Drawing For Dummies - Brenda Hoddinott - E-Book

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Brenda Hoddinott

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The fast and easy way to learn to draw Drawing can enrich your life in extraordinary and unexpected ways. Drawing your everyday experiences can change how you and others see the world, while drawing from your imagination can give rise to fantastic new worlds. And, despite what you may believe, it's something just about anyone can learn to do. Drawing For Dummies offers you a fun, easy way to learn the drawing basics. Holding fast to the simple philosophy that only you can teach yourself to draw, it gives you the tools you need to explore the basics and move on to more advanced techniques. This revised edition of one of the most successful For Dummies guides includes * Additional step-by-step instructions for drawing people, animals, still life, and more * Coverage of effects, composition, and perspective * How-to art projects that show you how to create your drawings from simple geometric shapes to finished artwork It's never too late to unleash the artist within. Let Drawing For Dummies, 2nd edition put you on the road to discovery and self-expression through drawing.

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Drawing For Dummies®, 2nd Edition

Visit www.dummies.com/cheatsheets/drawing to view this book's cheat sheet.

Table of Contents

About This Book
Conventions Used in This Book
What You’re Not to Read
Foolish Assumptions
How This Book Is Organized
Part I: Discovering What It Takes to Draw
Part II: Developing the Basic Skills
Part III: Experimenting with Subject Matter
Part IV: The Part of Tens
Icons Used in This Book
Where to Go from Here
Part I: Discovering What It Takes to Draw
Chapter 1: Gearing Up to Start (And Continue) Drawing
Testing the Waters: Do You Have What It Takes to Draw?
Debunking the talent myth
Embracing your individuality
Defining Drawing
Looking back at the first drawings
Surveying current drawing trends
Examining the Motivation behind Drawing
Finding uses for drawing
Considering the benefits of drawing
Outfitting Yourself for the Job
Discovering Your Artistic Style
Practicing Sustainable Drawing Habits
Acquiring essential skills
Implementing an effective order of operations
Adapting to ambiguity
Chapter 2: Gathering What You Need to Get Started
Exploring Your Drawing Preferences
Holding your drawing media
Making marks with your preferred medium
Deciding whether to leave your drawing loose and sketchy or to tighten it up
Finding Inspiration
Figuring out your interests
Getting ideas from other artists’ works (and yours, too!)
Drawing on your memories
Carving Out Space and Time to Draw
Making your drawing space comfy and effective
Finding time for drawing
Using Your Sketchbook
Sketching away from home
Playing with ideas
Choosing Your Drawing Supplies
The necessities
The wish-list items
Project: The Pupil of Iris
Chapter 3: Working through the Developmental Stages of Drawing
Stage 1: Looking for Lines
Stage 2: Moving from Lines to Shapes
Stage 3: Adding a Third Dimension with Volume
Using perspective to create depth
Building light and volume through shading
Stage 4: Rendering Textures
Stage 5: Arranging the Elements: Composition
Project: Taking Apart a Drawing to See How the Five Stages Work Together
Chapter 4: Drawing On Your Computer
Considering the Benefits of Drawing Digitally
Working with a digital canvas
Becoming more flexible in your drawing process
Checking the Hardware You Need to Draw Digitally
Exploring Digital Drawing Software
Free downloadable drawing tools
Entry-level and affordable art software
Professional-level software
Joining the World of Online Drawing
Building a gallery on art community Web sites
Creating a personal online portfolio
Experiencing interactive online drawing
Gaining insight from the Internet
Getting Started with Digital Drawing
Getting familiar with your digital tools
Creating rough sketches
Understanding layers
Project: Creating Your First Digital Drawing
Chapter 5: A New Kind of Seeing: Getting Familiar with the Artist’s Perspective
Dissecting Your Brain to See Which Side Affects Your Drawing Abilities
Waking Up the Right Side of Your Brain
Flipping between the left and right sides of your brain
Striking balance with symmetry
Controlling the left-to-right flip
Giving your left brain a vacation
Exploring the World as an Artist
Finding fun drawing subjects right in front of you
Seeing your home from a whole new perspective
From the fridge to your drawing paper
Surveying your neighborhood and beyond
Discovering the Inner Eye of the Artist
Comparing right- and left-brain perceptions
Doodling with doodles
Project: A Doodle of Your Own
Putting down the lines
Seeing beyond the lines
Creating drawings from doodles
Part II: Developing the Basic Skills
Chapter 6: Planning Your Drawings
Focusing on the Elements of Composition
Emphasizing the focal point
Overlapping for unity and depth
Taking advantage of negative shapes
Using lines to your advantage
Balancing subjects in a composition
Considering contrast: Balancing values and shapes
Delegating proportions to your subjects
Considering Basic Composition Formulas
The rule of thirds
Compositions with S-O-U-L
Using a Few Drawing Tools to Help You Plan Your Compositions
Choosing your composition by framing the subject
Planning a composition from a photograph
Project: Planning a Composition
Chapter 7: Seeing and Drawing Lines and Shapes
Getting Comfortable with Lines
Appreciating Diversity in Lines
Lining up straight lines
Cutting corners with angled lines
Following the flow of curved lines
Capturing Gesture
Focusing on Proportions and Shapes
Breaking objects into simple shapes
Fixing proportion problems
Project: Using Lines and Shapes as Tools for Investigation
Chapter 8: Exploring the Third Dimension
Seeing Light and Shadows and Using Values to Represent Them
Taking a closer look at light and shadows
Exploring contrast in a drawing
Squinting to translate vision into values
Taking Shapes into the Third Dimension
From squares to cubes
From rectangles and triangles to boxes, cylinders, and cones
From circles to spheres
Project: Drawing a Sphere
Chapter 9: Adding Life to Your Drawings with Shading
Using Additive Drawing Techniques to Build Value
Creating continuous tone
Trying your hand at hatching and crosshatching
Scaling from light to dark
Rendering graduated values
Using Your Eraser to Build Value
Applying Shading to Your Drawings
Blocking in your basic values
Refining your values
Project: Drawing an Egg
Chapter 10: Identifying and Rendering Textures
Seeing — and Feeling — the Difference between Textures and Patterns
Identifying Textures
Smooth, matte, shiny, and glistening textures
Fuzzy and fluffy textures
Furry and hairy textures
Rough and grassy textures
Translating Textures into Drawings
Planning your textured drawing
Creating texture on paper
Combining three-dimensional form with patterns and textures
Project: Creating Two Fun Textures
Sketching with textural mark making
Drawing furry spots
Chapter 11: Investigating Perspective Drawing
Understanding Geometric Perspective
Looking to the horizon line
Finding vanishing points
Identifying Your Perspective on Depth
Expanding on Elements of Perspective
Incorporating atmospheric perspective into your drawings
Managing foreshortening
Project: Drawing One-Point Perspective
Project: Drawing Two-Point Perspective
Project: Drawing Three-Point Perspective
Project: Blasting into Space with Dynamic Perspective Drawing
Part III: Experimenting with Subject Matter
Chapter 12: Making Meaningful Still-Life Drawings
Selecting Subjects for Still-Life Drawings
Choosing still-life subjects that are meaningful to you
Grouping still-life objects
Enjoying the challenge of transparent objects
Arranging Your Still Life
Lighting Your Still Life
Project: Drawing a Still Life
Chapter 13: Representing the Natural World in Your Drawings
Exploring Sky and Land
Capturing different skies and clouds on paper
Examining and drawing trees
Creating convincing flowers
Project: Using Your Eraser to Create a White Winter
Project: Lovely Lily
Chapter 14: Bringing Animals to Life on Paper
Rendering Furry and Feathered Textures
Identifying the long and short of fur
Drawing wings and feathers
Capturing Life in Animal Portraits
Project: Wings on the Water
Chapter 15: Drawing People
Drawing the Body
Examining superficial human anatomy
Measuring proportion
Capturing gesture
Building the body from simple shapes
Using contour lines to refine your drawing
Picking up Portraiture
Measuring proportions for the head and face
Drawing facial features
Drawing hair that actually appears to grow out of the head
Drawing Far-Off Figures and People in Motion
Drawing people and crowds in the distance
Drawing figures in motion
Project: Crowd at the Finish Line
Part IV: The Part of Tens
Chapter 16: Ten Tips for Drawing Cartoons
Coming Up with an Idea
Embracing Your Influences without Losing Yourself
Making Decisions with Your Idea in Mind
Choosing the Right Materials
Setting Up a Place to Draw
Sketching Your Idea
Evaluating Your Sketch
Planning Your Values
Cleaning Up Your Drawing
Inking Your Work
Chapter 17: Ten Ways to Grow as an Artist
Step into Art Appreciation
Experiment with Drawing Media
Figure Out Who You Are as an Artist
Investigate Different Drawing Styles
Work from Life and Photographs
Attend Art Classes, Lessons, and Workshops
Give Painting a Try
Ignite Your Sparks of Creativity
Put Your Drawings on the Internet
Look for Other Ways to Get Your Work Out There
Chapter 18: Answering Ten Common Copyright Questions
What Is Copyright?
What Kinds of Works Are Protected by Copyright?
When Is an Artwork Not Original?
Can I Draw from Copyrighted Images?
If I Make Changes to a Copyrighted Image, Can I Make It My Own?
Can I Draw from the Illustrations in This Book?
How Do I Claim Copyright to My Original Art?
How Can I Prove That I Own Copyright?
Can I Put a Copyright © Symbol on My Original Art?
How Do I Use the Copyright © Symbol?
Cheat Sheet

