Drawing Techniques

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With drawing techniques, our ultimate goal is to create harmonious, balanced, deeply admired original artworks that come from our inner-soul and imagination.  To achieve this goal there needs to be some degree of control over the process.  To expect to be able to “just let go” and it happens naturally without thought or planning is very rare indeed.  If you watch an artist drawing or painting you may feel that they were born with the ability to “just know how to draw things”.  This is far from the truth. They will be observing, comparing, cross-referencing and calling on all their learned drawing techniques and experience as they work.  Many folks think that you are either born with the skills to draw or paint, or somehow you “missed out”, however, I am happy to inform you that making great art is a very learnable skill and within the reach of everyone who desires to learn the techniques and develop the skills required.  Just as you learned to write, drive a car, play a musical instrument, learning to draw and paint is a learned skill.     Provided you have the desire and perseverance, I can help you draw and paint to a high level.

Whether we wish to create graphite drawings, paintings, or other, firstly, we must come up with the idea or subject matter we desire to draw.  Our ideas will come from 1) observation, 2) memory, or 3) imagination.  Once we decide what subject we want to depict, we will need to find further knowledge and information on the subject to develop the idea into a finished artwork.  Rarely are we able to hold all the details of what it is we are drawing or painting  in our memory, unless you have built up a memory of this object by drawing it previously   For example, I know dogs extremely well, owning 3 myself, however, I couldn’t sit down and draw a realistic dog without looking at the actual muscle shapes, skeletal, fur, facial details, etc to make it an accurate drawing.  I may choose to draw my dog from life (if he sat still long enough and I was speedy), however, by taking a photo I can work from the photo and take as long as I want.  This photo or extra information is what we call reference material and almost all realistic artists work from reference material.  Sometimes it’s a single photo but may also be a combination of several photos.   We may also supplement this with a sketch of our pet from life.  More to get the overall feel of the dog rather than a likeness.

We are not limited to just copying the photo.  We can take from the photo or photos what it is we truly need, so for example, I may need to copy the dog, but then I am free to bring in other elements into the background that I may have taken from other photo/s. If for example, I want my dog to be standing on a jetty at the beach, I can seek out photos of jetties, or better still take a trip to my local waterway and photograph my jetty in just the right place, and add it to my painting.   Sometimes the dog may not be in the best position in my photo, for example, he may be right in the middle, and I can “move” him to a more suitable place in my painting.  So, you can see that you can take the different elements and combine them to make your art your own.  In fact, I believe your painting should start off where the photo finishes and we can alter anything in the photograph for a better artwork.

One way of drawing better immediately is by using what we call the “Construction Drawing” method.  This is using Basic shapes or a combination of shapes.    This is based on the knowledge that everything in the world, especially man-made objects are made up of the four basic shapes, or variations of them.

The 4 basic shapes are:  The square or cube, (think refrigerator, car, camera building) the circle or sphere (apple, flower, clock, basketball) the rectangle or cylinder (cups, jug, bottle pencil) and the triangle (or cone). Sometimes they may be easy to see as a cube (cardboard box) or more complex and made up of multiple shapes that take more of a practiced eye.   A wine bottle, for example, is just a cylinder with a cone on the top.  Take a look around and see how many of these you can see.

Once you can see the basic shapes and can combine them together your artwork can be turned into three-dimensional objects just through the illusion of line.

Before you know it, you will be drawing your dog or other chosen subject matter simply by combining appropriately sized shapes.

This is a great way to draw because:

  • It helps to create more accurate drawings in a shorter period of time.
  • It helps you to draw more subject matter than you originally thought possible.
  • Prevents you from running out of space on your page before you’ve finished your drawing.
  • Saves you time by only having to erase or correct the large simple shapes and not hours of time-consuming detail work
  • The ability to draw with more freedom and expression in your work.
  • It helps you draw from imagination as well as real-life objects.
  • It gives balance, unity, and expression to your art.
  • It helps you achieve a more professional looking drawing.
  • Breaks your reference information into manageable pieces instead of trying to digest the entire outline information in one go.

One of the difficulties people face when trying to draw, is they try to start at one point and draw the entire outline in one go.    This will never work, and using the construction method is one great way of drawing more accurately immediately.

This is just one of the many drawing techniques we teach in the beginners drawing classes.  We will show you how to draw well within a few short hours in our Complete Drawing and Painting Certificate Course.