The Basics of Drawing

Reader Logo by Richard Collingridge

This is an introduction to a three-part guide about the basics of drawing. The first part concerns form, the second part concerns composition and the third part concerns lighting.

I feel that anyone can draw, and anyone can draw well… It is just down to practice (and sometimes being taught the right techniques).

The best way to practise drawing is to draw from life. You can also draw from photographs but it is harder to grasp the dynamics of an object from a photo so I would recommend drawing from life until you understand the concepts of light, shadow and distance between objects.

The only prerequisite to drawing is that you have the ‘eye’ for it. By this I mean that when (for example) you are copying something and you make a mistake by drawing a line at slightly the wrong angle or an eye that is not parallel to the other, you are able to see your mistake. By identifying the error, you are able to go back in and try and fix it. The more and more you recognise your mistakes and the more and more you attempt to fix them the better you will become at fixing them and eventually you will be able to copy things without making mistakes (or making very few).

When you have been copying things for a while you begin to recognise them and how they work, (this happens more easily when you have been drawing from life as opposed to from a photograph) and gradually you become able to draw objects without reference.

The best way to start is with a pencil, trying to accurately describe the form of an object via line. Then you move onto shading, where you describe form using value, which you can then adapt to painting. Then you start to think of composition. If you can compose an image well, you wont just be making a pretty picture, you will be telling a story with it. The last step is lighting. Lighting can create an atmosphere to influence the viewer in a certain way, which can either make or break your design, so is a very useful tool to understand.

Next month I will write about form and give tips about how do draw some basic things.


Michael J. Kannengieser said...

I'm unlucky enough where I have the desire to draw, paint, and create art, but I lack the ability. My mother was an artist who made wonderful watercolor paintings and drawings and also used her artist's eye to decorate her home beautifully.I did not inherit any of her gifts, but my daughter did that makes me happier than if I was able to draw or paint myself.

Perhaps I'll practice drawing too, as you suggest here. Thank you for the encouragement.

Richard Collingridge said...

Good luck! It really is about practice and a few of those, 'once you get the trick to it, its like second natue' moments!