Drawing For Dummies®, 2nd Edition

by Jamie Combs and Brenda Hoddinott

Drawing For Dummies®, 2nd Edition

Published byWiley Publishing, Inc.111 River St.Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774www.wiley.com

Copyright © 2011 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana

All images copyright © 2011 Wiley Publishing, Inc., unless otherwise noted

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as permitted under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600. Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, (201) 748-6011, fax (201) 748-6008, or online at http://www.wiley.com/go/permissions.

Trademarks: Wiley, the Wiley Publishing logo, For Dummies, the Dummies Man logo, A Reference for the Rest of Us!, The Dummies Way, Dummies Daily, The Fun and Easy Way, Dummies.com, Making Everything Easier, and related trade dress are trademarks or registered trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the United States and other countries, and may not be used without written permission. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Wiley Publishing, Inc., is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book.

Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: The publisher and the author make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaim all warranties, including without limitation warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales or promotional materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every situation. This work is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If professional assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for damages arising herefrom. The fact that an organization or Website is referred to in this work as a citation and/or a potential source of further information does not mean that the author or the publisher endorses the information the organization or Website may provide or recommendations it may make. Further, readers should be aware that Internet Websites listed in this work may have changed or disappeared between when this work was written and when it is read.

For general information on our other products and services, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

For technical support, please visit www.wiley.com/techsupport.

Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may not be available in electronic books.

Library of Congress Control Number: 2010943050

ISBN: 978-0-470-61842-4

Manufactured in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

About the Authors

Jamie Combs is an artist and educator who grew up and lived in the Midwest until making a recent relocation to the East Coast. She earned a BFA in painting from Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and an MFA in painting from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. For several years, she has been teaching courses in drawing, painting, color theory, and design at various schools, including the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, Indiana, DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, Indiana. Jamie’s work as an artist and teacher is heavily informed by her training in and love for drawing.

