Compare by Measuring

We addressed measuring in the last chapter where we looked at how something can be compared to something else. The same holds true of measuring and comparing the shapes within a subject. Once again, if it is in front of you, whether in a photo or in person, you can measure it. All you need is to choose a baseline, a standard measurement by which all else is measured. Pick something fairly small, with a clearly defined beginning and end, that can be measured with a straight line. Learning to...

The artist used his pencil in tight strokes to create this highly realistic drawing. The man's whiskers were erased (or lifted out) and then defined in pencil, a technique you will learn in this chapter. Graphite on 300-lb. (640gsm) cold-pressed illustration board 21 x 16 (53cm x 41cm) Collection of the artist Chances are you've already tried to draw your favorite subject on your own. If you didn't get the results you were hoping for and you most likely didn't if you bought this book your...

Ing in Patterns

It processes information at an astounding rate, then places that information into a memorized pattern so it makes sense to us in the future. For instance, we learn to recognize letters of the alphabet by memorizing their shapes. Once memorized, these shapes are stored in the brain and recalled when necessary. It is this ability to recall information that prevents you from having to relearn the alphabet every time you sit down to read. The same process applies...

So the Problem Is

Learning to draw involves learning to see. To draw this buffalo, Ken worked from reference photos taken in his native state of Wyoming. Although he already had a keen eye for drawing animals, Ken attended our course on composites to hone his face-drawing skills. Ken MacMillan Graphite on bristol board 9 x 12 (23cm x 30cm) hy haven't you been able to draw up to this point The usual response is that you're not an artist or that you lack the talent. Actually, if you can't draw it's probably...

Whenever I teach my drawing classes, I position the students in a U shape and I stand in the middle of the U. This means whenever I assist a student in her drawing, I'm looking at it upside down. Students are initially convinced that I'm a supremely gifted artist because I can immediately spot the problem in their sketch, despite the view. What they don't realize is that it's often much easier to see something more accurately when it's inverted, or upside down. You're thinking, sure, right,...

E and Squint to See Values

The answer to the age-old question How do you eat an elephant is this One bite at a time. How do you shade a complicated subject One little part at a time. Isolate the individual parts of your drawing and see them as shapes with different values. In spite of the parental admonition that squinting may cause your face to remain in that pose, squinting in art is a rather useful tool. When you squint, edges blur and you are left with lights and darks. Artists know this and often squint at the...

Define With Values Not Lines

In chapter two we learned how the mind places everything into patterns of perception, memorizes those patterns, then uses what's recorded in the mind rather than the reality of what's in front of us. Perceptions are more powerful than facts. And truth be told, most of the lines you draw are a perception, not a fact. Say you are looking at a room painted white. How do you know there are walls and a ceiling After all, they're all white. You might respond by pointing out that they have angles you...

Drawing From Life

I used to do most of my drawing from life rendering the subjects in front of me rather than working from a photo. I wasn't attempting to be artsy, I just didn't own a good camera. One way to draw from life is to draw on location, which the French refer to as plein air drawing. The idea is to hike somewhere with your drawing equipment, sit on the wet ground, swat at bugs, unwittingly find poison ivy, get sunburned and draw a so-so sketch which gets soaked in a sudden monsoon on the way back to...

Drawing Practice

One of the biggest challenges of this piece was drafting and shading a white mug on 9 white background Some of the original lines were left to define the shape and texlure of the subject. Graphite on bristot board i ' * 17' (36cm x 43cm) It you want ro produce realistic dm wings such as the ones you six- in this l*x> k, you will ikxxI r< > practice. And practice. And practice some more. The demonstrations in this chapter will help you do that. Please, however, don't think that loosely...

E Art of Measuring

You already have a basic knowledge of proportion and scale. You know about it because you learned it, and examples of it surround you in your everyday existence. You learned that a cocker spaniel is a very small dog when compared to an Irish wolfhound, but not so small compared to a chihuahua. You learned that you'd better measure the rooms of a new house and all the furniture you'd like to fill them with if you expect everything to fit. You learned that a large milkshake isn't that much bigger...

