YEAR 2010

THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAWING

DRAWING MADE EASY | A.Chattopadhyay

THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAWING

YEAR 2010

THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAWING
Drawing is one skill found in many, but exceptional mastery is very rare. Nonetheless, this short guide will set you on the track to become an accomplished artist. Before we proceed to understand how to draw accurate sketches we need to acquaint ourselves with a few terms. STILL LIFE A still life is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which may be either natural (food, flowers, plants, rocks, or shells) or man-made (drinking glasses, books, vases, jewelry, coins, pipes, and so on) in an artificial setting. HORIZON It is that distant single line where the earth and sky seem to meet. However, it also has a broader meaning. It is often broadened to describe the line where the upper plane and lower plane of a particular frame seem to meet. It may be the sky and the earth or even a long corridor s ceiling and floor. In still life, the horizon is redefined to mean your eyelevel. LINES OF VISION Imaginary straight lines that seem to follow along the edges of regular objects and converge at the horizon are called lines of vision. The simplest example of this would be railway tracks. Each track can be understood to be a line of vision. PERSPECTIVE It is the phenomenon due to which all lines of vision seem to meet at a point on the horizon. A very important point to be noted: The use of the ruler is considered unethical in drawing. Also, all the eye-levels are the author s frame of reference during the sketching of the still life compositions. Now we are ready to begin. 1] THE PENCIL The first step is to get the hold of the pencil right. Holding a pencil for writing is very different from the manner it should be held for drawing. While writing, there exists no point fulcrum about which your hand may pivot. The side of your hand along with your little finger

THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAWING

YEAR 2010

tends to be the support. Also, your fingertips grip the pencil quite close to the tip. Your grip on the pencil is also fairly tight. However, while drawing, a pencil must be held at least one and a half to two inches away from the tip. The grip must not be very tight; hold the pencil gently. Your hand needs to pivot about the bony lump on the outer edge of your wrist (ball of you wrist). Get these things right and you are ready to go. 2] PRACTICE DRAWING OVALS To get your still life correct, you must understand the value of getting your ovals correct. The oval shape is very common in still life as it accounts for rims of bottles, their bases, all vessels and a multitude of other things. Position the ball of your wrist on the paper and with a quick movement of the pencil and hand draw an oval in the counterclockwise direction. Practice a few more times to get it right.

Encircled is one of the many practice ovals. The correctness and proportions will improve drastically with a little practice.

THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAWING

YEAR 2010

3] DRAWING STRAIGHT LINES Something which is very commonly found in beginners is drawing a line using multiple strokes. In effect what you end up with is a thick, broken, bushy line which is usually not very straight. The picture alongside shows what I just stated.

To draw a straight line, place the ball of your wrist on the edge of the paper. Following the edge of the paper to draw a straight line is a very simple yet effective way of drawing straight lines. Be quick, but not very hasty. Try and keep control of your hand throughout. What you end up with is a very well balanced straight line. Remember, practice makes perfect. See alongside. 4] USE OF PERSPECTIVE Now we begin with the use of the concepts of perspective and lines of vision. We begin with a single converging point. In the following steps, we will draw a hallway of a house. Follow these steps carefully, remembering what you have just learnt.  Draw a horizon on your sheet. Position this line horizontally in the center of the drawing sheet.  Now select a point of convergence. For sceneries with a single point of convergence, it is usually kept it in the center of the page.  Now, draw a series of straight lines radiating from this point. These are your lines of vision. The number of lines usually depends on the complexity and the amount of detail in the sketch. The more the detail, the more lines required.  Now start filling in objects, positioning their edges along these lines of vision. All regular objects must have their edges along these lines. Also remember: all vertical lines must be parallel to the edges of your sheet. A quick free-hand sketch is shown below. Note some of the essentials we have done. Also observe carefully how the objects have their horizontal edges along the lines of vision. The vertical lines follow the edge of the sheet.

THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAWING

YEAR 2010

Note carefully in this figure the orbs on the ceiling, a rough representation for the lights of the hallway. Although they may be irregular figures, they will follow the general pattern of convergence and diminish in size as it approaches the horizon. Also, faintly visible are the lines of vision and the horizon. Now we are ready to tackle two-point perspective. This concerns the use of two points of convergence to plot in a regular shape. We will study the series of steps to be followed to draw a box.     Draw a horizon. Now, select 2 points of convergence. Draw radiating lines from both these points. Now, try and align the edges of the box with these lines. Remember, all vertical lines will still be parallel to the edges of the page.

Now note the properties of the following sketch done using the above mentioned steps. Also visible are the two points of convergence and the lines of vision.

THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAWING

YEAR 2010

Look at the lower box. This is a sketch of a box as it would appear below the horizon. Also note that as the position of the box starts to climb higher, the upper surface can no longer be seen. The upper sketch is of a box with the horizon as its base. Now imagine the practical application of this consequence. If you were to draw a building from a street level view, the upper sketch is what you would arrive at. However, if you happen to have an aerial view or a viewpoint higher than the building, the lower sketch is what you would arrive at. Another practical application would be this: When you are constructing a still life of two or more similar box shaped objects, for e.g., books, the book completely below horizon (or eye-

THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAWING

YEAR 2010

level) will have a large visible upper surface. Meanwhile, a book situated midway (that is, with a base below eye-level and top surface above eye-level) would have a very small visible upper surface. For a book with a base on or above eye-level, its upper surface would be completely hidden. The picture above demonstrates what has just been stated. The eye level of the still life arrangement (this eye level is the author s frame of reference, and will almost certainly vary between individuals) is indicated by the blue line in this finished sketch. Observe the visible upper surfaces carefully and compare their sizes. Now we are ready to proceed to the next level, drawing symmetrical shapes.