Brenda Hoddinott is a self-educated visual artist, forensic artist, and illustrator. Her favorite drawing subjects are people, and her styles include hyperrealism, surrealism, and fantasy.


For my mom – JC

Author’s Acknowledgments

Jamie Combs: I would like to thank Michael Lewis, Sarah Faulkner, and Amanda Langferman from Wiley Publishing for their help and expertise in making this project possible. To Mick Gow of www.ratemydrawings.com, your expertise has made this book so much more valuable.

I would also like to thank the authors of Pastels For Dummies and Painting For Dummies and my friends and colleagues at the Herron School of Art and Design, Anita Giddings and Sherry Stone, for the opportunity they pointed me to, their advice, and their kind, constant encouragement.

I wish to express my gratitude to all my teachers, especially Perin Mahler, Deborah Rockman, Barry Gealt, Tim Kennedy, and Bonnie Sklarski. I would also like to express my undying gratitude to my students, who have taught me so many surprising things about what it’s like to learn to draw.

Finally, to my friends and family: Thank you for being there for me. I can’t imagine trying to do this without you.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at http://dummies.custhelp.com. For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editors: Sarah Faulkner, Kelly Ewing (Previous Edition: Mary Goodwin)

Acquisitions Editor: Michael Lewis

Copy Editor: Amanda M. Langferman

Assistant Editor: David Lutton

Technical Editor: Joe Forkan

Editorial Manager: Christine Meloy Beck

Editorial Assistants: Rachelle S. Amick, Jennette ElNaggar

Art Coordinator: Alicia B. South

Cover Photos: Leandra Young

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (www.the5thwave.com)

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Patrick Redmond

Layout and Graphics: Claudia Bell, Samantha Cherolis, Lavonne Roberts, Christin Swinford

Proofreader: Betty Kish

Indexer: Sharon Shock

Illustrators: Jamie Combs, Brenda Hoddinott, Kensuke Okabayashi, Barbara Frake, Mick Gow, Rosemary Sidaway

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Kristin Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Ensley Eikenburg, Associate Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


Welcome to Drawing For Dummies, 2nd Edition, a book that focuses on the basics of drawing for beginning artists but also includes plenty of challenges for more experienced artists.

Most people begin to draw as soon as they can hold a crayon and then continue drawing enthusiastically throughout childhood. Some people keep drawing right into adulthood, while others wander off in different directions for a while and then rediscover drawing later in life. Because we’ve designed this book to be a helpful, user-friendly resource that assumes nothing about your experience, Drawing For Dummies, 2nd Edition, meets you wherever you are.

Our philosophy is simple: If you know how to see and make comparisons, you have what it takes to draw. Throughout this book, we show you a solid, manageable approach to drawing that works no matter what you’re drawing. As you make your way through the book, you may be surprised to discover that after you figure out how to draw one subject, you can apply the same concepts to draw just about anything.

About This Book

Within this book, you discover everything you need to know to get started with drawing, including what supplies, techniques, and processes you need to use to create different types of drawings. The most valuable parts of this book are the numerous exercises and projects we include for you to try, so be sure to keep your drawing supplies handy while you read! Along the way to each exercise and project, you find ideas, tips, and strategies that will help you finish it.

We cover a variety of subjects that all aim to reinforce the notion that good drawing comes from good seeing and to help you develop your drawing skills in a fun and efficient way. But don’t feel like you have to read it cover to cover. You can pick and choose what you read without missing the central ideas of the book. In most chapters, you find issues that are covered more fully in other chapters, but don’t fret; we provide plenty of cross-references to take you where you need to go to find the information you need.

The hundreds of illustrations you find in this book are there to show you what a solution to an idea or exercise may look like. They’re meant to illuminate and inspire, not to be exact replicas of your own drawings. When you work through the exercises and projects in this book, don’t worry if your drawings look different than the illustrations. The point is to master the concepts, not to adopt a particular drawing style. Your drawings will be unique creations — even if you follow the instructions exactly.

Your development as an artist is personal. Expect it to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen or known. Of course, you don’t have to navigate the journey by yourself. This book is here to help you understand key ideas about drawing and master important techniques and skills that artists throughout time have discovered again and again. All you need is an open, curious mind and a little patience and persistence.

Conventions Used in This Book

We’ve established the following conventions to make it easier for you to navigate this book:

New terms are in italics, and we define them for you.

Bold text highlights key words in bulleted lists and action parts in numbered lists.

Monofont sets off Web addresses. When this book was printed, some Web addresses may have needed to break across two lines of text. If that happened, rest assured that we haven’t put in any extra characters (such as hyphens) to indicate the break. So, when using one of these Web addresses, just type in exactly what you see in this book, pretending as though the line break doesn’t exist.

Before each project or exercise, you find a list of recommended supplies. If you don’t have exactly those supplies, don’t worry; you can do all the projects in this book with whatever supplies you do have. The results may be a little different, but not having the “right” supplies shouldn’t be a barrier to drawing.

What You’re Not to Read

It’s not every day you’re told to skip part of a book, and, in all honesty, we certainly won’t mind if you read every page of this one. But if you’re strapped for time or just in a hurry to get to what interests you most, feel free to skip the following:

Any text marked with a Technical Stuff icon: Although these paragraphs are interesting and may give you more insight into the world of drawing, they aren’t essential to your growth as an artist.

Sidebars: These gray-shaded boxes of text house information that’s often fun and interesting (at least to us!) but slightly off topic.

If you’re serious about learning to draw, don’t skip over the stuff that looks more like work than fun. If you do skip over it initially, go back to it later because the work-oriented sections contain a lot of info about skills you need to have to kick-start your artistic growth. Art is work, but, as you may already know, the work is totally worth it and, in some cases, is actually the fun part!

