portrait life drawing book

Lessons in Masterful Portrait Drawing

5 out of 5 based on 1 customer rating
(1 customer review)

Mau-Kun Yim learned to draw as the Old Masters did and believes that to render the essence of life in portrait drawing, one must continue to pursue the old ways. This philosophy and methodology relies on a holistic approach to observation, analysis and critical-thinking honed through time and patience.

  • Start with a solid foundation – Classical bust drawing is a must. These lessons aid in constructing volume in your drawing and introduce concepts of structure.
  • Move on to sketching – The best way to train your observation skills. Anatomy, value and state of mind are the focus of these lessons.
  • 12 step-by-step tutorials put it all together – Form and spirit combine along with more clearly defined details to bring life and dimension to your portraits.
  • An extensive gallery of beautifully and classically executed portraits, figures, sketches and busts serves as inspiration.


What artists and art educators said about the book:

“Yim’s step by step drawings are extremely valuable visual guides. His words impart detailed instructions about technique, and the philosophies and tenets of classical portrait drawing from Yim’s perspective as an accomplished artist and teacher. Sections such as “Creating a Portrait with Form and Spirit,” emphasize the text is guidance from an artist who had passionately dedicated his life to the subject, and thought deeply about the classical practice of drawing portraits. His drawings beautifully reveal an artist who is comprehensively engaged with capturing the essence of character from his subjects, and mindful of the act of drawing and mark-making.”

Lien Truong, Assistant Professor of Art, Department of Art and Art History, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


“Lessons in Masterful Portrait Drawing is arguably one of the most comprehensive, accessible and informative reference works on head drawing. It is a must for every artist’s collection, especially those seeking a clear foundation in freehand drawing from life, without the use of optical aids. Time and again, this publication is recommended and required reading for my students at Southern Atelier, and has become one of my most gifted books for those who desire to learn authentic methods of drawing portraits from life.

Maukun and Iris Yim are great collaborators in making these classic methods easily accessible to a Western audience. The presentation of Maukun Yim’s beautiful and expressive drawings inspire one to want to immediately begin the process of making art in this grand tradition. I count this as one of the most solid instructional foundations that can lead an artist, whatever their ability, toward the path of mastery in both drawing and painting.”

Charles Miano- Artist, Founder, Director Southern Atelier




“Those of us who have been familiar with the work of Yim Mau Kun* since the publication of the 341 page “Drawings of Yim Mau Kun,” have been waiting for an English version. It was well worth the wait!

This new English edition – 140 pages with 180 illustrations, 61 of which are full page – is a welcome addition to the library of any artist, art student, art teacher, art historian, connoisseur or amateur lover of good drawing. Mau Kun Yim’s presentation of his ideas, philosophy and process of drawing is clear and precise. Any student or artist who chooses to follow what Mau Kun Yim presents to us, will be well rewarded. Mau Kun Yim presents the classical process, taught both in centuries old academies as well as some contemporary schools, that has proven to be invaluable to any artist searching for a clear methodology in achieving convincing yet artistic portraits. The process that Mau Kun Yim presents is equally useful to all forms of drawing: classical, modern, experimental and abstract.

This book will give you direction in advancing your observational skills and guide you in mastering vine or compressed charcoal or graphite. This book is simply a “must have” for any artist or art student.

As an introduction to Yim Mau Kun, for those unfamiliar with his work, we paraphrase Rodin: Yim Mau Kun is an artist and a teacher… he “couldn’t possibly be anything else!” His work can be seen on line in several excellent videos and on his website.”

Jim Smyth

Professor of Drawing, College of San Mateo, San Mateo, CA

Professor of Drawing, Cogswell College, San Jose, CA

Instructor in Drawing and Painting, Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto, CA

Founder International Visual Arts, Palo Alto, CA

Past Master Printer, Appletree Etchers, Inc. San Mateo, CA

Past Instructor in Drawing, Foothill College, Los Altos, CA

Instructor in Anatomical Life Drawing, Pacific Art League, Palo Alto, CA


Editorial review on Artist Network



Editorial review by James Gurney, Author of Color and Light, Imaginative Realism, and Dinotopia



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1 review for Lessons in Masterful Portrait Drawing

  1. 5 out of 5


    This book Lessons in Masterful Portrait Drawing A Classical Approach to Drawing the Head outline all the essential elements and principles you need in mastering the Art of drawing the human head.

    Chapter one covers the fundamental lessons on construction of the head, anatomy, structural concept of form and how to observe the wholeness of the subject.

    Chapter two outlines the systematic approach of drawing the head and teaches how to block-in the subject with simple straight lines and gradually build up the form, features and rendering the head to capture the soul of your subject.

    Chapter three strongly advice the importance of cast drawings and various examples of bust has been demonstrated to reveal the in-depth understanding of Master Mau-Kun Yim.

    Chapter four covers the various demonstration of the head with different methodologies and principles used with text that explains the stages of the working process.

    Chapter five is an open gallery that shows different categories of drawings such as bust studies, sketches, and portraits, using varieties of medium.

    This book is a must for all beginners who are tasty to master classical drawings.
    For advance and intermediate artists, this book will guide them to a successful studies in drawing and also boost their artistic endeavors. And for the professional artists, this book will serve as an additional volume of knowledge to enhance their artistic career.
    I therefore, recommend this book for all level of artists.
    J. K. Aggrey

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