Drawing isn't rocket science. You don't need to have an advanced degree to be able to sketch interesting and compelling characters and drawings. You just need to know how to start with some simple shapes — circles, squares, triangles, and rectangles — and then build on them. These shapes translate into basic cartoon designs and forms — like heads, bodies, and buildings — when you put them together. Everything you draw is essentially based on simple shapes.

After you master simple shapes and the different ways they can be put together, you'll be better able to understand more complex things like perspective. Get a feel for drawing shapes so you can draw and manipulate them easily and have fun doing it.

After you feel comfortable drawing basic shapes, you can start to turn them into more complex objects and give them dimension. In real life, when you look at an object, you see it in three dimensions, meaning you can see some part of the front, side, and top, all at the same time. (If you see more than three sides, you're either looking in a mirror or you're an alien with more than two eyes!)

For example, start with a square, or box. A simple square appears flat (as in Figure 4-1), which is okay for some objects you draw, but not for others. (Most of the time, you want your basic square to have a three-dimensional look.)

Figure 4-1:

This square appears flat and one-dimensional.

If you want to draw a television, for instance, drawing a flat square shape doesn't give you a realistic look (see Figure 4-2).

Figure 4-2:

The TV looks flat and one-dimensional.

Figure 4-2:

The TV looks flat and one-dimensional.

To draw a three-dimensional box shape, follow these steps:

1. Draw a box shape approximately 3 x 3 inches in diameter (see Figure 4-3a).

2. Draw another box shape that overlaps the first box, as in Figure 4-3b.

Figure 4-3:

Start your three-dimensional box with two overlapping squares.

Figure 4-3:

Start your three-dimensional box with two overlapping squares.

3. Connect each corner of the first box diagonally to each corresponding corner of the second box, like in Figure 4-4a.

Now you have a three-dimensional box!

Figure 4-4:

Your transparent box has turned into a solid cube.

Figure 4-4:

Your transparent box has turned into a solid cube.

4. Erase all the inside lines on the front, top, and side of the box (refer to Figure 4-4b).

Erase the inside lines and your framed cube suddenly becomes a solid object. This is necessary if the object you're drawing is actually solid, like a TV for example. If you don't erase the lines, the object appears like a frame you can see through, and it won't be a solid object.

5. After you have a solid box to work with, you can make it into any number of objects.

One classic boxed-shaped object is a TV. To turn your box into a TV, draw a smaller square shape inside the front of the box cube to create your TV screen.

6. Add the finishing details to make it look like a TV.

Next to the TV screen, add a few knobs and a long rectangle to represent the speaker, as in Figure 4-5.

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Learn to sketch by working through these quick, simple lessons. This Learn to Sketch course will help you learn to draw what you see and develop your skills.

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