The Facets of Form

As we lead up to drawing the human head and figure in subsequent chapters, which can be intimidating subjects for the student because of their complexity, here are some ideas that will help you break down objects into simplified facets. Notice how the addition of gradated tone impacts a greater level or realism to the object.

As an exercise, try rendering basic objects like the pot pictured below as a series of planes. As you gain confidence, move on to more complicated forms such as a shell, plant, hand or even a human face.

As seen in the examples in this section, you can break any object down into simplified facets or planes. You can see in this drawing of the pot (a) that, just by drawing the lines that indicate the planes, the illusion of three-dimensionality becomes much stronger.

If you consider the nature of the form that you want to draw and the direction of the light source, you can create a series of planes. These planes can depict the form as increments of gradated tone across the surface of an object, as in this shaded version of the faceted pot (b).

In this example, the form of the seashell is more complex than the pot. With careful observation and application of the methods of measuring that you learned in the previous chapters, drawing these types of objects won't be too difficult. The planes that follow the form greatly enhance the shell's three-dimensionality.

After shading is added to the faceted drawing of the shell, the sense of form becomes even stronger. With the facets following the outline of the shell as a guide, a strong directional light source with extreme light and shadow isn't necessary to render the form.

Study, by Dean Fisher

Remember, breaking down objects into facets or planes is a simplification of reality that will help you understand the nature of forms. As you gain more drawing experience, your interpretation and rendering of objects will become more intuitive and require less analysis.

Another method to analyze the planes of a complex form is to imagine a vertical cross-section of the form. When you have a three-dimensional understanding of an object, the rendition of the object is more convincing.

Imagine slicing an object into vertical sections. This would create cross-sections of the object when you view these slices from the sides. Instead of actually slicing up the object before you begin to draw, you can obtain a conceptual understanding of an object's cross-section by moving around the object and studying the object from various angles.

Study, by Dean Fisher

In this diagram, the entire deer skull is drawn with a series of cross-sections from front to back. This is the angle from which the skull will be drawn in the section, "Drawing Demonstration: A Palm and a Deer Skull," on page 156.

You can see in this illustration how important it is to be able to view an object from all sides before drawing. This is one reason why viewing your subject in real life is so crucial to creating convincing, realistic images. Photographs only give you a "flat" image of your subject, which demonstrates the shortcomings of working from photographs.

At the beginning stages of your drawing, try to draw cross-sections to help you get a feeling for the topography of the object. If you draw cross-sections lightly, you'll be able to erase them at a later stage of the drawing.

Study, by Dean Fisher

Up to this point, you have learned how to accurately draw different types of forms. To draw a human hand, you would also apply the same methods of measuring, including using the grid mentioned in Chapter 8. This method will show that the hand is also a series of shapes, just like other forms. You can use your own hand in this exercise.

At first glance, a hand might seem like a very irregular-shaped object, to which it is difficult to apply a form of logic. However, if you analyze the hand in terms of basic geometric forms, you will see that the palm and base of a hand can be thought of as a couple of rectangular blocks, and the fingers as more elongated rectangular blocks with joints. After the big planes of the hand are added to this drawing, you can get a feeling for the geometry of the hand. For more discussion on the human hand, refer to page 233.

Study, by Dean Fisher

i lie rianĀ» rv of the Head Planar Rendering of Complex Forms chapter

To draw the human head, you should follow the same approach as with other forms. It is also important to try to depersonalize the subject, if possible, at least in the initial stages of the drawing. You should look at the head as a series of shapes. In this drawing of a plaster cast replica of a nineteenth-century sculpture (see page 174), you should identify the large planes that fall within the overall shape of the head, rather than attempt to render its individual features.

After you establish the foundation of large planes, it is much easier to render the features, as you will have already constructed a place for them on the face.

Because of the great variety of angles of facial planes and the slight shift from one plane relative to the next, it is important to always consider the position of the light source in relation to the sitter (or in this case, the plaster cast). Being conscious of the angle and intensity of the light source to the various planes helps to make clear which planes of the head are receiving more or less light.

There is more information on drawing the human head in Chapter 11.

Study, by Dean Fisher

In this demonstration on the planes of a subject, a palm and a deer skull have been chosen. This still life is viewed from a high vantage point in order to create a composition that fans out across most of the sheet of paper. This creates the opportunity to display the beautiful characteristics of the plant. Try to find similar, somewhat complex objects for your own setup.

The deer skull is a fascinating form to draw. This is the most complex object that we have drawn so far in this book, with its many shifts of form from one plane to the next and its considerable detail.

The palm has less obvious planes, and for that reason, it is difficult to find its internal structure. This will create the opportunity to give form to a complex object through simplifying it into basic geometric facets.

Before you begin to draw, shine your light source on your still life from various angles. This will help you to find the various planes of your subject by revealing its intrinsic geometric structure.

The light in this photo is in a different position from the photo on the previous page. The form is revealed by the light in a very different way; it was especially difficult to see the planes within the shadow in the photo on the previous page, but in this example, the planes are clearly visible.

The palm, with its gently curving fronds, is a subject that is more difficult to break down into planes; nevertheless, the form can still be simplified into planes.

In this image, the light moves into another position so you can see that each of the strands that make up the frond have two separate surfaces, which creates a "V" shape.

Using the image on page 154, the artist began this drawing on a new, un-toned piece of white drawing paper. Using an HB pencil to draw very light lines, the artist blocked in the large shapes of each form by establishing the proportions and placement of each object within the paper. As previously mentioned, this image is seen from a high vantage point, so that the sweeping forms of the palm fronds fan out across the paper.

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Responses

• aira
How to draw planar analysis of hands?
8 years ago
• Rosamunda
How to draw a convincing human skull?
7 years ago
• Ambra
How to draw planes on objects?
7 years ago