Foolish Assumptions

In writing this book, we’ve made some assumptions about you:

You’ve drawn a little but not in a serious way, and you’d really like to find out how to do it well.

You may be afraid that drawing well depends on obvious natural ability.

You may think drawing well means being able to draw realistically from your imagination.

You may think drawing is only good if you create a good product.

We’ve used these assumptions to help us explain a whole new way of looking at drawing. As you make your way through this book, you find that our philosophy of drawing allows you to believe the following: that drawing is more than making a good product, that the act of drawing is a healthy and fulfilling experience in itself, that talent alone isn’t enough to lead to good drawings, and that you can learn to be excellent at drawing no matter where you’re starting from.

How This Book Is Organized

This book begins by helping you feel comfortable with drawing. From there, you discover the basics, from buying supplies to holding a pencil and from drawing lines to rendering shading. The rest of the book is loaded with various drawing subjects and topics; feel free to skip around in no particular order. Read a little, then draw a little, and then read and draw some more.

Part I: Discovering What It Takes to Draw

The title of this part says it all. If you’re not totally convinced that drawing is for you, read through this part chapter by chapter and do the exercises and projects we include here. By the time you finish, you may be surprised by how many of your concerns about taking up drawing are gone.

Here, you find information about what you need to know to start drawing from a list of drawing supplies to use to different ways to find inspiration to a summary of the steps you go through to make a drawing. You also discover what it means to look at the world around you as an artist.

As an added bonus, you find everything you need to know about the world of digital drawing (drawing with your computer and other similar devices) in case you’re curious about how that type of drawing compares to traditional pencil and paper.

Drawing is a perfectly natural human ability. As with anything new, taking the first step is the most difficult part. But once you start working through this part, you’ll likely discover a whole new, exciting, enjoyable, and productive activity.

Part II: Developing the Basic Skills

If you’re a beginner to drawing, you won’t want to miss the six chapters in this part. The basic skills we present here offer answers to many of the perplexing drawing questions you’ve probably been wondering about, like how to get started on a drawing, how to create dimension on a flat piece of paper, and many more. Even if you’re a pro at drawing, you don’t want to skip this part because you may find some new slants on old skills.

Here, you discover strategies you can use to transform three-dimensional objects into believable two-dimensional illusions. You find out how to use shading to render light and shadow as they move across objects and through space. You also figure out how to arrange and draw your subjects to create a complete and balanced drawing with a convincing sense of depth.

Whether you work your way through this part of the book in a few days or a few months doesn’t matter. Just stick with it, and give yourself the gift of a solid foundation for drawing. By taking your time to develop the basic skills you need in drawing, you’ll save yourself a ton of frustration down the road.

Part III: Experimenting with Subject Matter

In this part, you find a handful of chapters focused on the four major categories of drawing subjects: still life, landscape, animals, and people. Each chapter presents the drawing issues that come up when you’re drawing its particular subject of focus. You find out how to start your drawings in a simple way for both maximum control and maximum flexibility, and you get several opportunities to practice creating finished drawings of each type of subject.

By working through all or even two or three of the chapters in Part III, you discover that you really do have the tools you need to draw anything, because the act of drawing is essentially the same no matter what your subject is.

Part IV: The Part of Tens

This part of the book includes a buffet of tips to help make the drawing process a little easier for you, as well as ideas for drawing cartoons. If you’ve never thought about cartooning, perhaps this part will inspire you.

In case you finish all the projects we include in this book and still want more, we also include ten ways for you to grow as an artist. Finally, we answer some copyright questions to help you keep your work secure and to keep you from infringing on the rights of other artists.

Icons Used in This Book

In the margins of almost every page of this book, you find little circular drawings called icons. The icons are there to alert you to different types of information. Here’s what they mean:

This icon saves you time and energy by showing you a helpful method for doing something.

This icon points out important information you need to know as you develop your drawing skills. Sometimes it’s a reminder of something covered elsewhere in the book, and other times it lets you know that you need to remember this particular tidbit later.

This icon points out potential problems and positive solutions. Heed the warning so you don’t make the same mistakes we’ve made.

Feel free to skip over (and come back to) the highly technical information marked by this icon. We expect that our more advanced readers will be interested in knowing a little more about the technical aspects of drawing.

When you see this icon, dig out your drawing materials, open your sketchbook, put the cat out, feed the dog, and get ready to spend some quality time drawing. Plan on doing lots of exercises and projects marked with this icon because your drawing skills improve every time you draw.

Where to Go from Here

You don’t have to go through this book in sequence. You can poke through the table of contents and jump right into the topics that excite you. To make sure you don’t miss out on something important while you’re skipping around the book, we provide lots of references to pertinent material so you know where to go to find what you need. For example, you may be asked to apply shading to your drawing on many occasions throughout this book. Because it would take forever to go over everything you need to know about shading (and all the techniques you can use) every time an exercise or project calls for it, we don’t explain shading every time we ask you to do it. Instead, we tell you to go to Chapter 9 (the chapter on shading) to find what you need to know.

If you’re a beginner to drawing, you may prefer to start at the very beginning with Part I and work your way through each chapter in sequence. When you finish that part, we strongly recommend that you read over all the information and work through each project and exercise in Part II before you move on.

After you have the basics under your belt, you can randomly wander through the rest of this book and read and enjoy whichever chapters and sections you prefer. Even though this is a reference book, it’s also designed for those of you who like to work from beginning to end. As you make your way through it, you discover that the level of difficulty increases the closer you get to the end of the book.

If you can already draw well, feel free to pop around this book any way you want. Take a quick flip through the pages, notice which illustrations catch your eye, and start reading wherever you feel inspired. Read some sections, draw a little, read a little while longer, and then do more drawings.

