Drawing for the Absolute Beginner by Mark and Mary Willenbrink

A Clear and Easy Guide to Successful Drawing

It would be useful to practise what you have learnt and not just be a passive reader. The exercises should be practised. You will need materials like a sketch pad etc. An angle ruler and a drawing board will be useful. Life drawing is possible. Charcoal has a soft feel but can provide darker colours. H and B refers to Hard and Soft. 8B pencils are very dark, but very soft as well. This means they require more sharpening than usual. Use pencils with wood surrounding the core. The range goes from 8H to H, and then from HB to 8B. You can sharpen by using a sharpener or carve using a craft-knife and sandpaper. Using a craft-knife will ensure that more of the pencil’s core will be exposed. Buy sketch paper. Use at least an A4 sized paper. Light and dark effects are achieved by applying pressure to the paper. Tracing paper and masking tape can be used for accurate sketching. Use the kneaded eraser sparingly. Use pressing action instead of rubbing actions. Do not use the eraser at the end of your paper. You can use rulers, triangle, T-square, angle-ruler, dividers, and proportional dividers to help you. For graphite drawings, a fixative is not necessary.

Sketching and Drawing. A sketch is basically more rough and will eventually lead to a completed piece, a drawing. Try to master a sketch before moving on to a drawing. There are 4 types: structural line; value; black-and-white; contour. Draw horizontal lines across the subject to guide you. Figure out the different pencil grips which you can use. For instance, to create thick lines etc. For thin, controlled lines, hold it like a normal pen. For long arching lines, hold out the pencil at length. A structural sketch can be used too. Learn to focus on the basic form. Sketch the basic form and structures, followed by adding structural lines. Value sketches means do not use the basic sketching lines but only focus on the light and dark areas. Use different layers of shading in order to darken the areas. An erasing shield is useful. Define form through light and shadow as compared to lines. For black and white sketching, follow the value sketching closely, but ignore all the middle values. Contour sketching is using 1 continuous line only. Do not lift up the pencil while drawing at all. One can use combined approaches for a finished drawing.

Examine the Principles of Good Drawing. Observation is very important in good drawing. Observe basic proportions, values etc. Draw a few basic shapes and put it down on paper first. Focus on where to place the main compositions of the sketch. Look out for basic shapes (circles, squares, triangles etc). Later, erase those basic shape lines. Gauging proportions (height, length, depth) is crucial. You can use dividers to help you on this task. You do not need to be 100% accurate. You can gauge proportions with a pencil, but make sure your arm is fully extended. For angels, close one eye, and extend your hand to get the correct angle. Later, transfer the correct angle onto your paper. It is also possible to work from reference materials. For difficult objects, you can use tracing paper. For linear perspective, establish a horizontal line. Vanishing points are where parallel lines converge. Whose vantage point are you looking from? Try to draw from a normal vantage point, as this will be easier. If the object is elevated or below surface level, draw the lines to the vanishing point. Depth is expressed by size; depth is expressed by obscurity; depth is expressed by convergence. Use value to create depth. The darker the object, the chances are that it is closer to us. Note that an ellipse doesn’t have a pointed end. Drawing of arches, reflections etc all require a different technique. Understand the difference between a smooth and a rough surface.

Values. These are the degrees of light and dark in a drawing. Learn to observe the light. Contrast can affect the mood and composition. Value contrast helps to create impact. Use a value scale if you do not know to judge value well. You can use individual lines, back-and-forth lines, staggered lines, cross-hatching or even back and forth cross-hatching. Hard pencils are better for neat and crisp line work. Replicate light effects. Know where the light source is coming and then what sort of shadow it casts. A highlight on the object will appear as a bright spot. You need to focus on the reflected light. Placing a light below a subject will make him look scary. Learn how to ploy shadows to create that realistic effect.

Practise the Technique. Challenge to draw things/objects outside your comfort zone so that you can improve. Use HB for light or medium values. You can consider drawing clouds or even grass. Look at clouds in sunlight. Stormy days are good for drawing clouds. Use back and forth lines when drawing tree leaves. When you have the skill, you can draw anything you want. Your lines must show the grain of the wood. Map out the light and dark of rocks. Add shadow and shading. Learn to draw trains or steam engines too. You can also draw things like automobiles. Remember to have uniformed pencil lines to create a smooth, metallic look for the car’s surface. One can practise drawing animals, like a cat or something. Besides a frontal view, you can also draw a side view of an animal. Make the fur look textured. Other possible animals are like a cow, swan, full human body. For general facial proportions, please measure them accurately. Learn to draw a curved view too. Learn to draw a side-view of a human as well. When drawing the elderly, draw the ears and nose longer, the chin longer, and make noticeable wrinkles. For a child, their forehead is bigger and features less noticeable. Women’s ears, nose, jawline are usually smaller and more delicate.

Composition. Composition is about the arrangement of elements in the artwork. Asymmetrical composition can be useful as it makes your drawing seem neutral. Use a grid to make your drawings look slightly off-centre. Odd number of elements can make the picture seem more interesting. Learn to use your fingers to crop the image and only include what is exciting. Diagonal lines can create a sensing of adventure. Learn how to use good leading lines. Learn to draw still life. Learn how to draw textured metal.



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