Drawing for Beginners in 14 Steps
Drawing Is Powerful
Drawing is a powerful impulse humans have followed since the beginning of time.
Children naturally enjoy drawing. Unfortunately, many stop drawing when the results do not measure up with the person’s expectations.
Drawing Skills Are the Foundation of Art Representation
Drawings trains your eye to thoroughly see your subject matter. When you draw something, you really observe it.
Good drawing technique is the foundation of all art forms.
Learning how to draw is like learning the ABCs of artistic representation: knowing how to draw well, opens the doors to becoming a better artist. Unfortunately, no one learns to draw through osmosis, you need to learn by practicing.
The more you practice, the better.
Drawing Tools: Pick Your Tool of Choice and Practice, Practice, Practice.
Thick crayons, no wrapping
14-Step Drawing for the Beginner
- Practice drawing from life, every time you can render real objects or places, skip the photo.
- Don’t worry too much about how it’s going to look; have fun, take chances.
- Always start by drawing lightly and slowly, keep your lines light and thin, easily erasable. Flexibility in the beginning stages of a drawing is crucial.
- If your drawing starts too dark, switch to a harder pencil and keep a light hand.
- Compare, compare, compare. Remember: at the beginning of the drawing we are comparing everything with line whereas at the middle and end of drawing we are comparing everything with tone.
- Your hand can easily smear your drawing and it’s oily. Never place your hand on the paper always keep it above the drawing.
- Break down the drawing act into simple tasks and steps.
- Make the first marks you make on paper very general, broadly placed, but accurate as far as angles and distance. Start drawing the main directions of your subject, you can think of them as the action or governing lines. To better identify these lines, squint your eyes.
- Once you find a governing line, look for patterns, see if it repeats somewhere else on the subject. Some governing lines repeat, others radiate.
- Once you have your main lines down, look for shadow shapes and position them on the drawing.
- If you are drawing with charcoal or graphite, you can work in layers to achieve the lower, or darker, values. In between layers you can seal your work with a workable fixative, to prevent smudges.
- As the drawing develops, move from comparing lines to comparing tones.
- If you stop at this point you have a study of a subject that give you a lot of information already. If you are preparing for a painting, several studies like this in thumbnail format can help plan composition and values of the painting.
- To develop the drawing further, creating volume and depth, tone the large masses and accent some edges with highlights.
Importance of Drawing the Negative Space
The space that is around the represented object is not less important that the object itself, when it comes to artistic representation.
Let’s say you are drawing a wooden chair. The chair itself is considered positive space. The space around and in between its wooden parts, is negative space.
Negative space is an essential part of artistic composition, and should be taken into great consideration when planning an artwork.
No matter the style or technique, every good drawing has proportion, harmony, composition, and tone. Looking both at positive and negative shapes, and keeping comparing to each other, helps a lot.
Importance of Value in Drawing
Value or tone measures the lightness or darkness of a color. The lower the value, the darker the area, the highest value is close to white. On a scale from 0 to 10, 0 is black and 10 is white.
Squinting your eyes helps seeing the values of your subject better and how the different areas relate to each other.
While drawing, keep comparing the lightest value on your drawing with the lightest spot on the object, and adjust the drawing as needed. Similarly, keep comparing the darkest areas as well.
Squint often and keep comparing, assess each area of the drawing in relation the others, to achieve correct value variations. Always keep checking for accuracy. This is a great way to develop drawing and observation skills.
Role of Value in Composition
How you arrange values throughout the picture will determine how the eyes of the viewer move through the composition. Plan your values carefully with thumbnail sketches of your drawing.
Value contrast is very important to define the focal point of the artwork: aim to create have the highest value contrast at your focal point, the most important element in the picture should. That is where the lightest light and the darkest dark should meet.
You can't do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh.— John Singer Sargent
Draw from famous masterpieces by great masters to better understand successful composition.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Robie Benve