The importance of proportion in portrait drawing

All drawing involves proportion, whether the subject is still life, landscape, figure drawing, or portrait drawing. Proportion is important whether an artwork's style is realistic, abstract, or completely nonobjective that is, without recognizable forms from the external world . Realistic drawing in particular depends heavily on proportional correctness. Therefore, realistic drawing is especially effective in training the eye to see the thing-as-it-is in its relational proportions. Individuals...

Formal perspective versus informal perspective

But the system of formal perspective is not without problems. Followed to the letter, strictly applied perspective rules can result in rather dry and rigid drawings. Perhaps the most serious problem with the formal perspective system is that it is so left-brained. It employs the style of left-hemisphere processing analysis, sequential logical cogitation, and mental calculations within a pre-prescribed system. There are vanishing points, horizon lines, perspective of circles and ellipses, and so...

Five basic skills of drawing

The global skill of drawing a perceived object, person, landscape (something that you see out there) requires only five basic component skills, no more. These skills are not drawing skills. They are perceptual skills, listed as follows Three the perception of relationships Four the perception of lights and shadows Five the perception of the whole, or gestalt I am aware, of course, that additional basic skills are required for imaginative, expressive drawing leading to Art with a capital A. Of...

From infancy to adolescence

Wonderful Memories Cartoon

For most of my students, it has proved beneficial to go back in time to try to understand how their visual imagery in drawing developed from infancy to adolescence. With a firm grasp on how the symbol system of childhood drawing has developed, students seem to unstick their artistic development more easily in order to move on to adult skills. Making marks on paper begins at about age one and a half, when you as an infant were given a pencil or crayon, and you, by yourself, made a mark. It's...

The three basic portrait poses

John Singer Sargent Olimpio

In portrait drawing, artists have traditionally posed their models or themselves in self-portraits in one of three views Full face The model faces the artist directly with both sides of the model's face fully visible to the artist. Profile The view you drew in the last exercises. The model faces toward the artist's left or right and only one side one half of the model's face is visible to the artist. Three-quarter view The model makes a half-turn toward the artist's left or right, making...

The paradox of the Pure Contour Drawing exercise

For reasons that are still unclear, Pure Contour Drawing is one of the key exercises in learning to draw. But it's a paradox Pure Contour Drawing, which doesn't produce a good drawing in students' estimations , is the best exercise for effectively and efficiently causing students later to achieve good drawing. Even more important, though, this is the exercise that revives our childhood wonder and the sense of beauty found in ordinary things. Apparently, in our habitual use of brain modes,...

Using Pure Contour Drawing to bypass your symbol system

Descriptive Contour Drawing

In my classes, I demonstrate Pure Contour Drawing, describing how to use the method as I draw if I can manage to keep talking an L-mode function while I'm drawing. Usually, I start out all right but begin trailing off in mid-sentence after a minute or so. By that time, however, my students have the idea. Following the demonstration, I show examples of previous students' Pure Contour Drawings. See examples of students' drawings on page 95. Several pieces of drawing paper. You will draw on the...

Before and after A personal comparison

Pics Hellen Keller Color

Your recent R-mode drawings, on the other hand, are more complex, more linked to actual perceptual information from out there, drawn from the present moment, not from memorized symbols of the past. These drawings are therefore more realistic. A friend might remark upon looking at your drawings that you had uncovered a hidden talent. In a way, I believe this is true, although I am convinced that this talent is not confined to a few, but instead is as widespread as, say, talent for reading. Your...

Placing the ear in a profile portrait

Drawing Profile Human Eye

The next measurement is extremely important in helping you perceive correctly the placement of the ear, which in turn will help you perceive correctly the width of the head in profile and prevent chopping off the back of the skull. On almost every head, the position of the ear doesn't vary much. On your own face, use your pencil again to measure the length from the inside corner of your eye to the bottom of your chin Figure 9-18 . Now, holding that measurement, lay the pencil horizontally along...

Now well turn to the threequarter view

Brian Bomeisler

Recall our previous definition of the three-quarter view one-half of the head plus one-quarter. Still sitting in front of a mirror, pose your head in this view by starting with a full, frontal view and then turning either left or right so that you can only partly see one side of your head. You are now seeing one full side plus one-quarter in other words a three-quarter view. Artists of the Renaissance loved the three-quarter view, once they had finally worked through the problems of the...

Crosshatching a lighter shadow

Drawing Crosshatch Forms

Before we advance to the next drawing, your self-portrait, I want to show you how to crosshatch. This is a technical term for creating a variety of tones or values in a drawing by laying down a sort of carpet of pencil strokes, often crossing the strokes at angles. Figure 10-14 is an example of a tonal drawing built almost entirely of crosshatches. I'll also review the proportions of the head in frontal view and in three-quarter view. In former years, I thought that crosshatching was a natural...

The role of Rmode in perceiving shadows

Gustave Courbet Wadsworth Atheneum

In the same curious way that L-mode apparently will pay almost no attention to negative space or upside-down information, it seems also to ignore lights and shadows. L-mode, after all, may be unaware that R-mode perceptions help with naming and categorizing. You will therefore need to learn to see lights and shadows at a conscious level. To illustrate for yourself how we interpret rather than see lights and shadows, turn this book upside down and look at Gustave Courbet's Self-portrait, Figure...

Modified Contour Drawing First drawing on the picture plane

Frustrated Student Drawing

Your clear plastic Picture Plane Before you begin Please read through all of the instructions before starting your drawing. In the next section I will define and fully explain the Picture Plane. For now, you will be simply using it. Just follow the instructions. 1. Rest your hand on a desk or table in front of you the left hand if you are right-handed, and the right, if you are left-handed with the ringers and thumb curved upward, pointing toward your face. This is a foreshortened view of your...

Choosing a Basic Unit

Drawing Basic Unit

On looking at a finished drawing, students just beginning to draw often wonder how the artist decided where to start. This is one of the most serious problems that plague students. They ask, After I've decided what to draw, how do I know where to start or What happens if I start too large or too small Using a Basic Unit to start a drawing answers both these questions, and ensures that you will end with the composition you so carefully chose before you started a drawing. After years of teaching...