Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Article Six - Techniques to Help you "See"

Original article posted on Studio 602 -

Drawing Lessons: Techniques to Help you “See”

Every artist has felt the frustration of getting “stuck” trying to draw the shape of an object.  By abstracting the object, you can disengage the thinking (left side of the brain) and tune into what you are actually seeing (the visual or right side of the brain).  In this section, we are going to practice techniques that can help you “draw” what you “see” and not what you think you see.

Contour Line  

There are a variety of contour line techniques.  Use one or any combination of these to help you see.
  • Blind Contour – draw the object without looking at your paper.
  • Pure Contour – draw the very outline of the object, drawing nothing on the inside.
  • Modified Contour – draw the outline and interior parts without shading.
  • Variable Contour – Vary the width of the contour line to give emphasis and weight to the line.  This creates an “expressive line” and provides depth to the object.
  • Cross Contour – draw lines that would follow across the form, like a topographical map.  This offers clues to identify 3-d form.  The brain needs very few clues to “think” its  3-d.

Gesture Drawing

Use quickly-applied marks to capture the energy and movement of the subject matter or capture the essence of a pose.   While gesture drawing is typically used in figure drawing, it can be used in still-life and landscapes as well.

Value Drawing 

Use only values to identify the shapes of the object, no lines please.

Negative Drawing

Focus your attention and draw the space around the object rather that the object itself (the gray space in the reference image)
  • Use a contour line draw only the area between the objects. (focus your attention on the space between the object.)
  • Use tonal drawing to identify the areas around the object.  Frequently used when rendering a light object against a dark background such as grass or trees.
Abstracting the object – The goal is to force your brain to see lines, shapes and spaces instead of the object as a whole. 
Two simple techniques:
  • Turn the image upside down
  • Look at the image in the mirror
Teach yourself to abstract the object and you can more accurately render the shape.  Disengaging the mind and focusing on the visual representation is your goal.  Ultimately….by abstracting, you can achieve realism.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Article Five - The Importance of Sketching

Drawing Lessons: The Importance of Sketching

Sketching is the fundamental building block for an artist.  It is used to develop a personal visual vocabulary.  Sketches are visual exercises in problem solving and provides the opportunity to:
  • hone your observational skills
  • exercise and develop mark-making skills
  • encourage selectivity
  • experiment with new techniques and expressive possibilities
  • create compositions and various lighting effects
Sometimes sketches are indecipherable to anyone but the artist, nothing more than scribbles.  Other times, they can become a finished artwork.  But most of the time, sketches are just snippets of thoughts or an impression of an idea.   For an artist, sketching is the most uninhibited and free-est form of the creative process.  Sketching is an art form in itself and gives insight into the artist’s soul.  While sketchbook journals are often shared, they can also be kept personal like a diary.

Creativity and Ideas

Ideas are usually fragile and last just fleeting moments.  They occur at anytime and unless written down or sketched, they can dissipate quickly.  Carrying a sketchbook and pencil allows the opportunity to capture these ideas.   Just a few words or a quick sketch is usually enough to capture the thought. Then at a later time, they can be explored, nurtured, and matured to their full artistic potential.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Article Four - Creating Textures

Repost from:
Learn how to add texture to your drawings in this entry into Diane Wright’s drawing lessons series.

Drawing Lessons: Creating Textures

So what is texture?  We touch an object and can feel that it is smooth or rough, but how do we translate what we feel into what we see.  The type of surface and the amount of texture determines the amount of light that is reflected off the surface.
  • Hard surfaces – A hard, smooth surface such as metal or glass is highly reflective.  This means that the light hits more of the surface and bounces off.  This creates sharp, crisp edges and stronger contrasts of light and dark values.
  • Soft surfaces – A soft surface such as cloth or leaves absorb the light, creating smooth transitions between highlights and shadows.
  • Rough surfaces – If the surface is rough, the light hits less of the surface or hits it in less or sporadic areas.  The reflected light is less, making softer variances in values.  But the deeper the dips or crevices, the rougher the texture is.  Rough surfaces like tree bark, have many small ridges that catch the light on the high ridge with a dark shadow behind the ridge, creating stronger variances.
By using the pencil techniques described in Article Two and with a little practice, discovering how to draw textures can become one of the most favorite parts of drawing.  Here are some examples and steps on how to create common landscape object  textures.
Clouds and Skies – Clouds appear soft and cottony.  The sky behind is smooth.  There are three steps to create smooth skies with clouds.
a) Lightly crosshatch with an HB pencil.
b) Blend smooth with the chamois.
c) Erase out the cloud formations with the white eraser

Grass and Weeds – Use a vertical up-down pencil stroke.  With heavier pressure, start at the base of the grass blade then lessen the pressure as you reach the tip of the blade. This creates a tapered line.  Work from the back to front, drawing the shadowed blades, leaving the blades in front lighter.

Water  Use a side-to-side rocking motion to create the impression of water.  The flattened diamond shapes capture the reflection of objects in the water.

Trees and foliage – To create the illusion of tree leaves, use the pencil mark of scribbling to create short, random marks.
The first layer identifies and shapes the leaf bundles.  Draw in the branches that are not hidden by leaves.
Then build additional layers, working from the darkest shadow areas to the lighter leaf areas.
With each layer, add more definition and texture to the leaf bundles.  Use the kneaded eraser to lift off highlights.

Weathered Wood – Draw in the details of the wood grain and knots with a 2B lead.
Then use the flat edge of a chisel point 2H pencil and burnish a smooth light value over the top.
Additional details can be added.
Use the kneaded eraser to lift off highlights.

Combining pencil techniques -  Using a combination of pencil strokes, you can create a texture-rich drawing.  Here is an example.  Small circular strokes were used to create the stonework.  Burnishing a layer over the wood grain details makes weathered wood.  The bell used smooth gradient shading with highlights lifted out with a kneaded eraser.

More Drawing Tips
  • Avoid drawing too light.  Find the darkest area and establish your blacks.  This allows you to use the full range of values from white to black.
  • Work right to left if a lefty, left to right if right-handed.
  • Work background to foreground; top to bottom.
  • Start on the most detailed (focal point) area.  All other areas can then be sketched with less detail.