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Art Tricks up a Sleeve

Updated on April 2, 2010
Shading Example: 1
Shading Example: 1
Shading Example: 2
Shading Example: 2
Shading Example: 3
Shading Example: 3
Texture Example: 4
Texture Example: 4
Texture Example: 5
Texture Example: 5
Sticks Example: 6
Sticks Example: 6
Head Example: 7
Head Example: 7
Head Example: 8
Head Example: 8

I am not a grand artist. There are many better than myself. However, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve. So if you aspire to be an artist, or are looking for a trick or two for yourself, this is the place for you. There are many books on specific aspects of art, and these tricks have largely been gleaned a little here and a little there. So, no, as amazing as it would be for me to be the one to have discovered these tips, I have just learned them and am rephrasing and condensing them for you.

Trick #1 ~ Shading. In my opinion this is the single greatest tool to help add to a drawing. Shading is the simplest and best way to make a drawing really look three dimensional. Well placed shadows can give depth, show texture, and show more realism.

A. Shading with darkness: As these two drawings show, shading can turn a circle into a ball.

Make sure to keep in mind where the light source is coming from. Take the time and look at a few objects and what kind of shadows they cast.
1. Pencil: When shading with a pencil smudge the shadows a little, this gives them a blended look. See example: 1

2. Pen: When shading with a pen you have to use something like “crosshatching” for shading. Note the following example:

Notice how you can darken or lighten the first panel by how close your lines are to each other.
Also when cross hatching remember to have your lines go with the shape of your object. See example: 2

B. Shading with Light (also known as highlighting): Sometimes there is an advantage to having the entire object shaded, and adding only light spots. Such as example: 3

In this picture the ball has more of a metallic look to it. Many things that are either metallic or darkly colored can be shaded by adding white streaks or dots, better than by shading the object normally.

Trick #2 ~ Texture: When drawing, many times we get caught up in the subject of the drawing and let details slip between the cracks. If you look at some of the truly great artists throughout history, you will see that they had mastered this trick--even to the point of adding dust to the air in a ray of sunshine coming through a window, drawing the splinters on a wooden floor, the fibers of a felt hat. They knew textures in and out. On a much smaller scale there are a few things to look for.
A. Wrinkles: When drawing clothes, make sure to keep an eye on the wrinkles. This is a very simple thing but can add a great deal of depth to a picture, such as example: 4

This may just be advice for people who are looking to draw things out of their heads or imagination, but it is a good thing to watch for.


B. Be Complicated: Look for opportunities to add texture, especially in your background. See the difference between the two trees? Example: 5

Look for the opportunity to add bark to a tree, flowers to a field, twigs to a branch, wood grain, reflections in a shiny object, the texture of a carpet, everything has texture be creative with how you show it.

Trick #3 ~ Stick Figures: For those that are drawing people this is an essential trick. Many times people stop drawing stick figures when they upgrade from crayons to colored pencils. This is a tragedy. When drawing people you can make your sketches infinitely better if you first perfect your stick figures. Look at a person and draw them as a stick figure. Learn the proportions between head and trunk, arms and waste, thighs and shins.


A. Practice small, and often: There are a hundred ways to get the proportions right on a stick figure, find the one that works best for you, but better than that, just draw. Scribble in the margins of notebooks, backs of agenda sheets, anything you have. This will give you a good foundation for later, and keeps you from having to scrap a nearly completed sketch because you realized they look like a candy apple, or they have ape like arms. See examples 6

B. The Head: Often the human head is largely the focus of most sketches or drawings. Thus it needs to be an artist’s strong point. Practice drawing heads without hair. Get the shape first, then you can learn to flesh it out later. Once you have your upside-down-eggish head drawn, draw a curved line horizontally at the halfway point of the head. This is your eye line. Add another line halfway between the chin and eye line. This is the line for the bottom of the nose. On a side note the ears start at the eye line, curve up and then come down to the nose line. The mouth line is a little trickier as it is drawn 1/3 of the way between the chin and the eye line.See Example: 7
The profile of a head is shaped much differently looking much like example:8

Again the proportions apply.

Well, for now this is Judah bidding you all good luck and
farewell.

“May you be in heaven three days, before the devil knows you are dead.”

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    • waynet profile image

      Wayne Tully 

      8 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

      Great stuff, this is basic art stuff, but an excellent art page to help those artists out there. well done!

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