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Fantasy Art Tutorials in the FARP Section

A Diary of Learning Drawing Techniques

By :-) Gayle M. Bird

This article will consist of several basic drawing techniques I learn from the two traditional drawing courses included in my multimedia program (cartooning and life drawing), written as I learn them. I hope they become useful to someone. All of these drawings have been done in pencil, mostly a 2B Derwent sketching pencil with a thick lead for laying down tone, and mostly on coquille paper, a nice thick paper with a wonderful texture.


Atmospheric Perspective

September 9, 1998
This is a technique used by artists to present a third plane on a 2D surface. Namely, you darken the area around the subject of your piece, creating a 'hole' behind it, thereby pushing the subject forward.

   I had several things to deal with in this picture, first of which was how to use tone: as local color, as definition of form through a single light source, as tonal perspective, or atmospheric perspective?!? I settled on a combination of them all, not the most intelligent thing to try right away. In any case, you can see how by making the background seem to recede through tone the puppy pops into the foreground of the picture. This plush puppy was a dark brown color, but if I'd made him dark, then the contrast between him and the background would cease to exist and the whole picture would be grayed out. As a matter of fact, that is what I did, but after the instructor pointed it out I rolled my kneaded eraser into a smooth 'snake' and lightly rolled it over the puppy. After that, there was no problemo! :)

   To be most effective, a picture need contrast. The atmosphere is darkest at corners of the object, such as between his paws and his jacket, or behind his ear; and it lightens towards the edge of the picture. This is what creates that 'hole' I spoke of, which the puppy now seems to be sitting in front of. You can also slightly darken the 'hole' at places where the subject is light at the edges, but don't go overboard!

plush puppy


Use Tone to Represent Depth

September 16, 1998
Another technique meant to represent a third dimension. :) Basically, things that are further away in your subject, appear slightly darker than those in front. If your subject is at a three-quarter view, for example, the arm [or leg -- or wing!] furthest from you would have a block of tone to 'push it back' from the torso, darkest right next to the object in front.

   For this angel, I totally obliterated her bottom half for several reasons: One, it's in shadow due to the pic's slightly overhead, centered light source; two, it's behind the legs and needed to be pushed back; and three, I wanted the angel to be naked but I didn't want it to be pornographic! :) You can also see where I pushed her arms back from her legs by making them slightly darker at overlap, and the feathers become darker as they recede. (Or do they recede as they become darker!?) sad, sad angel

   You have to remember that this use of tone is separate from using tone to define an object from a single light source, although all the tehniques here can be used in conjunction.


Use a Single Light Source

September 30, 1998
Oftentimes, the best way to define the shape of an object is through the lighting. Lighting is very, very important to an artwork. The simplest way to light a picture is with one source. More light sources, such as ambient lighting or spotlighting, start to become very complicated, and the subject isn't needed here.

   On the picture of the elf below, my light source was on the upper left. You can see how the 'shadows' and tone reflects this, falling on the lower right of objects and defining the shape of them. When drawing cast shadows, don't draw them in the shape of the object which cast them, but in the shape of what they are falling on, as the shadow of the elf on the rock does.

    In this picture, there was a small amount of ambient light -- you can see the stone reflected on her backside slightly. This was also done to distinguish the dress from the depresssion in the rock. The shadows on her face follow generally the contours of the skull beneath. Try this technique with anything you wish -- but try it! Elf on a rock with 2 butterfly fairies

Book recommendations
   Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Edwards uses the latest in brain research to explain how anyone can learn to draw more accurately and creatively. This edition contains a new illustrated section in color, several fully revised chapters, new sample drawings, and a new section on handwriting.
[More info!]

In association with Amazon.com

FARP Article Guestbook

26 Oct 200645 Ilena Gecan
What's with the artistic snobbery going on here? This is a good, clear general description for using tone in drawing.
11 Nov 200645 Anonymous
It is a great idea to give people the opportunity to learn how to draw, especially when the tutorial is free,

keep up the gud work
7 Feb 200745 Cheeses christ (again)
Being as you are interested in drawing take a look at deviantart.Com
its pretty darn good!
7 Feb 200745 Cheeses christ
Hmm...This was mostly common sense. May be you should add that it is absolutely beginner.
2 Jun 200745 Giotto
Actually, this is a very bad tutorial. Sorry to hurt your feelings, and you're probably more skilled now than when you made this, but its VERY incorrect. To start with, your description of aerial perspective is.... well, terrible. Aerial perspective has to do with the fact that as an object recedes in space, its tone becomes more "washed out" and closer to grey. It is traditionally used in landscapes primarily. As for the other two types of 'shading', they're not much better. Perhaps you should learn to render before writing a tutorial on rendering.
Don't feel bad, just keep working and eventually you'll get it. We all have to start somewhere(some worse than others).
29 Jul 200745 Chris <chrishayden25@
Is there anyone out the with a good drawing / sketch of a sad / unhappy angel i've looked all over the internet and can't find the one i want. I'm wanting a tattoo for a good reason and this is what i need so if anyone has on can you email it to me please chrishayden25@hotmail.Com

thanks much appreciated

28 Mar 200845 Sneakey sneakey
like the weaping angel
23 Feb 200945 David
i like the drawings i been drawing all my life and i think i got a natural talent but i still need alot more practice!!
23 Jun 200945 Anon.
This is a really talented drawing,you should be proud of yourself.The angel is a great drawing,it show emotion and has a great detail
13 Oct 2009:-) Eloise Leolie Bowdler
Great tutorial ! ! ! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your lessons. I have learnt something new and am really enjoying this.
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