Studies have shown that drawing is like many other skills, like riding a bike or driving, that anyone can learn to do. If you are able to sign your name, you can learn to draw! The secret is not talent. While talent can get you far, what truly matters with any skill we wish to master is training and constant practice. Therefore consistency is key!
If you’ve been thinking of taking up this wonderful hobby, here are some essential drawing concepts.
To start off, the very basics of drawing are line, shape, perspective and proportion; and light and shadow. These basic elements are what make up any drawing and without them there would be none. All of these elements are fundamental to the creation of the final artwork, building on each other as you apply them to your drawing. That is, lines will create shapes, shapes will require appropriate proportions and, finally, lights and shadows will give the image depth to round off the complete sum of these elements. At first you will want to consciously notice each of these components, but, with practice, they will become second nature, as you capture them through observational skills without even thinking about it.
Naturally, you will need a pencil to kick things off. If you want to know about my favorite graphite pencils for beginners you can read all about it in this blog post on drawing fabric.
Line, shape perspective and proportion
Now that you have your sheet of paper and pencil ready let’s start drawing. What you’ll want to do first is warm up the hand. Scribble freely on your paper, don’t think too much about it, let it flow naturally. Then practice drawing your basic shapes free-hand (meaning with no ruler). Draw circles, ovals, squares, rectangles and triangles. Fill the whole page with these shapes, and let your hand and wrist get used to the movements required to create them.
The world around us is three-dimensional, yet paper is two-dimensional. Meaning that you will need to start training your brain to see 3-D and think how to convert that visual information into 2-D lines and shapes. Draw even when you are not drawing. When you are waiting in line at the grocery store, when you are exercising or walking your dog, look at your surroundings and think how you would capture that image on paper.
A great exercise to become comfortable with capturing three dimensions on paper is drawing 3-D shapes. You can use anything around the house as a reference or you could even get a small set of blocks which will come in very handy for practice. Draw spheres, cubes, prisms, pyramids, etc. Fill a whole new page with these shapes. When you draw these think about the perspective of each shape. There’s a great blog post on three-point perspective to get you started with the basics of perspective.
Light and shadow
Now shade the shapes you have drawn to represent light and shadow. This will give all your drawings depth and volume, two essential elements of realistic drawings.
Practice light and shadow by arranging different objects (such as fruits, vegetables, cups, or anything else you might have lying around) under a lamp and create a still life composition. Draw these subjects, trying to capture their light and shadows as closely as possible. Keep doing this regularly as practice.
Once you get comfortable with this you can move on to adding textures with these techniques for drawing texture.
- Practice by sketching your surroundings wherever you are: The lose and quick nature of sketches will remove the pressure of getting everything perfectly right for a painting and will become valuable practice time under your belt.
- Draw upside down: Turn both your paper and reference image upside down and draw it this way. This little trick will detach some meaning from the image, and it will trick your brain into drawing what it actually sees instead of what it thinks and assumes is there.
- Look at your drawing through a mirror: The mirrored drawing will serve as a brand new perspective, and it will help you point out any mistakes.
- And finally, enjoy the journey!
Keep growing your passion and unleash your creative energy!
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