Do not listen to anyone that tells you drawing cannot be learned. Drawing is a skill that can be learned like riding a bike, driving a car, reading, writing, playing guitar, singing, or playing a sport. Learning drawing skills is simply learning from other artists and spending the required time practicing the skills learned. In this post, you will discover that learning to draw is easier than you thought.
Learning to Draw
For today’s drawing lesson, I would like to talk about an important skill you will want to enhance. It is about observing what you see. You do not need a lot of drawing supplies for this lesson. All you will need is a sketchbook and a pencil. Maybe a cup of coffee or tea would be good. I will be asking you to do a lot of observing today.
Are you ready to start taking your drawings to a new level?
Drawing Tools You Will Find in My Studio
Below is a list of all the materials I use for my drawings. I purchase all of my drawing supplies online at Blick Art Materials.
- Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board Pads 9″ x 12″ Smooth
- Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board Pads 9″ x 12″ Velum
- General’s Factis Magic Black Eraser
- Tombow Mono Zero Refillable Eraser
- Prismacolor Kneaded Rubber Erasers
- Alvin Dry Cleaning Pad
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Learning to Draw – Observing Part 1
Do not be too concerned with drawing a perfect circle. Instead, focus on the placements and proportions of the objects.
These questions will sound elementary, but they are things you should always be thinking about when you are looking at your subject.
- Which object is in front of the other object?
- Which object is taller?
- How much taller is the tallest object?
- Is the smaller object half the size of the larger object, a third of the size, three-quarters of the size, etc.?
- Are both objects the same width?
- How much wider is one object compared to the other object?
- Is one object overlapping another object?
- Which side is the object overlapping?
Now that you have studied the drawing and answered the questions, you are ready to draw what you see.
A large part of a drawing is observing the simplest things.
You could draw the perfect circle and straight lines, but if the objects’ height and width are incorrect, something will look off.
If you are interested in drawing realistic drawings, you must ensure correct proportions.
To be more accurate with my drawings, I use the grid method.
This helps me to break down my subject into smaller sections allowing me to observe the proportions and contour of the subjects. Once the proportions and the contour are correct, I will focus on adding the details.
Now it is time to grab your sketch pad and your pencil.
Draw example A three different times using three different pieces of paper.
After you have finished, look at your drawings and the reference image.
- Do they look the same?
- If they don’t, what is wrong?
- Is the height of the circle correct?
- Is the circle overlapping the rectangle correctly??
- Is the height of the rectangle correct?
Observing the difference between your drawing and the reference image enhances your observing skills.
Let’s take this practice a step further.
After drawing the subject accurately, practice drawing the rectangle first and then adding the circle over the rectangle.
Next, you will want to practice drawing the circle first and then drawing the rectangle behind the circle.
This practice will help you when it is time to draw the negative of the reference image rather than the subject’s contour.
Do not be too concerned about drawing shadows at this point. I will be discoursing light, shadows, and value changes in more detail in the future.
Learning to Draw – Observing Part 2
Let’s take a look at example B.
What is wrong with this example?
You know something looks off but can you identify the problem?
The mind knows how something is supposed to look. If a subject you are looking at is not correct, you will know it. You might not know precisely what the problem is, but you will be able to identify that something is not correct.
Even people who are not artists will be able to tell that something is wrong. They will not be able to explain what it is but will know something is incorrect.
Here is what is wrong with example B:
The shadows are going in opposite directions. This would not happen with natural lighting.
The shadow on the circle is straight. The object will look flat if the shadow does not follow the contour.
Did you notice the shadow following the height of the rectangle? This would not occur unless there is a different object casting a shadow over it.
Learning to Draw – Observing Part 3
The last thing I would like you to do is tell me what wrong with example C is.
In this example, the shadows are both in front of the objects. This would be correct if the light were coming from behind the objects.
However, the shadow of the circle is going to the left, while the shadow of the rectangle is going to the right.
Drawing Basics the Art of Observing
As I have said earlier, drawing is a skill that can be enhanced.
Everyone can put a pencil on a piece of paper.
Everyone can draw straight lines and curves with a bit of practice.
The areas where people struggle are:
- Identifying the light source
- Seeing soft value changes
Your drawings will become more accurate when you become better at observing your subjects.
You should work on this skill every day. It is easier than you think. Just start becoming aware of everything you are looking at throughout the day. Study people’s faces, your pet’s fur, and shadows to identify the light source, the direction of the light, and objects next to other objects. Etc.
Here is another object to observe.
Let’s take a few moments to talk about this mug.
I would first look at the mug’s height and the saucer’s length.
Are they the same?
Is the height of the mug longer or shorter than the length of the saucer?
This can be challenging, and your eyes can play tricks on you. To get an accurate answer, I would use a divider.
Is the top of the mug wider than the bottom of the mug?
Does the bottom of the mug curve in?
At what point does the mug start curving in?
Where does the handle start, and where does it end?
Notice the curve of the handle.
Where is the light coming from?
Notice the shadow.
You can see many things to think about, even if the subject is simple, like a coffee mug.
After today you will be looking at things a little differently. You will be looking through the eyes of an artist. You will notice and study every little detail that most people take advantage of.
The more you practice this daily, the more natural it will become.