Ecognize How Shapes Relate

The dictionary defines relate as bringing into logical or natural association for a reference. We have been using a form of relating every time we draw a line next to the subject. We relate the subject to that line. I came to realize that I was using another technique similar to drawing a line for reference I was also using a cir cle for reference. A circle has certain properties that I can count on, much like a line. I can use these properties to help me see to draw. You can use any circular...

Emplates a

You can create a variety of unique effects by making a custom template. Start with a piece of clear acetate, which you can find as transparency sheets or plastic report covers in just about any office supply store. Take a craft knife and cut out the shapes you desire in the sizes you want. Then you can lay the template on your paper and draw or erase the specific shapes through it. You can reuse these templates again and again for countless drawings. Custom templates are incredibly useful for...

Flattening

Having just shown you how to measure something on a two-dimensional photo, let's touch on measuring something on the hoof as it were. The next site technique we'll look at is flattening. What if a fantastic elk stepped out in front of you while you happened to be on a nature hike with your sketchbook This very accommodating elk strikes a pose and holds it long enough for you to sketch him at your leisure. Okay, this scenario may seem a little far-fetched, but you need to know how to work out...

Introduction

So many times I have heard someone throw down the sword make that the pencil and issue this challenge to me Yeah, but you can't teach ME to draw Yes, I can teach you to draw, even if you can't draw a straight line or draw blood with a knife. You're reading this book, which means you've met the only criteria I have a desire to learn. Drawing is a very learnable skill. If you haven't learned to draw, your drawings are weak or some art teacher told you to take up knitting instead, you just haven't...

Iting What You

A photo captures what's there, but artists aren't limited to the photo. Just because a tree is in a certain spot in your picture doesn't mean you need to draw it that way or even draw it at all. Although we emphasize the use of photos, you're not a human copier machine. You can simplify, rearrange, include, exclude, change and exaggerate the various elements of your reference photos to make the drawing you want. You want your drawing to do more than merely record, as a camera does. You want it...

Lesson in a

Among my regular activities I'm a professional speaker, and I sometimes use an illustration to make a point in my presentations. I'll take a clear glass jar and place four or five good-sized stones in it. Then I'll ask the audience if the jar is full. About half the group will say yes the other half will stare at me as if I had sprouted horns. Next I'll add smaller stones, filling the jar further. I'll ask the question again Is the jar full This time seventy-five percent will respond with no,...

Omething to Erase With or Your New Best Friends

Diamonds may be a girl's best friend and a dog may be man's, but an eraser will be yours. Not only can it eliminate your mistakes, but it also comes in handy for executing shading techniques and creating amazing textures. (You'll learn how to do this a little later.) Unlike pencils, erasers are not lined up and cunningly labeled for the shopper's convenience, so you'll need to investigate your options before making a purchase. There is a wide selection of erasers available, each varying in...

Shape

We tend to see shapes around us without really paying attention to them. For example, you use the ability to recognize shapes in order to read and write. Of course, because our mind isn't really paying attention as we read and write, at least not to the shape of the letters, we're not aware of the automatic processing going on. Instead we are focusing on the thoughts and ideas expressed by the words. In a sense, it's the same with drawing. We see the subject a landscape, a face, a group of...

Solate Parts of the Whole

Just as a musician may practice a portion of a melody and a dancer may practice the same movement over and over, an artist often breaks up a subject such as a human figure and draws just the hands, feet or facial expression. Isolating and studying shapes is very important. I don't know how many times I've looked at a drawing or painting that was well shaded and fairly well proportioned, but the trees were badly rendered on a landscape, the eyes were incorrectly drawn on a portrait or the nose...

If you want to become an artist (and look the part ), you must arm yourself with the right tools. Find out exactly what you need, from pencils and erasers to sources of inspiration. Understanding the role your mind plays in drawing and the roadblocks it can throw your way is the first step to becoming a successful artist. Good drawings begin with solid technique. Learn how to make your mark, then how to blend and erase it to make your drawings look realistic. This is just another way of saying...

The Right Stuff

Y ni want to know the first secret to drawing Find the best tools available You have to have the right toys. I laving the proper pencils, paper, erasers and other t< x> ls can make a h'g difference in your art. I'll show you what I prefer, hut I hilly expect you to develop an addiction to trying out new < 1 rawing supplies on your own. Think of it as the chocolate in your art life. In addition to tlx- right supplies, you need sotixthing to draw from. Whether it's a photograph, still life...