Part I

Discovering What It Takes to Draw

In this part . . .

Think of the first five chapters of this book as an artist’s version of Clark Kent’s telephone booth. Imagine yourself, mild mannered and curious, walking into Part I . . . and a little later, walking out armed with everything you need to know to begin drawing.

The chapters in this part describe the tools, mindset, and processes you need to be familiar with before you start putting pencil to paper. Here, you find an overview of all the subjects you can explore in this book as well as a full chapter on the tips and tricks to keep in mind when choosing your first drawing supplies. To give you a quick glance into the future of your drawing career, this part also includes a chapter that summarizes each of the common steps in the drawing process. And because it’s the digital age, you find a whole chapter devoted to using hi-tech drawing materials, like your computer. Finally, you find out what it means to see the world and its inhabitants like an artist sees them.

Chapter 1

Gearing Up to Start (And Continue) Drawing

In This Chapter

Taking the plunge to see if you have what it takes to start drawing

Discovering what drawing is

Finding the motivation, supplies, and style you need to keep drawing

Developing drawing habits that’ll get you through the rough patches

Drawing is primal, universal, and deeply personal all at once. It’s primal because the tendency to draw is innate (in other words, you’ve probably been drawing since before you could talk). It’s universal and personal because whether you choose to draw a tree or just a looping spiral, by putting marks on paper, you connect the inner workings of your mind to the outer world.

So you’re ready to take a serious step toward honing your drawing skills. Well, you’ve come to the right place! This chapter is an introduction to drawing as a subject of study. Along with a quick summary of the materials and skills you need to get started, you find useful information about historical and contemporary approaches to drawing. In case you want to know more about any of the topics we touch briefly on here, we’ve peppered this chapter with references to other chapters where you can find in-depth coverage. As a bonus, we’ve included some information right at the beginning about how to tell whether or not drawing is for you. (Spoiler alert: Drawing is for you!)

Testing the Waters: Do You Have What It Takes to Draw?

For many burgeoning artists who have a nagging, tickling idea that they may have what it takes to draw, testing out the dream feels like a real risk. After all, if they fail, the dream will be gone — just like that. If you’re afraid to risk losing your dream of becoming an artist, stop worrying! Go ahead and take the risk; you may be surprised to discover that it isn’t really a risk after all for one simple reason: Anyone who wants to learn to draw well can do so.

Debunking the talent myth

Every elementary school has at least one kid who can draw an amazing unicorn (or some other detailed animal or object) without looking at any books or photos for inspiration. All the teachers and students look at that kid and say, “That kid’s got real talent.” Maybe you were that kid in your school. Or maybe you only wished you could draw like that kid. Either way, you can learn to draw well today as long as you’re ready to put your mind (and pencil) to work.

What’s called talent in drawing is actually a heightened sensitivity to visual facts (which, lucky for you, is something anyone can develop!). To draw well, you must be able to see the physical facts, such as size, shape, value, texture, and color, of things and to make comparisons of what you see. Familiar objects are often hard to draw because when you look at them and know what they are, your brain doesn’t take time to carefully analyze the way they look. To see things as they actually are, you must practice paying more attention to the facts of what something looks like than the facts of what something is as an object. When you’re really tuned in to the facts of what something looks like, that particular something becomes much easier to draw. (See Chapters 5 and 7 for some great tips on how to change the way you see.)

Talent on its own doesn’t make an artist. Yes, the ability to see like an artist and make visual comparisons is a necessary condition for drawing well, but they don’t matter at all if you don’t also have a passion for drawing. Even if you feel like you have no artistic talent whatsoever, if you have a desire to draw running through your veins, you can master the other stuff with a little determination and practice. After all, the bulk of getting better at drawing is work — not talent. No matter how talented you are, you won’t grow as an artist if you don’t physically work on honing your skills, and passion is what gives you the strength and motivation to do that work.

Embracing your individuality

One of the most compelling characteristics about artists is their uniqueness, or style. But don’t think you have to have your own style right away. Even the most well-known and accomplished artists are often influenced by the work of others whom they admire. For example, you can see traces of Cezanne in Picasso, but Picasso was still unarguably unique.

You probably have a few artistic heroes of your own. Perhaps you’ve made some copies of their works or tried out their styles. If you haven’t, give it a try; copying other works is a great way to practice and develop your drawing skills. Just know that you can’t claim any copied work as your own. (Check out Chapters 2, 6, and 17 for details on how to develop as an artist by using other artists’ works as inspiration, and refer to Chapter 18 for more details on copyright.)

Even as you copy the works and styles of your heroes, don’t forget to embrace your own individuality as an artist, and don’t try to purge the things about your drawings that are different from those of your heroes. They’ve already defined who they are as artists; now it’s your turn! The things that make you different from your heroes are important clues about who you are as an artist.

Defining Drawing

Essentially, drawing is the act of applying marks to a surface. A drawing is usually made up of lines and tones on paper, but it hasn’t always been that way and it isn’t always that way today (see the following sections for more details).

However you define drawing, it’s important to keep in mind that drawing is a verb; it’s an action that you do. No matter what tools you use to draw, the act of drawing is the same: You move your hand/arm/whole body while holding a mark-making tool and leave traces of your movement on your drawing surface.

Looking back at the first drawings

The earliest known drawings are the ancient pictures of animals and figures made with natural pigments on the rocky walls of caves. These drawings predate written history and are some of the oldest records of what human life was like as many as 30,000 years ago. The Egyptians used drawings to create the pictograms that later became one of the first systems of writing (called hieroglyphics).

For hundreds of years, drawing was seen as a functional craft. People used it to communicate, tell stories, plan paintings, design architecture, and a whole lot more. The resulting drawings may have become beautiful artifacts, but their original purpose was preparatory and functional — not artistic.

