Improving Drawing Skills for Jewelry Designers
Using Draw Better by Dominique Audette
One thing I've found helpful with my jewelry making, now that I'm moving into metalsmithing, is good drawing skills. To be able to design on paper before I ever pick up my saw or hammer has money saving benefits. Waste of silver and other precious metals or stones can be costly to my small jewelry business. The more planning that I can do beforehand in the design process, the more money I'll save myself in the end.
I've been fortunate enough to have a degree in Mechanical Design Technology from Oklahoma State University. I took several technical drawing and design classes that have benefitted me greatly now that I'm creating jewelry. If you have not been as fortunate to have training in technical drawing techniques, the book, Draw Better by Dominique Audette, will help you to establish an understanding for drawing geometrical shapes and forms from different perspectives.
Photo by Gayle Dowell
Draw Better - by Dominique Audette
Draw Better by Dominique Audette targets the general population of people seeking to improve their drawing skills. I see it as a great resource for jewelry artists to gain design skills that will not only save them money, but also improve their designs.
The book emphasizes breaking up the subject being drawn into basic geometric shapes. It is strong on visual examples and for the visual learner like myself, the concepts are easily grasped through the drawings provided. There are brief captions explaining the concepts as well. These concepts can be used to build designs for pendants, rings, earrings and other pieces of jewelry.
Great resource for improving or establishing good drawing skills.
Preview of Draw Better by Dominique Audette for iPad
If you have an iPad, the preview below gives you an idea of the contents of the book along with the added features for the iPad. The print version of the books is the same in content.
Drawing Tools for Technical Drawing - Tools that will make drawing easier!
The first tools I would recommend for use in drawing jewelry designs are drafting templates. You can get templates to draw circles, ellipses, squares, rectangles, curves and many other designs. I would highly suggest starting with circle or ellipse templates. Most squares and rectangles can be measured and drawn with a straight edge, but nothing beats being able to draw a perfect circle or ellipse with a template. The book, Draw Better, is focused mainly on developing your hand-drawing skills, so it does not have information on using templates, but templates can easily be integrated into the drawings shown in the book.
Another tool I would recommend is a pad of gridded paper. Gridded paper comes in different varieties. I suggest getting one that has major division of one inch increments and then those inch increments are subdivided into 4 or 8 units per one inch. That way you have 1/4" or 1/8" increments. It makes for easy measuring, and I am all for easy.
Along the lines of the circle or ellipse template is a set of French curves. A French curve is much like a ruler is for straight lines. A French curve allows graceful lines to be draw over and over very easily. Just place the curve down and draw around the desired section for the curve wanted.
This is my favorite gridded paper. Comes in 8 x 8 cross section or you can also get 4 x 4. Each major inch grid is darkened to easily see those increments. Blue lines so if you make a copy the grid lines do not transfer to the copy.
Staedtler has a good line of templates. This one has a good range of circle sizes that would be of use to a jewelry designer.
Sketching My Jewelry Designs
I first start out with rough sketches to get the idea down on paper. I usually do sketches in an idea sketch book, but most of the time it is on a napkin, a sticky note, or an old envelope, whatever I can find handy to quickly jot down my idea.
After my initial rough sketch, I will draw a better sketch to scale. Outlined below is my process for the better sketch. Many times, if I have carefully thought out my design, this sketch is all I need to get started.
1. In designing a pendant with a stone, I will first, if the stone is a cabochon, place it down and centered in a square on gridded paper. I will then trace around my stone so that I can design my pendant around the stone. The stone will be my focal point in which all other elements in the design will support or draw attention to.
2. From there, since it is centered in a grid, I can easily use the lines in the grid to draw symmetrically around the stone.