An Improve Heres Proof

So you're aware that your filter must be altered to change your perceptions and improve your drawings, but how do you go about doing this After all, our perceptions are so steadfast that they usually don't change unless a significant event occurs. Exactly what will it take to get this stubborn ball rolling into motion, then You guessed it training. Without training, you will probably be discouraged by your own efforts to learn. Any progress you had hoped to make will be stunted by the...

Drawing From Photographs

Once you've rounded up all the essential supplies, where do you find inspiration for your drawing Chances are that long before you picked up your pencil, you knew what you wanted to draw. Maybe you wanted to draw the adorable action of one of your kids or grandkids, the way the sunlight lit up a particular rose in your garden or the swans you saw on the lake during your last vacation. The desire to capture something meaningful and personal to you for all time in a unique expression is the...

Simple Measuring and Enlarging With Photos

The easiest way to measure objects with a baseline is to use a photo. Photos are two dimensional and easy to manipulate with your ruler or measuring tool. Measuring the proportions in your reference photo not only helps ensure that your drawing will be accurate, but it allows you to enlarge your drawing with ease. A simple measuring system works best when the image is, well, simple and consists of mostly straight lines. Take the windows and door of a building, for instance. Since we are dealing...

Easuring Curved Subjects

Measuring objects with straight lines is fairly straightforward, but what happens when you must measure something with curves In my experience I have found that many beginning artists, and a few experienced ones, have a consistent problem drawing curves correctly. Curves can be tough to master. A curve that's too flattened will make something look incorrectly enlarged. Too rounded a curve will squish your drawing. Let's look at two subjects containing curves and use the same technique to...

Acknowledgments

This book started out so well, but Rick and I ended up with a monster of a year. We'd like to gratefully thank the fine folks at North Light Books who were so gracious when we needed it most. Thank you, Pam Wissman, for your wisdom in getting our book proposal through the proposal committee. Thanks to Bethe Ferguson for your support and encouragement. Thank you, Layne Vanover, for the most difficult work of initial editing. A very special thanks and a bottle of something to Stef Laufersweiler,...

Carrie Stuart Parks and Rick Parks met in the romantic hallways of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. They married in 1989 and formed a dynamic and successful team in their forensic and fine art endeavors, developing composite drawings of suspects in major national and international cases, as well as creating exquisite watercolors and stone carvings. They travel across the United States and internationally to teach one-week composite drawing courses to a variety of participants, from large...

I discovered this tool coming home on a long plane trip. A young boy, about ten years old, sat next to me, drawing pictures on a sketchpad. I asked him if he wanted a drawing lesson. He agreed, so I took the magazine I had been reading and found a photo of a lady walking on a windy day. I placed my finger on her head and asked the young man, What shape is this Oval, was his rather smart response. Draw an oval, I said, and he sketched the oval. I placed my finger on the edge of the lady's neck...

Erstanding Perception

One of my favorite poems explains the role perception plays in our lives. In The Everlasting Gospel, William Blake writes This life's five windows of the soul, Distorts the heavens from pole to pole, And leads you to believe a lie, When you see with, not thro', the eye. The five windows Blake refers to are the five senses, the means through which we understand and record the world around us. We call this perception, and like Blake suggests, sometimes our perceptions can lead us astray. However,...

Ew Additional Fun and Very Useful Tools

There are several other items you'll want to purchase for your budding art career. I find the following tools to be indispensable when drawing, and I know you will, too A Ruler, Circle Templates and French Curves If you choose to draw anything architectural or mechanical, such as a building or a B-52 bomber, you can either opt to keep it sketchy or aim for a truly realistic look. For the latter, you will need a few special tools rulers, French curves and circle templates. None of us can draw a...

Contour Drawing WarmUp

One excellent warm-up practice is to do a contour drawing. There are two kinds of contour drawings regular and blind. Both types involve placing your pencil on a piece of paper and not lifting it until the drawing is complete. The idea is that as your eyes are moving across the subject you have chosen, your pencil is moving across the paper in the same manner. How do these two types of contour drawings differ then The answer lies in whether or not you look at your hand while in the process of...