Surveying current drawing trends

Today drawing takes many forms. Artists still use drawing as a way to communicate ideas and plan projects. For instance, architects still use drawing to design their buildings and other huge structures, but now they do most of this drawing on computers rather than cave walls or paper.

Although some people still see drawing as a means to plan the more valuable artistic elements found in paintings, drawing has also become its own art form. After all, many artists now choose drawing as their primary mode of expression. Ever curious and experimental, these artists use a startling variety of materials and styles to create their drawings. As a result, you can undoubtedly find your niche in drawing no matter where your interests lie. So whether you love traditional realistic drawings done with pencil or graphic-novel-like drawings done with ink, you’re sure to find what you need in today’s drawing world. If you don’t know what you want to draw, don’t worry! The world is yours to explore. (Check out Chapter 5 for details on how to see the world as an artist and Part III for lots of info on the different subject matter you can draw.)

Examining the Motivation behind Drawing

The desire to draw comes with being human. Children are voracious drawers, and although most people draw less often after childhood, they still encounter drawing occasionally when they’re doodling in the margins of a notepad during a long lecture or plotting out their gardens for the year. You know instinctively how to connect your hand and brain to make marks on a drawing surface. Add a little motivation to that instinct, and you have everything you need to be great at drawing. So where do you find this motivation? The following sections show you some different ways you can use drawing and a few important benefits you can get from it.

Finding uses for drawing

As you probably already know, the act of drawing is great for planning things out, but you can also use it to create portraits, landscapes, cartoons, and still-life drawings. No matter what you choose to create through drawing, it’s important to remember that drawing doesn’t have to be a super-serious process that leads to a product worthy of the history books. Something about the act of drawing just feels good — even if the product you make is whimsical, temporary, or just plain silly.

If you ever feel overwhelmed by the seriousness of your drawing endeavors, give yourself a break and make some playful drawings. The following is a list of alternative, playful uses for drawing, just in case you need some inspiration:

Use decorator icing to draw portraits of your friends or co-workers on cakes or cookies. (Keep in mind that realism isn’t as important as creativity!)

Use thread to draw on your pillowcases. (Yes, we’re talking about embroidering here.)

Draw with your feet. (Warning: This can get a little messy! Put a large sheet of paper on the floor. Dust your feet with powdered charcoal and walk around on the paper to make marks. See if you can make a somewhat realistic drawing using your feet. Check out Chapters 12 through 15 for ideas about making realistic drawings of various subjects.)

Draw in the sand or snow.

Arrange rocks or plants in your garden to create a different kind of drawing.

Considering the benefits of drawing

Drawing is satisfying on so many levels: mentally, physiologically, emotionally, and socially. After all, when you draw, your mind reaches through your hand to make direct contact with the world. When you draw from observation, you have the opportunity to physically re-create what you see. It’s like you’re touching the subject with your pencil and exploring all its subtleties. No matter how your drawing turns out, when you draw something, you feel like you know it better when you’re done than you did before you drew it.

Drawing helps you think and process thoughts. Your imagination can be quite fluid and fragmentary, moving from one partially formed idea to another and back again in rapid succession. Drawing out your ideas gives them tangible form and some level of permanence. Even if the form isn’t exactly what you were thinking about, having a drawing to work with gives you something you can hold on to and work with.

Drawing is a whole-body experience. Your hand is the most obvious player, but pay attention the next time you draw. Notice the way your arms and shoulders move when you draw and the way your spine supports and responds to the movement. When you stand at an easel to draw, you find yourself falling into a dancelike rhythm — drawing, stepping back to check your drawing, stepping forward again to draw some more, and so on. Even if you sit when drawing, you still develop a physical rhythm. Regardless of where you draw, the process of drawing is a workout — which explains why you sometimes feel exhausted at the end of a drawing session. We can’t say drawing is a substitute for a jog around the park, but you’ll certainly feel like you’ve done something after you draw!

Emotionally speaking, drawing is somewhat of a mixed bag. But even though drawing will sometimes leave you feeling upset if not outright distraught, the emotional benefits you get from drawing far outweigh the costs. Consider the following:

The physiological benefits of drawing are part of the emotional benefits. Moving around to draw and tensing and releasing your muscles can really elevate your mood.

Learning to draw boosts your overall confidence. As your drawing skills improve, your confidence grows, and greater confidence makes the tougher drawing days easier to manage.

The feeling you get from making a mark in response to something you see and knowing that the mark is just right makes all the work you put into your drawings worth it. If you catch it just right, even the curve of a vase can be one of the most exhilarating things you’ve ever seen!

Because drawing is a solitary activity, it may seem like an unlikely source of social benefits. However, because drawing is a solitary activity that generates questions and excitement, you’ll likely be itching to talk to people about your drawings as you create and finish them. Enthusiasm is contagious!

Many communities have sketch groups that meet regularly to draw and share ideas. To find one near you, check your local newspaper or try typing art group along with the name of your city and state into your favorite search engine. Turn to Chapter 4 for some great tips on how to find online communities where you can meet tons of like-minded people to talk to about drawing and art in general.

Outfitting Yourself for the Job

If you’ve ever found yourself standing in front of a 4-foot-high shelf filled with 17 different kinds of erasers and even more types of pencils, you know choosing art supplies can be a daunting task. To make it a little more manageable, we suggest that you make a list before you go to the store so you at least know what to look for when you get there. (Check out Chapter 2 for some helpful and specific information about drawing supplies, including a breakdown of the different grades of pencils you can get and some examples of what they can do.)

When you’re first starting out, try to buy your supplies at an art supply store. Although you can pick up a few tools from the office supply aisle at your local grocery store, it’s best to stick with the experts until you have a better handle on what your supplies can and should do. By shopping at an art supply store, you can also get answers to any questions you may have about different supplies.

