Drawing is a fundamental skill for
artists, emphasis on "skill." That means there are basic
drawing rules and approaches that work, including these six tips on how to draw
1. Start by drawing shapes, not identifiable objects.
|Delmonico Building by Charles Sheeler,
1926, lithograph drawing. Adapted from an article by
M. Stephen Doherty.
You'll hear this advice over and over again in art classes and workshops. To understand what it really means, think about the way children draw faces. They know that a face has two eyes, two ears, a centered nose, and two lips. No matter how the person facing them is posed, children will insist on including all the features, even if they can only see one eye, one ear, and a protruding nose. They draw what they know, not what they see. To some extent, adults do exactly the same thing.
the negative shapes as much as you do the positive shapes. Students often find it difficult to determine how to draw an
arm that extends away from a model's body or the distance between two objects
sitting on a table. The way to do that is to imagine that the "negative space,"
or the open space between the model's body and her arm, is a solid object with
a height, width, and length. The same technique can be used when trying to
determine how far one building is from another or how high a head is above a
model's shoulders. It helps to deal with the negative space in the same way you
deal with the positive shapes.
and draw the lines you can't see in order to draw the visible lines
accurately. Sometimes the best way to draw
something that is partially concealed from your view is to continue the
lines as if you could actually see it. For example, if you want to
determine the curvature of a bowl filled with fruit, draw the complete
circular top as if the bowl were empty, and then erase the sections that
are obstructed. And if you want to know how far a leg extends beyond a
person's waistline, drop an imaginary plumb line from the waist to the
floor, and then evaluate the shape of the triangle formed by the leg,
floor, and plumb line.
connected shapes, not disconnected shapes. It's very difficult to calculate how far a person's
head is from the bottom of his or her feet, the distance from one ear to
the other, or the distance from a far tree to one in the foreground unless
you draw all the shapes in between. That is, after guessing at the total
height of a standing figure and establishing a scale for the drawing so
that it fits on the sheet of paper, work your way down from the head to
the shoulders, from there to the waist, on to the knees, etc, so that
you can judge each shape in relationship to the others.
||Boxer by Charles Demuth, drawing.
light guidelines between shapes to better judge the distances between
Artist Robert Liberace
recommends to start by making very light, straight lines between all the component
parts of the figure or still life objects to guide your hand as you begin
to refine a drawing. Then gradually add more lines using Conté crayons,
graphite, charcoal, or colored pencils to darken the edges of
the shapes and the shadow patterns in between.
by drawing the lightest values and build to the darkest. Most artists find that it makes sense to gradually
build from the lightest areas of their drawings to the darkest so they
have an opportunity to make adjustments along the way without damaging the
surface of the paper or creating ugly smudges where they have erased
For more drawing ideas and tips, think
about adding Stan Prokopenko's DVDs--Figure Drawing Fundamentals and Portrait Drawing Fundamentals--to your art-resource library. You'll discover this artist-instructor's unique
methods on viewing your subject and creating drawings that resonate with the
portrait drawings done by the Old Masters and Impressionists alike. Enjoy!