Photo journalists seem to like finding subjects with strong cast shadows — you can find lots of these in your local newspapers from time to time. Select a few of these and make corresponding formats (margins) in your sketchbook. Then draw only the shadows as your subject matter. Can you tell what time of day it is by observing the length of the shadows? From which direction is the light source? This is a good way to concentrate on shape only to the exclusion of anything else.
Category Archives: WHAT TO DRAW IN YOUR SKETCHBOOK
ASSIGNMENTS I HAVE MADE FOR MY DRAWING STUDENTS AND WHICH I DREW IN MY OWN SKETCHBOOKS
Once you have the correct proportions of the face, and have considered the planes of the face as it turns away from the light, it’s time to put in the features of the face: the eyes, eyebrows, nose, ears, mouth. This is the time for careful observation, because even though everyone’s features are close to the same, it is the little differences that cause you to draw a true likeness. Here are some pointers.
THE EYE: The eyeball fits into the eye socket and the eyelids wrap over the eyeballs. The pupil is quite large in dim light, and smaller in bright light. The iris is darker under the eyelid because of the overlapping shape. Be sure that the eyeballs are placed in the same position in the eye socket, so the model doesn’t look cross-eyed, and make sure that the highlights in the iris and the pupils are in the same place. Light colored eyes usually have a darker rim (limbus) around the iris. Eyebrows vary from individual to individual and help to contribute to a correct likeness. As the face turns or tilts, the eyeballs can be foreshortened. Don’t forget the tear duct. Pay attention to the lower eyelid, the wrinkles and shadows around the eye. Shadows are darker close to the nose — these shadows often give structure to the nose.
A lot of expression can be put into the placement of the eyeball — for instance, if surprise or fright is to be shown, the whites of the eyes can be seen around the eyeball. If the model is sleepy, uninterested, or even angry, the eyelids squeeze together – maybe even in a squint. Careful observation is necessary.
Don’t make the mistake of putting in lines for eyelashes — simply darken about the eye to suggest them. The eyelashes are thickest toward the outer corner. The lower lid has a mild highlight along it’s edge.
Getting the correct proportions of the face you’re drawing is one thing, but what about shading the face so that it looks three dimensional? You need to think about the structure of the face as consisting of several planes that either catch the light or seen in shadows. Imagine that you are sculpting a head out of a big block of stone or clay. You have to remove chunks at first to shape the head, and then you have to chip away in slices — no curves as yet. You are modeling the form, which is what you need to do in drawing a portrait as well.
In your drawing, you will look at the planes to shade the portrait as it recedes into space. You can use hatching and cross-hatching to define the areas. Always remember one simple rule — what comes forward catches the light; what goes back is in shadow. So the nose is always in light, as is the forehead, the chin, and the cheeks to some degree. Darker values will be seen under the eyebrows, the nose, and the lower lip. Here is a diagram to illustrate.
Knowing about the basic proportions of the head is fine, but what happens when the artist doesn’t have a frontal view, or the head is tilted causing foreshortening? A bigger problem, of course. Actually, a profile view is easiest of all to draw because you have the negative space to help, and maybe because you only have one eye, one ear, one nostril, one-half of the lip to draw! At any rate, most people would not like to have their portrait done head on – like a wanted poster. The best view for portraits is a 3/4 view.
And if the head is tilted upward, or downward, the basic proportions of 1/3, or 1/2 no longer work. If the head tilts upward, you see more of the chin, neck, nostrils, etc. and less of the forehead. The proportional ‘thirds” diminish near the top of the head, and the nose appears above the lower part of the ear. If the head tilts downward, you will see more of the hair, the forehead and less of the eyes, lips and nose. The top “third” seems to be larger and the nose is below the lower part of the ear. Always remember to find the center line and the slant of the head. Notice the curves in the vertical and horizontal center lines. Here are some examples. Although not the best drawings in the world, you can see what happens in each case.
