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.
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!
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!?)
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!
| ||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.