One disadvantage of studying art online, is that as well as buying all of your regular art supplies such as paints, canvases etc, you also have to buy the reference material that would normally be provided by an art school.
One thing that I’ve found most difficult to find at a reasonable price is plaster casts, which are commonly used in art ateliers for drawing practice.
Example of a drawing cast
The course I’m doing lists several sources of plaster casts, but since it’s based in America, most of the sources are US based, and the cost of shipping a heavy across the Atlantic can almost double the cost of some casts.
I spent a long time on Google scouring the UK for any suppliers who might be able to provide me with a plaster cast for a reasonable price. I only found three suppliers based in the UK, but there is a German supplier who is very reasonable, and there are some online alternatives which you might consider.
Here’s my roundup of the suppliers I found, as well as the American ones, which you may consider if you have the budget for it.
Plaster Cast Suppliers
London Atelier of Representational Art (LARA) – LARA have a variety of different sized casts, busts and reliefs, ranging from £45 for facial features to £195 for full torso casts. The casts are not listed on their website, but I emailed the school and they sent me photos of what they had available, and they look like they are great quality.
Lavender Hill Studios – Lavender Hill have a large selection on their website, but when I emailed, they only had five available, ranging from £120 to £285, and the quality of the casts didn’t look as good as the ones from LARA. Worth emailing for details though.
Plaster Cast Interiors – There’s a wide range of weird and wonderful plaster casts available here. Not so many classical art type casts, but you might find something suitable and the prices are very reasonable. Make sure you order the plain white finish.
Cast-Drawing.com – Based in Germany, this is where I ordered my first cast from, due to the very low price. They also sell Nitram charcoal, which is supposedly one of the best kinds you can get, and it’s also very reasonable. Casts range from just 7 Euros to 23 Euros. The female torso doesn’t look amazing, but it would definitely work for cast drawing practice.
There’s a lot more to choose from in the US, you just need to watch out for the shipping costs.
Giust Gallery – These are great quality casts, and a great selection, where you can pay anything from $15 to over $4000, depending on your needs.
Philippe Faraut – These are also very nice casts, although the selection is more limited. I intend to buy either the male or female torso at some point, although the shipping cost is almost as much as the casts themselves.
Statue.com – A wide selection here at a variety of price points.
Utrecht – A small selection here, but what they do have looks like good quality and the prices are reasonable.
Fine Art Store – Another alternative, with some reasonably priced casts.
If you’re on a really tight budget and can’t afford any of the casts from these suppliers, you might want to look into online photo references.
This is definitely not ideal, as photos can’t portray the subtleties of real life, and some information will be lost, but if this is all you can afford, then it’s better than nothing.
Online Life Drawing now has cast drawing reference images, which you can view from all angles, giving you many different poses to draw from. A 2-day pass is just $5, but currently the cast drawing selection seems limited. Might be worth emailing them to see what they have available.
EnsoMobile is an iPhone app which also features 360 degree plaster cast images. The apps are only $0.99 each, so this is a very affordable option.
Learning Cast Drawing
If you want to learn how to do cast drawing, there is a great book called Cast Drawing Using the Sight-Size Approach, which has been a big help to me.
I hope this has been of some use in your search for drawing casts. If you know of any other good sources which I have missed, especially in the UK, please let us know about it in the comments below.