Notice that we don’t list specific brands in Chapter 2 or anywhere else in this book. The truth is the brand of your tool isn’t nearly as important as the way the tool works. Plus, too many brands offer good supplies to point out only one or two. If you can try out a tool or supply in the store before you buy it, do so. Chances are, though, when you’re new to buying art supplies, you may not know what a “good” pencil is supposed to feel like. The best way to find out is trial and error. Buy a couple of different pencils and try them out at home to see which ones you like the best. Whenever you can, add a new supply to your drawing toolbox, and, in no time, you’ll know which tools work best for you and your drawing style.

If you can’t test out your tools before you buy them and you don’t have any preferences yet, shop by price. In most cases, you get what you pay for. You can expect higher-quality supplies to cost a little more, but if you’re hoping to get some good-quality supplies without taking out a second mortgage, shoot for the middle range of prices. The cheapest supplies may not give you an idea of what they can really do, so try not to buy all value supplies. Colored pencils, for example, vary tremendously in quality. The extravagantly priced supplies probably aren’t necessary when you’re getting started, but if you fall in love with a marble-handled mechanical pencil, add it to your wish list.

Drawing has something for everyone. When choosing supplies, balance the quality you want with what you can afford. If your budget is tight, don’t feel like you have to spend a lot of money to make drawings. A simple No. 2 pencil and any paper can produce a beautiful drawing. If you don’t have any money to spend on your drawing, use whatever resources you have available. We’ve seen beautiful drawings that were made using coffee!

Discovering Your Artistic Style

In drawing, style refers to a set of identifying characteristics found in a particular artist’s work. You don’t have to worry about finding a style for your work because style is something that happens on its own. Unless you put your foot down and refuse to be yourself, your drawings will take on some signature characteristics that become the seeds of your personal style.

Style comes from who you are. Your drawings will be unique in large part because of things you don’t control, like the kind of pressure you automatically exert on a tool, the natural rhythms you fall into as you draw, and the natural tendencies you have to make certain types of marks. Your influences play a part in your style, too. You can’t help but pick up a few little things from the artists you admire.

Seeing the artistic value in contemporary scribbles

Have you ever been in an art museum or gallery and heard someone say, “My kid could do that painting”? You know exactly what the person’s talking about — the seemingly random scribbles and blobs of paint that have been proclaimed “extraordinary art” by critics and artists alike. So how have these less traditional artworks earned the label extraordinary? To find the answer to this question, you need to take a little trip through art history.

Before photography came about, the purpose of art was pretty clear: Record reality as it happens. Although artists and methods changed over the years, the overall concept of art continued on the path to greater realism until the late 19th century when photography was born. Photographs represented life and reality so well that painting and drawing suffered a major identity crisis — why have artists who paint and draw when you can have photographers?

Fortunately, it didn’t take long for artists to realize everything they could do now that they were free to leave the world of realism behind. They began to ask questions about the meaning of things like art and beauty, and they began to create art that went far beyond what the naked eye could see. Artists like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso twisted and flattened the human form into something just barely recognizable. Jackson Pollock dripped paint all over the place. Their seemingly strange work led to artistic experiments in thinking, and eventually, to the contemporary art you see at exhibitions today.

Guard your individuality! It’s tempting to adopt the style of an artist you admire as though you’re joining an exclusive club. However, if you really want to grow as an artist, you need to allow your own artistic voice to shine through your work.

As long as you’re constantly developing as an artist, your work will continue to change and your style will continue to evolve. Know that some aspects of your work will remain the same, though. Embrace the parts of your style that change and those that stay the same because they both have a hand in defining the artist you are.

Practicing Sustainable Drawing Habits

Drawing is a rich and stimulating process. The benefits listed earlier in the section “Considering the benefits of drawing” are only a handful of the reasons why you may get hooked on drawing. Still, you’re likely to experience your fair share of times when drawing feels scary and hard and you doubt your abilities. Don’t give up! These moments will pass. In this section, we share some tips for how to prop yourself up when the going gets rough.

Acquiring essential skills

Whatever kind of drawing you want to do, it’ll be much easier to do if you know the basics about how perception works and how you can create a sense of perception on paper. Chapters 6 through 11 are designed to offer you a solid grounding in the basic skills you need to develop to make realistic drawings. Chapter 6 shows you how to take a drawing from the planning stages to completion, and Chapters 7 through 11 deal specifically with creating a realistic illusion of space. After you acquire these basic skills, you’ll have the tools you need to draw anything.

Implementing an effective order of operations

If you’ve ever spent a long time on one part of a drawing only to realize you made whatever it is you were drawing too big to fit among the other elements you still have to add to your drawing to make it complete, you know how frustrating the drawing process can be. Lucky for you, you can avoid this frustration with a little bit of planning.

The most efficient way to approach a drawing is to begin with the most general aspects and work gradually toward the more specific ones, holding back on the fine details until the very end. For example, if you’re drawing an apple, start by drawing its size and shape; then draw the stem and any surface details.

By starting each drawing by mapping out the size, basic shape, and placement of all the objects you want to include in that drawing, you can make sure you have enough room for everything in your drawing space. For instance, if you know you want to include a house and a tall tree in a drawing, first determine where the tree will go and how much space it will take up. That way, you can make sure the house will fit in the drawing, too. To see how this order of operations works in practice, check out the instructions to any exercise or project in this book; we’ve created all of them using this order of operations. Also turn to Chapter 6 for details about the drawing process.

Following the order of operations saves you time and frustration throughout the drawing process. Because everything in your drawing is loose and general in the beginning, you can make major changes early on without feeling like you’re losing a lot of your hard work. After you figure out how big all your objects are and where they go in your drawing space, you can confidently focus on developing the details that make the objects unique without having to worry that you may need to move them or change their sizes.

