
  4. Environment Design by Michael Bills and Kenneth Anderson
  5. How to draw a cartoon character by Maria Lia Malandrino
  6. Lighting and Shading by Maria Lia Malandrino
  7. Posing for Character Design by Chamba
  8. Creating a Male Superhero by Tom Bancroft (free)

You can see an overview of all 8 here: https://www.21-draw.com/masterclass/illustrator-masterclass/

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Is it online or offline courses? Can I watch on any device?

They are on-demand (pre-recorded) video tutorials that you can watch online to any of your devices (unlimited times), anytime! Therefore you can easily watch (and rewatch) them at your convenience and at your own pace.

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Is this something a beginner artist can follow along & learn from?

Some basic drawing skills are required to fully follow along & learn from the lessons in all our courses. The courses vary in level, and in general are suited for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.

If you are an absolute beginner with no or very little art experience we recommend checking out our books instead.

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Are the courses aimed at digital or traditional art?

Many lessons in our courses work for both digital and traditional art. However, there are a few tutorials where a digital drawing software will come in handy for example Photoshop or Procreate for iPad. But for the majority of lessons it is more about the underlying concepts.

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Is it a one-time payment or a subscription?

It is a one-time payment. No recurring fees, no subscription fees.

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Can I download the courses?

You can download most of the course resources (exercise sheets, assignments, PSD files etc) from the site, but you cannot download the video lessons to your computer.

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How long do I have access to the courses?

With your one-time purchase you have lifetime access to the course(s).

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What happens if I’m not satisfied with the courses?

If for any reason at all you are unhappy with our courses or feel it isn’t helping you improve your drawing skills— then just email us at [email protected] and we’ll be more than happy to give you 100% of your money back within 30 days of your purchase. No questions asked. No excuses. Just a guarantee you can trust.

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Will a certificate of completion be emailed upon finishing a course?

We don’t offer a certificate of completion at the moment but this is something we are looking into.

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Have more questions?

Check out our Knowledgebase where you will find more answers to your questions.

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