CURRENTLY, I AM TEACHING A PORTRAIT/FIGURE DRAWING CLASS AT THE MAUMELLE SENIOR WELLNESS CENTER. I AM SHARING SOME OF THE LESSONS ON MY BLOG.
WHEN YOU DRAW A PORTRAIT OR A FIGURE STUDY FROM LIFE, YOU HAVE TO HAVE A KNOWLEDGE OF PROPORTION – MEASUREMENT AND COMPARISON. EVERY PERSON IS DIFFERENT, BUT THERE ARE SOME SIMILARITIES – SOME BASIC PROPORTIONS THAT WILL HELP YOU GET A LIKENESS.
ALWAYS BEGIN WITH A SKETCH – USE YOUR EYE TO SKETCH THE SUBJECT LIGHTLY – THEN YOU CAN USE MEASUREMENT AND COMPARISONS TO BECOME MORE ACCURATE. KEEP IT SIMPLE AND LEARN TO USE OBSERVATION. BEGIN WITH A STANDARD LINE – A BENCHMARK, AS HEIGHT. MAKE LIGHT MARKS TO INDICATE THE TOP AND BOTTOM OF THE HEAD. DRAW A LITTLE BIT SMALLER THAN LIFE SIZE.
WE ARE TRYING TO DEPICT A 3 DIMENSIONAL SUBJECT ON A 2 DIMENSIONAL SHEET OF PAPER. IT HELPS TO THINK OF THE PICTURE PLANE AS AN INVISIBLE PANE OF GLASS BETWEEN YOU AND THE SUBJECT.
Start with basic oval shape. Draw lines to divide the shape in half vertically and horizontally. The eyes are located on the center line of the shape.
Measure – the width of five eyes for the width of the face and the length of seven eyes for the height.
Draw eyes on horizontal line with one eye width of space between.
Draw horizontal line halfway between eyes and chin, — this is the bottom of the nose and ears.
Mouth line is about a third of the way down from the nose line. The hair line is a third above the eyebrows.
Draw vertical lines down from the inside corner of the eyes to the nose line = the width of the bottom of the nose.
Lines from the center of the eyes drawn vertically place the edges of the mouth.
Eyebrows line up with the tops of the ears and the bottom of ears line up with bottom of nose.
Add neck and shoulder in cylinder and wedge forms.
In this abstracted 16 x 16″ landscape, I was trying to use one of the six basic value schemes mentioned by Edgar Whitney. The scheme was a little dark with a lot of light in medium values. I seldom use this value scheme; that’s why I wanted to try it. I also wanted to continue breaking up the picture plane into sections, but still be able to lead the eye movement to the center of interest (the barn in the upper right area). As usual, I worked out the value and color scheme in my sketchbook and decided to use a split-complementary color scheme: blue, red orange, orange, and yellow orange. The acrylic colors I used were Cadmium Orange, Hansa Yellow, Indian Yellow, Thalo Blue, Prussian Blue, Raw sienna, Burnt Sienna, Cadium Red Light and Titanium White. (At least, that’s what I think I used — hard to remember now!)
Using a monochromatic color scheme is one of the best ways to understand the use of value. “Mono” means “one”, and “chroma” means “color,” so all you can use is one color with various tints, tones and shades for your painting. If you add white to a hue (another name for ‘color’), it is called a “tint;” if you add gray, it is called a “tone;” and if you add black, it is called a “shade.” So all you have is the darkness and lightness of the color for variety. Sometimes I like to do monochromatic underpaintings for my pastel works – the underneath color sets the mood for the rest of the painting.
To further complicate things, every color has its own value. For instance, yellow is a light value, purple is a dark value. Greens and oranges are middle values. You can see this best by looking at colors through a red glass (or a green glass if looking at red hues). You will be able to see the relative value of the colors that way.
Here is the color wheel image sectioned off so that only a blue-green hue is selected. You can see that the tints and tones are much muted.
In the example below, I have used the same subject as in the complementary color example, but with a monochromatic color scheme of blue with whites, grays, and blacks. The time of day seems to be early evening, with perhaps a little light left in the sky.
