How To Sketch
Now, let's concentrate on a few techniques that make it easier to draw the angles of rectangular objects. Don't worry if you're geometryphobic! We're not heading for the classroom; we're going to the kitchen. It's a great place to practice drawing angles.
"I found that sketching the horizontal and vertical center lines lightly on the paper, so they could be erased later, helped me a lot in placing my subject in the intended position, not cockeyed."
-student rita walker copping
Stand directly in front of your stove (no less than four feet away) for a nice angle experience. We know the stove top is square, and just like your drawing pad, has four right angles, where perfect horizontals meet perfect verticals. But does it really look square? And what's happening to those burners? The parallel sides on the stove top, right and left, seem to turn in slightly toward each other. And the back burners seem closer together than the front ones. Can you see it? Let's test this out.
Squint as you line up your pencil's vertical edge with the stove's right corner. The horizontal edge of the stove should meet your vertical pencil in a right angle (see page 49). Compare your pencil vertical to the right edge of the stove top. This edge will angle slightly away to the left. A triangular wedge of negative space will be created
Place your level at a corner to capture negative-space shapes above the level. Look down at a doorway. Place your level under the point where wall and doorjamb meet. The angle of the walls will be seen above the level. Hold your level in two hands, rather than twist it to adapt to the shape. Try sketching these angles. It usually takes some remeasuring and practice, so just keep at it.
Place your level at a corner to capture negative-space shapes above the level. Look down at a doorway. Place your level under the point where wall and doorjamb meet. The angle of the walls will be seen above the level. Hold your level in two hands, rather than twist it to adapt to the shape. Try sketching these angles. It usually takes some remeasuring and practice, so just keep at it.
between your vertical and the side of the stove. From your vantage point directly in front of the stove, both angles to left and right corners will be the same, each leaning in toward the middle of the stove. What you're seeing is a distortion in parallel lines that causes them to look different from what you know is there. Try sketching these two angles by replicating the wedge of negative space you created, then connect them with a horizontal, and erase your guidelines. Verticals and horizontals don't change, just the angle of the sides of the top. Did you notice that the back edge of the stove looks shorter than the front?
You are the center of your artistic universe! When you change position, the angles do as well. Step to the right past one corner of the stove. Turn your body to face the stove. Remeasure the corner angles of the stove with our plumbline vertical. This time, you will see the negative shapes at both corners forming to the right of your plumbline. The bottom half of these shapes is the angle of the stove top. Are the angles different from one another? Your position is different; so are the angles.
When you are closer to one corner or another, the same angles will not only be different from the first position, but different from each other. When you are directly in front of a rectangular object, angles on the top surface to right and left will be the same.
Remain in this position. Use your level to help you estimate the angle of the front of the stove nearest you. If you have a level longer than your pencil, perhaps a ruler, it will help. The stove front is now at an angle relative to your body, not lined up with it as it was earlier. Holding the level in both hands at an equal distance from your body, position it just under the stove corner where its front edge and the edge of the stove top nearest you meet. Observe that the stove edge angles slightly up and away from the level to meet the left corner. Assess the negative-space shape captured between this edge and the level. Try to draw the three angles of the stove that you have seen. Draw in the same position from which you measured. Apply this measuring technique to other angles.
"We went to a museum with a school trip to look at the dinosaurs. At the end oj the trip, the teacher had the class sketch a dinosaur. I was sitting with my daughter, who's not the artist in the family, and I said to her, 'Just look at the individual parts. Look at the head. Is it like a triangle?' And she created this beautiful dinosaur because she was looking at the parts, the shapes, not at the dinosaur. "
-student stephanie seidel
SELECTIVE VIEWING Your drawing represents a single view. Even though you focus your eyes on various aspects of the drawing, not everything can be in sharp focus at the same time. You select as though your head and body were stationary and engaged for one sustained look. You don't use information collected by moving around the subject you're drawing, either. Cubism, an art form that melded multiple views into one artistic piece, represents the opposite approach.
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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.