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Improving Drawing Skills for Jewelry Designers

Updated on June 22, 2017
Gayle Dowell profile image

Gayle Dowell is a jewelry and watercolor artist. She currently teaches art to a homeschool co-op highschool class.

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.

Draw Better
Draw Better

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.

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.

drawing better jewelry designs
drawing better jewelry designs


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.

Have Specific Questions about the Book?

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    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks so much for getting back to me on this, Gayle! I, too, and glad you found my comment. (I can't figure out why quite a few perfectly legitimate comments without any apparent trigger words seem to get filtered as spam here.) I'll check out the clearer video of the iPad edition you uploaded (thank you!) before I make a decision on the format. Like you, I have a preference for print books, although I finally broke down and bought myself a Kindle Paperwhite a few months ago so I could take a nice selection of books with me on vacation without having to carry them all and I'm surprised by how much I like it. That Kingman turquoise cab of yours is an absolute knockout! I hope you'll share a photo of the finished piece when it's ready. :)

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 3 years ago from Kansas

      For some reason, your comment was in my spam folder. So glad you mentioned on the facebook group about checking for spam or I would not have seen this. I'm thankful you asked about the iPad version over the print. I realized that I uploaded the wrong video when I was fixing my videos through the transfer from Squidoo. I have now uploaded the right video that shows the iPad version more clearly. The iPad version does have some video showing the progression of some drawings, but it really can be seen in the book as well through the photos. I tend to prefer the print version of any book over an electronic version, but that is just me and my love of books.

      Thank you for the compliment on the sketch. The large stone is kingman turquoise, and the smaller stone is moonstone.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Gayle, this is a skill set I really need to acquire (so much to learn, so little time...). I clicked on the Amazon link to Draw Better but only saw the paperback version. I love the idea of additional features for iPad, but I don't have a full-size iPad, just an iPad Mini. Do you think it's worth getting the iPad version vs. the paperback edition? Gorgeous cabochon and a great sketch! Do you know what type of stone it is? Thanks for another helpful and informative article!