The hardest thing about working from the general to the specific is waiting to get to the fun parts of your drawings (you know, the details that make everything look real). But do your best to hold off on the fun until after you map out the general layout of the drawing. You’ll be glad you did when you see the finished product!

Adapting to ambiguity

Part of what makes drawing exciting is its unpredictability. But, for some reason, the very fact that you know you can’t totally control it makes you want to try anyway. When you’re just getting started with drawing, the uncertainties may feel like failings on your part. They’re not! Try to be patient with yourself, focus on seeing like an artist, and keep telling yourself that you have what it takes to work through the murky parts of drawing. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll become, so keep reading and start drawing!

Chapter 2

Gathering What You Need to Get Started

In This Chapter

Identifying your aesthetic preferences

Looking for inspiration in others and yourself

Creating a space for drawing

Using your sketchbook and choosing your other drawing supplies

Getting used to your new drawing supplies with a simple project

When you look at the masterpieces of the art world, you may think that drawing ability is a gift bestowed only on a privileged few, but that’s simply not true. Anyone can learn to draw, which as you’ve probably already guessed, is where this book comes in.

The truth about drawing is that it’s as primal as breathing. Human beings begin to draw as infants, making their first marks before they can even speak. Like talking, drawing is a physical extension of thought. Ideas and senses move from your brain through your arm to your hand and onto the paper as freely as thoughts move through your mouth. Figuring out how to draw realistically is a matter of gaining control over the innate tendency to simply make marks. To start drawing realistically, you need to be able to do two things: see the world around you and hold a pencil. If you can do those two things, your only obstacle to learning to draw is making a commitment.

In this chapter, we show you how to get comfortable with drawing by incorporating your artistic preferences into your work and explain what you need to get started: inspiration, time, space, and the right materials.

As you start to draw, try not to criticize yourself too much. You learn even more from your missteps than you do from your successes. At the same time, though, don’t overlook the improvement you see in your drawing skills. With a lot of practice and a little patience, you’ll be drawing like a pro in no time.

Exploring Your Drawing Preferences

Because you’re a unique human being and no one in the world is exactly like you, it’s no surprise that no one in the world draws exactly like you and, more important, that you don’t draw exactly like anyone else. Many factors, including the following, influence how and what you draw:

The media with which you choose to draw

The way you naturally grip your pencil and other drawing media

Your life experiences, philosophies, and perceptions

Your exposure to art and the history of drawing

The kind of art you admire

The following sections help you identify some of your personal drawing preferences by walking you through the different ways to hold your drawing media, the various types of marks you can make with your media, and the basic approaches you can take in your drawings.

Holding your drawing media

How you hold your drawing media influences how you draw and, consequently, how your finished drawings look. Your grip and the amount of pressure you naturally exert on your drawing media influence the kind of marks you make. Some people naturally draw very lightly no matter how soft the pencil they use is (see the section “Pencils” later in this chapter for more info on the different degrees of pencil hardness). Other people are naturally heavy-handed and tend to make darker marks regardless of what drawing medium they use. You can’t change your nature, but being aware of what you do can help you make conscious decisions about the way you draw.

To help you better understand how the way you hold your pencil affects your drawings, take a look at the three most common ways to hold a pencil:

Holding your pencil the way you hold a pen when you write: Figure 2-1 illustrates how most people hold their pencils when they first start to draw. When you hold your pencil this way, you move it by moving only your wrist and fingers, giving you better control over fine movement when you’re rendering very small or intricate sections of a drawing. This way of holding your pencil works best when your drawing surface is flat or slanted and your drawing itself is small — 8 x 10 inches or smaller — or when you’re drawing the fine details of larger drawings. (If your drawing surface is vertical or if you’re working on larger paper, we recommend that you try using one of the other two ways of holding a pencil we cover in this list.)

The downside to holding your pencil like you do a pen is that it facilitates such fine control that you may find yourself making small fine movements too early in your drawings. If you’re making small, tightly controlled marks on a big piece of paper (9 x 12 inches or larger), it’s easy to get focused on one area and forget about making sure that area relates to the rest of the drawing, and you’ll undoubtedly have a hard time erasing and redoing that area after you’ve invested a lot of time into it. On the other hand, if you hold your pencil in a way that encourages larger, looser marks (like the methods we explain in the next two bullet1 points), you can block in the basic shapes and basic values of your subject, thus allowing you to get a clear sense of the drawing as a whole so that you can then add more specific shapes and values and, lastly, fine details to complete the drawing. (See Chapter 3 for more information about a good order of operations for drawing.)

Holding your pencil like you hold a stick of chalk when writing on a blackboard: Figure 2-2 illustrates this option for holding your pencil. This way of holding your pencil is comfortable to use with a drawing surface at any angle — flat, slanted, or vertical — and it’s perfect for drawing on larger surfaces (larger than 9 x 12 inches). When you use this particular hold, the movement for drawing comes from your whole arm rather than just your wrist and fingers. When you draw from your arm, you tend to make larger, looser movements, resulting in larger, looser marks. These loose marks help you lay the foundation for your drawing by creating the basic shapes and values in your subject and keep you from getting too tight too early in your drawing.

Figure 2-1: Holding a pencil in the most familiar and traditional manner.

© 2003 Brenda Hoddinott

Figure 2-2: Holding a pencil the way you hold a piece of chalk.

© 2003 Brenda Hoddinott

When you get to the part of your drawing where you need greater control over your pencil, like when you’re working on an intricate shape or small details, you can simply switch to holding your pencil like you hold a pen to write (see the preceding bullet1 for more details).