Try this exercise if you like and let me know how it turns out. I highly recommend the book by Stephen Quiller, COLOR CHOICES; MAKING COLOR SENSE OUT OF COLOR THEORY, which I used in my exercises.
There is a great deal of difference in how you make a detailed drawing in graphite pencil. You can’t lay your pencil on the side and scumble back and forth for the proper value. That doesn’t look too good. No, you must keep your pencil tip sharp and use it at a more upward angle. If you want a drawing that is finely “rendered,” as opposed to just “sketching,” I recommend the following procedure.
The first step is an accurate drawing. Not only are the positive shapes drawn correctly, but the shadows and highlights are also “mapped” out — which means their shapes are drawn as well. Be sure that your objects are connected either by overlapping or cast shadows. Here’s my example:
The reason for the many cast shadows in this is because I have light sources in my set up – not a wise decision! You notice that I have used a center line to make sure my objects are symmetrical, and that I have mapped out the reflections in the silver goblet.
My second example shows that I have layered a light value over all the shapes in my drawing. I did this with a 2H pencil and covered up all the white paper. I made sure not to lose the highlight and shadow shapes.
In this final example, I have darkened the values with 2B-4B-6B pencils, and erased with an electric eraser where the highlights are. The silver goblet now looks shiny. This is a good way to depict texture in a drawing: overall layering with a light pencil, darkening with softer pencils for the shadows, and erasing the highlights. Try it on your next drawing.
I’m sure everyone remembers the old Chinese proverb, “One picture is worth more than a thousand words.” A thousand words seem like a lot, but it does seem true that drawing is a universal language understood in all countries. This is especially noticeable in expressing certain emotions. I sometimes begin my basic drawing classes with an exercise that prompts students to make spontaneous marks on sketchbook paper as I call out a certain human emotion, such as ‘joy.’ After several of these words are called out, the students compare their drawings. It is always amazing to note how much alike the drawings are for the emotions depicted. I ask the students to use lines only, and not symbols. (Someone is always wanting to draw a heart for the word, “love.”) Sometimes the lines can be joined to make shapes, but this is not necessary.
I ask my students to divide their sketchbook paper into 12 blocks, all about 2 x 3 inches each and number the blocks from 1 to 12. Then I call out an emotion and have them quickly draw a line or lines to express that emotion. The emotions used on the example below are 1. anger, 2. anxiety, 3. loneliness, 4. joy, 5. power, 6. love, 7. peace, 8. femininity, 9. fear, 10. depression, 11. masculinity, and 12. curiosity. When the exercise is completed, the students compare their results with others in the class. Some drawings as compared, such as anger, anxiety, and loneliness are almost identical!
Here are my results:
Here are some more ideas from my list — ideas for compositions that I haven’t tried. They are mostly ideas for drawing subjects. The majority of these ideas came from the book by Bert Dodson: KEYS TO DRAWING WITH IMAGINATION. This is a great book to have in your collection. I got it from North Light books, and I recommend it highly. These are all things I wanted to try at some point or another, and I think I will pretty soon. I’ll share when I do, but please let me know if you try some of them!
1. Draw a sequence of views from outdoors to indoors or reverse. Eliminate unessential detail. Select views that make a strong transition from wide open space to middle ground to closeup space.
2. Photograph an object from multiple perspectives in black and white. Vary the scale and perspective. Make a collage in an interesting composition. Translate this into a drawing and extend random distortions. Put the collage away before finishing the drawing.
3. Observe a rocky subject and make several sketches. Pay attention to the type of stroke used. Now, redraw to achieve a more dramatic result. Try upside down, mirror images, a bigger tool, changing the metaphor such as cracked open nuts, or pebbles.
4. Use a tree trunk or its branches as a subject. Emphasize the character of the stroke in several sketches. Then do a spin -off that further emphasizes and strengthens the pattern.
5. Take one of your previous drawings and redraw it in rhythmic lines. Don’t use outlines. let curving parallels describe form by bending around them. Lines should converge near the edges and widen in central areas to create a 3D effect.