Place to Work

Now you need a place to lay your supplies and go about the business of drawing. A full-size drawing table provides a firm, steady surface and enough room to rest your arm as you draw. The table angles so that your drawing paper is parallel to your eyes, which minimizes the chance for visual distortion as you work. Your pencils, erasers, sharpeners and other tools should be arranged in an uncluttered fashion and made easily accessible for drawing. It helps put you quickly in the mood to draw if...

Compare by Tracing

She doesn't seem to mind the name, which she earned because she is, well, a big fat kitty. This is not a subjective judgment. Objectively, Big Fat Kitty, when compared to the other cats residing with us, is at least ten pounds heavier. It's not unusual for us to compare one thing to another. We use many comparison systems in art as well. Let me share another comparison technique that will help you draw better. Often your brain has trouble pulling one...

Asing Techniques

Although you've been erasing things you have written since at least the first grade, you've probably never truly appreciated it. Sure it can correct mistakes, like lightening a too-dark area, but its use can be so much more deliberate than that. In taking away graphite, an eraser can add tremendous interest to your artwork. My two favorite erasers are the kneaded rubber eraser and the portable electric. If you haven't yet succumbed to the benefits of the...

The ABCs of Drawing

Let's continue with the analogy of reading to address some of the fundamentals of drawing. You first learned the alphabet as a series of shapes. You committed to memory the shapes of twenty-six letters (actually, fifty-two when you count both lowercase and uppercase). You memorized the letters and the sounds they made. You might even have learned by placing the alphabet into a song A-B-C-D and so on (although the letter ellameno took some time to figure out ). Then you combined the letters to...

Something to Draw With

Finding the right pencils to use for your drawings is the first step toward developing your artistic identity. The pencil is, after all, the primary tool of our trade. We can't work without it Though the selection of pencils available in most art stores may overwhelm you at first, you'll get the hang of it in no time. Each pencil is clearly marked and labeled according to the brand and type of graphite, making your shopping adventure that much easier. You'll soon enjoy seeking out the perfect...

Eek to Simplify

Most children find they have the ability to make simple drawings that satisfy them. Popular with this young set are cartoon characters. They often graduate from drawing such animated friends as the Little Mermaid to the exaggerated comic book superheroes. Then nothing. Their art interest often drops off. What happened It could be that football, girls, boys, dances, music and life in general takes over, and they simply move on to other new and exciting pursuits. I suspect that is often the case,...

Combining Photo References

Not only do you have the ability to change what you find in a single photograph, you can combine several photos for a single drawing. After all, trying to photograph a litter of puppies, four little children, or both sets of in-laws who live two thousand miles apart is waaaay too much work. You can also create a composite drawing of family members who have passed away, every dog you've ever owned, or other things that could never be grouped together for a photo. Composite drawings can enhance...

Are of Negative Space

No, this is not a New Age reference to a place with bad vibes. Negative space is the area around and between the positive shapes that you tend to devote most of your attention to when you draw. If I'm drawing my hand, for example, the hand is the positive shape and the spaces between my fingers and around my hand are the negative spaces. Negative space and positive space work together to form the whole of the image. I'll admit that sounds like the most obvious thing in the world. I stated it...

For Accuracy

You've spent quality time with your pencils, established a working relationship with your eraser and finally FINALLY completed your drawing. Congratulations Now, there is still a chance, albeit remote, that your art might not look quite right. Let's talk about checking for accuracy. In the beginning of the book, I introduced the concept of patterns of perception. The mind organizes the items we want to draw into patterns, memorizes those patterns and trots them out when we draw. It is these...

Ging Techniques

To make your drawings look more lifelike, you'll want to blend your pencil strokes for realistic shading. I call this technique smudging. I remember taking a composite drawing class a number of years ago with an accomplished and well-known instructor. He paused at my desk and stared in horror as I smudged my drawing, finally grabbing the offending tool from my hand. Don't smudge he said. You're grinding the graphite into your paper and you'll never be able to erase it He then walked away,...

Encilling Techniques

Drawing is as simple as placing pencil marks on a piece of paper. The selection of drawing marks available to you is as varied and unique as your own handwriting. There are no correct or incorrect marks, only more or less effective ones in meeting your drawing goal. This is not a comprehensive list of marks, only the types we will be using for the illustrations in this book. You can use these marks for creating interesting textures and shading, as well as just plain filling in the spaces of...