5] FRAMING OBJECTS AND PROPORTIONS You may have seen - in various clip-arts, pictures, cartoons and movies - artists and painters who hold a pencil or paintbrush at arm s length and squint down it at their subjects. This is not a formality or stereotype, but in fact a very essential part of still life. Your pencil is perhaps the single most valuable instrument you possess; not only can you sketch and draw with it, is also very useful to get the proportions of a still life arrangement right. The pencil is extensively used to size up an object and get the proportions sketched onto your sheet. The technique is to hold the pencil in your hand vertically, in such a manner that you are able to run your thumb along the height of the pencil. Keep your arm at full stretch. Now close your left eye and look down your arm and at the objects. Using the pencil, one can now scale up the object and determine its relative breadth and height. We arrive at a certain pencil length for the height of the glass container. Now twist your arm and determine the relation of the height of the container and its width. You will notice that

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YEAR 2010

the width is just about half the height. Using this knowledge, frame the container onto your sheet using light pencil marks to mark its extremities. Observe below. The grey frame is the drawing canvas. The thin black lines are the extremities of the container, framed in.

Draw a line down the middle of this frame-in. This is going to be the line of symmetry of the container. It is depicted by the thick brown line. Now start marking the outline of the container on the right side of the line. Here, the outline is depicted in green. Select a number of essential points on this outline. Using your pencil as a ruler, determine mirror images of these points on the left side of the line of symmetry. What you will end up with is a well proportioned sketch of your object. You may now start filling in the detail. Have a look at the sketch below to understand the importance of this procedure. This procedure requires a lot of practice.

THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAWING

YEAR 2010

The axis of symmetry of the sketch is depicted by the thick black line. Check carefully how the image has a very accurate proportion about the axis of symmetry. If you do not follow this procedure, there is a very high chance that your sketch will be tilted, skewed and/or deformed in some manner. Now we proceed to employ the use of the oval in still life. 6] USE OF OVALS Here too the concept of the eye level is very essential. Almost every shape is bound to have a circle or oval shape. (The circle is actually an ideal situation. Mostly it is the oval). For example,

THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAWING

YEAR 2010

take the sketch below. The sketch is of an inverted steel mug. The rim of the vessel as well as the base is oval. However, there is a subtle difference in the ovals that form the rim and the lower part. Can you figure it out? The eye level is shown by the thick green line. Notice that the oval that forms the rim is wider than the oval that forms the base. This is another fundamental. Ovals tend to become thinner as the approach the eye level, become straight lines at the eye level and again start to broaden as the oval moves away from the eye-level. So the oval forming the base is closer to the eye-level and therefore thin, whereas the oval forming the rim is wider as it is further away from the eye-level. For your information, the upper oval is 0.4 inches wide and the lower one is 0.5 inches. Here lies the practical application: A frequent shape encountered in still life sketching is the cylinder. The mouth and base of cylinders must be ovals, whose breadth must be decided by their relative proximity to the eyelevel. 7] SHADING Now we come to the important part. Shading is the part where many tend to mess up a perfect outline sketch. First of all, understand where the source of light is. This will help determine how the shadows will form. Begin by a loosely gripped pencil. Your strokes must be steady. Begin from the darker portion with some firmness and make your way to the lighter section, slowly relieving the pressure along the way. Do not be afraid to put bold and heavy strokes. One fact that very few people understand is that art, especially still life and canvas paintings, must be observed from at least 9-10 feet away. Only then can it be entirety be appreciated. So don t be afraid, be bolder in your use of the pencil. Also many amateurs tend to use their fingertips to smudge the pencil shading in the hopes of arriving at a more uniform shade. This will invariably mess up your sketch by making it look dirty as the clear definitions of the lines will be lost. Do not be hasty; take your time. Remember, art is not to be hurried with.

THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAWING

YEAR 2010

8] HIGHLIGHTING Highlighted regions in glass articles or steel objects are very easy to create. Carry on with the regular shading until the shading is complete. Now identify the highlighted portions in your still life setup. Using a clean eraser, erase all shading marks from the highlighted regions. Shading is also the part in this entire procedure that takes the maximum time. It requires lots of practice but is also very rewarding. All these steps emulated above culminate in this sketch shown below:

A still life composition comprising a box, a glass, a spoon and a steel jug Look out for all the aspects we studied: the ovals, the line of symmetry, the essentials of shading and highlighting.

THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAWING

YEAR 2010

RECAPITULATION We wind up by summarizing what we have done so far. I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X. XI. XII. XIII. XIV. Use of the ruler is wrong. Your grip on the pencil must be light. To draw ovals, the ball of your wrist is your pivot. Draw parallel lines using the edges of the sheet as guiding rails. Straight lines should be single strokes. All lines of vision seem to meet at one point. The shapes of all objects, regular and irregular, follow these lines of vision. For a structure with the horizon as its base, its upper surface is completely hidden. The pencil is your greatest friend. Use it to find proportions in your still life. Use the power of symmetry to your advantage. An oval farther away from the eye-level is wider than one closer to eye-level. Do not use your fingertips to shade. Use an eraser for highlighting. The last but most important point: PRACTICE. So now you are good to go. Enjoy!!

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